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‘Seen a red squirrel in Mid Wales lately?’

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Seen near Llanddewi Brefi: Is this the only squirrel in the village?

Seen near Llanddewi Brefi: Is this the only squirrel in the village?

THAT’S the question that Wildlife Trust Red Squirrel Officer, Becky Hulme is asking; and reports of sightings are coming in – many from the Llanfair Clydogau and Llanddwei Brefi areas.

Becky remarked: “People love seeing red squirrels in Wales; this native mammal really does make an impact with its striking russet coat and graceful movements. Many of the older generation remember seeing reds in on a regular basis; but that was back in the 1950s and early 60s before grey squirrels had really got a hold in mid Wales.”

Since the grey squirrel colonised, red squirrels have largely vanished from Wales. Until the late 1950s, the red squirrel was a common sight in mid Wales and an integral part of the Welsh landscape.

In 1958, a schoolteacher from Rhandirmwyn stated that a child had come into school with a report of a grey squirrel, one of the first in the area!

From then onwards it was downhill for the red squirrel, as the larger and more robust grey squirrel quickly moved into local woodlands, eating much of the available food and spreading squirrelpox virus, which the greys are immune to, but which is fatal to red squirrels.

A law was passed in 1938 banning further importation of grey squirrels, but the damage had been done; inadvertently heralding the demise of the red squirrel in Britain.

We now have only a little over a thousand red squirrels hanging on in Wales, in Anglesey, in the north east of the country, and here in mid Wales.

Anglesey is the real success-story in Wales; as part of a restoration project, they have cleared greys from the island and boosted the population of reds, thought to be as low as 40 individuals less than 20 years ago; Anglesey is now home to as many as 700 red squirrels.

The Mid Wales Red Squirrel Project (MWRSP) is a much younger project than its northern counterpart, but with the help of funding, originally through Environment Wales, a former Welsh Government funded initiative, work is getting underway to save the population of reds in mid Wales too.

“We know that we have a much reduced population of reds in mid Wales, but we’re keen to get a better idea of where and when red squirrels are active, so that we can help to protect them, and that’s where local people come in.” Becky explained, “It is locals, both working and living in the mid Wales red squirrel focal site that are most likely to spot red squirrels, usually as they a cross a road or open ground.”

The area centred round Llyn Brianne reservoir, bordered by Pontrhydfendigaid, Tregaron, Lampeter, Llandovery and Llanwrtyd Wells, was approved as a focal site for red squirrel conservation in 2009. Welsh Ministers agreed that urgent strategic action needed to be taken in order to conserve the population of reds in this area.

“As one of only three significant populations of red squirrels in Wales, our reds in mid Wales really do deserve some attention.” Becky explained, “we hope to restore the population by reducing the population of grey squirrels and by working with Natural Resources Wales and private forest managers to encourage appropriate forest management.”

The red squirrel project on Anglesey is an extremely successful conservation project and is direct evidence that removing grey squirrels leads to red squirrel population recovery.

However, Becky points out that this ambition can only be achieved with the support of local people: “Over the past year we’ve had over 80 people volunteer their time to help in the fight to save the red squirrel in mid Wales. Activities have ranged from help with publicity at shows and events to grey squirrel control to monitoring local red squirrel populations.”

A series of delightful photos from a trail camera located above Llanddewi Brefi show reds visiting a feeding station: “These photos really do illustrate the playful nature of these iconic mammals. It would be a real shame if we allowed our red squirrels become yet another extinction story.”

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Richards-Keegan cleared of sending underage girl nude pictures

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A BOW STREET man has been cleared of charges that he sent an underage girl photographs of his penis.

Paul Robert Morgan Richards-Keegan, aged 21, had denied two allegations of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Richards-Keegan, of Tregerddan, said the only messages he sent her via the internet were in response to approaches from her and did not include photographs of his private parts.

Catherine Richards, prosecuting, had told a jury at Swansea Crown Court that the 14-year-old girl had shared messages with Richards-Keegan via Snapchat.

At one stage police issued to him a child abduction notice, which he signed, instructing him not to contact the girl

In 2016 she told her mother that he was again sending her unwanted photographs of his penis attached to messages.

Richards-Keegan was arrested, and told police he had obeyed the order apart from messages he had sent after being contacted by the complainant.

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Ben Lake MP gets First Class experience as he turns postie for the day in Lampeter

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Ceredigion MP Ben Lake experienced what is involved in delivering the post when he joined local postman Wyn on his delivery round in Lampeter yesterday.

Ben is one of a number of local MPs being invited to go out with postmen and women across Wales to see the lengths Royal Mail goes to, to deliver the post.

The purpose of the visits is to give MPs a unique insight into the challenges of delivering mail to every house and business in their constituency, six days a week.

Jamie Lambert, Royal Mail Delivery Manager, who briefed Ben before he set off on his walk said: “We’re delighted that Ben is taking the time to experience the every day challenges faced by our delivery postmen and women.

“The visit gave us the opportunity to show Ben how we are continuing to modernise and transform our organisation. We have invested in new sorting and delivery equipment as we respond to the changing nature of the modern postbag. We are delivering more parcels and fewer letters than ever before and the tools for the job need to reflect that.”

Ben Lake MP said: “Postmen and women perform an incredibly important service to our communities; not only do they ensure that our post is delivered, but they are often a vital contact for elderly individuals, and as such key to biding us closer together as a community.

“I wanted to get a real understanding of the work that goes into delivering the mail on a daily basis. There can be no better way of getting that insight than actually going out and joining a postman as he delivers his postal round.

“I would like to thank the team at the Lampeter Sorting Office for their work and welcome, and to Wyn for his patience as I followed him on his round.”

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Tenders invited for Cylch Caron

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Tenders are invited for the design and build of a new fully-integrated health, social care and housing centre, Cylch Caron in Tregaron.

The tendering opportunity has been advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union, and the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) published on 12 February 2018. Completed PQQ submissions must be made online through etenderwales by Noon on 15 March 2018.

Following a previous unsuccessful exercise the Cylch Caron Project Board voted to explore new tender options for the design and construction of the facility. Subsequently, this tender for a design and build solution has been developed to deliver best value for money and fit-for-purpose health and extra care facilities, for current and future generations.

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Social Services, and Chair of the Cylch Caron Stakeholder Board, said: “After exploring ways in which to move this project forward successfully, this is an important milestone that I am very happy to see. The Project Board agreed to re-procure the scheme on a Design and Build basis which will hopefully be an attractive prospect to building companies.”

The scheme is being developed in partnership between Ceredigion County Council, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Mid-Wales Housing and the Welsh Government. It will consist of a GP surgery, community pharmacy, outpatient clinics and community nursing services, as well as extra care flats and integrated health and social care units.

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