Minutes of the Projects Committee held on Monday 20 January 2014 at 7pm in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Abergavenny.

Present: Cllr M Hickman (Deputy Mayor)

Cllrs D Edwards, Mrs M Harris, Miss M Toombs, and N Tatam.

In attendance: The Town Clerk, Mrs J Davies (Business Club), Mr T Konieczny (Civic Society), Mr and Mrs C Bransom (Civic Society), Mr L Jones (Abergavenny Community Orchards) and Ms A Howard (Monmouthshire CC)

1. Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs R Harries, R Harris, Ms S Dodd, Mrs M Powell, P Jordan, C Woodhouse, Mrs S Woodhouse and J Prosser.

2. Declarations of interest would be made as and when necessary.

3. Land Licensing/Incredible Edibles.

The Chairman welcomed Ms Howard and Mr Jones who had come to talk to the Committee about developments in land use for food production and associated matters.

Ms Howard said that Monmouthshire CC offer licences for the use of small parcels of land for food growing. This was following an initiative started in Todmorden where the Incredible Edibles idea had begun. They have used food production as a means of redeveloping Community Spirit, and the spin-offs are the increase in tourism to the town and better, more sustainable uses of land. Monmouthshire is the first authority in Wales to recognise the potential of this movement and an official launch will take place at the start of this year`s growing season. Insurance, including product liability, can be obtained through Keep Wales Tidy or the Transition movement.

Mr Jones told members that he represents Abergavenny Community Orchard and Gardens. Incredible Edibles had been launched last year and they were in the process of gathering materials, including soil. One area had been established at Old Station Surgery and others were in process. They are putting in beds for growing herbs, vegetables etc where they have permission.

There are a number of related initiatives also involved such as composting locally which takes waste out of the waste stream and for which Monmouthshire will make a payment. The longer term aim would be to purchase a small-holding as a Community Farm locally. The group are benefiting from a lot of good technical support in getting things started.

Ms Howard also referred to another initiative which is to counteract the loss of pollinator plants in nature. MCC is looking at ways of allowing wild flora to flower and set seed in grassed areas where it is safe to do so, including some verges, and will also be sowing native wild flowers in the place of grass in selected areas after it has been cleared of grass naturally.

Mention was also made of work being done by the Friends of Castle Meadows, dealing with invasive balsam and knotweed species, and clearing a copse below the castle. They are probably going for a green flag award this year. They are seeking a grant to rebuild a stone wall, possibly involving unemployed young people in the project. There is also an initiative to install a garden area in the castle and some ancient fruit tree varieties around the wall as you enter the castle grounds on the left.

Members then made comments and asked questions, including the use of Tidy Town Grants, the possibility of using a piece of land on Brecon Road near  St Helens Close which is currently unused and an eyesore.

It was also noted that this year there is a supply of poppies available to remember the First World War.

The Deputy Mayor thanked Mr Jones and Ms Howard for attending and they left at this point.

4. Better Bryn y Cwm Report.

This report had now been adopted by the County Council, and was submitted to this committee to determine whether it is to be approved here as well. There was some discussion about the role of the  Whole Place Programme Board in relation to the Town Team, and the need to ensure that the Town Team remains largely independent. The report was received and noted.

5. Town Team

Members were updated with the latest position with the Town Team. Progress is being made, but two major issues are waiting for a conclusion. The first is the outcome of the Business Improvement District bid to Welsh Government, which should be known this week, and the second is to make firm commitment to get the baseline survey of the town under way. £2000 of the necessary funding was secured but another £1000 is needed and this should be resolved at the next meeting on 30 January.

It was noted that other surveys are in progress or have just been completed which will complement this work. A distinctiveness survey was completed by Miller Associates and Adventa are developing a Food Survey to progress Abergavenny as a Food Centre.

Reference was made to Hebden Bridge which had developed itself vigorously and taken on a Property Development Role to enable that to happen.

It was also suggested that it is very important for the traders in the town to develop an internet presence as a virtual department store to counteract the loss of business to internet shopping.

Some discussion had been held on which parts of the town to include in the Business Improvement District and it had been agreed to include commercial properties as far as the junction of Brecon Road with Chapel Road.

6. Abergavenny in Bloom Contract.

The Town Clerk told members that he had approached several local contractors again to try to get tenders for the provision of the Abergavenny in bloom contract which is due for renewal. So far the only one to express interest was the existing supplier. On that basis he sought members approval to renew the contract with the existing supplier for one further year based on the tender bid provided by that contractor. This involves waiving Financial Regulations for this purpose. Members agreed with this request.

The Town Clerk then told members that the new bid was £100 more than the previous one, which is considered quite satisfactory.

7. Members Photographs.

As the Councilís website is being upgraded, it was considered appropriate to ask if members are prepared to have their photographs on the website. This was agreed. The Clerk asked members to let him know if they have suitable electronic photographs already or whether they will need to have one taken for the purpose.

There being no other business, the meeting ended at 8:15pm