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Rights of way review launched

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screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-12-24-57CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has started its first review of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan.

Establishing such a plan was a requirement under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 – it is also required that the plan is reviewed every 10 years.

The network of public paths in Ceredigion – which total some 2,500km in length – provides one of the main means by which people can access and enjoy the countryside. Rights of way are an essential part of the rural tourism product in Ceredigion and they also have a key role to play in health and well-being. At the same time, the rights of way network is part of the local travel infrastructure, providing paths from people’s homes to local facilities and places of work.

ACCESS ALL AREAS

Ceredigion also has a large number of access and wildlife sites managed by a number of national, regional and local organisations.

Many woodlands managed by the NRW offer access opportunities for walkers, horse rides and cyclists; some sites have car parking and other facilities (such as way-marked trails) and guided walks. Information is also available for some woodlands. The most important recreational sites in Ceredigion are Nant yr Arian and Hafod.

The NRW has dedicated many of its woodlands for public access under the CROW Act 2000. In these areas, the public can enjoy the same statutory rights of access as on other ‘access land’.

There are seven National Nature Reserves wholly or partly in Ceredigion, managed by NRW and other conservation organisations. These sites provide an opportunity to enjoy their special wildlife interest. Improvements at Cors Caron NNR (Tregaron) carried out several years ago included the development of an all-ability trail across the reserve.

The council manages Local Nature Reserves in the Aberystwyth area, at Parc Natur Penglais, Pendinas and Traeth Tan y Bwlch and Coed y Cwm, together with other countryside sites that meet access and conservation objectives. There are a number of other sites that are available to the public, managed by organisations including the National Trust, the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, the Woodland Trust and others.

Access opportunities have been provided through Tir Gofal permissive access agreements; arrangements for identifying permissive access through the Glastir scheme are currently under consideration.

IMPROVEMENT PLAN’S PURPOSE

The Rights of Way Improvement Plan is the main plan used by local authorities to identify, prioritise and plan for improvements to their local rights of way network – and in doing so make better provision for walkers, cyclists, equestrians, carriage drivers, off road motorists and people with mobility problems. The Plan also takes account of the significant amount of access land that was made available in Wales under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act.

The review plans to set out a timeline for the completion of the review to the Ceredigion County Council Cabinet – which has been completed – and also to carry out the review addressing the statutory and supplementary matters.

Statutory matters include considering the extent to which the Rights of Way meet the present and future needs of the public; the opportunities provided by our rights of way for exercise and other forms of open air recreation and enjoyment; and also consider the accessibility of rights of way to blind or partially sighted people and others with mobility problems.

Supplementary matters also review the extent to which the previous Rights of Way Improvement Plan has been delivered, an evaluation of the present condition of the network and its record and review opportunities to contribute to Active Travel objectives, well-being objectives and delivery of other plans and priorities.

TOURISM IMPACT

The Rights of Way Improvement Plan is part of a raft of legislation, both primary and secondary, which sets out a series of aims which the council is supposed to meet when considering the provision of rights of way, their management, and their maintenance.

A key issue touching upon Ceredigion’s rights of way is the considerable boost they give to tourism across the county and the economic benefits that flow from visitors to Ceredigion, particularly for walking or cycling holidays.

The provision of the rights of way has not been untouched by controversy, with one landowner, Lyn Jenkins of Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park, fighting a seemingly interminable and increasingly vituperative legal battle with the local authority to divert the Ceredigion Coast Path, now part of the Wales Coastal Path, away from his property.

In addition, farmers have expressed concern regarding biosecurity and disturbance to livestock by the extension of public access to private land.

Cllr Gareth Lloyd, the Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic and Community Development Services, said: “Maintaining and reviewing the Rights of Way is important to ensure their enjoyment by the residents of Ceredigion. The Rights of Way Improvement Plan will give us the information needed to achieve this.”

Based on the information in the assessments, a decision will be made on whether to amend the Plan. The review will produce a draft plan and ancillary delivery plans and proceed through the consultation process to publication.

Following the review, a decision whether or not to publish a new Rights of Way Improvement Plan needs to be reached within 10 years of the date of publication of the original plan. This leaves the Authority until September 2018 to make that decision, which will be based on statutory assessments and stakeholder consultations.

WHAT IS A RIGHT OF WAY?

The categories of rights of way and their legal uses on public rights of way are as follows:

Public Footpaths:

A footpath is a highway over which the public have a right of way on foot. §

Bridleways:

A bridleway is a highway over which there is a right of way on foot, riding or leading a horse or cycling.

Restricted Byways:

A restricted byway allows a right of way on foot, on horseback, or leading a horse, cycling and for any vehicles other than mechanically propelled vehicles (formerly Roads Used as Public Paths).

Byways Open to all Traffic (BOAT):

A byway is a right of way which is open to all types of users, (including use by horse drawn and motor vehicles) but which is used mainly for the purposes for which footpaths and bridleways are used.

There are also 830km of Unclassified Road Network (UCRs) in Ceredigion, of which approximately 40km (4.8%) are unsurfaced: these are identified as ‘ORPAs’ on Ordnance Survey maps. These routes provide valuable recreational opportunities and whilst the council has a clear maintenance liability, public access rights may not be definitively known.

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Man accused of sexually assaulting six-year-old girls

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A FORMER Penparcau man is to stand trial accused of sexually assaulting two six year old girls.

Raymond Albert Wardall, 55, now of Blaenllynant Lodge, Queens Road, Aberystwyth, appeared at Swansea Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing before Judge Paul Thomas.

Wardall denied a total of eight charges of sexual assault and sexual touching.

He will stand trial on November 27 and was granted bail until then.

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Alerts issued ahead of Storm Brian

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NATURAL RESOURCE WALES (NRW) is warning people that parts of the Welsh coast could see localised flooding as Storm Brian combines with high tides this evening and tomorrow.

The conditions could cause a storm surge, which in some areas could lead to overtopping of sea defences. Current predictions show that the worst affected areas are likely to be along exposed sections of the west coast of Wales from Southern Gwynedd to Llantwit Major.

High tides in these locations are expected to peak between 6am and 11am tomorrow (Oct 21).

NRW has already issued a number of flood alerts for the west coast, and is likely to issue flood warnings for Aberystwyth and Newgale later today. Further alerts or warnings for other areas will be issued as necessary.

24/7 Emergency response workers from NRW will be out at key areas of the coast over the next couple of day to monitor the high tides and condition of its sea flood defences.

NRW has also contacted its partner agencies such as local councils and the emergency services to ensure that appropriate responses are in place should the need arise.

Richard Hancox, from Natural Resources Wales said: “Conditions across the coastline are likely to be extremely dangerous this weekend and we urge people to stay clear, and avoid visiting the coast during this time.

“We know people are tempted to try and take photos of these storms, but it really isn’t worth putting your life at risk. Sea spray and flood water can knock you off your feet easier than you might think, and the large waves can send debris flying onto shore.

“If anyone is concerned about the risk of flooding to their home, please check to see if flood warnings are available in your area, and visit our website for advice on how best to prepare.”

Flood alerts and flood warnings are updated on the Natural Resources Wales website every 15 minutes.

Information and updates are also available by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. People can also register for free flood warnings either by calling the Floodline number or at NRW’s website.

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​Major bequests for Aber research ​

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TWO major legacies to support postgraduate research have been announced at Aberystwyth University’s Founders’ Day held in the Old College on October 13.

The University revealed that Eleanor and David James had donated £2m to the institution where they both worked for 35 years, while former student Margaret Wooloff has bequeathed £400,000.

Both bequests will be used to fund postgraduate research at the University, in line with the wishes of the benefactors.

The legacies were announced as part of the University’s now annual Founders’ event, which echoes the celebrations held in the town back in October 1872 when the first students arrived at Old College.

The Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “It is extremely fitting that these very special bequests have been the focal point of this year’s Founders’ Day event. They remind us how the University has been supported since its early beginnings by the generosity of the people of Wales and the wider world.

“Eleanor and David James, and Margaret Wooloff all dedicated their lives to the furtherance of knowledge and their valuable contributions to education in Wales will live on in their legacies. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

The Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, Louise Jagger, said: “There is a very strong bond between the University and our family of alumni across the world. Eleanor and David James and Margaret Wooloff were all active members of the Old Students’ Association during their lives and we are immensely grateful to them for their support over the years. Their generous legacies will now enable the scholars of the future to pursue their particular fields of expertise and undertake research with impact, which is integral to our mission as a leading University.”

Members of the local community joined staff and students at the Old College to mark Founders’ Day.

The guest speaker at the event was Ceredigion MP Ben Lake who said: “The story of how Aberystwyth University – or the University College of Wales as it was originally called – is one in which we can all take pride as a nation. Driven by the vision of its founders, the dream of establishing a college with University status in Wales was made possible thanks to the generosity of ordinary people. The roots and foundations of the University reflect our values in Wales and it is vitally important that we commemorate and celebrate this very special heritage.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate Aberystwyth on being named recently as the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Good University Guide – a well deserved accolade which is testament to the dedication of all its staff.”

In July 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had earmarked £10.5m for ambitious plans to redevelop Old College in time for the University’s 150th anniversary in 2022.

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