A bit of an ACE update

Dear ACE Monmouth Supporters

We hope you are all safe and well, and in recent weeks have been able to extend your social experiences a little, or even managed to get away for a holiday!

For the foreseeable future we do not envisage holding meetings of all of the ACE Monmouth membership – enjoyable and informative as they are, but instead leave the various projects to continue, as best they can, with their activities and reporting in via the various Facebook pages – ACE Monmouth, Repair Café Monmouth, Bike-Friendly Monmouth and Our Green Spaces Monmouth.  We will continue to write occasional newsletters to summarise what the various groups have been up to ….

Bike-Friendly Monmouth:  Jen Bara and Rachel Jupp write:  We are excited to confirm Monmouth’s first Dr Bike Clinic!  Doctor Bike is a mobile mechanic service operated by Cycle Training Wales – www.cycletrainingwales.org.uk/services/doctor-bike/.  Bring your bike for a thorough health check by qualified mechanics who will carry out necessary repairs.  The event will be held on Sunday 27 September in the smaller Cattle Market car park by Monnow Bridge.  We will be warmly encouraging everyone to come along and get their bikes checked for roadworthiness.  We will be inviting affiliated local businesses to set up stalls and the police to register bikes (to make them identifiable if pinched).  We have warmly welcomed the owners of our two new cycle shops – Honeysuckle Wood Bicycles + Retro Homeware and Launch Bikes.  We would encourage everyone to support them as their businesses get going.

Bike-Friendly Monmouth has been working closely with Monmouthshire County Council and Sustrans regarding forthcoming Town Alterations.  We have emphasised the need for bike-friendly infrastructure to promote active travel for both leisure and commuting purposes.  Monmouth Cycling Club was constituted shortly before social distancing measures were brought in.  The club has over 70 members and we are currently recruiting committee positions – please contact us on the Facebook page if you are interested!  We are awaiting updated guidelines from Welsh cycling and hope to re-commence group rides and skills sessions soon.

Climate Futures Festival:  This has been particularly badly hit by Covid-19 – how can you plan participatory events in such an uncertain future?  Only a couple of months ago the River Festival was going ahead in September, and we had our participation planned – but there will now only be a virtual River Festival and our plans have led to nothing.  Nevertheless, the group continues to meet regularly via ZoomWork continues on the green directory of local eco based businesses including information on water filling points, charging points and where to recycle what.  And yes, a Festival is planned for the week of 17 to 23 May, with a Fashion Fest day on Saturday 22 May.  If you would like to be involved or if you have input or ideas for content please contact Laura McCartney – lauramarymac@hotmail.co.uk

Green Spaces:  Clare Catto and Charles Emes write:  We had a very productive Zoom meeting on 29 July and identified areas for action over the next few months.  It would be great to hear from anyone who would like to get involved in any of these projects – the idea is to form up a few GS sub-teams to take the various ideas forward, depending on who is interested and what they are interested in doing.  Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know very much about how to do this – we are all learning and if we don’t know we have lots of people we can ask!

Project ideas (we can let you have the meeting write-up for more detail):-

Biodiversity surveys in areas around town which have been left for wild flowers this year, in support of Nature Isn’t Neat (easy and quick 10 minute surveys).  Let us know if you would like to be involved and we will send you the training info.  It is really important to provide MCC with data which helps them to prove the benefits for wildlife of changing mowing regimes on Council land.

Planting locations – we have identified 12 areas around town which we could enhance for wildlife by planting trees / native hedgerows / allowing wildflower meadows to develop.  We discussed some during the meetings and some were raised by Emily and Vivien after – It would be great to have help working out what might be possible / engaging with MCC / going on site visits / creating planting plans etc etc!

Litter Picking – let us know if you would be interested in joining a GS litter picking group which would co-ordinate activities with existing litter picking groups.

Campaigning for reduction in herbicide use (glyphosate) – it seems like a good time to pursue this as MCC are currently reviewing their use of glyphosate and looking at alternatives.  We would take advice from other areas and Pesticide Action Network to come up with a plan of action and advocate for a reduction in these harmful chemicals.

Mapping out our Wildlife Corridors – Bug Life have created a map of B-Lines across the country – we want to take this local by extending the lines across town, linking up green spaces and using this strong visual image to encourage gardeners to get involved by developing their own gardens for wildlife.  Ideal project for anyone who loves maps and wildlife!

Repair Café Monmouth:   We are planning to hold a Repair Café event at Rockfield Community Hall in September.  There is much to arrange and agree on before then;  for example we might be open to receive items but the repairs might be done off site for collection or delivery at a later date.  We are hopeful!  In the meantime, on an unofficial basis, Gerry Ashton has been taking in repairs and rescued a few vacuum cleaners, lights and other items from the tip.

Our Food Monmouth:  The County Council has hosted on-line meetings with a view to setting up a county wide scheme.  However, there has been little progress and Cherry Taylor recommends that we establish this project just for Monmouth.  She is looking to bring together a small team of volunteers with a passion for local food / sustainable food production to drive this forward.  Please let us know if you can spare some time to help build up a list of local food producers. 

Based on the experience elsewhere, we are looking at using the Our Food Crickhowell website as it would provide an easy and cost effective way forward.  We are looking for funding, and once the holiday and growing season are over we hope to get this project off the ground.

So yes – it’s difficult, but not impossible, and we are finding ways to proceed.  If you would like further information on any of the projects or would like to participate in any, or have an idea for a new project, please let us know!

Thank you all for your support and hard work, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Claudia Blair