Am I hallucinating? Did one too many festive noggins mean I imagined things when I went through Labour-run Monmouthshire County Council’s draft Local Transport Plan? I admit it wasn’t at the top of my Christmas reading list, but you do what you have to do in this job! Hidden away on page 42 is a proposal that would see tolls reintroduced for environmental reasons on the Severn bridges linking England and Wales. The idea is very clearly there and I invite readers to look for themselves. When the draft plan was proudly presented to the council’s Public Services Scrutiny Committee in December by Cllr Catrin Maby – Cabinet Member for Climate Change and the Environment – Labour councillors (who presumably had read this document in great detail) lapped it up and were full of praise. Or so I thought. Because when I mentioned it to a journalist friend and the story was fully reported, the council executed a sharp U-turn and suddenly decided there was no such policy or suggestion. I beg to differ. It is written in black and white alongside a series of other anti-car measures, including charging employers who provide private parking spaces for their staff - £500 per employee. Only once there had been a huge backlash and heavy criticism did the council then pretend these ridiculous proposals do not exist! Was it simply a nightmare? Or will we see Labour council leader Mary Ann Brocklesby appear like Scrooge’s Ghost of Christmas Future to declare people should be free to use their cars as much as they want and her administration wouldn’t dream of financially punishing motorists?
Congratulations to everyone involved in the Rogiet Community Junction project, which is bringing the entire village together. Money from the National Lottery is aiming to deliver a community shop and café, featuring a teaching kitchen, gardening space and shop selling affordable essentials. It is hoped work on the bespoke building can begin in the spring if the Welsh Government also decides to offer financial support. I enjoyed meeting project manager Sara Warshawski and volunteers when I visited recently to hear more about plans for this exciting hub, which will be sited next to Rogiet Sports Pavilion and open six days a week. The current community café is open for two hours on a Wednesday from 10:00am-12:00 noon at Rogiet Community Church Hall where you can tantalise your tastebuds with breakfasts and a range of delicious homemade cakes. There is also a Kids Kafe every six weeks. What a great job Fay Baxter, Ilona Watson, Katherine Close and the entire team have done so far. I very much look forward to seeing the finished project.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon and Abergavenny Chronicle on 10 January 2024*