What's good about your community? What would make it better?
Our Monmouthshire is about public services and communities working together to address the needs of future as well as current generations. We want as many people as possible to have their say. Your views will help us shape the future of the area.
Help us shape the future of Monmouthshire
In 2018 Monmouthshire Public Service Board have to publish a long term plan for the area. To do this we need to get a better picture of well-being in communities.
Your help will be really important in enabling us to do that.
Monmouthshire Public Service Board is made up of services including the Police, NHS, council, and Fire and Rescue along with the voluntary sector and housing associations.
Our Well-being Plan needs to reflect the communities that live in Monmouthshire. We need your help to get a better understanding of the economic, environmental, social and cultural well-being of Monmouthshire. This is really important so that we can create communities that people want to live in now and in the future. We think this is the right thing to be doing and on 1 April 2016 it also became a legal duty placed on all public services in Wales.
The Well-being of Future Generations Act is all about improving the economic, environmental, social and cultural well-being of people in Wales. The Act makes services think more about the long-term, work better with people and communities and each other, look to prevent problems and take a more joined up approach.
We need to hear your ideas about:
- What's good in your community?
- What could be better?
Matthew - A great place. One challenge is that with property prices above the UK average and local wages below the UK average it will make it hard for young people to continue to afford to live here.
Jude - What's good? The beautiful countryside, fresh air, mountains and rivers - can't beat it! My kids' primary school is great. Coffee shops in abundance. People getting together to make things happen. Libraries are excellent. Vibrant culture (love Chepstow festival, Abergavenny food festival, Castell Roc, Wye River Festival...)
What could be better? Getting around through active travel is challenging, fast country roads often don't feel safe for the 'casual' cyclist or for cycling with children, equally for walking/running. More local employment opportunities: will my children be able to get jobs here 15 years from now? Where will they be able to afford to live? More things for youngsters to do/places to go in rural areas.
craker - What's good? Great education - love my kids' school, good local sports provision especially for children (my sons' volunteer rugby coaches are amazing), stunning natural landscape, local heritage (castles!),
What could make it better? No tolls on the Severn Bridge, more formal recreational green spaces, closer general hospital (nearest are 35-40 minutes away)
Rosebud - By Rose (10), Sam (9) and Jack (6):
We like the countryside, our neighbours and being close to friendly people, going round my friend's house, school is brilliant and I love the teachers, Gwent Music Service (especially orchestra at South Monmouthshire music centre on Fridays), my rugby team (playing for Chepstow and going to watch the Dragons).
What could be better? Free bus passes for children (so we can get into town without a lift from our parents), safer walking and cycling routes - especially to school, being able to get to people's houses more easily
HazelClatworthy - So far I've been to Chepstow show and Abergavenny town centre asking people these questions, and most people love where they live. Some of the suggestions about how it could be even better include safer cycling, better tourist information, more low cost housing and less litter. Tell us what you think!
MaffH - So perhaps MCC could support UTAG in crearing the Usk to Little Mill cycletrack by removing planning application fees and helping the group secure public liability insurance to allow the project to progress. Something that isnt currently happening despite years of trying!
Lucybrad - Bringing back the pest control service would make Monmouthshire better. Simple fact is, people don't want to or can't afford to pay for it,and the rodent population is growing.
floglo68 - Having open spaces and not building hundreds of houses in an area that has no infrastructure. But this is exactly what you intend to do at Rockfield Farm in Undy.
When you build on Rockfield Farm in Undy you will ruin my community
AnneWareham - Biggest worry for many of us is knowing that ambulances take too long to arrive at rural locations and that the hospitals are too far away. And the parking at Royal Gwent is very problematic. Out of our council's hands though, so not exactly an idea. Proper hospital at Chepstow might be called a pipe dream instead.
HazelClatworthy - Thanks Anne. The Wellbeing Assessment that we have to produce, which the Our Monmouthshire work is helping to inform, isn't just a council plan - the Public Service Board have to produce it, and that includes the Health Board, Gwent Police, Fire and Rescue, Natural Resources Wales, housing associations and GAVO, so all suggestions about what could improve wellbeing are great, not just the ones for the Council.
Brynbuga - Better bus services would help with parking problems at hospials.
Mark - Monmouthsire must begin listening to the voices of young people and people within poorer parts of the county.
Council members should be reflective of the people they represent and be truly open to innovation and change for the health of the county, its towns and the businesses within them.
Monmouthshire must engage with communities in a consistent effective way.
OurMonmouthshire - Thanks for the comments Mark. Please share this page with other young people so that we can make sure their views are heard in this process. We're also out and about around the county and have postboxes in the community hubs where people can leave their thoughts. Alternatively just use the hashtag #OurMonmouthshire and we'll find any comments that way.
ChrisRobionson - Agree, the young should be able to increasingly influence the future - they are the future and therein lies our sustainability. Our priority must be to optimise the young's lifetime contribution to society before they, like us all, become beneficiaries of our care and support services. So Jobs and social housing have to be the priorities.
Tonyc - It would be a start if the map you show included Caldicot on it!
Caldicot is a great place to live with thriving voluntary organisations and sporting organisations. It is ideally located to commute to Bristol or Newport and Cardiff. However the town is neglected by the County Council with town centre planters and planters by the library infested with weeds as no planting was carried out this year, the approach to the town, Chepstow Road, has not been weeded at all and the shrubbery in the beds is being overtaken by weeds. The rooftops of the shops
have been taken over by hoards of pigeons with no apparent attempts to control numbers. Their mess can be seen on the pedestrian area, if I was a local member of your council these things would either be attended to or the other members would be sick of hearing my complaints. Our town centre being a relatively new centre lacks the character of the older Monmouthshire towns but is also losing shops due to insufficient footfall and high rents and rates. Volunteers are doing their best to remedy some of the problems like overgrown paths and lack of planting, what is the council doing? Nothing it appears!
MonmouthshireCC - Thank you for the comments. The Council is working collaboratively with the Town Team to address the town centre environment. The planters in the town centre have been used by the incredible edibles group and the Town Team are working on schemes to utilise Section 106 funding to improve Newport Road. As you may be aware the shops in the town centre are privately owned and therefore we are unable to influence the rental levels, however initiatives such as the pop up shop unit being run by the Town Team and funded by section 106 monies is a positive approach which we understand has resulted in the letting of the unit to a new tenant. The Town Team are always looking for volunteers to support their work so you may wish to contact them to see how you can contribute to some of the issues that you have raised. Made Open is a good place to raise these ideas and work with others to identify solutions to the thins that matter to communities.
ChrisRobionson - Whilst Monmouthshire is a great place to live, it looks pretty rough on "bin day". Why not develop camouflaged collection areas where we could put our bags - this would improve the current unsightly mess (described by one of my visitors as, "Chepstow looks like cardboard city in London!) and would make collection cheaper with the various collection vehicles having to make less stops.
What;'s exceptional in Chepstow - 2 people; the gentleman that starts work @6amish and picks up all the rubbish from the pavements and then there's the man that comes around every day watering the hanging baskets etc - both "unsung heroes"
OurMonmouthshire - Thanks for the comments and ideas Chris. All of the feedback will be used to help us develop the well-being assessment and subsequent plan for the county. Please keep it coming.
Brynbuga - Bus services need improvement. They are the key to an unpolluted and mobile community. Many elderly people without cars depend on buses for a social life. The number 60 in particular is a disgrace: cut from every hour to every two, it is unpunctual and sometimes fails to appear at all. It runs through important leisure and business areas such as Monmouth, Raglan, Usk, Caerleon and Newport. Please investigate and improve our public transport. Some services in the valleys run every ten or twenty minutes. I can see no reason why Monmouthshire is so badly served and is so primitive in attitude.
MaffH - The pricing is also all wrong. Family return from Usk to Monmouth is around £25 which just means we dont use it. Also, childs fares are too high, £5.20 return from Usk to Caerleon. There should be no surprise that the buses are so empty. Surely lower prices would attract more use.
Brynbuga - I should say that, whilst I complain about the bus service near Usk, I run a blog about the history and attractions of Monmouthshire. It is so frustrating that carless people have such difficulty accessing their locality. To protect our environment we MUST have better public transport. My blog is called: History on the buses in Monmouthshire. Give us the buses to make it come to life.
OurMonmouthshire - Thanks for the comments, you clearly have amount of passion and knowledge on this subject. Once we have some more comments back we will begin to hold some sessions on particular topics where people can come together and help shape and create some of the solutions so it would be great if you could get involved - watch this space. In the meantime if you know or come across examples of rural areas or similar counties where there are better approaches to better meet the transport needs of rural areas it would be great to share them here. None of us have all the answers but by working together we have the opportunity to do something different.
DavidGreenhalgh - 1. I'd like more culture in the Chepstow - Monmouth area. A refurbished arts centre like Cardigan.
2.I want to see the cycle path from Chepstow to Brokweir going through this time. It was travesty of the role of a local council when it was blocked last time and I would urge regional oversight this time around now the planning is being resubmitted.
Lizziemg - I moved to Caerwent 23 years ago this week and love living here. Beautiful surroundings, a sense of history all around and, with my own transport, access to all parts of the county (and country) is easy but...
a) I love driving but, as I get older, I may have to rely on public transport and that is not good in this area.
b) As much as I love this area I also enjoy travelling across the Severn Bridge & would welcome a reduction (or a complete withdrawal!) of toll charges.
c) We need a minor injuries unit in Chepstow. Representation to Aneurin Bevan Health Board has proved fruitless.
I see another respondent has mentioned the dearth of parking at the Royal Gwent. That must be sorted out and soon. It is wrong that this major hospital has such limited space for parking.
d) Stop calling Libraries Community Hubs! I'm afraid the Library side of things has taken a backward step since the change. There seem to be fewer staff who can help with, or indeed seem interested in, library-related enquiries.
ChrisRobionson - If Monmouthshire is to provide high quality services to the ever changing demography within a reducing funding environment, it simply has to generate more revenue. Business understands that to generate new revenue you need to be associated with new, innovative ideas and products, and you need to take risks. MCC might do well to consider what Barclays Bank does within its Eagle Labs to nurture innovation and partnership for mutual benefit: https://labs.uk.barclays/
ChrisRobionson - There must be a win-win solution to two fundamental issues in Monmouthshire - a lack of staffing capacity in the care market and the need for more employment for young people. If MCC could contribute to making Caring a career of choice, a win-win situation would have been achieved
ChrisRobionson - Might understanding why there are no really 'major' hotels in the county lead to solutions that would optimise the income from this and it's associated market sectors?
HuwEvans - What's good? - The countryside, the history, the space ...
What could be better? - Public transport, employment, local economy, no Severn Bridge fees, smarten the place up in places, develop greater quality in service provision. Be effective - then look for efficiency and sustainability.
Get a greater/better dialogue going around decision-making. Democracy isn't just about voting in an election or referendum - it's about citizens actively engaged and becoming more aware and having a better understanding of how services work and can be delivered - so people are not dumbed down - their input is seen as fundamental and not superficial or cursory. Don't treat categories of citizens in silos - get people talking together and break down as many barriers as possible.
Develop sustainable economies, locally and nationally - don't try to emulate what might work for S E England here ... Why should people feel they need to move away to get on in their lives? We need new / fresh thinking e.g. universal/unconditional basic income
OurMonmouthshire - Some of the comments answers to the 'what's good' question that we've had back on postcards: beautiful countryside; sense of community; low crime-rate; good recycling and a well connected location if you have a car. Do you agree with these? What else is good about your community and our county?
OurMonmouthshire - Some of the comments answers to the 'what would make it better' question that we've had back: More affordable housing for all ages; better public transport - especially in rural areas; more affordable exercise opportunities to target obesity; more cycle-paths; visibility of local police; more activities for young people...Are these the things that matter to you?
MaffH - Support local community groups trying to create sustainable leisre routes in the community such as the Usk to Little Mill cyclepath and ensure local buses offer family or child bus tickets that encourage sustainable transport use and reduction is car use. It is currently too expensive to justify using the services.
MaffH - Improve road design to reduce reliance on speed signs to allow for safer urban environments which will encourage more sustainable cycling and walking by all ages. In Usk, the road and speed of cars dominate and this is killing the centre of town whereas better pedestrian friendly road layouts could increase footfall and improve peoples health.
Isaacfranklin - Monmouthshire has alot to boast, beautiful scenery, beautiful history, beautiful people.
The music festival at monmouth, the food festival at aber etc are jewels in Monmouthshires crown. (unlike moving Monmouth's market to the bottom of town).
What it doesn't have is good cycling infrastructure ( and a council historically hell bent on blocking it). Affordable housing for young people, or affordable rental housing for young people, is non existence, I know it is hopeful to imagine you can live and remain where you grew up! Opertunitys for people coming out of schools are low, and limited, this doesn't have to be if the schools catered for the jobs available in the area maybe younger people wouldn't be so easy pushed towards a monstrous student debt provided to us by our lovely goverment!
I feel like maybe some of these problems are the nature of the area, or nature of the times, and the council maybe not able to deal with them but they definitely can do somthibg about the cycling, for God sake it's a no brainer, it would encourage healthier living, encourage mobility in the youth, lower the reliance on
public transport for some in the community, and it's quite well laided out already, (for instance monmouth to chepstow on the old railway line you just got to connect the last bit and stop blocking sustains......) using the old railways and canal ways you could create a beautiful interconnect off road cycling network.
OurMonmouthshire - Thanks so much for the comments. This work will help us identify the things that really matter to people. It won't just be the council who use the information but all public services and the voluntary sector who come together to form the Public Service Board for Monmouthshire so we're interested in much more than council services. Challenges around rural transport are coming through strongly as is the need to create more opportunities for people to be active.
Matthew - The Data and comments are highlighting rural transport as a challnge. We've observed the impact of Uber in Cities. Could a RuralUber be part of the solution in Monmouthshire? This is an example of someone trying it in rural Nebraska http://www.citylab.com/navigator/2016/07/how-an-uber-copycat-can-fill-the-transportation-gap-in-rural-nebraska/490769/. Could something similar work in Monmouthshire? What would it take?
Bethia - Monmouth is a pleasant community with good schools and cultural activities. It would be much better if it was not divided by the A40. The noise and pollution it causes deserves the attention and amelioration measures it does not receive. It needs better public transport - later in the evening and better co-ordination
OurMonmouthshire - Thanks Bethia. We're getting lots of responses about transport - both public transport and cycling. We hope to be sharing some of the initial findings towards the end of November. The next stage will be form partners to produce a well-being assessment which public services will use as the evidence base to hep shape their priorities for the long term so what you share here really can make a difference.
OurMonmouthshire - We spoke to people at events across Monmouthshire. Housing was a common issue. Below are some representative comments:
OurMonmouthshire - “Build affordable houses on the Morrisons site. And a growing initiative. I don’t know how people are going to buy houses if they are not building affordable ones.”
OurMonmouthshire - “Lived in Abergavenny all my life. Housing is a big issue. Youngsters getting a foot on the ladder is a big worry. Generally cant fault living in Abergavenny.”
OurMonmouthshire - “Please could we have more affordable social housing. Particularly one bedroomed accommodation for single people. It’s a shame that public money goes into the pocket of private landlords who charge extortionate rents. Thank you.”
OurMonmouthshire - “Countryside is reasonably unspoilt. Stop building houses on green field sites.”
OurMonmouthshire - We spoke to people at events across Monmouthshire. Improving rural transport was a common issue. Below are some representative comments:
OurMonmouthshire - “Transport. Better Transport needed. Bus services eg to Crickhowell. Direct services. No late buses”
OurMonmouthshire - “Improve bus services. Put small buses instead of big buses. More than 1 per hour.”
OurMonmouthshire - “Improve public transport. People cant catch buses to go to work. Nothing for teenagers to do.”
OurMonmouthshire - We spoke to people at events across Monmouthshire. Another common issue was finding well paid work. Below are some representative comments:
OurMonmouthshire - “Monmouth is very clean, good local post office, shops and leisure centre. Swim is good to go to. Would stay until I move to uni. Want to go where there are more job opportunities.”
OurMonmouthshire - “Transport links across the county are dive. Especially bus services. Youth service provision is extremely limited. Pleasing to see education is improving. More affordable housing needed. Love the pollinator policy. Need to attract more employers.”
OurMonmouthshire - “Fast broadband and support for micro/home business”
OurMonmouthshire - “Good place to live. Very nice. Need more employment and a hospital”
OurMonmouthshire - We spoke to people at events across Monmouthshire. One things people loved was the countryside. Below are some representative comments:
OurMonmouthshire - “Green and lovely countryside. No traffic Jams. Clean and cared for. Need to link public transport better, bus and train. Timetables not well integrated. Town centre improvements are great. Quality open space.”
OurMonmouthshire - “Lots of beautiful landscapes. Friendly people and interesting places to visit. Improvements could be made to public bus services.”
OurMonmouthshire - “We live in a beautiful scenic countryside. People are really friendly. Good schools and choice. Not enough affordable housing. Need better mental health services especially for children and young adults.”
OurMonmouthshire - We spoke to people at events across Monmouthshire. One things people liked was the sense of community. Below are some representative comments:
OurMonmouthshire - “Friendliness and localness. Landscape and bike trails on doorstep. Good sense of community and safe.”
OurMonmouthshire - “We need more places like the community centre so that more people can come and feel safe, not be judged and get help and support. I like the youth club. No one judges anyone else, its really good. There needs to be a way for people to be signposted towards the help and services they need. The youth centre is a safe environment. Everyone gets on with everyone else. Its fun, YP can voice their opinions.”
OurMonmouthshire - “Good neighbours and friendly spirit. Could have better lighting in the car park at night. Caestory crescent. More pastimes for older people, Bingo. Flower beds need more attention. More car parking space.”
OurMonmouthshire - “Good community spirit. a nice choice of local shops, hotels and public houses. Good community area. Plenty of activities within and around the village. Problems within the main street is parking on double lines.”
OurMonmouthshire - We spoke to people at events across Monmouthshire. One things people loved was events. Below are some representative comments:
OurMonmouthshire - “I enjoy growing vegetables in my garden - we need more spaces to grow the food we need. Love the borough theatre and the cinema. Plenty of culture if you look for it.”
OurMonmouthshire - “Whats good? Recycling facilities. Beautiful. Lots going on. Monmouth festival. Childcare facilities. Lots of free events. Carnival. What could be better? Leisure facilities. Parking charges. Town hall.”
OurMonmouthshire - “Living in Abergavenny for 58 years I have seen a lot of changes. I find abergavenny a beautiful place to live. The town is lovely and there is a lot more entertainment for families to access. Food festival, steam rally ect. When I was young, we had 2 cafes that were open till 10pm in the evening for teenagers only. What do you think could be better? More cafes for teenagers to access. more access when the cyclists are in town. temporary traffic lights to be removed quicker. bus services run to parc pen y fal from town.”
Jonie - What about inequality in Monmouthshire? Are we ok with the fact that we have some of the very wealthiest, most expensively house-priced parts of Wales while people are using foodbanks and experiencing real poverty. Loads of evidence to show that inequality is damaging to a society.
Also, why are none of the county's secondary schools high performing compared to similar schools across Wales and the UK? Particularly when the county is so well off? Feels like we're very complacent about the standard of our education.
It's a stunningly beautiful place though - would never want to live anywhere else!
OurMonmouthshire - Thanks for the comments Jonie. The points you make about housing have been coming up consistently from a lot of people and you're not the only person to make the comment about schools. All of the feedback we get here will be used along with the comments gathered at events to help public services shape their priorities for the future.
PaulD - Monmouthshire is a great place to live. However, I share the sentiment with some of the other ideas submitted - better connectivity for cycling and walking between communities. For example, a dedicated cycle path between Caldicot to Caerwent, then on to Chepstow and perhaps linking up with Monmouth etc. (Sorry, I don't consider bust roads with those little blue cycle signs as a real cycle path - I wouldn't feel safe taking my children on their bikes).
There are some also some easy wins to make living environment more pleasant - ensure litter is picked up, plant trees along road sides to create 'avenues'. - Caldicot would benefit - especially along the new road next to the Asda.