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Housing associations announce plan for major merger

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HousesCANTREF has announced discussions are underway with Wales & West Housing Association over plans to merge.

The news follows Cantref’s announcement last month (March 2016) it had taken the decision to find a suitable partner with which to merge following a review into its operations and governance, undertaken during the last eight months in cooperation with the Welsh Government.

Cantref received information from interested organisations across Wales and rigorously evaluated their submissions, but Wales & West Housing is its preferred partner and due diligence and more detailed discussions are now taking place. Commenting on these discussions, Kevin Taylor, Interim Chair of Cantref says: “We decided that the best way for Cantref to grow and develop, and to continue providing the best service possible to our tenants is to merge with a suitable partner that can complement our business.

“Wales & West Housing is our preferred partner as it has a proven track record particularly around resident satisfaction and resident engagement. It is also committed to preserving Cantref’s ethos of a regional and local focus and recognises the importance of cultural aspects to our business such as the continued use and support of the Welsh language. Importantly, it is also a very well respected organisation that possesses lender and regulatory support.”

Cantref operates throughout Ceredigion, North Pembrokeshire, North Carmarthenshire, and the Machynlleth area in Powys and is seen as a good fit for Wales & West Housing as its Chief Executive, Anne Hinchey explains: “Cantref is a strong organisation that undertakes important work within the geographical locations in which it operates. It is clear that it has a passionate workforce that are committed to the communities they serve and we are very excited by the discussions that are taking place and the potential to come together as one entity. Cantref has the same ethos as Wales & West Housing which is centred on the fact the tenant always comes first and we are hopeful discussions continue to progress in a positive manner.”

It is hoped the current discussions can lead to a successful merger by Autumn this year but in the meantime, Cantref continues to strengthen its operations following the Welsh Government inquiry. Mr Taylor adds: “The service and support we provide our tenants is our number one priority and at the heart of everything we do. We are proud of the results we have delivered over the years but it is crucial that we continue to move forward.

“We currently have an experienced team in place and are excited by the discussions taking place with Wales & West Housing. However, we are not standing still and are continuing to implement changes recommended within the recent review to ensure Cantref is as strong as possible as the merger discussions take shape.”

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Stay at home this Easter, urges First Minister

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WALES’ First Minister and emergency services are calling on the people of Wales to stay home and respect social distancing this Easter holiday. The call comes as warm weather is predicted, sparking fears people will venture out of their homes.

The letter from First Minister Mark Drakeford is signed by Wales’ emergency and health services and council leaders, as well as the Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Health minister Vaughan Gething and chief medical officer Frank Atherton join the NHS, the police, fire and ambulance services, charities, councils and voluntary organisations as signatories to the letter.

It reads: “As the Easter bank holiday approaches, we have one message for everyone. Stay home and save lives.

“Our public services are working around the clock to care for and keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Frontline workers are putting our health and care first, every day.

“We must continue to do everything we can to support them; to protect our NHS and to save lives.

“Stay at home and help stop the virus spreading.

“We know it’s hard and we want to thank you for sticking to the rules. There are some early signs this is having a positive impact but there’s still a long way to go. We know that staying at home for long periods is difficult and families all over Wales are making many sacrifices every day.

“Most people are doing just this, but it’s really frustrating to see some people flouting the rules and putting other people at risk. We are taking action to stop this happening.
“These rules are there to protect you and your loved ones. For most people the virus will cause a mild illness, but there’s a large number of people – children, adults and grandparents – who are at risk of serious illness if they are exposed.

“Sadly, a lot of people have already died after catching coronavirus. Families across Wales have lost loved ones to this virus – if we don’t act now, even more deaths will follow.
“Our actions and decisions over the Easter bank holiday weekend, and in the coming weeks and months, will shape Wales for years to come.
“Please – stay home and save lives.”

The letter is signed by:

Mark Drakeford AM, First Minister of Wales
Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services
Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales
Andrew Goodall, NHS Wales Chief Executive
Tracey Cooper Public Health Wales Chief Executive
Carl Foulkes Chief Constable, North Wales Police
Mark Collins Chief Constable, Dyfed-Powys Police
Matt Jukes Chief Constable, South Wales Police
Pam Kelly Chief Constable, Gwent Police
Andrew Morgan WLGA Leader, on behalf of all Welsh Local Authorities
Arfon Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales
Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys
Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales
Jeff Cuthbert, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent
Jason Killens, Chief Executive, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust
Ruth Marks, Wales Council for Voluntary Action Chief Executive
Simon Smith, Chief Fire Officer North Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Chris Davies, Chief Fire Officer Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Hugh Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer South Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Tegryn Jones, Chief Executive, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
Emyr Williams, Chief Executive, Snowdonia National Park Authority

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Education

Ceredigion Schools have already produced more than 300 visors

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MORE than 300 face-visors have already been produced by staff at Ysgol Bro Pedr, Ysgol Penglais, Ysgol Bro Teifi and Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi.

These face-visors provide much needed protection for front-line workers in Ceredigion. The visors are produced on the schools’ 3-D printers.
Plans are in place to produce another 2,000 of these vital visors.

Meinir Ebbsworth, Corporate Lead Officer – Schools said, “We are extremely grateful to our staff who are using their expertise and school equipment to help others.”

Ceredigion County Council are proud of the contribution that our schools are making during this difficult and challenging times, and to all our staff and volunteers who have shown such goodwill to help others.

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Cooperation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Ceredigion County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) are working together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three facilities in the county – Plascrug Leisure Centre and Penweddig School in Aberystwyth and Cardigan Leisure Centre – will provide additional capacity in response to the unprecedented challenges currently faced by the NHS and social care services.

Further sites across the county continue to be scoped and further information will be provided as and when these are confirmed. The health service is also working with its university partners in Aberystwyth on opportunities for them to support the efforts.

This follows announcements made last week confirming additional capacity in Parc Y Scarlets and the Selwyn Samuel Centre in Llanelli and Bluestone National Park Resort in Pembrokeshire.

Dr Phil Kloer, Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Delivering this additional capacity in Ceredigion will be essential to help us manage patient flow over the coming weeks and we are extremely grateful for all of the support that we are receiving from Ceredigion County Council to help make this happen.

“We have followed the situation in Italy closely to learn where possible and to help our planning. Our European colleagues have provided feedback that patient flow and throughput is a critical factor in response to COVID-19 pressures.”

Eifion Evans, Chief Executive said “Ceredigion County Council is proud to be supporting Hywel Dda University Health Board in establishing our Leisure Centres and one of our secondary schools as facilities which will provide additional capacity as we prepare for the potential impact of COVID-19. This is a reflection of the close partnership working between the two organisations. We thank all staff who have been working tirelessly to prepare for and respond to this crisis.”

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