Review of the Year: November and December

Review of the Year: November and December

NEW BINS: Newport residents received smaller bins for non-recyclable waste in an effort to encourage people to recycle more

FIRST CAP: Newport Gwent Dragon Hallam Amos

BACK AT SCHOOL: Brecon Vaughan

CHARTIST COMMEMORATION: Michael Sheen

LOAN DEAL: Friars Walk

CUTS: Newport council leader Bob Bright

First published in News
Last updated

November 13

SIX-year-old Brecon Vaughan was back at school with his friends after undergoing pioneering surgery in America to help him walk - after an appeal launched just five months previously by the Argus' sister paper the Free Press helped raise £60,000.

The Shirenewton primary school pupil suffers from the debilitating nerve-muscle condition spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, which means he has severe stiffness in his legs, poor balance, and co-ordination.

Before the operation Brecon, of Mathern, could not walk unaided, and relied on a wheelchair when going out for the day.

In October he flew to Missouri with parents Rob Vaughan and Ann Drewery to have two operations that surgeons hope will enable him to walk unaided.

Back in June that had seemed a very long term prospect, but Brecon's story struck a chord with Argus and Free Press readers, who were soon donating money or organising fundraising events. The story attracted coverage nationally too, and received a major boost through an extraordinary act of generosity.

Dan Black, 25, of Llanvair Discoed, was left wheelchair-bound after an accident in 2009, and decided Brecon was currently more likely to benefit from £22,000 raised to try to help him recover more fully - so he donated it to Brecon's cause.

Brecon's first operation was a radical four-and-a-half hour procedure developed at the St Louis Children's Hospital, during which nerve roots contributing to the stiffness he experienced were divided with the aim of improving balance and the ability to walk.

This operation was followed by a second to lengthen his heel cords, to enable him to walk with a more natural rolling motion. He also required five weeks of daily physiotherapy.

The day after the family arrived back in Wales, Brecon was back in school. He has to wear special shoes for six months and the physiotherapy continues to build up his muscles. Some of it will continue for three years.

Headteacher Jane Edwards said his school friends had missed Brecon and were delighted to see him back.

His dad meanwhile, praised his son's "determination and resolve."

"It's been a real tough deal but we have to take our hat off to him," he said.

"We would like to thank everybody who got behind us for this trip, and all at St Louis Children's Hospital who made it as comfortable as can be for us."

November 1

WORLD leaders will descend on Newport next year when the NATO summit takes place at the Celtic Manor Resort, it was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron.

It will be Britain's first NATO summit since 1990, and venues in Cardiff will also be involved.

Up to 60 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, will attend. The Celtic Manor Resort beat competition from 80 other venues for the honour.

November 4 and 7

ACTOR Michael Sheen signed up to a trust that will decide on a new Chartist commemoration, as Newport council leader Bob Bright admitted the authority had handled the demolition of the old mural badly.

The Hollywood star became a founder trustee of the body, which is to raise cash for a new permanent memorial, to which the council would contribute £50,000.

A few days earlier, he spoke of the importance of Chartism and its relevance today, to an audience at a Chartist Convention at the Newport city campus of the University of South Wales.

November 18

PEOPLE in Newport received smaller bins for non-recyclable waste in an effort to encourage people to recycle more.

The city council failed to meet its recycling target of 52 per cent last year and could be fined up to £900,000 if it fails again.

Residents' wheelie bins were exchanged for slimline versions and the council is also introducing a re-usable bag for cardboard waste.

Around 5,000 bins are being exchanged in five phases, continuing through 2014 and costing an estimated £850,000.

November 20

NEWPORT city council announced a plan to borrow £90 million and lend it to the developer behind the Friars Walk shopping centre project, to ensure it opens within two years.

What the council's strategic director for regeneration and environment Sheila Davies called "an unprecedented move" is considered essential to help the centre's anchor store Debenhams' aim to be open by Christmas 2015. Delay was considered too risky.

The money is being borrowed from the Public Works Loan Board and lent to developer Queensberry, which must pay it back to the council at the market rate of interest within a year of the scheme's completion.

The loan proposal attracted a mix of support and concern, but a key strand of the reaction indicated acceptance of the need to do something radical to push the project forward.

November 22

TEENAGE Newport Gwent Dragon Hallam Amos earned his first senior Wales cap in a bruising 17-7 win over Tonga at the Millennium Stadium.

The 19-year-old centre, from Cross Ash, Monmouthshire, caught the eye during the under-20s World Cup in France last summer, playing a key part in Wales' march to the final where they lost to England. His strong displays for the Dragons early in the season kept him in line for senior selection.

Amos made a solid start to his full international career, narrowly failing to score a debut try.

Of his progress, the first year medical student said: "This is not where I expected to be but it is definitely where I wanted to be."

November 25

PLANNING permission to allow opencast mining of 256,000 tonnes of coal in the Varteg was refused by housing and regeneration minister Carl Sargeant.

He dismissed an appeal against Torfaen council's refusal of outline planning permission for the development, proposed by Glamorgan Power Company Limited, and comprising a land reclamation and coal recovery scheme.

A Welsh Government planning inspector had recommended earlier this year that the company's appeal be allowed, and Mr Sargeant's predecessor John Griffiths had stated he was "minded to allow" the development, subject to legal undertakings on restoration and aftercare.

Mr Sargeant stated however, that he was not satisfied with the assurances given. Protesters have waged a lengthy battle against the proposal, which they argued was too near homes and the village school, and would have caused years of disruption.

November 26

A DOMESTIC Abuse Disclosure Scheme piloted by by Gwent Police and three other forces since July 2012 will be implemented nationally from March next year, it was announced.

The scheme, better known across the UK as Clare's Law, allows men and women to ask police whether their partner has a violent past, and if so, the police can consider disclosing the information.

The scheme is named after Clare Wood, murdered in February 2009 at her Greater Manchester home by ex-boyfriend George Appleton.

Four hundred requests were made in the four pilot areas, including 76 in Gwent, 11 of the latter resulting in disclosures.

December 6

NEWPORT council leader Bob Bright warned that nothing was ruled out as he prepared to present more than 100 proposals for four years' worth of cuts and savings.

They included raising council tax by five per cent every year for four years, closing Newport libraries for one day every week, shutting public toilets, and ending funding for the Newport Ship.

The council's annual budget of around £250 million must be cut to save £35m over four years, with £10m of cuts needed during 2014.15 alone.

Councillor Bright warned that "further cuts and radical changes to how services are delivered are inevitable, however tough that may be."

December 9

AN Oakdale couple hoping to raise £100,000 to help their their baby girl walk and talk, raised almost £5,000 in a matter of days.

Leigh Hemms, 23, and Kelsey Jenkins, 21, want to help daughter Ayla-Mae Hemms, aged15 months, who has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and is also profoundly deaf. She needs to learn sign language, but cannot because of her condition.

They aim to set up a charity in their daughter's name to send her to the USA for potentially life changing treatment which could help her walk, and hope eventually to help other children across the UK with cerebral palsy.

December 11

THE death of a Newport man following surgery to remove liver tumours, was among eight deemed "avoidable" following a Royal College of Surgeons review of more than 30 operations by a surgeon at a Cardiff hospital, it was revealed.

Martyn Rogers, 66, was operated on in July 2012 at the University Hospital of Wales, but died a week later of septic shock and pneumonia, after developing acute liver failure.

Surgeon David Berry was suspended in January 2013 and his General Medical Council registration was subsequently subjected to restrictions, with the GMC investigating.

The matter is also being investigated by South Wales Police.

December 12

GWENT's new chief constable told MPs that officers misrecorded incidents when official figures showed crime falling in the region.

But Jeff Farrar said he did not think there was manipulation of figures, despite saying target incentives could lead to officers feeling pressured to avoid reporting crimes.

Mr Farrar faced questions from Newport West MP Paul Flynn and others on the Public Administration Committee, which is investigating crime statistics.

The hearing came after a Gwent Police internal review found 25 out of 50 incidents from last summer had not been recorded in line with Home Office rules. Mr Farrar commissioned that review when he was temporary chief constable, after the forced retirement of predecessor Carmel Napier.

December 19

THOUSANDS of pounds in payments to Caerphilly council's chief officers to 'buy out' entitlements to essential car use and annual leave allowances - and the decisions that led to them - were unlawful, a damning report concluded.

Inadequacies and failings throughout the process leading to payments being agreed were laid bare in a public interest report from Wales Audit Office auditor Anthony Barrett.

The report followed earlier revelations concerning unlawful pay rises to senior council officers, and revealed that allowance deals were approved by those who stood to gain from them, and proposals and decisions were not made known to councillors, or published. In total, more than £218,000 was paid out.

December 27

GREENPEACE activist Anthony Perrett, from Newport, arrived back in the UK three months after being arrested with 29 others by Russian authorities after attempting to hang a banner on a Gazprom oil platform in the Arctic.

He told the Argus he had feared for his life after Russian coastguards opened fire on the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.

Imprisoned in Murmansk, and facing 15 years in jail, he and his colleagues were eventually freed following the passing of an amnesty law.

December 29

SCORES of people came to Rodney Parade in Newport for a walk to mark the first anniversary of the disappearance of Newbridge man Kyle Vaughan.

The 24-year-old went missing on December 30 2012, when his silver Peugeot 306 was found on the A467 between Risca and Cross Keys, after a suspected collision.

Shortly afterward, a murder inquiry was launched but despite renewed calls for information and a number of arrests, he has not been found and no-one has been charged.

Mum Mary described as "dreadful" a year in which, she was also diagnosed with liver cancer and Kyle's dad Alan was hospitalised on Christmas Day with angina.

The walk doubled as a plea for new information. Balloons were released before the crowd walked through Market Street to the old bus station.

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