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‘Balloon-Pop’ to support Calais kids

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screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-09-45-15LAST Sunday (Oct 16), a group of International Politics PhD students organised a novel event to express support for unaccompanied refugee children in Calais. The ‘Balloon Pop’ took place in the grounds of Aberystwyth Castle.

Braving the cold evening wind and rain, participants wrote messages of support on balloons.

The messages included ‘Refugees Welcome’, ‘All Kids Matter’, and ‘Children are Innocent’. With the sun setting over a stormy Cardigan Bay, the balloons were burst in a big group ‘pop’.

The burst balloons were then collected and sent to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, along with a letter calling for the United Kingdom to do more to help the children on the Calais camp. The event was attended by more than 30 ‘poppers’, including children, students and residents of Aberystwyth.

CHILD PROTECTION CONCERNS

Over 1,000 unaccompanied refugee children are currently living in the Calais refugee camp known as the Jungle. Evictions by the French authorities are scheduled to commence in the coming days, raising severe child protection concerns. Following a previous eviction earlier this year, an estimated 129 refugee children were reported to have gone missing. In this context, three PhD students of International Politics from Aberystwyth University decided it was time to, quite literally, make some noise.

Under the Dublin Agreement and Dubs Amendment, the United Kingdom has committed to welcoming unaccompanied refugee children. The former agreement provides reunification rights to unaccompanied children with family ties in the UK, while the latter allows for the resettlement of vulnerable unaccompanied children without family ties. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has reaffirmed her commitment to welcoming refugee children and a handful of children from Calais with family ties in the United Kingdom have started to arrive in the country. It remains unclear how many children will be relocated, however. Given that over one thousand unaccompanied refugee children are present in Calais, the Aberystwyth student group believe more action is needed to protect the lives and well-being of all unaccompanied refugee children in Calais, regardless of family ties.

One of the balloon pop organisers, Karijn van den Berg, told The Herald: “The sound of popping balloons, sadly, is only too reminiscent of the primary cause of displacement of many of these refugee children, who fled countries at war to the sound of gunfire and explosions. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which both France and the United Kingdom are parties, states that ‘a child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State’. Where is this special protection and assistance for the unaccompanied refugee children of Calais?”

UK GOVERNMENT STIRS

On Monday (Oct 17), 14 teenagers arrived in the UK from the jungle camp in Calais ahead of its looming demolition. The transfer of the vulnerable children, aged from 14 to 17, was confirmed by the Home Office. France’s Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, has called on the UK to fulfil its moral duty to Calais’ unaccompanied children: “From the point of view of some in France, the Calais migrants’ misery is entirely down to the selfishness of the British government.

“London, they believe, is hiding behind the Le Touquet agreements governing controls on entry from continental Europe to the UK. They accuse the UK of using these agreements in an unscrupulous way, as a means of refusing to take in refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, including unaccompanied children with family connections in the UK. The first transfers of young people with close relatives in the UK begin this week, while France has agreed to take in 13,000 refugees. The British government now needs to intensify its efforts to identify and resettle child migrants.”

The founders of the ‘Balloon Pop’ have no illusions that an envelope of burst balloons will be sufficient to sway the policies of the United Kingdom. They hope, though, that their action showed the world that, across the country, people care; that Britain, despite appearances, has not lost its humanity.

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Police advise ‘hang up on suspicious callers’

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A NATIONAL telephone scam, aiming to steal money, has reached residents living within the Dyfed-Powys area.

Paul Callard, of Dyfed-Powys Police’s Financial Crime Team, said: “Action Fraud has today  made us aware three people living in Dyfed-Powys have been contacted by fraudsters claiming to be from BT, in the past four days. While three people have reported, we suspect many more have been targeted.

“Victims receive a telephone call from someone pretending to be from BT who is calling due to a problem with the victim’s internet connection speed. During the call the victim is asked to open their online banking, eBay, Tesco and other accounts. The scammer then tries to gain remote access to the victim’s computer to empty the victim’s bank account.

“BT will never ask for remote access to your computer or access to your online bank account. We urge anyone who receives unsolicited/cold calls from any company hang up immediately. Do not enter into conversation with them, provide them with any personal details or send them any money. You should only phone the company back using a trusted phone number.”

If you have been the victim of fraud, attempted fraud, or cyber crime, or have received a potential scam message or computer virus but no money has been lost or you haven’t responded to it, report it to Action Fraud either online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

For further advice and information on how to avoid being scammed visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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Four arrested as man remains in ‘critical condition’

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FOUR men have been arrested after a man was hospitalised in the early hours of Sunday morning (Jan 14).

19-year-old Ifan Richards Owen is in hospital in critical condition after the attack.

The incident took place in High Street, Aberystwyth, at approximately 2:20am.

Four men, aged 19, 20, 23 and 25 have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent.

They are in police custody.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to contact them as a matter of urgency.

DCI Anthony Evans, of Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “We are issuing a fresh appeal for witnesses to the assault on Ifan Richards Owens, aged 19, which occurred on High Street, Aberystwyth at around 2.20am on Sunday, January 14.

“In particular we would like to speak to anyone who gave first aid to Mr Owens before emergency services arrived.

“Mr Owens remains in hospital in a critical condition.

“We would urge anyone with any information that could assist in our investigation any witnesses to the incident or anyone who may have any CCTV or video footage of the incident to contact police on 101, quoting incident number 402 of January 14. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

“Four men, aged 25, 23, 20 and 19, have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent and remain in police custody at this time.”

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£750,000 funding for highway improvements

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CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has recently been awarded almost £750,000 of additional grant funding from the Welsh Government’s Local Transport Fund and Road Safety Capital Grant to carry out further highways improvement schemes in the County.

£596,000 has been allocated from the Local Transport Fund for various schemes across the county which will include removing the pinch point on the C1010 at Gogerddan, near Penrhyncoch. £249,000 of funding is allocated for active travel improvements in Aberystwyth to create an improved shared use path along Boulevard St Brieuc which will continue along the side of the Police Station and up Park Avenue towards Glyndwr Road. A pedestrian crossing on Boulevard St Brieuc will be upgraded to a new toucan crossing, which cyclists can also use alongside pedestrians. This will be the first of its kind in Ceredigion.

The funding will also purchase a new scooter shelter at Plascrug Primary School. Head Teacher Menna Sweeney said: “This is great news because the shelter purchased just 16 months ago following grant funded works on the Avenue cannot cope with current demand due to the amount of children scooting and cycling to the school every day. This is really helping to alleviate the traffic congestion problems previously experienced in the area”.

Two new public cycle repair stands with integrated cycle pumps will be installed in Aberystwyth. One will be placed outside Plascrug Leisure Centre and the other on Aberystwyth University Penglais Campus.

Councillor Alun Williams, Cabinet Member for Transport said: “I’m delighted that we’ve managed to obtain funding to further improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. The work will complement the new Parc Kronberg Skate Park and improve the look of this important gateway into Aberystwyth by increasing the number of trees and spreading them wider along Park Avenue as well as renewing the currently uneven section of pavement on the street.”

Additional funding has been allocated to the Cardigan Active Travel Area Year 2 Scheme,  which earlier this year saw a new 20mph zone with traffic calming outside Cardigan Secondary School and a new footway link and pedestrian refuge crossing on Aberystwyth Road. The extra funding will fund footway widening on Pontycleifion Road and the provision of new dropped kerbs to assist mobility and pushchair users to improve the link between the Town Centre and Parc Teifi Industrial Estate.

Deputy Leader of the Council Cllr Ray Quant MBE and Cabinet Member for Technical Services said: “I’m delighted that Ceredigion residents will benefit from a further three quarters of a million pounds funding from the Welsh Government for transport schemes throughout the County and I look forward to seeing the improvements which should be completed by the end of March 2018.”

A Road Safety Capital Grant of £149,963 will fund the replacement of 15 Vehicle Activated Signs. These signs alert drivers exceeding the speed limit to slow down at locations with a history of personal injury collisions.

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