CONGESTION and air pollution remains an important issue for residents of Chepstow and beyond.

The problem is not going to be resolved without support from the Welsh Labour Government, which is currently blocking any form of road building. Instead, ministers in Cardiff Bay think they can magically get people out of cars and on to buses, trains and bikes.

I welcome efforts by Transition Chepstow to hold a public meeting this week but was disappointed to hear it has been postponed until the spring because Welsh Government has been unable to respond to an invitation to attend – let alone commit to sending along a representative.

The Labour-run administration at Monmouthshire County Council has begun its first budget consultation and I would urge residents to have their say.

In the midst of a cost of living crisis, proposals include a six per cent rise in council tax, hikes of over £1m in fees and charges for key council services and £10m of cuts to frontline services.

The budget disproportionately impacts on children and young people, who seem to have been singled out as an easy target, with a doubling in the charges for school breakfast clubs, cuts to school transport, school balances projected to fall by over two thirds, a 50 per cent cut in funding for library books, a complete withdrawal of the subsidy for the Gwent Music service and a cut of almost three per cent to school budgets.

Plans to cut leisure centre opening times are also at odds with Welsh Labour Government advice for people to exercise and take better care of themselves to reduce demand on the NHS.

Instead of delivering a budget that protects frontline services, prioritises provision for our most vulnerable and supports Monmouthshire families with cost of living pressures, this is the complete opposite and it will have a huge impact on residents.

The consultation is open until noon on 16 February 2023 and you can share your thoughts here:

While the number of Welsh speakers has fallen in the past decade, the language is alive and well in one corner of Monmouth.

It was a pleasure to pop along to St Thomas’ Church in Overmonnow on Saturday morning where a Welsh Eucharist (Gwasanaeth Cymraeg) is held. As a Welsh speaker myself, I attempt to use the language daily and I was delighted to give a reading.

The congregation is admittedly quite small but anyone who speaks Welsh at any level is most welcome to join.