Its been almost three years since I moved from Newport to Cwmbran and in many ways I still feel like a new comer, I’m still discovering the best shops, which pubs serve the cheapest pint, which clothes shops carry things in my size etc. And while there is a lot that I’ll miss about living in Newport, like the more active nightlife, I do feel that I’m settling into Cwmbran, especially since I’ve taken a more active role in my new community.
Some impressions I’ve made since making the move are:
The Best Pub – Has to be the Queen Inn on Upper Cwmbran Road its a nice neighbourhood pub with a reasonably priced pint, a quiz that’s only a pound a team, and although I haven’t had the opportunity to try it out yet, I hear they do excellent meals.
The Best Shop- Until recently I would have said that it was Sin City Comics, but then they moved to Newport, so I’m at a loss for what to pick now, especially as Cwmbran Centre offers such a wide choice of shops, both established national firms as well as smaller independent traders. It was a bit of a shock moving from Newport to Cwmbran, because although Newport’s town centre has undergone something of a renaissance over the last few years, when I left it was on life support, with something like 40 odd empty shops on the high street so it was nice to come to a place where there were no empty units in the town centre.
The Best Restaurant- In terms of an actual sit down restaurant has to be Page’s fish bar, its a chip shop with a restaurant as well and the I find the restaurant to be far superior to the take away. In terms of take away I have to give the award to the Croesy Chinese and Fish Bar for their Chinese cuisine.
Nicest Park- Its gotta be the boating lake, no question.
Today I attended (as yet another civic duty) the Raising of the Red Ensign flag to commemorate Merchant Navy Day, at the offices of Cwmbran Community Council.
Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September has honoured the brave men and women who kept our ‘Island Nation’ afloat during both World Wars, and celebrated our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports, including much of the food we eat, most of the fuel we burn and virtually all the products and goods we take for granted!
It was a nice little service that with a short speech from the chair of the council (Cllr Bob Jones) and then followed by refreshments.
Today was Jessica’s civic service, which is essentially a church service designed for the new Mayor to have her or his work blessed by the church. It harks back to a time when religion played more of a role in civic life than it does today (although it is still more of an active part than you might think). Its also an occasion to dress up and celebrate a great achievement with friends and family.
We were chauffeured to the church (Holy Trinity, Pontnewydd) and were escorted to our seats by the church wardens, where we engaged in many hymns and the usual prayers of exultation to god. I then gave the following reading from the book of kings:
“The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for it was the greatest and highest place in the kingdom, and there he offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar to god.
While he was in Gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and said unto the king, “Ask what you want from me.”
King Solomon answered god by saying, My Lord you have shown great mercy to your servant, David my father, for he walked before you in faithfulness, righteousness, and with uprightness of heart toward You. And You have shown him great kindness in giving him a son to sit on his throne now this day.
Now, O Lord, my God, You have made, me, your servant a king in place of my father David, yet I am still a child, and do not yet know how to go out or come in. And I your servant am in the midst of your people, whom you have chosen. A great people. A people so numerous that they cannot be numbered or counted.
So My Lord God give unto me your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who else is able to judge among so great a people?”
And It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked for such a thing. God said unto him, “Because you have asked this and have not asked for such things as long life or riches or for me to take the lives of your enemies, but you have asked for yourself wisdom so that you may have discernment in your judgement,
I now do according to your words. I have given you a wise and an understanding heart, so that there has never been any like you in the past, and that there shall never come another like you.
And I have also given you that which you have not asked, both riches and honour, so that no kings will compare to you all of your days. And If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments as your father did, then I will lengthen your days.”
Solomon awoke and found it was a dream. But when he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of our Lord. And there he offered up burnt offerings and offerings of peace and fellowship. he made a great banquet for all of his court, friends and followers and did so in the name of the lord.”
After I gave my reading it was followed by another reading from our local Member of Parliament and then a reading by Her Worship The Mayor, then we were treated to a performance by the Pontnewydd Ladies Choir before The Reverend Harald Thomas gave the sermon, there were a few more hymns, the collection plate went around and the national anthems were sung, Thus ending the service.
We were then bundled back into the car and driven to the reception and break neck speeds, so that Jessica, myself and the Mini Mayoress could greet everybody as they arrived at Mount Pleasant Hall, where the staff and the caterers had done a fantastic job decorating the place to make it, in Marianna’s words, Mum’s special day.
We were subjected to a lot of photo’s and a lot of small talk, but it really was a wonderful day, marred only by the fact that I didn’t get to take home our tables centrepiece bouquet.
One of the biggest problems facing Northville (The area that I am lucky enough to represent on Cwmbran Community Council) is the plague of abandoned shopping trolley’s that festoon the estate. Living so close to the Town Centre with seven supermarkets within a quarter of a mile radius, coupled with low car ownership in the area (a problem likely to increase with the number of people set to lose access to motability vehicles) bringing a trolley back when laden with shopping is a sensible thing to do. The problem is people aren’t taking them back, and it really makes the estate look untidy, and really goes against the hard work that many in the community are doing to make Northville a great place to live.
To that end, this morning myself and my colleagues on the borough council, as well as a team from Bron Afon Housing (The main local social housing provider) went out distributing posters to many houses on the estate so that residents can show their dissatisfaction with the current situation and hopefully guilt the culprits into returning their trolleys to the town centre.
And whilst more plans will be coming to tackle this problem in a more lasting way, hopefully this is a good first step that the community will get behind.
I never miss an opportunity to plug the good work of Cwmbran Community Council and am very happy to announce that the council have won the award for best annual report in Wales by One Voice Wales (The collective body of Town, Parish and Community Councils in Wales) at their Larger Councils and Innovative Practice Awards on the 5th of July.
It comes from a report highlighting the successes of the council in several areas, which are
Promoting A Prosperous Cwmbran
Promoting A Resilient Cwmbran
Promoting A Healthier Cwmbran
Promoting A More Equal Cwmbran
Promoting A Cwmbran of Cohesive Communities
Promoting A Cwmbran Of Vibrant Culture and promoting a thriving use of the welsh language
Promoting A Globally Responsible Cwmbran
Promoting A Competent Council
The report was heralded as one of the finest examples of large community council (Cwmbran being the fourth largest town in Wales) implementing the Well Being of Future Generations act 2015, and it really is a testament to the hard work of officers, members and staff in making Cwmbran an award winning council.
Today was the armed forces day celebrations of Cwmbran Community Council, I attended in a dual capacity as both Mayors consort and as a community councillor.
It was a lovely service and a beautiful day, and thankfully it was over pretty quickly, because the sun was really beating down fiercely, and wearing a suit and the chains of office was a little too much.
It certainly was the perfect day to pay tribute to the men and women who make up our armed forces and as always the Salvation Army band and the reverend leading the service were both superb and it was nice to see children from the local schools not just in attendance but leading the national anthems. Cwmbran Community Council always puts on a good event (I’m not just saying that as a member of Cwmbran Community Council) and the council’s officers had done an amazing job organising this flag raising ceremony, it was also a pleasure to see so many councillors both from Cwmbran Community Council and from Torfaen County Borough Council. And as always I consider it a privilege to attend as the representative for Northville.
Today was the day of Cwmbran’s Big Event, hosted by Cwmbran Community Council (for which I am a councillor) and Torfaen County Borough Council (for which I am the Mayor’s official consort). The event itself showcases the best of Cwmbran, from entertainment and music, to fun and games, and highlights the works of local businesses, charities, community groups and even the council itself. I was there in both capacities as Mayors consort and as a community councillor. It was very nice to get to see the good work that is going on in Cwmbran.
Marianna went down a storm especially as she had her own Mayoral chain, she enjoyed herself, except being somewhat frightened, and by somewhat frightened I mean pants wettingly terrified, of the Torfaen Play mascot TJ Bear. We then moved over to watch the finals of the raft race on the lake where Marianna and her mother got hand out the trophy to the winning team the Parkrun Pirates.
Also, and possibly best of all I picked up enough free pens to last me a year, and I get through a lot of pens, seriously a lot of pens.
Today was the annual general meeting of Cwmbran Community Council, its the first major meeting since the election, it sees nominations to offices within the council as well as appointments to committees and outside bodies.
It was a fairly long meeting which has left me sorely in need of my bed, however during said meeting I was appointed to three council committees; The Events and Community Projects Committee; The Grants Committee and The Policy And Finance Committee. I was also selected as Vice Chair of the Policy and Finance Committee. As well as this I also found myself appointed to the board of directors of the congress theatre in Cwmbran, which should hopefully be good fun.