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Councillors back badger cull

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Blamed: badgers

Blamed: badgers

FRUSTRATION and no little anger were the keynotes of the County Council’s debate on a proposal to lobby the Welsh Government to permit a badger cull.

Councillors were told of the toll of the current policy had taken on farms, families, and communities. A packed Council Chamber heard harrowing stories of cattle being slaughtered late in pregnancy, outrage at discovering tests had delivered false positives, and an acknowledgement that there needs to be a broader approach than the one currently used. Proposing the motion, Cllr Gareth Lloyd began by setting out the nature of recent discussions members had held with their counterparts in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire regarding the deepening crisis in west Wales’s agricultural sector.

The dairy and livestock sector, Cllr Lloyd told councillors, was under particular pressure and the incidence of bovine TB (BTB) in the locality, together with the method chosen to deal with it, was making the problem worse. Cllr Lloyd continued by pointing out that BTB was having a ‘devastating effect’ on the wellbeing of animals and humans, while exacerbating ‘the fragility of Ceredigion’s economy’.

He reserved the majority of ire for a direct attack on the Welsh Government’s policy, ‘in light of the complete breakdown of the unscientific vaccination programme’. Stating that it was necessary to ‘break cycle of infection’ Cllr Lloyd told members: “I do not bring this before you without giving a lot of thought. I would like there to be no culling, the truth is there is a culling scheme – but it is happening to cattle! “Official figures show that in Wales 82,500 cattle have been culled. That is more than the population of Cetredigion, to give an idea – and that does not include unborn calves. The experiences of farmers are almost like coming back from war. You have cattle hours away from calving, minutes, before they are culled. Farmer can see the calves moving inside their mothers before the cows are killed.

This is the kind of thing we can avoid. We have spent twenty years culling cattle, and last year the number of cattle culled was 27% up on previous year.” Acknowledging the complexity of the situation, Cllr Lloyd said: “As things stand, this cycle will continue. It is a fact that badgers contract TB and are A (emphasis added) factor, but not the only factor, in infecting cattle. We could carry on culling thousands of cattle every year, but something must be done to stop the root cause of the problem, or at least tackle part of it. I understand some people have strong feelings against this idea, but I am representing my community.”

Cllr Lloyd concluded: “We need to come to an agreement for farmers, families, communities and to cooperate with our fellow councils in west Wales.” Following the formal seconding of the motion by Deputy Leader Ray Quant, Cllr Gethin James congratulated Cllr Lloyd on putting such a compelling case forward. Cllr James continued by suggesting: “The political will to deal with the issue has been lost. In 2008, during a visit to Ceredigion, I remember a discussion about this with the then First Minister, Rhodri Morgan. He told me the evidence was there that a cull would work. “Our own AM, Elin Jones, was leading that. I think she wanted this to move forward. There was a legal challenge and the cull was delayed. Welsh Labour ditched the policy straight after the 2011 Assembly elections.”

Cllr Dai Mason told members that the decision should not even be made by the Welsh Government and that the Council should simply back a policy that allowed farmers to do whatever they thought necessary to protect their own stock. Cllr Towyn Evans was less combative, saying that there were no easy answers, he suggested that: “We are not proposing cruelty, but facing reality. The time has come, in the interests of humanity and people’s livelihoods, to make tough decisions and to make decisions that others will jump on to make political hay. “We are talking about targeting culls where TB exists. There is a genuine need for a political will to look at what’s happening in the dairy industry.” Highlighting the price collapse confronting dairy farmers, Cllr Evans said: “Farmers without contracts are now getting 12ppl for their milk.

That was 34ppl not so long ago. Families have invested in farms, they spend money locally. We must look at getting greater control of this issue. I agree with what Cllr James had to say about political will in the Assembly. There is a primitive system being used to test animals, and the system they are using is not fit for purpose. In this council, a rural council, we must have the will to be brave.” Cllr Dafydd Edwards addressed the issue in a different way and highlighted the loss of biodiversity in the countryside: “Badgers at one time, were endangered and were then protected. There are too many badgers now. It is time to for us to ask to look at lifting restrictions protecting badgers to reduce their impact on other wildlife; there is a lack of diversity thanks to badgers. We should look in more detail to see if there is a more sensible course of action to control their population and to review the impact on other wildlife. Cllr Lyndon Lloyd was very much more cautious than those preceding him: “The Government has accepted a scientific view as the basis for the vaccination programme. We might not agree with the scientific evidence, but if we are to present our own case we need to provide some science of our own.

“ We cannot simply say the process the Welsh Government is using is unscientific without showing why it is. We need to strengthen our case. As we have been debating here, BBC Radio Cymru has asked the Welsh Government for a comment. It claims the incidence is lower and the number of cattle culled is, too. “Vets have accepted the vaccination programme, some with misgivings, and we need to address that. “I can foresee the Assembly sending a letter back to us saying, ‘prove it’.” Responding to Lyndon Lloyd, Cllr Gareth Lloyd said: “We can use their evidence against them. The Welsh Government insisted on a five year programme and said it had to be five years unbroken to be scientifically sound. “They have failed to deliver that. By coming to an end after the fourth year, they have broken that.

Now they say it is fine to wait a year, but cannot say whether it will start again next year.” Cllr Paul Hinch picked up Cllr Lyndon Lloyd’s point: “This last Welsh Government has no about rural life in Wales or anywhere else. Unless vaccination is fully taken up, you cannot build up immunity. It’s not just the money, it’s the way of life. People get very upset about killing ‘cuddly animals’, but if they’re causing a problem they need management. If it takes a targeted cull, because the vaccination programme is incomplete, we should support that.” Cllr Alun Williams told members: “I understand the strength of feeling. I have had lots of emails about this topic. I would point out in England there has been intensive culling but that has not eradicated badgers in the affected areas. “My belief is there is no single simple solution to this and there needs to be a comprehensive science based policy. I cannot support only one solution. I fully support a motion to pressurise the WG to break the cycle of infection.”

His words were echoed by Cllrs John Lumley Hag Harries, who said they would abstain on the basis the evidence was not enough to back the motion. Cllr Peter Evans spoke at the end of the debate in support of the motion and made it clear that he could not support a petition in which one black and white creature was more equal than another. Highlighting the impact of the cull on the rural economy, Cllr Evans told members that: “We have to act, because farmers are the backbone of the rural areas. Farmers’ way of life is extremely important to the rural economies of the three counties. Ask the businesses who depend on them.” In a registered vote, an amendment to the motion to omit the recommendation of a cull only was supported by only 3 members with 4 abstentions. The motion was carried by 26 votes in favour to 1 against with 5 abstentions.

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“Significant” heroin dealer to pay back £40,500 in criminal gains

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A MAN jailed for possessing heroin with intent to supply and money laundering has been ordered to pay back £40,500 gained through criminal activity.

Grzegorz Kramp, of Commins Coch in Ceredigion, was sentenced in February to three years and nine months in prison following a Dyfed-Powys Police investigation.

A court heard how the 45-year-old was a “significant street dealer” in the area after police stopped his car and found heroin worth £10,000 inside.

Following sentencing, the force’s Economic Crime Team began Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings against Kramp to strip him of the funds earned through illegal activity.

Financial investigator Rob Thomas said: “Financial enquiries were carried out as part of the investigation, and it was revealed that a significant amount of money had gone through the defendant’s bank account in the period leading up to his arrest.

“This gave us grounds to pursue a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation as it was clear Kramp had financially benefitted from his criminal activity.”

On Friday, June 18 a POCA hearing was held at Swansea Crown Court, where HHJ Huw Rees declared that Kramp had benefitted by £77,179.66.

He imposed a confiscation order requiring the defendant to pay £40,500. This will be split between £5,000 seized from Kramp, and equity from his home address, which is to be sold within three months.

Mr Thomas said: “To explain the difference in the amount gained by Kramp against the amount he has been ordered to pay back – proceeds of crime are split into two figures – the benefit figure, which is the amount gained, and the available amount, which is the amount of cash seized or assets which can be sold.

“In this instance, the benefit amount is over £77,000 that related to unexplained income in Kramp’s bank account over a number of months, but the available amount that could be recovered in cash or assets was calculated to be £40,500, which is what he will now pay back.

“This order is another success on top of the original sentence as by taking out the profits that fund crime, we can help disrupt the cycle and prevent further offences from taking place.”

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A group of Year 9 pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Penglais asked to self-isolate as COVID-19 case confirmed

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A GROUP of Year 9 pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Penglais, Aberystwyth have been asked to self-isolate for 10 days following the confirmation of a COVID-19 case at the school.

In addition, pupils travelling on the same bus as the confirmed positive case have also been contacted and asked to self-isolate for 10 days again. These pupils come from more than one Year Group from Ysgol Gyfun Penglais.

All confirmed contacts of the positive case must remain at home for 10 days to reduce the possible spread of the virus to family, friends and the wider community. The pupils will be taught remotely for this period.

The parents of all these pupils have been contacted by the School and will also be supported by Ceredigion Contact Tracing Team.

The Council urges all parents to refer their children for a test if they develop any of the following symptoms, which are:

·       a high temperature

·       a new continuous cough

·       a loss or change to sense of smell or taste

  • mild summer cold type symptoms – including sore throat, runny nose, headache
  • flu-like symptoms, including myalgia (muscle ache or pain); excessive tiredness; persistent headache; runny nose or blocked nose; persistent sneezing; sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing
  • any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test.

In addition, parents should book a COVID-19 test if their children feel generally feeling unwell and have a history of being in contact with a known COVID-19 case.

You can apply for a test on https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-covid-19-test or by phoning 119.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Ceredigion has increased significantly over recent days and we are urging people to continue to maintain 2 metre social distancing, wear a face mask indoors, wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds and keep inside spaces well ventilated. Following these rules will stop the spread of COVID-19 in Ceredigion.

No further details will be provided regarding this matter.

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Three services in two days for New Quay RNLI

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NEW QUAY RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was called into action three times in two days last week, firstly to a surfer near New Quay while on a training exercise on Thursday evening (17 June), then to a windsurfer in Aberaeron on Friday (18 June) and, while returning to station, a passenger boat in New Quay with a fouled propeller. 

On Thursday evening Dylan Price, New Quay RNLI’s helm was taking crew on a training exercise when they were requested by HM Coastguard to assist a surfer in difficulty in Llanina, near New Quay. Dylan said, “On arrival we found them safe and well so a false alarm with good intent. We then continued with our training which included search patterns, a man overboard scenario and boat handling drills.” 

Next, on Friday afternoon, in a strong northerly wind, the inshore lifeboat was tasked on service once again. Pete Yates, New Quay RNLI’s helm said, “We were requested by HM Coastguard to launch our inshore lifeboat at 1.40pm to a windsurfer in difficulty off Aberaeron. We made best speed up the coast in difficult conditions and arrived just as the casualty made it safely ashore, to be met by the New Quay Coastguard team. 

“On returning to New Quay we assisted a passenger boat with a fouled propeller. We were able to free the rope from the propeller and then returned to station. Good outcomes all round! Remember if you see if you see anyone in difficulty or you find yourself in trouble on the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

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