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Ceredigion’s response to the clown outbreak

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Clowns in Aber: Defending Bronglais

Clowns in Aber: Defending Bronglais

HERALD readers may have noticed that the UK is experiencing a fearful pandemic of coulrophobia – the fear of clowns. No, it is not our democratically elected representatives in Westminster who are the problem this time; it is a spate of sightings of so-called ‘creepy clowns’. Police have warned that the pandemic could get worse as we approach Halloween. They have warned clowns that they could be committing an offence, saying that seeing a clown ‘can leave people feeling scared, anxious and intimidated’. Across Wales, there have been sightings of ‘creepy clowns’ and police have warned that clowns could be arrested for scaring people. Dyfed-Powys and South Wales forces each report receiving about 30 reports last weekend.

McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald has denied being involved and is keeping a low profile, which is not easy when you have a big red nose.

UNI ISSUE CLOWN WARNING

Responding to the terrifying pandemic, Pro Vice Chancellor/Chief Operating Officer Rebecca Davies took time out of an obviously hectic schedule to send an urgent message to students and staff at Aberystwyth University:

“Dear Student,

You may be aware that across the UK, there have been a number of reports of people wearing clown outfits. Although many of these may be good-natured pranks, they can also be seen as sinister and scary – and we are therefore asking our community of students here in Aberystwyth not to be part of this clown-dressing trend. Further, several UK Police forces have issued a warning that even though people dressing as clowns may not be committing an offence, their behaviour could be breaking the law. This is what Sergeant Rhys Williams of Dyfed- Powys Police had to say yesterday: ‘Dressing as a clown is not an offence, but deliberately scaring someone, causing harassment, alarm or distress could lead to arrest. There is also the possibility that you could attempt to scare the wrong person and they could retaliate. Please be mindful that what seems like a bit of fun to you, could not be seen the same way by those on the receiving end of this prank. Dealing with reports of these incidents may also of course prevent the police from being able to attend genuine emergencies’. As a university, we will also investigate any reports of such incidents and take further action where necessary. I hope you understand our reasons for making this appeal but if you do have any queries, please get back to me.

QUERIES

A spokesperson of Byddin Boncars Clowniad Cymru (BBC Cymru), the Clown Army of Wales, told The Herald – in mime – that they had their own concerns about the scare stories. On numerous occasions over the last decade, BBC Cymru have stepped up to the plate to fight alongside the people of Wales, for instance opposing open-cast coal mining. BBC Cymru have also supported a number of national and local campaigns. In Aberystwyth, for example, BBC Cymru supported the campaign to save services at Bronglais Hospital. The spokesperson for BBC Cymru wiped away an enormous imaginary tear, signing that people should not be afraid of all clowns; some of them only wanted a revolution, not to scare people.

An alumnus of Aberystwyth University, who now works at Loughborough University and who shall remain nameless, posted on Facebook: “Saw a clown. Rang campus security. Was genuinely on his way to a children’s birthday party. Then late. Could not apologise any more to the bloke if I tried!”

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Restaurant owner fined over £3000 for ‘significant rodent infestation’

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THE FORMER proprietor of a restaurant which had a ‘significant rodent infestation’ pleaded guilty to ten food hygiene offences at Aberystwyth Justice Centre on Monday (Jun 18).

Mr Rysul Asad of Gloster Row, Cardigan, and the former proprietor of Gulshan, Chancery Lane, Cardigan, has appeared before Magistrates.

Four offences related to the presence of a significant rodent infestation at the restaurant, which was under Mr Asad’s control at the time. A further five offences related to the poor standards of cleaning found during the investigation.

Emergency action was taken by Ceredigion County Council Environmental Health Officers in September 2017 following the discovery of an active rodent infestation at the premises, and resulted in the immediate closure of the food business.

Rodent activity, including the presence of droppings, entry points and gnawing, was discovered within food preparation and food storage areas of the premises. Furthermore, Officers also discovered dirty equipment and very poor standards of cleaning.

Rodents carry a number of dangerous microorganisms and pose a significant risk to human health. These can include Salmonellosis, Escherichia coli (E.coli), Hantavirus and Weil’s disease.

The presence of rodents within a food premises can transmit these diseases via contaminated surfaces, equipment and the food itself, to such an extent that it is regarded as an imminent risk to health.

Cabinet Member for Public Protection Services Councillor Gareth Lloyd said: “Food hygiene inspections, and Food Hygiene Ratings shown on the doors of the majority of food businesses in Ceredigion, gives reassurance to the public who live, work and visit the county that the food they eat is safe and has been prepared hygienically. However, on rare occasions the Council must take action to protect public health and the reputation of our excellent hospitality industry who work hard to maintain standards.”

Mr Asad also pleaded guilty to a further offence of failing to register his new food business, namely Shatun Sharha Limited trading as Shampan the Boat Restaurant and Takeaway, River Teifi, Quay Street, Lower Mwldan, Cardigan, for which he is now the proprietor. Mr Asad failed to notify the Commercial Services Team at Ceredigion County Council of this change following his departure from Gulshan in November 2017.

Councillor Lloyd added: “Cases like this underline the importance of the work of our food and safety team and the value of our inspection programme. The food safety team works hard with local businesses to meet and maintain legal food hygiene standards to ensure the best hygiene safety in our county.”

The Magistrates imposed a total financial penalty of £3,107 on Mr Asad for the offences. This included Council costs and victim surcharge.

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3,000 Welsh landlords still unregistered

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JANET FINCH-SAUNDERS AM has called on the Welsh Government to urgently work to improve landlord registration under Rent Smart Wales, as estimates released indicate around 3,000 remain unregistered.

Ms Finch-Saunders said: “Rent Smart Wales estimates that still 3,000 landlords are unregistered here in Wales.

“Whilst that makes up a small percentage of our total landlords, it is most concerning for those living in properties leased to them by those who have not yet registered.

“The Welsh Government has confirmed that a landlord who is not registered with Rent Smart Wales is unable to serve a valid Section 21 eviction notice – so where unregistered landlords do indicate that they want tenants to vacate a property, this is not recognised by local housing associations, which can cause stress to tenants who may not be aware of their full rights under the law.

“By focusing on ensuring that all landlords are properly registered, the Welsh Government can alleviate such concerns, and I will be urging the Cabinet Secretary to act to ensure all landlords are abiding by this legislation in full.”

The Minister for Housing and Regeneration told Ms Finch-Saunders that the latest figures released by Rent Smart Wales show that 90,812 landlords are now registered. Rent Smart Wales’ latest estimate for the number of unregistered landlords is approximately 3,000.

This is based on the dwelling stock estimates recently published by StatsWales, and an estimation of the average number of properties owned by each landlord.

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Public urged to enjoy dolphin sightings at a distance

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WITH summer on the way, bringing visitors enjoying Ceredigion’s wildlife rich coastline, the Council is urging members of the public to enjoy coastal activities without disturbing Cardigan Bay’s special wildlife and habitats. The call comes after individuals recently approached and swam with dolphins in Cardigan Bay.

The Ceredigion Marine Code of Conduct asks water users to stay 100 metres away from dolphins and porpoises encountered at sea, and to keep a distance of 50 metres from seals and nesting sea birds.

In no circumstances should the public attempt to feed, swim with or touch the dolphins. These are wild animals. Dolphins are large and powerful and can grow up to four metres long. As well as causing significant disturbance to the animals and pushing them off important feeding sites, close contact can also result in exposure to diseases to both humans and animals.

Repeated disturbance could cause the dolphins to leave important feeding sites to search for quieter areas.

Disruption to feeding, resting and nursing behaviour could have a long-term impact on the health and wellbeing of individual dolphins and populations.

The Cabinet member responsible for Economy and Regeneration, Councillor Rhodri Evans said: “Cardigan Bay’s wildlife is a great asset to the economy of our coastal communities and is also important in its own right. It is because of this that we ask residents and visitors to enjoy dolphin, and other wildlife sightings at a safe distance. Although the temptation to have a close-up view is understandable, we can’t risk disturbing Cardigan Bay’s wildlife and possibly driving them away. It’s the last thing anyone wants.”

The Ceredigion Marine Code of Conduct was established by Ceredigion County Council over twenty years ago, in response to local community concerns that the bottlenose dolphins that use these waters to feed, socialise and breed were experiencing greater pressures from disturbance by those enjoying recreational water-based activities.

The Ceredigion Marine Code of Conduct can be found online on http://www.cardiganbaysac.org.uk/?page_id=583

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