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What a Rubbish way to Recycle

The Grwyne Fawr – a community divided!

Physically divided by our lovely river, but divided in so many other ways.

Children from one side of the valley go to one school, from the other to another school.

“Where is the Rave?” has been a regular question from Police call handlers as Gwent try to palm off the problem to Dyfed-Powys and vice versa.  It’s getting better, but it’s taken a lot of my time and effort.

Two different AM’s, two different MP’s. Even as a director of the CIC I’m only allowed to contact my own AM or MP.  How crazy is that?

Now we have the ‘Case of the Closed Recycling Centre’.  It used to be called the ‘tip’ but now we have to call it the Waste Transfer Station.  Well now the one at Llanfoist – just down the road and on the way to the shops in Abergavenny – has been closed to residents living on the Powys side of the river.

Monmouthshire CC, seemingly at a whim and without consultation or notification, has now made the valley’s Powys residents travel all the way to the far side of Brecon to deposit any bulky recycling that can’t be left at the side of the road every week.

That’s a round trip of over 50 miles for most of us, compared to a slight detour on the way to Waitrose.  So much for cutting vehicle emissions and saving the planet!

What makes it even more ridiculous is that Powys CC collect ALL the rubbish and recycling for Mons CC residents in the valley on a weekly basis.


I’ve been in touch with both Mons and Powys CC’s and they both basically wash their hands of the problem.  I’ve now raised it with Kirsty Williams and it looks as though that much maligned local treasure, the Abergavenny Chronicle, will be taking up the case.

-Update- Here’s the article on Page 3 of the Chronicle dated June 13th 2019

As with the BB issue also here on the blog, we try to do what we can, but we are seriously running out of breath waiting for answers!

Ian Mabberley


Happy Birthday

Happy 1st Birthday to the CIC!

Our new logo

Our new logo

Yes, it really was a full year ago when we got our Companies House registration.

For both of us Ian’s, it has been a busy year trying to get things done around the bureaucracy and intransigence of other organisations.

Ian the IT has been struggling to get BT to give him any idea of when fibre optic cabling might come to the valley – although interestingly it seems to be much in evidence in the Grwyne Fechan and on the road towards Llanbedr.    {In fact Ian has been struggling with all things BT, one of which left the whole valley with crossed dead lines for a week or so.  Thanks very much BT!  Not Ian’s fault. }

He is now working with a local Broadband supplier who hopes to be able to supply something clever, which will help the lower part of the valley in the first instance, with the hope that it can be extended further as technology allows.

Ian the Environment has finally managed to get some work underway in respect of restricting off-road motor bikes.  After an initial false start, we obtained a £10,000 grant from Welsh Government which has been added to by £5,000 worth of installation costs by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and new barriers and signs are being erected on the forest roads as I type.

We will be calling an AGM in the near future and hope to see all the Members for a good chat about where we go from here.

More on broadband

The saga continues…

I went along to a session arranged by some part of the Welsh government, or Powys, or Cardiff council (must have nodded-off at that bit), about rural broadband for businesses. They put up someone to do the introduction who clearly needed a course on ‘broadband for beginners’, as most of the audience knew more about the subject than her. Gives us an idea why this is going to be hard.

Learnings from the (2 hour!) session. There weren’t many. Could have all been done in 30 minutes.

  •  there is a ‘voucher’ available for business in Powys, for £3,000 towards getting broadband. See the Cardiff version of the scheme
  • each business can have one voucher, but they can be pooled for a joint scheme – so there is hope!
  • Each business has to apply for the voucher separately – I’ll go first, to scout out the process – then we can collectively get quotes from suppliers to install what we need.

There were a couple of suppliers there of BB services, but neither had any experience of putting BB on overhead cables. We will probably need this, as one had a rough estimate for buried fibre cabling: “about £100 per METER“. You do the sums to figure out what it would cost to bury a cable all the way from Stanton! But at least it rules-out that option.

So, next step is to apply for the Voucher: stay tuned for more…

Broadband – The Challenge

One of the main drawbacks of living where we do is that broadband (BB) connections are expensive and unreliable (satellite BB doesn’t work well in the rain) or slow/non-existent (terrestrial BB).

So getting a BB service into the valley is a key requirement for us to run our lives and businesses. And it would also enable us – via some newly available technology from the mobile companies – to provide a mobile phone service in the valley. This is a critical safety requirement, not just a handy modern annoyance.

The good news is that we’re mostly in Powys, which has a good scheme for rural broadband, and a new local MP who has committed to helping communities like ours get connected.

The bad news is that all the broadband scheme seems to assume that the recipients are individual properties, some distance away from a BT ‘Green Box’.

We’re not like that

The the Grwnye Fawr valley is a distributed ribbon settlement (yes, I was paying attention in O-level Geography). So to get a piece of fibre from the BT Green Box to the last property is around 13-15 km. The £3000 subsidy currently on offer wouldn’t get a fibre more than a tiny fraction of that distance.

But such a cable would pass most of the other houses! So there’s no point each property getting its own piece of fibre all the way to the green box. A better solution would seem to be a single cable with drops for each property. Some are next to the cable part – others are a few 100s of meters from it:

Map of the Grwyne Fawr valley communications links and houses

Map of the Grwyne Fawr valley communications links and houses

So, what’s the solution? Get the CIC to try and arrange a single solution for all the properties in the valley.

But don’t hold your breath: as we don’t fit the pattern which government expects, expect that this will take some time.