TORFAEN LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN PREFERRED STRATEGY: The purpose of the Preferred Strategy is to set out the council's strategic priorities for development up to the year 2021.

It outlines a range of key issues affecting Torfaen that the Preferred Strategy will need to address and defines a vision of how the area should develop.

It sets objectives and establishes a series of strategic policies that will guide future growth and development.

Following approval at the full council meeting, the Preferred Strategy has been published for consultation. The consultation period began on January 28 and closes on March 10.

It is available for inspection at the following locations: County Hall, Cwmbran, Cwmbran Library, Blaenavon Library, Torfaen Mobile Library. Civic Centre, Pontypool and Pontypool and Abersychan Libraries.

Comment sheets will also be available at all these sites.

If you would like a paper copy or CD of this document, please contact the Principal Planner, Forward Planning, Robert Murray, on 01633 648805. Please note, however, that there will be a charge for printing the document.

Representations should be sent, in writing, to Duncan Smith, Chief Officer Planning and Public Protection at County Hall in Cwmbran, or by e-mail to ldp@ They must specify the matters to which they relate. Closing date is Monday, March 10 2008.

It outlines the spatial strategy options that have been considered by the council and proposes a Preferred Strategy for the Torfaen Local Development Plan.

The Preferred Strategy seeks to address the key social, economic and environmental issues affecting Torfaen, assists in delivering the Council's Community Strategy Vision and accords with national and regional planning guidance.

It forms the basis from which the detailed policies and land allocations will be derived.

THE PONTYPOOL MEMORIAL GATES: I was walking through town the other day, when I stopped to have a look at the wreaths on the memorial gates, which are opposite the Civic Centre.

The tributes to those who have lost their lives in the service of this country certainly looked terribly bedraggled, having being there since November 11 last year.

I have always thought that having regard to the extremes of weather that we have in this part of the United Kingdom, that play havoc with anything that has to stay outdoors, it would be best to take the wreaths and the small crosses down when the time comes around for the Christmas tree to be set up.

This would mean that for that reasonable period of time they would remain in good condition for passersby to admire, and for them to think back to the sacrifices that those servicemen and women made for their country.

However, the Christmas tree and the decorations were installed around the wreaths, so that no one could be quite sure what it all represented.

Unfortunately, our weather has taken its toll on those wreaths that were bought and laid there with such reverence; Five of them have fallen down and are lying on the ground, and a number of the remainder are hanging from the gates by one cord.

A lot of the small crosses have tumbled over. The whole thing looks utterly shabby and decrepit, and not at all a tribute to those whose names appear on the memorial.

However, there are other points of view about this matter, as a letter in the Argus, from a Mr S C Cox, from Blaenavon, indicates.

He makes a point about those wreaths on the Blaenavon cenotaph being removed by Torfaen County Borough Council almost immediately after the ceremony took place.

Mr Cox takes a completely opposite stance from me, as he says that the wreaths have remained in place at least until the following Easter for the last twenty years.

I dread to think of the state they would be in after five or six months' exposure to our awful weather.

Visiting the site more recently I see that all the wreaths have been picked up off the floor and tied securely to the gates, and the small crosses have been arranged neatly.

THE CIVIC CENTRE RENOVATIONS: On the opposite side of the road the scaffolding still stands proudly outside the Civic Centre, but with no sign of any workmen making a start.

Most of the coloured tape that was wrapped around the lower portions of the scaffolding has already disappeared. I suppose that this tape was installed as a safety measure, so that people would see it and not bang into the metal posts.

I was at a meeting the other evening when the future of the town was being discussed in some detail. One point that struck me as odd was the proposal to spend more money on refurbishing the exterior of the indoor market.

Personally, I could not see anything wrong with it even before they started the first phase, and, again, I cannot see any difference after that work was completed. Surely if there is any money to be spent, the inside of the market is crying out for some serious renovation.

As I have said so often before, just a coat of paint, white preferably, not the dingy brown that now covers the woodwork in most of the interior, would certainly brighten the place up and make it more attractive to possible shoppers.

THE LINDEN SINGERS OF TORFAEN: I have just received a letter from Lydia Clarke, the secretary of the Linden Singers of Torfaen, telling me of their programme for the coming spring season.

On Saturday, March 1, they are holding a joint concert with the Cwmbran Male Voice Choir at the Newbridge Memorial Hall in aid of the charity, St David's Foundation.

Then comes a variety show that has been arranged by Cwmbran Community Council. This is for Senior Citizens, and will be held at Coed Eva and Hollybush Community Hall.

It will take place from 3pm to 5.30pm, and as well as the Linden Singers, there will be an appearance by Judy and Friends.

The next charity that will benefit from the choir's efforts will be Breastcare Wales in another joint concert, this time with the Gwent Police Choir, which will take place on Saturday, April 5, at St Julian's Methodist Church, on Beaufort Road , St Julian's, Newport, starting at 7pm.

The highlight of their season undoubtedly will be a few days spent in Looe, in Cornwall, where they will give a couple of concerts. As a supporter of this choir, I, and a number of others, will be joining the choristers in their venture into the West Country.

Lydia asks me to mention that the choir are always looking for new singers, and if there are any ladies who would like to join them, and receive a warm welcome, they should contact Lydia, on 01633 422825, or Daphne Steed, on 01495 755961.

Under their enthusiastic musical director, Lyn Weaver, the ladies are looking forward to an enjoyable spring and early summer.

BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION: This organisation has asked me to advertise their Valentine Appeal, which aims to raise £1 million to fund two of their vital services, their Heart Nurses and their telephone Helpline.

Last year BHF Heart Nurses helped 50,000 heart patients, and the Heart Helpline provided support and information to 13,000 callers, so the need for these services is pretty obvious.

They cite the example of the Heart Nurses' assistance for a little boy called Aaron. He was diagnosed with congenital heart disease before he was even born, and although he is still only seven years old, he has already had four operations.

The family have received essential care and support from BHF Heart Nurses every step of the way.

His mother, Sam, said "We've had a couple of scary moments when we thought we would lose their services and I couldn't see how we would get by. I couldn't bear to think of life without them.

"They have been huge in our lives since before he was born, and are a fundamental part of caring for our child."

Just £24 pays for one hour of a BHF Nurse's time. You can help to raise that £1 million by visiting their new website at valentine. You can listen to their brand new podcast, treat yourself to a Valentine gift from their shop, order a fundraising kit, post a Love Note in a BHF shop - or make a donation. They say: "Thank you for your support - together we can beat heart disease".

A HECTIC WEEKEND WITH ANEURIN BEVAN COURT RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION: This short break must have taken months of planning by Phil Smith, the secretary and the committee of the Aneurin Bevan Court Residents' Association.

I think it must have started off with a visit to London to see the show The Lion King. Forty tickets were asked for, but such a number was not available.

Top Kat, the coach company from Caerphilly, then suggested Blood Brothers as an alternative, and this was agreed. However, three of us had only recently seen the latter in Cardiff, so Top Kat managed to get tickets for the Lion King just for us, and a wonderful show it turned out to be.

The only major snag was that we had to get on the coach to go to the theatre at about half-time in the rugby international between England and Wales. Not that it mattered much, as England were hammering Wales at the time, and the only question was how big the defeat was going to be.

A friend managed to pick it up on his mobile phone and, of course, no-body would believe him when he said that Wales were leading by 26 to 19.

The organisers must have thought it was a long trip to London just to see a show, so on the Sunday all 38 of us went to see the Tutankhamen exhibition, in what used to be called the Dome and is now the O2 arena.

This was a wonderful exhibition in a great setting.

Although it was Sunday morning there were long queues there. However, everyone shuffled along in a most patient and uncomplaining British way and it did not take too long to gain admittance.

Once inside, there were earphones provided and for the first time for me they worked properly.

We were due to come home on the Monday, but it probably seemed a pity to waste the day, so a visit to the Houses of Parliament was fixed.

We were taken around by a most enthusiastic Scotsman, who answered our many questions with kindness and civility. Of course, one of our ladies had to let us down by trying out those famous benches, and was quickly shouted at by an eagle- eyed policewoman.

While there, we saw Dennis Skinner, and in the restaurant, Paul Flynn, the Newport MP with a friend.

Our hotel, the Crowne Plaza, at Heathrow, was luxurious in the extreme. The rooms, the food and the service were really of the highest level. Unfortunately, the bar prices were just the same.

To make our enjoyment of the weekend complete, our coach driver from Top Kat, Robert, was also top notch. Nothing was too much trouble for him and how he found his way to the various destinations in the West End of London, I just did not understand.

He kept insisting that we all had to be waiting at our various pick-up points and to get on the coach quickly. I could not understand why it mattered so much, until he told me that he had been issued with a £60 penalty when his passengers were actually getting off the coach to go into a theatre.

He had to pay this amount out of his own pocket and it would be increased to £120 if the fine was not paid promptly.

All of us are now looking forward to forthcoming trips with ABC, including the main one in August to Scotland, to see the Edinburgh Tattoo.