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CALDICOT NEWS 2003

January
SUSPECTED ARSON
A major fire which destroyed much of the BEC vehicle hire business on Caldicot's Severn Bridge industrial estate is being treated as possible arson. Seven appliances from all over Gwent attended the fire, which caused damage to buildings and vehicles to an estimated value of £300,000. Anybody with information is urged to phone local police on 01291 623993.
SCHOOL LAND SALE GIVEN GO-AHEAD
Monmouthshire County Council has agreed in principle to sell approximately four acres of land presently used by the comprehensive school. The land has been identified by consultants as a possible site for a new supermarket. School governors have already given their agreement in principle as long as the income from its sale is used on improving the school site and that there is no net loss of provision for games and P.E. lessons. It appears, however, that some of the information given to the council was incorrect. Councillor Mike Smith is reported in the local press as saying that the land was "scrubland" which had "no useful purpose for school activities". It is understood, however, that the land includes a large corner of the school playing field, including an existing football pitch.
CCTV SET TO COME ON LINE
Caldicot's closed circuit television cameras, which aim to cut crime in the town centre, are due to come on line next month.
DOG'S MESS CAUSES CONCERN 
The problem of dog's messing on the town's playing areas continues to cause concern. Town councillor David Evans has continued to raise the matter at council meetings. Mike Hobbs, Chairman of Caldicot mini-rugby reported that a young player had to be have blood tests after getting some in his mouth during a game at the town's Longfellow Road ground, while a games lesson at St Mary's Primary School had to be cancelled because there was so much on the school field.
MAN ON GUN CHARGES
A Newport man was remanded in custody at Newport Crown Court on charges of possessing a gun and threatening to kill two members of the public and two police officers on the night of Saturday 19 January.
HOUSE PRICE WATCH
The cheapest house advertised for sale in Caldicot at the end of January is a two-bedroom semi-detached with off-road parking and gardens, with an asking price of £89,950.


February
COUNCILLORS QUERY LAND SALE
Three County Councillors, including Caldicot representative Graham Powell, have objected to proposals for the sale of part of the playing field at Caldicot Comprehensive School. Monmouthshire's life-long learning committee had approved in principle a plan to sell approximately four acres of land for a second supermarket in the town and for proceeds to go towards improving the school buildings and facilities. The Councillors have "called in" the decision so that it will be discussed by a full council meeting on 27 March. They argue that it is not county policy to "ring fence" proceeds of the sale of county asset in this way. Supporters of the proposal have stressed that the school desperately needs the money for maintenance and that a significant proportion of it would be required to remodel the site to replace the facilities lost through the sale of land.
BROADBAND COMES CLOSER
Campaigners for the bringing of broadband internet facilities to Caldicot have been encouraged by news that BT has reduced the number of registrations required from 750 down to 350. Over 250 people have already registered.
OFFICIALS POO POO COUNCILLORS' POO POO PROPOSAL
Officials have rejected a proposal by Caldicot Town Council to use footage from the newly-installed closed circuit television cameras to track down people who allow their dogs to foul public places. They had agreed to ask to view copies of video tapes. However, Scott Young, who co-ordinates the CCTV project for Monmouthshire County Council, pointed out that there are strict conditions on the purposes for which the tapes can be viewed and that these relate to alcohol related disorder and criminal offences. Only police and those who are given approval following a solicitor's request will be allowed to do so.
HOUSE PRICE WATCH
The cheapest property for sale in Caldicot at the end of February was a two-bedroomed first floor apartment with an asking price of £82,950.


March
LIFE FOR CHILD KILLER
A 39 year old Caldicot father has been jailed for life at Cardiff Crown Court following his conviction for the murder of his baby son. The judge refused a call from the press to release the man's name. (See December 2002)
ADAM'S KILLER HAD NO LICENSE
An inquest was told that the driver who killed Adam Burchill, a seven year old Caldicot boy, was driving illegally. Susan Morgan only had a provisional license and did not have a full license. However, the coroner ruled that the death was accidental and stated that Morgan was not to blame since there was no time to avoid the child when he ran out into the road. (See September 2002)
ANCIENT FISHING TRADITION SAVED
Fishermen from the Caldicot area have been successful in their campaign to persuade the Environment Agency to revise its ban on laver net fishing at Black Rock. The ban was originally proposed as part of Severn Estuary Salmon Action Plan in order to conserve salmon stocks. However, following the campaign, the Environment Agency replaced the ban with a cap on licenses. Only seven licenses a year will be issued.
PRESCRIPTION SERVICE FAILING
County Councillor Bill Edwards is investigating complaints from residents about the prescription service at Grayhill Surgery. Caldicot Medical Group has withdrawn its designated phone line for repeat prescriptions and will only allow such prescriptions to be picked up within certain hours.
WELSH LANGUAGE
The Cymrification of Caldicot continues with the creation of a Welsh reading group at Caldicot Library. Intensive Welsh Language classes are also scheduled to begin at the library.
CAST OUT OF THE CHERRY ORCHARD
Caldicot town councillor John Thomas has protested to Cherry Trees Nursing Home after his 24 year old autistic daughter, was given notice from her job as a cleaner because the home is not prepared to pay her the minimum wage required by law.
INTERNET FOR ALL
The People's Network went on line in Caldicot library, giving free internet and e-mail use to all library users.


April
FRENCH TOWN WITHDRAWS FROM TWINNING VISIT
A group of residents from the French town of Morieres, near Avignon, called off their plans to visit Caldicot as a result of Britain's involvement in the Gulf War. A spokesmen for the French town said that it did not seem appropriate for celebrations to go ahead at a time when people were being killed and young men were "involved in an upheaval they do not understand". The majority of town councillors, although disappointed, reacted calmly to the decision and expressed a desire that the visit would still take place in the near future. Independent Councillor Jim Harris was more angry, calling the French decision "disgusting".
CCTV FAILS FIRST TEST
Closed circuit television got off to a bad start in Caldicot when the cameras failed to pick up pictures of thieves who broke into the Right Connection phone shop and stole goods worth £8000. The shop is only a few yards from one camera. A spokesman for Monmouthshire County Council said the camera was not working because of a "network transmission problem" which has now been resolved.
MAN KILLED AT BUILDING SITE
Andrew Thomas, a delivery man for Robert Price builders, was killed when plasterboard he was delivering fell on him. The accident took place at Redmeadow Crescent, Caldicot when the boards fell from a mechanical crane on his truck. Robert Simmonds, a pupil at Caldicot Comprehensive School, was amongst locals who tried to save him but to no avail.
SCHOOL RESPONDS TO RAT COMPLAINTS
Caldicot Comprehensive School has denied that it is responsible for rats infesting a garden in the Mill Lane area. A resident had complained that rubbish dropped by pupils at the school war attracting the rats. A spokesman for the school pointed out that while litter was a continual problem, the school was working hard to resolve it. Caretakers regularly cleared litter on the school campus and an anti-litter campaign was under way. Most of the litter concerned was on the site of the skateboard park, which was not the responsibility of the school. Monmouthshire County Council has now agreed to clean the skateboard park more regularly.
HOUSE PRICE WATCH
The cheapest property for sale in Caldicot at the end of April was a three-bedroomed semi-detached house in Shelley Close with an asking price of £90,950.


May
COMPLEX GETS GO-AHEAD
Monmouthshire County Council’s planning committee has given approval for a shopping and office complex to be built on the Severn Bridge Industrial Estate at Caldicot. The approval was given in spite of objections from Caldicot Chamber of Commerce, which fears that the scheme will take trade away from established businesses in the town centre.
SCHOOL FENCES TO PROTECT CHILDREN
Two Caldicot schools, St Mary’s Primary and Caldicot Comprehensive, are planning to erect fences around their grounds in an attempt to improve the safety of pupils and keep out unwelcome visitors. The fence at the Comprehensive School is due to go up in July. At St Mary’s plans have been delayed by the fact that public rights of way run through the grounds.
WEAPONS HANDED IN
About 20 weapons were handed in to Caldicot police during a weapons amnesty. They included a Remington rifle, shotguns, air pistols, a sword and a crossbow.
TWINNING BACK ON TRACK
The visit to Caldicot by a party from the French town of Morieres, which was called off in April as a result of the Iraq war, looks set to go ahead during the summer. Jean Barrett, who has led the twinning scheme in Morieres, denied that the original postponement was a political protest against British involvement in the war.
CHOIR CELEBRATES 
Caldicot Male Voice Choir celebrated its 40th anniversary with a special concert attended by 700 people at Caldicot Leisure Centre.
FOOTBALL
Caldicot Town finished the season in third place in Welsh League Division Three.


June
COUNCILLOR ARRESTED
County councilor Graham Powell, the most well known political figure in Caldicot, has been arrested and questioned by Newport police after accusations of fraud and theft relating to an elderly relative. The allegations do not relate to his political activities. Councilor Powell, who was released on bail, has denied all the allegations.
CALDICOT MAN DIES IN U.S. CRASH
Mr Howard Davies, who grew up in Caldicot, has been killed in a car crash in Nashville, Tennessee. Mr Davies, a former pupil at Caldicot Comprehensive School, had a successful business career and had been a director of the Cellnet mobile phone company. He was a keen fan of Elvis Presley and was on a visit to his birthplace when the accident occurred.
CASTLE REUNION
A reunion was held at Caldicot Castle for people who used to live in the castle itself. The reunion follows extensive research by Mrs Pauline Hayward, who is coordinating an oral history project collecting memories from people connected with the castle in the past.
CUSTODY FOR PUBLIC MENACE
Caldicot man Philip Pearce, aged 20, has been sentenced to six months in a young offenders’ institution after being found guilty of causing a danger to the safety of the public by shining a laser pen into the eyes of train drivers at Newport station. 


July
COUNCILLOR CHARGED WITH THEFT
County Councilor Graham Powell, who represents Caldicot’s Severnside ward, has been charged on ten counts of theft and two of forgery. Detective sergeant Davies of Cwmbran police said that the charges related to the alleged theft of £24,700 from elderly relatives. Councilor Powell has denied all the charges.
COUNCIL BACKS NEEDLE EXCHANGE SCHEME
Caldicot town council has called for a needle exchange scheme for drug users to be set up in the town. The call follows the discovery of a number of discarded syringes in the stand at Caldicot Town football club.
SCHOOL LAND SALE APPROVED
Monmouthshire county Council has given permission for up to four acres of Caldicot Comprehensive School’s playing field to be sold for the building of a supermarket. At present, however, it is not clear whether the land will actually be sold. School governors have declared that they will only give the scheme their backing under very strict conditions.
CCTV COMES ON LINE
Caldicot’s closed circuit television system is now up and running, with colour pictures from the six town centre cameras being transmitted to a control centre in Caerphilly.
RECYCLING CENTRE OPENS
A new recycling centre has opened at Caldicot’s Pill Farm Industrial Estate. The centre, run by Monmouthshire County Recycling with county council backing, will distribute boxes to householders and arrange for the collection of recycled materials. Details of the scheme can be obtained on 01291 430550.


August
COUNCILLOR PLEADS NOT GUILTY
County Councilor Graham Powell, who represents the town’s Severnside ward, appeared before Newport magistrates to face ten charges of theft and two of forgery (See July 2003). He pleaded not guilty on all charges and was released on bail.
POLICE WARN OVER BOGUS OFFICIALS
Caldicot police have warned that people knocking on doors in Caldicot claiming to be carrying out a survey of deaf people are bogus. The callers have been asking for names and addresses of deaf people in the area. Police have called upon people not to give such information and to phone them on 01291 430999 if the bogus officials call.
GRAVESTONE CHECK
Caldicot town council has informed local residents that a safety check will be carried out on gravestones in the town’s cemetery. A “tilt test” will be carried out on each stone to see if it is in danger of collapsing.
END TO “PUPIL ASSAULT” CASE
Monmouthshire County Council has finally drawn a line under the case in which Marjorie Evans, head teacher at St Mary’s Junior School, was accused of slapping a pupil at the school. She was found guilty of assault by Abergavenny magistrates but the verdict was overturned on appeal. The council carried out its own enquiry and has revised its procedures as a result.
PROPERTY WATCH
The cheapest house for sale in Caldicot in August 2003 was a three bedroom terrace without garage) at £89,950.


September
MORE JOBS AT BREWERY
Magor brewery, one of Caldicot’s leading employers, is to create 38 new jobs following the opening of a new bottling hall. The new plant is capable of filling 50,000 bottles of Stella Artois per hour. The brewery already employs 462 people.
CCTV CRITICISED
Caldicot councillors have criticised the new CCTV system as being ineffective in the fight against crime. They say the picture quality is poor at night and that because the cameras are not sheathed it is easy for wrong-doers to see when they are trained in their direction.
THUG JAILED FOR ATTACK ON MILKMAN
Carl Vincent, aged 24, was sentenced to ten months in prison after being found guilty of assaulting Caldicot milkman Bruce Lawrence. His brother, Matthew Vincent, aged 16, was given a four month curfew order, including electronic tagging, for his part in the attack. The unprovoked and drunken attack took place while Mr Lawrence was on his milk round at 1.15 am on April 4.
CALDICOT MAN HONOURED
Caldicot’s Derek Upton, well known for his years of voluntary work as a nature and coastal warden, had been honoured by having an education centre named after him. The centre, at Magor Moor nature reserve, was opened by David Bellamy.
COUNCILLOR APPEALS
County Councillor Graham Powell is to appeal against the decision of Monmouthshire County Council to suspend him for allegedly bullying two social workers.

WOMEN’S FOOTBALL BID SCUPPERED
Caldicot Women’s football team has failed in its attempt to join the English “pyramid” league system after their move was blocked by the Welsh Football Association. The club was not satisfied with the standard of play within Wales and was looking to England for a greater challenge. As a result of the failure to achieve a move, the club has now rejoined the welsh league but has withdrawn from the women’s FA cup competition.
PROPERTY WATCH
The cheapest house for sale in Caldicot in August 2003 was a three bedroom mid-terrace without garage at £84,950.

October
COUNCIL ACCUSED OF GRAVE MISTAKE
Relatives of people buried in Caldicot cemetery criticised the town council for “desecrating” memorials when 135 gravestones were laid flat during safety checks. A petition signed by 300 people was presented at a special meeting. Council members expressed regret for any distress called but pointed out that clear notice had been given and that the checks had been recommended by the Health and Safety Executive.
RECORD ATTENDANCE AT CASTLE
Monmouthshire museum Service reported a record rise in the number of people visiting Caldicot Castle.
PENSIONER DIES IN FIRE
Pensioner Shirley Pettyjohns, aged 69, died following a fire in her first floor bedroom at her flat in Elm Road, Caldicot.
NEW SERVICE FOR ADDICTS
Arrangements have been made for a mobile needle exchange unit to visit Caldicot once a week to allow addicts to exchange dirty needles and syringes for clean ones. The move follows complaints that dirty needles had been found discarded near the town playing fields. It is estimated that there are 40 drug addicts in Caldicot.
PROPERTY WATCH
The cheapest house for sale in Caldicot in October 2003 was a three bedroom semi detached property in Betjeman Avenue without garage at £93,000. 


November
FALL IN CRIME FOLLOWS CCTV INSTALLATION
Gwent police reported that criminal damage in Caldicot town centre has fallen by 47% and burglaries by 80% since CCTV cameras were installed in Caldicot in July.
COUNCIL TO PAY FOR GRAVESTONES
Following a row over the laying flat of many gravestones in Caldicot cemetery (see October), Caldicot town council has promised that the stones will be re-erected at no cost to relatives.
HISTORICAL SPECTACULAR UNDER THREAT
son et lumiere planned for Caldicot Castle next summer may have to be cancelled due to a shortfall in funding. The issue is due to be discussed by the Severnside Area Committee of Monmouthshire County Council. Similar performances held at Tintern Abbey and Chepstow Castle have been highly successful, attracting thousands of visitors.
SEVERNSIDE FORUM
A meeting of representatives from local groups was held at Caldicot Choir Hall to discuss the establishment of a Severnside Forum. The Forum, proposed as part of Monmouthshire county Council’s community strategy, would help to guide the council in serving Caldicot and neighbouring villages.
PROPERTY WATCH
The cheapest house for sale in Caldicot at the end of November 2003 was a three bedroom semi detached property in Park Road without garage at £104,950 – the first time the lowest property price has passed £100,000.


December
COUNCILLORS QUIT LABOUR
Two Labour members of Caldicot town council have quit the party and have joined the opposition to the ruling Labour Group as “independent” members. Colin Babb (Severn Ward) is reported to have resigned from the party in a long running dispute over his subscription fees while Kevin Bevan (West End Ward) stated that he was no longer prepared to “toe the party line” and was particularly unhappy about the handing of the recent cemetery dispute. A third Labour member, John Thomas (Dewstow Ward) has resigned from the council for “personal reasons”.
STATION FACILITIES CRITICISED
Caldicot town councilor James Harris has criticised Caldicot railway station as being “deprived and neglected” with no toilets, no proper waiting rooms and no facilities for the disabled. He has called on Raitrack and the Welsh Assembly Government to make improvements.
PROPERTY WATCH
The cheapest house advertised in the local press for sale in Caldicot at the end of December 2003 was a three-bedroomed semi-detached property with detached garage at £121,500. 

<< 2002
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