As we cautiously start to come out of lockdown, we are delighted to hear about all the plans and actions that you have been getting on with despite the severe constraints.
The most obvious change has been to our town centre – remodelled to allow for distancing and based on the submissions you made to the County Council on active travel to encourage walking and cycling. Unfortunately this has coincided with the planets aligning after 13 years of planning and consultation to redesign our town centre so that the car is not king. Hopefully the disruption, aided and abetted by Welsh Water, won’t last long and in the meantime will encourage more people to walk and cycle. To this end we have two new bike shops – Launch Bikes in Beaufort Arms Court and Honeysuckle Wood Bicycles at The Griffin in Whitecross Street. There is also Kenny’s Bike Shack in Wyesham – so all of a sudden we have the facilities in Monmouth for bike sales (including the Cycle to Work Scheme), repairs, maintenance, bike hire, family friendly biking and kids’ clubs – yay! To help you on your way, Bike Friendly Monmouth will be holding a Dr Bike workshop just as soon as they are able.
More good active travel news: We heard last week that the proposed new bridge over the River Wye for pedestrians and cyclists has passed NRW requirements – and that’s after the unprecedented floods we had in February. The Town Council awaits official confirmation before moving on to the next stage.
Throughout the pandemic our amazing Food Sense volunteers have collected surplus food from the supermarkets every morning and evening and distributed to over 100 households each week. We are also grateful to Old Lands for supplying their surplus vegetables and would welcome any glut of fruit or veg that you may have from your garden or allotment. And, hopefully, the Community Pantry is on its way! There is still compliance stuff to be sorted but we have the keys, the premises at Bridges are being refurbished, equipment is on order. With storage and fridge/freezer capacity we will be able to handle perishable items, reduce food waste even more, and provide more food in this time of need.
And as play areas start to reopen next week, there is the news that Planning Consent has been granted by the Welsh Government for relocation of the children’s play area on Chippenham Mead – yes – all those letters of support worked! Now for some lovely plans for the new play area, complete with a water fountain – play is thirsty work!
Also your ideas please for the Circular Economy Fund! To aid the post-Covid response and green recovery in Wales, the Welsh Government will support actions to make the circular economy a reality in Wales by keeping materials in circulation for as long as possible and avoiding waste. A circular economy is an important part of a green recovery, tackling the climate emergency and improving resilience. This not only benefits the environment but will enable Wales to take advantage of economic opportunities by shortening supply chains and making the most of recycled materials. How about a town centre venue with a Repair Café, Men’s Shed, Library of Things, Art Venue, what else? – great for the community, and great for the high street too. The fund is also open to businesses. Read all about it at https://gov.wales/65m-circular-economy-funding-support-green-recovery. The application form is at https://gov.wales/circular-economy-capital-fund-application-form – but hurry – the closing date is 27 July.
We have no dates for your diaries yet but from 20 to 23 July you can participate in a virtual festival of Farming, Food and Nature – ideas and discussions on farming and land management, sustainable food systems, restoring wildlife and working together for a greener future for Wales – https://greenrecovery.wales/. We are doing our bit – currently much absorbed in developing a wildflower meadow by the Leisure Centre, and have much in the pipeline on developing land for sustainability, resilience, biodiversity and flood prevention utilising the principles of permaculture and agroforestry – all much in the spirit and letter of our wonderful Well Being of Future Generations Act. Oh, and – we hope you like the new sustainable, pollinator friendly planting round the catalpa tree in St James’ Square? – comments, please!
While the pandemic has seen a disastrous increase in single use plastic, we have some good news too. Wye Weight are opening their plastic free shop later this month but you can already shop on line at https://www.wyeweight.co.uk/.
And one last thing – work by a Parliamentary Group has started on the Green New Deal. Your input is valuable – participate at https://reset-uk.org/.
We hope the summer brings you some of the things you have missed these past few months – family, friends and some of your favourite activities. As a reminder of what we need to aim for you might like to read A manifesto for the Coronacene by Herbert Girardet, our local sustainability hero – https://theecologist.org/2020/may/21/manifesto-coronacene