Caldicot and District Historical and
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Months of waiting, worrying, rumour and counter-rumour came to a head on 31st January with the announcement by Corus Steel of savage job cuts at Llanwern. The company announced that steel-making would end at the plant, with the closure of the 'heavy-end'. As a result 1,340 directly employed workers will be laid off, with as many people again likely to lose their jobs as a result of the knock-on effect. Processing of steel will continue, but there is a widespread feeling that the final closure of the plant is likely within the foreseeable future.
The news is a real blow to Caldicot. The community grew from a village to a town as a result of providing homes for Llanwern workers. In the 1960s the plant employed over 10,000 people. In spite of severe cutbacks, particularly in the 1980s, the works remained a major employer for the town's population.
MPs and union leaders have called upon Corus to re-think their decision, but the company has shown a marked reluctance to consult with workers, unions or government.
Ten redundancies have were announced at Mitel Telecom's Caldicot plant. Graham Bevington, Mitel's managing director blamed "a drop in sales of key products in particular in Spain and Italy". The redundancies were said to be unconnected to the sale of part of the company to Mr Terry Matthews, one of its founders. The sale is due to be completed in February.
A meeting called to discuss ideas for the regeneration of Caldicot shopping centre was warned that one of the town's main stores would close within a decade if more trade did not come to the town. The warning was made by Tim Washbourne, whose family have owned stores in the town since before the Second World War.
The meeting heard that in order to bring more shoppers to the town centre, Caldicot needed a new foodstore to woo people away from the larger stores in Chepstow and Newport. Consultants had identified two suitable sites. The first was on the town football field, including the area occupied by the scout hut, and the second on a corner of Caldicot Comprehensive School playing fields. Opposition was expressed to the football field site because it had been created as a community leisure facility after 30 years of work by local people and is held in trust for that purpose. Governors of Caldicot Comprehensive School are to consider the proposals at their next meeting.
Campaigners for a Welsh medium primary school in the Caldicot area are threatening to take legal action against Monmouthshire County Council following its decision to postpone plans for the school. The county's "life long learning" committee (formerly the education committee) had recommended that the school should be based at Sudbrook Junior School when its pupils move to a new school at Portskewett in September. The full council, however, rejected the recommendation because it regarded the 1880s building as unsuitable and because it believed plans for the new school should wait until the reorganisation of all primary education in the Caldicot area had been fully considered.
Planning permission has been granted for a former coalyard on the Severn Bridge Industrial Estate at Caldicot Pill to be developed for business or light industrial use. Permission was originally refused by Monmouthshire County Council but the decision was overturned by an independent inspector. The 840 square metre site is owned by the Welsh Assembly but will be sold to private developers.
Bethany Baptist Church, Caldicot, has opened a new annexe. The annexe, which cost £68,000, will be used for the church's youth and family activities.
Vandals have been responsible for a series of attacks on windows and pipes at Elim Pentecostal Church in Longcroft Road. A rockery is to be removed so that vandals cannot use the stones to cause damage.

The case of Caldicot headteacher Marjorie Evans has become bogged down in legal battles. Mrs Evans remains suspended pending disciplinary hearings, even though all criminal charges against her have been dropped. Mrs Evans, backed by the National Union of Teachers, is seeking an injunction preventing school governors at St Mary's Junior School from continuing the suspension. The case continues.
The communications systems division of Mitel has been renamed Mitel Networks Corporation after being bought by its founder and previous owner, Terry Matthews. Mr Matthews will be the sole shareholder. The semiconductor division, which shares the factory site on the outskirts of Caldicot, remains with its previous owners.
Arson is suspected following serious damage to the roof of a Grade II listed barn in Church Road Caldicot. Four or five youths in school uniform were seen running from the building at the time of the fire.
Plans to build a pedestrian crossing on the B4245 at West End, Caldicot, threatens the future of the nearby fish and chip shop, according to its owner. James Harris, owner of Battersby's, claims that parking restrictions near the new crossing will ruin his business. Five hundred of his customers have signed a petition against the crossing.
Caldicot Town Football Club has been involved in a fierce row with the Football Association of Wales, which has led to the club declaring that it will never again play in the Welsh Cup. The row developed after Caldicot town were drawn against Llanfair PG in the fourth round of the competition. The first match was played at Bangor City because the Llanfair ground was 'unavailable', but was abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch. When Llanfair's ground was again declared 'unavailable' for the rematch, Caldicot Town offered to play the game on its own ground. Caldicot officials believed that the 'unavailability' was an attempt to cover the fact that the north Wales club's ground was not up to the standards required by the FAW for entry into the competition, and refused to play at Bangor on principle. The FAW initially sided with Caldicot but reversed its decision after an appeal, leaving Caldicot out of the competition and fuming with rage.

After 18 months suspension and numerous court appearances, Caldicot headteacher Marje Evans returned to her post at St Mary's Junior School. Her return followed a decision by the governors' disciplinary panel that there was "no credible evidence" to support the charges that she had mistreated children at the school. Mrs Evans said "I am delighted to have at long, long last been allowed to come back where I belong."
A Caldicot man was arrested after another man was found seriously injured outside Mr Chaplain's Taverna near the centre of Caldicot. The man was treated at the scene by ambulance crew but died on his way to the hospital. The arrested man was subsequently released on bail pending further enquiries.
Caldicot town council has stepped in to save the local Citizens' Advice Bureau from bankruptcy. The councillors added another £3,000 grant to the £4,000 they have already given this year. The long term future of the local centre remains in doubt, however, since even if the town council and Monmouthshire County Council match this year's grant, there will be a shortfall next year. Eric Taylor, Chairman of Caldicot CAB told the Free Press that "the people of Caldicot need the CAB now more than ever due to the job cuts at Corus' Llanwern steel plant."
Local parents with children under three years old are being offered classes in computing, health and beauty, cookery, home decorating, first aid, maths, reading and parenting skills under a new 'Surestart' scheme set up by Monmouthshire County Council with a £200,000 grant from the Welsh Assembly.

Caldicot became part of a controlled area as the result of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease on nearby farms. Animals have been slaughtered on a number of local farms, including a thousand cattle and sheep belonging to former Olympic show-jumper David Broome, of Mount Ballan, Crick. Many of the animals were destroyed on the old USAF base at Caerwent. Local residents complained that delays in burning the carcasses led to terrible smells in the area and fears for public health. A vintage tractor rally, due to be held at Caldicot Castle on 22nd April, was postponed as a result of foot and mouth precautions. It is hoped to hold the rally, in aid of Childline Cymru, on 23rd September.
Former Caldicot Town player, Ashley Herapath, was killed when he was hit by a passenger train at Severn Tunnel Junction. Ashley, an ex-pupil of Caldicot Comprehensive school, was a talented footballer who had had trials with Swansea City. The precise circumstances of Ashley's death are unclear, although police are not treating it as suspicious.
A teenager was injured after being shot by an air rifle while walking on Caldicot Levels. He was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, where surgeons discovered that the pellet had penetrated one and a half inches into his body. Police are looking for a ginger-haired youth aged about 14 or 15 who was seen running from the scene.
Following her return to work after being cleared of charges of hitting a pupil, Caldicot headteacher Majorie Evans has become something of a national celebrity. She was applauded by delegates from the National Union of Teachers when she appeared at its conference in Cardiff. She has held a meeting with the education minister, Estelle Morris, and is due to meet Secretary of State for Education, David Blunkett.
Reverend John Hall, minister at Caldicot Baptist Church, ran the London Marathon, raising £800 for partially-sighted children. He completed the 26 miles in 3 hours 50 minutes.
Members of Caldicot town council and the Chamber of Commerce joined an organised litter cleaning session around the town, picking up 20 bags of rubbish. They called for the county council to provide more litter bins. Councillor Gareth Jenkins hit the jackpot when he discovered a five pound note amidst the litter. It will be donated to St Anne's Hospice.
Caldicot town centre has suffered from a spate of vandalism. The vandals seem to have targeted fish and chip shops, three of which had widows smashed on one night.

The regeneration of Caldicot was discussed at a public meeting attended by over 200 people at the Choir Hall on 30th May. The meeting was called by Caldicot Regeneration Group, which is made up of County Councillors, Town Councillors and representatives of the Chamber of Trade.
Councillor Gareth Jenkins, on behalf of the Regeneration Group, outlined the existing situation. There are fears for the future of the shopping facilities in the town centre and concern over the fact that there is only one major food store, giving it a local monopoly. A report from a firm of London consultants, Drivers Jonas, had been commissioned and funded by Monmouthshire County Council.
John Crowther reported that there was concern over the large number of takeaway food outlets and the lack of retailers selling clothes, etc. He also highlighted the inadequacy of public transport and called for a motorway link to be built near Caldicot and for London trains to stop at Severn Tunnel Junction. He dealt with a number of environmental issues, pointing out that many local roundabouts were not landscaped and that signs pointing out attractions were old fashioned and uninspiring. Westend shopping centre was badly run down and the Comprehensive School buildings needed a lot of money spent on them.
Clive Hammersley, Head of Resources and Performance Management at Monmouthshire County Council, reported on economic issues. He referred to the high rents paid by shopkeepers in the town centre to Ravenseft, the property developers. He also pointed out that many people from Caldicot went outside the town, to Chepstow or Newport, to do their weekly shopping. The Drivers Jonas report showed that there were 19,000 people living in the 'Caldicot catchment area', spending £25 million per year on food. Only £10 million of this was spent within the Caldicot area. It was believed that the opening of a quality food store close to the town centre would draw much of this trade back into Caldicot. Discount stores such as Lidl had already expressed an interest in coming to central Caldicot. They would require a unit of 9,000 square feet. Stores such as Tesco had also expressed interest and would need about 20,000 square feet (in comparison to Somerfield's existing 13,500 feet). This could not be accommodated within the existing centre and so a suitable site would have to be found close by. Drivers Jonas had identified two possible sites. The first was an area around the Caldicot Town football field (part of the King George V playing fields). The second was a corner of the Comprehensive School playing fields, opposite the town library.
Councillor Jim Higginson pointed out that the trustees of the George V playing fields were totally against releasing the land. Mike Smith, Chair of the Comprehensive School governors, said that the governors had passed a resolution stating that they would look sympathetically upon any approach but only under certain conditions: that all the money from the sale of the land came to the school itself and not to Monmouthshire County Council; that a means could be found of redesigning the school site in order to ensure that there was no reduction in the facilities for outdoor education; that the money from the sale of the land was sufficient to pay the cost of redesigning the site.
In discussion from the floor there was considerable hostility to any suggestion that the George V playing fields be sold and also concern about the loss of open space at the Comprehensive School. Some speakers suggested that rather than developing new sites emphasis should be placed upon utilising the existing buildings within the town centre.
Several speakers referred to the high rents charged by Ravenseft and there was a general feeling that this was at the heart of many of the problems. There were calls for pressure to be put on the company.
The Regeneration Group will be meeting shortly to consider the points made at the meeting.
The historic cannon at Caldicot Castle has been mounted on a replica 19th century cast iron gun carriage. The 12 pounder cannon originally belonged to Nelson's flagship HMS Foudroyant which was later purchased by Joseph Cobb, owner of the castle, and operated as a training ship. The work was sponsored by Chepstow Engineering, who supplied moving and lifting equipment.
Caldicot's Ian Virgo has been offered a part in a major Hollywood film. The film, Black Hawk Down, is set during the American invasion of Somalia in 1993 and will star Ewan McGregor and Ioan Gruffudd. It will be produced by Jerry Buckhelmer, who also produced Pearl Harbor. Ian was a pupil at Caldicot Comprehensive School and appeared in a number of school productions. He later studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London before taking up a career in acting.
Following several 'sightings' of a mysterious 'big cat' in several parts of Gwent over the last few months, a couple have spotted a large feline creature in Caldicot. June and Ken Evans spotted the creature in a tree near their home in Longfellow Road. It was described as chocolate brown with orange and yellow stripes.
The Environment Agency has appointed a team of consultants to draw up proposals for the improvement of the sea defences along the Caldicot Levels. The area covered stretches along the coast from Sudbrook Pill to Newport.
37 pupils from Chepstow and Caldicot Comprehensive Schools were returned to school after being picked up by police in a 'truancy sweep' conducted in co-operation with local Educational Welfare Officers. Parents of the truants have been contacted and warned about their children's behaviour.
Dick Twyford, a 66 year old partially-sighted pensioner, was pushed to the ground after being confronted by a gang of youths in the town centre at 1.30 in the morning.

A huge sound and light show based on the history and legends of Caldicot Castle is being planned for 2004. The show will be the third in a series of 'son et lumiere' performances planned for Monmouthshire over the next three years. Lottery funding has already been promised for the first two, at Chepstow and Tintern, and organisers are confident that the Caldicot bid will be approved when it is submitted in 18 months time. The show will involve a large local cast, specially composed music, special effects and spectacular fireworks. It is hoped to run nine consecutive performances and to attract a thousand people to each.
Talks are continuing between P&O Developers and Monmouthshire County Council over the proposed development of the 'Gateway to Wales' science and technology park near Rogiet. If it comes to fruition, the £400 million scheme would cover 1,000 acres and, it is claimed, create 4,000 jobs.
Police are anxious to hear from anybody who has information about any of the incidents listed below. Phone Caldicot Police Station on 430999.
(1) An 18 year old man from Underwood was arrested after a 26 year old from Portskewett received head and facial injuries in an incident in Jubilee Way car park at 11.30 pm on Saturday 16th June.
(2) Parents and children have been warned to be on the alert after a woman claiming to be a nursery nurse offered a lift to three children in Caldicot. The woman was driving a G registration Ford Escort.
(3) A 41 year old woman was attacked in Somerfield car park at about 10.30 pm on Tuesday 19th June. A man grabbed the woman from behind and tried to take her car keys but fled after the woman fought back

At a presentation held by the Environment Agency, people of the Caldicot area were told that villages, farmland and wildlife along the Caldicot Levels would be in danger from rising sea levels if plans for improved flood defences were not carried out. The Agency is proposing to construct a new sea wall on top of the existing defences and to reinforce existing riverside earth banks. The proposals are still at the consultation stage but it is anticipated that work will begin in April 2002 and will take six months to complete.
Caldicot Leisure Centre is undergoing a face lift, with £200,000 being spent on upgrading its facilities. The first stage of work, involving the upgrading of changing rooms, is already underway and should be completed by September. Stage two will mean enlargement of the reception area, ready for the installation of a computerised booking system. A new entrance road has also been laid, meaning that leisure centre traffic will not need to drive through the school campus, and there are plans to add 28 spaces to the car park.
Builders have begun to construct a £70,000 skatepark behind Caldicot Leisure Centre. The park, which has been funded by Monmouthshire County Council, is due to open in September. It will be floodlit at night and will be checked by closed circuit television cameras already installed at Caldicot Leisure Centre. Police are concerned that at present youngsters are using the roof of the disused Kwik Save supermarket in the town centre and have warned the youngsters that they are putting themselves in grave danger, risking a 25 foot fall from the roof.
Both sections of Mitel, Caldicot's biggest employer, are to change their names. Mitel Telecom is to become March Networks, while Mitel Semiconductors is to become Zarlink. The two sections of Mitel have been under separate ownership for some time and the name change is being carried out in order to help the two companies to more firmly establish their own identities.
Derelict land near Severn Tunnel Junction is to undergo major improvements in a scheme funded by Monmouthshire County Council. The area is the first land in Wales seen by passengers travelling form England through the Severn Tunnel and is visible from the Second Severn Crossing. The renovation will help to present a positive first impression of Wales to travellers. Most of the area will consist of woodland and grassland, with provision for a static locomotive display, a skatepark and a cycle track.
Thompson & Thompson of Lydney are expanding their car sales business by taking over the site vacated by Wales -West Cars. Thompsons will use the site initially for the sale of used cars, concentrating on SEAT and Renault models.
1. A 62 year-old Caldicot woman has been convicted on six counts of scratching obscenities on local cars. Elaine Meredith was caught after one of her victims carried out a citizens arrest after his own car had been damaged. She denied all charges, but police said she had been found in possession of a Stanley knife. Forensic tests showed that paint found on the blade matched that from a damaged car. She has been remanded on bail for pre-sentence reports.
2. Nicholas Vickery of Caldicot was convicted of cruelty to animals after strangling his family's pet dog after it had bitten him. Chepstow magistrates fined him £1,000 and banned him from keeping a dog for ten years.
Repeated vandalism to the clubhouse at Caldicot Rugby Club is forcing club officials to reconsider allowing free use of the building to community groups. Over £3,500 worth of damage has been done, including, in one incident on 1st July, the smashing of 15 windows and the smashing of a gas bottle. Anybody who has information should contact Caldicot police on 430999.

Wentwood reservoir, which normally supplies water to Caldicot, is to remain closed after being infected by blue-green algae. The reservoir has not been used for water supply for some 12 months since the potentially-poisonous algae was discovered. Officials from Welsh Water are still unable to say when it will be reused. In the meantime Caldicot is receiving water from other reservoirs.
Caldicot's selection of shops improved during August with the opening of a 'Be Wise' store on the long-empty 'Kwik Save' site and of 'Tops n Bottoms', a ladies' fashion shop, in Wesley Buildings.
Caldicot Regeneration Group and Monmouthshire County Council are working together to raise the profile of the town. Plans are being discussed for banners in the town centre and other marketing initiatives. A newsletter giving details of events of run by local organisations and groups is to be published.
It wasn't just 16-18 year olds who were celebrating exam successes at Caldicot Comprehensive School. They were joined by grandmother Judith Reed who has just added an A grade in ceramics to the six GCSE and A Levels she has passed in seven years of part-time study at the school.
Parents of three Caldicot youths were given the naked truth by police, who delivered verbal warnings to the youngsters in front of their parents after they had been caught 'streaking' through the Brookside old people's complex.
The installation of closed-circuit television cameras in Caldicot town centre came a step closer with the grant of £440,000 from the Welsh Assembly to Monmouthshire County Council. The money will be used to buy 24 cameras and transmission equipment to be used throughout the county. Although no decisions have yet been published on the location of the cameras, it is thought likely that Caldicot will get a share.

The new school year saw the opening of the Archbishop Rowan Williams Church in Wales Primary School at Portskewett. The new school, which was built at a cost of £3 million, replaces the 19th century building at Sudbrook and has places for 210 children from Portskewett, Sudbrook and Caldicot. It was officially opened by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales, and Rhodri Morgan, First Secretary of the Welsh Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Sudbrook building remains in use as a Welsh medium primary school. Ysgol Y Ffin (School on the Border) will cater for children from throughout the southern part on Monmouthshire whose parents wish them to receive a Welsh medium education. The children will be taught entirely in Welsh for their first three years and then bilingually.
Caldicot Regeneration Group is continuing its attempts to improve the town. A leaflet, funded by Monmouthshire County Council, is to be published to advertise activities in the Caldicot area, while plans are being discussed to brighten up the shopping centre with banners.
Elaine Meredith, the pensioner convicted of scratching obscene words into car paintwork, has left Caldicot. She is at present serving a six month sentence after refusing to pay a fine. Upon her release she will live in the Pill area of Newport.
A coroner has decided that an unemployed Caldicot man died as a result of accidentally taking an overdose of prescription drugs. Darren Powell, aged 30, was found dead in front of the television at his home in Denny View.

Oscar-winning actors Christopher Walken and Brenda Blethyn and comedian Lee Evans were amongst the stars who spent several days in Caldicot shooting scenes for a new feature film, Plots With a View. The film, which is about the rivalry between two firms of undertakers, will include scenes shot in and around St Mary's Church. Press here for pictures.
A father has been banned from the grounds of Caldicot Comprehensive School following an attack on Mr Norman West, a senior teacher at Caldicot Comprehensive School. The man had come to the school for a meeting with Mr West following the suspension of his son. He became angry at the meeting and the attack followed, but was quickly broken up by another member of staff. The school has decided that, in the interests of the child, it would not be prosecuting the father.
Pensioner Elaine Meredith, who was jailed for six months following attacks on cars in Caldicot, has not gone ahead with her threat to go on hunger strike. Prison authorities have reported that she is eating normally.
Hall Park Under 5s Nursery has received a good report from inspectors. The inspection team was from Estyn (the Welsh equivalent of Ofsted).

The newly installed skate park next to Caldicot Leisure Centre is already causing problems. Although the £76,000 park has still to be officially opened, it is being used and has already been subject to vandalism. Graffiti has been scrawled over the park and over the leisure centre walls and there have been complaints of drug dealing and bullying on the site.
Damage to the buildings of the Comprehensive School has also increase since the park began to be used. Staff at the leisure centre also find themselves having to deal with injuries to skateboarders. Gwent Police are understood to have written to Monmouthshire County Council raising a number of concerns, which as yet remain unresolved. There have been calls for the park to be fenced off and only opened at certain hours of the day so that it can be properly supervised.
Residents in the Sandy Lane area have protested against an eco-friendly scheme proposed for nearby allotments. The scheme, initiated by Friends of the Earth and supported by Monmouthshire County Council, involves setting up a communal compost heap at the allotments where local people can bring garden waste and other suitable material. The residents are protesting on the grounds that it will lead to fly-tipping, unpleasant smells and increased traffic.
The Caldicot Regeneration Group, which aims to raise the profile of Caldicot and to bring additional retail outlets to the town, has launched a new marketing logo, based upon the cross in Caldicot town centre.

Monmouthshire County Council has decided to make five houses in Caldicot available to Asylum seekers. A further five houses are to be allocated in Abergavenny.
Mr John Norwood, who has been headteacher at Caldicot Comprehensive School for 20 years, announced to staff and governors that he will be retiring at the end of the school year.
Gerald Robbins, County Councillor for Rogiet, was awarded an MBE in the new year's honours list. Councillor Robbins, who stands as an Independent, has served on Monmouthshire County Council since 1986. During 2000/2001 he was leader of the council.
Caldicot's Ian Virgo appeared in BBC TV's Casualty series as a suspected thief who had been bitten by a snake. Ian has also played a leading role as John Waddekk, a US soldier in the Ridley Scott epic Black Hawk Down, which opens in March 2002.
The legal bill incurred by Monmouthshire County Council in the Marjory Evans case amounted to £77,460. A further bill is expected to be incurred when negotiations for compensation to Mrs Evans have been completed.

<< 2000
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