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UWTSD Lampeter announces academic job losses [Updated]

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Following strike action in May against worsening pay and conditions and threats of forthcoming redundancies, academic staff at University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in Lampeter were told at a meeting on Friday Jun 24 of impending job losses which will mean cuts in staff across several departments.

The meeting to announce the confirmation of job losses was timed for when students had gone home for the summer and so were not able to respond.  The actual number of staff losing their jobs has not been made clear by management.

However, voluntary redundancy packages are currently being offered to staff across the Archaeology, Anthropology, History, Theology, and Religious Studies departments. This could be followed by compulsory redundancies if enough posts are not lost through voluntary redundancy.

Members of the University and College Union, which represents academic and academic-related staff, said they are concerned that axing staff would harm the institution’s reputation and risks harming its ability to attract greater funding and students.

A UCU spokesperson said: “The university’s plan to axe staff will do nothing to enhance its reputation and risks harming its ability to bring in funding and attract students. Universities’ reputations are built on the expertise of its staff and if UWTSD is serious about providing educational opportunities in Wales it needs to reconsider these cuts.”

Responding in a statement a spokesman from the University said: “We do not recognise the context noted in the statement issued by UCU regarding the situation on the Lampeter campus and the departments noted.  The restructuring exercise is a part of the normal business practice of distributing resources in an equitable manner across the University in order to safeguard its current and future sustainability.  The development of the Lampeter is very positive. Over the past year, the University has developed a number of new programmes to broaden the offer as well international initiatives aligned to the academic expertise of the campus. Such initiatives will see development into such areas as, Human rights, International development, geography,  heritage, medical anthropology, ecology and spirituality, wellbeing and mindfulness.

The University is engaged in a constructive dialogue with its appointed regional and local UCU representatives regarding this situation. The press release issued by UCU was not composed by the representatives directly engaged in the collective consultation process and we understand UCU are currently investigating matters.

Furthermore, the University categorically refutes the suggestion made in the UCU statement that there has been any “financial mismanagement on the Lampeter campus” and takes allegations of this nature very seriously. To the contrary, the Lampeter campus has been saved by the merger in 2011. Prior to the creation of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, there is no doubt that the Lampeter campus would have been bankrupt. Over the past five years since the merger significant investment has been made in the Lampeter campus to improve the student experience and to invest in areas which are attractive to potential students;  this entails constant change and responding to external drivers as noted above.  The significant investment made in the past year includes developing innovative new programmes and a range of partnerships with international organisations in relation to multi-cultural and multi-faith programmes as well as academic initiatives which will not only bring students to the campus but will also increase visitor numbers to the town. The University looks forward to developing further international collaborations over the summer months which reinforce the historic legacy of St David’s College Lampeter, albeit adapted for the needs of graduates and employers in today’s global world.

The University welcomes the constructive and ongoing engagement with its UCU colleagues in relation to the continuing development of the Lampeter campus”.

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Cardigan: Welsh language nursery’s treasurer stole £16,336 from coffers

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A FORMER treasurer of Cylch Meithrin Penparc in Cardigan has been jailed today for a fraud that brought the Welsh language nursery to its knees.
Catrin Davies, a 33 year old single mother of two daughters, cheated the organisation out of £16,336.
After she left the post the nursery struggled to pay debts and at one stage was left with £1.84p in its bank.
Davies, of Bwthyn Lleine, Ferwig, admitted fraud and was jailed for eight months.
Judge Geraint Walters, sitting at Swansea Crown Court, told her the offending was too series for the sentence to be suspended.
Craig Jones, prosecuting, said Davies was appointed treasurer in September, 2015, and left the post in December 2016.
The new treasurer noticed discrepancies in the accounts. Davies tried to cover them up by sticking pieces of paper onto bank statements to blank out figures, photocopying them, and then carefully typing in new and bogus figures.
By then Davies had failed to pay money into the account and withdrawn some herself.
Mr Jones said that at one stage the nursery had to pay a roof repair bill. Davies knew there wasn’t enough money in the account but to keep the fraud going and to avoid detection she actually paid the bill out of her own money.
Mr Jones said after the true financial situation had been established Cylch Meithrin Penparc was at risk of closure. Internet access was cut off because the telephone bill could not be paid and staff found themselves buying essential items out of their own money.
And there was still a fear, he added, that the nursery would struggle to overcome the blow and to recover the confidence of parents.
Janet Gedrych, representing Davies, said she had suffered a devastating fall from grace.
Davies ran the Pink Orchid florists in Priory Street, Cardigan, for nine years and had a good reputation in the town.
But her partner left her and his debts behind and ran up more and she owed £30,000 in personal and business debts. By October, 2015, debt collectors were knocking on her door and she defrauded Cylch Meithrin Penparc to pay them off.
Judge Walters said the nursery provided a hugely valuable service to parents who wanted their children to learn Welsh and Davies had helped herself to money they had paid in.
“Your activity has reduced its ability to operate. It has not closed but it’s hanging by a thread.”
Judge Walters said he accepted that Davies had found herself squeezed financially, but many people struggled under similar circumstances.

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Police appeal for information about Cardigan crash

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CARDIGAN police are appealing for information about an RTC involving two cars, on the A487 Cardigan to Tanygroes, at around 5:45pm on Monday (Nov 13).

A white Mitsubishi Shogun and a blue/silver Fiat Bravo were involved in the collision, on the bypass near Cardigan Tesco. The two drivers were taken to hospital; one has since been released.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, or was driving along the road around the time, is asked to contact Ceredigion Roads Policing Unit by calling 101.

If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908, quoting Ref: 326 of 13 November.

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Police reaffirms commitment to a safe working environment

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE has pledged to maintain its ongoing work to provide a safe working environment for all its staff.

Following the high profile accusations against members of the entertainment industry and reports that have subsequently followed from all corners of society, the force has taken action to ensure its staff and officers are aware of the existing support and mechanisms available to them.

While much work has already been – and continues to be – undertaken to tackle and eliminate unacceptable behaviour within Dyfed-Powys Police, chief officers are actively developing a culture where all members of staff are confident in speaking out.

An open letter has been issued to all employees, in which Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Claire Parmenter has reaffirmed that ensuring all staff can work in a fair and safe environment remains a key priority.

In it, she says: “The chief officer group wants to reassure you all that in Dyfed-Powys Police we hold our staff at the heart of our service and we will do everything we can to provide a safe working environment where everyone has the equal right to respect and dignity.

“The #MeToo Campaign was re-launched in the wake of the early allegations and has since been used by millions of women and men as an instantly recognisable method of removing the stigma that surrounds sexual harassment, by both victims and supporters of the campaign.

“While much work has already been undertaken to tackle and eliminate harassment, bullying and discrimination, work in this area is never done. Therefore, ensuring a fair, safe and equitable working environment for our staff in Dyfed-Powys Police remains an absolute priority.

“I have pledged my support to ongoing work aimed at reminding all officers and staff of the existing support and mechanisms available by which Dyfed-Powys Police encourages the reporting of wrong-doing. We will be reviewing policy, procedure and practice to ensure they remain current and that they are both supportive of victims and alleged perpetrators.

“We will also engage with staff associations and networks, the Police Federation and Unison to better understand staff concerns, embed high standards of conduct and reduce fear experienced by victims.”

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