January 2001

THE AXE FALLS
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.

REDUNDANCIES AT MITEL
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.

REGENERATION VITAL FOR FUTURE OF SHOPS
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.

ANGER OVER WELSH SCHOOL U-TURN
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.

DEVELOPMENT PLANS FOR COALYARD
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.

CHURCH NEWS
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.

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