DEBATES TOWN'S FUTURE
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
BOY MAKES GOOD
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.
BIG CAT SIGHTING
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.
DEFENCES TO BE IMPROVED
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.
SWOOP ON TRUANTS
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
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.
Caldicot Community Website