A SHORTAGE of bus drivers has meant councillors have been unable to go on a tour of the county they oversee.
Monmouthshire County Council has been intending to organise a day of visits to some of its key locations which would be open to all 46 councillors, many of which were only elected for the first time at the May 2022 local government elections.
But the democratic services committee has been told the authority hasn’t yet been able to arrange a date for a tour of the county which is some 26 miles from its most northernly to its most southernly point.
John Pearson, the council’s local democracy manager, told the committee: “We’ve been having real difficulty getting a bus for us as in school time all our back up drivers are running school transport as well.”
A visit of key sites would likely include the new 3-19 King Henry VIII School, that is currently under construction in Abergavenny, said Mr Pearson while previous visits have included Dewstow School, Severn View Residential Home, Tintern Railway Station, Monmouth Leisure Centre, the Llanfoist Recycling Centre and County Hall in Usk.
Mr Pearson said a similar tour is arranged as part of the induction for new officers when they join the council’s staff.
He suggested the tour could either be arranged during the school holidays, but acknowledged that may not be convenient for all councillors and they would be unlikely be able to visit schools, or tours to different areas of the county could be held over two or three days.
Abergavenny Park ward councillor Tudor Thomas said a similar visit had been arranged when he was first elected in 2017.
The Labour councillor said: “Most councillors know their ward or area but it tends to split, north and south. Anything we can do that is beneficial in informing them, as a councillor from the north they could be debating something in the south, so you could have a better handle on it, it’s got to be good for councillors particularly the new ones.”
Committee chair, Conservative councillor for St Arvans, Ann Webb, said she had also attended the previous tour. She said: “I can’t remember it now, but it was very interesting.”
Labour member for Rogiet, Peter Strong, suggested if the tour couldn’t visit every location those which don’t have public access should be prioritised.
Mr Pearson will draw up an itinerary for the tour, and consider potential dates, with Cllr Webb.