News

A busy start to 2017

Dear Transitioners

We’ve had a busy time already in 2017. We started with a very useful Members’ Meeting when Mark Hand, MCC Head of Planning, outlined the MCC proposals for an overhaul of the Local Development Plan + listened patiently to all our bright ideas – more in due course. We planted more trees with Coleg Gwent at Monmouth Cemetery + made progress with projects involving St Thomas’ Church Hall, Monmouth Rotary’s new Community Champions scheme, Monmouth Comprehensive School + development of our new website. More stuff in the pipeline – but please let us know if there are issues you think we should address.

Monmouthshire Well-Being Assessment for the Well-Being of Future Generations Act Requirements

We like the Well-Being of Future Generations Act which basically says that all developments + projects need to be sustainable in order to ensure no detriment to future generations; this is exactly what we are about. Moreover there is a legal requirement for County Councils to produce a well-being assessment. So, since August 2016 the County’s Public Service Board were out + about across the county asking communities:-

What do you think is good about where you live?
What do you think could be better?

The draft findings – see http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/app/uploads/2016/12/Summary-Well-being-assessment-v1.0_Eng.pdf – have yet to be finalised so there is still time to make your input. Responses are required by Monday 27 February. You can complete the questionnaire at http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/ourmonmouthshire or get involved on twitter using the hashtag #OurMonmouthshire. You can also share your thoughts on Monmouthshire Made Open or write to Policy + Performance Team, Monmouthshire County Council, County Hall, Usk NP15 1GA or e-mail to improvement@monmouthshire.gov.uk. But the best way is to go to one of the drop-in events:-

Chepstow Hub: Monday 13 February, 10 till 3
Caldicot Hub: Tuesday 14 February, 10 till 3
Abergavenny: Wednesday 15 February, 10 till 12.30 at the One Stop Shop, 1 till 3 at the Library
Usk Hub: Thursday 16 February, 10 till 3
Monmouth Hub (Library): Friday 17 February, 10 till 3

You might be sceptical about yet another consultation but the Act could be a force for good. It is up to us to make sure this happens as the findings will form the basis of policy for the County. Please use this opportunity; if you think things are missing, misrepresented or given insufficient priority, now is the time, or forever hold your peace!

Tidenham Turbine at Severndale

You may remember that last year the successful planning application was reversed on the basis that ‘community benefit’ of the scheme had been taken into account in the planning application. Doom + gloom – a blight on all community schemes. The Resilience Centre has, however, persisted + at last been granted permission to appeal, with the order accepting that the case is ‘sufficiently arguable to have a real prospect of success’ + that ‘the potential implications of the judge’s decision for relevant national planning policy can be said to give rise to compelling reasons for the appeal to be heard’.

The bad news is that, as a community project, + given the legal costs already incurred, the Resilience Centre is unable to fund the appeal alone. They have, therefore, launched a Crowdfunder campaign seeking contributions towards the legal costs. Please consider a contribution at http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/appeal-re-community-benefits-in-planning-decisions

Real Bread in Monmouth

Dilly Boase has started a new bakery, Madeleine’s in Beaufort Arms Court (behind the Shire Hall) where she bakes an amazing range of real bread, ranging from soft olive oil ciabatta to dense + dark german rye sourdough, as well as cakes + treats. She makes sourdough from scratch using organic flour from Shipton Mill in Gloucestershire + water + salt – no preservatives or chemical ‘improvers’; the bread is made in a 48 hour process which gives it flavour, digestibility + longevity. You can sit in the shop for a bite + a superb, locally roasted coffee, + you can buy organic teas + chocolate bars. Go try!

Now, some dates for your diaries:-

Members’ Meeting: Wednesday (note the radical change from Tuesday!) 8 February, 7.30 at the Punch House – much to talk about – the Local Development Plan, taking forward the Well-Being of Future Generations Act + what we can use it for in Monmouth, community engagement by Interserve (the very nice contractors at Monmouth Comprehensive School), Earth Hour + who knows what else …..

Seedy Sunday: Sunday 12 February, 11 to 3 at Abergavenny Community Centre, Park Street – seeds, seed bombs, plants, + stalls to make posies, eat cake, make woolly bees, drink tea/coffee, find out about bee-friendly plants, solar power, recycling tools etc as usual

Stop Climate Chaos Cymru: Make Wales’ Heart Green: Tuesday 14 February: A Thunderclap – the idea is a bit like a social media flash mob. Sign up, + social media accounts will send out the same message automatically at the same time/date to, hopefully, create a ‘trend’ – http://stopclimatechaoscymru.org/

Community Canteen: Saturday 25 February at Holy Trinity Church Hall, Abergavenny, 7 for 7.30: An Italian themed meal followed by singing to raise money for Hope Not Hate which seeks to challenge + defeat the politics of hate + extremism. Please book early to avoid disappointment as places are limited by email to community-canteen-group-1@googlegroups.com

EV – Electrical Vehicle – Open Day: Saturday 4 March, 10 till 4 at Bridges Community Centre, Monmouth: Electric vehicles, solar + battery storage systems, charging points, community transport schemes, local renewable investment opportunities + more. Light refreshments available – see http://www.EVOpenDay.com

Swap Shop: Saturday 4 March, 10 till 12 at Monmouth Priory: Seeds + plants to swap or buy, tools from Tools for Self Reliance Cymru, fairly traded goods from Oxfam + Love Zimbabwe; Fairtrade refreshments by Monmouth Fairtrade Forum

Members’ Meeting: Wednesday 8 March, 7.30 at the Punch House

Fairtrade under Fire in Palestine: Friday 10 March, 7pm at Monmouth Priory: Talk by Cathi Pawson, the Communications Director of Zaytoun, an award-winning social enterprise with a mission to develop the UK market for fairly traded Palestinian produce. Cathi was a founder member. Tickets £5 to include a drink + nibbles – at the door or from Madeleine’s in Beaufort Arms Court

Earth Hour: Saturday 25 March @ 8.30pm: The world’s largest demonstration of support for action on climate change: Join millions of people around the world, switch off your lights + take part in an event or throw your own party – see http://www.wwf.org.uk/earthhour for ideas

Spring Greens Fair: Saturday/Sunday 29/30 April at the Court of Noke: A wide variety of talks, activities + entertainments for all the family – https://springgreens.org.uk/

And, don’t forget your Local Produce Markets:-

Usk – Saturday 4 February – 10 till 1
Grosmont – Saturday 11 February – 10 till 2
Usk – Saturday 18 February – 10 till 1
Abergavenny – Thursday 23 February – 9.30 to 2.30
Usk – Saturday 4 March – 10 till 1
Grosmont – Saturday 11 March – 10 till 2

We hope to see you soon, hopefully at the Members’ Meeting next Wednesday, 8 February.

Other Transition Treasures are on the website http://www.transitionmonouth.org (currently being rebuilt but getting there – thank you, Chris Were) + on the Transition Monmouth Facebook page

Renewable Energy Community Schemes (RECS) with Flood Prevention + Other Benefits

This is turning out to be an AMAZING project with, it seems, an unending stream of twists and turns and unexpected (beneficial) outcomes – so, we thought it a grand idea to write a diary as a record of the enthusiasm, cooperation and support we have received, and the pure joy that this project brings. It’s also an unending stream of hard work that will see me into my box – but then, that’s what it’s supposed to be – a project for the community, and for the future.

January 2016: The headline in The Monmouthshire Beacon of 6 January read “Flooding hits road network”. All of the flooding was caused, not by the rivers, but by surface water run-off, + at the end of the very long article readers were advised that the MCC Flood Risk Management Plan was up for consultation. We read this – much invaluable information but the solutions were entirely about moving water on, creating barriers to protect properties and improving warning systems – nothing about preventing flooding from happening. Much had been written over the years about ‘slowing the flow’ but this, it transpired was non-statutory and hence outside the remit of MCC – much as they would like it done.

April 2016: Our conversations with Dave Harris, author of the Flood Risk Management Plan, continued and in April we had our first meeting (which was open to members of the public). Roger Hoggins, MCC Head of Operations, attended as well as representatives of Transition Monmouth, Monmouth Partnership Forum, Monmouth Town Council, Ross Town Council and others. We decided there was considerable scope to alleviate flooding by natural means of tree planting, land + water course management, + with much scope for community involvement.

The Beacon published an article about our project as a result of which several members of the public contacted us with bright ideas + offers of help.

May 2016: A small group – Dave Harris (MCC), Haydn Cullen-Jones (Renew Wales + Transition Monmouth), Peter Brundret (Monmouth Partnership Forum) + Vivien Mitchell (Transition Monmouth) started work on the development of a funding bid to the Vale of Usk RDP. It was suggested that we should make it into a renewable energy project with flood prevention + other benefits. In the meantime we started following up leads from the public on suitable places for planting. We surveyed Overmonnow (the Carbonne area in particular) with Georgie Meadows, + Vauxhall Fields with Bob Handley representing Friends of Vauxhall Fields.

June 2016: The Stage 1 funding application to the Vale of Usk RDP was successful and we started to apply our minds to Stage 2 of the application. In the meantime several sub-projects sprouted, in particular:-

Community Orchards in Overmonnow: A Stage 1 funding application to the People’s Health Trust for planting about 80 fruit trees, and installing benches, picnic tables and notice boards was successful. MCC is keen for the project (all on MCC land) to go ahead combined with a reduced mowing regime to allow wild flowers to flourish. This, in turn, highlighted the total lack of facilities in the Carbonne area and we are working with GAVO to rectify this situation, in particular to erect a community building for residents to meet. We made contact with the Carbonne Community Group + started going to their meetings – a massive eye-opener. This is an area of multiple social deprivation (Welsh Index) that has been much ignored + neglected but the Group is amazingly resilient + positive + wanting to alter the perception of the area as being ‘the pits’.

Vauxhall Fields: A plan for woodland planting, as agreed with Bob Handley representing Friends of Vauxhall Fields, was submitted to MCC + agreed. Further consultation, in particular with Charles Boase, will take place over the summer months.

Planting of evergreen shrubs along the A40 as it passes through Monmouth: This has been agreed in principle with MCC.

Skenfrith Food Growing Cooperative: 15 local residents, with support from 35 others, wish to start this on four possible tracts of land to include an area of soft fruit planting, a large vegetable growing area, children’s sensory garden, a community orchard with chickens and beehives, and an area three miles from the village for growing vegetables such as potatoes that require much space but relatively little attention. A new community group is being formed to undertake this and we are working with them to find funding, sort land ownership issues and the like.

In the meantime, members were encouraged to look out for suitable tracts of land for planting, especially if it might also act as a flood prevention measure, and also to please dig up any saplings they find in their gardens; we would nurture these until they are of a size whereby they can be planted out.

July 2016: Our time was spent mainly on developing our two funding bids + also one to the Police Fund for the Carbonne area.

August 2016: We held meetings with Nick Critchely (AoNB), Chris Rees (NRW) + Andy Karran (Gwent Wildlife Trust). All were enthusiastic in supporting + participating in our project. We continued with our work in developing the Carbonne, Vauxhall Fields + Skenfrith projects.

September 2016: We finally submitted our funding application to the RDP; at Mark Lloyd’s suggestion we settled on the title RECS: Renewable Energy Community Schemes with Flood Prevention + Other Benefits. Bob Handley applied for a pack of 420 Wildlife Selection (hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, oak, rowan, silver birch) from the Woodland Trust for planting on Vauxhall Fields. We applied for a similar pack for planting at Monmouth Cemetery.

Overmonnow Orchard: Together with the Carbonne Community Group we held a consultation on St Dial’s Wood Green to ascertain public opinion. Monmouth Town Council gave us £50 for leaflets of which 1,500 were delivered door-to-door, + 10 flyers were posted in nearby shops. It quickly became clear that (what was probably a small but vociferous minority) trees were definitely not wanted. Disappointed, we re-grouped + decided on a notice board, three picnic tables + wildflower areas. Our funding bids to the People’s Health Trust + the Police Fund failed, but Carl Touhig (MCC) offered us money for the desired items together with extra for refreshments (for working parties) + other items.

October 2016: We visited the Babington Centre in Trellech to start discussions with the Trustees for planting a community orchard. Monmouth Rotary offered 3,500 crocus bulbs for the Carbonne area + we had a grand planting party at half-term together with Pip Jenkins + children from Attik, + with much appreciated refreshments. This was another eye-opener, especially as regards the children from Attik. We gave them full size garden forks with which to make holes + plant one bulb per hole. They were delighted to be allowed such freedom + behaved impeccably. We also started planting the wildflower areas with marjoram, primroses, snowdrops + violets. After further meetings with Nigel Leaworthy (MCC) it became clear that there was less scope for planting at Monmouth Cemetery than originally thought but obtained agreement for woodland + wildflower planting on a large site on Lancaster Way + specimen trees at Berryfield Park.

November 2016 – planting party on Vauxhall Fields; in the background is our star tree planter, Roger Hoggins
November 2016 – planting party on Vauxhall Fields; in the background is our star tree planter, Roger Hoggins

November 2016: We received confirmation that our funding bid to the RDP was successful but we also received our packs of trees from the Woodland Trust so the priority was to get these planted. On Vauxhall Fields Bob Handley, Nick Frost + others organised two planting parties, one with pupils from Osbaston Primary School, a second with members of the public. In total 400 trees were planted very promptly + an impressive performance was put in by Roger Hoggins who brought his family along + he himself worked a solid three hours. At Lancaster Way we had a lovely planting party with Osbaston School, Nicola Millard + Nick Frost; 40 trees were planted by 14 very young pupils who seemed very keen to ‘adopt’ the area + have further involvement. We had a meeting with Coleg Gwent who offered a group of Baccalaureate students to take charge of the planting at Monmouth Cemetery to include site clearance, designing a planting plan, planting the trees + undertaking maintenance for three or four years to keep brambles + other undesirable undergrowth at bay while the trees became established; thank you, Chris Knight!

December 2016: We had an initial meeting with teachers at Monmouth Comprehensive to discuss geography A-level students’ involvement as part of their Welsh Baccalaureate, + had one pupil for two days of ‘work experience’. Christmas seemed to take up much of the month but we started planting a hedge on Wonastow Industrial Estate East which we hope will eventually run the whole length of the road + be backed by specimen silver birch to enhance existing.

January 2017 – site clearance + tree planting by students from Coleg Gwent at Monmouth Cemetery
January 2017 – site clearance + tree planting by students from Coleg Gwent at Monmouth Cemetery

January 2017: Having struggled with where/how to plant 900 trees we were tempted into ordering more! – a hedge selection of hawthorn, hazel, holly, dog rose + dogwood to infill the hedge we started along Wonastow Road, + a wild harvest selection of hazel, blackthorn, crab apple, dog rose + elder for Lancaster Way; these, along with some walnut trees donated by Transition Chepstow, we thought would be a good accompaniment to the community orchard we expect to start next month. The Monmouth Cemetery site has progressed with 14 Baccalaureate students from Coleg Gwent assessing the site – another uplifting experience with an enthusiastic (+ grateful!) group. Site clearance + planting of 52 trees (hazel, silver birch, cherry, rowan, alder, ash, walnut + oak) has cheerfully been completed.

We attended the ‘Carousel’ at Monmouth Comprehensive to sell our project to Year 12 students + await the outcome. In the meantime there has been a flurry of bright ideas + offers of help; Sara Warshawski in Abergavenny has offered trees from her garden, Roger Steer (aged 89) has offered to dig – but only three hours at a time!, Sue Parkinson is progressing with plans for us to plant trees/hedging at the new Rockfield Road car park, Roger Ward has suggested a suitable planting site at Wallis Close in Osbaston, Friends of Chippenham Mead want to talk about planting to protect the field from the noise, air pollution + unsightliness of the A40, let alone to act as a flood prevention measure, + Interserve (the contractors building the new Comprehensive School) have offered their muscle to help with our community projects – bramble clearing at Monmouth Cemetery springs to mind – no point in wasting all that brawn on litter picking!

The New Year

Dear Transitioners

Happy New Year!  We hope you had a good break over the Christmas period + are fit for the challenges that lie ahead.  For the time being we are going to concentrate on RECS – our Renewable Energy Community Scheme, and on our input into the next Local Development Plan which will shape our future for the next seven years.

To this end we will start with a Members’ Meeting next Tuesday 10 January with Mark Hand, MCC Head of Planning to discuss the imminent review of the Local Development Plan.  Things have moved on a great deal since the last one + we want to ensure that sustainability, inclusion, joined-up thinking etc are built in this time.  We tried last time + failed – hence totally unsustainable new development such as that along Wonastow Road which will also exacerbate the flooding problem in Monmouth.  Please come to hear what Mark Hand has to say – he inevitably has his problems + constraints – but we need to try to work out with him how we can help + improve the current situation.  So – we hope to see you next Tuesday at 7.30 in the Punch House.

Over the Christmas period we had three very last minute, ad hoc events staking out + planting trees;  we apologise for not getting in touch with those of you that offered to help but there will be many more opportunities.  In total, we expect that by the end of the planting period in March, we will have planted over 1,000 trees this winter – most of them courtesy of the Woodland Trust – oak, silver birch, rowan, blackthorn, hawthorn + hazel – but with over 100 donated by you – ash, birch, sycamore, walnut + hazel – all self seeded in members’ gardens.  These are particularly valuable as they obviously thrive in the area.  We have made a start on drawing up the brief for the consultants for the RECS project + will have a meeting for everyone interested before we go ahead.

A few dates for your diaries:-

Community Canteen:  Saturday 14 January at Holy Trinity Church Hall, Abergavenny, 7 for 7.30 – in aid of CHASE Africa – see http://www.chaseafrica.org.uk/ – with storytelling on an African theme by Marion Oughton.  Please contact jeremygass@yahoo.co.uk if you would like to attend

Wassail:  Saturday 21 January at Old Lands, Dingestow Court, 4pm:  The second annual CSA Wassail event – festivities led by Butler Jon Cousins, Mayor of Glastonbury, with music by the band Hot Pot.  Soup + bread, mulled apple juice + cider all included in the ticket price of £5 – children + CSA members free.  Wassailing is an old tradition whereby the apple trees are ‘awoken’ for spring by lots of noise.  Booking is essential as there is limited parking space – email walledgarden@old-lands.co.uk or phone 07814 947956

Members’ Meeting:  Wednesday 8th February, 7.30 at the Punch House for a review of our contributions to the Local Development Plan, the Monmouth Place Plan, + other timely topics

And, don’t forget your Local Produce Markets:-

Usk – Saturday 7 January – 10 till 1
Grosmont – Saturday 14 January – 10 till 2
Usk – Saturday 21 January – 10 till 1
Abergavenny – Thursday 26 January – 9.30 to 2.30
Usk – Saturday 4 February – 10 till 1
Grosmont – Saturday 11 February – 10 till 2

We hope to see you soon, hopefully at the Members’ Meeting next Tuesday, 10 January.

Other Transition Treasures are on the website www.transitionmonouth.org (currently being rebuilt) + on the Transition Monmouth Facebook page

Ann Eggleton
Chairman

Christmas Cheer

Dear Transitioners

After a dose of serious stuff last month we’re keeping this one light but asking you to come to the next meeting:-

Punch House, Tuesday 13 December @ 7.30

We want to talk about what we have done in 2016 but want to concentrate on what we should be doing in 2017.  Please come + tell us what you think + have a pre-Christmas drink with some of your fellow Transitioners.

Other goings on …..

Tree Planting Parties:  With thanks to Bob Handley on behalf of Friends of Vauxhall Fields + with much help especially from Nick Frost, Osbaston School, + a very impressive performance by Roger Hoggins (MCC, Head of Operations) we got over 400 trees planted on Vauxhall + have made a start at Lancaster Way.  Planting parties are planned for the Christmas period – please contact vivienmitchell@yahoo.co.uk or phone 01600 715065 if you have the urge to go + plant some trees.  It’s an excellent way of entertaining young children – + we won’t even charge you!

Monmouth Food Assembly:  If you haven’t already, please sign up for this on https://thefoodassembly.com/en/assemblies/8971 to get the freshest of food from your local producers.  The idea is that you order on-line for pick up at the Shire Hall on Thursdays between 4pm + 6pm when you will get to meet the marvellous people that produce the wonderful food.

We will start again in earnest with a members’ meeting on Tuesday 10 January when we will have Mark Hand, MCC Head of Planning to discuss the review of the Local Development Plan.  Things have moved on a great deal since the last one + we want to ensure that sustainability, inclusion, joined-up thinking etc are built in this time.  Please put the date in your diaries.

And, don’t forget your Local Produce Markets:-

Usk – Saturday 17 December – 10 till 1
Grosmont – Saturday 17 December – 10 till 2
Abergavenny – Thursday 22 December – 9.30 to 2.30
Usk – Saturday 7 January – 10 till 1

2016 has been a turbulent year but we hope you all have a good break over the Christmas period + emerge fighting fit for whatever 2017 brings.  However, we hope that some of you will join us next Tuesday (13 December) for a pre-Christmas drink + catch up at 7.30 in the Punch House.

Other Transition Treasures are on the website transitionmonouth.org (currently being rebuilt) + on the Transition Monmouth Facebook page

Ann Eggleton
Chairman