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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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Aberystwyth: Driver on drugs hits lorry and causes ‘road chaos’

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A DRIVER high on drugs caused 15 miles of chaos as he approached Aberystwyth on the A44.

Brian Pitts hit an oncoming lorry and road signs as he drove on the wrong side of the road.

A car passenger filmed him because she was sure a serious accident was about to happen.

Pitts, aged 57, of Delmont Close, Tipton, west Midlands, admitted dangerous driving and driving while unfit through drugs he had taken.

Dean Pulling, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that on June 16 last year Pitts had been driving his Rover MGZR, towing a trailer full of wooden fencing posts, towards Aberystwyth from his home.

Richard Brooks followed the car through Llangurig and became so concerned he telephoned the police while his wife Victoria filmed Pitts on her mobile.

The Rover collided with a 13 tonne lorry driven by Andrew Paxton but failed to stop.

Pitts failed to take a roundabout and hit road signs and an embankment but still carried on.

During the 15 miles, said Mr Pulling, oncoming traffic had to swerve off the carriageway to avoid a collision.

Several motorists telephoned the police to report what they were witnessing, he added.

Pitts came to a stop in the middle of the road and another motorist snatched the keys out of the ignition–and noticed that Pitts had been driving with a dog on his lap.

Mr Pulling said police officers could tell there was something wrong with Pitts, but an alcohol text showed he was below the limit.

“He was clearly unfit,” said Mr Pulling, although it was still unclear what drugs he had taken.

Pitts was taken to Aberystwyth police station and then to Bronglais hospital, where he appeared to recover after treatment. But he soon deteriorated and had to be taken back to the hospital.

Pitts developed pneumonia and had to be kept in for nine days.

His barrister, Tom Scapens, said when Pitts had been shown the mobile telephone footage he felt physically sick.

Judge T Mervyn Hughes jailed Pitts for 10 months and banned him from driving for four years.

He told him, “If you had not been stopped I am quite sure you would have caused serious injury if not death.”

Pitts was told to pass an extended driving test before getting his licence back.

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Motion to support the reduction of plastic use in Ceredigion approved

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In a Full Council meeting on 22 February 2018, the Council unanimously supported a motion to reduce the use of plastic and to support plastic reduction initiatives in Ceredigion.

The motion was proposed by Councillor Mark Strong and was seconded by Councillor Gethin Davies. The motion calls on Ceredigion County Council to support the various ‘Plastic Free’ campaigns throughout the county by reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and to promote the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events.

Councillor Mark Strong said, “I’m delighted that the Council unanimously supported the motion. This is an important step for the Council but we must carry on to reduce plastic use. Everyone has a responsibility to reduce the environmental damage caused by plastic. Carrying out small acts such as buying milk from your local milkman supports the local economy but in turn also supports our environment by using reusable glass bottles.”

The motion also calls on the Council to encourage local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives as well as to support beach cleans and other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics under the “Plastic Free”, Caru Ceredigion, Tidy Towns or any similar initiative.

The motion was amended in the meeting to include the establishment of a Members’ Task and Finish group to support measures to reduce the Council’s use of plastic and to support initiatives in the county that reduce plastic use.

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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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