meeting notes

ACE Meeting Notes from 12th February 2024

Meeting Title: ACE Monmouth Open Meeting

Meeting date and time: 13th February 2024, 7pm

Venue Details: Zoom

Present: Cheryl Cummings, Vivien Mitchell, Charles Emes, Katja Klein, Chris Seabury, Jess Long, Sarah Read, Katharine Pitts-Tucker, Elias Johnes

Apologies: Jen Bara, Cherry Taylor, Liz Williams, Peter Davies

  1. Welcome and introductions
    Attendees introduced themselves as a reminder and for the benefit of new members. Katja Klein from Kontext Koffee who is organising the “Six Inches Of Soil” documentary screening. Vivien Mitchell is a founding member of ACE and a member of Transition Monmouth. Katherine Pitts-Tucker is involved with the Repair Café project. Cheryl Cummings is also part of Transition and mentors others towards developing their wildlife gardens. Sarah Read is acting treasurer, involved in the Regen Mentoring Scheme and Jess Long is a new joiner – welcome! Not forgetting Charles Emes – acting Chairman. Chris Seabury is interested in the air quality monitoring now being led by Transition Monmouth with support from ACE. Elias Johnes joined the call just to listen in.
  1. Revised Local Development Plan
    Charles has written to councillors and the planning dept at MCC (assisted by Vivien). This email was also copied to Tom Kirton (Major) and the chair of MTC planning committee. The email addressed ACE’s concerns about the new developments, mentioning bat roosts, air quality and environmental concerns. Flooding was also called out, requesting that the correct measures are put In place to handle this. There was also concern raised that there is not enough additional infrastructure like places in schools and nurseries, sufficient cover for doctors and dentists etc. The letter requested that ACE be involved with consultations.

Vivien added that the new treatment plant is only for sewage and include nothing for surface water runoff. ACE need to keep an eye on this also.

  1. Air quality monitors
    Brian Miller from Transition Monmouth is managing the air quality monitors project and ACE has committed to pay for three to be constructed by Make Monmouth. The portable monitors that were previously being considered for school routes are no longer being manufactured and no alternative has been found.
  2. Biodiversity audit project
    Sarah has volunteered to lead the biodiversity audit project. Chris and Cheryl have expressed an interest in being involved or receiving training as a biodiversity auditor.

Action: Everyone – anyone else who would like to get involved in helping organise this or would like to be trained as a biodiversity auditor is very welcome and should contact info@acemonmouth.org

  1. Seed swap
    The Seed Swap is this Saturday 17th February. Marketing has been completed and ACE is hoping for a good turnout again this year, the 4th year of running this event.
  2. Repair Café
    The Repair Café this month was full again. They could probably do with more assistance with the admin side of things.
  3. School garden scheme
    The project at Trellech School is progressing. Garden tools, a wheelbarrow and some compost have been ordered and ACE has photos that can be used for promotion.

Action: If schools in the Monmouth and surrounding area would like to take advantage of the funding to create small garden projects for children to learn about growing food then please contact info@acemonmouth.org.

  1. “Six Inches Of Soil” screening
    Katja is organising a screening of the “Six Inches Of Soil” documentary. This is a film about farms that have moved to regenerative agriculture and therefore fits in very well with ACE’s aims and objectives. The idea is to have a discussion panel after the screening on the 22nd April at Llanarth Village Hall. Cherry has linked Katja to Regen Ben and Patrick Hanney. Coincidentally, Regen Ben is mentoring one of the farms featured and will be coming to the screening with this farmer.

A remaining question is how much to charge for this. Whilst the aim is not principally to make a profit, ACE has seen in the past that a token ticket price improves attendance and ACE has agreed cover the cost of the hall hire and putting on the event. The company who produced the documentary have also asked for a donation from profits. Eventbrite will take a cut of ticket sales but using them allows ACE to keep track of numbers and email people. The current plan is to charge £10 per ticket.

Sarah offered numbers/accounting help to any people working on ACE projects as a chartered accountant.

  1. Haberdashers Sustainability Conference
    This event is on June 30th-July 2nd at the Haberdashers school who are hosting a sustainability conference and have asked us to be partners for the event. ACE has access to a free marquee at the Girls School and plan to have a scaled-down version of the annual climate festival on the Sunday afternoon / evening. Nicky James is hoping to invite a well known speaker on the Sunday if possible. There have been no further discussions on the conference as yet.
    Charles reported back that Martin Sweeney is open to us linking the Monmouth Carnival and the conference as they fall on the same day – 30th June. ACE needs to consider how we can do this effectively.

Action: Charles to chase Haberdashers School up. To make this happen, as it is only just over 4 months away, the steering group from the 2023 festival will be brought back together, but any new volunteers are very welcome! Chris expressed interest in being involved.

Action: Charles – reawaken the steering group.
Action: Everyone – volunteer to help if you can please!

  1. AOB
    Monmouth Town Council held a consultation about the town field. ACE has been involved in discussions about how can to re-wild the area or have a wildflower meadow in the field. The proposed solution is to have part of the field as a wildflower meadow with bat and bird boxes going up.
    Vivien reported success in other areas with starting small and gradually allowing the wildlife to encroach i.e. leaving verges of wildflowers which get wider and leaving hedges wider over time.

Action: Everyone – the consultation period is still open if anyone wants to comment.

Nicky James from Size of Wales has links with a local food producer (not in Monmouthshire but just over the border and producing food for local schools in Monmouth) who is interested in becoming more sustainable. Regen Ben has expressed an interest in helping them/mentoring them. They are after funding from us to assist – £450 of a £700 total.

The consensus was that this is a good thing to support and that ACE has funds within the bank account to cover this.

Action: Sarah to look at the budget for the year with funding to be received and anticipated outgoings so ACE can start to consider where to invest funding and which other projects to take on.

There is a ‘Clean up the Wye’ event on at the Blake Theatre at 7pm on 23rd Feb. Tickets are now sold out!!! Cherry has a speaker slot at the event and will be representing ACE and its farmers project.

Upcoming ACE events are the Seed Swap on Saturday, Six Inches of Soil film on 22nd Apr, and then the Haberdashers Sustainability Conference 30 June – 2 July.

  1. Date of next meeting: 12th March, Zoom, 7pm.

Opportunities for Action:
Doing small things together makes a big difference. This is your chance to take action on the climate and nature emergencies!

ACE have many projects that would welcome extra volunteers to spread the load, from the biodiversity team to the Haberdashers festival. If you can spare a couple of hours to help with planning or at the events themselves please let us know by contacting info@acemonmouth.org.