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Mixed reaction to Queen’s speech

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CEH270516_Page_25_Image_0003THE ANNUAL Queen’s Speech has come in for praise and criticism in equal measure from the two main opposition parties in Wales.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies claimed that the speech was a ‘One Nation Queens’s Speech from a One Nation Conservative Government.’

“With the UK economy strengthening, this was a clear sign that Conservatives in government are now able to switch focus on to an ambitious programme to deliver for hardworking people,” he added.

“It is now vital that the Welsh Government takes similar steps to ensure that Welsh families and businesses share in the rising prosperity.

“In particular, the UK Government has announced plans for the dramatic devolution of power to local areas and I would welcome any adoption of the localism agenda here in Wales. So too reform of the planning system, which in England is set to help the government to build more homes.

“Finally, the UK Government has take n a dynamic and decisive approach to ensuring that the UK becomes a world leader in the digital economy with new obligations placed on broadband providers to make sure that everyone has access to an affordable high speed internet connection.”

Commenting on the inclusion of the Wales Bill in today’s Queen’s Speech, he added:

“I welcome the news that the UK Government will continue to work in co-operation with the Welsh Government, building on the work of the former Secretary of State’s efforts to secure a strong and lasting devolution settlement in Wales.

“When the former Secretary of State pressed the pause button on the process it allowed all interested parties an opportunity to reflect on the type devolution that they want to see, but we must now get on with the job.

“The public will not thank politicians for spending the next four years navel-gazing over constitutional issues. It is vital that the Welsh Government and opposition parties engage positively and constructively with the new Secretary of State to take the Wales Bill forward.”

However, this view was not shared by senior Plaid Cymru politicians, with Jonathan Edwards MP describing the speech as a ‘smokescreen for more cuts’ and claiming that the UK Government ‘has decided to appease its own divided backbenches rather than focus on generating economic growth and prosperity.’

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP welcomed the commitment to provide high speed internet but questioned whether residents would be forced to pay for infrastructure upgrades.

Mr Edwards said: “A Universal Service Obligation for high speed broadband – similar to that of Royal Mail – is a welcome first step to provide good internet access to rural Wales. This is a measure I have long supported.

“The details of this proposal are very thin and I fear the UK Government will expect communities to dip into their own pockets to help build the necessary infrastructure. I will, of course, keep a close eye on how the legislation develops.

“Other than that one welcome measure almost all of the 30 government announcements are rehashed, highlighting the political pressure currently on the Prime Minister as he tries to prevent Tory civil war over the European referendum.

“Rather than focussing on generating genuine economic growth and prosperity across the UK, the Tories have decided instead to appease their own divided backbenches with right-wing policies to create US-style giant prisons and watering down our Human Rights.

“The rhetoric of ‘social reform’ is merely another smokescreen to distract from the cuts that continue to tear apart our public services.

“Plaid Cymru has put forward its alternative Queen’s Speech which includes comprehensive measures to make Wales a stronger, safer and more prosperous country, upgrading our road and rail infrastructure, protecting our funding and allowing the Welsh police forces to focus on Welsh priorities.

From the government, however, we got one vague sentence on a Wales Bill that has already been announced.”

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Community

Ceredigion lifesavers go the extra mile during lockdown

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Loyal blood donors in Ceredigion have responded to a request from the Welsh
Blood Service to ‘donate differently’ by rolling up their sleeves to make a
lifesaving donation at one of the Service’s new regional hubs.

Across Wales, of the 6,808 individuals that visited a Welsh Blood Service donation
session in May 63% of donors attended a clinic that was not their usual donation
venue.

In Ceredigion, 293 donors came forward to give blood in May, with 34 attending a
donation session for the very first time.

Following a series of Covid-19 related venue cancellations and social distancing
restrictions, the Welsh Blood Service was unable to host donation sessions at the thirty
community venues it would typically visit across Wales each week.

The Service introduced a new collections schedule at the beginning of April which saw
collections taken from five regional donation hubs at different locations in Wales each
week. Donors were asked to travel to donate at their nearest hub.

Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “When it became clear we
couldn’t continue with business as usual, we knew we’d have to ask donors to donate
differently. Our regional donation hubs have replaced our usual local collections
programme and the response from donors has been remarkable.

“98.3% of the appointments we’ve made available since lockdown have been taken
and many of these appointments have been taken by donors who have been prepared
to go even further out of their way than they usually would just to make a potentially
lifesaving donation.”

The Service has also observed a sharp rise in the number of new donors coming
forward to donate.

Mr Prosser continued: “In May 2019, around 11% of those that attended our donation
sessions were new donors. This May, around 19% of our attendance has been people
who had never given before.

“We’ve also see a surge in the number of donors who haven’t given in years returning
to our sessions to help us boost stocks. It’s been amazing and we’re hugely grateful.”

Blood stocks in Wales have remained healthy throughout the pandemic as the reduced
collections activity has mirrored a reduction in the volume of blood used by hospitals.
However, the Service is urging donors to continue to attend their local sessions as and
when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

“Blood stocks are currently very healthy thanks to the commitment of new and existing
donors but we need people to keep giving blood to ensure we can continue to meet
hospital demand in the coming months. Travel to donate is considered essential travel
and anyone who is fit, well and eligible to donate can book an appointment through the
welshblood.org.uk website.”

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Community

Porth Cymorth Cynnar supporting residents in Ceredigion

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During this challenging period, Porth Cymorth Cynnar has established a virtual platform to ensure that we are able to keep in touch with vulnerable residents across Ceredigion.

Due to the restrictions introduced to safeguard our communities against COVID-19, many residents are not able to access their usual provision or support such as parent groups or GP Referral Exercise Classes. Instead, we are ensuring that all residents whom are known to our services, and others, are kept in touch with, through regular welfare calls, should they wish.

Around 2000 residents from young people to families to carers, who may require or benefit from regular contact whilst their service is not operating in its usual form, will receive communication from our staff.

To date, almost 2000 welfare calls have been made, and have been well received by people across Ceredigion. Residents have said that it is great that someone is keeping in touch with them, to give them an opportunity to have a weekly phone call and someone to talk to.

Mrs Jones* (name changed for anonymity) who is 92 and lives alone, is used to receiving regular visits from Ceredigion’s mobile library was identified as benefiting from a weekly phone call, to check how she was doing, now that her usual library service would not be visiting for a while. Porth Cymorth Cynnar aimed to get in touch with Mrs Jones, but did not have a contact number. After tracking down a contact number through the local directory, a member of the Porth y Gymuned team was able to make contact. Luckily Mrs Jones has the support of family and neighbours to collect groceries, but nonetheless was extremely grateful to have someone to talk to, and to check that she is OK. A weekly phone check in has been organised with Mrs Jones, to ensure that she is doing well and to organise if she is in need of anything.

If you, or anyone you know would benefit from the Keeping in Touch Service, please get in touch with our Customer Services team on 01545 570881 or clic@ceredigion.gov.uk who will triage your query to Porth Cymorth Cynnar.

Porth Cymorth Cynnar are also regularly updating resource lists which are available on the Ceredigion County Council website here: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/coronavirus

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Community

The latest on plastic free Ceredigion

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At its meeting held on 17 March, the Council’s Cabinet received an activity update from the Plastic Free Ceredigion Task and Finish Group, which was set up after full Council approved a motion on 22 February 2018.

Full Council approved the ‘Plastic Free campaigns throughout the County, including Plastic Free Aberporth and Plastic Free Aberystwyth’ motion to ensure that the Council helps to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in our day to day operations.

The motion involved a number of factors including; reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and encouraging local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives. Promoting the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events, supporting beach cleans and any other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics.

Since 22 February 2018, the Council have removed 5 single-use plastic that were used across the local authority, implemented projects in conjunction with NRW with local primary schools, worked closely with communities throughout Ceredigion and commenced the provision of Water bottle re-fills on request to all visitors to our public facing buildings.

In January 2020, the Schools Service were successful in bidding for funding from the Circular Economy Capital Fund, which allows for the purchasing of milk dispensers which will remove the need for the provision of plastic milk bottles and straws by 1,979 pupils at Foundation and Key Stage 2. This is equivalent to a reduction of 376,010 plastic milk bottles per school year.

Councillor Alun Williams, Member Champion for Sustainability said, “These are initiatives which, together, make a real difference to the amount of single-use plastics going into the waste stream from Council activities. Whilst it’s important that everyone seeks to minimise their use of single-use plastics, it’s particularly important that large organisations like councils take these kinds of actions because they can have a wider effect which, in turn, can lead to industry changing to more sustainable practices. Ceredigion Council is trying to lead the way in showing what’s possible within an organisation.”

This supports one of the Council’s corporate priority of Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.

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