Anytime Questions-Leader-June 2015

Questions at any time to the Leader

From June 2015

For questions pre-June 2015 please contact democratic services at Newport City Council  

Question from Councillor Townsend

Subject: Attendance at Secretary of State meeting

Why was Newport not represented at a meeting of SE Wales councils with the Secretary of State for Wales on Thursday 11th June to discuss transport infrastructure and the development of the S Wales Metro? This in the context if an economic development strategy that has campaigning and lobbying for the rail link from Ebbw Vale to Newport as one of its key objectives.

Date received: 15 June 2015


Thank you for your question and your interest in this important matter. Please be assured that I fully intended to be present at this important event but owing to illness I was unable to attend on the day.  You will have noted that the Cabinet has declared its support and agreed to participate in the initiative and to contribute £50,000  

Date issued: 23 June 2015


Question from Councillor Whitehead

Subject: Yulin Dog Meat Festival

You may be aware lately that the controversial Yulin dog meat festival has taken place in the Guanxi Zhuang region in China. Well Newport is twinned with Wurzhou (which is in the province of Guangxi) and Gwent County Council twinned with Guangxi itself. Could not the leader of the council make some sort of statement to distance our city from this barbaric ritual whereby up to 10,000 domesticated dogs and even cats are stolen off the streets and from families to be brutally butchered and ritually eaten. There have been international protests about this annual savagery and I think we as a city should feel embarrassed to be twinned with places such as these.  

Date received: 23 June 2015


Thank you for your question, Councillor Whitehead.  This is not an executive matter but from a personal perspective, I believe that, whatever the culture, animals deserve to be treated with respect and in a humane manner   

Date issued: 25 June 2015


Member Question: Councillor Matthew Evans

Subject: Community Covenant with the Armed Forces

Could you give Members an update on progress made, since I last asked this question two years ago, on the Community Covenant with the Armed Forces? 

Date received: 29 October, 2015


There are a number of examples of good progress with regards to the Armed Forces Community Covenant over the last two years and a cohesive work programme is now underway.

Since July 2013, a cross-partner Armed Forces Forum has been meeting in Newport – chaired by the Armed Forces Champion, Cllr Mark Spencer, with representatives from 104 Regiment, Royal British Legion, SSAFA, GAVO the City Council, the police, the local health board and probation. 

The City Council’s Partnership and Policy Team are actively supporting this partnership, the Armed Forces Champion in his role and are increasingly linking the armed forces and veteran’s agenda with the Council’s strategic work programme.  For example veterans are now considered as a potentially vulnerable group in the One Newport unified needs assessment, which informs policy development by the main local partners. As a result working relationships are now much stronger and this has resulted in the following developments which should benefit the local armed forces community:

  • The Royal British Legion are running regular outreach drop-in sessions in the Information Station, to make their advice and support services easier to access and to join-up with the Council services also based at that location.
  • Royal British Legion have also completed two rounds of training for Newport City Council frontline staff on sign-posting veterans to the specialist support and services available to them.
  • A leaflet and procedure to be used by Gwent Police in their custody units has been jointly developed by SSAFA and the police.  This helps to identify whether people who find themselves in police custody have served in the armed forces and if they have to sign-post them to the help and support that is available to deal with any underlying financial, health or substance misuse problems.
  • A survey has been undertaken through Newport Matters to identify how many Newport residents are either serving in the armed forces or are veterans.   It also encouraged people in these groups to sign-up to an electronic mailing list which will be used to keep them updated about any events, information and services relevant to the armed forces community.
  • In 2013/14 Newport City Council extended its free swimming provision, to include armed forces veterans. This decision was made by the Cabinet Member and reflected the principles of the Armed Forces Community Covenant and the aim of being inclusive and promoting health and physical activity.  This policy has been continued following the transfer to Newport Live.
  • Customer Services staff from Newport City Council joined SSAFA at their Armed Forces Day event to represent the Council and to assist with any enquiries from the armed forces community.   The intention is that the council will increasingly work alongside our armed forces partners in a more joined up way to add value to their activities. 
  • The existence of the Newport Armed Forces Forum has allowed local organisations to access funding from the MOD’s Community Covenant Grant Scheme.  In 2014 the forum endorsed a funding bid from the Jerome Gatehouse Collection Trust, a Newport based military history charity.  They are currently working on an oral history project with local schools, covering the history and role of military bands. 
  • In February, of this year, the City Council received an award from the MOD recognising the commitment and support it has shown to Armed Forces Reservists within our workforce.  The council was one of just 30 organisations in Wales who were commended for their employment policies which have enabled reservists to meet their training and deployment commitments.  
  • Since the Community Covenant was first signed in 2012, the armed forces agenda in Newport has progressed, as outlined above.  Most notably the establishment of an Armed Forces Forum has provided the basis for closer cooperation and involvement and as a result our partners from the Royal British Legion and SSAFA are keen that we re-sign the Community Covenant to include them as signatories,  and that this re-signing takes place in public.  Plans are being discussed to re-sign the Community Covenant at the Challenge Cup match between the Dragons and Castres on 16th January.   This event will also feature the Band of the Royal Welsh, the firing of the guns and fundraising for the charities and local Cadet forces. 

Date issued: 9 November 2015


Member Question: Councillor Matthew Evans

Subject: Buses in High Street and footfall in the Market

You will know that the previous Administration reinstated buses on the High Street to encourage and increase footfall in the market and assist independent traders. Last week this stopped and I have been contacted by a number of traders and members of the public who are extremely concerned and have said there has been a sharp drop off in trade. Can you tell members when you were made aware of this decision? What was your reaction to this? Did you raise objections, and in light of the reaction to this, will you be working with Newport Transport to get this overturned?  

Date received: 14 December 2015


Thank you for your question. I am sure that you will know that I would like to see all traders, visitors and residents benefitting from the city centre redevelopment. With the opening of Friars Walk, Newport city centre as a shopping destination has risen from 198 to number 90 in a list of top UK shopping destinations.  This encouraging change has seen Newport’s catchment area for customers almost double from 226,000 to 442,000 almost overnight. The figures for retail success and opportunity speak for themselves.  On the opening weekend of Friars Walk 350,000 people came back to Newport. Alongside recent developments, the council is also delivering further investment from the £60 million Vibrant and Viable Places project into the area. This activity is seeing benefits far and wide across the city centre, including High Street.  Following a £1 million investment in Newport Market , new businesses have seized the opportunity to trade in this area.  

I also saw the remarks made by local traders about the impact of the changes in the bus routes and of course that concerned me.  With this in mind, I have asked for some research to be done on the effect of the change on footfall in that area.  

You will, of course, be aware that the operation of the bus service is entirely a matter for Newport Transport and they are not required to consult. I was personally not consulted about the proposed changes.  

I understand that there are a number of temporary bus stops around Queensway etc. that are now re-located back at Newport Central Bus Station. You will be aware that 10 bus bays have permanently been introduced at the other side of the market, at Market Square – as planned and implemented by this administration. This will increase footfall for traders in the area.

Officials have asked Newport Transport about the High Street bus stops and the Transport Company stated that the route was affected by lack of use.  

I have asked the Strategic Director to make a further approach to Newport Transport on this issue.  

Date issued: 16 December 2015

Member Question: Councillor Matthew Evans

Subject: Attendance at Secretary of State meeting

I understand you wrote to the Chairman of Newport Transport around the 11th January “expressing the concerns of the market traders in relation to the change of bus routes in the city centre “.

Can you publish this letter and the response you received from Newport Transport, in the interests of openness and transparency?  

Date received: 25 January 2015 


Thank you for your question.  

I need to make it clear that private correspondence with commercial operators would usually be confidential but, on this occasion and in view of the public interest, I am prepared to publish the contents in their entirety. (see below)  

In response to your query about the reply from the company, to date, no response has been received.  

Leader of Council/Arweinydd y Cyngor

Chairman of the Board of Directors

Newport Transport Ltd

160 Corporation Road


NP19 0WF

11 January 2016

Dear Cllr Thomas,

Buses in the High Street

You will, of course, be aware of representations, particularly by the market traders about the decision to remove buses from the High Street.  

This is, of course, an operational decision for the Transport company, but I would be grateful if you would be kind enough to inform me of the reasons behind the decision to change the route of the buses which has led to the cessation of buses in the High Street, eg your previous statement about low passenger use.  In this respect, I would appreciate the user figures as promised by your Managing Director.

I would ask you to consider reinstating this bus route, if possible, in order to allay the concerns expressed by the market traders.  Although the Council is unable to subsidise this route or provide any financial assistant for this bus service, we are considering what we can do to help in relation to traffic management and parking problems in the area.  

I look forward to hearing from you,  

Yours sincerely,  

Robert C Bright

Leader of Newport City Council  

Date issued: 25 January 2015