Back in harness….

Dear Transitioners

We will be holding our next meeting out in the open air so please bring something to sit on, something to drink, and wrap up in your winter woollies!  To ensure distancing, please confirm if you plan to attend by emailing

We look forward to seeing you next week!

Bryan Miller, Chair


Transition Monmouth Members’ Meeting at the front entrance of Monmouth Comprehensive School, The Burgage

Tuesday 15 September, 7pm to 8.30pm – followed by discussion/chat

Note taker

Introductions, welcome and catch up

Apologies for absence

1.    Notes of the last meeting and matters arising other than those on the agenda

2.    Events:-

  • Apple pressings:  Proposed dates:- 

Saturday 26 September at Wyesham Community Hall

Sunday 4 October at Rockfield Community Centre

  • Swap Shop:  Proposed date:  Saturday 24 October

3.    Food Sense and Community Pantry

4.    Water Fountain on Chippenham Mead

5.    Plastic Free Monmouth

6.    Green Spaces Developments

7.    Monmouth Rotary

8.    Any Other Business

9.    Date of Next Meeting

8.30pm – close of formal meeting – now it’s time to chat ……..

Long ago we had a meeting.  Here is a reminder of our hopes, plans and dreams six months ago …..

Notes of Transition Monmouth Meeting

Tuesday 10 March 2020, 7.30 pm at Ty Price (Robin Hood closed)

Present:  Bryan Miller (Chair), Simon Durrant (Note taker), Charles Boase, Mary Boase, Laura McCartney, Vivien Mitchell, Kelly Jackson-Graham, Charles Emes, Jon Prince, Dilly Boase, Emma Bryn, Claudia Blair, Paul Glinn

Apologies:  Clare Catto, Kate Rees

Post meeting notes are in red

Notes of last meeting and matters arising: 

Apple Pressing:  Bryan has written a risk assessment for the use of our apple pressing equipment to outside groups.  Emma has offered to review it

Orchard Management Plan:  Bryan has delivered plans of the orchard area to Helena Ronicle.  Helena’s vision is to split the area into three zones and rotate grass cutting so that only one zone is cut each year.  This gives safe zones for wildlife to escape to during cutting, and it can re-emerge later.  This would need to be clearly communicated to the MCC Grounds Maintenance team, accompanied by signage to educate the public on ‘why is the area left untidy?’

Website:  Bryan has contacted Chris Were but had no response to date.  Bryan now has the website details and has undertaken minor edits including update of the list of officers

Monmouth Community Choir:  To sing at the Big Spring Swap.  Event cancelled

Discussion Events:  Bryan to arrange a suitable weekday evening date with Bob Handley for a talk on electric cars – to be followed by Averil MacDonald talking about hydrogen vehicles.  Both events on hold

Tree planting in Monmouth:  Charles Emes has had no success in finding spaces to plant trees and will now concentrate on a campaign to get people to plant trees in their gardens

The recent flooding and our response:  Vivien took the opportunity to address the Town Council’s Environment Committee to say that the Transition approach is to stop flooding rather than continuously deal with the consequences.  RECS (our flood prevention by natural flood management) project provides base data from which to proceed and is, at last, being taken seriously.  Moreover, funding has suddenly become available to take it forward.  An application for about £0.5 million to cover Gwent and Herefordshire is being put together by Gwent Wildlife Trust, and an even larger project extending to mid-Wales (the source of the river flood water in Monmouth) is also in preparation.  Members thought that a presentation on RECS should be made to Full Council. 

About 100 trees have been planted on the Tudor Road playing fields;  this has of course caused controversy but on the whole, when it is explained that a resident did this for flood prevention purposes, the reaction has become favourable.  Charles Emes is setting up a working party to resuscitate a hedge on the Kingswood Gate Estate

Local Development Plan Submissions:  The closing date is 22 April.  Charles Emes plans to submit a footpath leading from Kingswood Gate and some adjacent fields destined for housing development;  these will be accompanied with pictures of the fields flooded last month.  Vivien plans to submit the open access area in front of and beside Monmouth Comprehensive School as a designated public open space, and for the entire school site to be developed for biodiversity, resilience and flood prevention.  We also want to submit an over-arching requirement for all development to be sustainable and compliant with the WBFG Act.  In the nick of time we did all this, and also Haydn Cullen-Jones submitted an application for the Dixton Roundabout site to be developed for biodiversity (and no construction)

Climate Futures Festival:  Dilly explained the Lost Words Exhibition that was planned to be held in Monmouth Museum from August to year end.  It was agreed that we donate the proceeds (minimum £250) of our Big Spring Swap towards this event.  We would, of course, wish to participate as fully as possible in the CFF at the end of September, and have offered to organise open garden events.  The ACE Green Spaces group plan a pop up pollinator garden and to give away small trees.  Postponed, probably to May 2021

Events in the Diary:-

Repair Café on Sunday 15 March:  Claudia reported that preparations were well in hand.  Social distancing was practiced and the event went smoothly with many items satisfactorily repaired

Monmouth Priory, 10 to 2 on Saturday 28 March:  The Big Spring Swap:  Following the success of the Big Swap event in October it was decided to follow the same format.  Coffee, tea and cakes to be available from 10 o’clock, followed by Monmouth Community Choir at 12, and soup from 12.30.  Diane Booker has agreed to provide the Swap Shop for seeds/plants and Tools for Self Reliance have been booked to attend.  We have flyers (thank you, Emma) and have started advertising on Face Book.  Other actions:-

  • Karin Chandler to produce a hygiene guide
  • Charles Emes and Paul will provide Vivien with cash for the float;  prices to be rounded so as to minimise the requirement for small change
  • We need pots for donations on each table

Event cancelled

Bee Festival, 10 to 3 on Sunday 3 May:  It was agreed that we request adjacent tables for Transition Monmouth and the ACE Climate Futures Festival.  Event cancelled

River Festival:  In Monmouth on Saturday/Sunday 9/10 May:  Soap box speakers have been requested;  Charles Emes has volunteered.  It was agreed we should have a display table under the arches.  Event postponed to end-September

ACE Climate Futures Festival (CFF):  20 to 29 September:  Event postponed, probably to May 2021.  If the River Festival proceeds at the end of September there will be some Transition Monmouth and ACE Monmouth involvement

Monmouth Priory:  10 to 2 on Saturday 24 October

What is a sustainable diet?:  This was proposed as a debate hosted by us at Monmouth Comprehensive.  On hold

Orchard pruning:  To be arranged with Helena Ronicle.  Postponed, probably to February 2021

Any Other Business:

The Circular Economy:  On 9 March, Dilly and Vivien attended the Welsh Government consultation on the Circular Economy.  The presentations and debates were much as one would expect but an interesting idea was the taxation of food miles.  Towards the end we were asked ‘What can the WG to help community groups’ – to which one has to ask ‘What does WG do now?’  Vivien to draft a response.  This was sent to David Blair

Food Sense – Community Pantry:  The group is working with Ian Bakewell (MCC) to obtain a food poverty grant of £7,000 to set up a Community Pantry complete with fridge/freezer storage so that chilled surplus from the supermarkets can be collected each day along with bread, fruit, veg and non-perishables.  Rental of a unit at Bridges has been agreed as from 23 March.  We obtained the grant but have had to postpone starting the Pantry – very unfortunate as the need for food has increased during lock down, but we weren’t able to undertake the necessary work to set up the unit or comply with the additional legislation by way of H+S.  It has been difficult enough continuing with the usual distribution as most of our distribution hubs – the library, churches, community halls, community groups have been closed and the stalwart volunteers have to deliver to individual families – 93 in mid-May and the number increases each week

Food Sense – Food Poverty Coordinator:  The group is working with Deserie Mansfield (RDP) to apply for funding of £20,000+ a year to include mileage for volunteers.  This project is being re-thought in the light of the repercussions and lessons learned from Covid-19

Date of next meeting:  Tuesday 14 April, 7.15 for a prompt 7.30 start, at the Robin Hood.  Meeting cancelled.  Bryan is investigating the potential for a virtual meeting during lock down using technology such as Microsoft Teams

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 –  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 –

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

Despite the pandemic….

Dear Transitioners

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  The application form is at – 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 –  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

And one last thing – work by a Parliamentary Group has started on the Green New Deal.  Your input is valuable – participate at

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

Vivien Mitchell

Glimmers of hope … and action!

Dear Transitioners 

We hope that, after the initial shock, you are all settled into a new way of life in this strange new world.  Can we start by reiterating:  If you or a friend or neighbour needs help, be it for shopping, financial or health matters, please let us know – there is much help out there – but you have to ask!

And yes, after that initial shock, there is much going on that points in the direction of a better world for all.  We can be particularly proud of the way the Welsh Government is handling the crisis.  To deal with the effects of Covid-19, Sophie Howe, our Future Generations Commissioner, has called for urgent action to implement Universal Basic Income, a four-day week and a well-being economy – yes, invest in our people and future generations.  There will be no hand outs to companies registered in tax havens, and Wales remains in lock down.  Yay!

In Monmouth the Repair Café is posting repair workshops on their Facebook page, the stalwart Food Sense group is continuing under the most difficult of circumstances to distribute surplus food to 94 households and nine groups, Green Spaces has a range of activities – see their Facebook page – they are looking for volunteers to monitor/audit our green spaces – and we continue with work to improve our natural environment.  With this we need help! – in particular:-

  • We need top soil, even the old soil from your planters
  • We have bark chippings but they are in the wrong place – transport needed
  • We have a surfeit of clover – great for your compost heaps – we need it removed – we can cut but it would be really helpful if you cut your own – tools available but we are short of gloves
  • We need gardening help

This is all good outdoor activity that can be undertaken in isolation.  Offers of help please to me – or phone 01600 715065.

We can also be proud of Monmouthshire County Council.  We are working with them to put together a recovery plan that embeds sustainability and carbon reduction.  First off we are working on temporary measures (which might become permanent) to improve sustainable transport, sustain social distancing and encourage active travel (walking and cycling).  The focus is on low cost / high impact imaginative measures.  Please send your ideas, pictures or links to things you’ve seen elsewhere and that you think could work here to by 4 June.  Other measures under development for long term changed behaviours include:-

  • Home working and video conferencing to reduce commuting and business travel
  • Habitual walking and cycling as part of daily exercise and to reduce pollution
  • Greater connection with nature and wildlife in your garden and the wider environment – good for wildlife, mental health and exercise
  • Reduced mowing of verges and green spaces to benefit pollinators and reduce fuel use
  • Support for our local independent shops
  • Cooking from scratch and reducing domestic food waste
  • Re-use facilities and Repair Cafés for surplus/broken toys, food, tools, electrical items, furniture etc
  • Home composting
  • Support community activities

These measures have all been brought to the fore by Covid-19 which is described by Alan Rusbridger as “a dress rehearsal for Climate Change”.  We now need to work to get these measures implemented – so, all hands to the deck with your ideas, reports of what you have put in place or how you have changed the way you do things, and any offers of help please to  I will pass them on to Bryan Miller, Claudia Blair and Charles Emes, our representatives with MCC for this vital work.

And, on 3 June, there will be a virtual discussion session of the MCC Climate Change Champions group addressing some of these issues.  Please let me know if you would like to participate and nearer the time I will send you the link.

“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste” and other articles are listed below for your leisure reading.  Keep well, keep safe, keep optimistic, keep doing things.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Vivien Mitchell

Stuff for reading:-

Why don’t we treat the climate crisis with the same urgency as coronavirus? – Owen Jones writing in the Guardian over two months ago –

Is coronavirus the end of everything or the start of something new? – Richard Deverell, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew –

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste –

Inconvenient truths:  The psychology of coronavirus and the climate crisis – will the politicians act? –

The public want a radical response to climate change with the same urgency as coronavirus – Opinium poll 16 April – 48% of the public want this –

This poll (17 April 2020) shows that the British people are increasingly aware that the health of people and planet are inseparable and it’s time for radical environmental, social, political and economic change –

Let us not forget how we got into this mess:  38 Days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster –

Coronavirus recovery plan ‘must tackle climate change’ – Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst –

Covid-19 is an unmissable chance to put people and the planet first –

Restoring the Economy is the Last Thing We Should Want:  The sooner we open up the economy, the faster we simply recreate what got us into this mess.  It’s time for a radical shift –

The following bibliography was supplied by Hazel Clatworthy.  It includes some of the articles used by the County Council in formulating their response plan:-

Governance and decision making:-

Transport, Walking and Cycling:-

Air Quality:-

A different world…

Dear Transitioners

A different world 

We hope you are all safe and well.  That’s how our last newsletter started in the wake of the floods.  The message today is the same, but this time it affects each and every one of us.

Let me start by saying there is an amazing community effort of support, especially for the vulnerable and at risk from Covid-19.  If you need any help, or know of someone that does, please get in touch, or look at Facebook pages such as Monmouth Covid-19 Community Volunteers, Osbaston Noticeboard, Monmouth Mutual Aid and Assistance, MNB Monmouth New Businesses.  There are others, and they work.  There has been a speedy response to every request for help – and remember, especially if you are vulnerable or at risk, you will be a lot more bother if you don’t stay at home/isolated.  Don’t be proud – ask for help!  There’s plenty of help out there, and if you want to volunteer in some capacity but don’t know how, please get in touch too.

While social distancing, but before lockdown, we squeezed in a couple of community activities.  Last Sunday about 40 trees were planted at Claypatch Woods – oak, beech, white beam, wild cherry, hazel and some wild honeysuckle along the hedge near the bus stop.  At the same time St James’ Square got planted with pollinator friendly woodland perennials.  We hope that, as the young plants grow, they will provide cheer throughout the year, not only to passers-by but also to wildlife.

All further events have been cancelled/postponed, but our wonderful Food Sense volunteers continue to collect surplus food from the supermarkets and distribute it as best they can to Overmonnow School and local individuals and families.  We were on the verge of shutting down but were asked, if possible, to continue as we are regarded by Monmouthshire County Council as an ‘essential service’.  And just as soon as we can, Food Sense will set up a Community Pantry with storage and fridge/freezer capacity – scheduled for the end of March, but of course delayed.

We can but hope that something good will come out of this pandemic, and we will surely redouble our efforts to make this a safe, fair, and sustainable world fit for future generations.  There have been some memorable headlines:-

And the world came together as the people stayed apart

We can’t return to normal, because the normal that we had was precisely the problem

Did the Earth just send us all to our room to think about what we have done??

In the rush to return to normal, we can use the time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to

Corona is the cure – humans are the disease

And some thoughtful and sobering articles such as:

Nature is sending us a message with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis:  Inger Andersen, UN’s environment chief –

Covid-19 is nature’s wake-up call to a complacent civilisation:  George Monbiot –

Will it take a global pandemic for us to realize there’s another way of doing things? Enrique Dans –

A few things carry on.  If you have time, the Welsh Government wants to know what you think of their strategy on the Circular Economy  Email your response by 24 April.

Stay safe, stay well.  Keep in touch and we will keep in touch with you.

Vivien Mitchell