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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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It’s About Time

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Sioned spinning

THIS January, Ceredigion Museum are proud to exhibit artwork by the portrait painter Seren Morgan Jones, originally from Aberystwyth and the third generation of women artists in her family.

Jones follows in the footsteps of her grandmother Margaret Jones, whose work forms part of the Ceredigion Museum collection. The exhibition will be followed in January 2019 by a retrospective show of work by her grandmother Margaret Jones who celebrates her 100th birthday this December.

It’s About Time is an amalgamation of two distinct bodies of work created by Seren Morgan Jones; ‘History’s Eyes’ documenting Welsh women from the 19th century and ‘Portraits of Protesters’ a collection of paintings documenting Welsh suffragists at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Drawing inspiration from historical aesthetics and references, but expanding the scope of traditional portraiture, Jones redefines and re-imagines the historical narrative, and through this creating a place for women within the Welsh visual story. The paintings take on an additional layer of importance and meaning when shown in the context of Ceredigion Museum; which houses a large collection of items representing the culture and history of the county. The collection is home to many items that have been donated by women, but we too often don’t have the narrative of those women’s lives. Jones used the Ceredigion Museum collection of welsh costume as research for her paintings depicting women in welsh traditional garb; the women largely remain nameless and faceless in our displays and yet here, in Jones’ work those women’s histories are now brought to life.

The portraits are powerful and direct; the eyes gaze unswerving to create an utterly distraction-free moment between viewer and painting which seeks to challenge and question. The portraits are imagined and shaped from stories and photographs of women rather than actual bygone figures. In the creation of these false portraits, in a style that references that of the tradition of Welsh Masters; Jones places her and the women whom she is portraying within this cultural narrative.

Of her work, Jones says: “I create an alternative image of Welsh women to counter the representation often seen in tourist shops. Some would argue that this is the only ubiquitous presence of women from Wales’ past. It is important that the viewer can relate to these women and for this they must seem to have once lived.”

Join Ceredigion Museum for the official opening of the exhibition on 27 January at 2pm. The exhibition will be opened by the renowned artist William Wilkins.

The exhibition is a partnership project with TEN gallery Cardiff and will run from 20 January until 16 April 2018 at Ceredigion Museum. For more information please contact Assistant Curator Alice Briggs, alice.briggs@ceredigion.gov.uk or 01970633086.

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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.”

Ifan’s family said in a statement:  “Ifan is a kind and gentle person, and we have been overwhelmed with messages of support from family, friends, as well as Ifan’s school friends, teachers, university friends, and sports teams, who are all sending their best wishes for Ifan, who is desperately ill following this incident in Aberystwyth.

“Ifan’s only choice for university was Aberystwyth, he had no interest in any other university and absolutely loves the town. He plays football and rugby for the Geltaidd Football and Rugby Clubs and is enjoying his second year studying Criminology at Aberystwyth University.”

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Ceredigion MP welcomes 7-year Lottery investment in Llandysul

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RURAL FUTURES, a new 7 year programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund, will be rolled out in 10 communities across Wales, including Llandysul in Ceredigion.

Professional advice will be available to help the town create effective long-term solutions to the challenging issues they face.

Rural Futures is delivered by Severn Wye Energy Agency and the BRO Partnership. Llandysul was chosen following a period of research into local economic and social statistics, and liaising with local councillors and staff in numerous community support organisations and community groups.

The decision was finalised following the public meeting held by Ben Lake MP and Elin Jones AM in Llandysul on November 3 whereby over 150 local people came to discuss the town’s future. This meeting helped the Rural Futures team identify that Llandysul would greatly benefit from support to address a number of local and rural issues.

Ben Lake, MP for Ceredigion said: “I am delighted that the successful public meeting held in November played a part in securing this substantial investment. Rural communities such as Llandysul are currently facing enormous challenges and I’m confident that this innovative programme will provide valuable guidance and support to the community as it seeks to come up with ambitious, creative and practical solutions that will regenerate the town.”

Elin Jones, AM for Ceredigion said: “This is excellent news for Llandysul. This programme will give the community the opportunity to take ownership of future plans and projects and implement vital improvements to the town on their own terms.”

The Rural Futures team will work with the community of Llandysul and will also work in partnership with public bodies and local organisations, who are already operating in the area, to add value where possible to their efforts.

Keith Evans, County Councillor for Llandysul said: “Having worked closely with the Rural Futures team over the past few months, I’m extremely pleased that Llandysul has been chosen as one of the 10 communities across Wales to benefit from this programme. I look forward to further collaboration over the next 7 years as we seek to regenerate and invigorate the town.”

Ruth Bates, the Big Lottery Fund’s Communications Officer commented: “This is a new approach for the BLF and in keeping with our aim of putting people in the lead, we see the Rural Futures programme as a fantastic opportunity to deliver real benefits to communities, as well as informing future policy and funding in Wales.”

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