Impressions of Cwmbran

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.

 

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Flying The Red Ensign

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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!

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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.

Going Off My Trolley!

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.

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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.

Council News: Best Annual Report Award

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.

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Cwmbran Community Council Leader Councillor Brooks Accepting The Award

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.

Armed Forces Day

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.

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Cllr Alan Jones (TCBC), Cllr Stuart Ashley (TCBC CCC), Cllr Anthony Bird (CCC), Her Worship The Mayor of Torfaen Jessica Powell (TCBC) and The Mini Mayor Of Torfaen Marianna Bird

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.

The Big Event

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.

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Marianna And I outside the Mon and Brec Canal tent

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.

AGM

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.

Santa Express

A Christmas time tradition for my family, when I and my siblings were younger was going on a steam train to see Father Christmas. So today my parents were all too happy to revive that tradition so that Marianna could go and see Santa on the train.

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Meeting Santa On The Train At Lydney (Early 1990’s)

So this morning my parents, my sister, Marianna, her mother, myself and some family friends made the drive from my home in Cwmbran all the way to the Dean Forest Railway in Lydney (Gloucester) for Mariana to experience the wonders of meeting Father Christmas, coupled with the joy that a lot of little children experience in riding on an old school steam train.

From my point of view the whole thing was wonderfully nostalgic, as we used to go every year its also nice to see that not much has changed in the intervening years, as the little rail museum and gift shop remains unchanged. However there was a new cafe and the toilets had been refurbished. From Marianna’s point of view however it was a cafe and some trains.

However Marianna had been looking forward to going all week and was excited to see the “noisy train” and was enjoying the comfort of her own seat and the rhythmic click clack of the train slowly puffing along. Then Santa Clause appeared shouting HO!HO!HO! And I’ve never seen anything so funny in all my life, my daughter screamed with fear (she’s never been that loud in her life), she began crying and tried to burrow into her seat and hide behind me simultaneously, bearing in mind I was sat down too. I know its cruel to think so, but it really was funny. Santa gave me a look that said shes not the first and wont be the last, handed me a present and carried on down the train being trailed by a couple of elves.

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My Parents, My Sister, Marianna, Rabbit and Myself on alighting the train at Parkend Station

After that Marianna was fine for most of the journey, except when Santa came back up the train at which point she hid under my coat, the grown ups were then given their presents (a miniature bottle of booze, rum in my case, and a mince pie) and that was the Santa Express. We had a look around the gift shop and then came home, although we did stop for dinner in the Two Rivers, In Chepstow, on the way home. Given the amount I had to eat whilst there I may slip into some sort of food induced coma soon, I ate half a chicken, a boat load of vegetables, some sweet potato chips, followed by a chocolate brownie sundae, washed down with two pints. So suffice to say today I will be having a very early night, probably not very long after I hit “publish” if I’m being completely honest.