October minutes

October 2020 Minutes

Minutes of the Council meeting held on Monday 12th October 2020 by Zoom.

Present: Cllrs David Harris, (Chairman) Carolyn Ovenden (Vice Chairman), David Merrett, Christine Morton, Sylvia Stevens, James Anderson, Jayne Harris, Matt Sidwell.

Also in attendance:
Clerk – Mrs J Kelley
Members of the public–None
Police representatives – None

The Chairperson welcomed Councillors to the meeting and thanked them for attending. He welcomed Cllr Matt Sidwell to his first meeting.
(i) Public Comment

A letter has been received from a resident advising that, in his opinion, the text on the new plaque placed at St. Tewdric’s Well should be more accurate. He feels the wording is acceptable for the casual tourist but that for residents of Mathern, it should be revised and a better narrative used.
Action – Cllr D Harris and Cllr Ovenden to investigate the points raised and write back to the resident.
The Chairman had received a very aggressive telephone message at home re a recent planning application. The caller was asking for his questions to be answered but we are unaware what his questions are. The Clerk has received no written or verbal request and we are unable to assist or clarify.
The official route, as no face to face meeting is permitted, is to email the Clerk who will bring the matter to the next council meeting.
A resident of Pwllmeryic has great concerns that, now that the properties at Brook House are let, that there will be a serious road accident there. The electric gates fitted mean that vehicles entering the site from the busy A48 block the carriageway whilst the gates are opening.
Action: Clerk to chase MCC Enforcements as the Community Council already reported this.
ii)Report from Community Police.
“Here is the relevant crime report for the Mathern, Pwllmeyric and Mounton areas for between the above dates :

7/10/2020 – Report of a break in at Mounton House School sometime recently. The school is now closed and pupils moved to other locations. A ground floor window was forced open. Also a section of the chain link boundary fence was cut. Nothing appears to have been taken.

7/10/2020 – Report from a resident on Pwllmeyric of suspicious activity in a neighbour’s garden in the early hours of the morning. The resident thought it may have been a male and a torch was seen. No reports of crime have been reported in that area, but the activity was obviously suspicious.

Just so you are aware we have had 2 separate reports of outbuilding breaks overnight in the Devauden area today so please be on your guard. Chainsaws , and garden tools including lawn mowers have been targeted .
Please remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity/ crime at the time via either 101 or 999 if you deem it an emergency.
If it is low level you can also report via email on contact@gwent.pnn.police.uk”

iii) Apologies

(iv) v) Declarations of Personal or Pecuniary Interest:

vi) Minutes of the previous meeting
Minutes of the meeting held on 21st September 2020 were agreed as a true record.
There were no matters arising.

22/2020 Finance – October

HMRC            £143.00 30.09.2020
Salary September    £572.26 30.09.2020

Stock it £13.20 06.09.2020
Merlin Waste £42.00 06.09.2020
Smart Pension £107.24 10.09.2020
Cllr D Harris-lock 23.98 02.10.2020
J Kelley telephone £47.09 12.10.2020
J Kelley Home fee £175.00 12.10.2020
Mathern Hall rent £30.00 12.10.2020
Albert Goodman £120.00 13.10.2020

Monthly Bank Reconciliation authorisation from 1st July: Clerk to meet
with Cllr Jayne Harris who will reconcile these. Councillors decided this to be the process during Covid restrictions until we can hold a full face to face meeting.


i) Update County Cllr Brown re traffic Management.
Matter covered in County Councillors Report
Meeting with MCC and cabinet member has been arranged.

ii) Update – archiving old Mathern School paperwork/items to be entered on website
Cllr C Ovenden to deliver papers to Gwent Archives in Ebbw Vale once lockdown is lifted.
24/20 Highways
• Collapsed fence Mounton village – alongside Mounton brook from roundabout to Smoothstones
• Mud on Road – Mathern – Baileys Hay – Lower Mathern – Mounton
• Obscured signs – Parkwall opposite St Pierre – branches also need cutting.
• All road signs need cleaning. Clerk to get a quote for this.
(Clerk has since requested MCC to quote)

a) OVW. – No Face to Face meetings.
b) Defibrillator monthly checking
Cllr C Morton to carry this out this week. Clerk to check Mounton Brook lodge as no response to emails sent.
c) Risk assessment – Actions required
Awaiting benches to be stained.
d) County Councllors Report
e) County Councillor Brown advised:
All being well, we’re hoping that MCC Highways officers will attend Mathern Village in the not too distant future, in view of the concerns raised by local residents.
Adults Select Committee:
The Adults Select Committee on the 29th of September considered a number of Covid 19 related reports including the Track, Trace and Protect report. I mentioned public health concerns that the National Development Framework (NDF) now before Senedd contains the 50 dwellings per hectare rather than the standard 30. The current draft NDF says as follows:
To support the economic and social success of our towns and cities, including sustaining public transport and facilities, urban growth and regeneration should increase the population density of our towns and cities. New developments in urban areas should aim to have a density of at least 50 dwellings per hectare (net), with higher densities in more central and accessible locations. It may be necessary to take social distancing requirements into consideration when designing public and communal spaces.
The latest NDF was placed in Senedd on the 21 September for 60 days for approval.
The issue is that although social distancing is mentioned, the normal standard level of development is 30 dwellings per hectare but this says at least 50 with even higher densities in more central and accessible locations. It is the densely populated areas suffering the most from Covid 19 and if twice the level of density as the normal happens across the whole of Wales in the future developments in our towns and cities, it creates the ideal conditions for a breeding ground for any future pandemics. Hence the public health and wellbeing concerns.
The papers for the Adults Select committee meeting and the opportunity to watch the meeting on you tube, can be found at the following link:
Stronger Communities Select Committee;
The above select committee had a special meeting on the 28th of September to consider household waste issues and the garden waste consultation. It includes the scrutiny of proposals on the potential closing of Usk Household Waste recycling centre, the Five Lanes Household Waste Recycling Centre being open from 8am to 4pm and closed for a further day, green waste being collected by wheelie bins rather than bags on a fortnightly basis with changes in charges as a result. The Select Committees only scrutinise reports and the decision making is up to the Cabinet. The reports can be found at the following link:

Monmouthshire County Council Revised Local Development Plan
The latest proposed timetable for the revised Local Development plan is as follows:
• RLDP Delivery Agreement report to Council: 22nd October 2020
• RLDP Growth and Spatial Options Non-statutory Consultation: December 2020-January 2021
• RLDP Preferred Strategy Consultation and Second Call for Candidate Sites: May-June 2021
• RLDP Deposit Consultation: July-September 2022
• RLDP Submission for Examination: early 2023
• RLDP Adoption: Autumn 2023
It means that there is expected to be a report to Council on the 22 October 2020, usually available about a week prior to the meeting at the following link:
National Development Framework Plan- Future Wales Plan- National Plan 2040.
Timetable: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2020-09/future-wales-timeline-graphic.pdf.pdf
The new draft NDF has been laid before Senedd for a period of 60 days from the 21 September 2020, with changes marked up following on from a consultation on it.
The general link for the reports can be found here:
Consultation report
The schedule of changes can be found in the following link:
As can be seen by ploughing through the schedule of changes which includes changes to policies 4 and 5 for rural areas and changes on the green belt policy for the South East region of Wales. The growth area for the South East region of Wales is still seen to be Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys.
Changes to Policies 4 (Supporting Rural Communities) and 5(Supporting the Rural Economy)- (please refer/ recheck the above link for more detail, as this is only from my impression from the initial scan through a considerable number of pages in these documents):
Policy 4 Supporting Rural communities:
Draft before consultation of policy 4:
The Welsh Government supports sustainable rural communities and appropriate proportionate growth in rural towns and villages.
Schedule of changes to policy 4:
The Welsh Government supports sustainable and vibrant rural communities.
Original Version:
The future of rural areas is best planned at the regional and local level. Strategic and Local Development plans should plan positively to meet the needs of rural communities with regard to housing, transport, business services and diversification in the agricultural sector.
Schedule of changes to:
Strategic and Local Development plans must identify their rural communities, assess their needs and set out policies which support them. Policies should consider how age balanced communities can be achieved, where depopulation should be reversed and consider the role of new affordable and market housing, employment opportunities, local services and greater mobility in tackling these challenges.
Policy 5 on the rural economy in relation to agriculture and forestry adds that the Welsh Government also strongly supports innovative and emerging technology businesses and sectors to help rural areas to unlock their potential, broadening the economic base and creating higher paid jobs.
The supporting text for policies 4 and 5 are headed Vibrant Rural Areas- which includes the Welsh Government which wants vibrant rural areas with services to meet the needs of those living there in a sustainable way. Strategic and Local Development Plans must develop policies that support rural areas. Where these plans identify growth in rural areas, it must be appropriate and proportionate to the needs of the settlement and the wider rural areas.

The changes go on to distinguish between rural locations close to a major urban area and more isolated ones.
However it now states that “Rural areas in the South East, whilst living in close proximity to major towns and cities, will be supported by policies 4 and 5 in order for these communities to be sustained.”
Policy 34 -Green Belts in the South East: have been weakened considerably which is of great concern and at the LDP stage only prevent major developments but with the threat of reconsideration at a Strategic Development plan stage. Crossed out is the important protection for Chepstow and the surrounding areas in the sentences which no longer exist:
“The Welsh Government supports the use of green belts in the South East region in managing and planning urban growth…The Strategic Development Plan must identify a green belt that includes the area to the north of the Severn crossings to North Cardiff”. (Deleted).
Yet it recognises the development pressures in our area due to the large green belt around Bristol but does nothing to mitigate it.
Comment: It can be seen that the important protection for rural areas of appropriate and proportionate development in our rural villages and towns in policy 4 has been removed in the actual policy itself, which is more important than the supporting text which itself is now headed Vibrant Rural Areas. The consultation document indicated that a reason for the change for this policy was that it was not ambitious enough, hardly an evidenced approach for such an important issue. In my opinion, the word “vibrant” is more appropriate for a city area than a rural area and there does not seem to be any policies to prevent urban sprawl.
The NDF being renamed Future Wales- the National Plan 2040 is important because it shapes the LDPs.
If you wish to make any comments/representations to the Senedd Members/ Minister on the draft NDF during this 60 day period from the 21 September, the following contact details can be found:
List of Members of Senedd;
The Welsh Government Minister in charge of Housing and Local Government is Julie James MS:

f) Accessibility Policy
Clerk has chased Stock it Ltd. The policy should be completed in next few weeks.

f) Resignation of Cllr M McHugh – Pwllmeyric
Clerk has advised MCC Democratic Service. An advert for applicants for the vacancy has been placed on noticeboards and website dated 1st October.

26/20 PLANNING MATTERS – To include any received after Agenda is circulated
a) New submissions: – None
b) Decisions and appeals – None

c) Enforcement-
Clerk to chase MCC re two enforcements items – new road bottom of Mathern and installation of electric gates at Bridge House/Brook House, Pwllmeyric
A verbal request for trees opposite The Crescent to be trimmed re over hanging branches has been made.
Cllr D Harris to investigate this by having a conversation with the complainee.
Forthcoming Remembrance Day service – Covid 19 government restrictions in place so a gathering at the War Memorial is not possible.
Clerk to request wreaths for Community Council and County Councillor Brown which will be laid at some point during the day.


• Purchase of more dog waste bags – unit cost £31.35 per box of 5000 bags.

         Clerk instructed to order two boxes as MCC currently have insufficient requests to make the order.

• Cllr C Ovenden to investigate with residents of Mounton if they would like to have a plaque on the roundabout celebrating the Wales in Bloom awards.

• Cllr J Anderson and Cllr S Stevens – speed volunteers update – Covid restrictions.
Cllr Anderson advised that, to enable the speed watch to be operate in Mathern, he needs to carry out a risk assessment and establish locations where the volunteers would stand. Once this has been done he then can register Mathern with speed watch co-ordinator Glen Walker. Once registered the group can then recruit volunteers

Action: Cllr Sidwell to liaise with Cllr Anderson regarding suitable locations. Then Go Safe to be contacted re registering Mathern.

• Cllr C Morton asked County Councillor Brown to ask MCC for current public transport strategy policy for Wales.

• The Clerk had been given old documents of all listed buildings in the community dating back to 2000. Once the old school details have been placed on the website, consideration to be given to these also being up loaded on to the CC web site.

• Clerk was asked to obtain quotes for sign cleaning within the community.

Eddie Parris Plaque – Awaiting invoice to be paid

Benches re staining re risk assessments – Awaiting completion.

Archive material old Mathern School – to be delivered to Gwent archive – Ebbw Vale when Covid restrictions permit.

Next Meeting 9th November 2020 7pm via Zoom.
There being no further business to discuss, the meeting closed at 9.10 pm.
Signed …………………………….. CHAIRMAN Date……………….

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