End of Year Ward Summary

As it’s become quite a tradition of mine during the last few years, thought I’d better write an end of year report to my electorate within the Abersychan Ward.

Personally its been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me but hopefully not caused too many problems for me as a Councillor.

IMG_0165.JPG

Ward Pantomine

January saw the ward pantomime an annual event at the Millennium Hall for the families of the ward, this annual event started several years ago from an idea I had to allow families to enjoy a pantomime without the ridiculous price tags, the event is now sponsored by the ward Community Councillors and the next panto is on January 4th and will be Cinderella.

During January I took part in Charity Fundraisers for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the opening of the Gents Barbershop in the Village.

IMG_0359.JPG

Paying My Respects – Llanerch

February saw the first tickets go on sale for the Elvis Fundraiser within the ward which I hope to run at least twice a year to bring the community closer together in a family friendly environment, along with the annual walk to the Llanerch Memorial to pay my respects and to lay flowers.

March saw our community pull together during the snow storms and the community pulled together to clear snow from side roads and shops to allow deliveries.

March also saw residents I was involved with on a case receive the result they deserved and was one of the highlights at the start of the year, it also saw me attend the Lunch Club and judging of the Easter Bonnet Parade and a trip to Tesco for Easter Eggs for Noddfa Youth Clubs after a kind donation off Bronafon Housing Association.8FBADFFC-DD10-4869-A34A-CDCF048AE5E1

March also saw a vacancy for a seat on Pontypool Community Council for the Abersychan Cwmavon part of the ward an unpaid role which I decided to throw my hat into the ring for.

April saw the amount I have personally donated to local causes via GoFundMe rise to £740 and money raised to £1213.00 excluding direct donations including £50 to Lincolns Legs and various other charities within the ward.

Gabbys Diner within the ward held their first Afternoon Tea to raise funds for the local branch of the MNDA which I was also elected Chair by the branch committee. Gabbys have been outstanding in their support of this Charity which has touched many including myself within the ward.

Garndiffaith

April also saw me cutting the first sod for the new development at Ty Rosser Gwyn, Garndiffaith along with attending the 100 years of RAF flag raising at Pontypool Civic Centre.

May saw the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations, which caused a major headache for me within my role and led to extra safeguards put in place by myself and a log of evidence of permissions granted by residents and whether full or partial consent was given along with verbal, message or email consent and date time.

A real minefield , but the law is the law and I need to follow it, this can lead to some delays in dealing with complex issues.

May also saw a partnership working event with Noddfa Chuch – FREE TO A GOOD HOME  which was a massive success and achieved the results I wanted along with attending the TRAC2 Evening of Thanks at Trevethin, were I’m always blown away with the amount of good they do within Torfaen for all those in need.

June was a sad month for me with the Open Morning at the now closed Brynteg Nursery where i was presented with a crystal glass engraved with a thank you message for my help and support.

I also received several items from Victoria Primary after calling in to see the staff.

IMG_1087.JPGThe highlight of June was the Concert I organised at the Millennium Hall which was a sell out, thanks to Jen Rosser and her ticket pushing!

 

June also saw me gain a test result of 93% in the Cardinus Data Training to ensure I comply with residents data correctly – PASS!

I also met with the British Red Cross to provide their Friend Hub in the ward, unfortunately this was discontinued after a lack of take up by residents.

6B3D522B-24D0-4E8B-9351-04C8DB93C409

Informal meeting with the British Red Cross

June also saw me invited to the Garndiffaith RFC Presentation Evening which I was honoured to attend and support.

July I rejoined the board at Garnsychan Partnership to work more closely with them to promote whats on offer within our ward and ensure that the Charity has a voice during times of austerity and cutbacks within Torfaen.

September I supported the Mic Morris 10K, handing out medals at the finish line and clapping in the runners, many raising funds for charity, along with helping out and supporting the Millennium Hall Afternoon Tea event for the the community in the ward.

October saw the grand unveiling of the Glansychan Lane Mural by Torfaen Play on the wall of the youth club after complaints I received of obscene graffiti, which was painted out.

Torfaen Play

Thanks to Torfaen Play for painting a mural to enhance the Youth Building in the ward

I was also invited to a tree planting to commemorate 10 years of Bronafon along with a topping out ceremony at a new development at Garndiffaith.

We also started to plan Carols Under the Arch #3 at Noddfa.

November saw me become Community Councillor for Abersychan and Cwmavon after the election was cancelled which now leads to me being a dual hatted Councillor for the ward.

Along with attending Noddfa Remembrance Service and laying a wreath to remember the people from this ward who have lost their lives to give us freedom.

In partnership with Gabbys I held another Concert at the Millennium Hall for Charity.

 

IMG_0554

Christmas – Free to a good home 2

December we held another FREE TO A GOOD HOME this time concentrating on Christmas and Toys, Thank You again Pastor John and Noddfa for your continued support.

I also attended a factory visit to Capital Valley Plastics within the ward to learn about their recycling process and attend several cheque presentations, and Christmas events in the ward.

fullsizeoutput_31f2.jpeg

Capital Valley Plastics

I also spent time with Pastor John with the Homeless in Newport, providing them with donated clothes, tents and food.

IMG_0715

Homeless Run and Support – Newport

The Year ended with Carols Under The Arch #3 which as always I am pleased to be part of.

This report is only a summary of my year, as I have attended events and meetings at Cwmavon Village Hall, Events throughout the ward and day to day casework, it’s been yet another busy year along with my main employment, but I hope it shows through that I am committed to this ward and its residents as always.

Thank You for your support during 2018 and can I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy 2019!

Connecting Communities

Today I met with Suzanne Parry-Price, British Red Cross Community Connector for Torfaen to discuss their Connecting Communities Scheme.

6B3D522B-24D0-4E8B-9351-04C8DB93C409
Connecting Communities is there to support adults who feel that they have nowhere to turn, during an initial period of 3 months, they aim to help a person to feel better connected and able to enjoy the benefits of being more involved in the local area.

Everything will be built by enabling people to realise the things they’d like to achieve by offering:

Support tailored to your needs

Rediscover your interests

Rebuild your independence

By joining you in local activities that match your interests, it will enable you to meet new people who like doing the same things, drawing on the confidence and independence you’ve built, you’ll have the chance to build new friendships that last!

You’re not alone, over 9 million adults across the UK regularly feel lonely, people of all ages and walks of life.

During our working lunch, I decided to take the plunge for the ward and discuss starting a pilot scheme at the Millennium Hall, as it is within walking distance, on a bus route and has ample parking.

I’m looking to start a session in August during a morning to gauge interest.

I’ll be running it in a fan format, with introduction and guest speaker to talk about support at home for qualifying people (First Call) and I’ll be inviting the Garnsychan Partnership along to see if we can link in with any of their projects.

I’m very excited about this scheme, as loneliness is an awful thing.

Anything I can do to help people in this situation as a Councillor, it’s something we need to take head on.

I’ll be releasing more information once I fix a date and time to book the venue and meet up with the Garnsychan Partnership.

I look forward to working with the British Red Cross on this initiative as your Councillor for the Ward.

cropped-594a9bf2-2379-4567-a12f-e677c396022f1.png

Final Image Photography Abersychan

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Dean Paget after receiving an invitation  to take a look around his studio at Final Image Photography, based in Abersychan.

Dean explained that he’s following in his fathers footsteps after developing a passion for photography during the early years of his life, before gaining a diploma in Wedding and Portrait photography.

During his high school years, Dean told me that he had favoured black and white imagery using the old wet techniques of catching images on film, before moving onto digital.

Final Image Photography is a family run business, so you’ll be assured of a friendly, personal service at good prices.

What struck me when speaking to Dean was how easy it was, he has the qualities of making you feel relaxed and at ease which is a great asset in his profession.

I look forward to seeing their business progress and grow and thank Dean and his family for taking the leap of faith and opening their business in the ward.

Looking around the studio, I was impressed with the quality of the portraits on display and will be booking my family in soon for a portrait.

Final Image Photography can be found on Facebook or at their website

http://www.finalimagephotography.co.uk

Gabbys Diner Fundraising Afternoon Tea

5B318FAA-F5BC-4AE7-A7FD-1A32219BA49F

Nicola & Jen Rosser

On Thursday 5th April 2018, Gabbys Diner owners and relentless fundraisers Jennifer Rosser and daughter Nicola along with granddaughter Gabby which the restaurant is named after, held their first fundraising renowned Afternoon Tea of 2018, this time raising over £490 for South East Wales Motor Neurone Disease Association.

As always the restaurant was full to capacity, everyone was given a very warm welcome, tea was served with a selection of finger sandwiches and savouries followed by homemade cakes, custard slices and cream scones.

A raffle was held with several prizes including vouchers donated by Jenson Coaches.

The restaurant was decorated with Fresh Flowers, MNDA Balloons and Banners.

Can I take this opportunity to thank Jen, her family and staff for a wonderful successful afternoon, wishing them the very best for the next upcoming teas.

A short update

During the past few weeks I’ve met with my partners at Torfaen Youth to build on the success of the ward Youth Clubs, by gaining an opportunity for a recognised qualification earned by taking part in activities.

I’ve started talks with Bronafon in regards to a few activities that Noddfa Church are doing to help residents within the community, these may tie in with their ethos, so I’m currently looking at ways to link in to provide a better service for residents of the ward.

Recently I’ve joined TRAC2, this is a crisis intervention charity that provides recycled household items to people facing hardship, it’s also a Community Outreach Office that host multiple agencies enabling a safe and confidential place to meet. TRAC2 also have a charity shop that enables members of our disadvantaged community to purchase low cost, affordable items.

Over the last year TRAC2 has donated over 200 items to families within our ward and helped 10 families along with providing financial support, so I’ve very pleased to be a proactive member of this charity and look forward to working closely with them to help the most vulnerable within the ward and Torfaen.

IMG_0641

Cheque presentation at TRAC2 for £600 raised at Carols Under The Arch

Recently I was involved in a cheque presentation to TRAC2 from donations collected at Carols under the Arch, this was gladly accepted to provide essential items within the community.

I’m currently researching a food share scheme for the ward and hope to get something set up before next year after I’ve arranged a group meeting with my partnership agencies.

You may wonder why I use the word ‘Partnerships’, this is what I’ve built on over the last 5 years via contacts and people I have already worked with as a Councillor, building links such as the Fire Rescue Service, Gwent Police, TRAC2, Probation Service, Torfaen Play, Torfaen Youth, etc.

8FBADFFC-DD10-4869-A34A-CDCF048AE5E1

Donating Easter Eggs to Noddfa Youth and Toddler Clubs, thanks to Bronafon for matching my donation, really appreciated by all.

As usual if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you will see that much of my free time has been taken up by resolving issues during and after the bad weather along with private casework that I can’t post about, too much to put in this short blog, it’s been an exceptionally busy and stressful few weeks!

IMG_0531

Great community spirit by residents during the snow.

So, I took the decision to resign from my paid position at the Brecon Beacons National Parks Authority as it tied me down too much when my workload within the ward has seemed to have risen considerably over the past few months, this must take priority.

This has now taken effect and my seat is currently vacant.

Finally, massive thanks to the community who pulled together during the bad weather and showed true community spirit by helping to clear the roads and footpaths along with looking out for housebound and infirm residents, huge respect to you.

Thanks also for your continued support within the ward!

The First Eight Months

Abersychan Ward Banner

Its been a busy few months since the Local Government Elections, but with a few setbacks I’ve tried to keep ploughing forward for the ward.

IMG_0122Supporting events within the ward via my small schemes, I have been targeting youth initiatives like ‘Fit & Fed’ along with supporting local Play Schemes and Youth Clubs.

Attending many events within the ward, from Charity Fund Raisers, Varteg Community Day, Table Top Sales and Community Events, I not only support the event, but I also add to my list of contacts to work towards doing more for the youth.

The most major task to date was the setting up meetings for the wonderful ‘Carols under

Carols Under The Arch

Local Press Coverage

the Arch’ which was a lot bigger this year, needing lots of cutting through red tape. Thanks again to Noddfa Church for organising the event.

After a family bereavement from Motor Neurone Disease, I put a motion through Council  to adopt the MND Charter, which was accepted enabling me to Champion the cause!

Tesco Pontypool

Raising funds for MNDA

Within days I raised £300 by taking part in a 24 hour silence, within a few weeks I took part in a Charity Collection at Tesco and have now organised a fund raising Elvis concert for the ward.

One of the issues that concerns me is the amount of food bank usage and poverty within parts of the ward, to help address this I applied to join the board of Garnsychan Partnership to link in to get help where it’s needed, but unfortunately there wasn’t a vacancy.

IMG_2193But working closely with Pastor John at Noddfa Church and his congregation we have run collections for food banks, clothes for the homeless, shoebox collections, started youth clubs (that I’ve sponsored) and interact with the Fire Service, Community Support Officers and Play Service.

We have set up Toaster and Kettle Mountains and Sanitary Products Collections all at very little cost.

IMG_2638

Myself and Community Councillor Lynda Clarkson put a proposal to Torfaen County Borough Council to turn Victoria School into a building to support local enterprise and tourism, constantly looking at ways to keep the building from being sold and kept for local use.

This is ongoing and the sale has been postponed for the forseeable future.

 

During the last few months I have met with the Fire Service, Police, Community Safety and Torfaen Leisure Trust to see how we can partner work with each other to promote the ward and bring activities here.

I have just applied and been accepted as a Trustee for TRAC2 the County Borough Wide Charity that supports families not just in the Abersychan Ward but throughout Torfaen, with these, I am hoping to build closer ties with the ward and help support the residents most in need.

Since May, I have still been inundated with day to day concerns like, grit bins, refuse, pot holes, flooding, ASB, home visits, fly tipping and various other issues which I have dealt with as quickly as posible.

As always, Thank You for your support!

 

 

End of an era

Abersychan produced 5 Mayors from 1 Ward

Abersychan Ward Past Mayors

From the Lord Lieutenant of Gwent to the High Sheriff, the Mayor of Torfaen along with other Mayors have played an important role in the integral running of protocols and Local Government since 1974 ensuring that the constitution is upheld along with promoting social inclusion and building relationships and partnerships between individuals and organisations.

Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE

Each county has a Lord-Lieutenant who is the local representative of Her Majesty The Queen in that county.

This is something I fear will now be ripped out by austerity and will eventually lead to a breakdown with local groups, High Sheriffs and the Lord Lieutenant.

The Mayor builds bridges and links in with the other tiers of Local Government, I was blessed to make history in Torfaen, following my father in the role, so I had a lot of experience and understood what was required as soon as I signed the declaration.

I promoted local groups and invited them to tour the building and learn its history and the democratic processes involved.

The Mayor usually attends around 350 plus engagements per term of office, invited by local businesses, charity groups and various organisations within the borough and further afield.

Abersychan ward was unique by providing the borough with 5 Mayors over the years.

The Coat of Arms on the Mayoral Chain and the Civic Centre displays Blue wavy lines which represent the Afon Lwyd (Welsh for Grey River) which runs the length of Gwent’s Eastern Valley; the rising sun depicts new authority and its terrain; black diamonds on the shield depict coal; wheat sheaves represent the Borough’s agriculture; the crow derives from Cwmbran (Welsh for Valley of the Crow (or black bird)), being the traditional emblem of the town; vases carried by crows depict Pontypool Japanware, one of the area’s most famous industries of the past.

The chains were presented to the Mayor and Mayoress of Torfaen, Councillor and Mrs D B Richards, by Mr G R Packer, Managing Director of Girling Limited.  

Abersychan Pharmacy

One of the many local businesses to visit the Civic Centre

The Mayors chain is 18ct Hall Marked Gold with thirty four links approximately 5′ 0″ in length and the Mayoresses chain 18ct Hall Marked Gold approximately 3′ 6″ in length.

Councillor Richards was an employee of Girling Limited with over thirty-two years service. Since 1948 he was Branch Secretary of the A.E.W.U at Cwmbran, and a Union Convenor between 1946 and his retirement in November 1974.

Although personally I am upset by the decision as a former Mayor, I understand the pressure the Leader and Cabinet are under, looking to save every penny to protect our frontline services, putting my own feelings aside, I have no option but to put my faith in their decision and support them during these difficult times.

Some of the public might see the Mayoral Role as a luxury we can do without, but time will tell if the right decision has been made.