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FLYNN SLAMS UNFAIR DISTRIBUTION OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

Apr 24 - Newport West MP Paul Flynn has slammed the Government's policy on the settling of asylum seekers. 34,936 asylum seekers live in areas with Labour-led councils compared with 1,680 in Conservative-led areas. Chancellor Philip Hammond’s constituency has doubled (in same period, 2013-16), from 1 to 2! He said "For three years I have been raising the issue of the grossly unfair distribution of asylum seekers throughout the UK. It matters. Some areas have none. Perversely they are the areas that have the highest levels of prejudice against asylum seekers. Other areas have large numbers with consequent strains on local housing, education and the NHS. It is in everyone's interests to have as even a distribution as possible. In three years there has been no improvement. As far as Newport is concerned we have gone backwards."

BANKRUPTCY RESTRICTION FOR NEWPORT BUSINESSMAN

Apr 23 - A Newport businessman has been handed a 12-year bankruptcy restriction after investors in a failed spread betting scheme were left out of pocket by more than £7m, according to Insider Media Wales. Stuart Carl Mudge obtained more than £8.5m from investors for his failed spread betting scheme - the Churchgate Trading Syndicate - between June 2009 and February 2012.
An investigation by a specialist team at the Insolvency Service found that investors were told their money would be used to trade spread bets, with returns of 12 per cent every quarter promised. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) obtained interim injunctions against Mudge in February 2012, freezing his assets and preventing him from operating the syndicate.

LABOUR FACES TORY THREAT IN NEWPORT

Apr 24 - Newport Labour faces a significant threat from the Conservatives in both City seats as they face a June 8 general election. The sitting MP's, Jessica Morden and Paul Flynn have both indicated their willingness to stand but with national opinion polls giving the Conservatives a 20 per cent lead they could be unseated. Newport West last had a Conservative MP (Mark Robinson) between 1983 and 1987 and currently Paul Flynn has a 3,510 majority, a swing of just over 4 per cent would turn the seat blue. Newport East is les fertile territory but could also be vulnerable given that Labour's majority would disappear with a 6.7 per cent swing, in line with current opinion poll projections.

POLLOWAY HEADSTONE UNVEILED

Apr 23 - The headstone of one of Newport's legends, Harry Polloway, was unveiled in the Jewish cemetery on Risca Road this afternoon. Mr. Polloway died in May last year aged 100.

LIB DEMS CALL FOR PARKS INVESTMENT

Apr 21 - Newport Liberal Democrats, alongside launching a campaign against neglect to local play parks, have revealed their plans to invest £750,000 in play areas over a five year period if they regain administration of the council after the local elections next year.
Labour councillors introduced a policy to completely cut the council's allocated budget for maintaining play parks which has led to local play parks being left in a state of disrepair. Carmel Townsend, Lib Dem councillor and mother of six slammed Labour councillors saying “There has been no consultation with local residents, but they have made a decision which will affect them massively”. “It’s not fair and it’s not right” she added.
Lib Dem activist, Ryan Jones, has spoken out against the damning state of Tredegar Park and its former water play area saying "It’s disgraceful. Labour have cut a service which is used by lots of families.”
He added “Play parks are a place where people with very little money can bring their children to have fun. These parks are used by families, the elderly and teenagers. It’s completely unreasonable to stop funding them”

LABOUR MAKES CAERLEON PLEDGES AS CONSERVATIVES SCENT VICTORY

Apr 21 - Under threat Labour candidates in Caerleon have made four pledges in an attempt to avert defeat to a very active Conservative campaign in the area:

- Continue to oppose unwanted development, but press for a new rail station
- Continue to support community projects, such as the Home Farm Play Area, Caerleon Festival, Christmas in Caerleon and Caerleon in Bloom
- Ensure that the trend in reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour stays on course
- Deliver the new Lodge Hill Primary School building & work with all our schools to build on their successes

The Conservatives have already produced a strategy for Caerleon to oppose green belt housing, to widen Pillmawr Lane, to re-open Caerleon railway station, to repair road surfaces, to safeguard play parks for children, to support schools funding and numbers, tackle air pollution on the high street, to oppose development of the Campus site unless it meets the local delivery plan for residential development.

M4 JUNCTION TO RE-OPEN?

Apr 21 - The Welsh Government’s Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates has confirmed in letters to Newport City Council leader Debbie Wilcox and the Assembly Member for Newport West Jayne Bryant that if the Welsh Government’s plan to reroute the M4 to the south of Newport is accepted by the current planning inquiry, Junction 25 on the present M4 would be reopened to all traffic to and from Caerleon.

INDEPENDENTS REVEAL YOUTH POLICY

Apr 21 - Newport Independents have revealed policy aims directed at young people as their party prepares for the local elections on May 4. Writing on Facebook Rogerstone councillor Chris Evans has set out their objectives including local schools for local children restricting catchment areas to Newport for Newport schoolchildren, increased resources for schools, better vetting of school governors, restoration of free school transport for those living two miles or more from school, support for youth clubs and youth employment opportunities.

MORE THREATS TO SHAREHOLDERS AS RODNEY PARADE PUBLISH DATE OF MEETING

Apr 15 - There were stark echoes of the Brexit campaign as Rodney Parade Limited published details of the proposed shareholders meeting to consider the WRU's offer to buy Rodney Parade. Their threats of doom once again were evident as shareholders were warned of the consequence of a no vote. However, there is equivalent uncertainty with a yes vote, with no guarantee of Newport RFC being able to play at Rodney Parade beyond 2017/18. The attempts news management have previously backfired with CEO Stuart Davies facing withering criticism from Newport RFC supporters and with no proper attempt made to provide detail of the business plan for Newport RFC or a valuation for Rodney Parade. Former Chief Executive Tony Brown was wheeled out to urge supporters to back the proposal. He stated "Both Martyn and myself are over eighty and are anxious to cut back on our responsibilities. Before doing so, we have explored multiple options whilst trying to ensure a successful Dragons, a secure Newport RFC, protection of the venue and the continuation of professional rugby in Gwent at Rodney Parade. In that respect, the Welsh Rugby Union became our preferred option rather than a choice of last resort, and I truly believe that they are doing this with the best of intentions. In fact, they are in my opinion best placed to make a success of the Dragons, and in doing so ensure that rugby for all continues at Rodney Parade. It is a wonderful ground with a great history that none of us want to see disappear." Current CEO Stuart Davies stated "Following the WRU announcement, we wished to engage as quickly as possible with key stakeholders for initial discussions. Within a week, we had met with both sets of supporters’ groups and sponsors, with the assurance that much more information was to follow. In turn, the documents being prepared have been further informed by the discussions at those meetings. In addition, and as indicated at a previous meeting with Newport supporters, a further ‘interim’ open meeting has been arranged ahead of the General Meeting so that more discussion can take place following the release of the documents. This has been arranged for Monday 24th April at 7pm in the Business Suite at Rodney Parade."
 
PARTIES PUBLISH MANIFESTO COMMITMENTS

Apr 14 - Keeping council tax down, offering grants to new businesses and bringing back free parking for two hours are among the pledges being made by Newport’s Conservative group ahead of next month’s election. The group, which is fielding 47 candidates in May’s local government election, launched its manifesto at an event at the Tredegar Park Constitutional Club.
First Minister Carwyn Jones launched the Welsh Labour Party’s local election campaign in Newport. Supporters of Welsh Labour flocked to Horton’s Coffee House to listen to the first minister of Wales. Mr Jones said: “People said to us at the last election that we were going to lose loads of seats, but we didn’t. We had messages that people from all over understood and we worked hard to deliver our messages." He claimed Labour were transforming Newport. Newport Independents want a 'free after 3' policy on car parking in city controlled car parks, to restore free bus passes to 16-19 year olds, a freeze on recruitment to Council jobs with a salary in excess of £90k, the return of unprompted question and answer sessions at council meetings and proper consideration of petitions from residents.

POLICE APPEAL SEEKS MAN WHO PUNCHED PREGNANT WOMAN

Apr 12 - Gwent Police is appealing for information after receiving reports that a pregnant woman had been assaulted while walking home in Newport. The assault happened at around 9:30pm on Monday 10th April. Police say the woman was walking along the Maindee side of the river underneath George Street Bridge when she was grabbed by her hood by a man and her pockets were searched.
On finding nothing, the woman told the man she was pregnant and he punched her to the stomach. Officers say the woman was taken to hospital and is not thought to have received any lasting injuries. The man has been described as in his late teens or early twenties, around 5ft 11 and of medium build. He is thought to be Asian and wearing a grey or dark hooded top and a dark scarf over his mouth.
Officers are investigating and are asking for anyone with information to contact Gwent Police by calling 101 quoting log 688 10/4/17.

REPRIMANDED TEACHING ASSISTANT WILL RETURN TO CLASSROOM

Apr 10 - A teaching assistant who tied a six-year-old girl to a chair at a Newport special needs school will be allowed to return to the classroom.
Annette Henderson was a learning support worker at Maes Ebbw School when the incident happened in January 2016. The Education Workforce Council hearing in Cardiff found allegations of unacceptable professional conduct against her proven. She was issued with a reprimand but has not been struck off from teaching. The disciplinary panel heard the girl - who was known as "Pupil A" and has learning difficulties - was tied to the chair with the sleeves of a hooded top in a double knot after allegedly hitting another pupil.

RUPERRA STREET PROPERTY BOARDED UP

Apr 10 - A house in Newport has been boarded up following allegations it is linked to the use of Class A drugs, serious crime and prostitution. Gwent Police said residents on Ruperra Street in Pill are being disrupted through the night by people "looking to buy illegal drugs".
The force added locals are "fearful" after being "intimidated" by visitors "shouting and swearing abuse". Police are to apply for a three-month anti-social behaviour closure notice
"No-one should be living their lives faced with this daily intimidation and disruption," said PC Paula Spence, the crime and disorder reduction officer.
The owner consented to the house being boarded up with steel shutters installed and police warned anyone who attempts to enter it could be arrested.

BATTLE ON FOR CITY VOTES

Apr 8 - The battle is under way for votes in Newport's Council election. John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, has picked out Cardiff and Newport is even contests in Wales. The unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn and decline of UKIP coupled with Labour retirements and de-selections and a new political force (Newport Independents) mean that there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the outcome. The Conservatives are expected to consolidate their numbers posing a threat to Labour in Caerleon and Malpas. In addition Labour faces a range of challenges, from the Lib Dems in Beechwood and St Julian's, from the Newport Independents in Bettws and Rogerstone and for the first time significant challenges in their stronghold constituencies. Current council - Labour 34, Conservative 10, Lib Dem 1, Independents 5

GREEN LIGHT FOR APARTMENT PLAN

Apr 7 - A development of more than 90 flats on a site in Newport has been given the green light following an increase in parking provision.
Heyworth Homes (Newport) submitted an updated application for the site off Liberty Grove earlier this year. Its previous proposals for the site had been turned down by Newport City Council's planning committee in August 2016 due to a lack of adequate parking provision.
The scheme comprises 92 one- and two-bedroom flats in four blocks. Nine affordable units are also included. A further nine parking spaces have been added, giving a total of 108, with the position of one of the blocks changed to provide room.
Newport City Council discussed the development at a meeting on 5 April 2017, with a report prepared for the meeting recommending approval.

POP UP ANNOUNCES DEPARTURE

Apr 7 - A pop-up venture in Newport city centre has announced it won't be extending its contract six months after opening - but has other exciting plans for the future. Parc Pantry opened its third venue in Newport's High Street - Parc Central - in November. In their statement published in Facebook last night, it said: "As you're aware, we started Parc Central back in December initially as a six month pop-up concept with the possibility to extend our stay and aimed to create a unique day and night time venue in the city of Newport.

13,000 SPEEDING MOTORISTS CAUGHT

Apr 6 - More than 13,000 people have been caught speeding on the M4 around Newport since enforcement was introduced six months ago. The variable speed limit covers the stretch from junction 24 (Coldra) to junction 28 (Tredegar Park).
An average of 84 motorists a day were caught breaking the limit between September and the end of February. The system was introduced in 2011 but was inactive for five years - fines have only been issued since 10 October.
Prosecutions can be handed out whatever the variable limit is - from 20mph (32km/h) to 70mph (112km/h).

EASTER BUS SERVICES

Apr 5 - Newport Bus has announced services levels that will be operating over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
Good Friday 14 April - Normal Friday Service
Saturday 15 April - Normal Saturday Service
Easter Sunday 16th April - Normal Sunday Service
Easter Monday 17th April - Sunday Service
Newport Bus has announced a new express-style bus service linking key towns in south Monmouthshire to Newport. The new hourly service will connect Chepstow, Caldicot and Magor to the city with journey times being reduced thanks to the route’s limited number of stops. The X74 service is an expansion of Newport Bus’ network in the county where it already provides a number of important rural services. It will operate from 06.10 until 20.00 from Monday to Friday with a reduced service on Saturdays.

JO JO STILL ON AN UPWARD CURVE

Apr 3 - Maternity clothing, babywear and nursery products retailer JoJo Maman Bébé has reported sales growth in its latest accounts, boosted by the launch of a new US company and the roll-out of additional UK stores.
According to the latest accounts for JoJo Maman Bébé Ltd, turnover grew to £47.8m in the year ending 30 June 2016, up from £44.7m in 2014/15.
But pre-tax profit dipped to £3.7m from £4.1m the previous year. The company said revenue growth had been driven by "multichannel sales, new store openings and the opening of the US subsidiary".
In the current financial year, group sales are up 18 per cent, with 16 per cent growth in the UK and 62 per cent in the US.

APARTMENTS PLAN SET FOR APPROVAL

Apr 1 - Plans to build more than 90 flats on a site in Newport city centre are set to get the green light when they return to the planning committee next week, following changes made to address the previous refusal, according to Insider Media Wales. Heyworth Homes (Newport) submitted an updated application for the site off Liberty Grove near Corporation Road earlier this year.
The developer is proposing a total of 92 one- and two-bedroom flats in five four-storey blocks. Nine affordable units are included as part of the scheme. An earlier version of the plans was refused consent by the Newport City Council's planning committee in August 2016 due to a lack of adequate parking provision.
Nine additional parking spaces have now been added, giving a total of 108, with the position of one of the blocks changed to provide room.
The site forms part of a wider area of land that was granted planning permission for residential development in 2005.
The application will be discussed by the council's planning committee at a meeting on 5 April 2016 and is recommended for approval, subject to a Section 106 agreement.

DATA CAMPUS OPENS

Mar 31 - The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has opened its Data Science Campus at its Newport headquarters as part of a £17m investment. The facility has been established to harness new data sources and technologies to provide statistics about the UK economy and society for policy makers and businesses. Campus managing director Tom Smith said: "Like every organisation, the ONS needs to develop to meet the demands of a changing world. We are investing in present and future jobs here, building data analytics expertise to produce even better statistics that inform decisions affecting everyone, from how governments spend taxpayers' money to the services we receive.
"Our Newport HQ which, shared with the IPO (Intellectual Property Office) is Newport's single largest employer, is getting a £10m modernisation, reflecting our ongoing commitment to making Newport the home of world class statistics."
Alun Cairns, secretary of state for Wales, added: "The expanding ONS centre at Newport is great news for the area with a new campus at the heart of it. We now have in Wales a cutting edge facility (that) can serve not only the public sector but private businesses and entrepreneurs.
"ONS has a long-term future in Newport, and I look forward to it providing high-quality jobs and remaining a major feature of our digital economy in Wales."

MURDER PROBE IN CAERLEON

Mar 31 - At 4.25am yesterday morning, Thursday 30th March 2017, emergency services were called to an address at Cambria Close in Caerleon, Newport, following reports of a disturbance. On arrival, they found a 66 year old man deceased at the address. A 38 year old man from Newport has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody. We are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident. If anyone has any information that could help with this investigation, please call 101 quoting log 36 30/3/17.

DESSERT BAR OPENS AS FRIARS CONFIRM TK MAXX DISCUSSIONS

Mar 31 - Kaspas Dessert Bar has given a welcome boost to Newport's Commercial Street as it has taken up residence in the former New Look store. Plans for the demolition of the Hornblower pub and various buildings adjacent to the Park Car Park are progressing well.

Our exclusive report concerning TK Maxx and Friars Walk was confirmed by the South Wales Argus and Western Mail in various reports. Simon Pullen, Friars Walk manager, stated "It is true that we have been in discussions with a number of retailers for space at Friars Walk and yes TK Maxx has been one of them. There are, as always a number of discussions going on with a number of local and national retailers for space at both Friars Walk and the Kingsway. As an industry, leasing tends to be slow from deals being signed in the first quarter of the year but we expect this to ramp up now and hope to announce new retailers very soon."

BRYNGLAS TUNNELS TEMPORARY CLOSURE 

Mar 31 - As part of the Brynglas Tunnels refurbishment project there will be a number of weekend tunnel closures. The first closure is scheduled to take place from 8pm Saturday, April 1 to 6am on Monday, April 3 and will be in effect on the M4 westbound carriageway from Junction 25a to Junction 26. The closure will be restricted to the westbound carriageway only and will prevent traffic travelling through the westbound tunnel. It will not affect traffic movement at Junctions 25a or 26. The closure will be clearly signposted and a designated diversion for all through traffic will be signed via the A48 (Southern Distributor Road) between Junctions 24 and 28.

FAMILY OF WOMAN KILLED IN CLARENCE PLACE ISSUE STATEMENT

Mar 29 - The family of a woman who died in a crash on a bridge in Newport last week have paid tribute to her. In a statement, her family said she would be sadly missed but is now at peace. Pamela was involved in the incident on Clarence Place on the 23rd of March. It was announced she passed away earlier today.
"Following the tragic events last week, we are sad to announce that Pamela Lancaster (nee Bunce) has passed away. She will be sadly missed by all her family, now at peace.
We would like to thank the emergency services and all the staff at Cardiff University Hospital critical care unit for all their help and kindness." – FAMILY STATEMENT

SOLDIERS TO MARCH THROUGH CITY CENTRE

Mar 28 - Soldiers from the 104th Regiment Royal Artillery will be marking their 50th anniversary by taking part in a Freedom Parade through the city centre on Saturday 1 April.
The Mayor of Newport Councillor David Atwell and Leader of Newport City Council, Councillor Debbie Wilcox, will be among the guests at the event. The Regiment has strong links to the city as an Army Reserve unit is based in Raglan Barracks and the Freedom of Newport was granted to them in 1978. Around 100 soldiers will exercise their right to parade through the city with colours flying, drums beating and bayonets fixed as they are led by the Band of the Royal Artillery.
The parade will start at Cambrian Road at 12.30pm continuing onto Bridge Street then High Street to the D-Day Memorial where a short ceremony will take place. The Mayor will inspect the parade and Councillor Wilcox will read out the Freedom Scroll. The Parade Commander will then request permission to parade through the city. The parade will then reform and travel down High Street, cross Stow Hill and follow Commercial Street to its junction with Charles Street and Llanarth Street.

UP TO TEN TEACHING REDUNDANCIES AT BASSALEG SCHOOL BLAMED ON BUDGET CUTS

Mar 26 - Newport's best performing school, Bassaleg, has announced that there will be up to ten teaching redundancies following Council budget cuts. Chairman of Governors David Williams stated "There will be between five and ten redundancies....we will avoid any compulsory redundancies....there will be a restriction on the courses provided." He went on to say "This is difficult and has been forced upon us. We have had a £300,000 cut in our budget (currently £6 million)". Newport Council confirmed the cut but stated £164k was attributable to a cut in Welsh Government funding for post-16 education. 

LABOUR MAKES SEVEN PLEDGES TO GAIN VOTER SUPPORT

Mar 26 - Newport Labour Party make seven pledges to the electorate as it faces May's local government election with some trepidation. The pledges include driving forward the regeneration of Newport, improving education and battling anti-social behaviour. Speaking at the launch event at Horton’s Coffee House in Millennium Walk, leader Cllr Debbie Wilcox said: “This administration has been a hard-working and committed group of people doing their level best for the people of Newport in the face of huge cuts imposed from Westminster as part of the Tories’ austerity programme. “This is no cosy club. This is an administration that puts the people of Newport first, always.” Newport Independents retorted "A vote for us in May won't let Labour or the Tories in, it will let you in, its what the #cosyclub are really frightened of#realchange" Newport's Conservatives campaigning in the Gaer claimed the Labour vote in the area was 'softer than a Mr Whippy ice cream.'

PEDESTRIAN HAS 'LIFE THREATENING' INJURIES AFTER CRASH

Mar 24 - A pedestrian has been airlifted to hospital after being hit by a car in Newport. Gwent Police said the woman had sustained "life-threatening injuries" in the crash involving a silver Ford Focus at Clarence Place at 13:30 GMT on Thursday. Newport Town Bridge was shut been shut in both directions for five hours.

CONTRACTOR APPOINTED FOR PILL REGENERATION SCHEME

Mar 24 - Newport City Homes has appointed the contractor for their £7.9million regeneration scheme in Pillgwenlly. United Living will carry out the work, which will see garages in Knight Close, Coulson Close, Francis Street and Alma Street demolished. Nine one-bedroom flats and two three-bedroom houses will be built, as well as a new community hub. This work is part of a £10million investment in the area.
NCH board chair Jane Mudd said: “This is wonderful news and makes us one step closer to completing our vision for Pillgwenlly. These ambitious plans are a result of a dedicated group of residents, retailers and the wider community working with us to understand the unique and diverse needs of their community." The project also involves re-cladding the outside surfaces of a number of the existing buildings to improve their appearance, and removing a basketball court in Francis Drive, which is often the target of anti-social behaviour. In its place, two new areas of open space and parking will be created.

CONCERN OVER AIR POLLUTION IN CAERLEON

Mar 24 - Conservative candidate in the local elections Michael Enea has raised concerns regarding air pollution in Caerleon near to the Charles Williams Primary School. Figures produced by Mr Enea show high levels of nitrogen dioxide particularly in High Street, Caerleon. He states this is extremely worrying given that young children are walking through polluted zones to get the school. He claims that the Council has done little to address the problem and that the prevalence of HGV lorries is a particular issue. He states the Council is proposing a new study into the impact of diesel vehicles. He also warns that a new housing application expected to amount to 400 houses for the former Campus site will increase pollution and should be rejected on that basis.

POLICE APPEAL FOLLOWING DEATH OF LLANDEVAUD WOMAN

Mar 23 - Police are appealing for witnesses after a 21-year-old woman died of her injuries following a road crash in Newport. On 16th March at around 7.29am police were called to road traffic collision,on the A48 between Newport and Chepstow. The incident involved a black Range Rover Evogue and a grey Toyota Yaris. Rhiannon Smith from the Llandevaud area of Newport was taken to hospital, but sadly since died of her injuries. The family of Rhiannon said: “Rhiannon, eldest daughter of Julian and Gill Smith and sister to Sophie, was a wonderful young lady. She completed a degree in Sociology at Cardiff University last year and was currently completing her PGCE at Gloucester University to fulfil her ambition to become a junior school teacher. Her enthusiasm for teaching was difficult to match. She had recently said that she was having the happiest time of her life and thanked her family for enabling her to achieve these wonderful goals. Rhiannon had been applying for teaching jobs in London where she hoped to move next year to begin a new life with her boyfriend. Rhiannon was the life and soul of a party, and left a mark on everyone she met. "
Anyone with information relating to the collision is asked to call Gwent Police on 101.

WRU PROPOSAL EXPECTED TO BE PUT TO SHAREHOLDERS

Mar 18 - A proposal by the Welsh Rugby Union to purchase Rodney Parade and guarantee it as a facility for Newport RFC and Newport Gwent Dragons for a term of ten years is expected to be put to Newport RFC shareholders in the next three weeks. The 936 shareholders could also be asked to consider the sale of some of the land and buildings at Rodney Parade to pay off debts to creditors such as the Union, Tony Brown and Martyn Hazell. Newport RFC (and before it Newport Athletic Club) has owned Rodney Parade since the early 1880's. New developments and loans taken out by the directors of Newport Gwent Dragons were secured against the assets of Newport RFC. The regional / professional team has been bankrolled by Newport RFC directors since it was founded in 2003, no financial contributions to the team have been made by any of the other 72 teams who are part of the so-called 'Gwent region'.

NEWPORT INDEPENDENTS GET SET TO TAKE ON LABOUR

Mar 18 - The Newport Independents Party has now been officially registered as a political party and is set to take on Labour in May's Council Elections by running candidates right across the City.

FRIARS WALK FREE PARKING INITIATIVE

Mar 18 - Car parking in Newport's Friars Walk Shopping Centre will be free from March 26 - April 16 in a bid to improve Sunday trading. It is not clear whether the proposal also applies to the Kingsway car park next door. COMMENT - this is a much needed initiative. Sundays can be quiet whereas in other centres they state it is their busiest day. Friars Walk has so much to offer in terms of leisure and eateries that this should bring in additional shoppers and some who go to retail parks, Cribbs, Cardiff and Cwmbran. It should also apply to Kingsway Car Park too to really make an impact. Hopefully, this will bring in new businesses to the city centre as the regeneration seems to be stuttering so badly.

LIDL EXPANSION / TK MAXX LINK TO FRIARS WALK

Mar 18 - Supermarket Lidl is set to extend its Newport central store to meet demand. In addition the land adjacent to the supermarket will be utilised as additional car parking for the store. Designer outlet TK Maxx has been linked to the Friars Walk development with a potential store in the centre of the Mall also occupying part of the units currently empty on Dock Street. Independent designer / craft store Crafted has moved premises to a new expanded unit in the Kingsway. A recent study showed Newport to be amongst the worst places in the UK for shoplifting (11th overall), it is just ahead of Cardiff. 

PREMIER INN DELAYS CONTINUE

Mar 18 -  Premier Inn's development on High Street has been subject to a further dispute regarding noise. The nightclub owner at the centre of a row over noise levels at a new Premier Inn site in Newport has denied that his clubs are to blame for the continuing dispute. Iftekhar Harris, who owns Warehouse 54 and two other clubs in Cambrian Road, claimed that the developers of the new hotel had not acted on expert advice that could solve the problem.
Richard Hayward, who is redeveloping the property, has claimed that Premier Inn could walk away from the project because the noise issue has not been resolved. But Mr Harris claimed to Wales Online that the developers had not followed advice from acoustic experts that the hotel needed to be physically separated from Warehouse 54, which is next door. The development of the hotel, which received planning permission in 2012, has cost millions including a £450,000 grant from the Welsh Government.

WELSH ASSEMBLY TURNS UP FOR A FEW DAYS

Mar 18 - #SeneddNewport is the third time the Welsh Assembly has taken to the road, after visiting Swansea and Wrexham in 2015 they are set to come to Newport. We will be hosting a series of events across the city between 20-25 March, working with schools, colleges and community groups. They will be in Friars Walk and Committee meetings in the USW Campus building.

APPEAL FOR WITNESSES

Mar 16 - Police officers in Newport are currently investigating a serious two vehicle collision between a black Range Rover Evogue and a grey Toyota Yaris. The incident occurred on the A48 between Newport and Chepstow, at approximately 7.30am this morning.
A 21 year old woman is currently receiving treatment in hospital for serious injuries and specialist officers are supporting her family at this time. The male driver of the other vehicle is also receiving treatment at hospital. If you were travelling along this road and have any information which you believe may be relevant please call us on 101 quoting log number 51 16/3/19.

SINGER COLLAPSES ON STAGE

Mar 16 - Sixties pop legend Gerry Marsden dramatically collapsed onstage during a gig with his band the Pacemakers just four years after his last heart operation. Marsden, 74, fell on his back in front of shocked fans while singing Peaceful Easy Feeling by the Eagles at his show at Newport's Riverfront Theatre as part of his UK tour. The star, who underwent a triple heart bypass in 2003 and a replacement heart valve operation in 2012, was said by audience members to look 'visibly shaken and in pain.' He apologised to the concerned audience before leaving the stage - as the rest of the band carried on with the 'Gerry Cross the Mersey' show.

ROGERSTONE LIBRARY TEMPORARY CLOSURE

Mar 15 - Rogerstone Library is to close for two weeks so work can go ahead to refurbish the building. The library, one of the most popular in Newport, will be closed from Monday, 20 March to Monday, 3 April. The refurbishment works are being carried out to meet changing customer expectations and to improve the service delivery experience. Once completed, the improvements will make the library more user friendly and include a bigger junior section. During this closure, the opening hours of Tredegar House Library will be extended to offer alternative library provision for users.
Tredegar House Library extended hours are closed Monday, Tuesday 9am-1pm, 2pm-4.30pm; Wednesday 9am-12.30 and 1.30pm to 4.30pm; Thursday and Friday 9am to 1pm and 2pm until 4.30pm and Saturday 9am until 1pm.

FRANKIE AND BENNY'S ON THE MARKET

Mar 15 - Real estate adviser Savills has been appointed to sell six Restaurant Group venues, including a Frankie & Benny's in Newport. The Restaurant Group initially appointed Savills to dispose of 23 eateries in January 2017, five months after revealing plans to close 33 sites as part of a turnaround plan. The additional restaurants now up for sale are Frankie & Benny's in Borehamwood, Newport and Edinburgh, along with Coast to Coast venues in Nottingham and Hemel Hempstead. A former Frankie & Benny's in Gateshead is also on the market.

MARKET WELCOMES NEW BUSINESSES

Mar 14 - Newport Market is set to welcome three new businesses after they won a competition run by Newport City Council in conjunction with Newport Norse. The competition invited people with business ideas that could work in Newport Market to pitch their idea to a Dragons’ Den style panel. From the many entries received, a dozen were invited to pitch the panel, all vying for stall space on the ground floor level. Judges chose Cherish Clothing Boutique, run by Catherine Farmer and Ffion Cox, as the overall winner out of a field of 12 finalists.
Their first place prize of a rent-free stall for 12 months means they can now open a small clothing boutique aiming to win customers including business people, expectant mothers and students. The two runners-up, who won licence free units for six months, are Jacki Tyler, who wants to run a beauty/complementary therapy stall offering nail care treatments, facials, massages, aromatherapy and reflexology, and Pattarika Bankluay who wants to offer customers Thai food ready-meals.

NEWSQUEST JOB LOSSES - OPPOSITION SAYS GRANT AID SHOULD BE RE-PAID

Mar 13 - Opposition parties have called for answers after it was revealed a newspaper firm cutting jobs in Newport was given more than £340,000 grant aid. The Welsh Government gave Newsquest £245,000 in 2015 to expand a sub-editing hub now closing with the loss of 14 jobs, with work moving to Dorset. In 2013-14 the company got more than £95,000 from the Skills Growth Fund. Plaid Cymru asked if the firm "stuck to their end of the bargain" while a Tory AM asked if the money should be repaid.
Newsquest, whose papers include the Newport-based South Wales Argus, opened the sub-editing hub in 2013.
At its peak the unit employed more than 70 people, checking off material written by reporters from 100 daily and weekly newspapers across the UK. After two rounds of job cuts in 2016, the hub will now close in April, with work moving to Weymouth, Dorset.
Earlier this week, a Newsquest spokesman said the workload had reduced "significantly" due to an "improvement in workflow across all of our newsrooms".
Asked about the grant aid, the Welsh Government spokesman said: "In 2015 we provided £245,808 to Newsquest towards the creation of 50 jobs and the safeguarding of 15 jobs at its facility in Maesglas, Newport. "The award was conditional on the jobs being in place until May 2020. This operation well exceeded its planned job creation target. We were very sorry to hear that Newsquest decided to undertake several rounds of redundancies at the operation during 2016, which has seen staffing levels reduce significantly."

COUNCIL CLAIMS IT IS GETTING TOUGH ON LITTER LOUTS

Mar 10 - Dropping litter on the streets of Newport has led to almost 1,000 people being fined by Newport City Council. In the nine months leading up to Christmas last year, the council’s enforcement team issued 940 penalty notices. And those who refused to pay the £75 fixed penalty notice ended up in court.

Most of the offences involved littering, but 10 dog owners were also issued with Fixed Penalty Notices, and 50 people were fined £50 each for smoking in an enclosed place. Of those issued with notices, 620 people paid the £75 fixed penalty, with total fines of £45,560. The 166 people who refused to pay, were prosecuted through the courts, and all either pleaded guilty or were subsequently found guilty. As well as the fine, the courts also added costs, so offenders ended up paying substantially more than the £75 fixed penalty notice. Offenders who pleaded guilty in court faced costs of around £120 plus a victim surcharge of £30. Those who failed to turn up at court had their cases proven in absence, and were fined around £220 plus costs of £120 and victim surcharge of £30.

FLY TIPPER FINED £1,000

Mar 8 - A man who dumped waste materials on the side of a road has been fined £1,000 by Newport Magistrates. The court was told a policeman witnessed Mindagugas Kalonas of Warner Road, London, fly-tipping building waste on July 3 last year in a layby on the A4042, Heidenheim Drive in Newport. Mr Kalonas pleaded guilty to fly-tipping, contravening section 33 of the 1990 Environmental Protection Act. As well as the fine, he was also ordered to pay £175 costs, and a victim surcharge of £30.

Councillor Ray Truman, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Sustainability and Transport, said he was delighted to see such a case go through the courts. “We can’t stress strongly enough that fly-tippers and their anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated in our city. Luckily this incident was reported so the perpetrator could be taken to court and given a substantial fine. We will not hesitate to fine offenders in the future, but we need people who witness such incidents to report it to us so we can gather evidence and prosecute offenders,” said Cllr Truman.

Newport City Council’s Pride in Newport campaign was set up to tackle problems such as fly-tipping, and has three dedicated waste enforcement officers actively targeting fly-tippers, and those who fail to dispose of their rubbish responsibly. A new travel business in Newport city centre has got off to a flying start after receiving financial assistance from the city council. Last year, a business development fund was established and one of the initiatives was a shop subsidy grant scheme towards the first year of rent for a new venture.

TRAVEL AGENT SET-UP SUPPORTED BY COUNCIL

Mar 6 - Jayde Nassa is one of the businesses that have so far successfully applied for a grant and she recently opened Nassa Travel in the National Buildings, Commercial Street. She has opened her new business in the city where she was born and bred. The young mum has worked in the travel industry since she was 16 when she began an apprenticeship with Thomas Cook and became one of the top local salespeople by the time she was 19. "In 2015, I started my own online business and as it grew it gave me more confidence. The shop subsidy grant from Newport City Council is brilliant and it will definitely make a difference, especially in the first year."

CITY DEAL - PLAID LEADER CALLS FOR SPECIAL STATUS FOR NEWPORT

Mar 5 - Speaking at yesterday's Plaid Cymru Spring Conference in Newport party leader Leanne Wood has called for the Cardiff City Region Deal to distribute expenditure rather than concentrate investment in Cardiff. During her address to the party faithful in Newport she said  all areas must benefit, with Newport afforded special status as the second city in the region. She said "Too many communities in Wales feel neglected, left behind by the government in Cardiff Bay and in Westminster" . Earlier in her remarks Ms Wood called the demolition by Newport's Labour Council of the Chartist Mural "terrible". Wood visited the Tiny Rebel Brewery as part of her visit along with Steffan Lewis AM. Jonathan Clark, who is standing for Plaid Cymru in the city’s Allt-yr-yn Ward, pledged that he will work to make people’s day-to-day life better in their communities. He highlighted the concerns of local communities over the loss of green areas, lack of jobs and chronic underinvestment in housing and infrastructure.
Clark, said: “At a local and at a national level we need to make politics work again. Our communities face similar problems, the loss of green space, over development, a shortage of affordable housing and a lack of sustainable long-term development to create and sustain jobs. Here in Newport we have a self-serving ruling clique that locally mirrors the Labour Welsh government’s indifference to our national and local interests”.

MAIN CAERLEON CAMPUS BUILDING LISTED

Mar 5 - Attempts by University of South Wales to asset strip the former University of Wales Newport were dealt a blow when the Welsh Government announced that parts of the main building will now have listed status. Parts of the former University of South Wales Caerleon Campus have been awarded listed status by the Welsh Government. The historic main campus building was under threat of being demolished in a housing plan. The University of South Wales left the 32-acre site in July last year, and later launched a public consultation on plans for the site’s future use. One of the proposals was residential housing that would see the training college demolished to make way for between 200 to 400 houses built on the site- a suggestion which sparked anger and protests from Caerleon residents. 250 residents attended the meeting to discuss the proposals in April 2016.
A listed building or listed structure, in the United Kingdom, is one that has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Any development should preserve the character of a listed building.

DELIVEROO STARTS UP

Mar 3 - Restaurant delivery service Deliveroo has launched in Newport this week (1 March 2017), with more than 50 jobs set to be created over the next year. More than 15 restaurants have signed up to the service, including Vittorio's, Chiquito, Burger & Co and Meat Bar & Grill. Newport represents the 100th city for Deliveroo and the company said more than 50 jobs would be created there over the course of the first year, the majority of these being Deliveroo riders.
Caroline Hazlehurst, general manager at Deliveroo, said: "We're extremely excited to be launching in Newport and we're looking forward to bringing some of the town's delicious dishes straight from the hands of local chefs to customers' doors.
"We already have a number of great partners across the town and we are excited to expand and widen the variety of restaurants on offer to our customers in Newport over the course of the next year." Simon Pullen, centre director for Friars Walk, added: "It's great news that Deliveroo are coming to Newport and with six of our popular restaurants involved, we look forward to being part of something so innovative in the city."

GO COMPARE LOOKING FOR CITY TALENT TO BOOST BUSINESS

Mar 3 - Gocompare.com will beef up its technology by recruiting from the "world class" talent available in the Newport area, according to the comparison site’s chief executive.
Matthew Crummack told Insider Media Wales: “We have had really good success in recruiting talented people locally. We're super happy with the people we’re hiring. Our chief technology officer (Jackson Hull), who has worked in California, has said that we can find world class talent in Newport." The Newport company yesterday (2 March 2017) unveiled a 19.5 per cent rise in revenues to £142.1m for the year to December 2016, its first results statement since demerging from esure Group. Its operating profit rose to £30m from £23.1m after the cost of its listing on the London Stock Market was taken out.
Gocompare currently employs 190 staff. Crummack said that number could rise to 200 by the end of 2017, but added that the company had not set a target for jobs. Crummack said that, of every ten UK consumers, only two had switched provider for services such as insurance in the past year, and two have never switched. He told Insider: "We need to innovate to find opportunity among the six out of ten that sometimes switch, and the two that never do. We are excited about that."

NEW BUS SERVICE LAUNCHES

Mar 2 - Newport Bus is launching a new express-style bus service linking key towns in south Monmouthshire to Newport. The new hourly service will connect Chepstow, Caldicot and Magor to the city with journey times being reduced thanks to the route’s limited number of stops. It also serves the new Glan Llyn housing development in the east of the City. The X74 service is an expansion of Newport Bus’ network in the county where it already provides a number of important rural services. It will operate from 06.10 until 20.00 from Monday to Friday with a reduced service on Saturdays. Explaining more about the new service Morgan Stevens, Operations Director, said: “We have engaged very closely with our customers in Monmouthshire to learn more about their views regarding the kinds of bus services they would like. We realised a more express-style service that gave people a quicker route to Newport and the opposite way to south Monmouthshire was important and this has been the driver behind the new service. “With smartcard technology and free wi-fi on our buses the service is great for both commuters and leisure travellers and is part of our commitment to our customers to continue investing in our services and bus fleet as much as we can.” The X74 service launches on Monday, March 6.

CRISIS ON COMMERCIAL STREET CONTINUES

Mar 2 - The seemingly never-ending closure of shops in Commercial Street has continued with two more retailers set to shut their doors. Moments and Thorntons will be closing their stores, the latter on April 29.

HOVERBOARD MAN SET TO GET CUSTODIAL SENTENCE

Mar 1 - A man who sold a hoverboard which burst into flames has been given a custodial sentence following a Newport City Council investigation. Aktar Hussain of Aston, Birmingham appeared at Newport Crown Court on Friday 24 February 2017 where he was sentenced to a six-month custodial sentence.
In November 2015 a Newport consumer bought three hoverboards from Hussain via his eBay shop (Move4ward2011) as Christmas presents for her children. On Christmas Day 2015 one of the hoverboards started to smoke after a period of being on charge. Luckily, the consumer took it immediately outside where it burst into flames and exploded. The incident was caught on CCTV which showed fragments of the exploding hoverboard hitting patio doors at face height.
The consumer contacted Newport City Council’s trading standards team who investigated the matter. Examination of the hoverboard chargers by an expert electrical engineer revealed that they failed a number of aspects of electrical safety regulations.
Hussain was unable to say who he had purchased the hoverboards from and further claimed that he was not in trade but that the eBay shop was run by a friend and he merely sold the hoverboards through the shop.
However, a trace on the Paypal payment made by the consumer revealed that Hussain received the money into his Paypal account which had a balance over £32,000 and had received £2.82 million into it since its creation in 2004.
Thirty-five year old Hussain pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Newport Magistrates Court but due to the seriousness of the matter it was sent to Crown Court for sentencing.

MAJOR CONCERN AS NEWPORT DWP JOBS SET TO MOVE TO CARDIFF

Feb 26 - The Department for Works and Pensions  back office service in Kingsway could be set to close with jobs transferred to Cardiff, according to a Wales Online article. The public and civil services union (PCS) states that hundreds of jobs could be lost as the DWP commits to close offices in Caerphilly, Cwmbran, Merthyr, Newport and Porth over the next 3-5 years. The DWP says the back of house offices here will all move to one office in the Cardiff area yet again hitting the Newport city centre economy and those of the valleys. The DWP spokesman added the intention is not to make redundancies as many staff will transfer locally to other offices.  "In total it’s expected that across the whole of the UK there may not be more than 750 job losses so the 1,000 job losses PCS quote is wholly inaccurate," the spokesman said.

COUNCIL BACK-TRACKS ON EDUCATION CUTS

Feb 26 - Newport Council has backtracked on proposed education cuts as it has agreed a budget for the new financial year and a 3.5 per cent Council Tax rise. The proposals now look ham-fisted and created a political storm in a key service area for the Council. Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “We asked people to let us know what areas were important to them, where we could make improvements, and where we should prioritise funding. We were very pleased with the response from both the public and our partners with replies up considerably on last year. We have given all the feedback careful consideration and as a result, additional funds have been allocated to key areas including education and care.We have to deliver a balanced budget, and this is proving harder and harder each year as the demand for services grows, yet our funding from Westminster continues to reduce.”

In response to feedback from the consultation, following fierce criticism from schools particularly in the primary sector, an additional £1.1million has been allocated to the budget for Newport’s schools. Primary heads had written to cabinet member for education Councillor Gail Giles warning the council’s proposed savings will mean £227 less spent on each pupil per year and that hundreds of teaching jobs would have to go. The Council states although additional funding has been consistently given to schools over the last few years – either meeting or exceeding the level of the Welsh Government pledge – it was recognised that education in Newport could be affected without this continuing level of support. Matthew Evans, leader of the opposition Conservative group on Newport council and governor of Clytha and Glasllwch primary schools said the severity of the proposed cuts had “sent shock waves through every school in the city”.

“Providing excellent education for all our students is a major priority for the council. We are pleased to be proposing this additional budget, which the schools will be able to spend on their own priority areas. We will continue to work with them to help them best manage the funds available and to plan for the challenges and inevitable savings in future years. We have carefully managed the council budget, and as a result we have some funds available to reinvest. Education is an area we all agree is worthy of such investment.” said Councillor Wilcox.

A review of domiciliary care had also originally been proposed. Councillor Wilcox, added: “There was a clear message from the consultation that people wanted this service to remain delivered by the council itself. We’ve listened, given it further consideration, and decided to protect this service for the foreseeable future.” The Cabinet also put forward a 3.5 per cent Council Tax rise for the year – less than the 4 per cent which was consulted on. Council Wilcox said: “Although Council Tax accounts for less than one fifth of our overall budget, we fully recognise that it is a considerable monthly outgoing for our residents.

AM ASKS WHY CYBER SECURITY JOBS ARE NOT COMING TO NEWPORT

Feb 25 - Steffan Lewis Plaid Cymru AM for South East Wales has asked why key fobs have been overlooked for Newport. Writing in the South Wales Argus this week he said "this week saw the opening of a new National Cyber-Security Centre in London. Newport has a cutting-edge Cyber-Security Academy based in the University of South Wales that is training its students to be world-leaders in this fast growing field. The Welsh Government should have done everything possible to get that new Centre based in Newport, to build on the work that’s being done there and make sure the community benefits from new jobs. But they didn’t."

WORK STARTS ON KINGSWAY OPEN SPACE

Feb 25 - A project to create an open space between two thoroughfares in Newport's city centre has begun and is due to be completed later in the spring. Newport City Council has demolished buildings to create a gateway between Commercial Street and Kingsway. St Paul's Walk will be landscaped and, as well as providing a pleasant new pedestrian route, it could potentially be used for staging events in the future. The work has been carried out as part of the Welsh Government funded Vibrant and Viable Places programme. It will complement other schemes that are making a real difference in that part of the city centre. Properties, including the historic National Buildings, have undergone renovation to create improved shopping and business units. A project to improve a row of buildings opposite Mariner's Green, including the Alma pub, is nearing completion.

There are also plans to demolish some properties around the Park Square car part entrance to create flats and improve the pedestrian access to the car park. On the opposite side of the road, proposals to demolish some of Emlyn Walk and create a public square have also been approved. Councillor John Richards, Newport City Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Investment, said: "While Friars Walk has made a huge difference, we recognised that other parts of the city centre also needed some attention and we have used the VVP programme to help businesses make enhancement to their properties. It has already made an impact and, when all the projects are completed - by the council, private and third sector - they will make a significant difference for the benefit of businesses, residents and visitors."

PLANNING AND RETAIL UPDATE

Feb 23 - The Cambrian Inn in Pill is set to become education and training centre in proposal put to City planners. Plans to redevelop the former Carcraft car showroom in Newport for retail and wholesale use are also set to get the go ahead from councillors next week. Nine smaller units would be created with four proposed for 'bulky goods' retail and five for wholesale trade use. Alteration and re-cladding work will also be undertaken. In addition, demolition proposals are now in for the former Sainsbury's site in Shaftesbury from Wye Valley projects.

In the retail sector T.J. Hughes is set to reoccupy site at Newport East retail park. Subway is now occupying a building near Newport City Homes headquarters on Dock Street. A dessert parlour chain and fashion retailer are now occupying space on Commercial Street in Newport following the completion of two deals. Dessert chain Kaspas has taken 8,310 sq ft of space at 137 Commercial Street at a rent of £42,500 per annum. The company offers a range of ice creams, gelatos, waffles, crepes, milkshakes, smoothies and sundaes. Its Newport store joining other Welsh sites in Bridgend, Cardiff, Cwmbran, Swansea and Wrexham. Meanwhile, clothing retailer Fashionista has agreed a deal for the 2,497 sq ft 140 Commercial Street at a quoting rent of £600 per month. Property advisory firm Fletcher Morgan acted for landlord BMO Real Estate Partners on both deal. EJ Hales represented Kaspas Newport Ltd while DTR Surveyors acted for Fashionista Ltd.
 
COUNCIL WELCOMES PARKING ENFORCEMENT

Feb 26 - Newport City Council welcomes the action being taken by Gwent Police in tackling drivers who park illegally across the city. Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Sustainability and Transport, Councillor Ray Truman, expressed delight at the recent crackdown, particularly in the city centre area of the Stow Hill Ward, after residents had complained to him and the Police about the problem.

However he stressed that there were also many other areas of the city with serious parking issues and called for enforcement action in the areas outside of the centre. A spokeswoman for Gwent Police said officers recognise illegal parking within the Stow Hill Ward is a particular problem. However officers regularly patrol the city centre and surrounding residential areas to enforce parking restrictions.

More than 1,100 tickets have been issued so far this financial year. Community Support Officers recently carried out an enforcement operation where 70 fixed penalty tickets were issued for various parking offences in one day; from Monday to Thursday in the week ending February 17, police issued 48 tickets throughout the ward. A spokeswoman for Gwent Police said: “Parking enforcement is one of the many competing demands that come with policing the city centre. We will continue to allocate resources to this problem, but we have to balance this with the other priorities that local residents tell us are also important to them such as dealing with anti-social behaviour and crime. "

GEORGE STREET FIRE - MAN TO BE SENTENCED

Feb 23 - A man suffered severe burns and caused £220,000 worth of damage when he blew up his own home. William Flindell, 50, needed two months of specialist treatment in hospital after the blast in Newport last April. Flindell has admitted arson, being reckless as to whether life is endangered, and will be sentenced in the next 10 days. Newport Crown Court heard Flindell tampered with the gas supply in an attempt to kill himself. Properties either side of Flindell's George Street home were damaged and three people were hurt in the explosion. Flindell suffered life-threatening injuries, including burns to 58% of his body. Psychiatric and probation reports said Flindell had acute and severe depressive illness. Flindell was remanded into custody until his sentencing.

NEW PRODUCT FOR PANCAKE DAY

Feb 21 - Newport-based maple syrup manufacturer Clarks UK is set to launch a new product in time for Pancake Day. The company has launched what is said to be the UK’s first red maple syrup, tapped during the red maple harvest in Quebec, Canada, in early spring.

It follows a period of growth for the company with turnover rising by 24 per cent in 2016 and total sales up by more than 25 per cent for the first quarter of this financial year. Bob Clark established Clarks in 2008, having created Clarks original blend in his own kitchen, and the business now employs 35 staff at its factory on the Queensway Meadow Industrial Estate.

JOB CUTS AT HALO FOODS

Feb 17 - A UK manufacturer of snack bars has confirmed it has made a number of redundancies at its Newport base. Halo Foods, which has a site at Queensway Meadows Industrial Estate, has told the South Wales Argus that 32 roles have been  lost.

DJ JAILED FOR 14 YEARS

Feb 16 - A DJ has been jailed for 14 years for chopping off a man's finger with a meat cleaver and posting a picture of it on Snapchat. Malachi Halstead, 35, from Newport, attacked Teerath Mann in August 2016 because he thought he was stealing from him. Halstead, known as DJ Madskie, put the picture on the messaging app saying: "See that? I chopped that off." He was found guilty of wounding with intent at Cardiff Crown Court.
His partner Nicole Seaborne, also from Newport, was cleared of providing him with the weapon.

WALES' MOST PRODUCTIVE CITY - SO WHY DOES INVESTMENT SO MUCH INVESTMENT GO ELSEWHERE?

Feb 11 - An influential report published this week revealed that levels of productivity in Newport are higher than Cardiff and Swansea. Despite this a significant amount of public investment and Welsh Government supported investment is going into the Cardiff area including a vast new BBC building, HMRC offices and new investments in Cardiff Bay. Cities Outlook 2017, produced by Centre for Cities, examined important data from 62 cities in the UK. Its main focus was on exports to the EU and the rest of the world in the wake of the Brexit vote, but also at economic performance. One of the aspects Centre for Cities looked at was gross value added (GVA) which is the measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area. In Newport, the GVA per worker in 2015 was £45,600 compared to £44,800 in Cardiff and £42,800 in Swansea. The Newport's figure was also better than some English cities.
The report said that productivity and innovation are drivers of long-run economic growth. Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said: "These figures show why Newport is a great place to do business. Our city has been through some very tough times as a result of the global recession, but we have a fantastic workforce that have a lot to offer employers. Where the council is able to make a difference, we are doing everything we can to help make the city a better place to live, work and visit. We are full participants in the City Deal which will invest £1.2 billion in the south east Wales region, including Newport, over the next two decades."

HUGE ANTI-DRUGS OPERATION LEADS TO 28 ARRESTS

Feb 11 - Following the drugs operation that took place in Newport on Tuesday 28 people have now been arrested. Eleven men from the Newport area are appearing at Newport Magistrates court throughout today charged with possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.
Six men have been charged and bailed pending a court date. Two men has been bailed pending further enquiries and nine others have been arrested and enquiries are ongoing. Congratulating the Force, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, said: “I want to congratulate Gwent Police and other partners involved in this operation. The spread of Class A Drugs is a huge problem for society and the steps taken by the Force to seriously disrupt the supply and distribution of these illegal drugs is to be commended.
“I now look forward to continuing our work to build good community cohesion and enhance further partnership working to do our best to ensure that this scourge is kept out of our communities.”
The force said 300 officers carried out 14 simultaneous warrants in Newport at 05:00 GMT on Tuesday, after three hours of briefings.

NEW HOTEL PLAN FOR LANGSTONE

Feb 11 - A screening opinion (the first stage of a planning application) has been lodged with the Council for a new hotel adjacent to the Coldra Court Hotel owned by the Celtic Manor in Langstone. The new 160 bed hotel would be situated on the existing car park. It is not clear if it is an extension of the existing hotel or an entirely new hotel. The new Convention Centre will hopefully act as a spur for new developments on the edge of junction 24 and in the city centre. 

BURGER KING TO SPYTTY / NEW COFFEE SHOP FOR FRIARS BUS STATION

Feb 10 - Burger King is planning to open a new drive thru restaurant at Newport Retail Park. The plans were submitted to the City Council this week. Hi Coffee, already well established in Newport, plans top open a fifth store to serve the Friars Walk Bus Station. Work is under way on two units at Kingsway Centre with Crafted set to relocate again, adjacent to Boswells. Principality Building Society are set to occupy the refurbished unit adjacent to Starbucks. Former Newport rugby player Paul Young has purchased the Taylor Wimpey building near to Newport's Town Bridge and plans to turn this into a New York style cafe / deli bar.

STEELWORKS SITE SET FOR 529 HOMES

Feb 10 - The site of the former Whiteheads steelworks site, earmarked originally for a new hospital, will now become 529 homes under plans submitted to Newport City Council and also include a new primary school next to Mendalgief Retail Park. It is hoped the scheme will deliver 50 per cent of the properties as affordable living. Following the end of planning consultation that has lasted nearly eighteen months work is expected to start shortly.

EDUCATION GRADES GOING GREEN IN NEWPORT

Feb 9 - Newport City Council has welcomed some high marks for its schools in the latest national categorisation, with its primary schools coming out on top in Wales. The performance of every school in Wales is awarded a colour by Welsh Government - green, yellow, amber or red. Schools rated green are doing well and are deemed to be in need of the least support, while schools in the red category are those needing most support.
In the latest assessment, Newport has the highest proportion of schools at primary level ranked green - highly effective (more than 52 per cent), and the highest percentage falling within green and yellow categories combined (93 per cent).
Councillor Gail Giles, Cabinet Member for Education and Young People, said: "We are of course pleased to see such a high number of our schools ranked so well. It is testament to the hard work of our governors, teachers, pupils, families and the council's education team.
"We pride ourselves on a good working relationship with our schools - as a council we support them at all times to not only maintain good standards, but to push themselves further, always striving to take education to a higher level. We also have the benefit of being part of the Education Achievement Service for south east Wales - itself a pioneering approach to school improvement in the region. Here we can draw upon expertise and experience from a broad field to help our schools flourish. We will continue to encourage ongoing improvement across our schools, and for those schools who may have more of an improvement journey ahead of them, we will ensure they are able to access all the support needed and available."

REDUCED LOAN MEANS COUNCIL WILL NEED TO REVIEW LANDMARK BUILDING PROJECTS

Feb 4 - Plans to bring a pair of prominent empty buildings in the centre of Newport back into use will now need be reviewed due to a funding shortfall. The Welsh Government announced it was handing out of taxpayer's money to the tune of £10 million in loans to projects regenerating empty sites and buildings across the country. Included in this is £750,000 to be put towards the redevelopment of the former home of the Newport passport office at Olympia House in Upper Dock Street as well as the Great Central Hall in Commercial Street.

Olympia House is set to be converted into apartments and new retail units. Austin-Smith Lord had been appointed by Wales’ leading Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru, to undertake a feasibility study on Newport’s Great Central Hall. Built in 1904, this once thriving cultural venue fell into decline after its last public performance in the 1960s by the Halle orchestra and has remained vacant ever since. Despite this, the Hall still has great potential to be used as a cultural and performing arts space and Sinfonia Cymru, in partnership with Newport City Council and the owners of the Commercial Street building are looking to restore the once iconic venue to use as a new home for the progressive orchestra.

A Council spokesperson stated  "The council bid was for £1.5 million so it will have to review its project proposals in the light of this reduced level of funding.”

DEVELOPMENT GRANT FOR THE MARKET ARCADE

Feb 3 - Newport City Council has received initial National Lottery support for a Townscape Heritage (TH) bid from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards developing a scheme to revitalise Market Arcade. Development funding of £177,300 has been awarded towards progressing regeneration plans with the longer term aim of breathing new life into the shopping thoroughfare.

The funding will be used to develop a project plan for the arcade and this will form the basis of a further application to the HLF later in the year to help the vision become a reality. Councillor John Richards stated “We have wanted for a long time to rejuvenate the arcade but it was difficult because of the multiplicity of owners.” He added: “The willingness of the majority of owners recently to work with the council has led us to this successful milestone and a renewed sense of purpose to get something done. The Heritage Lottery Fund’s decision to award this first phase of National Lottery funding is a fantastic achievement and will help us secure more than £1 million subject to a successful stage two bid for a scheme that would have a significant impact, not just on the arcade, but on the ongoing regeneration of that part of the city centre.”

CONVENTION CENTRE PROJECT MOVES FORWARD

Feb 3 - Construction of an £80m convention centre at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport is set to begin in March after funding was agreed between the venue, the Welsh Government and NatWest. The bank will provide a £51.5m loan facility to a joint venture company which will construct and manage the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales) as a 50/50 partnership between Welsh Government and Celtic Manor Resort.

ICC Wales is expected to cost a total of £83.7m to build and is scheduled to open in June 2019. It will be capable of accommodating up to 5,000 delegates with a total floor space of about 280,000 sq ft. The centre will feature a 1,500-seat auditorium as well as a 43,000 sq ft exhibition hall, set to provide the largest pillar-free ballroom in Europe, capable of hosting 2,400 people for a gala dinner.

Alongside funding for the project, the Welsh Government and Celtic Manor Resort have signed contracts to establish a shareholders' agreement and project management agreement to build and run ICC Wales. A construction contract has also been signed with the principal building contractor John Sisk and Son of Newport. Excavation work has already begun on land adjacent to the resort hotel and existing convention centre at Celtic Manor, with the two-year construction project to start in March 2017.

CAFE OWNER IN COURT AFTER FAILING TO DISPLAY HYGIENE NOTICE

Feb 3 - A Newport café owner has ended up in court for failing to publicly display their food hygiene rating. Following a routine food hygiene inspection by Newport City Council’s Environmental Health Officers, Cedars cafe in the city centre was awarded a zero food hygiene rating for poor standards.

The zero rating was awarded in May 2016 for the premises in Skinner Street, and officers later revisited the café to ensure hygiene standards had improved. Despite many warnings, the zero score was not displayed at Cedars, and in August 2016 a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 was served on the food business operator Josephine Roberts. Under food hygiene rules, if a premises wants to be rescored the owner has to pay for such a visit to take place. At this time Ms Roberts paid for a rescore inspection, however, as she failed to display the zero rating, such an inspection could not be carried out despite several attempts by Environmental Heath to resolve the matter. The fee was then refunded.

Even after further warnings, Ms Roberts continued to flout the law by failing to display the zero Food Hygiene Rating sticker, leaving Newport City Council no option but to prosecute. At Cwmbran Magistrates Court, on January 23, Ms Roberts pleaded guilty to the charge of failing to display the food hygiene rating and was given a conditional discharge for two years and ordered to pay full costs to the Council of £750 plus a £20 victim surcharge. However, a programmed food hygiene inspection was carried out this month resulting in Cedars Café being awarded a rating of 3, which means generally satisfactory. This rating is now being clearly displayed at the café.

HUMAN REMAINS FOUND AT RESERVOIR

Feb 3 - Gwent Police has confirmed officers have recovered suspected human remains at Wentwood Reservoir. Specialist teams were at the scene at Wentwood Reservoir this morning after a member of the public had reported making the discovery. Police say they were recovered for the purpose of identification and no further information is available at this time. The daughter of Sandie Bowen, who was murdered twenty years ago, told ITV News that there is a possibility the remains found could be her mother. Sandie Bowen disappeared from her home in 1997 and her body was never found. Despite protestations of innocence, her husband, Michael Bowen, was convicted of killing her. He was freed from prison in 2015 without revealing where her body was.

ARMED ROBBER GETS LIFE SENTENCE

Feb 3 - A 43-year-old Monmouthshire man has been given a life sentence after being found guilty of armed robbery at two betting shops in Newport and Caerleon.Gareth Williams was arrested in connection to the offences at a Betfred in Newport and William Hill in Caerleon in July 2016. He was later charged with two counts robbery and two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence. Gwent Police stated "These incidents were terrifying and distressing for all the victims involved. In both cases Gareth Williams threatened staff at the bookmakers with what appeared to be a firearm before demanding money and making off.".

BUILDINGS SOLD AT AUCTION

Feb 2 - The former Charles Street Adult Education Centre was sold for £250,000 at the Paul Fosh Auction this evening in Cardiff. In addition, the former Royal Oak Post Office, now increasingly derelict and vandalised, also sold for £69,000.

JAIL FOR COCAINE DEALERS

Feb 2 - Two men from Newport have been sentenced for a total of over 17 years for dealing cocaine. It comes after police chased the pair through Cwmbran, Malpas and Maindee on Monday 8th of August 2016. 26-year-old Jerome Nunes was sentenced to seven years and eight months for possession with intent to supply cocaine.32-year-old David Perry was sentenced to eight years and six months for possession with intent to supply cocaine. David Perry also received a four month sentence for dangerous driving.

CITY DEAL BACKED BY COUNCIL

Feb 1 - The Council has formally backed the City Deal project. It is claimed the City Deal will help boost economic growth in ten local authority areas, including Newport, by improving transport links, increasing skills, helping people into work and giving businesses the support they need to grow. It will also establish strong governance for the programme of works through a Cardiff Capital Region Cabinet. Through this, the ten local authority leaders are to join up decision making, pool resources, and partner with businesses.

Further to signing the Heads of Terms Agreement between the councils involved in the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR), each of the local authorities must now formally approve a Regional Cabinet comprising of the relevant local authority leaders. The Regional Cabinet currently in a shadow status, which must also to be approved by the Welsh and UK Governments, will oversee the region’s economic growth and delivery of the proposals under the City Deal. The City Deal comprises an investment programme of £1.2billion into the regional economy, including £734m for the creation of a South East Wales Metro transport scheme. Each authority must approve a commitment by the ten authorities to borrow a combined total of £120million over the lifetime of the 20 year project.

Potential projects for Newport will centre on skills development at the city's software academy, cyber security centre and semi conductor development. The Metro is likely to be a largely Cardiff-focussed project.

TEACHER SUSPENDED

Feb 1 - A Newport teacher has been suspended for his "sexually motivated" behaviour with students. Gareth James, 27, was a department head at Lliswerry High School. He admitting buying alcohol for students and communicating through texts and social media, but denied kissing a girl and sharing nude photos with another.

A disciplinary hearing proved all the charges against him and banned him from the classroom for 12 months. James, of Pontprennau, Cardiff, was investigated after one of the girls reported him to another teacher for sending dozens of text messages over the summer.

LABOUR DE-SELECTS PILL COUNCILLOR

Jan 29 - Newport Labour Party has deselected Councillor Omar Ali in Pill, preventing him from standing in May's elections. This follows the de-selection of Allan Morris, Cliff Suller, Paul Huntley and Herbie Thomas and resignation of Chris Evans. Ali's announcement on Facebook prompted over 100 posts expressing a mix of shock and surprise. Labour leader Debbie Wilcox described the outcome as 'extremely disappointing'.

RELIEF ROAD INQUIRY TO ASSESS DOCKS IMPACT

Jan 29 - The M4 relief road inquiry has been instructed by Transport Secretary to assess the impact on Newport Docks of the preferred black route. In total thirteen routes will be considered by the inquiry. In addition, it will study the impact on Magor Services /Vicarage of proposed routes. The main inquiry starts at the end of February with a planned visit to the Docks on March 17. 

NEWPORT INDEPENDENTS SET TO MOUNT CHALLENGE AT COUNCIL ELECTIONS

Jan 29 - Newport's new political force, Newport, is set to mount a concerted challenge at next May's council elections as it seeks to unseat Labour councillors in key areas of the city. They are hoping to break through against the established parties, who they claim have lost contact with residents. One of their campaigners Andrew Collingbourne stated on Twitter "You've got to listen in a community to all the issues, whether it's about a local school, getting the grass cut, or helping an old person get the shopping." They have criticised proposed cuts to posts in the Council's family support service amounting to £55,000. At a recent meeting to discuss the budget proposals including another proposal to remove eight learning support centres at a cost of £535,000 was described by Rogerstone Labour councillor Sally Mlewa as a 'disaster waiting to happen' for the city's vulnerable families.

AVANA DEALS BLOW TO CITY ECONOMY

Jan 29 - A bakery in Newport is to shut on Friday after more than 60 years in the city, with the loss of about 100 jobs. Owners Food Utopia said it regretted it could not find a way to keep the Avana Bakeries site financially viable.
The business was sold several times in recent years and has repeatedly cut staff since losing a major contract with Marks and Spencer (M&S) in 2014. Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAW) said some members would work out their notice until the end of February.
It is understood some staff with stay on to produce highly-specialised cakes, but mass production has now finished. "When we acquired the business in 2014, a five-year business plan was put in place to return the business to profit by 2017," a spokesman for Food Utopia said. "Unfortunately the wider economy, raw material cost and capacity in the cake sector means that losses are substantial."

PILL SHOPKEEPER JAILED

Jan 29 - A Pill shopkeeper, who used a baby monitor and chute to deliver illegal cigarettes on demand to his customers, has today been sentenced for participation in a fraudulent business.
In what is believed to be one of the most significant Trading Standards investigation of its type in Wales, Tahar Mohammed, 38 and shop keeper Feryad Mohammed Abdul- Kadir, 33 admitted handling and selling more than £427,000 worth of smuggled and counterfeit tobacco. They were jailed for three years and twenty months respectively.
Two other men who worked in the shop, Richard Jendrejcak, aged 41 and Burham Karim, aged 37, were also sentenced for their part in the fraud. Newport City Council’s Trading Standards officers worked with colleagues from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and police to carry out the investigation which began in April 2015. They were given suspended sentences of eight months and twelve months.
An inspection of a storage unit owned by Tahar Mohammed uncovered more than 225,000 counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes, and more than 112kg of hand rolling tobacco, stored in various containers including cardboard boxes of Lithuanian bread. Trading Standards Officers found the same boxes, with identical batch numbers, at Abdul-Kadir’s shop, Eastern European Food, on Commercial Road in the city centre.

BUSINESS UNIT PLAN FOR CARCRAFT SITE

Jan 28 - Plans for more industrial development at the former Carcraft site in Newport are set to get the go ahead from councillors next week (1 February 2017) according to Insider Media Wales. Starburst UK, via agent DPP Planning, submitted an application to Newport City Council in November 2016, for the site off Spytty Road and Langland Way.
The site has remained vacant since the Carcraft car sales operation at the site closed in April 2015. Starbust has previously been granted planning consent for the first phase of redevelopment, comprising two units on either side of the main building.
The latest application proposes the construction of a 54,000 sq ft building, suitable for industrial and storage use. This would replace the 23,000 sq ft property originally planned for the south east corner of the plot.
The new building would be subdivided to provide 12 units, and increase on the six proposed in the original scheme.
The council will vote on the plans at a planning committee meeting on 1 February 2017 and is recommended to grant planning consent in a report from planning officers. The report said the development will "contribute to the council's employment land supply" and represents a "sustainable use of brownfield land". Starburst has also recently lodged plans to redevelop the main car showroom to provide a 80,7000 sq ft building, to be split into nine smaller units suitable for 'bulky goods' retail and wholesale trade use.

ANOTHER EMPTY PUBLIC BUILDING FLOGGED OFF

Jan 28 - The substantial red brick Victorian former adult learning centre in Charles Street is up for sale at auction next week. The freehold building, is set over three floors and is being sold by Newport-based Paul Fosh Auctions next month with a guide price of £230,000.
Kristy Sawmy, of Paul Fosh Auctions, said: “This is a really large building near the heart of the city centre, not far from Friars Walk shopping centre with Debenhams, Next, restaurants and coffee shops.

COUNCIL APPROVES AUTISM SCHOOL

Jan 27 - Newport City Council has formally approved the development of a new special school to accommodate pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This specialist resource, located on the site of the former Gaer Infant School, will provide pupils aged between three and 19 years with specialist provision and structured teaching.
The first of its kind in Newport, the school will aim to provide the highest possible standards of education and support for all its pupils regardless of their level of educational need. Pupils will also have opportunities to work and learn within the community in preparation for their future role as valued members of society. Primarily, the new school will accommodate the needs of pupils who are resident in Newport, enabling them to be educated near their home. This will have the benefit of reducing the number of out-of-county placements and the sometimes long journeys that pupils are faced with. The school will be created by adapting and re-modelling the former Gaer Infant building which became vacant following work to consolidate the school on the previous Gaer Junior site. Pupils with ASD generally need more space to move around in with favourable acoustics to minimise sensory overload. The design and layout of the new school prioritises this need.

ANOTHER PILL FIRE UNDER INVESTIGATION

Jan 26 - An investigation will take place after a large fire broke out in a commercial garage in Newport. The fire service was called to the incident in Coomassie Street, Pill at about 16:30 GMT on Tuesday. Four vehicles inside the garage were alight and a large plume of smoke rose over the area. More than 20 firefighters from Dyffryn, Maindee, Malpas and New Inn fire stations were involved in putting out the blaze. A South Wales Fire Service spokeswoman said Gwent Police will also be involved in the investigation to determine the cause of the fire.

CARGO INVESTMENT AT NEWPORT DOCKS

Jan 25 - A cargo firm which recently opened a covered dock facility in Newport has been supported with a £300,000 loan from Finance Wales to help with its expansion plans. The Cargo Services (UK) Group opened its covered dock facilities at Bird Port, Newport, and plans to grow these over an additional two development phases. The firm relocated two of its subsidiary companies to the site. They were timber merchants WM Shapland & Sons Ltd and road hauliers Ryan Transport Ltd. Cargo Services has also moved its financial headquarters and ship agency business to Bird Port.

MAN CHARGED WITH CORPA ROAD AREA ROBBERIES

Jan 24 - Following reports of two robberies in the Newport area a local man has now been charged in connection with both offences. The first occurred at approximately 13:35pm on Friday 20th January 2017 at a property on Wharf Road in Newport. The second at approximately 9:20am on Wednesday 18th January 2017 at a store on Corporation Road in Newport. In both incidents the victims and those present in premises at the time were left unhurt but were understandably shaken. A 56 year old male from Newport has been charged with two counts of robbery and two counts of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place. He has been remanded into custody to appear before the courts later this morning.
 

POLICE WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK TO MAN AT SCENE OF MURDER

Jan 21 - Gwent Police would like to speak to a man who shined a torch - possibly on his phone- on Jan Jedrzejewski while an ambulance was en route. Mr Jedrzejewski was found unconscious in Keene Street last Thursday. He was taken to hospital but later died of injuries. Gwent Police officers say the man is not in trouble but believe he could help with their enquiries. Superintendent Glyn Fernquest stated "We’d like to speak to this man who could help with our investigations and would like to reassure him if he’s reading this that he is not in any trouble. Support from the local community is key to our enquiries and I’d like to thank members of the public for their help so far in providing vital information about this incident."

FIRE WRECKS PILL GARAGE

Jan 21 - The cause of a fire which wrecked a commercial garage in Newport is under investigation. Five fire crews spent Saturday night tackling the fire at the premises at St Stephens Road, Pill. The roof collapsed during the blaze at the garage used for car repairs. South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said the building will have to be demolished. A total of 35 firefighters tackled the blaze at its height and people reported hearing explosions. The fire service received the callout at 01:25 GMT.

COUNCIL OFFERS SHOP RENT SUBSIDY

Jan 20 - Newport City Council is offering grants of up to £6,000 called ‘Shop Rent Subsidy’ for retail occupiers seeking shops to rent on Commercial Street and High Street in Newport City Centre.

The grant is intended to help those seeking to locate a new business in shop premises within the defined area plan of Commercial Street and High Street. For the first year of rent on shop premises, businesses could receive a grant of 50% up to a maximum of £6,000.

What’s the criteria?

1. The business must create jobs paid at or above the minimum wage
2. Written notification of the grant must be received before committing to the premises
3. Grant offers exclude VAT
4. The business must be in accordance with Council policies
5. Successful applicants will need to have paid all due national non-domestic rates/Council tax
6. The criteria for the grant will be reviewed as the scheme progresses

LE PUB UP FOR SALE

Jan 20 - Le Pub, one of Newport's leading music venues, is up for sale. The venue in Caxton Place has a well earned reputation for pioneering indie music. Although the owners are selling up, though they have stressed that the business is not closing down, but is being sold as a going concern. "Le Pub as a business will not move from the building it is in now, but whether or not it remains as a music venue will be up to the new owners," said Jeanette Lawrenson, one of the owners told the Argus.

MICRO PUB SET FOR CLYTHA

Jan 19 - A former computer shop in Clytha Park Road is to be converted into a ‘micro-pub’. According to the planning application the empty shop will become the city’s first-ever ‘micro-pub’, a one-room pub with a focus on locally-produced drinks and no televisions or electronic entertainment, after a planning application was granted.

RINGLAND SURGERY SET TO BE RUN BY CARDIFF PRACTICE

Jan 19 - A busy Newport medical surgery is set to be run by a Cardiff practice the Aneurin Bevan Health Board has announced. Four Elms Medical Centre will take over the running of Ringland surgery from April 1. This has resolved an uncertain period for Ringland. However, there is still no announcement or information available from the Health Board regarding the proposed multi-million Primary Care Centre for Newport East.

DELIVEROO HEADING TO NEWPORT

Jan 18 - Delivery company Deliveroo is recruiting drivers in the Newport area as it expands its service to the City. Fifteen restaurants are reported to have signed up.

KASPAS IS COMING / RETAIL UPDATE

Jan 17 - After a false start Kaspas has confirmed it will be opening a new ice cream / dessert restaurant in the former New Look premises on Commercial Street. Some changes are under way in Kingsway Centre with the unit adjacent to Sainsburys set to be split in to two and the independent store Crafted set to move from its current unit to the empty unit adjacent to Boswell's restaurant.  Asaga noodle bar has now opened on Commercial Street in the former Wallis store.

 

MURDER CASE VICTIM NAMED

Jan 14 - A 41-year-old man who died after being found unconscious on a street in Newport has been named by police as Jan Jedrzejewski. Mr Jedrzejewski, who lived in the city, was found on Keene Street, Lliswerry, at around 23:00 GMT on Thursday. He was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital, where he later died. Two men aged 18 and a 17-year-old boy were arrested on Friday and a 43-year-old man was arrested on Saturday. All four were arrested on suspicion of murder and are currently in police custody. Update Jan 17 - the four men have been charged with murder

BOOST FOR NEWPORT AS BRIDGE TOLLS ARE SET FOR CUT

Jan 12 - The Severn crossings could be made free to use at night under proposals being considered by the UK government. It is looking at whether to make the bridges toll free between 22:00 GMT and 06:00. The move is being analysed as a possible way of dealing with a forecast rise in traffic as a result of a proposed cut in toll prices. Ministers have suggested cutting tolls to as low as £3 for many motorists from the beginning of 2018 with the potential for removing current payment booths with number plate recognition technology.

Newport West MP Paul Flynn commented "In my view, the people of Wales are being ripped off by having one of the few stretches of motorway, which the Severn Bridges are, tolled and this has gone on for all these years now and because of the deals done a long time ago by a previous generation. There seems to be absolutely no reason why this shouldn’t become a national responsibility and the psychological barrier to south Wales, which is very damaging, could be removed."

PLANNING AND RETAIL UPDATE

Jan 12 - A former Newport nightclub could be converted into a mixed-use development of office space and flats under recently-lodged plans. Change of use and listed building applications have been submitted to Newport City Council for the former Revolution bar at 8-11 Griffin Street. The applicant is proposing to convert the ground floor to provide office space. A total of 11 flats would also be created on the two floors above the former club. Part of the site included in the application is contained within 29 High Street, which is a grade II-listed building. In the Kingsway Centre the unit adjacent to Sainsbury's and Perfect Home is set to be to be let. In a further blow to the upper end of Commercial Street Card Factory is set to relocate to the other end of the shopping street opposite Primark.

CITY BUDGET CONSULTATION UNDER WAY

Jan 12 - Public consultation on Newport City Council’s savings proposals is underway and residents, organisations and partners are all encouraged to have their say. At December’s Cabinet meeting, savings proposals totalling nearly £3.5 million were discussed, as the council looks to close a claimed budget gap of almost £5.7 million in the next financial year.
Those proposals are now part of a consultation process which will run until Friday 20 January 2017. No final decisions on the budget saving proposals being consulted on will be made until all responses have been fully considered. Cabinet will meet again in February and the final proposals will then go before full Council in March where all councillors will have the opportunity to vote.
To take part in the consultation, read the full Cabinet Report or view a presentation on how the council spends its money and the challenges being faced, visit www.newport.gov.uk/budget

CAERLEON CONSERVATIVES EXPRESS CONCERN OVER COMP'S ESTYN REPORT

Jan 10 - Caerleon Conservative Council candidate Joan Watkins has written to the Council's Education Cabinet Member, Gail Giles, following a critical Estyn report regarding Caerleon Comprehensive School. The report criticises teaching standards, attendance, poor financial management and the lack of support with respect of numeracy and literacy. The school is classified as adequate despite the fact that it has amongst the most middle class of catchment areas covering Newport and Monmouthshire. Ms Watkins asks Cllr Giles how she proposes to improve the school.

METRO UNLIKELY TO DELIVER NEW TRAINS OR SERVICES IN NEWPORT AREA

Jan 7 - Our analysis shows the so-called South East Wales Metro is unlikely to deliver new rail services or stations to Newport despite increased demand in the area. A recent study showed that commuting in the Chepstow area has increased by more than any of the valley lines with passenger growth in excess of 130 per cent in the last decade. Despite this two fewer weekday services run on the route than in 2003. BBC Wales reported last week that increasing numbers of Bristol commuters are seeking properties in the area including near Severn Tunnel in order to access rail services. Despite attempts to flood Cardiff with public money Bristol is the fastest growing city outside of London in the UK. Yet the peak half hourly service (off peak hourly) from Cardiff to Bath is constantly stretched to the limit and does not figure heavily in Welsh Government rail plans. New stations have been proposed along the M4 corridor between Newport and Bristol but not delivered  at a time of worsening M4 congestion. Every indication from queries we have raised is that the £734 million Metro will focus on bus travel in Newport rather than rail travel, with so called bus rapid transit being considered but that the focus will be on the Valley lines and potentially bringing light rail / trams into the centre of Cardiff. Bus rapid transit is a poor man's light rail with buses running on concrete tracks and then moving on to conventional roads, as in Peterborough. As bus services are Metro based Newport's municipal bus service could diminish or disappear. Even the resumption of Ebbw Vale services is unlikely to feature unless the new rail franchise is able to deliver it. Newport is the third biggest transport hub in Wales but it is likely to be neglected by Cardiff's political elite in these proposals. The new franchise will be let from early 2018, there are currently four bidders, all foreign owned companies.

TWO ARRESTED OVER EDWARD VII AVENUE INCIDENT

Jan 5 - Two people have been arrested after a man was left in a critical condition following an incident in Newport. Gwent Police were called to Edward VII Avenue at about 22:10 GMT on New Year's Eve. The 19-year-old suffered serious injuries and was taken to the University Hospital of Wales.

MIXED USE PROJECT SET FOR APPROVAL

Jan 5 - Lower Commercial Street is seeing some planning and development as the Council seeks to rescue the area with schemes designed to bring in residential developments and remove empty shops and commercial premises. Plans for a 'strategically important' mixed-use development scheme in the centre of Newport with a shop, and housing for people aged over 55, are set to be given the go ahead by councillors next week. Roberts Limbrick Architects, on behalf of the Pobl Group, lodged an application with Newport Council in August 2016 for 123-129 Commercial Street. The developer intends to demolish the existing buildings, including the former Hornblower pub, and replace them with 38 flats and a ground floor retail unit. New car parking will also be provided.

LOGISTICS COMPANY SECURES NEWPORT BASE

Jan 3 - Logistics company Monex Group has secured its base in Newport with the purchase of an industrial complex for £1.75m, according to Insider Media Wales. Monex subsidiary MCL Logistics has acquired a self-contained industrial site totalling 87,092 sq ft on 4.67 acres. The property is located on Lake Road on the Leeway Industrial Estate in Newport. James Howells of Monex said: "By acquiring this property, which we have occupied on a lease basis in recent years, we have secured a long term base on the M4 corridor."

OPTICIAN OPENS ON CHARLES STREET

Jan 3 - There is some retail activity as we start the year in Newport. Liverton Opticians is set to open on 29-30 Charles Street. A new Asian Noodle Bar has opened its premises adjacent to Boots on Commercial Street. In John Frost Square they are continuing to fit out the new Principality Building Society branch adjacent to Newport Museum. It is anticipated that that the reduction in business rates from April (by up to 50 per cent in the city) will spark a surge in retail activity in the city centre.

CITY SET FOR INFLATION-BUSTING COUNCIL TAX INCREASE

Dec 25 - Council Tax in Newport could increase by four per cent in April while millions of pounds are cut from a range of services in the city under plans for the forthcoming financial year. Newport City Council recently unveiled its draft financial plan for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which includes cuts totalling £4.6 million. The plan is based on an assumption of an inflation-busting council tax increase of four per cent, meaning a Band D property will see its bills increase by about £38 a year. If this goes ahead it would mean bills will have increased by nearly eight per cent over two years following a 3.9 per cent increase this year.

M4 RELIEF INQUIRY DELAYED UNTIL FEB 28!!

Dec 24 - The much delayed public inquiry into the M4 relief road will begin on February 28 at the Lysaght's Institute in Newport. The Welsh Government / taxpayer funded inquiry which had been due to start on November 1 will examine the plan and potential alternatives.

CITY OF DEMOCRACY IDEA LEADS TO POLITICAL CLASHES

Dec 24 - Cllr Debbie Wilcox's big idea, Newport - City of Democracy has come under fire from opposition Conservative councillors. They have highlighted issues with democratic procedures currently deployed by the Council and introduced their own Charter for Democracy, allowing open and unscripted questions and supplementary questions at the full Council meeting, increasing the use of Scrutiny Committees and the wider use of streaming and digital technology to bring Council proceedings to a wider public. This will be implemented if they win power at the next City Council elections in May.

Caerleon Conservative candidate Michael Enea has criticised non-attendance by Labour councillors at Council meetings. He claims his analysis shows that average attendance was only 72 per cent. Although he said some councillors were absent due to health reasons it was still concerning that 15 Labour councillors had attendance records below 80 per cent.  Attendance by Conservative councillors is claimed to be 91 per cent.

Councillor Wilcox,aid: "I believe that making Newport A City of Democracy has great potential to make us stand out from the crowd and the reaction to the idea has been very positive. This has to be about more than just creating a marketing tool or a slogan. The next step will be to further develop those ideas with business leaders, community groups, schools and residents and creating a meaningful platform that will have lasting benefits for the city." A recent report recommended making Newport's links with Chartism the centre piece of a Festival of Democracy.

PIONEERING TREATMENT AT NEWPORT PRIVATE CLINIC

Dec 24 - A physiotherapy programme which aims to improve the mobility and confidence of people with Parkinson's disease has been trialled for the first time in Wales. PD Warrior is an exercise regime that claims to slow down the onset of Parkinson's symptoms.

Participants at the private Morrello Clinic in Newport said the treatment works and should be free on the NHS. The Welsh Government and Parkinson's UK said more clinical studies are needed. The clinic has been running a 10-week course in the exercise regime, which was developed five years ago in Australia. Jenni McCabbe, 67, from Newport, is paying £350 for the training because she has mobility issues caused by Parkinson's. "I wish I'd started 16 years ago, it would have been very helpful," she said.

MORGAN GETS LIFE TERM

Dec 22 - A millionaire has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering his £10,000-a-month personal escort after hearing she planned to leave him. Peter Morgan, 54, of Llanellen, Monmouthshire, strangled Georgina Symonds, 25, from Allt-yr-yn in Newport in January. He admitted killing her but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He said he did it to stop her blackmailing him. Morgan was convicted at Newport Crown Court and must serve at least 25 years. Judge Mr Justice Garnham told Morgan during sentencing: "You have been convicted of the murder by strangulation of Georgina Symonds. The murder of a woman you said you loved. In my judgement this was carefully planned and calmly executed. You killed her out of cold anger at what you discovered she had done and out of fear of what she might do."

DUDLEY'S WIN SCHOOLS CONTRACT

Dec 22 - Dudley's Aluminium has secured a contract worth more than £750,000 to support the construction of a new school in Newport. As part of the agreement with BAM Construction, Dudley's will install the secondary school's aluminium façade, with work beginning in the spring of 2017.

Engineers from Dudley's Aluminium will install aluminium façade and glazing fixtures at the site, including custom-made curtain walling, windows and doors. The contract forms part of the wider development at John Frost School, an English language school with a new Welsh medium secondary school being developed on part of the existing site. Dudley's managing director Colin Shorney said: "Our team is looking forward to starting work at the site and we are confident that the new school development will help to create a long-lasting legacy for the institution." Dudley's Aluminium has completed several education sector projects in South Wales in the last 36 months. These included a £2.2m contract to support the construction of Swansea University's new Bay Campus, as well as a £1.2m contact to help develop the CUBRIC research centre in Cardiff.

FRIARS WALK FALL-BACK POSITION AGREED BY CITY CABINET

Dec 21 - Talks are under way over the sale of Newport's Friars Walk shopping centre with a deal potentially set to complete in the New Year. Newport Council has also agreed a fall-back position if an agreement cannot be reached. The council was updated on the centre at a meeting of its cabinet today. It was told that negotiations between Talisker Corporation of Canada and Queensberry Real Estate, the owner of Friars Walk, are at an advanced stage.

Heads of terms are understood to have been signed in November, and subject to contract, completion is on the cards for early 2017. Will Godfrey, chief executive of Newport City Council, told the meeting that there was currently no reason to think that the sale would not be completed, but said the council had a fall-back option. If a sale cannot be completed in the agreed time scale, the council plans to refinance the original loan which enabled the development to go ahead.

TATTOIST CHARGED

Dec 22 - A woman who had to be tested for HIV after having her ear pierced has said she was glad to see the studio's owner brought to justice. Molly Ormond, 19, had the procedure at Newport's Blue Voodoo tattoo and piercing studio. Newport council investigated the business after five customers suffered serious skin infections in May 2015. Owner John Cochran, 60, was banned from working as a tattooist and piercer on 16 December this year.

He was given a 16-week suspended prison sentence after admitting several health and safety offences at Cardiff Crown Court. Cochran also admitted causing the infections and failing to keep needles in suitable containers.

POLICE STEP UP PILL PROSTITUTION PATROLS

Dec 20 - Gwent Police have said they will be carrying out regular operations to crack down on kerb crawling in the Pill area of Newport after complaints from local residents and community leaders. The decision comes following national press and television reports that women were selling sex in the daytime in Commercial Road. Assistant Chief Constable Julian Williams said: “Ourselves, the local authority and our partner agencies are continuing to work together to tackle the problem of prostitution in Pill. “Whilst we ensure these vulnerable women receive the right help and support, we also understand how dangerous street prostitution can be.

NEW ABP INVESTMENT AT NEWPORT DOCKS

Dec 19 - Associated British Ports (ABP) has invested in the refurbishment of three cranes at its facility in Newport as part of a £2.8m project. In total, five cranes at the ports of Newport and Swansea will be refurbished, enabling increased handling efficiency at the ports when loading and discharging vessels. The quayside cranes are able to handle a wide range of cargo such as coal, aggregates, forest products, and steel.

STEELWORKER OPENS COFFEE HOUSE

Dec 19 - A former steelworker has founded a coffee house in Newport, supported by a £200,000 investment. Horton's Coffee House has been backed by Tata Steel subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise and Business in Focus which each supported the business to obtain a loan of £25,000. Other funding took the total invested in the venture to £200,000. The capital has enabled the acquisition of the property and lunch of the business on Millennium Walk as well as the purchase of coffee making equipment. Bizarrely there is already an established coffee house on site, Hi Coffee, operating opposite Horton's.

AVANA SET TO CLOSE

Dec 16 - 150 jobs could be under threat at a Newport bakery with production set to cease at the site in the New Year. Food Utopia, said it was consulting with staff on proposals to cease production at Avana Bakeries at the end of January 2017, with the site potentially closing as a result. The company acquired the facility in 2014 from the 2 Sisters food group but said it had been "unable to make sufficient progress in an increasingly competitive market". As a result the bakery was "loss-making and financially unsustainable". A statement from Food Utopia said: "We will continue to explore all options available and seek as much external support as possible as we begin discussions about the future of the operation.

CARDIFF HMO COMPANY CHARGED

Dec 15 - A Cardiff based company has been handed a £25,000 fine for offences relating to a house of multiple occupation (HMO) in Newport. At Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court on 31 October 2016, Swanstar UK LTD, Broadway, Cardiff, pleaded guilty to housing offences relating to a house on Corporation Road, Newport. The prosecution was brought by Newport City Council’s environmental health section following the expiry of the House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence in May 2015. Newport City Council is obliged to license HMOs (any house with three or more tenants who are not a family) and enforce the management regulations to ensure HMOs have the correct facilities and that they are maintained sufficiently to provide safe homes.

DRUG GANG GET 192 YEARS INSIDE

Dec 10 - Police have confirmed that 20 People (18 men and 2 women) have been sentenced to more than 192 years after being convicted of conspiracy to supply drugs offences. Four men are from Newport. The sentencing follows an extensive investigation by the Matrix Serious Organised Crime team into the supply of controlled drugs (heroin). During the investigation on five separate occasions detectives seized heroin (six kilos in total) and eight kilos of adulterant with an estimated street value of between £840,000 and £1.4m. One of the five seizures was at Lidderdale Road where officers recovered heroin and adulterants with an estimated street value of between £600,000 and £1m).

MARKET WELCOMES NEW BUSINESSES

Dec 9 - Struggling Newport Market has welcomed two new businesses. Fish Shack, a family-run business with more than 50 years of experience, will be trading every Friday at a base opposite fruit and vegetable stall Love Fresh. Tom Rudge, spokesperson for Fish Shack, which is part of Vin Sullivan Group, said: "We felt that communities in the surrounding area were receiving little or no choice at all when it came to their fresh fish and shellfish."Upon learning that Newport has recently lost its fishmongers (Needhams), we felt it was a fantastic opportunity to bring our offering to the city." Rani Manship has set up the Eyebrow Bar which is open six days a week and offers threading, facial cleansing, make-up and body waxing.

 

FRIARS SALE BACK ON AT REDUCED PRICE

Nov 30 - The sale of Friars Walk shopping centre in Newport to Canadian property management firm Talisker Corporation is back on at a heavily reduced price after negotiations broke down earlier this year. £90 million rather than £110 million is the anticipated sale figure.

BRIDGE STREET RAILWAY BRIDGE TO RE-OPEN

Nov 30 - A major link between east and west Newport is set to re-open on Thursday afternoon, ending months of delays, diversions and road-works. Earlier in the year, Network Rail announced that the Bridge Street road bridge would be closed for up to seven months.

CONVENTION CENTRE WORK TO START IN FEB

Nov 30 - Work on the £100m International Convention Centre Wales, which is set to be built at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, is set to start on February 9, 2017. Ian Edwards, chief executive of the Celtic Manor Resort, told the Newport City Summit that work had already started to clear the site for the 26,000 sq ft convention centre on a site at the resort and that building contractors would move in to start the actual building work in February. He told the event, held on Monday at the City Campus of the University of South Wales in Newport city centre, that the new building, which would be open by June 2019, would dwarf the existing Celtic Manor, catering for 5,000 delegates with a massive ballroom style floor, creating huge demand for hotels and services in the locality.The former Sainsburys building at Shaftesbury is set to be demolished early in the new year, its owner Stephen Fear told the Summit. But Dr Fear, of the Fear Group, which bought the site in 2010, said although his business was committed to demolishing the building on the site, it was not committing to building anything on the site because of the Brexit vote.

MOTORCYCLIST NAMED

Nov 30 - A motorcyclist who died following an accident on Newport's Eastern Distributor Road has been named as 35-year-old Robert William Freeman from Bristol. The A4810 between the Tesco Distribution Centre and Gwent Europark near Magor was closed after the incident at 01:45 GMT on Tuesday. No other vehicle was involved, and an appeal has been made for witnesses. Police said Mr Freeman's family is being supported by specialist officers.

BLAZE BUILDING NOW UNDER CONTROL

Nov 29 - Fire-fighters have put out a blaze at a four-storey building in Newport. Crews were called to the property on Stow Hill at about 04:10 GMT on Sunday. The building was "severely damaged" and adjacent buildings also caught fire, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said. An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way, it added.

INVESTMENT PLAN FOR RIVERSIDE

Nov 27 - Newport pub The Riverside Tavern, which closed last week, is set to reopen after being acquired by a leading city entrepreneur. The pub, renamed the Riverside Sports Bar & Kitchen, has been taken over by Mojo The FoodBar owners Niche Hospitality Ltd. Niche has signed a five year lease and plans to invest heavily in the premises - which is a popular haunt for Newport County football fans. Niche also recently announced plans to turn the Taylor Wimpey showroom near Newport Bridge into a steak and seafood restaurant.

PILL DISORDER - FIVE SENTENCED

Nov 23 - Five teenagers have been sentenced after admitting their part in a "riot" which saw part of Newport city centre "under siege". Police were targeted with fireworks, while motorists described "petrol bombs" being thrown at cars on Commercial Road, Pill, on 20 October.
Three teenagers - aged 16 to 17 - were sentenced to five months' custody at Cwmbran Youth Court on Tuesday. Two 13-year-olds were handed non-custodial 12-month referral orders.  All five of the teenagers - who cannot be named - had earlier admitted violent disorder, with one of the 16-year-olds also admitting a separate charge of breaching a dispersal order. District Judge David Parsons said no other sentences could be justified because of the "uninhibited, unlawful behaviour".

FREAK FALL LEADS TO ACCIDENTAL DEATH VERDICT

Nov 22 - A young mother was killed when she fell off a horse in a freak accident at a stable yard in Newport, an inquest has heard. Natasha Probert, 25, had only walked the horse a few yards during a riding lesson at Allt-yr-yn when she fell. The Newport inquest heard she fractured her skull and suffered a serious brain injury. She was taken to hospital but died the following day. The coroner recorded a conclusion of accidental death. Ms Probert had left her 15-month-old daughter Amelia in the care of stable staff while she took the riding lesson, the inquest heard.
 

THOUSANDS ROCK CITY CENTRE AS LIGHTS ARE SWITCHED ON

Nov 12 - Newport city centre's Christmas lights switch on was pronounced an unqualified success by shoppers and traders as thousands thronged the main thoroughfares from mid-afternoon onwards. Pop bands Four of Diamonds and Union J performed as well as the many other entertainments available. Union J singer JJ Hamblett tweeted 'had such a blast singing and turning on the Christmas lights for Newport.'

STEEL INVESTMENT COULD LEAD TO 600 JOBS

Nov 11 - Up to 600 jobs could be created within two years if a firm starts recycling steel from scrap at its site in Newport as expected. The expansion at Liberty Steel in Lliswerry would see scrap metal melted in an arc furnace before being turned into new products. The site will benefit from £600k in Welsh Government aid combined with a £3.5 million investment from Liberty Steel.The news comes as the firm reopened a steel plant it took over in Tredegar creating 70 jobs after previous owners Caparo went into administration.

COUNCIL LEADER SIGNS UP TO KNOWLEDGE QUARTER

Nov 11 - Council leader Debbie Wilcox has thrown her weight behind plans to bring Coleg Gwent into the city centre and to develop a Knowledge Quarter of education facilities. The plan could see a "new Further Education development" for Coleg Gwent in the area the University of South Wales’ Newport city campus and creation of shared facilities to enhance learning and progression to university study.

Cllr Wilcox said: “The Newport Knowledge Quarter really matters: it means the University is committing to the city centre and wants to put its money where its mouth is, while the potential of bringing our FE college next to the University is huge. It’s about showing students from every background that further education and university is for people like them.

JUNCTION 28 AREA / SDR WORKS TO START SOON

Nov 11 - The Welsh Government has confirmed road improvements in the west of Newport are set to start in February after an intervention from Jayne Bryant AM. The works are programmed to start a month later than originally planned, subject to agreement from the Southern Distributor Road Concessionaire, Morgan Vinci Limited. She said “Once complete the improvements should help to increase the amount of traffic that can travel through Junction 28, Bassaleg and the Pont Ebbw roundabouts."

WOODCHIP FIRE FIRM PROSECUTED

Nov 10 - A recycling firm has been fined £20,000 following two fires at separate sites. A woodchip fire broke out in Alexandra Docks, Newport, on 15 December 2015, and three months later there was another in Maesteg, Bridgend county. South Wales Wood Recycling admitted three environmental charges at Cwmbran Magistrates' Court today. The firm was ordered to pay £29,120 in fines, legal and investigation costs. Company director Dennis Burke, 67, of North Cornelly, Bridgend county, had two charges against him dismissed, as well as a fourth charge against the company. The court heard the fire at Newport burned for six weeks after a pile of wood chips exceeding 8,000 tonnes caught fire.

PRINCIPALITY TO MOVE TO JOHN FROST SQUARE

Nov 10 - Building society, Principality, is set to relocate from High Street to John Frost Square as works continue in HIgh Street on the 'Griffin Island' development. Tog 24 are heading to Friars Walk currently celebrating its first birthday but disappointing urban footwear specialist Footsaylum is going to Spytty. Three former Darlows offices to be converted to terrace houses on 6-8 North Street. Escape Room is heading to Royal Chambers at the basement level of Newport Market. Escape rooms as a genre are a new entertainment and arts concept that mixes elements of real time storytelling and theatre with gaming, role playing and cinema. Sessions are booked at The Escape Rooms for one hour, in which participants much interact with the specially designed room to 'escape' before time runs out. There will be a mix of audio and visual effects and visitors should expect themselves for unexpected. The entrance to the Escape Room will be in Griffin Street.

AMAZON SET UP AT LLANWERN

Nov 10 - Online giant Amazon has opened a delivery station at Celtic Lakes Business Park, part of the Llanwern regeneration site in Newport. The company which has 12 main centres across the UK including one in Swansea, state they will be working with independent delivery companies to deliver orders to its customers from the new base and are employing more than 50 people directly. The confirmed they have made an initial five year commitment to the site.

ANNUAL REMEMBRANCE PARADE

Nov 8 - Newport's Annual Remembrance parade will leave High Street at 10.30am on Sunday 13 November and walk to the Cenotaph where a service will begin just before 11am. After being brought to attention by the RSM Dean Barnes of 104th Regiment, the parade will be led by Newport Pipes and Drums. Veterans, representatives of armed forces, community and youth organisations, local community groups and members of the emergency services will join city leaders.

Right Reverend Richard Pain, the Bishop of Monmouth, will lead the service at the Cenotaph assisted by the Mayor's Chaplain, Graham Lynch. The guns will be sounded at 11am to mark the start of the two minute silence followed by the laying of wreaths. Newport Brass Band and City of Newport Male Voice Choir will also be taking part in the service.

BONFIRE NIGHT LEADS TO FOUR ARRESTS

Nov 6 - Police officers arrested four people in connection with disorder in Newport on Bonfire Night. At 7.20pm officers received reports of fireworks being thrown on Corporation Road. Two people were arrested on suspicion of public order offences. At approximately 8.30pm, eight 'Directions to leave' as part of a Dispersal Order, were issued in Potters Street, to disperse a group of young people who had gathered and were causing a nuisance.

At 8.35pm a further arrest took place on Commercial Street in Pill, where one person was arrested on suspicion of public order offences. Later that evening at 11.20pm, officers arrested another person on suspicion of money laundering, following a stop search. Local policing commander, Superintendent Glyn Fernquest said: "Despite numerous warnings, these individuals still made the decision to behave anti-socially and now they will face the consequences. We are continuing our patrols throughout Newport and anyone found causing a nuisance or behaving irresponsibly will be dealt with robustly."

FIREWORK AND HALLOWEEN MENACE 3 - FIREWORK LET OFF ON BUSY SHOPPING STREET

Oct 30 - A firework was let to go off on a busy Newport shopping street early this afternoon but fortunately no one was hurt or injured. Shoppers watched on in amazement as the firework spun around on the pavement outside the Commercial Street Iceland Store. Security guards and police were quickly on the scene but did not apprehend the culprits. CCTV cameras were positioned directly above the incident. It is a criminal offence to set off a firework in a public space such as this.

FIREWORK AND HALLOWEEN MENACE 4 - CYCLISTS OBSTRUCTING CITY HIGHWAYS

Oct 30 - We have received two reports of cyclists attempting to obstruct city roads or cycle the wrong way down roads in order to intimidate drivers wearing masks befitting the Halloween season. Wharf Road was temporarily blocked as 'dozens' of cyclists went the wrong way down this key city link road, drivers reported the cyclists mainly children were supporting Halloween attire. On Tredegar Park roundabout a similar incident occurred before police apprehended six of the male cyclists on Chepstow Road aged between 13 and 17.   A 16 year old has been arrested for resisting arrest, assaulting a community support officer, money laundering and another public order offence.

RINGLAND LABOUR SELECTION FARCE

Oct 30 - Ringland Labour Party is holding yet another selection meeting for candidates for the Council elections next spring because none of the short-listed female nominees turned up for the original meeting on October 25. The first meeting saw two male candidates selected but under Labour Party rules there must be one female candidate. A new meeting is being held to try again on November 3.

ROGERSTONE MAN JAILED FOR ATTEMPTED ARMED ROBBERY

Oct 29 - A would-be armed robber has been locked up for the attempted raid of a Newport Post Office. Kane Wannell, 19, of Rogerstone, Newport, was dressed in a suit and carried an imitation gun. Wannell admitted attempted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm and was given a four-year sentence. Cardiff Crown Court heard he waved the weapon and shouted "armed robbery" but customers and staff thought he was joking. He then shouted and hit postmaster Shaun Pritchard who punched him - forcing him to flee. He was arrested by police after handing himself in.

NEWPORT AM SEEKING POWERS TO BAN SOME FIREWORKS

Oct 28 - Newport West AM Jayne Bryant is seeking powers to ban the use of commercial grade fireworks following recent disturbances in Pill involving their use. She has asked if the Wales Bill could be amended to give Welsh Government more regulatory power in order to ban the use of certain fireworks.

AMAZON RECRUITING TO NEWPORT SITE

Oct 28 - Online giant Amazon is now recruiting to new premises in Newport. Yard Marshall are being recruited for a logistics site in the Llanwern / Spytty area, more detail to follow.

NEWPORT LABOUR IN CRISIS AS ALLAN MORRIS BECOMES INDEPENDENT

Oct 25 - A mass of resignations and defections could follow the decision by the Newport Labour Party to remove four councillors from its candidate list for next year. One of their number Lliswerry councillor Allan Morris has resigned from the party and will stand as an independent. He received significant support on Twitter stating "Thanks everyone for your support. Despite what has happened I remain a Labour man at heart...". Cllr Morris responded in full to comments in the Argus.

For the record. This has come as a surprise me. I was told of my de-selection by email without any reason being given. I have read in this paper that it was because of my age (There are many older than me some considerably older in the labour group) Now it is because I am "living in Tenby". I am indeed spending a lot of time in West Wales due to a highly personal family issue. I still maintain my 100% record of responding to all constituent emails,phone calls and letters. Members of Lliswerry ward Labour party are aware of my family issue and are overwhelmingly supportive and appreciative of my commitment to the people of Lliswerry and Nash. I was deselected by a committee where I had no one to represent me. Not by the ward I have represented with pride and dignity.

I too have heard the rumour that I have rented out my house in Newport. Had the leader bothered to have contacted me or indeed if I was allowed to address the committee that deselected me they would have learned the truth. They would also be surprised at how much time I am in my ward. No one has ever complained about me not answering phones or dealing with issues. Yes I am outspoken. That is what I am there for. I have been a member of the Labour party since 1977 with a Trade Union Background. I have never forgotten my reasons for joining or the people who put me there. To all those who understandably think all Councillors are in it for the money I can assure you that does not apply to everyone. Following this latest revelation. I will now be standing as an Independent. I am happy to let the people of Lliswerry and Nash decide on who they think serves them best as a Councillor

FIREWORK MENACE 1 - AMBULANCE CREW HIT BY FIREWORK BARRAGE AS THEY TEND TO PATIENT

Oct 25 - Gwent Police and the Welsh Ambulance Service are appealing for information after an emergency ambulance and its crews was targeted with fireworks while attending a 999 call. An emergency ambulance was dispatched to a medical call out in Pill, Newport where the incident happened at about 11pm on Sunday 16 October 2016. As the crew drove towards the patient's address and exited their vehicle on Commercial Road, a large number of fireworks were aimed in their direction, several of which came very close to hitting them.
Fireworks were also being set off towards them as they transferred the patient into the back of the ambulance and as they drove away to hospital. Paramedic Jason Harvey, who attended the call with Emergency Medical Technician Nick Simons, said he was left shaken by the incident. He said: "I felt angry and frustrated as we were there to attend a job and you don't expect to have fireworks thrown at you in the course of your work. I've been in the army and I've been shot at and it was quite close to how that felt. I was very concerned for the patient and also for our crews."
Tony Crandon, Acting Head of Operations for the Aneurin Bevan Health Board area, said: "We know that most members of the community value the crucial work that our crews carry out and that's why we're asking them to come forward if they witnessed what happened.
"Thankfully no-one was injured during this incident, but fireworks can be extremely dangerous and even a small amount of damage to the ambulance could have taken our crew off the road and prevented them from attending to people in need of urgent treatment.
"Our staff should feel safe while they're out providing lifesaving care and that's why we'd like to ask anyone who can assist Gwent Police to call 101 quoting log number 553 16/10/16."
Darron Dupre, UNISON's ambulance lead in Wales said: "It is completely unforgivable that lifesaving emergency ambulance crews are being targeted by people throwing fireworks, rockets and other potentially deadly missiles in the run up to Bonfire Night. UNISON will not hesitate to support staff, the Welsh Ambulance Service and the criminal justice system in bringing to justice anyone caught putting the lives of ambulance crews in danger through such reckless behaviour."
Local Policing Commander Glyn Fernquest said: "I appreciate that at this time of year many are celebrating Halloween and Bonfire night, and part of these celebrations is the use of fireworks. However, fireworks are dangerous and have to be used in a responsible and adult manner. This is not a game and your actions will have serious consequences. The emergency services work long and hard to protect our communities and we will be taking a zero tolerance approach to anyone putting their safety in jeopardy. Additional officers will be patrolling the area and anyone found causing anti-social behaviour will be dealt with robustly. We've recently charged seven people following disorder in this area last week and we will not stop until we find who is responsible and bring this behaviour to a standstill. "We are still reviewing CCTV footage to identify others involved and we would like to urge any members of the public if they have information to contact us on 101 quoting log 553 16/10/16."

FIREWORK MENACE 2 - MINI RIOT IN PILL LEADS TO SEVEN ARRESTS

Oct 24 - Following the disorder in Pill on Thursday 20th October 2016 the following charges have been made:

A 24 year old male has been charged with violent disorder and has been remanded to appear before court this morning (22nd October 2016).
A 13 year old male has been charged with violent disorder and has been bailed to appear before court on 22th November 2016.
A 16 year old male has been charged with violent disorder and has been bailed to appear before court on 22th November 2016.
A 13 year old male has been charged with violent disorder and has been bailed to appear before court on 22th November 2016.
A 17 year old female has been charged breaching a Dispersal Order and has been has been bailed to appear before court on 1st November 2016.
A 20 year male has been charged with breaching a Dispersal Order and has been has been bailed to appear before court on 8th November 2016.

The disorder involving the setting of fires and hurling fireworks at private residents and vehicles. A Dispersal Order will remain in place this weekend and extra patrols will take place across Newport to reassure residents and prevent further disorder. Local Policing Commander Glyn Fernquest said: "These results show our zero tolerance approach to this completely unacceptable behaviour. We are taking this incident extremely seriously and will bring justice upon those involved. The six charges made send a clear warning to anyone intent on causing trouble. We will find you. We will arrest you and you will go before the courts and suffer the consequences. Think about what this will mean for you. We are still reviewing CCTV footage to identify others involved. I'd also like to urge any members of the public with footage or information of the incident contact us." If you have any information, please call 101 quoting log number 524 20/10/16.

Council leaders and Gwent Police met on Monday in a bid to tackle the disorder. "We condemn the unacceptable scenes we experienced on the streets of Pill during a night of disturbance and disorder last week," said a joint statement from Gwent police and crime commissioner Jeff Cuthbert and Newport council leader Debbie Wilcox.

"This type of behaviour will not be tolerated and there will be consequences for those involved."

NEW STORES SET FOR FRIARS AND KINGSWAY

Oct 24 - Two new stores are set to open in Friars Walk and Kingsway. DVD and CD retailer That's Entertainment is set to open opposite Friars Walk as the Kingsway Centre continues to fill up. In Friars Walk Tog24 a leisure and outdoor retailer will be opening in the main mall. Kelly Brook will be making a guest appearance in Skechers in Friars Walk tomorrow between 2.45 and 3.30. Friars Walk is set to host a monthly food and craft market on a Sunday through the winter. Update - That's Entertainment is in the middle of the Kingsway Mall.

FUND TO HELP CITY BUSINESSES

Oct 12 - Initiatives to help fill empty shops in High Street and Commercial Street have been approved by Councillor John Richards, Newport City Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Investment. These ideas will be backed up by a fund of £60,000 which has been set aside to stimulate economic growth and investment in Newport. Although the opening of Friars Walk has had a positive effect, there are a number of empty shops in other parts of the city centre that need to be brought into use. Overheads, such as rents and business rates, could be deterring smaller retailers. Unfortunately, the council has no control over the rents set by private landlords or the rates which are set by the Welsh Government. The plan includes:

  • About £30,000 could be used to offer grants of up to £6,000 towards the costs of setting up a retail business in Commercial Street and High Street
  • In partnership with Newport Now, the council commissions a company to market some of the larger units, targeting multi-national companies
  • A planned pop-up business event aimed at giving advice and support to new entrepreneurs who could be given the opportunity for "test trading"
  • Establishing a Newport Business Awards event to celebrate the achievements of all businesses within the city.
  • COMMENT - While welcome this initiative is not enough. The city centre is back on its knees. Friars Walk may be holding up well but the relocation, closure or downsizing of businesses in Newport continues.  There is no plan or strategy for High Street and Commercial Street. The city needs fewer shops, more people living and working there, more businesses, more office-workers and more students. There simply is not enough activity to regenerate the city now that the impetus created by Friars Walk has faded away.

    REDUNDANCIES AT DOCKS STEELWORKS

    Oct 10 - 101 people have been made redundant at a steel firm in Newport, after the company went into administration.AIC Steel Limited was set up in 2013 after another firm Rowecord Engineering Ltd went into administration. The company trades from Usk Way in Newport. Administrators Begbies Traynor said they are investigating how viable it is to continue trading, but have warned there are likely to be "significant redundancies".

    CRAFTED ON THE MOVE

    Oct 10 - One of the success stories of the changes in the city centre, Crafted, is on the move to a new unit adjacent to Peacocks in the Kingsway Centre. Crafted sources all its products from within a 25 mile radius of Newport city centre. The current Friars Walk unit it occupies closes on October 22, it relocates to the 32 Kingsway on October 28. Presumably, it is making way for the new Footasylum store. Elsewhere, Coffee 1 has closed its Commercial Street store as it already has a store in John Frost Square. Parc Pantry are opening a pop up store on High Street opposite the new Premier Inn which is set to open on November 19, although that may be wishful thinking based upon its current state of readiness.

    DEL BOY IS BANGED UP

    Oct 9 - Hermes driver Lyndon Linton, 58, used his online account "DelBoy2410" to sell brand new vacuum cleaners, food processors and cooking utensils at knockdown prices - totalling £36,000.

    Cardiff Crown Court heard how disappointed customers from top retailers River Island, H&M, Arcadia and QVC were let down when their parcels didn't arrive after being stolen by the delivery driver.

    He was regarded as a "model employee" at Hermes until his spree stealing more than 700 packages was discovered.A court heard Linton he got away with it because he was in charge of distributing parcels to other delivery drivers at weekends. Police raided Linton's home in Newport to find 166 parcels crammed in the house. Police who analysed Linton's eBay accounts calculated that a total of 683 items had been stolen with an estimated value of £36,000. Linton admitted eight counts of theft. Jailing Linton for 32 months, Recorder Jeremy Jenkins told him: "This was a thoroughly dishonest enterprise."

    COUNCIL EMPTY HOMES PLAN

    Oct 8 - Newport City Council wants your views on a proposal to introduce a council tax premium on certain long-term empty homes. A consultation on the proposal to charge up to 200 per cent on vacant homes begins today and ends on 31 October.

    Give your opinion on the proposal at www.newport.gov.uk/haveyoursay - all submissions will be considered by the council before a final decision is made.

    Long-term vacant houses have a detrimental impact on the communities in which they are located and often cause problems for neighbours. Bringing them back into use could improve the quality of life in those communities, while also increasing the availability of affordable homes. The council has tools that it can use to tackle this issue, such as the houses into homes loan scheme for property owners. However, it believes this additional financial levy will discourage long-term disuse at the same time as providing funds to enable it to work with property owners to bring dwellings back into use. As of May 2017, there were 2,516 vacant properties in Newport and 1,142 of these were exempt from council tax for a variety of reasons such as undergoing major work to make them habitable. However, of the remaining 1,104 homes, 755 had been vacant for more than 12 months. It is being proposed to charge the premium on properties that have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a continuous period of at least 2 years. Occupying or furnishing a house for one or more periods of six weeks or less during the year will not affect its status as a long-term empty dwelling.

    GARDEN WASTE COLLECTIONS COMING TO END FOR SEASON

    Oct 5 - Newport City Council will continue to collect garden waste until week ending 2 December 2016.Depending on your collection day/week, your last collection will be between 21 November and 2 December 2016.

    DANGEROUS DOG INCIDENT IN RINGLAND

    Oct 4 - On 22nd June 2016 a male was walking his dog along Ringland Circle, Newport when the dog pulled away and attacked another dog on the opposite side of the road. The dog suffered extensive injuries and as a result the owner had to pay expensive vet costs. The owner of the offending dog was interviewed and admitted to being in charge of a dangerous dog. He was summonsed to court and on the 13th of September 2016 received the following sentence:

    · Pay compensation of £1002.

    · Pay a victim surcharge of £30.

    · Pay a fine of £80.

    A contingent destruction order was also granted with the following conditions - unless the dog is kept under control i.e. being muzzled at all times whilst outside and whilst visitors attended the address. The dog must be kept on a lead when outside at all times. Officer in the case PC Alistair Frame: "We welcome the sentence imposed in relation to this incident. This is a reminder to all dog owners the need to be responsible and considerate to prevent these types of incidents occurring".

    BUSINESS RATES BOOST FOR CITY CENTRE TRADE

    Oct 1 - New business rates valuations suggest that businesses in Newport city centre could benefit from a much lower level of business rates from April 2017. Business rates payments are based on the valuation of business premises multiplied by percentage (known as the multiplier, currently 49p in the pound). 27.2 per cent of retail units in Newport are still empty according to the most recent survey by the Local Data Company (slightly down from 29.3 per cent in 2015). The reduction in rates is expected to make Newport more attractive particularly for medium sized and independent businesses. The current valuation of WH Smith 166 Commercial Street means that the retailer will see a reduction in business rates of nearly £30,000 per annum, nearly 50 per cent. Primark further along Commercial Street will also see a reduction in their rates of bill of approximately 46 per cent. For Debenhams in Friars Walk the reduction is more like 15 per cent with other businesses seeing a reduction nearer to 25 per cent. For businesses in Newport Retail Park there will be a slight increase in the estimated rates that they have to pay. Nearby Cwmbran Shopping also sees reductions in the region of 15 per cent. 

    PART OF UNI HOUSING TO BECOME STUDENT HOTEL

    Oct 1 - Part of Endeavour House, the USW student building, on Usk Way is to be converted into a student hotel as part of plans to deliver a Hotel Management degree qualification at the Newport Campus.

    FOOTASYLUM TO OPEN NEWPORT STORE

    Oct 1 - Footwear and fashion retailer Footasylum is set to open a store in Newport. The retailer, currently with 50 stores in the UK, is advertising for managers for a new store on various websites. Parc Pantry is to take over the High Street premises opposite the new Premier Inn set to be vacated by Pretentious Burger. The new cafe, initially a pop-up, will open on November 18. They already have premises in Malpas and at Belle Vue Park. Energi, the indoor trampoline centre, is now open at Newport Retail Park. A new comic book store has opened on Commercial Street. The owner of the Sin City Comics, Shane Richard Jordan, told Wales Online he is keen to please the comic book-loving community, and he believes Newport is the perfect place to do so. He said: "I believe Newport is on the turn for the better and being a local and having just graduated from University of South Wales, my heart is here so I couldn't think of a better place to have my business."

    A planning agreement has been signed between Tonstate Group, the developers of Olympia House and the city Council indicating that work will shortly start on the conversion of the former office and courtroom site into housing.

    TINY REBEL SET FOR BIG EXPANSION

    Sept 30 - Newport's Tiny Rebel Brewery plans to create 20 jobs after securing a six-figure investment from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. The £360,000 funding from the bank has supported the purchase of a 65,000 sq ft site for a new facility that will increase capacity more than five-fold. The new site, which launch in April 2017, will be open to the public for brewery tours and will also contain a shop and a bar for up to 200 people.

    The company has expanded recently after winning the Champion Beer of Britain award in 2015 and being awarded the title of Best UK Brewery at the International Beer Challenge. As a result of the expansion the company expects to achieve a turnover of approximately £4m by April 2017. Tiny Rebel currently exports to 14 countries and the extra capacity will also allow the business to start exporting to Norway and other Scandinavian countries.

    COUNTY MANAGER GETS ORDER OF THE BOOT

    Sept 28 - Newport County has sacked manager Warren Feeney. The Exiles have won only once in League Two this season - back in August - and are currently bottom of the table. Feeney's assistant Andy Todd has also left the club. Coaches Sean McCarthy and James Bittner will take caretaker charge for the clash with Stevenage on Saturday.

    Feeney was appointed manager in January after previous boss John Sheridan left for Oldham Athletic. Northern Ireland international Feeney initially joined the Exiles in October 2015 as Sheridan's assistant following the sacking of Terry Butcher.

    A club statement read: "Following a mixed start to the season the board of directors feel a change is necessary, "We would like to thank Warren for his service since joining the club back in October and wish him all the best for his future career."

    APPEAL AFTER RHIWDERIN DISTRACTION BURGLARY

    Sep 24 - Police are appealing for information following a distraction burglary that took place at an address on Springfield Lane, Rhiwderen on the evening of Friday 23rd September 2016. At approximately 6pm, the occupant of the address, a man in his eighties, answered the door to an unknown man who kept him talking about work he could do at the address. At this time, officers believe a second man entered the property from a rear, unlocked door. A third man remained in a vehicle outside.

    After being distracted for around ten minutes the man the victim was talking to left in what we believe was a dark blue saloon car. The occupant was unharmed but shaken and later realised that an amount of jewellery had been stolen from his home. The man who called at the address is described as: white, in his thirties, short, fair hair and of medium build. He was wearing a green pullover which had a zig-zag pattern on the front in red and orange. He spoke with a slight Irish accent. The man who was seen at the rear of the address was wearing a blue flat cap. Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting log: 187 24/03/16

    COUNCIL SET TO DOUBLE COUNCIL TAX ON EMPTY HOMES

    Sep 24 - Plans to charge double the amount of council tax on long-term empty homes in Newport are being considered to try to tackle the issue of vacant properties. Newport council claims they have a detrimental impact on communities and can cause problems for neighbours. There are currently 2,516 vacant properties in the city, with 1,142 exempt from council tax because they are undergoing major work.

    The council hopes the move will urge owners to bring them back into use. Under the plans, the council would charge 200% council tax on properties which have been unoccupied and unfurnished for two years or more. Based on the average annual council tax bill for Band D properties in Newport, between £1,149 and £1,174 depending on the area, the council could recoup about £2,200 per property a year.

    NEW RAIL BRIDGE WORKS MEAN NO CARDIFF-NEWPORT TRAINS

    Sept 16 - There will be no trains running between Newport and Cardiff this weekend as work to replace bridges in Newport continues. From Saturday until the early hours of Monday the line will be closed and a bus replacement service will operate as engineers upgrade five road bridges.The new Bridge Street Road Bridge will be lifted into position last night. Maesglas Road Bridge will be demolished and Hawse Lane and Green Lane bridges located in the Marshfield area will also both be demolished by Network Rail’s workers.

    ARGUS LAUNCHES #BACKING NEWPORT

    Sept 15 - The South Wales Argus has launched a backing Newport campaign as it seeks to counteract the negative image of the City and give renewed focus to regeneration and redevelopment of the city centre.

    POLICE SEEK HELP WITH GAER BURGLARIES

    Sept 14 - Police are appealing for information following two burglaries in Newport on Wednesday the 14th of September 2016. The first occurred at around 1:30pm at an address in Gaer Park Lane, where a male was disturbed inside the property by those living there. He is being described as a white male in his late twenties with short mousy flat brown hair, a slim face and approximately 5'6ft tall. He was also described as wearing a dark blue navy hooded top and black tracksuit bottoms.

    The second occurred sometime between 9:00am and 2:00pm at an address in Gaer Park Drive, whereby an outer glass panel was smashed, however no entry was gained. Officers believe the offences are linked due to the close proximity of the addresses. If you have any information regarding the incidents please call 101 quoting log number: 292 14/09/16 or 276 14/09/16.

    DATA COMPANY ADDS NEW CONTRACT

    Sept 13 - Next Generation Data (NGD) has secured vehicle finance firm MotoNovo Finance as the latest customer for its data centre in Newport. MotoNovo revealed plans earlier this year to relocate to new headquarters in Cardiff, and take on 600 additional staff, with backing from the Welsh Government. NGD's facility will enable to company to provide e-commerce services to thousands of UK garage dealer partners and consumers. A spokesman for MotoNovo Finance said: "Thousands of dealers and members of the public access our online services every week for quotations and the subsequent processing and arrangement of our schemes. We therefore rely on the efficiency and availability of our web- and cloud-based platforms as well as their ability to scale as we continue to grow our business.." Ben Senouillet, NGD's account manager, added: "We are delighted to have been awarded MotoNovo's business."

    CITY SET TO LOSE ONE PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCY

    Sept 13 - Newport is set to lose one of its two seats following boundary changes. The Boundary Commission for Wales presented its initial proposals for a review of Parliamentary seats today as part of a plan to cut the overall number of UK MPs by 50 to 600. Among its recommendations are to create a single Newport constituency comprising Alway, Beechwood, Liswerry, Ringland, St Julians and Victoria in the east and Allt-yr-yn, Bettws, Gaer, Malpas, Marshfield, Pill, Shaftesbury, Stow Hill and Tredegar Park in the west. Consultation on the proposals takes place over the next twelve weeks.

    TREDEGAR HOUSE REPAIRS START NEXT WEEK

    Sept 13 - A multi-million pound conservation project has been launched to restore Newport's 17th century Tredegar House. Rainwater has leaked into a number of attic rooms, with repairs now needed to replace 35 tonnes of Welsh slate covering the house's north west wing.

    This year alone, National Trust staff have removed more than 52 gallons of water. The attraction, one of the UK's foremost Restoration houses, is also home to a priceless art collection. Contractors arrive on site on 19 September, with scaffolding going up shortly after - but the attraction will remain open throughout the work. The project will make the roof watertight and rooms worst hit by the leaks will be redecorated. Other plans include the development of the house's laundry building.

    COUNCIL SEEKING VOLUNTEERS

    Sept 12 - Newport City Council is looking for people who enjoy being outdoors and want to make a positive impact on the local countryside. Together with Keep Wales Tidy and Fourteen Locks Canal Centre, the council’s green services team is establishing a volunteer group.Members will meet once a week to carry out practical conservation tasks around the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre and Allt-yr-yn Local Nature Reserve.These will include minor maintenance of fencing, bridges and pathways; habitat improvement work such as cutting back undergrowth and putting up nest boxes; pond weed removal or dredging and litter clearance.From 6 October, the Countryside and Canal Volunteer Team will meet every Thursday from 10am to about 4pm but a flexible time commitment is possible. Training will be offered by a council countryside warden or Keep Wales Tidy project officer.

    M4 SPEED PROSECUTIONS TO START SOON

    Sept 11 - Prosecutions against drivers who break the variable speed limit on the M4 around Newport will begin "imminently".The variable speed limit camera system was set up five years ago.It originally aimed to keep traffic moving between junctions 24 at the Coldra and 28 at Tredegar Park.But in July the Welsh Government confirmed it would target those who "flouted" the limits and GoSafe, who will lead it, said the move was not about prosecuting "for the sake of it". A spokesman for GoSafe - a police and council speed camera enforcement partnership - said the public would have plenty of warning before it starts.

    COUNCIL 17th OUT OF 22 IN WELSH PERFORMANCE TABLE

    Sept 11 - Newport is in 17th place in Welsh local government table published this week by the Welsh Local Government Data Unit. Cardiff was 19th and Swansea 22nd. Newport were tied with neighbours Torfaen and Monmouthshire, with Vale of Glamorgan out in front.

    The table is based on 28 indicators across the range of local government, including education, social care, housing, environment and transport, planning and regulatory services, leisure and culture and corporate health. Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “I am pleased that this year’s bulletin shows that the council is continuing to improve following the upward trend of last year. “Of the 40 measures, Newport has shown an improvement in 24 and our overall improvement rate is 52.5 per cent. “It is especially pleasing to note that the length of time people are waiting for disability facility grants in the city has decreased significantly as this was an area of concern in previous years.

    PLAN FOR QUEEN'S HOTEL UPGRADE

    Sept 11 - As part of plans to upgrade the Queen's Hotel in Newport JD Wetherspoon has submitted plans to create new outdoor terrace in  the interior / courtyard area of the building.  Retailer Shoe Zone has opened new premises in the Kingsway Centre following its relocation from Commercial Street and has also submitted plans to join the line up at Tesco Extra in Spytty. Two other units in the Kingsway Centre, one in the main mall, the other on John Frost Square are currently under offer. There is no news of new lettings in Friar's Walk although Queensberry's Stuart Harris did announce he was in Zara's UK headquarters last week!

    COUNCIL TO LOOK AT NEW PLAN FOR UPPER GALLERY IN MARKET

    Sept 7 - Newport City Council is working with traders to look at ways to improve footfall in the historic Newport Market. For the last three years, local artists have been using vacant units upstairs free of charge. However, the initiative did not lead to the hoped-for increase in footfall and now new ideas are being considered for the gallery area of the market.

    Notice has been given to the artists who have four weeks before they have to vacate the units. Councillor Mark Whitcutt, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: "We are working closely with Newport Norse, who manage the market, and the traders to boost footfall in the market.
    "The Upmarket Galleries were an interesting idea and we were happy to let the artists have the units free of charge to see if that would attract more visitors to the market. We hoped people would pop in to see the art and, at the same time, discover our excellent independent traders downstairs. We are now working on some exciting new ideas that will benefit traders and visitors that we should be able to reveal in the near future."

    BODY OF NEWPORT BASED MAN FOUND ON MOUNTAIN

    Sept 7 - A Vietnamese cannabis factory worker's body was "dumped" on a mountainside along with his clothes and documents, an inquest heard. A man looking for somewhere to bury a cat made the discovery near Abercynon, Rhondda Cynon Taff, in December 2014. Min Duc Hoang, 41, had been involved in large-scale cannabis growing in Newport. A coroner has recorded an open conclusion at an Aberdare inquest, with the cause of death "unascertained".

    BIG TURNOUT AT JOB FAIR

    Sept 7 - There was a big turnout attended a job fair in Newport Leisure Centre today where around 400 jobs were available. A Newport Council spokeswoman said that more than 40 different companies were at the fair and that, by lunchtime, more than 1,200 people had gone through the doors.
     

    COUNCIL STATE FOOTBRIDGE PLAN AWAITING NETWORK RAIL RESPONSE

    Sep 4 - More information on the delayed rail footbridge between Devon Place and Queensway has come from Newport Council as a result of a question from Cllr Matthew Evans to the Council Leader, Debbie Wilcox.

    She states "The ‘Sustainable Access to the City Centre study’ confirmed that the location of the proposed footbridge was the most appropriate. Subsequently, Arup were commissioned to undertake a feasibility study on providing a fully DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant footbridge at this location. A compliant design has been produced with a DDA circular ramp on the Queensway side of the station. As the ramp will be located on Network Rail land, the study was forwarded to them for comment and a subsequent meeting held, at which they confirmed that the proposal was acceptable in principle. Network Rail will now formerly assess the proposal and respond. The timescale for this assessment is not known at this time, but officers will continue to liaise with Network Rail to ascertain their views as soon as possible. "

    SHIPPING CONTAINERS PROPOSED FOR HOMELESS

    Sep 4 - Shipping containers could be turned into accommodation to help people facing homelessness in Newport. The Amazing Grace Spaces project has fitted out a donated 40ft (12m) container to create a one-bedroom flat. The scheme, run by husband and wife Stuart and Caroline Johnson, hopes to raise money for 10 containers. As well as providing accommodation, it is hoped the project could support people to get a job and eventually a more permanent place to live.

    PLAN FOR CLUB ON BRIDGE STREET

    Sep 4 - Alan Darlow Developments has submitted plans to resurrect a night club in a building at the corner of Bridge Street and Camrbian Road. The building formerly housed Ritzy's night club but was recently converted into offices. The planning application states that the club will be aimed at the over 21 market.

    MAN CHARGED WITH THEFT IN CAERLEON

    Sep 2 - A 42 year old man from Newport has been arrested and charged with theft from a vehicle, following a theft in Caerleon where over £2000 worth of cash and belongings were taken from a car. He will now appear in court.

    POLICE SEEK MOPED RIDER

    Sep 2 - We are appealing for information following an accident on Corporation Road in Newport at approximately 11:55am on Thursday 1 September 2016.

    A male pedestrian was crossing the road near the traffic lights outside St Andrews Primary School close to the junction of Jenkins Street and Amelia Avenue when he was struck by a moped/bike. The vehicle was travelling at speed and the pedestrian was conveyed to the Royal Gwent Hospital for thankfully non-life-threatening injuries. The rider of the bike made off from the scene and officers are now trying to chase their whereabouts.

    The offender is described as a male aged between 21 and 22 years old with a pale complexion and of a slim build, around 6ft 1 inches tall. He is believed to be wearing a dark coloured puffer coat with red patches on the shoulders and dark jogging bottoms with a stripe down the leg. The rider also had a black and red helmet on and was wearing this once leaving the scene. The bike is also being described as black and blue in colour with distinctive orange wheels.

    DISPERSAL ORDER FOR CLARENCE PLACE

    Sep 1 - A Dispersal Order has been issued in Maindee, Newport to tackle anti-social behaviour. The Dispersal Order was live from 17:00pm on 1st September 2016 and in place for 48 hours. The Dispersal Order applied to Clarence Place in Newport and the surrounding areas. The order provided 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 faced being arrested. If you experience any anti-social behaviour, please report this by calling 101. In the event of an emergency always call 999.

    ANGER OVER FOOTBRIDGE DELAY

    Aug 28 - Reports of a further delay in providing a much needed and safe footbridge link between Queensway and Devon Place have been met with dismay by campaigners.  The footbridge would replace a dirty and dangerous subway where two sex attacks took place in 2011. According to the Argus people who use the subway daily, including those based at businesses in The Estates Office in Gold Tops, have reacted to the delay with anger. David Barnes of David Barnes Public Relations, who uses the tunnel at least twice a day, called it “a disgrace”. Former Council leader Matthew Evans (Conservative) stated 'people are getting fed up with excuses, sort it out'.

    The Council blame Network Rail for the delay in sorting out the footbridge. They state that an initial design agreed in 2007 is not fit for purpose following city regeneration measures. They state they have a new design for the footbridge. This is awaiting Network Rail approval and once agreed will be funded from the South Wales Metro / City Deal funding arrangements.

    POLICE CLOSE NP19 TYRES

    Aug 27 - A garage in Newport was boarded up this week after Gwent Police officers obtained a closure order from Newport Magistrates Court. During the court hearing, Crime and Disorder Reduction Officer, Leanne Pole presented evidence that NP19 Tyres on Cromwell Road in Somerton, was connected with anti-social behaviour and alleged criminal activity, including the supply of class A drugs. PC Pole and other officers presented evidence to the Court showing that people frequenting the garage were loitering outside and riding off-road bikes to and from the garage, which are believed to be connected to the supply of illegal drugs. High powered vehicles, namely Lamborghinis, have been seen driving at speed around the area and it is thought that these were being stored at the garage when not in use. It was also alleged that those using the garage have been involved in noise nuisance, intimidation and the throwing of missiles at police officers and their vehicles.

    Cllr Allan Morris (Labour, Lliswerry) stated "This is an excellent result for local police working together with our community to keep us all safe. It’s heart breaking to see some of our younger generation being used to facilitate drug supply and causing anti-social behaviour." The property will remain boarded up for three months.

    POLICE TARGET DRIVERS IN SUCCESSFUL EXERCISE

    Aug 27 - Police officers in Newport held an operation this week targeting 'travelling criminality'. During the operation, 53 vehicles were stopped in the City.

  • One person was arrested as they had failed to appear at Cardiff Magistrates Court for traffic offences and a warrant had been issued for their arrest.
  • One vehicle was seized for using red diesel. A £539 on the spot fine was issued.
  • Four people found committing benefit fraud, two of which had an immediate suspension of their benefits. Follow up enquiries are being made by the Department of Work & Pensions on all four.
  • Four follow up enquiries to be made by the UK Border Agency, including three Polish nationals, who were found in the same car, who had been convicted of offences since being admitted to the UK.
  • Nine vehicles immediately taken off the road by VOSA for a variety of serious defects.
  • One vehicle taken off the road by VOSA for exceeding drivers hours.
  • One vehicle taken off the road by VOSA for being 10% overweight.
  • Five vehicles were seized for not having adequate insurance.
  • 13 traffic offence reports were issued for offences including no insurance, no licence, defective tyres and seat belt offences
  • Inspector Matthew Havard said: "We want to send a strong message to anyone intent on criminality in our communities, that this will not be tolerated. More operations are planned for the future, so be warned, we will be waiting!"

    RAPPER LEAVES LABOUR

    Aug 27 - Singer in rap group Goldie Lookin' Chain and Newport City Council member Cllr Rhys Hutchings has left the city's Labour group. Cllr Hutchings was elected as ward member for St Julian's in 2012 but will now sit as an independent. Conservative councillor David Fouweather stated 'it's the residents of St. Julian's who have lost out. He was a political stunt supported by Labour'.

    CHILDCARE PROVIDER EXPANDS

    Aug 26 - A Newport-based childcare services provider has secured funding from Swedish bank Handelsbanken to support expansion plans, according to Insider Media Wales. Tiny Tots Premier Childcare Services was founded in February 1997 at the Malpas Road nursery in Newport.

    It currently offers childcare facilities at two nurseries in Newport, employing 34 full- and part-time staff. The directors have more than 30 years of experience within the childcare sector while the team are extensively qualified in childcare and development. Handelsbanken, which has provided banking facilities since 2011, has now provided funding to acquire a property near Abergavenny for a new nursery to accommodate 30 children.

    CITY FOOTFALL EDGES UP

    Aug 26 - Councillor John Richards, Newport City Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Investment, has welcomed the latest footfall figures which show a continued upward trend. Official Springboard figures for May, June and July this year are all better than the same periods in 2015 even though the national numbers were showing a decrease earlier this summer.

    Last month, 615,637 visitors were recorded in the city centre compared with 603,419 in 2015. In June, it rose to 762,821 from 722,268 the previous year and the May figures were 587,229 this year and 556,533 in 2015 - an improvement of more than four per cent across the three months. At the end of last year, there was also an increase in visitor numbers - in October 2015 they rose to 665,326 from 648,786 in 2014. In November, the month that Friars Walk opened, 949,558 visits were recorded - the highest monthly total since 2008.

    Councillor Richards said: "I am extremely pleased that Newport appears to be bucking the UK trend and has shown an increase during the summer months. "Friars Walk has been drawing new and returning visitors to the shops and restaurants which is great. However, our footfall counters are located on Commercial Street in the heart of the city centre so these figures demonstrate that people are visiting the other commercial areas with its mix of high street names and excellent independent businesses."

    SHOE ZONE RE-LOCATING

    Aug 26 - Footwear retailer Shoe Zone is set to relocate from Commercial Street to the Kingsway Centre as the latest regeneration schemes in Newport are set to focus on the city's main shopping thoroughfare. Kingsway Barbers are now open for business at the Centre. In other news Hi Coffee has opened its doors in the Rodney Parade area. I am advised that works are also under way on former stores (Specsavers and Toni & Guy) on High Street. There is no news on the former BHS store although in several places across the UK clothes retailer Primark has moved in.

    GSCE RESULTS IMPROVE

    Aug 25 - Newport City Council can reveal that the number of pupils in Newport achieving WJEC GCSE A*- A grades was 18.7%, in line with the Welsh average of 19.4%. Figures for the WJEC examinations show that 63.8% of entries in Newport achieved grades A* to C. Overall, 97.7% of WJEC entries in the city were graded between A* and G. Councillor Gail Giles, cabinet member for Education and Young People, said the results were a good improvement on last year..  Cllr Giles said: “Congratulations to all the pupils, staff and parents who have worked so hard to achieve these results, which are an improvement on last year’s. It is really good news for Newport.”

    CITY JOB FAIR ATTRACTS EMPLOYERS

    Aug 25 - Newport City Council's annual Jobs Fair takes place this year on Wednesday 7 September at Newport Centre, with even more companies and training providers due to attend. Organised by the council's Work Based Learning Academy (WBLA), it is run in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, Careers Wales and Newport Now.

    Hundreds of jobs will be on offer once again from a range of businesses attending the sports and leisure venue in Kingsway. The event will run from 10am to 2pm. Companies looking for recruits include Admiral, Costain, Debenhams, Argos, Costa Coffee, Lloyds Banking Group, New Look, Bistro Pierre, Electron Power Solutions, Marston's, Infinity Trampoline Park and The Entertainer. Last year more than 4,000 people visited the Jobs Fair and there was plenty of praise from the prospective employers after the event, particularly about the excellent organisation and high attendance of good quality candidates.

    POLICE RAMP UP DRUG DRIVING ARRESTS

    Aug 21 - Newport police are reporting a string of successes in arresting drivers found to be under the influence of cannabis or cocaine. In four separate incidents males were arrested after testing positive for drug driving in St Julian's, Lliswerry and the city centre. Last weekend three drivers were arrested in Duffryn, Marshfield and on the M4.

    If you are convicted of drug driving you will get a minimum 1 year driving ban, an unlimited fine and up to 6 months in prison. The endorsement on your licence will last for 11 years. There have been over 8,000 arrests since new measures were introduced in March 2015.

    In other police related news an 18 year old was arrested in Alway by two police officers for possession and supply of drugs on Saturday morning and has now been remanded in custody. The Alway police twitter feed shows the cache This afternoon officers were called to Nando's in Friars Walk and arrested an individual for causing criminal damage. The restaurant was temporarily closed. Newport police officers and the fire service have condemned the number of fires deliberately started throughout the east side of Newport wasting the valuable time of officers. The Fire Service also reported being subjected to stone throwing by youths as they put out fires deliberately started in Bettws. Both Ringland and St. Gabriel's schools were damaged by fire last week too!

    COUNCIL TO OFFLOAD FORMER DAY CENTRE

    Aug 20 - The City Council has agreed to put the former Kensingston Day Centre in Eveswell up for sale on the open market. The property extends over 4,300 square foot. Mental health day services provided by the Council were recently relocated from here to Brynglas as part of spending efficiencies. The Council's property arm, Newport Norse, will manage the disposal of the building.

    SCHOOL MEAL PRICES UP AGAIN

    Aug 20 - The City Council has increased school meal prices for Newport school children with effect from September 2016. Primary school meal prices increase by five pence to £2.05 and secondary school prices by three pence to £2.30.

    POLICE DEAL WITH SUSPECT PACKAGE AT PATENT OFFICE

    Aug 19 - At 12.21pm today, specialist trained officers carried out a controlled explosion of a suspicious package found at the Intellectual Property Office in Newport following the discovery of a suspicious package. The incident has now been successfully resolved and staff are being informed that they can re-enter the building. Police stated "We would like to thank everyone for their patience this morning, whilst we secured the area.A police investigation will now commence."

    NEWPORT A-LEVEL RESULTS PRESENT MIXED PICTURE

    Aug 19 - Newport's A-level result presented a mixed picture with some of the performance measures on  the slide. The percentage of those gaining an A* is 6.9%, an increase on last year's 5.9% and above the Wales average of 6.6%. The percentage of those gaining an A*-A is 21.9%, a decrease on last year's 23.2% and below the Wales average of 22.7%.The proportion of students achieving a pass grade at WJEC A Level (Grades A* - E) is 97.4%, a slight increase on last year's 97.1% and in line with the Wales average of 97.3%, in England the average is 98.1 %. There was a rise in Newport WJEC exam entries of 7.2% from last year, compared against a drop in entries across Wales.

    ICONIC MUSIC VENUE DAMAGED BY FIRE

    Aug 18 - An iconic music venue in Newport already in a state of dilapidation has been damaged after a fire broke out. Firefighters were called to TJ's in Clarence Place at 19:43 BST on Saturday, where the ground floor of the three-storey building was alight. It has been derelict since the nightclub closed in 2010 after the death of owner John Sicolo.In its heyday, TJs became legendary for hosting some of the world's biggest bands. According to the Argus Nathan Jennings, who is making a film about the venue, said he had contacted the Sicolo family after the fire and they were "devastated".

    SAINSBURY'S SITE DEMOLITION AGREED

    Aug 18 - Demolition plans to clear the former Sainsbury's site in the centre of Newport have now been agreed between owners, Fear Group and Natural Resources Wales. Preparation work will start on site in November with demolition works prior to Christmas.

    RUGBY IN TIE-UP WITH FRIARS WALK FOR NEW SEASON

    Aug 17 - Newport Gwent Dragons have signed a new sponsorship agreement with Friars Walk and Kingsway Centre for the 2016/17 season. Under the new agreement, individual outlets at Friars Walk and Kingsway Centre will offer supporters give-aways and value-adding promotions on a match-by-match basis while they are visiting Rodney Parade. Both shopping centres are operated by Queensberry Real Estate.

    POLICE TARGET SOMERTON BUSINESS

    Aug 17 - A tyre shop on Cromwell Road in Newport has been the subject of a Closure Order Notice. A hearing for the closure was originally held on the 18th August 2016 however the case was adjourned until the final hearing on Thursday 25th 2016 at Newport Magistrates Court. The order has been sought after suspicion that the premises was connected with the production, use and supply of class A drugs along with anti-social behaviour.

    MARKET ARCADE GRANT BID

    Aug 13 - A first step towards a restoration project for Market Arcade is being considered by Newport City Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Investment, Councillor John Richards. Over the years, the condition of the city's oldest shopping arcade, which is a Grade-ll listed structure, has deteriorated. One of the issues is that it has multiple private owners. However, many of them have recently shown an interest in working with the council to secure its long-term improvement.

    It is being proposed to submit a first round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a Townscape Heritage scheme. If it is successful, the council will have 12 months to develop a detailed project to restore the arcade.

    Originally built in 1869, when it was known as Fennell's Arcade, it was at the heart of town centre growth in 19th century Newport. It is now in an area of regeneration where other landmark buildings, such as the former King's Hotel, have been restored and given a new lease of life.Although the project will focus on properties in Market Arcade, it will also include some neighbouring properties on High Street and Market Street.

    TRAVELLER SITE GREEN LIGHT

    Aug 12 - Plans for a permanent Gipsy and traveller site in Newport have been given the go-ahead, despite hundreds of objections over access to the site. A 4.78 hectare site on Hartridge Farm Road, in Ringland, will be used by traveller families already living in Newport on illegal or unsuitable sites, after it was approved four votes to three at a meeting of Newport City Council’s planning committee this afternoon. Objections against the proposal for the council-run site centered around the access to the area, which will be down a narrow road said to be already congested with traffic and parked cars.

    NEW COFFEE STORE OPENING DATE

    Aug 10 - The Hi Coffee riverside side in Rodney Parade is set to open on Friday August 26 at 8am.

    ONS PLANS TO RECRUIT 250 ECONOMISTS AND START NEWPORT HUB

    Aug 7 - The Office of National Statistics plans to recruit 250 economists as part of plans to develop expertise and knowledge at its Newport site, according to a Telegraph report. They state they want to create a hotspot of economic statistics around its Newport base in the same way that Exeter has become the centre for meteorology. The aspiration may be difficult to achieve as traditionally it has been difficult to create business hubs outside the London area. The article notes that the site near the Admiral building could present an opportunity for this with access to rail a key option. ONS states although there are economic consultancies in Bristol there are none in Newport and it will need to do more to address the issue if the plan is going to succeed. 

    COMMENT - How about an Enterprise Zone to develop this business hub in the city centre? Or a visionary scheme to bring more Grade A office stock into the area near the station, perhaps as part of a redevelopment of the whole site incorporating office and hotel accommodation, digital spaces and an entertainment arena large enough to host indoor sports events, major concerts or shows combined with car parking facilities for the station?

    USK WAY DEVELOPMENT TO BE CONSIDERED BY PLANNERS

    Aug 7 - Newport's riverside development will near completion with plans to build 76 apartments and 17 houses near to the USW student accommodation (Endeavour House) on Usk Way. The scheme, similar in style to Mariner's Quay, will be considered by the full planning committee.

    Elsewhere, St. Paul's Church are pushing ahead with their plan to occupy the former Post Office building on Bridge Street. Hi Coffee is also well advanced with the fitting out of its new premises at the Rodney Parade end of the city centre footbridge. In town, the BHS store is now closed but there will be new occupiers on Commercial Street including Kaspas Desserts in the former New Look building.

    ARREST AFTER VEHICLES DAMAGED

    Aug 7 - Following reports of damage to a number of cars in the Caerleon area police have arrested a 41 year old man from Newport on suspicion of theft from vehicles. If you live in this area, police ask that you check your car for any signs of damage. They state "If you feel that you may be a potential victim, please call us on 101 quoting log number 65 04/08/16."

    DEVELOPERS BACK AFTER TALKS OVER FIRE-DAMAGED SAINSBURY'S SITE

    Aug 6 - Fear Group, the developers behind the £60 million regeneration scheme around the Sainsbury's site in Wyndham Street, have confirmed their commitment to it again. This follows talks with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) regarding a flood alleviation scheme. Stephen Fear described them as 'proactive' and 'progressive'. Following recent vandalism Mr Fear threatened to stop the scheme blaming NRW for failing to communicate with them about its plans. Fear Group and NRW met on Thursday. Fear Group would like to carry out their own flood alleviation around the scheme rather than allow NRW to complete the work as part of its wider Crindau scheme. Mr Fear told the Argus on Thursday that “we have no intention of pulling out at the moment” but that “these delays have not helped the situation at all and we will need some persuading.”

    M4 RELIEF ROAD PUBLIC INQUIRY SET FOR NOVEMBER 1

    Aug 5 -  The independent public inquiry into the M4 Corridor around Newport Project will begin on 1 November, Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates has announced. With the independent inspector now appointed and the pre inquiry meeting set to commence today, the Economy Secretary said that it was in Wales’ interest to have an independent review into whether the proposals form part of the long term, sustainable solution to the traffic problems at this gateway to Wales.

    Ken Skates said: “I was keen to ensure that a date was set for the public inquiry into the M4 Project at the earliest possible opportunity in order that we can provide clarity on the process.It’s been clear for some time that for businesses, commuters and visitors alike, the current stretch of M4 around Newport is unable to cope with the needs of modern Wales. This inquiry will provide open and transparent scrutiny of our proposed solution, and suggested alternatives, before providing vital feedback to inform a final decision on whether we proceed to construction.” The public inquiry will be held at the Lysaght's Institute.

    ONS DIGITAL CAMPUS PLAN UPDATE

    Aug 5 - The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has yesterday launched an online space to provide more information about its new Data Science Campus and to invite expressions of interest from potential partners. Announced in March, as part of the Chancellor’s budget, the ONS Data Science Campus will act as a hub for UK public and private sectors to gain practical advantage from the increased investment in data science research, making the most of the growth and availability of innovative data sources.

    “Our aim is to help cement the UK’s reputation as an international leader in data science, developing the best possible analysis to inform decision-making in public and private sectors”, explains the ONS Director General for Data Capability, Heather Savory. “We actively welcome Academia, Government and Industry partners who wish to join us as we seek to meet the demands and challenges posed by the evolving economy and push the boundaries of data science research.”

    The Campus will build an extensive national and international network with academic partners, providing funding opportunities for PhD candidates and joint research programmes with partners. Located at the ONS headquarters in Newport, the Data Science Campus is part of the ONS’s programme of activity to transform into a more innovative, capable and outward-looking organisation.

    PRAISE FOR COUNCIL WORK WITH BARNADO'S

    Aug 4 - Newport City Council’s approach to working with children and families, with the help of charity Barnardo’s Cymru, has won high praise following an independent review. The Institute of Public Care (IPC) recently evaluated the Integrated Family Support Service (IFSS) which is delivered by Newport City Council and children’s charity Barnardo’s Cymru – the first partnership of its kind in the UK. The Institute’s verdict was that it was “one of the most impressive overall models” it had seen. Just over five years ago, the IFSS was set up with a vision to develop a range of family support services capable of promoting child and family wellbeing and actively preventing the need for care and support. The IPC report found that the partnership has developed a consistently evidence-based, preventative and cost effective set of services.

    NEW SQUARE PLANNED FOR COMMERCIAL STREET

    Aug 2 - A new square similar in aspect and design to John Frost Square is set to form the rear entrance to the Kingsway Centre. The square will result in the demolition of all adjacent shops and the lower level of retail outlets on the ramp into Kingsway as a new space is opened up. The development also envisages the demolition of Emlyn House offices. The city planning statement describes the area as 'the forgotten southern end of Commercial Street.' It states that as it contains a run down retail block and low quality environment the existing site is in urgent need of redevelopment. Most of the proposed site is occupied by under-performing retail units, a large proportion of which are currently vacant and difficult to let. It states that the proposal will improve the visibility of the Kingsway entrance and Wilkinson retail unit, whilst providing new quality landscaping, open public realm and potential activity space.

    The plan runs opposite the plans announced by Seren Group and the Council to demolish the Hornblower Pub and adjacent units and replace it with housing. This development also includes the updating of the Park Square car park.

    The policy of connecting Commercial Street to other parts of the city centre also includes recent work to demolish units between the Kingsway and Commercial Street allowing a new pedestrian walkway to link the two streets for the first time.

     

    TORIES WARNED COUNCIL ABOUT SAINSBURY'S SITE DELAYS IN JUNE

    July 31 - Conservative group leader Matthew Evans warned the City council leader in June about the significant delays with the Sansbury's site development and the frustrations of the developer, Fear Group. In a question to the Council Leader Debbie Wilcox on June 14 he stated that there were concerns that Natural Resources Wales (NRW) had held up the development for months and that Fear Group were ready to commence demolition on site prior to Christmas. The Council leader stated that officers advised her that delays were mainly due to the need to resolve land ownership issues along with partner Newport City Homes.

    Natural Resources Wales has now announced plans for flood defence work along the Crindau stretch of the Usk. It claims it will cost £10 million and protect 660 homes.

    Stephen Fear tweeted yesterday "Totally fed up with this nonsense now @GwentPolice need 2 catch the culprits but NRW need to come to the wicket too." Both he and his Leon Group have expressed exasperation at the failure to deter criminal activity around the building.

    COMMENT - Step up to the plate senior politicians and Welsh Government! Something must be done to change the mind of Fear Group to revisit this plan. So much detailed work has been undertaken but clearly there has been considerable frustration too. The damage and fire were clearly a tipping point but delays with NRW have not helped either. Otherwise, this area of Newport will face five more years of ruination and dereliction.

    COUNCIL BACKS CITY BIKE BAN

    July 31 -  The City Council has come out strongly in favour of police enforcement action to prevent youngsters on bikes disrupting the city centre. A spokeman said "Newport’s main shopping area was pedestrianised in 1997. The traffic order (Prohibition of Driving Order) put in place at the time included restrictions on cycling and this has remained in force ever since.

    It is the responsibility of the police to enforce the traffic order and we are pleased to hear they plan to increase their focus in this area following calls from local businesses and residents."

    LIB DEMS ROMP HOME IN CITY BY-ELECTION

    July 30 - Newport Liberal Democrats retained their only seat on the City Council with a huge win in the St. Julian's by election. Carmel Townsend, widow of Ed Townsend who held the seat prior to his death, won an emphatic victory. The votes were as follows - Lib Dems 948 (53.7 per cent), Labour 432 (24.4 per cent) UKIP 156 (8.8 per cent), Conservatives 135 (7.6 per cent), Plaid Cymru 71 (4 per cent) and the Greens 25 (1.4 per cent)

    FEAR GROUP PULLS OUT OF RIVERSIDE DEVELOPMENT

    July 30 - Fear Group has pulled the plug on the £60 million riverside development on the former Sainsbury's site adjacent to Newport Castle. Blaming administrative delays and recent arson and criminal damage on the site they state their intention to sell the site on.

    GRIFFITHS DEFIES PARTY POLICY ON TRIDENT

    July 24 - John Griffiths, Newport East AM has defied Labour Party policy on Trident by joining a protest by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament designed to coincide with the House of Commons debate on the continuation of Britain's at sea nuclear deterrent. Unusually, the Labour Party leader spoke against the policy of the Party but 142 Labour MPs backed the Government and supported the policy including Newport East MP Jessica Morden. The Party's Britain in the World policy report included a commitment to the deterrent and was supported by the 2015 Labour Party Conference.

    CHEPSTOW MAN CHARGED OVER ARMED ROBBERIES

    July 24 - A man has been charged with robbing two Newport betting shops at gunpoint. The 43-year-old was arrested in connection with armed robberies at a Betfred and William Hill in the city. Gwent Police said a Chepstow man had been charged with two counts of robbery and two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence. He has been remanded in custody and will appear at Newport Crown Court on 12 August.

    CYCLISTS TO BE BANNED FROM CITY CENTRE

    July 24 - The riding of bicycles on key city streets is to be banned as police in Newport seek to make the city centre free from anti-social behaviour. Over the next few weeks officers will be enforcing a traffic order to prohibit cycling through the city centre of Newport. It follows recent reports of a number of incidents of those causing a danger to pedestrians during busy times.

    In particular Gwent Police have received calls from local businesses and residents who have noticed groups of people cycling through the city centre anti-socially.

    For example some cyclists are pulling what's known as a wheelie, swerving in and out of people and causing a nuisance to businesses and shoppers going about their daily business. Officers will now be handing out warning letters to cyclist in the city centre, in order to educate them and warn them of subsequent enforcements they face. Details will also be taken of those who are issued with the warnings to avoid repeat offenders. Following this educational period, officers will then move on to the next stage and start issuing fixed penalties to those seen cycling through the busy city centre.

    MISSION BURRITO OPENS NEW CITY OUTLET

    July 24 - Mexican fast food outlet Mission Burrito has opened a new Newport store adjacent to Cineworld in Friars Walk. The new outlet is a much needed boost for Friars Walk as lettings have slowed with more activity in the neighbouring Kingsway Centre. Five Guys have indicated they will not be opening their new store in the near future. On Commercial Street a noodle bar is still destined for the former Wallis Store next to Boots, Ramsdens has opened in the former Body Shop unit and BHS is counting down to its imminent closure. Premier Inn state that they will be ready to open their High Street hotel later in the Autumn.

    CITY COUNCIL ANNOUNCES SUMMER PLAY SCHEMES

    July 22 - Newport City Council is operating a number of play schemes during the school holidays from 1 to 26 August. New childcare regulations mean that all-day provision for children up to the age of 12 has to be registered with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW).

    Six all-day plays schemes, including one in the Welsh language and a specialist one for children with complex needs, are planned for sites across the city. Four venues are already registered with the CSSIW and two are awaiting registration. There will also be shorter sessions of just under two hours at six locations and outreach play schemes in the city's parks. All the schemes will operate each weekday until 26 August except for Wednesday 3 August when a National Play Day event will be held in Tredegar Park. Places on the schemes, except for the specialist one for children with complex needs in Llanwern, are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

    All-day play schemes (CCSIW registered) 10am-3pm

    Bettws Active Learning Centre / Pill YMCA / Ringland Community Centre Flying Start / Pill Flying Start building - Welsh language (subject to CSSIW registration) / Duffryn Flying Start (subject to CSSIW registration)

    Fixed site sessions (1hr 59mins)

    9.45 - 11.45: Alway Community Centre, Malpas Court Flying Start; Hatherleigh Centre, Beechwood / 1pm - 3pm: Newport East Community Centre, Moorland Park; Rhiwderin Community Centre; Oasis Community Centre, Underwood.

    Outreach sessions (1hr 45mins)

    9.30am-10.45am: Beechwood Park; Belle Vue Park; Lodge Hill Park / 11.15am-1pm: Lliswerry Ponds; Tredegar Park; Shaftesbury Park / 2pm-3.45pm: Langstone; Rogerstone Welfare Ground; Westfield Park

    COUNCIL AIMING TO IMPROVE RUNDOWN SHOPPING ARCADE

    July 22 - Newport City Council is actively working with the owners of properties in Market Arcade to try and improve the rundown and uninspiring shopping lane. A recent meeting attended by officers, the majority of owners and some tenants was highly productive and positive about tackling issues in the historic arcade.

    Originally called Fennell's Arcade, it was created in 1869 as a key pedestrian route between the railway station and the then new provisions market. Councillor John Richards, Newport City Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Investment, said; "Sadly, over the years, the condition of the arcade has declined and previous efforts to improve it have faltered.

    "However, the future is now looking brighter thanks to the co-operation and commitment of the present day owners and, with the support of the council, I am sure we can reverse the decline. "Together, we will aim to revive the arcade so it once again becomes an attractive area to shop and live, fitting in with other regeneration projects which are already helping to transform that part of the city centre."

    Phil Middleton, one of the property owners, said: "It will be difficult to improve the arcade acting as individuals but together we can make a difference and we intend to set up a management committee as a first step to achieving our goals. I believe the arcade has a promising future and I would like to thank all those who attended the meeting. I would also like to encourage the rest of the owners to now get on board. With the other regeneration projects already completed or under way in that area, the potential of a restored Market Arcade is well worth our time and effort."

    UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMANTS DOWN AGAIN

    July 22 - The numbers of working age claimants signing on and claiming Jobseekers Allowance has reduced again in Newport. The numbers is now 2,870 or 3.1 per cent of the population. It is the second highest in Wales, surpassed only by Blaenau Gwent (3.7 per cent). 64,300 Newportonians are in work with 16,400 (25.9 per cent) currently employed in the public sector. Average gross weekly earnings are £536 per week for those in work or £27,872 per annum. All statistics provided by the Office for National Statistics.

    WORKS STARTS ON NEW SCHOOL

    July 22 - A ceremony to mark the official start of work on Newport’s first Welsh language secondary school, Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed, took place today. The city’s Mayor, Councillor David Atwell, led the ground breaking on the site in Duffryn, accompanied by students, teachers and governors.

    A time capsule was also buried on the site of the adjoining Duffryn High to mark the refurbishment and extension works, and a new era, as it becomes John Frost School in September. Councillor Atwell said at the ceremony: “Every child in this city deserves the best possible start in life. The improvements to John Frost School and the purpose built Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed, will provide the best possible facilities fostering pride and enthusiasm in our students.”

    APPEAL OVER STOLEN MOTORBIKE

    July 20 - Police are appealing for information after a motorbike was stolen from Tredegar Park on Cardiff Road, Newport.

    At approximately 8:00pm on the 20th July 2016 the victim reported the bike was missing from the carpark. Witnesses reported seeing two males trying to start the bike, they are being described as around 19 years old with no biking equipment. One was wearing a blue t-shirt and other was wearing a light grey t-shirt. The bike was black and was a Keeweigh superlight motorbike model in a matte black colour.

    It also had learner plates attached and had a sticker on the front which read 'Loser Machine'. If anyone has any information regarding this incident please call Gwent Police on 101 quoting log number 563 20/07/2016.

    BUS STRIKE HAS LIMITED IMPACT

    July 20 - Staff at Newport Bus will be taking industrial action today after rejecting a pay offer. The strike will take place after members of staff at the travel company turned down an improved pay deal totalling 3.5%. The Board of Newport Transport was planning to implement the pay offer in August 2016.

    A spokesman from the board said: “We are disappointed that some of the company’s staff have voted against accepting this pay increase award." Update - Most services ran on a more limited basis.

    SUSPENDED COUNCILLOR RE-INSTATED

    July 17 - A Newport councillor suspended from the Labour party for alleged anti-Semitism has been reinstated after an inquiry. Miqdad Al-Nuaimi was suspended in May over tweets including: "Jews in whose name #Israeli #Zionist regime commit war crimes should worry: its's same arrogant mentality as #nazis". The Iraqi-born councillor has now been told by letter he has been cleared. "I feel great," he told BBC Wales. "I've always campaigned against all forms of racism and discrimination."

    ROYAL GWENT MAY LOSE CHILDREN'S SERVICES

    July 11 - Paediatric services could soon be removed Newport's main hospital, it is being reported. The Aneurin Bevan Health Board is considering shutting as a "temporary measure" its paediatric services in either Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital or Abergavenny's Nevill Hall Hospital. The services would be moved onto one site because of staff shortages. If, for example, paediatric services are cut from the Royal Gwent, a family based in Newport could face a 45-mile round trip to get to their nearest children’s hospital. The Health Board claim a decision has not yet been made.

    RESTAURANT PLAN APPROVED / OTHER PLANNING NEWS

    July 10 - A plan for a large new restaurant in Dock Street replacing three existing retail units has been approved by the City Council. The unit is part of the redevelopment of the former Olympia House / Passport Office building. It is not known who will be letting the restaurant.

    Elsewhere, demolition work on the buildings in Kingsway and Commercial Street to allow a link between the two is well under way. Three new lets are also expected in the Kingsway Centre to open soon. Approval has also been granted for work to convert the former Hornblower pub as part of redevelopment proposals led by Seren Group around the Park Square Car Park on Commercial Street. Planners also backed the new six storey office development set to feature on Cambrian Road opposite the Council's Information Station.

    BREXIT THE FACTOR AS TATA PAUSE STEEL SELL OFF

    July 9 - The sale of Tata Steel's UK business including its plant at Llanwern is on hold as the company considers a European tie-up, creating further uncertainty for British steelworkers. Speaking after a board meeting in Mumbai, Tata said it had started talks with "strategic players in the steel industry". They include the German company Thyssenkrupp. Tata said the uncertainty created by Brexit was a factor in its deliberations. The company declared its intention to sell all or part of its UK business in March. Newport voted 56-44 to leave the EU.

    In its statement Tata said its board had "decided to also look at alternative and more sustainable portfolio solutions for the European business". It added: "Consequently, Tata Steel has now entered into discussions with strategic players in the steel industry, including Thyssenkrupp AG. Discussions have been initiated to explore the feasibility of strategic collaborations through a potential joint venture.

    A spokesman for leading bidder Liberty House (with a plant in Newport) said: “This is sad and frustrating news for the UK steel industry because the sector needs a fresh start and we fear this decision will simply deliver more uncertainty over a longer period.From our own point of view it is disappointing that, in the short term, we will not be able to apply our green steel strategy on the scale which would have truly evolved and transformed Britain’s steel and engineering sector."

    INVESTMENT PACKAGE FOR CITY COMPANY

    July 8 - A Newport-headquartered semiconductor equipment maker, which has developed technology used in sensors in game consoles and chips for smartphones, has secured a $125m (£96m) refinancing package from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking and Barclays, according to Insider Media Wales. SPTS Technologies works with semiconductor and microelectronic device manufacturers and research institutions, employing 500 people globally with about 300 staff in Newport. 

    The company was bought by Nasdaq-listed Orbotech in 2014 in a deal worth £215m. The funding forms part of global debt and equity transaction designed to strengthen Orbotech's overall balance sheet and to provide working capital for SPTS to use in expanding its operations

    PILL CLASS A DRUGS SWOOP

    July 7 - At approximately 21:55pm on Tuesday 5th July 2016 Gwent Police arrested a 17 year old male from Newport on suspicion of possession with intent to supply class A drugs on Wolseley Street in Newport. He is currently in police custody. A 41 year old woman from Newport was also arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply class A drugs. She is currently on police bail pending further enquiries.

    CITY TOURISM UP

    July 7 - Tourism was worth £286m to Newport last year, up more than 8 per cent, according to the latest figures. About 2.69 million people visited the city in 2015, up 4.6 per cent, with the numbers for day visits and stays also rising by 3.3 per cent and 8.7 per cent respectively. An independent activity model, called STEAM, which is used by all councils in Wales also showed that the number of jobs in the tourism industry rose by 9.2 per cent to 3,124 (full time equivalent). Councillor John Richards, Newport City Council's cabinet member for regeneration and investment, said: "These latest figures demonstrate that tourism has again grown in the city and makes a significant contribution to the local economy. Business tourism is an important element of the industry and the council has supported the development of the Wales International Convention Centre. It is forecast that it will benefit 1,200 bed spaces in our hotels and guest houses."

    SOMERTON MAN CHARGED

    July 7 - A 36 year old man from Newport has been charged with possession of an offensive weapon, assault and arson with intent to endanger life, following an incident in Lifestyle Express on Cromwell Road on 25th June 2016. He appeared in Newport Magistrates Court yesterday, where he was remanded into custody. At approximately 16:10pm today Police were called to an address on Cromwell Road in Newport.

    During a search of the property officers arrested a 30 year old male from the Newport area on suspicion of threats to damage and destroy property and producing a controlled class B drug. He is currently in police custody pending further enquiries.

    PILL PROPERTY BOARDED UP BY POLICE

    July 7 - A flat in Newport will be boarded up today, after an anti-social behaviour closure order was obtained from Newport Magistrates Court this week. Crime and Disorder Reduction Officer, PC Paula Spence provided evidence that the occupant of the flat in Drover Mews, Pill was allegedly involved in the use of class A and B drugs.

    It was also alleged that people were constantly calling at the flat, looking to take illegal drugs, with cars arriving and leaving throughout the night, disrupting local residents. The local community were fearful for their safety as the visitors were intimidating residents by shouting abuse at them. There was also discarded needles and litter in the area, believed to be connected to the illegal drug taking. As a result of this order, steel shutters will be installed at the premises and the property will remain boarded up for a minimum of one month.

    SOMERTON BRIDGE OPENS AT LAST

    July 5 - The Somerton Bridge linking Chepstow Road and Lliswerry has now re-opened after work was passed by Network Rail inspectors.

    NETWORK RAIL FINED FOR SOMERTON BRIDGE DELAY

    July 3 - -Following Network Rail's abject failure to re-open Somerton Bridge on time Newport City Council has announced it will be fining the company at a rate of £2750 per day until it reopens. Newport City Council is to fine Network Rail for failing to complete work on both Somerton and Cardiff Road rail bridges. Somerton was due to open on Monday June 27 and Cardiff Road on Saturday June 25. Latest reports suggest that the surfacing work is now complete and the bridge will re-open later this week.

    Network Rail failed to inform the council that it had suffered setbacks in Somerton in December when bad weather forced work to be suspended, adding to the time the bridge would be complete.

    Newport City Council had already agreed to a reasonable revised duration taking the programme to May 1, which took into account the engineering difficulties. For Cardiff Road Bridge, while there is now two-way traffic on the road, the scheme should have been completed by June 24. The council has the power under Section 74 (NRSWA 1991) to fine Network Rail for every working day it goes over the agreed end date and will be doing so until work is complete.

    Councillor Ray Truman, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Sustainability and Transport said the delays were unacceptable to the council and its residents who had been patient while the work on the electrification of the rail network was ongoing. He said: “Network Rail is treating Newport with contempt if it thinks it can disregard agreements and ignore deadlines. We have the power to fine Network Rail and we will do everything in our power to ensure we send a strong message to Network Rail that we won’t stand for this.”

    SECOND FANZONE SET FOR RODNEY PARADE

    July 3 - Following the success of Friday night's fanzone at Rodney Parade a further event is planned for next Wednesday, the semi final between Portugal and Wales. Three large screens were erected at Rodney Parade as well as facilities inside the venue. The Welsh team's historic 3-1 victory over Belgium was watched by hundreds of jubilant fans. Fanzone tickets are available from Newport LIVE.

    The next event will open at 5pm on Wednesday, July 6 with Football Association of Wales and Newport Live Sports Development running free sports activities for all ages before the kick off at 8pm.

    MAN,27, ARRESTED FOR THEFT INVOLVING KNIFE

    July 2 - A 27 year old man has been arrested following two incidents involving a knife near Newport Bridge. At approximately 10:30pm on Monday 27th June 2016 near the Old Green Roundabout in Newport a person was approached by a male who threatened him with a knife and stole a quantity of money. At approximately 8:00am on Tuesday 28th June 2016 at the same location a female was approached by a male who threatened her with a knife and stole her belongings.

    Both incidents are believed to be linked. Following an initial investigation Gwent Police have arrested a 27 year old man from the Newport area on suspicion of the two robberies. He is currently being held in police custody pending further investigation. At this time Gwent Police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the robberies.

    Newport city centre Inspector for Gwent Police Kevin Warren said: 'Our priority is to minimise the risk to public and keep them safe at all times. The determination of the all officers involved displayed excellent local knowledge and reacted quickly and precisely to make the arrest.

    OFFICE DEVELOPMENT SET FOR GREEN LIGHT

    July 1 - Plans for a new six-storey office building in the centre of Newport, which has space for about 500 people to work in, are set to be given the green light by councillors according to Insider Media Wales. The new building forms the second phase of Scarborough Group International's £30m Station Quarter development at the Cambrian Centre site.

    The first phase, was completed in 2014, comprises 80,644 sq ft of office accommodation, let to Admiral Insurance. It also includes 28,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space and a new public plaza. Scarborough Group has now submitted a full-planning application for the second phase of work. This would comprise a six-storey building of a similar style to the Admiral development. It would provide about 45,000 sq ft of space for office or education use expected to be filled by Cardiff University.

    The building, to be named Interface, would also feature leisure and ground floor retail units facing the new plaza. A new kiosk building would also be constructed. The site is currently occupied by the John Wallace Linton, a Wetherspoons pub. The existing front façade of the pub would be demolished and replaced by a new structure. Plans for the scheme are set to be discussed by Newport City Council's planning committee on 6 July 2016.

    FLYNN MAKES APPEARANCE ON LABOUR FRONT BENCH

    July 1 - As Jeremy Corbyn runs very short of MPs who will support his front bench in the House of Commons a surprise replacement emerged, albeit temporarily, as Shadow Leader of the House. Paul Flynn, who's been MP for Newport West since 1987 has made a comeback as a shadow minister at the age of 81. According to the Telegraph he is the oldest front bencher since Gladstone.

    As he opened his remarks he stated "You may be a tad surprised to see me in this position, Mr Speaker, because for the past 26 years I have been a Back Bencher by choice—not just my choice, but the choice of the past five leaders of my party. Today, however, I am here for very positive reasons, as part of a diversity project in my party at which we have done splendidly. There are now far more women on the Front Bench and in Parliament than ever before—although not enough—and far more ethnic minorities, but there is currently a total absence of octogenarians. I believe that my appointment to this post will be a trailblazer which will lead to an all-octogenarian shortlist in the party, and will make the wealth of experience and wisdom among my fellow octogenarians available to the House. It is important for us to have people here who can remember life before there was a health service."

    DRUG PUSHER ARRESTED

    July 1 - On Thursday 30th June 2016 Gwent Police arrested a 19 year old male on suspicion of intent to supply Class A drugs on Ifton Place, Newport.

    He was charged and remanded to Newport magistrates court this morning. If you have any information about this supply or use of drugs in your community, please call the Police on 101 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    CELTIC MANOR OPENS STAFF WELL-BEING GARDEN

    July 1 - For its very hard working staff, many of whom are on comparatively wages the Celtic Manor has opened a new Staff Wellbeing Garden, a terrace in the main hotel where staff can relax, take time out and breaks.

    FRIARS WALK TALKS BREAK DOWN

    July 1 - The owner of the recently-opened Friars Walk in Newport has revealed that talks over a sale of the £110m shopping centre to a Canadian investment firm have broken down, although discussions with other potential buyers are continuing. Friars Walk ,developed by Queensberry Real Estate, is thought to have been considered for purchase by the Talisker Corporation, but talks have now broken down. The Council obtained a £90 million loan in order that Queensberry could build the mall, the deadline for repayment is December.

    A spokesperson for Queensberry Real Estate said: "Discussions have been taking place with a number of interested parties regarding the sale of Friars Walk. This includes a potential Canadian purchaser, which in this instance has not led to an agreement. We are continuing discussions with several other interested parties to negotiate the sale of the £110m asset.

    "Negotiations are also underway for the majority of the remaining retail and restaurant units and trading figures are hitting forecast projections. We are continuing to work closely with Newport City Council on all activity."

    POLICE APPEAL OVER DISTRACTION BURGLARY ATTEMPT

    June 29 - Gwent Police is appealing for information after a distraction burglary on Woodland Road, Newport on Friday 15th June 2016 at approximately 1:15pm. The offender is said to be an unknown male, who attended the address claiming to be a Swalec engineer, he had a hand held device and said he was there to read the gas/electric meter.

    The victim denied access but the offender stated there would be repercussions as a result of her refusal. The offender is being described an Asian male around 6ft 2, clean shaven with black swept back black hair, a local accent and looks to be in his 20s.

    HOGARTH'S AND STARBUCKS OPEN

    June 28 - Two new openings in the city centre, Hogarth's Gin Palace has opened in the former Reflex bar and Stabucks has taken up residence in its new location on John Frost Square. The old premises for the latter in Westgate Square now stand empty. All we need now is for someone to redevelop and restore Newport's most iconic building, the Westgate Hotel. There is no news on other openings at the moment, as stated British Heart Foundation is taking up the former JD Sports store, Mission Burrito and Five Guys will be joining the Friars Walk line up but there is no news on other potential signings and it looks like HMV has not joined the line up as was thought in Austin Friars. Perhaps as retail units benefit from reduced business rates in April 2017 we will saw more businesses heading to Newport? 

    FLYNN CALLS FOR POST-BREXIT FOCUS

    June 26 - Labour MP Paul Flynn MP has called for politicians to focus on saving jobs and ensuring there is engagement with young voters post-Brexit

    In his blog today he states "We should all be working to shore up the Post Brexit collapsing confidence in future jobs, Steel jobs and jobs in other companies like Airbus Newport are in new peril. Progress has been made recently in building up a case to retain steel jobs in the UK. We want strong statements from all parties that UK and EU cooperation will continue. Already some jobs are haemorrhaging out of the country. It's a disgrace that political parties are playing self-indulgent games with orchestrated resignations on the hour as part of an organised treachery. Young people in Newport are angry and distraught by the referendum result that they believe has damaged their future jobs prospects. They claim that Brexit will be worse than they thought."

    NEWPORT EMPHATICALLY REJECTS EU

    June 24 - Newport voted emphatically to reject the European Union in Thursday's referendum in a massive blow to the Labour Party establishment in the City. All Labour MPs, AMs and councillors backed the Remain campaign. The decisive vote by 56 per cent to 44 per cent was on a turnout of 71 per cent was significantly ahead of the Welsh Assembly of 41 per cent and General Election of 63 per cent. UKIP leader Nigel Farage spoke at a meeting at Rodney Parade early in the campaign but there was very little campaigning in Newport throughout the event and plenty of evidence of Leave posters on display.

    Neighbouring constituencies voted in different directions Monmouthshire and Cardiff voted to Remain but Torfaen voted even more strongly to Leave.

    TURKEY FIRM OWNERS JAILED

    June 18 -Turkey processing firm bosses have been jailed after leaving large amounts of meat defrosting in dirty water before selling it, Newport City Council has said. Severnside Provisions, of Leeway Industrial Estate, was also ordered to pay £400,000 at the city's crown court on Friday. Directors Anthony O'Sullivan, 47, and Martin Lincoln, 46, were given 24-week terms after admitting 12 offences.An investigation was launched in December 2013.

    In a statement, Newport City Council said the pair were warned in 2010 that their company was not permitted to carry out turkey processing. However, it said records showed that large quantities of meat was sold by Severnside Provisions in 2011, 2012 and 2013. After an investigation started, environmental health officers found large quantities of turkey defrosting outside in dirty water and being processed in a garage in "unhygienic conditions". As well as being jailed, the two directors were ordered to pay a confiscation award of £271,815 under the Proceeds of Crime Act and council costs of £35,185. The company was also fined £100,000.

    MISSING GIRL

    June 18 - Police are appealing for the public to look out for Whitney Woodridge from Bettws and report any sightings to them. 17 year old Witney was last seen at around 5:00pm on Thursday after leaving her home without her phone, money or warm clothing.

    She is approximately 5ft 6, of a medium build with long brown and reddish colour hair. Whitney has a nose piercing and was last seen wearing blue jeans and a brown leather jacket. She does have links with the Mountain Ash area.Police ask anyone with information to call 101.

    LOFTUS GARDEN VILLAGE SCOOPS TOP AWARD

    June 18 - Described as a 'great place to live' by one of the judges, Seren Living's Loftus Garden Village (near Corporation Road) has won Best Residential Development at the Insider Wales Property Awards.

    COMMERCIAL STREET STORE LET TO CHARITY

    June 18 - In disappointing news for Commercial Street the British Heart Foundation is set to take up residence in the former JD Sports outlet next to Iceland. Elsewhere, Ramsdens are set to progress their redevelopment of the former Body Shop at the bottom of Charles Street. EJ Hales has listed Deichmann's existing store on their website which must mean the store is re-locating. British Home Stores is undergoing closure. Starbucks will also be closing their Westgate store as they re-locate to Friars Walk. 

    TRAMPOLINE PARK TO OPEN IN SPYTTY

    June 16 - A new trampoline park is set to open its doors in Newport in a unit formerly occupied by a bowling alley. Otium Real Estate has signed Energi Trampoline Parks as the final tenant for the former Megabowl unit at Newport Leisure Park. In total, the leisure park comprises 139,000 sq ft with ten units. Otium bought the estate in July 2015 and has since completed redevelopment and improvement work.

    Energi will operate a 20,000 sq ft trampoline and leisure park in the unit next to the 13-screen Cineworld. The new venue will include trampolines, foam pit, climbing walls, basket-ball hoops and dodge-ball arenas as well as a café and viewing area. Energi has started fit-out work and expects to open in time for the summer holidays. The company currently operates parks in Wilmslow and York.

    BON MARCHE WILL OPEN IN KINGSWAY

    June 16 - Clothing retailer Bon Marche will open their new store in Kingsway on June 24. Work is well advanced with the new Starbucks cafe at the front of the mall and in the Kaspas dessert house next to Cineworld at Friars Walk. The Raw Juice Bar on Dock Street is also now open.

    BUSINESS RATES CUTS SET TO BOOST CITY CENTRE

    June 12 - Cuts in business rates set to come in force next April are set to have a dramatic impact on the burden of rates for Newport businesses. While some small retailers and independent premises currently benefit from small business rate relief the cuts in business rate are set to help those with larger premises. Business rate levels are based upon rental values. Businesses such as BHS and HMV have highlighted the crippling cost of business rates to their business locally and nationally.

    Revaluation will come into effect on 1 April 2017 and will reassess all commercial properties in England and Wales based on rental values as at 1 April 2015.The Government’s decision to postpone the business rates revaluation has left a seven-year gap between valuations. In that time, the UK has emerged from recession and experienced a property boom and bust, producing major disparity in rent levels for retailers in different locations. As of January 2016, the government should have assessed around three-quarters of properties for new business rates levels. But it isn’t until October 2016 when retailers will be informed.

    A research report produced by retail valuation expert Colliers based on Colliers' Midsummer Retail report, indicated the likely winners and losers across 431 retail centres across the UK.  324 retail centres (‘retail centres’ are defined as in-town High Street shops and shopping malls) will see a decrease in business rates for retailers. Newport is the UK’s biggest winner with over a 71 per cent cut to business rates. This could enable businesses to expand now knowing their costs will be cut or encourage an influx of new businesses from April 2017.

    Comment - Friars Walk and Kingsway Centre are privately owned and managed and as such benefit from a coordinated management strategy with quality retail in one and value in the other. Commercial Street is a mix of privately owned and leased premises. There is an opportunity for the Council to work with retailers and potential commercial operators (taking up office space) to develop a coordinated approach to the re-development of Commercial Street knowing that one of the critical cost factors is going to reduce. This could include a move for Primark in to bigger premises (at BHS) or reconfiguring its current store, bringing in new retailers not established in Newport, making full use of the former Westgate Hotel and other empty premises and defining new areas for residential accommodation. It is a one-off opportunity not to be missed.

    COUNCIL GRASS CUTTING LIMITED TO ONCE A MONTH!

    June 11 - Newport City Council is now cutting grass in public spaces once a month as a result of ongoing savings needed in order to maintain other essential public services. Although this will result in longer grass at times, it is currently exceptionally high following the very warm weather and intermittent rain. This growth rate is unlikely to be sustained throughout the summer, so once the first cut has been completed, grass lengths across the city should be more moderate. Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said she appreciated that some people were very civic minded and had cut the grass in areas near their homes: “The council has had to make some very difficult budget decisions which are affecting services across the council and grass mowing is one of them. "

    NEWPORT - SHREWSBURY WEEKEND RAIL SERVICES AFFECTED BY ENGINEERING WORKS

    June 10 - The Marches rail line between Shrewsbury and Newport will be closed throughout each weekend from June 11 and July 17 owing to engineering works. Replacement bus services will operate serving stations on the line including Hereford, Abergavenny, Pontypool and Cwmbran. The line will open exceptionally on July 9 due to the Speedway Grand Prix in Cardiff.

    SOMERTON BRIDGE SET TO RE-OPEN AT END OF MONTH

    June 9 - The road bridge across the railway at Somerton is set to re-open at the end of this month following works to replace it as part of the rail electrification on the Great Western Main Line between London and Cardiff.

    CHANGES TO CITY BUS SERVICES

    June 8 - Newport Bus has announced changes to bus services as some of its routes have come under attack from Cardiff based NAT Group. Newport Bus has announced increased frequency services between Newport Retail Park and the city centre. However, services to Caerleon will be curtailed no longer serve Caerleon Campus as it closes at the end of this month. Services from Newport to Torfaen destinations are also more limited, the outward services to Cwmbran at 1810 and 1855 will no longer run and service 28 will no longer extend to Ponthir on Monday-Saturday evenings or on a Sunday.

    YOUTH JUSTICE IMPROVEMENTS IN NEWPORT

    June 7 - Newport City Council's youth offending team (YOT) has been praised for "stepping up and making real improvements that are helping to turn children away from crime" in its most recent HMI Probation report. The Youth Justice Board YJB), which has worked closely with Newport YOT over the last 12 months to identify the most effective ways to improve outcomes for young people, says that staff there should recognise the considerable gains' it has made since the last inspection - and endorses the inspectorate's positive judgement following the YOT's re-inspection earlier this year.

    Dusty Kennedy, Director of YJB Cymru, said: "I'd like to congratulate the youth justice service in Newport for making such significant progress and I'm glad my team has been able to assist."

    BISHTON BURGLARY APPEAL

    June 6 - Detectives in Newport are appealing for information following a burglary that occurred in Bishton in Newport between 2.00am and 6.00am on Saturday 4th June 2016. The burglary happened at a detached property in Bishton Road, Bishton, where a lady's navy blue Fiorelli handbag, black purse, HP Laptop and Acer laptop, were stolen from the living room while the occupants slept upstairs. As well as bank cards, the handbag and purse contained a large quantity of cash. Two platinum diamond engagement and wedding rings were also stolen. If you have any information please call 101 quoting log 143 4/6/16.

    WAY CLEARED FOR £60 MILLION RIVERSIDE DEVELOPMENT

    June 5 - City planners have now cleared the way for a huge redevelopment on the former Sainsburys site in Shaftesbury. Planning permission has been granted for demolition work and the redevelopment of the site into a high density mixed use site including a hotel, student accommodation (for 600) and urban housing (142 riverside apartment). The site has been derelict ever since the relocation of Sainsburys to their current site in Crindau in 2012. The development is supported by Fear Group, the University of South Wales and Newport City Homes. No date has been set as yet for demolition works. 

    COMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDER WILL ALLOW MAJOR COMMERCIAL STREET DEVELOPMENT

    June 5 - A proposal for the compulsory purchase of a property in Newport city centre will enable a development of affordable housing to go ahead, according to Insider Media Wales

    Approval is being sought from councillors for the purchase of 126 Commercial Street, which includes the Hornblower pub, that would allow the council to acquire the premises in the event that negotiations with the owner break down. Newport City Council's cabinet will decide on the proposal at a meeting on 6 June 2016.The site forms part of a wider redevelopment programme as part of the Vibrant and Viable Places scheme in partnership with Welsh Government. Some properties in the city have previously been redeveloped under the 'Connecting Commercial Street' scheme. Demolition work further along Commercial Street is set to connect it with Kingsway.

    Properties from 123-129 Commercial Street, including vacant retail units, office and storage space, the Hornblower pub, and the entrance to the council owned car park at Park Square, are due to be redeveloped. A mixed-use development of the area is proposed, including improved access to the Park Square car park, the development of 30 affordable apartments for over 55s and the provision of a small retail unit. The Seren Group has acquired the other properties on the site and it is intended that on completion of the purchase order proceedings it will purchase 126 Commercial Street at the value paid by the council. A report to be considered at the cabinet meeting said: "It is clear that it would not be possible to carry out the development without the acquisition of 126 Commercial Street. The development requires demolition of all the buildings 123-129 Commercial Street and therefore the acquisition of all the properties. "The development will promote and improve the environmental and social well - being of the area through the productive use of a derelict site and an enhanced street scene.Benefits will include the removal of an unsafe site which attracts anti-social behaviour and its replacement with much-needed, convenient accommodation for over 55s which will retain aspects of the Victorian heritage of the area. There will also be jobs created in the construction phase."

    TWO LAMBORGHINI CARS SEIZED BY POLICE

    June 5 - On Monday a Lamborghini driver has had his car seized by police. Police were called after reports the £180,000 supercar was being driven too fast around Newport. Traffic officers did not catch the 25-year-old driver speeding in his bright green Lamborghini Huracan - which can go 0-60mph (97km/h) in 2.5 seconds.

    But police said he was driving in an "anti-social manner" and confiscated the Italian supercar. The driver was given a legal warning which meant the car, which has a top speed of 202mph (325km/h), was seized by police on Wednesday night but handed back the following day.

    At just before 10.20 on Friday Gwent Police said they had "just arrested" the driver of an orange Lamborghini in Cromwell Road, Newport, who had been driving in an anti-social manner. The driver failed the drug test and the Lamborghini was seized. The arrest comes just three days after Gwent Police seized another luxury sports car, also in Cromwell Road, for being driven in an anti-social manner.

    D-DAY PARADE MEANS HIGH STREET CLOSED TO BUSES

    June 4 - From Newport Bus 'Newport Bus wishes to inform customers that on Monday 6 June 2016 High Street will be closed for the annual D-Day Parade. During the hours of 07:45 until 13:00 the 19 Malpas Service and 26A/C St Julian's services will not operate via High Street but will operate directly to Newport Bus Station.'

    NEWPORT LEGEND LAID TO REST

    June 2 - Harry Poloway was laid to rest on May 30 at Newport's Jewish cemetery in St. Woolos in a simple wooden coffin adorned with the Star of David. Over a mourners crammed in to the space around the small prayer room to hear Rabbi Michael Rose pay tribute to 'a giant of a man'. A pillar of Newport's dwindling Jewish community Poloway made his name as a toastmaster at major events.  He was 100 years of age.  A reception for his 100th birthday was held at the Hilton Hotel with messages from the Queen. Harry Polway was toastmaster when Cardiff, Swansea and Newport were made cities. An engineer by trade, he worked for the South Wales Electricity Board for 42 years. He joined the RAF Voluntary Reserve during the Second World War.

    His bography recalls life in pre-war Maindee as a Jewish boy. “He remembers playing with children from the Methodists, Catholic and Seven Day Adventist churches and nobody thought it might be a problem. Everybody kept their own ‘little laws and traditions’ but everyone respected everybody else as law abiding, hardworking people. He says “Most importantly we were all Newportonians”.

    In an article in the Argus in 2012 "I love Newport and I would never leave. I was born in 1915 in St. Vincent Road near my favourite rugby ground, Rodney Parade. I went to Maindee Primary, Church Road Infants, Belle Vue Central then Newport Technical College where I did my electrical exams and joined the Electricity Board."

    CITY'S CYBER SECURITY ACADEMY BACKED

    June 2 - Cyber security work based in Newport has been given the seal of approval by the UK Government’s communications and intelligence headquarters GCHQ. The master’s course in computer forensics based at the newly-created National Cyber Security Academy at the University of South Wales’ Newport campus has been granted provisional certification from the Cheltenham-based government organisation, it has been announced. While the university is one of 14 across the UK to receive certification, it is only one to be recognised in the masters-level computer forensics field and the only one in Wales.

    MISSION BURRITO SIGNS UP FOR FRIARS

    May 28 - Mexican fast food retailer Mission Burrito, already firmly established in the south west of the UK has confirmed on Twitter that it will be opening a new store at Friars Walk in Newport. The successful chain already has outlets in Cardiff, Bath and Bristol. Shoe shop Deichmann seems set to relocate with news that its current store on Commercial Street is up for let. And in the first signs of Maindee regeneration the former Poundshop near the Chepstow Road bus stop is now being renovated.

    NEWPORT MAN SUFFERS INJURIES IN MAJORCA BALCONY FALL

    May 27 - A 25-year-old man from Newport is in an induced coma in hospital after falling from a hotel balcony on the Spanish island of Majorca. Father-of-two Andrew Phillips suffered severe head injuries on the first night in the resort town of Magaluf. He fell from a first floor apartment on Wednesday and was found by staff on the hotel lawn. Family members have flown out to be with him at hospital in Palma. His mother Joanne Phillips said the injuries were "serious" but not life-threatening. "He's in an induced coma and has multiple fractures. It's his head and face - his body is fine. "As soon as it happened his friend phoned his dad who phoned me. I was in shock with it all. It's not something you expect to hear." Civil Guard officers are probing the incident but say there is nothing at this stage to indicate any crime has taken place.

    85 PUPILS FALL ILL AT RINGLAND SCHOOL

    May 27 - A total of 85 pupils at a Ringland school have fallen ill with a sickness virus. Pupils and staff at Milton Junior School were affected by the bout of sickness, which is believed to be gastroenteritis.The illness, which is described as “mild”, is normally caused by a virus but is very infectious. The most common symptom is vomiting, with others suffering from diarrhoea and abdominal pain. According to the Counci it has also seen five members of staff taken ill.

    METRO SHOULD BE MORE THAN MIDDLE CLASS CARDIFF COMMUTING - REPORT

    May 22 - The proposed Metro transport system is not a "silver bullet" for south Wales' economy, a report for the Federation of Small Business Wales has said. If not designed with communities in mind, the network could "cut across" existing local economies and weaken them even further, it added. Regeneration expert Dr Mark Lang said it was still not known who would really benefit from the Metro. "Transport like this will on its own not fix the Welsh economy " he said.

    Dr Lang told BBC Wales the "real danger" was that it would become "an improvement to commuting for middle class, reasonably well-off people to get into Cardiff for jobs that exist here already". Dr Lang called for more research into how towns and cities in the region are interconnected. He noted that the proposed new hospital in Llanfrechfa is not even featured on the Metro Map despite huge concerns about the lack of public transport connectivity to the site.

    Professor Mark Barry, who has advised Welsh Government on the Project, has confirmed on Twitter that any new rail stations in the Newport area will only follow the awarding of the rail franchise in 2018. He stated that the return of Ebbw Vale services to Newport would be "easier to achieve." For the purposes of the start of the Metro Newport will see one or two increased bus services. John Griffiths AM stated he felt there was a consensus in favour of the project and its benefits were well established.

    COUNCIL APPROVES WELSH MEDIUM SCHOOL PLAN

    May 21 - Newport City Council has finally approved plans that will see work start on a new Welsh medium secondary school in the city. Their previous decision to refuse planning permission has been swiftly reversed. The approved proposal includes an extension to the existing Duffryn High, with the new school, Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed, having its own buildings and grounds. The two schools will operate independently of each other. While construction work is ongoing, it is intended that pupils of the new school will be temporarily housed in part of Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon in Brynglas, one of Newport's three Welsh medium primary schools. The development will deliver up to 900 school places in future years, and meet the growing demand that exists across the region for Welsh medium secondary education. Funding of the new school is via the 21st century schools programme as a joint enterprise through Welsh Government, Newport City Council and Monmouthshire County Council, providing secondary school places for both local authorities.

    Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said: "After a thorough and detailed process, I am delighted that we will now be able to offer Welsh medium secondary education within the city. Well done, da iawn, to all who have worked on this. The approval today also means that improvement works on Duffryn High School will be completed giving pupils there a better environment in which to pursue their education."

    SPEEDING SDR DRIVERS WILL BE PROSECUTED

    May 19 - Gwent Police are paying particular attention to the SDR after reports of anti-social driving. In just one hour officers caught 61 motorists going over the speed limit of 50mph, with the fasted recorded as 85mph near the Coldra and RSPCA roundabout. This was for monitoring purposes only but from now on this is an enforcement site and officers will be taking action against those breaking the speed limit. They state "This means if you are travelling at 57mph in a 50mph zone you will be prosecuted. Anti-social driving can range from careless driving to deliberate activity, including: speeding, thoughtless driving, loud stereos, noisy exhausts, handbrake turns, continuous lapping of an area, racing, wheel spinning, drink/drug driving, tailgating, use of a mobile phone whilst driving and driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition. We will have patrols in place and will take action against anyone behaving in an anti-social manner."

    HEALTH RELATED PLANNING DEVELOPMENTS IN CITY AND CELTIC SPRINGS

    May 19 - Newport planners are set to approve two new health related planning developments. The local health board are investing in an opthalmic diagnostic centre in Austin Friars on the first floor of the building occupied by Specsavers. Proton Partner are creating what is described as a Cancer Centre in Celtic Springs significantly expanding their current facilities.

    In other retail developments Raw Juice (a new juice bar) will open a store in Austin Friars shortly and is advertising for baristas. Work has started on the new Starbucks cafe at the Kingsway Centre fronting John Frost Square.

    MONEY LAUNDERING ARRESTS

    May 18 - This morning, police officers in Newport carried out a warrant at Potters Street. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of money laundering offences - one aged 44 and the other aged 15. Over £10,000 in cash was also seized.

    FLYNN WARNS POLITICAL POSTURING ON RELIEF ROAD COULD LEAD TO WORST OUTCOME FOR NEWPORT

    May 12 - The power vacuum at the Welsh Assembly following last Wednesday's evenly divided vote between the parties regarding the election of a First Minister could jeopardise the preferred route for the M4 relief road. Newport West MP Paul Flynn MP has warned that "Political games must not wreck a solution that will bring traffic relief to two thirds of the Welsh economy and tourist trade and ease killer pollution." On Wednesday at Prime Minister's Question Time David Cameron said the Welsh Government should get on with the construction of the road. According to Wales Online a senior civil servant suggested to Wales Online that Labour could please Plaid in their negotiations regarding the deadlock by scrapping the proposed black route for the relief road. Flynn stated "It may appeal to politicians, ignorant of Gwent’s traffic crisis, as a convenient dodge or a political compromise. The Government will react to rejection of the Black Route by cancelling their permission to borrow the money. The funding will largely disappear. We heard the irritation from the Prime Minister last week because we in Wales have not ‘got on’ with the Black route. It was a Plaid Cymru minister who sabotaged the funding the last time the relief road was planned."

    SHOPS SET TO BECOME RESTAURANT AT OLYMPIA HOUSE

    May 11 - Three retail units are set to merge to form a large restaurant on the ground floor of the Olympia House development on Upper Dock Street and Corn Street. Plans submitted by Tonstate Group plan to merge the units. Last week plans to convert the upper floors of the building into 61 flats were approved by the City Council. Owners Richard Hayward Properties are also well under way with the development of the former Yates Wine Lodge into a Premier Inn Hotel, set to open this summer.

    TENANTS RECEIVING LESS HELP AS DUBIOUS RENTS RESTRICTIONS HIT HOUSING BENEFIT LEVELS

    May 11 - Tenants nants who receive the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) under the Housing Benefit scheme face an increasingly widening gap between the help with their housing costs and the actual rent they pay, new Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) research has found. In Newport the LHA shared accommodation rate would need to be set at £29 per week more for people under 35 to be able to afford the whole of the lowest 30 per cent of the market. In England, the LHA rate for Chesterfield’s broad rental market area is even lower than the lowest rent that the rent officer could find in their market evidence data – in other words, there’s no shared accommodation available at the LHA rate. CIH chief executive, Terrie Alafat CBE, said: “We are becoming more and more concerned by the lack of correlation between LHA rates and rents, and our research shows that people are going to find it difficult to continue renting in the PRS.”

    WILCOX REPLACES BRIGHT

    May 11 - The new leader of Newport City Council has been named as Councillor Debbie Wilcox. The Gaer ward member, who joined the council in 2004, was elected as leader at a meeting of the city's Labour group. She replaces Cllr Bob Bright, who stepped down as leader at the end of last month. In a statement Cllr Wilcox said: "This election shows that the time has come for a new generation, and I’m honoured to be taking over the leadership." Deputy leader Ray Truman remains in post.

    Comment - Since Labour was re-elected in 2012 there has been a change in Council procedures that could be viewed as stifling debate and limited the opportunity for spontaneous discussion and questioning of decisions. Hopefully, Cllr Wilcox will have the strength to abandon the practice of written questions. In addition, although Newport councillors should be applauded for the risks taken to bring Friars Walk to the City. However, the City was overlooked by the Cardiff-centric Welsh Government on numerous occasions when looking at locations for an Enterprise Zone, and on the failure to deliver direct services to the Ebbw Valley. They are important points that should not be overlooked and represent the sort of challenges that the new leadership needs to embrace.

    BON MARCHE HEADING BACK TO NEWPORT

    May 11 - Bon Marche is set to return to Newport as part of its expansion plans. The classic clothing store is currently advertising for vacancies at management level. Elsewhere, Friars Walk revealed that 5 million shoppers have visited the centre since it opened in November. The centre owners said further new retailers will join over the next few months with discussions taken place with restaurants and local retailers regarding Upper Dock Street, where three units there are currently under offer. 

    CARDBOARD RECYCLING GOES WEEKLY

    May 10 - Wastesavers has announced that Newport residents will now have their cardboard collected weekly, starting from early June. The charity, which collects recycling on behalf of the council, also announced it will be able to collect Tetra Pak (juice cartons) for the first time, and that a new heavy duty red sack will be introduced for plastics and cans.

    The changes will be rolled out area by area with every household getting advance warning of when the new system will be affecting them. “This is going to make recycling simpler, give residents the opportunity to recycle Tetra Pak for the first time and reduce litter problems” said Penny Goodwin, CEO of Wastesavers. “We will also be changing what goes in each container due to the massive growth in plastic we have collected in recent years.” she continued,

    Collection days will remain the same for nearly all residents. Exact details of the changes will be given to residents as their area comes onto the new system. For more details visit http://wastesavers.co.uk/

    BURGLAR CAUGHT RED-HANDED

    May 8 - Police apprehended a 30 year old man at a house in Devon Place on May 7 and also arrested him in connection with a burglary earlier that evening at Llanthewy Road.

    LABOUR RETAINS GRIP ON CITY SEATS

    May 7 - Labour has retained its tight grip on the two Newport Welsh Assembly seats despite a fall in its overall vote in the City. The Party comfortably held East and West with UKIP moving into second place in the East and popular Tory Matthew Evans fail to put a significant dent in the majority of Jane Bryant, who replaces retiring Presiding Officer Dame Rosemary Butler.

    NEWPORT EAST        
    Party Candidate Votes % ±%
    Labour John Griffiths 9,229 44.6 -6.2
    UKIP  James Peterson 4,333 20.9 20.9
    Conservative Munawar Mughal 3,768 18.2 -4.9
    Liberal Democrats Paul Halliday 1,481 7.2 -11.9
    Plaid Cymru Anthony Salkeld 1,386 6.7 -0.3
    Green  Peter Varley 491 2.4 2.4
    Majority   4,896 23.7 -4
    Turnout   20,688 37.2 1.7

     

    NEWPORT WEST        
    Party Candidate Votes % ±%
    Labour Jayne Bryant 12,157 43.8 -8.4
    Conservative Matthew Evans 8,042 29 -4.9
    UKIP Mike Ford 3,842 13.8 13.8
    Plaid Cymru Simon Coopey 1,645 5.9 -1.1
    Liberal Democrats Elizabeth Newton 880 3.2 -3.7
    Green         Pippa Bartolotti 814 2.9 2.9
    Independent Bill Fearnley 333 1.2 1.2
    Cymru Sovereign Gruff Meredith 38 0.1 0.1
                                Majority 4,115 14.8 -3.5
                                Turnout 27,751 44.7 7.8

    FORMER CITY DEPUTY LEADER DIES

    May 5 - Former Council deputy leader and current Lib Dem Newport councillor Ed Townsend has passed away after a short illness aged 64. Conservative leader Matthew Evans said he was shocked to hear of his death and that he put 'Newport before politics and will be sorely missed'.

    NEWPORT COUNCILLOR SUSPENDED

    May 5 - Newport Labour councillor Miqdad al-Nuaimi has been suspended over tweets that were made in 2015 regarding Israeli activities. His tweets were reported by the politics blog Guido Fawkes. Mr al-Nuaimi said he had not been informed of the suspension and denies the comments are anti-semitic. The Labour Party stated that there would be an investigation into the tweets.

    NAT BUSES HEAD FOR HIGH STREET

    May 5 - New Adventure Travel has announced all its Newport services will serve High Street from Monday May 9 following customer feedback. NAT operate cross city services including the N1 from Duffryn to Spytty via the city centre and Ringland.

    OLYMPIA HOUSE FLATS PLAN SET TO BE BACKED BY PLANNERS

    May 3 - City Council planners are set to approve plans tomorrow by Richard Hayward Properties to convert the former Passport Office building into residential accommodation. Floors 3 to 8 of Olympia House are set to be converted into 62 1 and a2 bed partments and the unsightly fire escape removed from the adjacent Skinner Street. May 4 update - the plans were approved

    LIBERTY MAKE TATA BID

    May 3 - Liberty Steel has made a formal bid for Tata Steel's UK operations. The company who already own a site in Newport have bid for the entire company including the Llanwern site in Newport.

    FORMER JD SPORTS STORE UNDER OFFER

    May 3 - The former JD Sports store on Commercial Street is under offer according to property agents EJ Hales. The store is situated next to Waterstones. They also have three units under offer in the Austin Friars / Lower Dock Street. Plans are in with the City Council to convert the former Specsavers store in to a two storey cafe or restaurant. Other new retail developments include a Five Guys, Kaspas dessert store and Dixons Carphone all heading to Friars Walk very soon. The proposed Starbucks at the front of the Kingsway still seems to be subject to a significant delay as no work has started on the interior of the new unit.

    FURTHER CRACKDOWN ON CITY CENTRE ASB COMMENCES

    May 1 - From today (Sunday 1st May 2016),Police will be carrying out enforcement activity around the Public Spaces protection Order that is currently in place in Newport City Centre and the surrounding area. This will mean that anyone breaching the conditions of the Order, could be subject to a fixed penalty of £100.

    Newport City Centre Inspector, Kevin Warren said: "We have been working in partnership with our colleagues at Newport City Council in order to implement the new legislative initiative under the Anti -Social Behaviour Crime and Police Act 2014. A first for Gwent Police and our partners.

    "Our key aim is to enhance the experience of visitors to Newport City Centre whilst improving the feeling of safety to all visitors and residents within the Stow Hill Ward." The conditions of the Order are as follows:

    1. No person shall within the restricted area refuse to stop drinking alcohol or hand over any containers (sealed or unsealed) which are believed to contain alcohol, when required to do so by an authorised officer to prevent public nuisance or disorder.

    2. No person shall within the restricted area, approach members of the public in a persistent manner with a view to persuading them to:

    a.Subscribe to a service; or
    b.Make charitable donations by direct debit, standing order or similar means.

    3. No person shall beg within the restricted area in a manner which is aggressive or intimidating, or which harasses members of the public.

    4. No person shall affix any notice, picture, letter, sign or other mark upon the surface of a highway or upon any tree, structure or works on or in a highway without permission of the landowner within the restricted area (fly-posting).

    5. Any person in charge of a dog within the restricted area shall be in breach of this Order if he/she fails to keep the dog on a lead (of no more than 1.5 metres in length).

    6. Any person who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with the requirements of this Order commits an offence and shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (currently £1000).

    7. If any interested person desires to question the validity of this Order on the grounds that the Council had no power to make it or that any requirement of the Act has not been complied with in relation to this Order, he or she may apply to the High Court within 6 weeks from the date on which this Order is made.

    HANNON SUSPENDED FROM PARTY

    May 1 - The problems in Newport Labour Party took a new turn as a second councillor in two months was suspended. Beechwood councillor Paul Hannon has had the party whip removed after refusing to pay subscriptions to Labour. He says that his non-payment was a protest against his treatment whilst in hospital for heart surgery last year. He stated "I have lost any faith in the Labour Party to behave reasonably, fairly or to show the principles it espouses when dealing with colleagues." The ruling Labour Group issued their own statement "Members of the Labour Party who fail to maintain payments...shall have the whip automatically withdrawn.."

    CHRIS EVANS BACKS HIS TORY NAMESAKE IN NEWPORT WEST

    May 1 - Former Labour councillor Chris Evans, suspended by the Party in February, has backed his Conservative namesake, Matthew Evans, as his preferred candidate in the Newport West Assembly election (voting takes place on Thursday). Chris Evans stated "Matthew cares passionately about our city and all of its people and he has a wealth of experience, compassion and vision.." He stated Labour had moved away from the 'responsible centre'. Welsh Labour declined to comment.

    SAINSBURY'S SITE DEMOLITION WORK CLOSER

    Apr 30 - A major new development set to transform the Newport riverfront and to rid the city of a derelict site has taken a step forward. It appears that the demolition of the former Sainsbury's supermarket will now take place over the next few months. Wye Valley City Projects intend to transform the site as part of a £60 million project including a 14 storey building housing a hotel, other buildings sufficient for 600 units for student housing, 144 riverside apartments, with health facilities and a convenience store serving the local community on a 2.8 hectare site. Clients include Newport City Homes, University of South Wales and the Fear Group.

    COUNCIL RESPONDS TO CRITICISM OF INDOOR MARKET DECLINE

    Apr 30 - A number of established businesses in Newport Market have closed in recent weeks including its last remaining fishmonger, Needhams. High rents are cited by traders as a disincentive to businesses. The Council state "Newport City Council regularly reviews the rents charged at Newport Market. It offers a wide variety of unit sizes and corresponding prices, inclusive service charges, together with flexible lease length terms. Rents charged by private landlords in the city centre also have a wide range, and are often based on long-term lease contracts. The rateable value of shops that front onto city centre streets will also vary considerably from the rateable value of a market stall, which are in the main exempt from rates payments due to the small business rates relief which is beneficial to small businesses. Both Newport Market and privately owned shops can provide business opportunities that meet the needs of different business models, and a vibrant city centre will attract entrepreneurs who can see the benefit of both models and operating arrangements."

    Market Arcade is set to see improvements including the development of new apartments in part of the Arcade. The City Council stated "Over a number of years, the council has attempted to find ways of improving Market Arcade, but it has proved problematic because the properties are owned by numerous private individuals, some of whom do not live in the city and have been difficult to engage with.However, discussions have been held recently with a few of the owners who are willing to work with the council on improving the arcade. Council officers wrote to all landlords and tenants in February and held a meeting last week to discuss how all parties might work together to help improve the arcade."

    Councillor John Richards, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Investment, said: "I have shared the concerns and frustrations of residents and businesses over the condition of Market Arcade but it has proved extremely problematic."In the past, the council has tried to deal with the arcade in its entirety but this proved impossible because of the sheer scale of the project and multiplicity of owners and leaseholders involved'."However, I am extremely pleased to hear that a number of parties with interests in the Arcade are now in dialogue with officers of the council and have agreed to work together to sustain it. Support may be available to assist property owners that are struggling to maintain and let their properties. Seeing Market Arcade fully utilised would also make it a more pleasant environment for visitors and other businesses in the city centre."

    DOCK OPERATOR OBJECTS AGAIN TO M4 RELIEF ROUTE BUT IS ANYONE LISTENING?

    Apr 30 - Associated British Ports are lodging an official objection to the route of the M4 relief road near Newport Docks claiming that the carriageway would be too low for larger shipping vessels to come in and out. The Port director Matthew Kennerley stated 20 per cent of the Docks area will be taken up by the Relief Road, prohibiting the potential for development and dividing the Port into two. The company said viable alternatives exist but confirmed their objection to the compulsory purchase order relating to 87 acres of land.

    ROGUE LANDLORD FINED BY COURT

    Apr 30 - A Newport landlord has been found guilty of renting out an unlicensed shared house in poor condition, and fined over £6,000. Sanu Miah of Malpas Road, failed to attend Newport Magistrates’ Court on 22 April 2016, but was found guilty in his absence. In 2013, Newport City Council’s environmental health department carried out an investigation, and Mr Miah was found to be renting out a property in Alexandra Road, Newport, without an appropriate license.

    With three occupied flats, the property was classed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and therefore needed to be licensed. Although assistance was given to apply for a license, Mr Miah did not make an application stating he would only rent out two of the flats. A further check was made in 2015 and information gathered via the Housing Benefits and Council Tax systems raised suspicions that the property was operating as an HMO.An inspection found that not only were all three flats occupied, but there were numerous breaches of the HMO management regulations, including:

    - Failure to ensure that all means of escape from fire are kept free from obstruction and are maintained in good order and repair, also for any firefighting equipment and fire alarms;

    - Failure to ensure that fixtures, fittings and appliances, windows, common parts and living accommodation are maintained in good and safe repair and in clean working order;

    - Failure to supply to the council with the latest gas appliance test and electrical installation certificates.

    Magistrates found Mr Miah guilty of 12 offences, fining him £440 for each. A victim surcharge was imposed and a substantial contribution towards prosecution costs was awarded, making a total of £6,574.

    MAN PROSECUTED AS 'LEGAL HIGHS' FOUND TO INCLUDE CONTROLLED DRUGS

    Apr 28 - Newport City Council’s trading standards department has secured a successful conviction for the sale of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in the city. David Olsen, who ran both Bodyfashion/Inksposure, 24 Cardiff Road, and New City Ink, 5 Griffin Street, was found to be selling NPS, also as known as legal highs, which were found to contain controlled drugs. He was found guilty of stating, or otherwise creating the impression that a product can legally be sold when it cannot, at Newport Crown Court on Monday 25 April 2016. In 2013, trading standards carried out an exercise to establish the number of premises selling NPS in the city.

    As part of that exercise a trading standards officer purchased NPS from New City Ink where they were advised that is was intended to act like, and should be taken in a similar way to cocaine or amphetamine. On 27 August 2013, a purchase was also made from Bodyfashion/Inksposure.

    The substances purchased were sent for forensic examination and one NPS (Ivory Dove) purchased from New City Ink, was found to contain both Class A and Class B controlled drugs. Officers from Gwent Police, accompanied by trading standards officers, executed warrants under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 at both premises seizing 439 packets and containers of NPS, together with documentation and other associated items.

    Charges were brought by Newport City Council Trading Standards Section under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the matter was heard at Newport Crown Court on Monday 25 April 2016. Although Olsen had previously entered a not-guilty plea, this was changed to guilty on the first day of the trial. Olsen was sentenced to 16 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months and a six-month supervision order was made. He was also ordered to pay a contribution of £500 towards the prosecution costs, and an £80 victim surcharge. All seized NPS were forfeited to be destroyed.

    MAN ARRESTED FOR BURGLARY THAT TOOK PLACE TWO YEARS AGO!

    Apr 28 - Gwent Police have arrested a 39 year old male from the London area in connection with a burglary which happened two years ago in Newport. The offence took place at approximately 13:30pm on the 25 November 2014 at a house in Moorland park. He has been released on police bail with conditions until May 23 2016.

    TREDEGAR PARK ROUNDABOUT WORKS DELAYED

    Apr 29 - Proposed major road-works aimed at improving Junction 28 of the M4 in Newport have been delayed by a further nine months until January 17 2017 due to the impact on city roads of the closure of the Bridge Street railway bridge on May 3.

    SOFTWARE ACADEMY SET TO OCCUPY NEW OFFICE DEVELOPMENT

    Apr 23 - The redevelopment of a key Newport location is proposed in a plan submitted to the City Council by SDG Group this week. The second phase of the Station Quarter development envisages a new seven storey office building on the corner of Cambrian Road and Queensway opposite the Council's Information Station building. It is expected much of the building will be occupied by the National Software Academy administered by Cardiff University. The expanded facility recently received additional funding as part of the Capital Region City Deal agreed between Welsh local authorities in the area and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The new building will sit on top of the existing Wetherspoon's public house, the John Wallace Linton. The facade of the pub will change to match the rest of the building. In addition, retail spaces will form part of the plan as well as improved access to the Plaza area and routes through to the main railway station, the third busiest in Wales. The first phase of Station Quarter included the new Admiral House office development and a public plaza including a significant letting to the Gym Group. However, all other units remain un-let in the plaza possibly due to inaccessibility particularly from Cambrian Road where is a steep staircase. Phase three of Station Quarter would include a landmark development around Newport station itself.

    MAN DENIES MURDER

    Apr 23 - An Abergavenny businessman has denied murdering a Newport woman when challenged at Cardiff Crown Court. Peter Morgan, aged 53, of Llanellen Court Farm, was earlier charged with murdering Georgina Symonds on January 12. Morgan will next appear in court for his trial on June 27.

    SENTENCE FOR RACIAL ATTACK

    Apr 23 - Police state earlier this week we told you about a 48 year old woman from Newport who was given an 8 week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months for a racially aggravated assault. Yesterday, the individual pleaded guilty to committing further offences including being drunk and disorderly in a public place and assaulting a police officer. As a result of this she is now serving a 34 week prison sentence.

    DRIVE THROUGH COSTA SET FOR RETAIL PARK

    Apr 20 - Newport is set for its first drive through coffee station at the Harlech Retail Park on Cardiff Road. The planning application submitted to the City Council states "ERECTION OF A DRIVE THROUGH COFFEE POD (A1/A3) INCLUDING THE RECONFIGURATION OF THE EXISTING CAR PARK AS WELL AS ASSOCIATED ENGINEERING AND LANDSCAPING WORKS."

    CHANGE TO BETTWS BUS SERVICES

    Apr 20 - Bus services in Bettws are being made less frequent following changes announced by Newport Bus. In peak times services 15 and 16 will run every seven or eight minutes from May 3 as opposed to the current five minute frequency. The company states the changes are being made due to customer feedback.

    CELTIC MANOR £2MILLION UPGRADE PLAN FOR HILTON

    Apr 17 - The Celtic Manor has announced a £2 million upgrade plan for the former Newport Hilton, now known as Coldra Court. THe upgrade it claims will bring five star services to what is currently a four star hotel. The 60 bedroom hotel includes spa, swimming pool and restaurant facilities.

    THREE UNITS UNDER OFFER IN AUSTIN FRIARS

    Apr 16 - Cardiff based property agent EJ Hales has revealed that there are three units in its Austin Friars / Upper Dock Street letting that are currently under offer. The lettings are likely to experience increased footfall as iconic American fast food company Five Guys move into Friars Walk. On Commercial Street Colonial Candles, another Yankee candle specialist, is set to occupy the former Pandora store near to Primark. The latter will be updating the signage at the front of its Commercial Street but there is no indication of any expansion plans despite the improvement in the city centre. One property agent commented recently that there are a number of companies looking to locate in Newport but that high business rates are a turn-off. Newport is set to see a significant reduction in business rates following the 2015 revaluation with charges set to fall in April 2017.

    CITY COUNCIL WOULD DISAPPEAR UNDER LABOUR PROPOSALS

    Apr 13 - Party election proposals on local government reorganisation suggest that Newport City Council will disappear if Labour is re-elected in May's Welsh Assembly election. In its manifesto the party re-affirms it approach to reduce the number of authorities from 22 to 9. The Conservatives argue that the public have been given no say over the centralisation proposals and that voluntary mergers should only be permitted if supported by a referendum vote. Plaid Cymru argues that the current councils should stay but resources combined to deliver strategic functions. UKIP state that they are opposed to the imposition of mergers and that mergers should be 'bottom up'. The Liberal Democrats argue that the Boundary Commission should be engaged to draw up a new independent local government map. The Labour proposals will merge local authorities but do not it appears envisage retaining any significant local structure. Newport Borough Council as was prior to the City Council would therefore no longer exist and be subsumed into a Gwent identity.

    RECORD YEAR FOR DATA CENTRE

    Apr 10 - The company behind a 750,000 sq ft data centre near Newport has hailed a "record year", according to Insider Media, boosted by new and existing customers and a contract win with a US software company. The Next Generation Data (NGD) facility was opened seven years ago and is said to be Europe's largest data centre campus, with the potential to house up to 19,000 server racks. It employs 35.
    The business, which is headquartered in Surrey, was established by Simon Taylor and Nick Razey after two of their previous offices were destroyed in terrorist attacks — one by the IRA in London, and one in New York on September 11, 2001 — making them realise how vulnerable city-centre locations could be. NGD clients include BT, CGI, IBM and Wipro Technologies. According to recently filed accounts for Next Generation Data Ltd, turnover rose to £11.2m in the year ending 31 December 2015, up from £9.2m in 2014.

    Pre-tax profit increased to £2.44m from £2.1m, with EBITDA up to £4.76m from £3.52m the year before.

    POLICE WARN OVER RISE IN CAR CRIME

    Apr 8 - Over the past few weeks police officers in Newport have seen an increase in the number of reported vehicle related crimes. Across the west of the city there has been a rise in thefts from vehicles, with 25 reported crimes since March 2016 including:

  • Pillgwenlly: 6
  • Allt-Yr-Yn: 5
  • Marshfield: 4
  • Gaer: 3
  • Rogerstone: 2
  • Malpas: 2
  • Graig: 2
  • Shaftesbury: 1
  • Officers are reminding motorists to stay vigilant and take all steps possible to keep their vehicle secure. "Always keep windows and doors locked when the vehicle isn't occupied/in use. Keep items out of view - this goes without saying for sat navs and mobile phones for example, but even things that may not seem valuable to you might be to an opportunist thief. If possible do not park in unlit areas, always try and leave your vehicle under a street lamp." Anyone with concerns or information about vehicle crime in their area should call 101.

    CONVENTION CENTRE AGREEMENT SIGNED

    Apr 5 - A joint venture partnership agreement between Celtic Manor and the Welsh Government has been announced that should enable the start of work on the £80 million Wales International Convention Centre. The facility's construction will commence in the autumn accommodating up to 5,000 delegates when it opens in 2019.

    Minister for Economy, Science and Transport Edwina Hart said: “The new Convention Centre would provide a considerable economic boost to Wales. The 2014 NATO Summit and the 2010 Ryder Cup demonstrated that Wales and the Celtic Manor have the ability to host events on a global scale. We need a world-class convention centre in order to capitalise on Wales’ growing reputation in this area, to host international events and conferences on a regular basis.”

    Sir Terry Matthews, the Wesley Clover Chairman, said: “I am delighted that we have reached agreement in principle with the Welsh Government. I am confident the new Convention Centre and the joint venture company will be a financial success.”

    BRIGHT QUITS

    Apr 5 - In an unexpected announcement Newport City Council Labour leader Bob Bright has announced his intention to stand down as leader this month and to retire as a councillor prior to next year's City Council elections. He has served as a councillor since 1972.

    CARPHONE WAREHOUSE JOINS FRIARS LINE UP

    Apr 5 - Dixons Carphone is joining the Friars Walk line up. The retailer will take up the former Hawkins Bazaar unit adjacent to Vodafone.

    POLICE TREATING GAS EXPLOSION AS 'SUSPICIOUS'

    Apr 3 - Four people have been hurt, one of them seriously, in a gas explosion at a house in George Street. Police are treating the matter as suspicious. The blast occurred at 7.30 yesterday evening, badly damaging the house, with 11 people inside. Thirty fire-fighters attended the scene. The mains gas network and the supply of gas to the other properties was not affected by the incident.

    FIVE GUYS HEAD FOR FRIARS WALK

    Apr 2 - Friars Walk is set to receive a major boost with the news that American casual burger chain is to open a new store across two units at the site. The new store will occupy units fronting Dock Street and opposite Debenhams. A recent survey by Market Force Information voted Five Guys as the UK's favourite fast food restaurant. The Five Guys concept is that you create your own burger or hot dog with accompaniments, fries etc. The local traders store Crafted is also moving to Friars Walk to take the vacated pop up BMW unit. In Kingsway there are delays in the anticipated move of Starbucks to the Centre due to technical issues.

    CONTROVERSY OVER PIPED ATMOSPHERE AT RODNEY PARADE

    Apr 2 - A controversy has been sparked in social media with news that noise and singing is being piped out from the public address system at Newport Gwent Dragons. Officials are taking it into their own hands to create the atmosphere pushing noisy chants and singing out at Rodney Parade. Argus journalist Chris Kirwan took to Twitter to say "Are they piping through crowd noise (a certain chant)?! Atlanta Falcons got fined for that!" Other Twitter users describe the practice as 'nonsense', 'pathetic' and 'shocking'

    CRUISE SHIPS SET TO SAIL FROM NEWPORT

    Apr 2 - Cruise ships are set to sail from Newport and Cardiff next year. Cruise and Maritime Voyages will run sailings on a 1,250 passenger cruise ship from Newport to Dublin and on to Norway.

    BAG THEFT MAN ARRESTED AND CHARGED

    Apr 1 - On Thursday 24th March at approximately 10.30pm a female had her bag snatched on Caerleon Road in Newport. Thanks to the swift action of police officers in Newport, a suspect was quickly identified and arrested the following day. A 35 year old man from Newport has now been charged with robbery and has been remanded in court.

    At approximately 10:00pm on Thursday 31st March 2016 a road traffic collision occurred on Malpas Road in Newport near to the fire station whereby a 29 year old woman was knocked off her pedal cycle. The woman was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries. The offending vehicle failed to stop at the scene and Police are appealing for persons to come forward that may have witnessed this or have any information regarding this to contact them on 101 quoting log number GWP-20160331-0514.

    An accident near the Friars Walk car park has left a man with potentially life changing injuries on Tuesday afternoon. The crash involved a Vauxhall Astra and a Hyundai Jeep.

    FARAGE SAYS LEAVING EU WILL SAVE BRITAIN AND EUROPE

    Mar 29 - Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, has claimed that a vote to leave the European Union will save the future of Europe. Speaking at a packed meeting of the Grassroots Out campaign in Rodney Parade Farage urged the audience to take back control of their lives, their futures and their country. Also speaking were David Davies MP, Telegraph journalist Simon Heffer, Labour leave campaigner Brendan Chilton and UKIP leader Nathan Gill.  Farage characterised the Brexit campaign as 'ordinary decent working people' against the political class. Mr Heffer said that the leave campaign would honour the memories  of those who led the Chartist uprising in Newport and Monmouthshire - 'ask yourself what was the point of the great riot of 1839?'

    TATA STEEL TO SELL UK OPERATION

    Mar 29 - It is reported that Tata steel plans to put its UK operation up for sale in a move that will cause further uncertainty for its remaining steel plants including the remnants of its mills at Llanwern and its plant at Port Talbot. Llanwern still employs several hundred workers with many more locally dependant on contracts from the works. However, it is understood there are companies including Liberty and Greybull who may be interested in the opportunity. Liberty already produces steel in Newport at the former Alphasteel plant near Newport Docks.

    BUSES RETURN TO HIGH STREET

    Mar 29 - Selected Newport Bus services are now serving High Street again. Buses from St Julians (26A and 26C) and Malpas (19) will stop outside Newport Market before ending their journey at Friars Walk.

    BRIDGE STREET RAILWAY BRIDGE CLOSURE SET TO CAUSE MAJOR TRAFFIC ISSUES

    Mar 26 - Allt yr yn Councillor David Fouweather has warned the closure of Bridge Street railway bridge on May 3 will cause traffic chaos. “I fully understand that electrification has to be done,” he said.
     
    “We all understand the benefits it will bring. But Network Rail is about to achieve something that others have never achieved. They are about to bring the whole city to a standstill.” Network Rail has been working at several sites in Newport as part of the rail upgrade including Cardiff Road, St Brides and Somerton.

    The closure of the city centre bridge will coincide with the opening of other bridges subject to construction work. In addition, the old footbridge at the railway station is set to be removed. Pedestrians who use the Bridge Street crossing are able to use the Tunnel Terrace footbridge. Disappointingly, there is no news on the construction of a new city footbridge to replace the disgusting, crime ridden tunnel between Mill Street and Kingsway!!

    Andrew Griffiths, programme manager for Network Rail said: ‘‘Electrifying the railway will mean less noise and pollution for those who live close to the railway line in and around Newport. The increasing numbers of passengers using the railway will also benefit from faster, quieter, more reliable services once this programme of work is completed as part of our £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan. ‘‘We would like to thank the general public in advance for their patience while this essential upgrade work is completed.’’ The scheme to replace the Bridge Street bridge involves a complex and substantial construction programme which will first see the utilities that are currently buried in the road diverted into a temporary supporting structure.  Following this the old bridge will be demolished, before the new bridge is rebuilt in its place. 

    WHARF ROAD SET TO BE RE-SURFACED

    Mar 26 - A dangerous stretch of carriageway linking two arterial routes in Newport and George Street Bridge is set to be re-surfaced after its surface has become uneven and full of ruts for the last eight weeks. The surface of Wharf Road and George Road has been planed prior to a tarmacing operation set to start shortly.

    FIRE GUTS CAROLINE STREET PROPERTIES

    Mar 25 - Fire has gutted a property in the Caroline Street / Lower Dock Street area of Newport. Fire and Rescue Service Wales stated they received a report of a fire in the refuse area of a builders yard. The fire spread to adjoining buildings including the Abundant Life Centre and a nearby business unit used for electrical repairs. At one stage 67 fire-fighters were at the scene with nine fire vehicles. The fire is under control with the cause being investigated. Although it is not known if deliberate there have been a spate of deliberate fires across Newport recently including at the rear of the Iceland store on Commercial Street and in Belle Vue Park.

    At 6.45pm on Tuesday a fire crew from Maindee attended a wooded area near Newport Rugby Club in Caerleon, where aerosol cans had been thrown onto a pile of rubbish which had been deliberately set on fire. Then at 10.46pm the same crew was called to Birchgrove, Underwood, where a rubbish bin had been set on fire outside a shop.

    PORT WARNS AGAIN ABOUT M4 RELIEF ROAD IMPACT

    Mar 25 - Director of Associated British Ports South Wales Matthew Kennerley has warned the M4 Relief Road development could “cause serious detriment” to Newport Docks. He said Welsh Government have not responded to requests for a compromise and stated ABP had repeatedly warned of the consequences of routing the road as planned tearing the heart out of the docks and threatening the prospect for future development.

    MURDERER JAILED FOR 26 YEARS

    Mar 24 - A man who stabbed another man to death at a homeless shelter in Clarence Place has been jailed for 26 years. Rhys Jones, 36, originally from Blackwood, Caerphilly county, died from his injuries after the attack in Clarence Place on 24 November.

    Rhys Barnes, 28, from Newport, admitted his murder at Cardiff Crown Court.On Thursday, he was told he had shown "no remorse or regret" for the "brutal" attack and was jailed for life. He must serve a minimum of 26 years. The court heard the stabbing followed a row over a woman who Barnes believed to be his girlfriend, but was also having a "physical relationship" with Mr Jones.

    Barnes stabbed the father-of-two after the woman claimed he had punched her in a row. The court heard Barnes told her: "I'm not having somebody hitting a girl" and threatened to kill him before picking up a knife.

    CYBER ACADEMY FIRST PART OF CITY DEAL FOR NEWPORT

    Mar 19 - City Council leader Bob Bright has hailed the first announcement from the Capital Region City Deal as a major boost for Newport in a specialised area of software scrutiny. A national cyber security academy aimed at training people to fight internet crime will be set up. With some companies paying £16m a year to protect themselves online, it will tackle a skill shortage in the area.

    The first students will start at the University of South Wales' Newport campus in October. It follows predictions four and a half million people will be needed worldwide by 2019, and is supported by Welsh Government funding. Computer forensics and computer security undergraduates will work with businesses to identify cyber challenges. If this is successful, the course will be developed into a full-time cyber security degree.

    The university's vice chancellor Prof Julie Lydon described cyber crime as "one of the four major national security threats" facing the country. Undergraduates studying USW Computer Forensics and Computer Security will work on real-world projects created by NCSA partners. The key to the programme is this interconnect between students and industry, allowing the course to focus on applications. The course itself will also be tested to see if it meets the needs of the modern cyber security world. If successful, it will be expanded to a full-time dedicated degree programme. With an initial investment of £500,000, the initiative is partly funded by the Welsh Government. Other supporters of the project include Innovation Point, Airbus, General Dynamics UK, Alert Logic, Information Assurance, QinetiQ, Silcox Information Security, Westgate Cyber, Wolfberry and the South Wales Cyber Security Cluster.

    The city, which has received extensive investment over recent years from the Welsh Government, is also set to benefit from a £60 million Newport Knowledge Quarter, as well as the ONS opening a new data hub there. A recent survey by HR and recruitment firm Harvey Nash revealed the huge demand for cybersecurity skills: 50 percent of hiring managers said that they were looking for security architects.

    Councillor Bob Bright, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “This is tremendous news for the City Deal partners, and an impressive start to 2016 for the City of Newport. The ink is barely dry on the agreement and £0.5 million of investment is coming to the city. Newport, like many Welsh towns and cities, has been built on the back of traditional industries.  To be known now as a centre of excellence for cyber security is a real statement of intent of how much the city has changed."

    £17 MILLION DATA HUB PLAN FOR ONS

    Mar 18 - £17m is to be invested in a new "data hub" in Newport, the Office for National Statistics has announced The new Data Science Campus and Economics Centre of Excellence, to be based at the Duffryn site, will create at least 30 jobs. The investment will fund an Economics Centre of Excellence and a Data Science Campus at its headquarters.The ONS said the money would support the initiatives over the next two years.

    The new hub would "cement the status of the Welsh site as the home of the UK's economic statistics", it added.

    The Economics Centre of Excellence will enable the ONS to work with leading academics and experts on "cutting-edge research" while the Data Science Campus will act as a hub for the whole of government.greatly help ONS meet the challenges of measuring new forms of economic activity and give policy makers better insights into the UK economy,” said ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics Jonathan Athow.

    TINY REBEL SCOOPS MAJOR AWARD

    Mar 18 - Newport-based brewery Tiny Rebel has scooped a top award in a national industry competition.The firm was named Brewery Business of the Year in the Society of Independent Brewers’ annual Business and Industry Awards.It also won the Best Independent Craft Beer Bar or Pub (City) for their popular Newport and Cardiff locations. Judges said: “Their impressive activity across such a wide range of categories, combined with their meteoric growth and popularity with drinkers and industry experts alike, made them a clear choice in this prestigious category."

    COUNTY FAN BANNED 

    Mar 18 - A Newport County Fan has recently received a three year Football Banning Order due to his alleged persistent anti-social behaviour at a number of matches throughout the UK. The Football Banning Order was granted after he was arrested and charged with being drunk and disorderly at the Notts County v Newport match, back in December 2015. 50 year old Brian Collins from Pontypool appeared at Nottinghamshire Magistrates Court in February, where he was given the Football Banning Order.

    The ban means that Collins:

    POLICE APPEAL AFTER SPAR ARMED ROBBERY

    Mar 17 - Police are appealing for information following an armed robbery at the Spar Store and Service Station on Ponthir Road in Caerleon. The robbery took place just prior to the store closing, between 10.50pm and 11pm, on Friday 11th March 2016. A man entered the store holding what appeared to be a handgun and demanded money. He then ran off with a quantity of cash, on to Ponthir Road.

    The man is described as a white, approximately 6ft tall with brown eyes. The man was wearing a green hooded jacket with orange lining to the hood, dark blue jeans, dark coloured trainers and had most of his face covered with some type of hood or head-over scarf. If anyone has any information please call 101 quoting log number 525 11/3/16.

    KASPAS COMING TO FRIARS WALK

    Mar 17 - Dessert and gelato specialists Kaspas are set to open near Friars Walk in Newport as the development continues to attract new business. Yankee candle retailers Colonial Candles will be opening a new Newport store too and are currently recruiting. Skechers open their new Friars Walk store this weekend. The new SuperBowl facility opened successfully today. Three units are under offer in the mall.

    Work is well under way at Kingsway with Euro Exchange open, Fragrance Shop set to open shortly and Starbucks coming to the main unit on John Frost Square. A new VAPE e-cigarette store opens in the city centre next week.

    TOLL REDUCTION WELCOMED

    Mar 17 - Newport East MP Jess Morden has welcomed the Budget measure cutting the Severn Bridge tolls with qualifications"I certainly welcome any reduction in tolls and have been consistently raising this for the last 10 years, because I know just how hard this hits constituents and local businesses. I’ve always called for tolls at a level around the maintenance cost.  The Government’s cut will come in two years time when the tolls could be £6.80 or more for cars.VAT has to come off the tolls because the bridges become publicly owned in 2018, so clarity is needed about whether the announced cut is pre or post the removal of VAT.  It is important because this could mean the difference between a toll of £3.40 or £2.80 for a car. I will be looking closely at the detail, but in the meantime a very big thank you to all those constituents and local businesses who have shared their experiences on how the level of tolls has affected them – your views have helped me keep up the pressure on the Government."

    FORMER COUNCILLOR DIES

    Mar 16 - Former Councillor Hugh Clark has passed away. He represented the Beechwood ward for the Liberal Democrats on Newport City Council from 2008 to 2012 and also served as a Newport councillor many years ago

    POLICE APPEAL OVER MALPAS ROAD ACCIDENT

    Mar 15 - Police are appealing to the public regarding any information about a serious road traffic collision that happened at around 7.55pm on Friday 11th March, on Malpas Road in Newport. A 51 year old local man was seriously injured as a result of the collision, which happened as he crossed the road near the BP service station. The driver of the car then drove off leaving the man in the road. The man remains in a serious but stable condition at hospital.

    DOG OWNERS WARNED ABOUT MICRO-CHIPPING

    Mar 15 - Dog owners in Newport are being urged to get their pets microchipped ahead of new legislation being introduced in Wales next month. The Microchipping of Dogs (Wales) Regulations 2015 come into force on April 6 and follows a consultation by the Welsh Government which took place in April 2015. Micro-chipping is an easy and painless process in which a small chip is inserted into a dog. The chip contains details of the pet, such as its name, breed and age, as well as contact details for the owners.

    CITY DEAL SIGNED 

    Mar 14 - A £1.2 billion City Deal to unlock significant economic growth across the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) was formally signed today. The Leader of Newport City Council, Councillor Bob Bright, signed the deal on behalf of the council.  Over its lifetime, local partners expect the City Deal to deliver as many as 25,000 new jobs, and some £4billion of private sector investment across the region.  The ten leaders of the local authorities in the CCR, the Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Greg Hands, and First Minister Carwyn Jones signed the City Deal document in a ceremony at Admiral’s head office in Cardiff.

    What does it mean?

    Electrification of the valleys line but not the Abergavenny line coming into Newport. A metro style integration of transport that will bring some light rail in to Cardiff notably to the Bay, in Newport we will have so called rapid transit buses. Further investment in a cyber security academy and national software academy in Newport but a £50 million Catapult semi conductor research facility looks set to go to Cardiff.

    ENERGY PLANT DETAILS REVEALED

    Mar 14 - Details have been revealed of a new renewable energy hub, capable of creating thousands of jobs, which is set to be created in Newport to support steel production.Under the plans, the existing 395 megawatt Uskmouth Power Station Newport would be turned into a centre of excellence for advanced conversion technologies, using biomass, waste and other innovative and sustainable energy sources. It will provide power to a neighbouring arc furnace for the recycling domestic scrap to supply up to 20 per cent of Britain's entire steel market.

    The project was outlined by the plant's owners, the Gupta Family Group, during a visit to Uskmouth by economy minister Edwina Hart to formally restart the second of three previously mothballed power-generating units. Coal-fired generation capacity at the plant will be used in the short-term pending the conversation of the station and surrounding land into a renewable energy park, capable of powering the neighbouring Liberty Steel plant and wider industry needs via the electricity grid.

    PLANNING PROPOSAL REFUSED

    Mar 14 - A proposal to place an advertising hoarding near the site on a long derelict building has been refused by city planners. The advertisement to be placed in front of the former Howells Bakery on Spytty Road would form an unacceptable distraction to drivers.

    CAMPUS COULD SEE 400 HOMES

    Mar 14 - The main building at Caerleon campus could be demolished if a viable and economic use for the building is not found. Residents will be able to have their say on the future of the campus during a month-long consultation starting tomorrow which includes an option of residential housing that could see between 200 to 400 houses built on the site. The 32 acre site will be vacated by the University of South Wales (USW) this summer.

    USW has said it would be possible to retain and convert the main building but this is likely to have significant constraints and costs. They said it would likely need a specialist developer to be able to convert the building. Proceeds from the sale of the site will be reinvested in Newport to take forward projects such as the £60m Knowledge Quarter which the university is creating in partnership with Coleg Gwent at the city centre campus.

    QUINNS BACK IN BLACK 

    Newport-based QRL Radiator Group, which has recently rebranded from Quinn Radiators, has returned to profit in the period of its takeover by an Irish company.

    In October 2014, the business was bought by RHP Bidco from Aventas Manufacturing Group in a deal thought to be worth about £19.9m. The acquiring business is chaired by radiator industry veteran Tony Mullins. It has recently secured a £3m loan from the Welsh Government that will enable it to recruit 120 new staff, as well as securing existing jobs.

    Following the investment, QRL is said to be targeting the UK and European markets. Its factory currently has the capacity to produce about 3.5 million radiators a year. According to recently filed accounts, the Quinn Radiators Ltd reported a pre-tax profit of £20.1m for the 15 months to 31 March 2015, on turnover of £59.5m.

     LLANWERN BULL TO OPEN AT GLAN LLYN

    Mar 13 - Marstons Brewery are set to open a pub from their Gorgeous George range at Glan Llyn. The pub restaurant  situated near to the main residential development will be known as the Llanwern Bull and will complement their other offering the Blaina Wharf.

    EVANS DEFECTS FROM LABOUR

    Mar 13 - Rogerstone councillor Chris Evans, currently suspended from Labour, has left the Party to join the independent group on Newport Council. alongside Kevin Whithead, and Janet Cleverley. Cllr Evans, said ‘Kevin and Janet represent all that’s best about the great Newport tradition, family, country, community and hard work, and saying it like it is, these principals mixed with my progressive values could form a strong foundation for real positive change in our City, it is a honour and a privilege to represent my neighbours in Rogerstone, which I will always do, to the best of my ability’

    Councillor Evans has also been appointed The Independents Group spokesperson for Small Business and Enterprise, commenting “it’s about time our small businesses had someone speaking up for them, the current administration has ‘champions’  for this that and the other, well, I’ve always believed small business is the backbone of our economy, and we need to do more to support our entrepreneurs”. Evans will also join the following committees - Planning, Scrutiny - Streetscene and Democratic Services.

    The council’s Labour group has refused to reveal why Cllr Evans was suspended, saying only it was “an internal matter”. Evans was criticised by Newport West MP Paul Flynn MP. He stated "as a drama queen you habitually construct crises in which you cast yourself as a hero." But Evans wrote recently on his website "In the group meeting where my suspension was discussed, I was criticised for a host of things including the mural, well I didn’t smash the thing up, and indeed posed a number of questions as did many others including our MP. I was originally summoned by the whips because of a complaint from Councillor Gail Giles, for raising questions of her portfolios handling of the sale of a green space in Rogerstone, in that meeting, the whips also raised the bus fiasco, and the fact that I talk to the press, so, at the group meeting, these were the only matters I answered, because, these were the issues raised by the whips, in the original meeting. I concede and accept that I am passionate about assisting others and at times have lost my temper which has been as a result of my frustrations in dealing with some elements in the labour party. I am passionate about local issues. Insofar as criticising cabinet members are concerned I believe that in a democratic society all members should be held to account. "

    The political composition of the Council is now as follows - Labour 37, Conservatives 10, Independents 3, Liberal Democrat 1

    POLICE TARGET LUXURY VEHICLE THIEVES

    Mar 12 - On Thursday police carried out five search warrants at houses and lock-up garages across Cardiff. This targeted action was in response to a number of burglaries across Monmouthshire and Newport, where high value vehicles have been stolen. During the search warrants, three people were arrested:

    Officers also seized a number of cars and recovered car parts that they suspect to be stolen. They are now working to identify the original owners. Detective Inspector Andrew Tuck, who led the operation said: "We want to send a strong message to anyone intent on criminality in our communities, that this will not be tolerated. Our enquiries are on-going and we are determined to bring those responsible for these burglaries to justice."

    CITY CENTRE ASB UNDER SPOTLIGHT

    Mar 11 - Anti-social behaviour in Friars Walk and other city centre areas is under spotlight following police comments about parents needing to be aware of the whereabouts of children. A number of leading businesses have complained about the lack of security and of the prevalence of young teenagers on bikes. The battle is still on to reclaim Newport's streets and to ensure they are safe for revellers and shoppers.

    Some ASB offenders are being banned for periods from the city centre. Other teenagers are being directed to take part in sports activities at centres across the city. Under the Positive Futures programme - funded through the Gwent Police Crime Commissioner - the Newport Live sport development team has been assisting by delivering a targeted approach to tackle the problem via a sports outreach team.

    Elsewhere, police returned home to parents a group of children climbing on the roof of Somerton Primary School at the end of last week. A teenager was arrested on suspicion of setting fire to three Council vehicles at Belle Vue Park, following a spate of vandalism in the area including damage to a balustrade.

    DRUGS WARRANT ARRESTS IN LLISWERRY, OTHER ARRESTS ACROSS CITY

    Mar 10 - Two men have been arrested following three drug warrants in Newport on Tuesday. Police officers attended three addresses in the Lliswerry area at around 10am. Quantities of drugs were seized from properties in Moorland Park and Broadmead Park.

    A 33 year-old Lliswerry male was arrested for possession of Class B drugs, along with a 40 year-old male also from Lliswerry who was arrested for cultivating cannabis....both remain in police custody at this time. Sergeant Alistair Frame who coordinated the raids said; "We hope this gives out a message to the community that we are committed to tackling drug issues in the area. We will continue to execute drugs warrants across Newport but I would also like to urge residents, if you have any information about drug use or supply, please contact us on 101."

    In Pill a 19 year old was arrested for possession of cocaine and a 37 year old arrested for possession of heroin on Friday. On 5/3 an 18 year old was arrested for possession of a knife and drugs in Duffryn. There have also been a series of arrests for driving under the influence of drugs in the last month, in Lliswerry (13/2), Old Barn (13/2), Hampden Road (19/2), Aberthaw Road (24/2), Sims Square (23/2), Duffryn (28/2) and Spytty (5/3)

    USW CALLS FOR COUNCIL OPINION ON DEVELOPMENT OF CAERLEON SITE

    March 6 - University of South Wales has requested an initial screening opinion from Newport City Council regarding its planned sell off of the soon to be vacant Caerleon Campus. The potentially lucrative site will be used to part fund exciting plans to bring Coleg Gwent into the centre of Newport and expand the City Campus.

    A spokesman for the University said: "The decision to close the campus at Caerleon is one of the head not the heart - we know that many people have very fond memories of working and studying in Caerleon. There are sound educational reasons for our decision, but we want to make this move with respect for the local community. This consultation gives people the opportunity to have their say about potential future uses of the site once it has been vacated by the University. Funds from the sale of the site will be reinvested to enable us to take forward projects such as the £60m Knowledge Quarter that we are progressing in partnership with Coleg Gwent in the heart of Newport. However, the University also wants to leave a positive legacy for the people of Caerleon and the public consultation is an important part of that process."

    Newport HSOB Rugby Club will host the exhibition on March 17, 18 and 19, and the consultation website will go live on the opening day and allow residents to submit their feedback for a further month after the exhibition closes.

    SHOCKING STATE OF MAINDEE'S STREETS HIGHLIGHTED BY LIB DEMS

    Mar 6 - Newport's Liberal Democrats have launched a furious attack on the Council's handling of Maindee's dirty streets. The Victoria ward, it is claimed, has the dirtiest streets in the whole of Newport. The article in Victoria Focus depicts nine examples of fly tipping in Maindee's streets and gardens, a regular sight to those familiar with the area.  Former Councillor Mike Hamilton states "What are our local councillors doing about this? It is their job to hold the Council to account and kick up a fuss. "

    TAXPAYERS AID ESSENTRA EXPANSION

    Mar 6 - Packaging products maker Essentra has secured further investment from the Welsh Government, enabling it to create an additional 170 jobs at its facility in Newport. Concerns have been expressed that those employed in the new facility will be from eastern Europe rather than the Newport. Some of the new posts have already been advertised in Poland. It follows the announcement in November last year that Essentra was investing in a second, state-of-the-art facility in Newport, with the initial creation of 70 jobs, also supported by the Welsh Government. The company will invest in an adjacent site in Newport to create a centre of excellence for the production of labels and foil, with additional capability for carton manufacturing and an on-site structural and graphic design studio. This investment is being supported by £400,000 from the Welsh Government and will bring the total headcount at its Newport campus to about 330. Economy minister Edwina Hart, who announced the funding ahead of the BioWales 2016 conference and exhibition, said: "This is excellent news and another significant investment by the company in world class manufacturing facilities at its Newport campus.

    MONEX CONTINUES TO GROW

    Mar 6 - Newport-headquarter haulage business Monex Group has reported growth after winning contracts and controlling costs in its most recent financial year, according to Insider Media Wales. The company is made up of three divisions: MCL Logistics; Fox Heavy Haulage, which specialises in larger equipment and unusual loads; and MCL Xpress, which provides European freight services.

    It operates a fleet of more than 100 vehicles and 200 trailers. The family-run business was founded more than 35 years ago and is based on Leeway Industrial Estate in Newport. According to recently filed accounts for Monmouthshire Xpress Group Ltd, the company reported turnover of £17.3m in the year ending 31 March 2015, up from £13.6m in 2014. Pre-tax profit also increased to £587,000 from £419,000 the year before. The average number of staff employed by the group during the financial year increased to 141 from 111.

    MORE STORES ON WAY

    Mar 4 - Three more stores in Newport's Friars Walk are under offer as the development continues to progress. Two are set to replace former pop up stores from Hawkin's Bazaar and BMW. The third is opposite the Austin Friars entrance of Debenhams. Fitting out is under way at New Look for Men. Skechers opens very soon with Superbowl all set to join the line up on March 17.

    In Kingsway Centre two new units for Starbucks and Euro Exchange are set to be joined by a third as yet unknown let. Austin Friars also has two new lets.

    On Commercial Street there is more limited activity with a Noodle Bar heading to the former Wallis store, Infinity Mist replacing Phones4U and Flannells coming to Sports Direct. However, uncertainty surrounds the future of the BHS Group with the company seeking to reduce rents or close stores.

    In Newport Retail Park Tapi Carpets is opening next door to H&M with progress on site at the new Leisure Park.

    LIBERTY HOPING TO EXPAND

    Mar 3 - The owner of the Liberty Steel plant in Newport has purchased assets of a former Kent steelworks with which it hopes to expand its Welsh facility and support the creation of up to 4,000 jobs. The Gupta Family Group has bought assets including a rod and bar mill and electric arc furnace from a former steelworks at Sheerness Docks in Kent.

    The group plans to move the equipment to Newport to add scrap-melting and rod and bar making facilities to Liberty's existing hot rolled coil capacity. This could lead to the creation of up to 1,000 direct and potentially 3,000 indirect jobs. But Liberty House Group executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta has warned that the current cost of UK energy, alongside insecurity of supply, could delay the project, and may even force them to move the plant overseas instead.

    He said: "Under the terms of our agreement with the sellers, we need to move the plant from its current location by June. Using it to expand Newport is our preferred option, but this is an energy-intensive business so, if the situation regarding future UK energy costs and security of supply doesn't become clearer by then, we may have to consider moving the equipment outside the country. India and USA are alternative options. Both of these offer healthy market demand, positive government support and energy security." Liberty restarted the Newport mill in October 2015, saving 150 jobs, and it is on course to produce one million tonnes of hot rolled coil a year.

    CAERLEON CRASH - PASSENGER DIES

    Mar 1 - Following the sad news last week that 21 year old Thomas Lawrence from Caerleon had died during a fatal road traffic collision at Belmont Hill it has been revealed that the passenger in the vehicle 16 year old Courtney Smith from Pontypool has also passed away as a result of the injuries she sustained.

    ONS COMMITS TO NEWPORT

    Feb 28 - Newport will stay as the main base for the Office for National Statistics, the minister responsible has said. Paymaster General Mathew Hancock said "We are going to back Newport" promising new technology investment. He told BBC Radio Wales that he wanted to build on "the talents of the people there, and the increasing strength of digital businesses in Newport and across south Wales in order to make sure we have got the skill sets needed".

    There were concerns that jobs would be lost at the site in Duffryn following a report by Sir Charles Bean into issues with the reliability and accuracy of data and the loss of specialised expertise following the move to Newport from London in 2007.

    BODY FOUND IN WETLANDS IS MISSING ABERGAVENNY MAN

    Feb 28 - A body found at Newport Wetlands on February 19 has been confirmed as that of a missing Abergavenny man. The man is 61 year old Gerald Jones he was reported missing in Abergavenny on January 16.

    COUNCIL PROSECUTE KEBAB SHOP

    Feb 28 - A well known city centre kebab house has been prosecuted after cockroaches were found in its kitchen. An investigation by the City Council followed a complaint in July 2015. The inspector gave the premises a food hygiene rating of zero and the proprietor, Nurretin Gundugdu, closed the shop voluntarily in order to sort the matter out. A subsequent re-inspection in November 2015 gave the shop a food hygiene rating of three (it is a scale of zero to five). The owner pleaded guilty to four offences of breaching hygiene regulations and was fined £3,667.

    'INCIDENT' AT BUS STATION

    Feb 28 - Police arrived in force at Newport Central Bus Station following reports of an incident yesterday evening at around 8.30pm. It is reported, on social media, that an arrest was made following an alleged assault. The area has been the subject of criticism recently for the lack of adequate security for bus passengers and the presence of small groups of teenagers indulging in anti-social behaviour.

    COUNCIL BACKS CITY DEAL

    Feb 27 - Newport council leaders have backed the proposed Cardiff City Region Deal stated to be worth £1.28 billion over a 20 year period. Newport will be contributing £38 million. The Deal will principally act as a funding mechanism for the new South Wales Metro.

    PUBLIC INVITED TO VIEW METRO PROPOSALS

    Feb 27 - Newport residents will have an opportunity to view proposals for the South Wales Metro between March 8 and 10 at Friars Walk between 9am and 5pm. The Welsh Government state 'the Metro vision is a new fully integrated transport network ....with a faster transit system.' Proposals for Newport seem primarily related to a rapid transit bus system rather than new train stations or light rail.

    BELMONT HILL CRASH - ONE PERSON DEAD

    Feb 26 - A 21 year old man from Newport has died following a crash near the Kings Arms on Belmont Hill between Caerleon and Christchurch late on Wednesday night. The man has been named as Thomas Lawrence from Caerleon. A 16 year old girl from Pontypool also travelling in the vehicle is in a critical condition in hospital.

    SHOPPING PRECINCT EVACUATED

    Feb 26 -  A shopping precinct in Malpas was evacuated today following the discovery of a grenade on sale in a charity shop. Newport stated "At approximately 1.20pm this afternoon, we received a call from a local shop in Malpas, Newport, regarding a suspicious item left in their store. As a precautionary measure, shops in the area were evacuated and the shopping precinct on Malpas Road was closed to customers. Specialist trained personnel from the Army EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Unit have now assessed the device, believed to be a World War II grenade. It has been deemed as low risk and has been safely removed. The police cordon was lifted at 3.30pm today

    EBBW BRIDGE CLUB DEVELOPMENT SET FOR APPROVAL

    Feb 26 - Newport City Council will discuss an application submitted by Borley Development for the The Ebbw Bridge Club and Institute at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday (2 March 2016), according to Insider media Wales. The venue located in Newport, was built in 1936 and hosted a number of stars early in their careers. The current three-storey building comprises a large concert hall at the rear as well as bars, games room, lounge, cellar, skittle alley and parking. There are also three former shop units at the front of the property. Following demolition, a new three- to four-storey development would be built comprising 21 one- and two-bedroom flats and two ground floor retail units of 3,500 sq ft and 1,690 sq ft. It is recommended for approval as it will bring yet another vacant dwelling into use.

    COUNCILLOR SUSPENDED

    Feb 24 - Rogerstone councillor Chris Evans has been suspended from the Newport Labour Party for six months. Evans said he was "disappointed, saddened and... confused by the decision." He claimed he had been suspended for expressing the view of neighbours with regard to sale of green space, speaking up for small traders and commenting on issues in the local press. Newport West MP Paul Flynn in a web blog accused Evans of being a drama queen..."as a drama queen you habitually construct crises in which you cast yourself as a hero." Council Conservative leader Matthew Evans said he was shocked by the suspension and praised his namesake for 'putting people's concerns above petty party politics'. 

    HIGH STREET PARKING CHAOS CRITICISED

    Feb 24 - High Street is constantly blocked by parked vehicles following the recent suspension of traffic regulations. Traders are complaining that access is blocked for pedestrians and for business vehicles. On Twitter Stow Hill Labour councillor stated "Doubt if anyone can cite any other UK city or big town where drivers can park in High Streets with such impunity."

    WHITEHEADS DEVELOPMENT STARTS

    Feb 23 - The development of a 500-home urban village on a former Newport steelworks site has moved forward with the start of preparation work. Tirion Group's project at Whiteheads is expected to generate up to 1,500 jobs and inject about £140m into the local economy. Following the signing of contracts with Tirion's development company, civil engineering business Walters has moved onto the 39-acre site to clear the land.
    It will remove the legacy of 80 years of heavy industrial activity and pave the way for the creation of the new community.
    About 50 per cent of the 500 homes will be available at affordable rents while the scheme will also include the provision of a new primary school. Tirion Developments chairman John Lovell said: "This brings our vision for a new kind of urban community a big step closer. We are very excited by the prospect of creating a neighbourhood which puts high-quality affordable homes in an excellent, well-maintained, environment within the reach of many different kinds of families.

    RAMSDENS TO MOVE IN TO FORMER BODY SHOP

    Feb 23 - Jewellery shop and pawn broker Ramsdens are set to relocate to more spacious premises occupying the former Body Shop on Commercial Street. The former Phones4U store has been let by EJ Hales to Infinity Mist.

    POLICE IN FURTHER APPEAL IN BABY CASE

    Feb 19 - Police searching for the mother of a newborn baby found dead in Newport have released an image of a bag identical to the one the child was found in. Gwent Police also confirmed the baby, discovered on wasteland close to Imperial Park on 29 January, was a boy. The baby had been wrapped in a white towel with the words "St Annes" written along the edge and placed in the leather bag, police said. The death is being treated as unexplained. A post mortem previously showed the baby had been born at about full-term. Anyone with information is asked to call 101.

    SCHOOL APPLICATION TO BE RE-SUBMITTED

    Feb 19 - The Council has offered to look again the application for a new Welsh school at Duffryn and associated improvements to the comprehensive school already on site. The City Council met with Jon Wilson the head teacher of Duffryn High School and representatives of the Welsh Medium Secondary School to discuss the proposal to resubmit a planning application for a new Welsh medium secondary school on the site in Duffryn Way.

    It was stressed that this resubmission and redetermination is no reflection on the correctness of the earlier decision taken by the planning committee, based on planning officer advice.However it was decided that in view of the significance of this application in terms of educational need and the wider strategic development of the Duffryn area, it was considered appropriate and more democratic for all councillors to take collective responsibility for this decision. Mr Wilson, speaking after the meeting, said: “This was a very amicable and productive meeting and it is encouraging for the development. I look forward to working together with Newport City Council for a positive outcome.” Council leader Bob Bright said the decision to resubmit the application was no reflection on the planning committee members or the planning department. “It is right that all councillors will now have the chance to discuss the application and have the right to vote on it,” he said. The fresh application is due to be heard by councillors at a meeting in May.

    SOME BUSES TO RETURN TO HIGH STREET

    Feb 19 - Newport Bus has indicated St Julians and Malpas services will be re-routed along High Street from March 29 following a passenger consultation recently undertaken. Traders in the area had expressed concern regarding the loss of trade following the opening of the Newport Central Bus Station.

    COUNCIL INCREASES COUNCIL TAX AND HIKES CAR PARK FEES

    Feb 15 - Newport's Cabinet shied away from the proposed massive cuts in its spending contained in its recent budget proposals document. Most cuts were deferred but the Council will still be asked to approve a 3.9 per cent increase in Council Tax (inflation is currently 0.1 per cent) and a 100 per cent hike in Council-owned car park fees. The Council's Cabinet recommended a £60k fund to assist small business start ups and funding to support the Great Western Cities partnership with Cardiff and Bristol.

    FRIARS WALK MONEY COMING BACK

    Feb 15 - The £90 million public works loan taken out by the Council and passed on to Queensberry to build Friars Walk will be paid back to the Council with interest in November. The council will be consulting with the public as to how the money should be spent or invested.

    FOUR MORE UNITS SET FOR LETTING IN CITY CENTRE

    Feb 15 - Queensberry has confirmed four units in the city centre are set to be agreed with new retailers including the restaurant unit adjacent to Cineworld, the current Hawkins' Bazaar unit in Friars Walk and two units in Upper Dock Street. Elsewhere, on Commercial Street the former Phones 4U unit near the Westgate has been let as has the store next door to Sports Direct. The former Juboraj restaurant on Commercial Street opposite the Tom Toya Lewis is set to open as the Raj Indian Restaurant.

    Still to open - Zizzi on 22nd February (it has a free opening night on 19th February), Vodafone soon afterwards, Skechers on March 7th, Superbowl on March 18th and New Look for Men on March 24th. Starbucks and Euro Exchange will be opening in the Kingsway shortly too. 

    DEMOLITION PLAN IN CLARENCE PLACE

    Feb 12 - After protracted delays plans to demolish buildings fronting Clarence Place near Kwik Fit seem set to go ahead. Plans to redevelop the site were set out more than two years ago. Scaffolding has been a regular feature in the area since 2013. The buildings will be cleared so that that the garage facility can be reconfigured. The Ivy Bush public house is unaffected. News of the former TJ's music venue is less clear. The building is a shadow of its former self with cordons placed around it. A plan to turn it into an Indian Restaurant has not been realised.

    POSSIBLE LINK BETWEEN USW AND COLEG GWENT

    Feb 11 - An idea we have promoted is being explored by University of South Wales and Coleg Gwent. A new further education facility linked to a new city campus building on the Riverfront would see links established between the two institutions, shared space and the relocation of the Nash Campus. The funding would come from a variety of sources including the taxpayer (Welsh Government, Newport City Council) and the plundering of the former Caerleon Campus site.

    SPYTTY LINE UP TAKING SHAPE

    Feb 11 - Newport Leisure Park, the remodelled Megabowl building, will include a new Home Bargains store and fitness chain Xercise4Less as well as an as yet un-named bowling alley.

    NEW NAME FOR HILTON NEWPORT

    Feb 10 - Newport Hilton will be renamed following the news that the Langstone hotel will be taken over by Celtic Manor. The new hotel will be named Coldra Court Hotel by Celtic Manor when the resort takes over the 148-bedroom property currently trading as Hilton Newport, on March 31 2016.

    The Celtic Manor Operations Director Matthew Lewis said: “The Coldra Court Hotel by Celtic Manor is an exciting development for us and the additional bedrooms will be very welcome as we keep up with a growing conference and leisure market across the resort. Families and leisure guests will benefit from access to all the activities and restaurants at the main Celtic Manor Resort as well as the facilities within Coldra Court.”

    DRUGS SEIZED IN PILL

    Feb 9 - Police officers in Newport carried out a drugs warrant at Commercial Road. A 21 year old man from Newport was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs. He is currently on bail, pending further enquiries. During the warrant, drugs and a large sum of money were seized.

    KINGS COURT LETTINGS

    Feb 8 -  Lettings and sales are under way in Kings Court (formerly the Kings hEad). One floor, 4,000 sq ft has been successfully let to JVA Consulting. The environmental consulting business has come in from Langstone to take the space in the the city centre. According to reports the commercial space will include a pizza delivery unit and a small convenience store. Of the 26 apartment listed on the website 14 are reserved for sale.

    CITY AUCTIONEER TOP IN WALES

    Feb 8 - A Newport auction house has topped the Welsh league for selling the largest number of properties in 2015. Paul Fosh Auctions sold 306 properties out of 411 lots offered at eight auctions in the 12 months to December 2015, with a total sales value of £18.9m. It is the eighth year in a row that the Newport-based auction house has achieved the top position for properties sold. A total of 33 companies held 127 auctions throughout Wales in 2015, offering 1,641 lots of which 1,287 sold returning a combined value of about £99.4m. The sales chart was compiled by the Essential Information Group (EIG) and published in association with Estates Gazette.

    NEWPORT NOW CALLS FOR BUSINESS RATES HELP

    Feb 6 - Newport NOW, the business organisation covering Newport Business Improvement district has called for help to cut the cost of business rates. Alan Edwards, chair of the organisation, stated current charges in High Street and Commercial Street are prohibitive and outdated. The Welsh Conservative Andrew R T Davies said that his party would abolish business rates for businesses valued at under £12k. The next business revaluation will take place in 2017 with values based on April 2015. A study by Colliers International in December found that 324 retail centres will see a decrease, 21 will pay the same and 75 will see an increase. Newport is set to be the UK's biggest winner with an 80 per cent cut in the tax.

    WELSH SCHOOL WILL GO AHEAD

    Feb 5 - Education chiefs in Newport say a new Welsh language secondary school will open in the city in September, after original plans were thrown out. A new school on the site of Duffryn High School was refused on the recommendation of officers due to flooding concerns. But a meeting on Friday was told a temporary school would be sited at Ysgol Bro Teyrnon in Shaftesbury. Council officials said it could be there for two years while the search for a permanent location continued. Addressing the meeting of about 100 parents at Newport's Civic Centre, the council's head of education James Harris said the authority intended to press ahead with opening the new facility in the autumn.

    TWENTY JOBS FOR HIRE AT MENSWEAR STORE

    Feb 5 - The New Look for Men store set to open in Friars Walk is currently hiring 20 staff. The store will be the first from the new brand to open in Wales. In addition, Fragrance Shop are hiring for a Newport store, likely to be in the vicinity of Friars Walk. Holland & Barrett will be opening their new Friars Walk store on February 8 with Vodafone set to follow shortly. A new pop up store Flowers at the Ivy has opened near to Newport Bus Station.

    Plans are in for signage for Starbucks at Kingsway (left), set to open soon.

    NEW CREMATORIUM BACKED

    Feb 5 - Plans for a new crematorium on Magor Road between Llanmartin and Langstone have received planning approval. The crematorium will provide facilities for Newport and south Monmouthshire relieving pressure on the Gwent Crematorium, run by Newport Council, situated in Croesyceliog.

    MAN ARRESTED 'EQUIPPED FOR THEFT'

    Feb 5 - Police state "At around 2.50am this morning, officers noticed a man acting suspiciously on Risca Road in Newport. When they stopped him, he was found in possession of a screwdriver and chisel. He was arrested on suspicion of going equipped for theft. If you ever see or hear anything you consider to be suspicious, please call us on 101."

    SHOPFITTER CLOSES

    Feb 4 - A Newport-based company which has been providing shopfitting and specialist joinery services across the UK for more than 50 years has ceased trading with a number of jobs lost, possibly as many as 28. HWD Shopfitters Ltd based in Marlborough Road, Maindee went into administration today. The company also ran a specialist aluminium trading division known as Alcoplan.

    NEWPORT BUS ASKS COUNCIL TO ACT ON BUS STATION SMOKING POLICY

    Feb 4 - In a very public move Newport Bus has asked Newport Council and Friars Walk to address the failure to introduce no smoking regulations at the new central bus station. A stream of complaints have been made on social media regarding the failure to implement the policy.

    BABY'S BODY FOUND AT BUSINESS PARK

    Jan 31 - The body of a baby has been found in Newport, police have said. The discovery was made just before 14:00 GMT on Friday on land close to Imperial Park, Coedkernew. Gwent Police said the death is being treated as unexplained and a post mortem examination will take place on Monday.

    POLICE SEARCH FOR LIAM BRABHAM

    Police are searching for a man from Bettws who is linked to a series of incidents in the area.

    "Can you help us locate 20 year old Liam Brabham, from Newport, who we would like to speak to in connection with an assault and public order offences, that took place on Saturday 23rd January 2016? Liam is known to have links to the Bettws area of Newport. If you have any information relating to his whereabouts, please call 101 quoting log 194 of 23/01/16. You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    FASHION BRAND SIGNS AT FRIARS WALK

    Jan 31 - Another fashion brand has signed at Newport's Friars Walk according to Queensberry director Stuart Harris. He tweeted "Another fashion brand signed for Friars Walk today, a first for Wales, watch this space for details @friarswalk @QberryRE".  Rumours are that this is a significant signing as the shopping centre seeks to encourage new businesses to trade in Newport. The new shopping centre will shortly see new stores opening with Holland and Barrett, Vodafone and Skechers joining the line up. Harris stated recently there are other new signings. The Hawkin's Bazaar pop up store closes this week. In the hugely successful restaurant area Zizzi will add to the offer when it opens on February 22. Elsewhere, in the city centre Starbucks and Euro Exchange are shortly set to open at the front of Kingsway.  Activity is limited in the Austin Friars area although we understand Units 10 and 11 and Units 1 have been taken. Elsewhere, in the city centre Hutchings & Thomas have sold 100-101 Commercial Street #Newport (a space of 7,738 sq ft) the property is adjacent to Park Square Car Park.

    WORK UNDERWAY AT PROTON BEAM CENTRE

    Jan 30 - Construction work is now underway on a proton beam therapy cancer treatment centre in Newport, set to be the first of its kind in the UK. Proton Partners International is building the facility, which will be able to treat up to 700 patients annually, on a site at Celtic Springs Business Park. Edwina Hart, the minister for economy, science and transport for the Welsh Government, visited the site to mark the start of the construction of the centre, which is expected to be operational by 2017. The company recently secured a £30m facility to fund the project, provided by Shawbrook Asset Finance, part of specialist lending and savings bank Shawbrook Bank. It previously raised more than £63m of equity via the Welsh Life Sciences Fund and funds managed by Woodford Investment Management.

    ATWELL IS NEXT MAYOR

    Jan 30 - Conservative member for Langstone David Atwell will shortly take over the reigns as City Council Mayor following approval at a recent Council meeting.

    CLYTHA SQUARE FLAT BOARDED UP

    Jan 29 - A flat in Newport will be boarded up after Newport City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team obtained an anti-social behaviour closure order from Newport Magistrates Court. Crime and Disorder Reduction Officer, PC Leanne Pole provided evidence that the occupant of the flat in Clytha Square was allegedly involved in the supply and use of class A drugs. It was also alleged that people were constantly calling at the flat, looking to take illegal drugs, with cars arriving and leaving throughout the night, disrupting local residents.

    The local community were fearful for their safety as the visitors were intimidating residents by shouting abuse at them. There was also discarded needles and litter in the area, believed to be connected to the illegal drug taking. PC Leanne Pole said: “Reports of this nature are taken very seriously by Gwent Police. In addition to criminal legislation, we can also use civil legislation to tackle this, as part of a two-pronged attack. By taking action of this kind we are demonstrating that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated. The anti-social behaviour closure order also allows us to shut the property down and restore peace to the neighbourhood.”

    As a result of this order, steel shutters will be installed at the premises and the property will remain boarded up for a minimum of one month. During this time anyone who attempts to enter this property, can be arrested by police. Sergeant Steve Drayton of Newport City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team added: “I am absolutely delighted that this order has been granted. Residents in Newport have the absolute right to live in a peaceful environment where they don’t fear for their safety."

    ROAD WORKS ON STOW HILL AND IN ROGERSTONE

    Jan 29 - Wales and West Utilities will be working in the Stow Hill area as part of a £15,000 investment in new gas pipes from next week. A temporary road closure will be place on Stow Hill at the junction of Victoria Place from 3 to 10 February. The company said the diversion route would be clearly signposted. Bus services 2A and 2C will be diverted. Update Feb 1 - road works postponed!

    “We appreciate that working on a busy road like this one may be inconvenient, but it really is essential to make sure homes and businesses in the area continue to receive a safe and reliable supply of gas now and in the future. We’d like to thank the local community for their understanding and support while we work as safely and as quickly as we can," said Frances Kirk, of Wales and West Utilities. As part of the development of the former Novelis/Alcan site at Rogerstone, work to widen the approaches to the Chartist Drive roundabout and improve traffic flows is planned for 14 weeks from Monday 1 February 2016.

    CITY LEADER PROMISES OUTSTANDING YEAR

    Jan 26 - Newport Council leader has promised an outstanding year for the city in 2016. “Over the last twelve months Newport has been continually in the news, and for all the right reasons. From the hosting of world leaders at the Nato Summit, to welcoming around 350,000 shoppers over the opening weekend of Friars Walk, Newport has had an exciting story to tell.

    “There is still work to be done, and we are not taking anything for granted, but we genuinely believe the city has turned a corner. Buildings such as Kings Hotel and the former Odeon cinema are springing back to life. Ambitious plans are in place for the former Sainsbury’s site and the banks of the River Usk continue to be filled with attractive modern housing. I would have to say that the outlook for this city on the rise in 2016 is outstanding.”

    The city is currently preparing for further letting announcements at Friars Walk, an extension of the scheme housing Admiral on Cambrian Road and more detailed plans coming forward for the Wales International Convention Centre to be built at the Celtic Manor Resort.

    RUGBY CLUB PROVIDES LESSON IN ART OF DIPLOMACY

    Jan 26 - Some ill considered comments by a Newport County director have been dealt with diplomatically by Rodney Parade and Newport Rugby Chief Executive Stuart Davies. Interim director John Bowkett had stated in Saturday's official programme that the club were not satisfied with their landlord and that the situation would improve when the City Council 'take over'. Bowkett issued a clarification to the Argus which basically stated the same thing. Stuart Davies responded by saying 'I will speak to Jon to understand and address some of his issues'. He went on to say that the prospect of the Council buying the site was 'nonsense' and 'its not really for County to be saying such things'. Bowkett said he had been speaking as a fan rather than in an official capacity.

    RECORD NUMBERS FOR CITY SUMMIT

    Jan 25 - Business leaders and owners in Newport are being invited to attend the Newport City Summit on Tuesday 2 February. Key speakers from some of Newport’s leading organisations will be attending this event, the third Newport City Summit, taking place at The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre. A lot has happened in the last 12 months; the opening of Friars Walk in November 2015 was a major milestone for the city and many other key developments are well under way.

    This year's summit will outline what's next for Newport to ensure that the city reaches its economic potential and supports Newport businesses. Key speakers who will be presenting include Amanda Davies, the group chief executive of the Seren Group; Will Godfrey, chief executive of Newport City Council who will be talking about the City Deal; Matthew Turner from Cardiff University’s National Software Academy; Lee Jones, manager of the Lloyds Bank Contact Centre in Newport and local entrepreneur Roger Hiscott.

    Will Godfrey, chief executive of Newport City Council, said: “It is very pleasing to see so many local businesses sign up to this year’s City Summit. More than 200 companies have already pledged their support and there is still a day left for anyone else who wants to register.This year’s summit will be examining what the future holds for Newport, building on the success of Friars Walk, and looking at ways we can work with and support Newport businesses.I would urge delegates to come and find out how we are staking our place in the proposed City Deal.” Head teachers from the city’s secondary schools will also be attending to see how the skills and education agenda is developing in the city. Attendance at the Newport City Summit is by prior registration only by Wednesday 27 January 2016.

    POLICE ASK FOR HELP TO CATCH THIEF

    Jan 25 - Police are seeking help to track down a potential thief who was wearing a distinctive hoody and was captured on CCTV at Nash Campus.

    "Do you recognise this person? We would like to speak to them in connection with a burglary that happened on 6th January 2016 at Coleg Gwent Nash Campus, in Newport. You may recognise the hoody as it has distinctive '1974' branding on the front?

    If you have any information, or recognise this person, please call us on 101, quoting log number 63 06/01/16."

    CELTIC MANOR BUYS HILTON

    Jan 23 - Newport's Hilton hotel has been bought by nearby rival Celtic Manor Resort. The 148-room Hilton will continue to be run as a hotel under a new name which has not yet been confirmed. The exchange of contracts is set to be completed on 31 March.

    Celtic Manor Resort chief executive Ian Edwards said: "We are extremely pleased to be exchanging contracts to acquire Hilton Newport and look forward to working with the experienced team. Occupancy at the Celtic Manor Resort is currently running at 90 per cent and there are many nights when we could easily exceed our capacity of 400 bedrooms. The additional bedrooms at the newly-acquired hotel will help address our need for more accommodation across all our markets – conference and business, golf and leisure."

    MORE STORES FOR FRIARS

    Jan 23 - Stuart Harris from Queensberry has tweeted that there will '5 new openings at Friars Walk over the next two months, watch this space or @friarswalk for news.' Stores already lined up include Holland and Barrett, Vodafone, Skechers and New Look for Men.

    Newport police are working with Positive Futures to discourage anti social behaviour from young people in the city centre this weekend, including near Friars Walk.

    In Dock Street EJ Hales states that Units 10 and 11 of the lettings they have advertised previously occupied by the Rugby Store and Bettys Cafe are under offer, conveniently located opposite the entrance too Debenhams. HMV are expected to occupy Unit 1, the former Poundstretcher store. Specsavers has now opened, completing lettings in Austin Friars including the Entertainer and Burger King. 

    HAYWARDS CONFIRMS HIGH STREET SALE

    Jan 21 - Richard Hayward Properties has confirmed the sale of former Lineker’s bar on the High Street in Newport to Amber Taverns Ltd. An attractive period property in the heart of the rapidly regenerating Newport city centre, the property provides a ground floor unit of 3,455 sq ft with frontages to High Street and Cambrian Road. It also includes three upper floors and a basement. The company plans to refurbish the high profile building to a high standard as Hogarths Gin Palace. It will then be operated with Amber’s signature mix of a wide drinks selection and audio-visual package that will include major sports events programmes.

    Amber Taverns Ltd has 130 managed public houses in its portfolio, which stretches across Wales as well as the North West, North East and Midlands of England. They are currently actively looking for more sites throughout South Wales. Principal of RHP, Richard Hayward, said: “This is a great location for a company like Amber Taverns and the new bar will add to Newport’s leisure offer.” EJ Hales acted for RHP.

    NAT COULD RUN HIGH STREET BUSES

    Jan 20 - Bus company New Adventure Travel (NAT) says it would be happy for its buses to stop off at Newport High Street – as long as current services are not delayed, the Argus has revealed.  Newport Transport buses stopped servicing High Street last month, following an increase in traffic and parked cars, and started running straight through to the new Newport Central Bus Station at Friars Walk. NAT state parking restriction notices will take two months to take effect.

    JOB LOSSES AT LLANWERN

    Jan 18 - An unspecified number of jobs at Llanwern Steelworks will be lost following today’s dramatic slimdown announcement by Tata Steel regarding steel production, particularly at Port Talbot Steelworks. The job losses at Llanwern are eventually expected to be in the region of 100.

    This is the latest in a long line of job losses at Llanwern following the ending of steel production there in 2001 with the loss of 1300 jobs. The heavy end of the steelworks was demolished following mothballing in 2004. In January 2009, Corus announced that it was mothballing the hot strip mill, with the loss of over 500 jobs. In August 2009 Corus announced that the hot strip mill would resume operations. Subsequent problems caused by the eurozone crisis forced the company to once again mothball the Hot Strip Mill commencing 24 November 2011 with plans to re-open during late 2012. Last August a further 250 jobs were lost there.

    POLICE RENEW APPEAL REGARDING PENHOW OPEN AIR BIRTH

    Jan 18 - Three months have now passed since an incident where a female is believed to have given birth without any medical assistance or supervision in the open air in the Parc Seymour, Penhow area. It is believed to have taken place sometime between Sunday October 18th and Monday October 19th 2015.

    Despite wide media coverage and appeals, to date, no one has come forward with any information to help identify the female involved. Additional lines of enquiry have also been pursued, including forensic analysis of the birth material and tracing and speaking to a number of pregnant females in the area whose expected delivery dates coincided with the estimated age of the baby born. Unfortunately so far these have been unsuccessful.

    Senior Police Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Ruth Price said: "It is very sad to have to accept that we are now working on the basis that the baby, believed to have been a little girl, didn't survive and that for whatever reason, her mother and anyone else who knows anything about her pregnancy or birth have not sought any help. We have consulted with a profiling expert from the College of Policing who has given us some really useful pointers for trying to identify the mother. Indications are that the mother is more than likely to be young, and afraid of what her parents may think of a pregnancy. We also believe that she is a local person, would not have had to travel far and knew the Penhow area. Someone who knows her may have noticed a change in her behaviour leading up to the day it happened or afterwards. She may have avoided activities where her pregnancy would have been visible, for example PE at school, her relationships with friends may have changed and generally she would have been under enormous pressure. If this girl was attending school, teachers may have picked up on any of these behaviours. I would like to appeal to them as a group to think about any of their pupils who may fit into some or all of the categories I've mentioned."

    "A separate line of enquiry is linked to the full DNA profile of the mother and the partial DNA profile of the baby which have been obtained and police are hopeful that given time, this will lead to the identification of a girl or young woman who might still be under pressure to keep the birth a secret or who would still benefit from some emotional support or counselling."

    Anyone with any information is asked to contact Gwent Police on 101 quoting log 126 19/10/15 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

    MAN CHARGED OVER MURDER OF NEWPORT WOMAN

    Jan 14 - A man has been charged with murder after a woman was found dead in Usk. The woman, who has been named as 25-year-old Georgina Symmonds, was found dead on Wednesday morning. A 53-year-old man from the Abergavenny area has been charged with murder, and will appear at Newport magistrates court tomorrow morning.

    Gwent police said a cause of death had yet to be established. DCI Roger Forey said: “This is a tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family of the deceased. Our investigation will establish exactly what happened and additional patrols will be taking place in the coming days to provide local residents with confidence and reassurance.” Tributes were paid to Symmonds from Allt-yr-Yn in Newport who had a five year old daughter. The family of the deceased are being supported by Family Liaison Officers. Deborah Symonds, mother of the deceased, has paid the following tribute: "I have lost a beautiful daughter, she was the light of my life. The family are heartbroken and she will be greatly missed."

    CRITICISM OVER COUNCIL PLAN TO BUILD UP RESERVES AND CUT SERVICES

    Jan 14 - Conservative councillor David Fouweather has accused the Council of trying to squirrel away money rather than subsidise essential services after it emerged they plan to increase their reserves by £3.9 million to £8.9 million in a single year. The Council is consulting the public on potential budget cuts based upon a slightly reduced grant settlement from the Welsh Government. The cuts include the closure of an adult placement centre, reduction in street cleansing services and Sunday buses and removal of social worker posts. The City Council also plans to increase its Council Tax by over 4 per cent, at a time when inflation is zero. The Council state some of the reserves could be used to stave off the effects of potential cuts.

    TEENAGERS CHARGED OVER MAINDEE ASSAULT

    Jan 14 - Police received reports reports of a serious assault involving a vehicle, at Manchester Street in Newport in the early hours of 12 January. A 40 year old male pedestrian, from the Newport area, has been treated in hospital for his injuries, which are not considered to be life changing. As a result of police enquiries, an 18 year old man, from Newport, has appeared in court charged with Section 18 assault (grievous bodily harm), dangerous driving, possession of an imitation firearm and attempted robbery. He has been remanded in custody of the prison service.  A 16 year old female has also appeared in court charged with possession of an imitation firearm and attempted robbery. She is currently on bail. If anyone witnessed this incident or has any information relating to this, please call police on 101, quoting log number 8 12/1/16.

    CITY CENTRE PARKING BLITZ

    Jan 14 - Police in Newport have issued 37 parking tickets for illegal parking in the city centre today, according to their Twitter account, following calls from residents highlighting the issue.

    MP HIGHLIGHTS INCREASING RAIL FARES

    Jan 13 - Labour MP for Newport East Jess Morden has strongly criticised hikes in rail fares in Newport since 2010. She states a season ticket to London has increased by over £2,000 and a fare to Bristol by over £500 in the period with no improvement in services or facilities. Her analysis shows most commuting routes out of Newport have seen increases in the region of 25 per cent. In addition, the Welsh Government has also failed to deliver on promises with respect to the Ebbw Valley rail link to Newport during the same period.

    ADMIRAL IN RECRUITMENT DRIVE

    Jan 12 - Insurance company Admiral is undertaking a new year recruitment drive, seeking to fill 166 new posts - 73 in Swansea, 65 in Cardiff and 28 in Newport.

    OLYMPIA HOUSE FULLY LET FOR RETAIL

    Jan 11 - Richard Hayward Properties has announced all retail lettings (13 in all) at Olympia House have been signed and sealed as the development progresses. The Sports Direct store in the former Marks and Spencer store also now houses a gym with a designer store Flannels set to take up residence there too. The upper floors of Olympia House are set to be redeveloped in to 62 luxury apartments. RHP have also purchased 14-20 Stow Hill in a £650,000 deal. The property currently houses an Argos store (lease expiring in 2020). The basement will be converted into a pool and snooker club by Break 'n' Dish Limited, who have taken it on an initial two year lease.

     

    RENEWABLE ENERGY PARK PLAN FOR NEWPORT SITE

    Jan 10 - Mir Steel is proposing a new development as part of the steelworks site on the banks of the Usk in the south east of Newport. The Proposed Developments are part of Simec’s plan to create a Renewable Energy Park to support the steel works, promote energy security and to create jobs in the Newport area. This is in addition to potential industrial and educational developments. Simec believe that multiplier effects from these energy developments could lead to the creation of in excess of 500 direct long-term jobs in the area, a significant number of new apprenticeship programmes and substantial indirect employment opportunities. The company are seeking a screening opinion from the Council for the development of the 2 hectare site that would begin at the end of Summer.

    FORMER WALLIS STORE SET TO BECOME NOODLE BAR

    Jan 10 - The former Wallis store on Commercial Street is set to become an 'upmarket noodle bar' according to plans submitted to the City Council. The store has been empty for a number of years and the development signals a change in use that will probably affect a number of empty Commercial Street properties. The designer chain Flannels will open in the Sports Direct store on Commercial Street in Newport.

    ROGERSTONE MAN, 70, GETS BEHAVIOUR ORDER 

    Jan 8 - A 70-year-old man from Newport has been issued with a five-year Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) for wasting police time. Gerald Haines, of Rogerstone was given the CBO for false claims he made that stones and eggs were being thrown into his garden by neighbours at his address. Several months’ work by police officers found Haines’ claims to be malicious and a full day’s trial led to his successful conviction. Haines had already received an ASBO, which expired in 2014, for causing harassment and distress to at least 10 separate victims and/or their families over a period of six years. During this time, he harassed and caused significant distress to these people, some of whom moved from their homes for respite, or sought medical help due to the stress. The CBO states that Haines cannot: 

    1. Engage in conduct which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to any resident of Court Gardens, Rogerstone, or incite or encourage any other person to do so.

    2. Throw any item or liquid onto any property belonging to any resident at Court Gardens, Rogerstone.

    3. Make calls to the emergency services unless for genuine reasons.

    If the CBO is breached in any way, then a custodial sentence of up to five years can be imposed by the Court.

    PC Paula Spence, Crime and Disorder Reduction Officer for Newport, said: “This CBO is a significant result for this offence. The Magistrates were appalled by Haines’ behaviour, and the CBO is reflective of this.” The CBO is in place until midnight 21st December 2019. If any member of the public witnesses a breach to this CBO, then please report this to Gwent Police by calling 101.

    MORE RETAILERS HEADING FOR NEWPORT

    Jan 4 - Friars Walk and Newport are set to be boosted by further retail openings into the first part of 2016. New Look for Men will be opening in the main Friars Walk mall between Mothercare and JD Sports. Designer store Flannel is also set to open in Newport and is currently advertising for managers and new staff. The location of the latter is not known but it would make sense for it to join the city centre offer. Flannel is also opening in Swindon and Plymouth.

    Work has now started on a major new Bowling and Family Entertainment development which will open its doors to the public in March .The new facility, to be known as Superbowl UK Newport, will provide state-of-the-art Ten-Pin bowling lanes, a Crazy Club soft play centre and a Laser Quest arena along with an Amusement Arcade, Retro Diner and Boutique Bar.and new stores, Skechers, Holland and Barrett and Vodafone all open in the near future as do Kingsway based Starbucks and Euro Exchange. Wagamama opens next Monday and will be closely followed by Zizzi.

     BURGLAR CAUGHT AND CHARGED

    Jan 4 - A 25 year old man from Newport has been charged with seven burglaries, an attempted burglary, taking a vehicle without consent and possession with intent to supply cannabis. These offences took place in the Maindee area of Newport between 15th December and Boxing Day.

    GROUND BREAKING AT CONVENTION CENTRE SET FOR THIS MONTH

    Jan 1 - John Sisk has landed a the contract valued at £100m by Glenigan to build the Convention Centre at Celtic Manor Resort. The 300,000 sq ft project at Celtic Manor will add to existing conference buildings, creating more than 200 jobs during the three-year construction phase. Newport-based Lewis & Lewis is acting as project and cost manager of the development.

    Celtic Manor Resort vice-president of facilities and development Russell Phillips said: “We will now be able to start some clearance work with a view to breaking ground on the new international convention centre in January 2016.”