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CALDICOT NEWS 2004

January
POWELL OUT
The end of an era beckons for Caldicot politics following the failure of County Councilor Graham Powell to secure nomination from the Labour Party for the council elections in June. Councilor Powell, has been the dominant figure in local politics for many years. He has served on Monmouthshire County Council for 55 years. He is at present awaiting trial on charges of theft and fraud. This rendered him ineligible for selection under a Labour Party rule that bars anybody who has criminal proceedings outstanding against them.

CHIP SHOP OWNER IN TERROR MIX UP
Caldicot chip shop owner and town councilor Jimmy Harris was detained in New York by the FBI after his name appeared on a list of terror suspects. He was interrogated by FBI agents before the confusion was cleared up and he was released.
BABY MURDER CASE TO BE REVIEWED
The case of a Caldicot man jailed for life in 2002 for the murder of his baby son will be amongst those to be reviewed by the Court of Appeal following the release of Angela Canning, a mother whose conviction for the murder of her two children was overturned following the discrediting of evidence from an “expert witness”.
THEFTS THREAT TO BUSINESSES
Police have warned of the need to take precautions against a spate of thefts of light industrial machinery from lock-ups and work premises. Phil Chappell, owner of BEC Car Hire on Caldicot’s Severn Bridge Industrial Estate, has meanwhile written to Tony Blair complaining that frequent burglaries are ruining small businesses and calling on him to take real action to combat crime.
PROPERTY WATCH
The cheapest house advertised in the local press for sale in Caldicot at the end of January 2004 was a three-bedroomed semi-detached property with off road parking at £104,950. Alternatively, you can get a ground floor apartment for £89,950. 


February
FRESH CHARGES AGAINST CALDICOT HEAD DROPPED
Controversial Caldicot headteacher, Marjorie Evans has been the subject of new allegations of assault against a pupil at St Mary’s Junior School. The parents of the eleven year old girl concerned are said to be very angry after police decided not to proceed with the case due to lack of evidence.
HISTORICAL SPECTACULAR TO GO AHEAD
Following the securing of adequate funding, the proposed historical spectacular at Caldicot Castle is to go ahead this summer. The spectacular, Footprints in the Sands of Time, will involve over 100 actors along with pyrotechnics, huge projected images and sound effects. Local people are being asked to join in, either as actors or in support roles of every time. Participation forms have been placed in Caldicot Library.
BOGUS HEALTH VISITOR WARNING
Police are warning parents of babies to be on their guard after a bogus health visitor was reported to have gained entry to a Caldicot home and examined a child. The woman was described as being about 30 years old, wearing navy trousers and jacket with an identity pin.
FORUM DISCUSSES HERITAGE TRAIL
The newly formed Severnside Forum (see Archive: November 2003) has given its support in principle to a proposal made by town councilor Jimmy Harris for a landscaped heritage trail incorporating footpaths and cycle routes linking Magor, Undy, Rogiet, Caldicot, Caerwent, Portskewett and Sudbrook. At present the scheme is merely a suggestion to be offered to Monmouthshire County Council and no funding has been allocated to the project. The role of the Forum, established by Monmouthshire County Council as a means of engaging with local opinion, remains controversial in some circles, with County Councilor Graham Powell arguing that the body is unconstitutional.
OUTRAGE AT LOSS OF EVIDENCE
Local police have been criticised after the loss of a vital CCTV tape led to the collapse of a case against two men accused of a brutal assault on a Caldicot factory worker.
WELSH GROUP FOR TODDLERS
The Welsh language took another step forward in Caldicot with the establishment of a parents’ and toddlers’ Welsh reading group at Caldicot Library.
PROPERTY WATCH
The cheapest house advertised in the local press for sale in Caldicot at the end of January 2004 was a two-bedroomed end of terrace property with allocated parking spaces at £104,950.


March
BAN ON COUNCILLOR UPHELD
The six-month suspension from Monmouthshire County Council of Councilor Graham Powell (Severn Ward) has been upheld following an appeal. Councilor Powell was originally suspended by the council’s standards committee after allegedly threatening to “throw a social worker out of a window”.
BRIDGE TOLLS THREAT
High Severn Bridge tolls have led Caldicot businessman Terry Hicks to threaten to move his haulage business away from Caldicot and into England. Mr Hicks says that his company pays £3,000 per month in tolls and that he regards these as an unfair additional form of taxation.
COUNCIL TAX RATE ANNOUNCED
The council tax rates on homes in Caldicot were announced as follows:
Band A: £620.18
Band B: £723.53 
Band C: £826.90
Band D: £930.26
Band E: £1136.99
Band F: £1343.72
Band G: £1550.44
Band H: £1860.53
DRUNKEN BRAWL
Seven people were arrested following a brawl outside the Cross Inn on the night of Saturday 19 March. A shop window was smashed and a police jacket stolen from a police car.
FIREWORK CONVICTION
Concord Discount Stores were fined £1,500 for selling fireworks from their Caldicot shop to a child under 16 years of age. Monmouthshire trading standards office mounted an operation in which a 15 year old boy was sent to buy fireworks in 32 shops around the county.


April
CHARGES AGAINST COUNCILLOR DROPPED
All charges against County Councillor Graham Powell (see archive) have been dropped following a ruling by a judge at Cardiff crown court. In a statement, Gwent police said they were unable to proceed due to the death of 91 year old Agnes Hallaway, a key witness in the case. The charges led to Councillor Powell being barred from standing as a Labour candidate in the forthcoming County Council elections, although Councillor Powell has not ruled out standing as an independent candidate.
ACCIDENT VERDICT ON CALDICOT DIRECTOR
The inquest into the death of Howard Davies, formerly of Caldicot, led to a verdict of accidental death. Mr Davies, a director of the O2 mobile phone company, was killed while on holiday in the USA when his car was involved in a head-on collision. The coroner concluded that the other vehicle may have crossed the central reservation when the driver fell asleep.


May
POWELL’S LAST STAND
Veteran County Councillor Graham Powell has thrown down the gauntlet to his old Labour Party comrades by standing as an independent candidate in Caldicot’s Severn Ward in the County Council elections. Councillor Powell was dropped by the Labour Party following a number of disciplinary issues and separate criminal charges, which were later dropped. (See Archive)
SCHOOL TO SEEK CHURCH STATUS?
Governors of Caldicot Comprehensive School have started to investigate the possibility of applying for Voluntary Aided status. This would turn the school into a “church school” under the control of a new Board of Governors, the majority of whom would be appointed by the Church in Wales. A spokesperson for the school stressed that no decisions had been made and that at this stage governors were merely seeking information.
CYGNETS GO MISSING
Seven cygnets have disappeared from the lake in Caldicot Country Park. Park wardens fear the birds have been stolen.
COUNCILLOR ATTACKED
Caldicot town councillor Dave Evans was attacked and knocked to the ground by two youths who attempted to rob him. Two youths have been arrested in connection with the attack.
ARRESTS FOLLOW BOGUS CALLS
Six people have been arrested and charged with obtaining money by deception. The arrests follow complaints that a team of bogus callers was knocking on doors asking for donations to “Volunteers of International Students."


June
LABOUR BATTERED IN CALDICOT
The Labour Party lost its longstanding domination of county and town council seats in the local government elections on 10 June. Three of its five county councillors were defeated as Dave Ashwin (Green Lane Ward) and Ron Stewart (Caldicot Castle Ward) became the first Plaid Cymru Councillors ever to be elected to Monmouthshire County Council. In West End Ward local chip shop owner Jimmy Harris completed the battering of Labour by taking the ward as an independent Candidate. Former Labour County Councillor Graham Powell, who had been dropped by Labour, stood as an Independent candidate in Severn Ward but was heavily defeated by Labour’s Jim Higginson. Partly as a result of labour’s setbacks in Caldicot, Monmouthshire County Council passed into Conservative control.
Labour suffered an equally humiliating series of reverses in the town council elections. Plaid Cymru emerged as the largest party with seven councillors. Labour have five and there are five independents. It is believed that this is the first time since its creation in 1974 that Labour has failed to control the town council.

RESULTS
CALDICOT CASTLE WARD
Ron Stewart Plaid Cymru 228
Richard Harries Conservative 213
Gareth Jenkins Labour 197
DEWSTOW WARD
William Edwards Labour 238
Julie Fry Independent 142
John Marshall Plaid Cymru 133
Nicholas Pain Conservative 49
GREEN LANE WARD
David Ashwin Plaid Cymru 219
David Evans Labour 165
Paul Tidmarsh Independent 108
Colin Babb Independent 79
Leslie Harris Conservative 60
SEVERN WARD
Jim Higginson Labour 201
Joanne Daniels Plaid Cymru 176
Graham Powell Independent 100
Penelope Howe Conservative 76
WEST END WARD
James Harris Independent 329
Elaine Davies Labour 170

TOWN COUNCIL RESULTS
CALDICOT CASTLE WARD: 3 SEATS
RON STEWART PLAID CYMRU ELECTED (421)
GARETH JENKINS LABOUR ELECTED (302)
DEBORAH JONES PLAID CYMRU ELECTED (278)
Judith Villa Independent Not elected
DEWSTOW WARD: 4 SEATS
WILLIAM EDWARDS LABOUR ELECTED (293)
SUSAN WILLIAMS LABOUR ELECTED (266)
JULIA HASKEY PLAID CYMRU ELECTED (257)
ROBERT KING PLAID CYMRU ELECTED (255)
Andrew Huntley Plaid Cymru Not elected
William Llewellyn Labour Not elected
John Marshall Plaid Cymru Not elected
Thomas Thomas Labour Not elected
GREEN LANE WARD: 4 SEATS
DAVID ASHWIN PLAID CYMRU ELECTED (308)
PAUL TIDMARSH INDEPENDENT ELECTED (307)
COLIN BABB INDEPENDENT ELECTED (245)
JULIE ROBERTS PLAID CYMRU ELECTED (245)
Robert Llewellyn Labour Not elected
Cindy McOwen Plaid Cymru Not elected
Julian Porter Plaid Cymru Not elected
SEVERN WARD: 3 SEATS
KENNETH THOMAS INDEPENDENT ELECTED (291)
JIM HIGGINSON LABOUR ELECTED (212)
JOANNE DANIELS PLAID CYMRU ELECTED (209)
David Evans Labour Not elected
Phyllis Higginson Labour Not elected
Graham Powell Independent Not elected
WEST END: 3 SEATS
JAMES HARRIS INDEPENDENT ELECTED (365)
ELAINE DAVIES LABOUR ELECTED (228)
KEVIN BEVAN INDEPENDENT ELECTED (164)
Graham Morgan Plaid Cymru Not elected
Bruce Robertson Plaid Cymru Not elected
Earl Harvey Labour Not elected

At the first town council meeting following the election it became apparent that three of the Independent councillors had formed a bloc with the Plaid Cymru councillors to form a working majority. As a result Ron Stewart was chosen as Mayor and Paul Tidmarsh as Deputy Mayor.
The new administration made it clear that it was intent on making a number of changes. The usual reception for invited guests at the leisure centre which follows the mayor’s formal inauguration is to be replaced by tea at the church hall, open to all. In an exercise in open government the council is to publish its agendas and minutes on the internet. The council is also looking to save money by transferring the cemetery to the control of Monmouthshire County Council.


July
GATEWAY DEVELOPERS CHALLENGE COUNCIL
P&O, the company behind ‘Gateway to Wales’, a massive scheme for a marine ecology centre, university campus, housing development and retail centre on land between Caldicot and Magor, is to challenge Monmouthshire County Council’s Unitary Development Plan in an enquiry scheduled for September. At present the P&O scheme runs contrary to the UDC and so would be unlikely to receive planning permission. P&O insist that they are keen to push ahead with the scheme.
SPACTACULAR PRODUCTION WOWS CASTLE VISITORS
The spectacular sound and light production Footsteps in the Sands of Time was hailed a great success by organisers. Thousands of visitors attended the performances of the biggest event ever staged at Caldicot Castle. The show was not welcomed by everybody, however. It is understood that the use of pyrotechnics was toned down after complaints from nearby residents.
FOUL PLAY AT FOOTBALL CLUB?
Confusion leading to potential conflict reigned at Caldicot Town Football Club. The town council, through which the trust which owns the football ground is administered, had been advised that following maintenance work on the pitch, it should not be played on until 1st August. The club has claimed that it “misconstrued” the directions given by the council and used the pitch on three occasions. A meeting between club officials and town councillors has been arranged in order to try to resolve this and other long- standing issues.
VICAR SEEKS MISSING MOVIE
Canon Derek Jones of St Mary’s Church, Caldicot, has been trying to persuade Miramax to distribute the film Plots With a View, part of which was filmed around the church. The film, starring Christopher Walken and Brenda Blethin, is a comedy about a Welsh undertaker. A spokesman for Miramax said that no date had been set for the release of the film.


August
GIANT AQUARIUM FOR CALDICOT?
A site near Caldicot has been identified as a potential site for the world’s largest aquarium. The £250 million scheme, which would be part of the P&O Gateway to Wales project (see July) would form a 100 acre site and is expected to attract two million visitors a year. Caldicot is in competition with sites in the Wirral, Bradford and Bedfordshire for the project.
SPECTACULAR SHOW AT CASTLE
Thousands of people came to Caldicot to see the spectacular son-et-lumiere Footprints in the Sands of Time. The show, which told the story of Caldicot castle over the centuries, included striking projected images and fireworks.
FOOTBALL ROW – WE THINK ITS ALL OVER
The problems arising over unauthorised use of the football pitch by Caldicot Town (see July) seems to have been resolved following a meeting between the club and town councillors. A number of other issues were resolved at the meeting, which both sides welcomed as the start of a new improved relationship.
LIGHT SHED UPON DARKNESS
Calls for improved lighting in Caldicot Castle Country Park were rejected by Anita Badham, Castle Development Officer. In a meeting with town councillors she explained that the darkness was part of the attraction of a country park and that lighting would cause light pollution.
FREAK WIND HITS CALDICOT
A “twister” caused damage to property when it swept through Caldicot. Tiles were ripped from roofs and a garden fence destroyed in the Blackbird Road area by the mini-tornado.


September
COUNCILLORS DISCUSS SCIENCE PARK PLAN
Mr Bill Edgerley, Managing Director of P&O Developments attended a meeting at County Hall to explain the ‘Griffin Borders’ project to councillors. The project includes proposals for creating a base for the National Institute for Research into Aquatic Habitats (NIRAH). Councillors are at present taking a cautious view. Councillor graham Down stated “Without NIRAH we would not be interested, but having seen the proposals ... I believe that the project might have the potential to be one of the most exciting opportunities for Monmouthshire for a very long time.”
SCHOOL CONSIDERS CHURCH STATUS
A proposal has been put forward by the Head Teacher of Caldicot School to the Governing Body to consider a change from its community school status to that of a voluntary aided Church in Wales secondary school. In her paper to the governors, Mrs S Gwyer-Roberts has suggested that a change of status would substantiate further the corporate aims and objectives of the school and provide choice and diversity within the lifelong learning experience for Monmouthshire. A consultation document will be presented to all interested parties, including staff, parents, the local community and the LEA. If the governing body believes, in the light of this consultation there is sufficient support for the proposal, it will publish a formal public notice of the proposed change, which would be presented to the Welsh Assembly Government.
NEW HEAD AT DURAND
Mr Eamonn Ellaway has taken over as headteacher at Durand Primary School. Mr Ellaway was previously deputy head at Cross Ash Primary School, one of the top five schools in Wales.

October
CALDICOT MAN MISSING
Police in Tenby have launched a full scale search for 25 year old Caldicot man James Nutley, who disappeared during a golfing holiday. Mr Nutley had been on a night out in the town with friends and had parted from the group at about midnight on Sunday October 24. He has not been seen since. Relatives have gone to Tenby to help in the search.
SCHOOL HIT BY ARSON
Caldicot Comprehensive School was evacuated when a fire was deliberately started in the boys’ toilets of the school’s Grayhill block. A pupils who was in the toilet at the time was trapped by smoke but was able to call the fire brigade on his mobile phone. The brigade was also alerted by a call from the school. The boy was rescued by fire- fighters and taken to hospital for checks. Police are investigating the incident. Mrs Susan Gwyer-Roberts, headteacher, issued a statement to parents reassuring them that the school’s fire procedure had worked well and that staff and pupils had acted appropriately throughout the incident.
COUNCILLOR RESIGNS
Councillor James Harris has announced his resignation from Caldicot town council in order to devote more time to his role as a newly-elected county councillor.
CALDICOT MAN TO APPEAL
A Caldicot man who was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2002 after being convicted of murdering his baby son has been granted permission to appeal against his sentence. The move follows the discrediting of evidence given by Professor Roy Meadow in other cases.


November
NO SIGN OF JAMES
Police are still hoping to trace the whereabouts of Caldicot man James Nutley, who disappeared while on a golfing holiday to Tenby in October.
SECOND FIRE AT SCHOOL 
A second fire within the space of a few weeks led to the evacuation of Caldicot Comprehensive School. The fire, in a toilet in the school’s Castle building, is believed to have been started deliberately. It was quickly brought under control by the fire brigade. There were no casualties. Police are investigating.
GIRL POWER AT FIRE STATION
Alison Kibblewhite, aged 36, has been appointed station commander at Caldicot fire station, making her the first fire station commander in Wales.


December
SUDDEN DEATH OF CALDICOT VICAR
The Vicar of Caldicot, the Rev Canon Derek Jones, died suddenly after collapsing in the town centre. “Father Derek”, as he was widely known, moved to Caldicot in 2001. He was born in Yorkshire but had spent many years in Wales, learning to speak Welsh fluently. He was 61.
MAN KILLED ON RAILWAY LINE
21 year old Caldicot man Gareth Morgan was killed when he was hit by a train on the line between Caldicot Station and Pill Level Crossing on 14 December. It is thought that he had been suffering from depression since the death of his mother.
FOOD STORE TO CLOSE
Caldicot residents may face major inconvenience in January if the town’s only supermarket, Somerfield’s, closes during planned development work. No details of the length of any closure have been released by the company.
ROMAN SITE PROTECTED
The remains of a farmstead dating from Roman times are to be left untouched by planned housing development in the Church road area. The site, which was discovered in 1995, has been scheduled to ensure that it is preserved. There are no plans for excavation of the site in the immediate future.
COUNCILLORS DISCUSS CONTROL OF CEMETERY
Caldicot Town Council has asked Monmouthshire County Council to take control of the town’s cemetery. Supporters of the move argue that the town council does not have the finances to meet the escalating costs, particularly in the light of tighter health and safety requirements. Monmouthshire County Council’s legal; department is considering the matter before it is put to councillors.
CYBER CAFE CALL
Caldicot town councillors have called for a youth centre and cyber cafe to be established in the town.

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