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Cautious welcome for deferred Cymdeithas decision

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Ysgol Cilcennin

Ysgol Cilcennin

CYMDEITHAS YR IAITH CYMRAEG has welcomed a decision by Ceredigion Community Council’s Learning Communities Scrutiny Committee postponed making a recommendation on the future of four Aeron Valley Schools.

Ysgolion yn Dihewyd, Cilcennin, Ciliau Parc, ac Felinfach are all threatened with closure under one option of a planned reorganisation of schools.

Tony Schiavone of Cymdeithas’ education group said:

“We are glad that the committee did not rush to a decision without talking with the very people that any decision would affect. There was considerable disagreement among committee members and deciding on the future of schools is not something to be taken lightly.

“We encourage everyone in the relevant communities to voice their opinions and offer additional ideas: they know their area best.”

Cymdeithas also said that the figures in their report do not support the Council’s case.

Toni Schiavone added: “Instead of threatening four schools we hope that the Cabinet will listen to local opinion instead of following the same predictable negative route again.

“We would like to see an Aeron Valley Federation to combine the Secondary School with the primary schools in the town and the four rural schools in the valley.

“The site in Felinfach could be developed and become a cultural centre for all schools in Ceredigion, counteracting recent trends to make the curriculum more restricted.”

CONTINUOUS REVIEW

Although the Council said they are reviewing the situation of schools in the Aberaeron catchment area as part of a continuous review, there are only three years since the discussion on the future of Trefilan and Dihewyd schools, the two smallest schools in the Aeron Valley.

Both communities fought for their future, and in one last ditch attempt, Trefilan parents decided to send their children to Dihewyd, travelling past two other schools, so that all the children would be in the same school and save that school.

To all intents and purposes the community decided that it had to sacrifice the school. On that basis, Dihewyd School remained open.

Only three years earlier Mydroilyn School was closed, with the children going to Dihewyd.

Cymdeithas have expressed considerable concern that the criteria used to assess schools are far too limited and do not take adequate account of schools and school buildings as valuable community assets in rural areas.

SCHOOLS SEEN AS FINANCIAL ASSETS

Toni Schiavone told The Herald: “‘Sustainability’ and ‘viability’ are always used as reasons to justify closing schools but there is no clear strategy to protect rural Welsh communities, or to use schools as assets to integrate children from families who have moved to the area.

“Schools – like houses – are seen purely as a financial assets. People in these communities are seen as opponents in the debate that officers need to get the better of, without any desire to work together in partnership.

“A report has been put together, and includes a list of options for the future of the schools, but the report does not indicate anywhere what the objective of the review is – whether it is to reduce the number of empty places or to try to save money.

“The figures in their own report do not support their case in this instance regardless of their aim:

• According to the Council’s own estimates, the numbers of children will rise over the coming years, and Dihewyd School is full as it is

• The newest school, Ysgol Bro Siôn Cwilt has the highest percentage of empty places, after Cilcennin School

• Regarding the condition of school buildings, three of the four schools under threat are in the highest category but one.”

SCHOOLS ‘KEY COMMUNITY ASSETS’

Spelling out Cymdeithas’ alternative vision be retaining the integrity of village communities by retaining schools, Toni Schiavone continued: “We advocate establishing a national Key Community Asset Fund to enable communities to purchase a building (hall, shop, school, etc.). In this model, the building would be managed by a community trust and the Education Authority would rent a part of the building in order to organise a school.

“That way, the community benefits and the Council benefits from having no responsibility to spend local taxes on renovation. The project would also be open to other investment funds that are available for schools e.g. European community development funding, or Lottery funding.

“We have seen the impact of the closure of village schools across Wales, where villages and communities slowly decline – young families do not want to move somewhere where they will have to travel far to get an education for their children.

“More than 25 schools have closed in Ceredigion in recent years but there has been no case study to look at the impact on any area – it seems this is not a consideration for the Council.”

A spokesperson for Ceredigion County Council told The Herald: “The content of the review was discussed in a meeting of the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday 9 May. The Committee felt that there wasn’t enough information contained in the area review for them to recommend a preferred option to Cabinet. They noted the need to consult with the local community before discussing the options.

“Feedback from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be reported to Cabinet on 17 May. The suggestions outlined in the statement in question are predicated on some factual inaccuracies. All the relevant correct facts are available for public perusal in the Council’s report.”

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Ceredigion’s first ‘Welsh in the Workplace’ Fair to be held

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CEREDIGION’S first ‘Welsh in the Workplace’ Fair will be held to encourage and support businesses who want to increase their bilingual provision in their daily work. 

With the 2020 Ceredigion National Eisteddfod on the horizon, Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion’s Welsh in the Workplace Officers are busy assisting the county’s businesses in benefitting from the use of Welsh in their business. To this end, the Welsh will be the focus for a special event at the beginning of October with a Welsh in the Workplace Fair. 

Huw Marshall from ‘Yr Awr Gymraeg’ (The Welsh hour) will lead in how to raise your business profile and how to effectively market in order to attract more customers. During the day there will be opportunities to ask a panel of businesses who already operate bilingually whilst learning from their experiences and the challenges they faced. The panel will consist of Emlyn Jones (Diogel Events), Kerry Ferguson (Gwe Cambrian), Eleri Davies (Blaenwaun Caravan Park) and Sioned Thomas (Ffenestri Kevin Thomas Windows), chaired by Keith Henson (Coleg Ceredigion).

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Culture said, “It is heart-warming to see a valuable and important Fair such as this being held in Ceredigion for the first time by Cered. It’s a very special opportunity to see businesses in one place and hear the experiences from those who use the Welsh language daily in their work.”

Later in the afternoon, there will be opportunities for businesses to visit an array of information stands from Learn Welsh, Ceredigion Training, Cynnal y Cardi, Business Wales, Antur Teifi, the Welsh Language Commissioner, Coleg Ceredigion and Cymraeg Byd Busnes.

The Fair is to be held on Thursday, 04 October 2018, between 10:30 and 15:30 at Cardigan Castle. Limited spaces are available, so register and reserve your place on tocyn.cymru. Simultaneous translation facilities and refreshments including tea and coffee will be available.

The ‘Welsh in the Workplace’ project has received LEADER support through the Cynnal y Cardi Local Action Group (administered by Ceredigion County Council) which is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

For further information, contact Pat Jones, Welsh Language Business Development Officer, Cered, Menter Iaith Ceredigion on Pat.jones@ceredigion.gov.uk or 01545 572350.

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Woman claimed benefits after £138,000 inheritance

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A NEW QUAY woman continued claiming benefits despite inheriting £138,000.
Susan Marion, aged 57, was then awarded £18,417 which she was not entitled to.
Marion was found guilty by a jury at Swansea crown court this afternoon of failing to notify Ceredigion County Council and the Department for Work and Pensions of inheritances that would have affected her right to benefits.
Ieuan Rees, prosecuting, told the jury how a series of inheritances meant that Marion had well above the £16,000 limit of savings and capital.
Marion, of Plas y Wern, Gilfachrheda, told the court she did not accept that the money was rightfully her’s.
She said it had been left to her by her father, grandmother and an aunt.
She said she considered the money tainted because her father and grandfather had kept battery chickens and killed lambs, both of which she disapproved of.
At first, she added, she had been willing to keep the £11,000 left to her by her aunt, but then discovered she had raced whippets, which she also considered to be cruel.
Mr Rees said that despite her views she had used the money to open four accounts at Barclays bank.
Marion, who had denied the charges, will be sentenced on October 19 and was granted bail until then.
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Join the stand against scams

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CEREDIGION residents will get the opportunity to learn more about how they can protect themselves against scams in an event to be held at the Bandstand, Aberystwyth on 27 September between 9:30am and 1:30pm.

Ceredigion County Council have joined the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team and Wales Against Scam Partnership (WASP) who will be touring Wales holding scam awareness events between 24 and 28 September.

Friends Against Scams is an NTS initiative that aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities to ‘Take a Stand Against Scams’.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Public Protection Services said, “Scams often target the most vulnerable people in society but the reality is that anyone can become a victim of scams. Scams damage lives and can affect people financially and emotionally so I’m proud that Ceredigion County Council has joined the work of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, Friends Against Scams and others who are working together to prevent people from being victims of scams. By signing up as an organisation we undertake to actively promote the Friends Against Scams initiative.”

Each year scams cause between £5bn and £10bn worth of detriment to UK consumers. In addition to the financial impact, scams can have a severe emotional and psychological impact on victims.

Louise Baxter, Team Manager in the National Trading Standards Scams Team said: “The tactics used by scammers leave victims socially isolated and ashamed of telling their friends and families what’s really going on behind closed doors. It is fantastic to have a great organisation to help us tackle this problem on a local, regional and national level and I would encourage all those that are interested in showing their support to join the campaign and be part of our growing Friends Against Scams network.”

Call by at the Bandstand, Aberystwyth on 27 September between 9:30am and 1:30pm to learn more on how to protect yourself from scams. For more information about becoming a Friend Against Scams, visitwww.friendsasagainstscams.org.uk

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