A NEW Budgens store in Aberystwyth had its official opening on Saturday (Jul 16), where customers came along to shop for their favourite products at the new addition to the town’s retail group.
Walking through the new Budgens store in the Ystwyth Retail Park on Park Avenue feels refreshing. On the positive side, customers can expect a similar layout to the store with just as many products as its former Co-op.
From the dairy products, confectionery and magazine aisles at the front all the way to the bakery and frozen food section at the back of the store, customers can expect appealing products to suit their needs.
Customers can also expect friendly customer service and familiar staff members, as 920 Co-op staff members’ jobs were left unaffected by the new business agreement.
Long before the Co-op came along, many of us will remember the Somerfield chain, which was bought out in 2008 for £1.6 billion. In the latest rebrand, 36 Co-operative stores across the UK will now will be known as Budgens supermarkets.
2014 was the year that plans were announced to cut the network of shops by around 15% and in 2015, 91 Co-op stores were sold off, making a total of £175 million.
Co-op had two stores in Aberystwyth, with one being the new Budgens store in the Ystwyth Retail Park and the other in Penparcau, which was left unaffected by the changeover due to it not being a former Somerfield store.
Jacob, Team Leader at Aberystwyth’s Budgens stores, spoke to The Herald regarding the opening of the new store: “Tuesday was my first day at Budgens; I was with Co-op before that as a Team Leader and before that, I was a customer Team Member. I started at the bottom at Co-op and now I’m here on the Management team, so that’s my career with Co-op and Budgens.
“Budgens is a franchise, so we are actually owned by the food retailer group, which is a group specially created for all the purchases of the Somerfield stores. They own the ‘Happy Shopper’, brand which people might recognise from their local convenien ce stores and corner shops . T hat’s because they also own Booker .
“Budgens also concentrates on local produce so – not yet as we have just opened – anything we can get locally we aim to, from down the road.
“Yesterday, on the first day of opening, we had a lot of customers, especially in the morning. We opened quite late, at 9am, just so we could get our final bits ready. We had quite positive reviews – the customers liked it and loved the prices. They also loved the quality as well – we’re very pleased about that and the store looked great.”
Jacob added: “We’ve kept things that worked and what people liked in their old Co-ops, such as the frozen meal deal, roughly the same layout . We’ve kept the same quality of prices and we’ve kept all of our local suppliers, such as the bread and the bakery. A lot of people liked the bakery because it is a Welsh known brand , which is why we have kept that.
“The layout hasn’t changed very much at all from the Co-op . I think the changes have been good , so expect the same shop but a different brand. People can expect the same types of products with all of the same values.
“We are and will be continuing to adapt, and we have a suggestions book at the front of the store for customers to make suggestions for products that they want us to stock and, with regards to the local products, we want to get in as many local products as possible. We haven’t got anything currently as we have just opened, so our range isn’t very demographic, but we’re hoping to change that as we get more and more suppliers, and we already have many ideas -so, time will tell.
“Budgens had a little over 100 stores , but with the purchases of Somerfield stores, it now has 30 stores plus 100 sites. The nearest one to Aberystwyth is Cardigan, which was a Co-op as well and a former Somerfield, closing on the same day as us and opening on the same day as us.
“The company that owns us have really invested in us – they’ve really bought into it . T hey’re very engaged in wanting to make it work and they are very keen to hear what people want and what people think. It’s a very good thing when a company actually cares about the people that shop here. “
Aberystwyth’s Budgens store are encouraging local farmers and local producers in the area to get in touch with them regarding selling their products.
£1 billion deal set to solve poor mobile coverage
BEN LAKE MP has worked with cross-party MPs in recent months on a campaign calling for a Shared Rural Network to extend mobile rural coverage to hard-to-reach areas.
On Friday, 25 October, a £1bn plan between the UK’s four main mobile phone companies and the UK Government was unveiled with the aim of banishing these signal dead zones. The proposed deal – which includes EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – promises to get 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by 2025.
The new plans for all operators to share phone masts to improve UK coverage is a world first. It will mean EE, O2, Three and Vodafone will invest £530 million in a network of new and existing phone masts they would all share and which any mobile user can access, and which would be supported by £500 million investment from the UK Government.
72 cross party MPs, including Ben Lake, wrote to the then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright MP asking him to support a Shared Rural Network which would significantly improve rural coverage and enhance economic, educational and leisure opportunities in rural areas.
Mr Lake said “This is fantastic news. It will make a huge difference to so many people in my constituency where, in some areas, there is no mobile coverage at all. It will put an end to the frustration felt by thousands of people who currently feel cut off and mean people will get good mobile signal on the go wherever they live, work or travel and it will have a big impact on the local economy.
“I was glad to have the opportunity to meet with the Secretary of State to press the case for allowing newly constructed Home Office masts to be utilised as part of this new programme, something that would expedite progress in areas such as Ceredigion.”
The current Digital Secretary, Nicky Morgan said “We are determined to make sure no part of the country is left behind when it comes to mobile connectivity. We are closing in on a deal with the mobile network operators so those living in rural areas will be able to get the fast and reliable mobile coverage they need and deserve. Brokering an agreement for mast sharing between networks alongside new investment in mobile infrastructure will mean people get good 4G signal no matter where they are or which provider they’re with.”
A final agreement between UK Government and the mobile industry is expected early next year.
Successful first year for the Childcare offer
PARENTS of 400 Ceredigion children have taken advantage of the Childcare Offer in its first year. The scheme has been running in Ceredigion since September 2018 and has saved parents almost £850,000 in childcare costs so far.
The Childcare Offer for Wales is a Welsh Government funded scheme, which provides 3 and 4 year olds with a combination of 30 hours of Foundation Phase Nursery education and childcare. The offer is available to working parents of three and four year olds for up to 48 weeks of the year.
To be eligible, a child must be aged three or four and the parent or guardian must earn the equivalent of at least 16 hours at national living wage or national minimum wage; or receive specific caring benefits.
Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services. She said, “It’s great to see that the Childcare Offer is having such an impact across Ceredigion in the first year. The Childcare Offer is not only a fantastic opportunity for parents, but it is also an opportunity to provide better sustainability for childcare providers.”
A dedicated team of staff has been developed within the Ceredigion County Council to administer the offer in the county and on behalf of Carmarthenshire, Powys and Pembrokeshire county councils. Ceredigion County Council is the delivery authority which processes all parent applications and deal with payments to childcare providers.
The cost of childcare can be a significant burden for working parents. A scheme like this has really made a difference to families’ financial situation. One parent who has taken advantage of the offer said, “It’s helped us quite a bit. There was a bit of work to do to set it up and find the paperwork, but once that was all done, it was really easy. All you have to do is take the child to the childcare setting each day and pick them up at the end of the day!”
“The Childcare Offer has meant that the money we’ve saved through the offer has enabled us to give our children other experiences.”
The application form for parents and carers to apply for the Childcare Offer is available on the Ceredigion County Council website: https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/children-young-people-services/childcare/childcare-offer-for-wales/childcare-offer-application-form/
Childcare Offer applications for children born between 1 September 2016 and 31 December 2016 can be submitted from 4 November 2019.
As part of the application process, parents/carers will need to provide the following evidence:
· Copy of child’s birth certificate
· Proof of address (latest Council Tax Bill or an utility bill dated within the last 3 months
· Last three months’ payslips for all applicants,
· Or, if self-employed a copy of your most recent self-assessment tax return form. Alternatively, if you are relatively new self-employed person provide proof of your Unique Tax Reference number from HMRC.
Parents or childcare providers in Ceredigion who require further information should contact the Ceredigion Childcare Unit on 01545 570881
Environmentally friendly electric sweepers replace old diesel models
CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has replaced old diesel street sweepers with new electric powered models.
The new electric sweepers replace diesel ones which have been in use for many years and had come to the end of their useful life. The new sweepers will mainly be used in Ceredigion’s town centres to help keep the streets clean. The electric sweepers will be better for the environment and will be cheaper to operate.
Councillor Dafydd Edwards, is the Cabinet Member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services together with Housing. He said: “These new sweepers will be of great benefit in supporting the efforts of our Street Cleaning Team to keep Ceredigion’s towns clean. As part of Caru Ceredigion everyone can play their part in this by dealing with their waste including litter, cigarette ends and dog waste responsibly and legally. This would be a huge help in keeping Ceredigion clean and ensuring it remains a great place to visit, live and work as well as maintaining the positive profile it deserves.”
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