NEWS PORT NEWS IN BRIEF

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CONSERVATIVE LEADER CALLS FOR URGENCY ON M4 RELIEF ROAD

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

TOURISM BOOST FOR CITY ECONOMY BUT STILL NOT ENOUGH HOTELS

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

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

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

DISPERSAL ORDER FOR ALWAY

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

PLANNING GRANTED TO TIM HORTON STORE

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

NEWPORT LEADING THE WAY WITH NEW HOMES

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

CHURCHES OPEN DOORS TO HOMELESS

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

1300 EMPTY PROPERTIES IN NEWPORT

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

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

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

COMMERCIAL STREET DEVELOPMENT MOVES AHEAD

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

CRAFTED SET FOR KINGSWAY RETURN

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

BOXING DAY BUS SERVICE FOR BIG MATCH

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

AM TAKES UP TRAFFIC ISSUE WITH WELSH GOVERNMENT

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

NEW CREMATORIUM OPENS IN LANGSTONE

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

HMRC PROVIDE LESSONS IN TAX FOR WELSH SCHOOLS

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

TRAIN WOES CONTINUE ON COMMUTER LINE

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

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

UNIVERSAL CREDIT GETS UNDER WAY IN NEWPORT

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

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

TWO SITES IDENTIFIED FOR HEATHROW HUB PLAN

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

FINAL GREEN WASTE COLLECTIONS ON DECEMBER 1

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

INDOOR FOOTBALL CENTRE PLAN

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

NEW RESTAURANT OPENS

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

NEWPORT CITY HOMES IN MAJOR LAND PURCHASE

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

AUCTION HOUSE CHANGES HANDS

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

SEVERE OVERCROWDING REPORTED ON NEWPORT-BRISTOL TRAINS

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

Some of the comments on Twitter are listed below -

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

COUNCIL PROPOSES HERITAGE DISCOVERY CENTRE

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

DISPERSAL ORDER FOR CITY CENTRE

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

TRANSPORTER BRIDGE FUNDING BID

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

COUNCIL TO CONSULT ON CITY CENTRE DEVELOPMENT

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

TWITTER ACCOUNT HIGHLIGHTS SUBWAY ISSUE

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

ARRESTS AT THE COLDRA ROUNDABOUT

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

MORDEN SUPPORTS CHARTIST COMMEMORATION

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

MAN APPEARS IN COURT ON ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGE

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

MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR MARKET ARCADE

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

NEWPORT TEENAGER DIES IN BRISTOL CLUB

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

ARREST MADE AFTER LASER SHONE AT HELICOPTER

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

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

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

UK LEADER HEADING TO NEWPORT

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

FREE CITY PARK AND RIDE IS BACK

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

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

CITY CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN STARTS ON NOV 18

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

TRAVELODGE EXPRESS CITY REGEN INTEREST

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

CITY REMEMBRANCE SERVICE ANNOUNCED

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

FOOTBALL CENTRE PLAN LODGED

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

COUNCIL SAYS IT IS SERIOUS ABOUT TACKLING CITY HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

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

COUNCIL PUSHES SCHOOL ATTENDANCE MESSAGE

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

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

Good attendance means that pupils have the best chance to:

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

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

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

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

PROPOSAL FOR SECOND CELTIC MANOR ROAD BRIDGE

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

QUEEN'S HOTEL UNDER OFFER

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

THE QUEEN'S HOTEL IN FOCUS

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

COPPER THIEVES ARE SENT DOWN

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

ALBANY CHAMBERS CONVERSION SET TO GO AHEAD

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

POPPY APPEAL LAUNCHED IN CITY CENTRE

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

TROLLEYWISE TO WORK WITH COUNCIL

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

TWO CONTROVERSIAL BEECHWOOD DEVELOPMENTS GO BEFORE PLANNERS

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

CONCERNS EXPRESSED AT UNIVERSAL CREDIT CHRISTMAS IMPACT

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

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

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

TORY FOI REVEALS POOR RECORD ON MISSED BIN COLLECTIONS

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

SUPPORTERS AND RESIDENTS COMPLAIN ABOUT POOR ROADS NEAR RODNEY PARADE

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

NEW CALL CENTRE HOPES TO CREATE 300 JOBS

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

SCHOOL COUNSELLING SERVICE LAUNCHED

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

NURSE JAILED FOR THEFT OF PATIENTS' BANK CARDS

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

CLAMPDOWN ON ILLEGAL BIKES

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

HMS SEVERN GRANTED CITY FREEDOM

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

DRUG SUPPLIER BEHIND BARS

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

COUNCIL LEADER EXPRESSES FRUSTRATION AT FINANCE DEAL

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

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

CITY FIRM JOINS CYBER SECURITY PROGRAMME

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

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

GLEBELANDS WORK SET TO START

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

COUNCIL TRIES TO FEND OFF BIN COLLECTION SPECULATION

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

HUGE BOOST FOR NEWPORT AS THEY HOST WALES MARATHON

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

NEW STORE SET FOR COMMERCIAL STREET

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

£50 MILLION FOR LLANWERN RAILWAY STATION

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

USW COMMITS TO REINVESTING CAERLEON FUNDS IN CITY CAMPUS SITE

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

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