December 2007

ROWS MAR FESTIVE SEASON
The Christmas season was dominated by a series of spats between traders and the mayor. At the start of the month Hayden James, who runs a music shop in the town centre, wrote to the press to complain that his business, along with several others, had suffered from vandalism and anti-social behavior by “gangs of youths” and “mindless individuals intent on turning our town into a war zone”. He went on to complain that, in spite of Councillor John Marshall’s efforts in raising a 1,000-name petition, “nothing appears to have been done”. He singled out the mayor, Councillor David Ashwin, for criticism, branding his citing of a “conflict of interest” for not signing the petition as “pathetic”. He challenged police claims that crime was falling, saying that it was more a matter of people becoming too disillusioned to report incidents.

Replying in defence of her husband, Christine Ashwin, mayoress of Caldicot, pointed out that John Marshall is Hayden James’ brother-in-law. She stated that local government regulations would have prevented Councillor Ashwin from dealing with the issue at County Council level if he had signed the petition and that he was active in campaigning for improved CCTV coverage for the town.

This was followed by a row at a special town council meeting over whether a sleigh for use at the town’s Christmas celebrations was roadworthy. After the council decided not to use the sleigh, Mike Rice, from the Chamber of Commerce, and Councillor John Marshall walked out of the meeting. It is alleged that Councillor Ashwin taunted them with comments that they were “babies” who had “thrown their teddies from the pram” and that Mr Rice told Councillor Ashwin to “stick the sleigh up his arse”.

Further argument erupted over an embarrassing confusion over the annual Best-Dressed Shop Window competition, with Jessica Morden MP and John Griffiths AM presenting the award to one winner on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, only to find that the mayor had chosen a different winner.

DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR CALDICOT
Monmouthshire County Council has approved a development plan aimed at improving trade in Caldicot. The plan, which has been welcomed by Caldicot Regeneration Group, includes a new drainage system to prevent flooding and new facilities for the comprehensive school.

NEW CUTS AT SEVERN TUNNEL
Members of Severn Tunnel Action Group have protested to First Great Western over its decision to cut early evening through trains between Bath and Severn Tunnel Junction. Commuters and shoppers will now have to change at Bristol and wait half an hour for their connection.

FIVE YEARS LEFT FOR CEMETERY
Monmouthshire County Councillors were told that Caldicot Cemetery has space for burials for another five years.

CONSTABLE COMMENDED

PC Stephen Jones has been commended by the Chief Constable of Monmouthshire for his contribution to making twenty arrests for drugs related offences in Caldicot in the last year.

RICHARD PUTS CALDICOT IN THE PICTURE
Local historian Richard Jones has published the second volume of Caldicot and the Villages of the Moors in Old Photographs. The first volume was published by his father Malcolm in 1995. The book, which is selling well, is available from several local shops at £14.95.

HOUSE PRICE WATCH
The cheapest property advertised in the local press for sale in Caldicot at the end of December 2007 was a two-bedroom flat in Norman Court at £104,950. The cheapest house was a three-bedroom semi-detached in Estuary View at £142,000. The most expensive property was a four-bedroom detached house in Heol Teifi at £264,950.

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