Your opportunity to meet your candidates for the Senedd election on 6 May

This is likely to be the only opportunity you have to meet your candidates, ask them questions, and hear what they have to say.  The candidates are (in alphabetical order):

Ian Chandler – Green Party
Peter Fox – Conservative
Hugh Kocan – Plaid Cymru
Catrin Maby – Labour
Nicholas Ramsay – Independent
Jo Watkins – Lib Dem

The Hustings will be facilitated by Haydn Cullen-Jones, and he wants the questions that you want answers to.  Please email them to haydncj@hotmail.com by noon on Tuesday 27 April. 

Each candidate will make a brief opening statement.  Haydn will then work through the questions, rotating the opening speaker, finishing each question by returning to the questioner if present and then opening discussion to the floor.

We look forward to seeing you for what promises to be a lively and interesting discussion.  Here are the details for this Zoom event:-

Climate Future Hustings

WhenTue Apr 27, 2021 7:30pm – 9pm United Kingdom Time
Wherehttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/82288273735?pwd=TitoRkdmZE04SEZoZmloUVFUL3BKZz09 (map)
Joining infoJoin with Google Meet
meet.google.com/rjv-cjws-uwf

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82288273735?pwd=TitoRkdmZE04SEZoZmloUVFUL3BKZz09

Meeting ID: 822 8827 3735
Passcode: 380407

Getting there

Dear Transitioners

We’re getting there!  After a long cold winter of lockdown, it looks like we will be able to meet again next month but in the meantime we have a couple of Zoom events.

Join us at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 13 April for a Members’ Meeting.  The idea is to have a bit of a catch up and get the latest on the Library of Things, Green Grow and Green Spaces, our participation in the Climate Future Festival, Plastic Free Monmouth and anything else you want to talk about.  If you are new to Zoom, about 15 minutes before the start of the meeting, try clicking on the link below and if you have a problem ring me on 01600 715065.  Details are:-

WhenTue Apr 13, 2021 7:30pm – 9pm United Kingdom Time
Wherehttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/89073164595?pwd=cTB1RFA3QlVmeEU3Q0hNSCtYYjJ3Zz09 (map)
Joining infoJoin with Google Meet
meet.google.com/snf-cdbc-xfj

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89073164595?pwd=cTB1RFA3QlVmeEU3Q0hNSCtYYjJ3Zz09

Meeting ID: 890 7316 4595
Passcode: 949107

Then on Tuesday 27 April we will hold our Climate Future Hustings for the Senedd election on 6 May.  At present the candidates are (in alphabetical order) Ian Chandler (Green Party), Peter Fox (Conservative), Hugh Kocan (Plaid Cymru), Nicholas Ramsay (Independent) and Jo Watkins (Lib Dem).  All have been invited and we hope they will all be able to attend.  Start thinking about the questions you would like to ask and send them to haydncj@hotmail.com in advance of the Hustings.  We will send out further details nearer the time.

And your views, please, on a couple of things:-

Viridor is preparing a bid to Monmouthshire County Council for a contract to operate the recycling centres across the county.  They would like to focus their attention on how they can support the local community and obtain a better understanding of the voluntary sector organisations and how they can be supported.  For example DIY Clubs that could repurpose wood, craft clubs that could use unwanted textiles etc.  We have asked for a Recycle Shop at Mitchel Troy, or preferably at a centre town location.  Please email Grant Cummings with your requests/needs – GCummings@viridor.co.uk

You might also like to express your views to the Welsh Government on their Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging consultation.  We all do our best to re-use, recycle, buy ethically, reduce waste etc but could the producers please help us on our way?  There is so much unnecessary packaging, much of it un-recyclable – so much waste, so much pollution, so much damage to wildlife.  Please respond to the Welsh Government at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/extended-producer-responsibility/extended-producer-responsibility-for-packaging/ – and you might like to also respond to their associated consultation on a Deposit Return Schemehttps://consult.defra.gov.uk/environment/consultation-on-introducing-a-drs/

More soon.  The sunshine and garden beckon before winter strikes again next week!

Vivien Mitchell

Happenings….

As we await the easing of lockdown restrictions we thought we would cheer you with some of the things that are happening behind closed doors, and occasionally outdoors too….

We have nest boxes! – 10 of them – currently being installed at various locations in and around Monmouth.  This is part of a new Who Lives With Us project with ACE Green Spaces, and generously funded by the Local Nature Partnership.  The idea is to use cameras to reveal the wildlife that lives in our gardens and green spaces, to engage with the public and schools on this through social media, and create a montage or film to present at the Climate Future Festival– a bit like a mini-Spring Watch!  So yes, we also have three cameras with which to record those who live with us. 

Once we were allowed to exercise outdoors in pairs we have been planting hedges, prepping our No Dig beds, and clearing the winter debris at various locations – plenty more to do so, if you would like to blow away the cobwebs and give a bit of help with our various projects, please let me know – vivienmitchell@yahoo.co.uk.  If you don’t know about the No Dig method of gardening read about Charles Dowding, read his books, watch him on YouTube and look at the Facebook page No Dig Gardening – Undug.  Apart from saving you the back breaking task of digging, it restores soil health and yields really good results – highly recommended!

If you live in the Rockfield/Overmonnow area there is a consultation out on the enhancement of your green spaces for community growing opportunities, children’s play, leisure and, of course, for wildlife – see https://www.monnaturespaces.co.uk/ for further information and a form for you to complete with your views and ideas for your area.  You can also email naturespaces@pegasusgroup.co.uk if you wish to comment or become involved.

Now for something a little different.  The County Council has secured a grant to support the Welsh Government’s aim to move to a circular economy in which waste is avoided and items remain viable for as long as possible – all good stuff to combat / manage climate change.  This fits in well with our Community Fridge and Repair Café, and will now also include a Library of Things from which you will be able to borrow that item that you only need to use once – no point in buying a cheap one that doesn’t really do the job and then clutters up your garage forever – borrow a gazebo for your party or that drill to put up a shelf or that bit of baby kit that gets outgrown in a couple of months.  If there are any particular items you would like the Library to stock, please let us know.  Lockdown restrictions will largely determine when we can be up and operating, but – we will let you know as we will need your help in the day-to-day running of the project.

Plans continue for the Climate Future Festival.  Please join in these meetings at 7.30pm on 17 and 20 March – links below, password ACE – or contact Laura.acemonmouth@outlook.com and she will send you further details.

Catch up 17th March – 945 8452 7590
Holistic Performance March Saturday 20th (Equinox) – 922 8056 9152

We will have a meeting in April – outdoors if restrictions allow, on Zoom if not.  We will let you know, and we will much look forward to seeing you all!

Vivien Mitchell

Transition Monmouth Chair’s Report – November 2020

First and foremost, all the activities and achievements made in the name of Transition Monmouth (TM) described below are down to the energy and determination of the members and volunteers of the Transition family and wider community. It has been a pleasure to hold the Chair this year, watching members from all sections of society come together and ‘doing Transition’ in the ethos of building resilient and sustainable communities to combat climate change.

The world has changed in ways that were unimaginable at our last AGM. Unprecedented rainfall led to severe flooding back in February, with inhabitants along the Wye and other rivers evacuated and roads impassable for days. To date, some are yet to return home.

Just as the waters receded we began to learn of a new virus, identified in a faraway land but impossible to isolate in a world of international travel. As the waves of restrictions, lock-downs and fire-breaks have taken effect, we have had to modify or cancel our on-going events and projects accordingly. We have become familiar with the importance of social distancing, mask wearing and washing hands to the benefit of all our safeties. The on-going social impacts should not be underestimated: isolation, access to essential services, employment loss and insecurity, even stress of home schooling. Despite all the challenges, there are also positive signs in the TM ethos. An increase of community spirit has formed around checking of friends and neighbours that are vulnerable or isolated. There has been a surge in interest of green spaces, as people have taken advantage of allowed ‘outdoor exercise’ time. Food rationing and scarcity in supermarkets has even caused some to question the industrialised food chains; certainly grow-your-own and foraging is on the up!

It is against this background that the progress on many of these projects and initiatives is all the more astounding. I have great pleasure in summarising the main focus of our efforts this year.

Green Emergency Hustings – ahead of the General Election in December, candidates for the parliamentary seat of Monmouthshire were gathered at Bridges to a packed room. The event was deftly chaired by Haydn Cullen-Jones, keeping responses fair and succinct, with candidates responding to questions submitted previously and from the floor. The atmosphere was always lively and sometimes passionate, this being about the only opportunity to directly question and compare our potential representatives on environmental and other matters.

Wassail – another staple of the TM calendar, this well-attended ceremony took place in the Community Orchard in January and allowed us to come together, appreciate nature and bless the trees for the New Year cycle. A warm welcome was offered by Butlers Karin and Ian Chandler, and local and regional Mari Lwyd were in attendance. Readings, singing, warm apple juice and apple cake were all enjoyed at the social gathering.

Plastic Free Monmouth – the group continue to keep the issue of single-use plastics in our minds and gain interest with their colourful presence at events and insightful leaflet. Mid-year, Dilly Boase stepped down for adventure abroad and I would like to thank her for driving this group so successfully in recent years. We welcome incoming Chair, Beccy MacDonald-Lofts, who has reached out to all TM members to build consensus on what the next focus should be.

Food Sense – an amazing team of dedicated volunteers and coordinators continue to work with local branches of supermarkets and the community to reduce both food waste and food poverty. Throughout the year, just-in-time daily deliveries were made of near use-by or surplus food and plants/flowers. Despite Covid restrictions, the team pushed forward and successfully took on a physical base for this project. The Monmouth Community Fridge opened at the Bridges Centre late September, and since served over 500 people and prevented over two tonnes of food waste. The Fridge is open seven days a week at varying times and is free to all, not only for nutritious food but social connections and a sense of community coming together. This extends online, where there is a lively Facebook following of over 800 people sharing recipes and ideas, all within the TM ethos. Further activities will take on growers’ gluts and raise awareness on important aspects of food ethics and Fair Share.

Behind all of this activity there is much administration and management to ensure smooth operation and I thank all the coordinators and volunteers for their hard work. I also look forward to their further ambitious plans for the Community Fridge in the future.

Green Spaces – this grouping of hands-on projects continues to grow and evolve. Planting schemes have been developed in conjunction with local experts to the benefit of pollinators and nature in general.

St James’ Square has been worked on throughout the year and particularly smartened up ahead of the Remembrance Day service. The degree of ‘wild’ planting hasn’t been universally accepted, leading to articles and letters in the Beacon, allowing conversations to be had around the benefits of this style over more formal/traditional garden layouts.

Collaboration with Monmouth Comprehensive School continues as Vivien Mitchell expands planting sympathetic schemes across the new build site. A wild flower meadow is in development beside the bike sheds, though the seed mix was heavy on Red Clover which had to be removed by hand after it dominated the area. Further planting nearer the entrance includes a good mix of fruit and vegetables for the education of pupils and benefit of nature. Further discussions are underway for composting facilities and a sensory garden on site.

In addition, the Pollinator Garden beside the bus stop continues to be maintained and potential sites for tree planting are being sought.

Chippenham Park Fountain – we were delighted to be part of this exciting project that aligns so well with our ethos. A drinking water fountain within the primary sports fields and thoroughfare location is much needed and will go a long way to reducing single use plastics and building a resilient community. The funding application work by Hywel Rees and Roger Finn (Monmouth Fountains Group) has paid off with success in both National Lottery and Rotary grants, with an expected installation in the spring. We look forward to joining with the Rugby and Football clubs, Friends of Chippenham Mead and other community groups to run a programme of engagement events around the fountain and eventually link with the new children’s playground to be located nearby.

Apple Pressings – another popular regular TM event I am pleased to see continue this year. Pressing events were held at both Wyesham St James Hall and Rockfield Community Centre, proving as popular as ever with the scratter and press running non-stop. Again this proved to be a lovely opportunity to see new and familiar faces and spread the TM ethos. Appropriate precautions were taken, particularly hygiene and social distancing, but this did not reduce the fun and excitement of bottling your own juice. The TM-owned equipment continues to be available for loan to community groups alongside training and several have taken it up this season.

Seed/Plant Share – the regular event was cancelled in spring (start of lockdown) but came back in Covid-adapted format this autumn, taking advantage of the covered outdoor public space in front of Monmouth Comprehensive School. Plants and seeds where swapped, preserves were on offer and Tools for Self-Reliance had a marvellous array of refurbished implements for the green-fingered. Plastic Free Monmouth had their attention-grabbing display and library of books for loan. It was also a great excuse to catch up with friends and meet new people after a lengthy period of isolation. This event stands out for its interesting conversations around planting and generous sharing of knowledge, including local experts Diana, Cherry and Helena.

Collaboration – we continue to work on environmental issues in partnership with Government bodies at all levels, schools, charities, business and local groups. Submissions are made to Government consultations and we have strong representation in County-level initiatives like the Climate Emergency Working Group and Climate Change Champions. We have seen a surge of enthusiasm and new activism since Monmouth Town Council declared a Climate Emergency and facilitated change in the community through Action on Climate Emergency (ACE Monmouth). With a shared ethos and much overlap in membership, we have contributed towards the major ACE projects; Bike-Friendly Monmouth, Green Spaces, Repair Cafe and Future Festival (since postponed). Out of the former have come early successes of the Dr Bike event and Monmouth Cycle Club, a family-friendly addition to our community. We have also contributed to Active Travel debates and planning improvements, including the Monnow Street layout changes.

In summary, it has been a year of successes across all fronts despite working through unprecedented times. A big thank you for all your efforts, resulting in a more resilient and sustainable community. I am heartened to see our growing ability to coordinate and manage larger projects as well as take care of the smaller details. We continue to attract new faces and pursue new ideas in the Transition ethos, so I’m confident the future is bright.

Lastly I would like to thank my fellow officers for all their time and contributions to another successful year for Transition Monmouth, despite the circumstances; Simon Durant (Deputy Chair), Vivien Mitchell (Administrator/Newsletter and Outgoing Treasurer) and Claudia Blair (Incoming Treasurer). They very much keep everything on track and are a joy to work alongside.

Bryan Miller
Chair – Transition Monmouth
November 2020

To a better. brighter and safer 2021….

Dear Transitioners

At the end of a year like no other we hope that you are all safe and well, but please remember if you need help of any kind, get in touch – you just need to ask.  This time last year we were planning our Wassail, orchard pruning, Share/Swap Shops and other events.  It’s sad that we are once again in severe lockdown – but in the meantime we have learned how to do things despite the restrictions, and the show goes on.

The most amazing achievement has been by our Food Sense group which continued to collect surplus food from the supermarkets and distribute to where it was well used, but in September they opened the Monmouth Community Fridge at Bridges – yay!  This requires a team of night shifters to collect, sort and store the food, a team of day shifters to open the Fridge to the public each day, and an admin team to organise all this – and their PR is fantastic – they now have over 1,000 followers on Facebook!

Christmas has been particularly challenging.  We had to reduce the number working at any one time to just one (unless they were from the same household) but also the quantities were staggering.  We estimate that over the Christmas period we have shifted, and put to good use, over three tons of food – endless crates of sprouts, potatoes and other veg, fruit, bread but also turkeys, mince pies, ready meals, and everything you can think of.  That’s over three tons of food that would have gone to waste in Monmouth!  How much food is being wasted in the rest of the country, let alone in the rest of the world?  The mind boggles – we go to the trouble to produce the food, harvest it, process it, package it, transport it, and then we throw it away!  Homo sapiens?

We have also been getting on with our Green Grow activities, working with the ACE Green Spaces Group, undertaking site visits with Nigel Leaworthy’s great team at the County Council on further tree planting, wildflower meadows and community gardens.  An on-going project has been with Monmouth Comprehensive School – fraught with difficulties in that we weren’t allowed on site until the contractors were signed off and then we weren’t allowed on site because we were in lockdown!  We now have access on inset days and have made an initial site visit.  But the good news is that the school has agreed, and the Governors have noted with delight, our proposal that “Transition Monmouth works with the school to develop the site in compliance with the Well Being of Future Generations Act for sustainability, resilience, biodiversity and flood prevention using the principles of permaculture and agroforestry”.

We have ideas which we hope to discuss with the school on 4 January but fear this will be postponed until the next inset day – 2 July!  But all is not lost.  We can now seriously get on with the open access area that consists of a community fruit / veg garden, an area of woodland planting where we already have snowdrops, primroses, foxgloves, a carpet of wild strawberries, bluebells, hellebores, ferns and plenty else, and a wildflower meadow in-the-making that goes all the way down to the bike sheds by the Leisure Centre.  Well, that’s better than the ‘lawn’ they were going to sow and then mow 14 times a year, isn’t it?  We have also arranged for all the green waste produced to be composted on site rather than have MCC transport it to Abergavenny for composting, for us to then buy it back for our use.

And then there’s the ACE Climate Future Festival which, we hope, will take place this year with a great range of events – something for absolutely everyone in Monmouth.  Planning is well on the way but we need a larger group to make it happen.  Please join the Zoom meeting (also the AGM) at 7.30pm on 10 January.  The link is on the ACE Monmouth Facebook page, or email Laura.acemonmouth@outlook.com and she will send it to you.

That’s it for now – apart from a couple of things below.  We will have another Members’ Meeting soon, but not in January.  The hellebores are in bud, the snowdrops are on their way, the days are getting longer, the light is getting brighter, vaccines may not solve the problem but they will surely make the world a safer place.  Here’s to all things better in 2021!

Vivien Mitchell

And to start you off with a little bit of light reading you could try:-

https://manifesto.wwf.org.uk/wales – Our challenge to the next Welsh Government is to respond to the opportunities that lay ahead by pledging to do the following:

  • Deliver a green and just economy by putting nature at the heart of every decision and creating a national jobs programme which is fit for the future
  • Reform the food system so it delivers for nature and people by embedding nature and climate friendly farming practices and protecting nature abroad by making us the first deforestation free nation
  • Put nature on the path to recovery by protecting our rivers, seas and land for current and future generations by dedicating 1% of all departmental budgets to restoring nature and combating climate change

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/31/amid-2020s-gloom-reasons-hopeful-climate-2021

And one last thing:  Do you regularly take The Guardian, and would you be willing to pass on old copies from time to time?  Please contact angelajwest@googlemail.com or phone her on 01600 716934