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Public respond to toilet charges

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screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-12-27-08THE ANNOUNCEMENT of a pay-to-use trial in one of Aberystwyth’s public toilets was recently given the go ahead and if proven successful, it could very well be rolled out in the council’s other public conveniences in Ceredigion. But what do the people of Aberystwyth have to say on this decision?

In the October 28 edition of The Herald, we reported on the plans that Ceredigion County Council have made regarding a six to 12 month trial fee that will commence at the Park Avenue public toilets on Thursday (Nov 10).

The idea being that the public, who use the award-winning conveniences, will be required to pay 20p on entry through a ‘paddlegate’ system. From this, Ceredigion County Council will seek to gain additional funds in order to maintain the high standards of these conveniences.

The disabled toilet users will still be able to access the facilities free of charge by using the Radar key as part of the National Key Scheme (NKS), which offers disabled people independent access to locked toilets across the country.

Cllr Alun Williams, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, recently said of the plans: “When the council has asked the public for ideas about how best to manage the severe funding cuts we are subject to, charging for entry to toilets has been a regular suggestion. Many local authorities now charge a small fee for the use of their conveniences.

“Ceredigion has won numerous awards for the high standard of our toilets and the introduction of a small fee at this location, on a trial basis, is one idea for helping the council to maintain the current level of service across the county.”

Additionally, Raymond Martin, Managing Director of the British Toilet Association, has also recently stated: “Across and throughout the UK, the levels of toilet and facilities provision and, more importantly, management vary greatly.

“It is only through the correct supervision and management of goods and services that we see beacon councils like Ceredigion setting the standards of provision that many fail to achieve.

“Close attention to details and to the user needs and expectations make it a pleasure to visit and enjoy the facilities provided in such locations.”

With the announcement turning heads, it is the community that will feel the difference. So this week, The Herald decided to hit the streets and ask members of the public what they think about the decision and how they feel it will benefit the community.

John, who lives in Aberystwyth, told The Herald: “I have no problem paying 20p per use if the standard of the facilities was going to increase. But from what I can see, it will just be more of the same for a price.

“It is supposed to be award-winning but I have never thought it to be that clean, at least in the men’s side.”

The Herald also spoke to another Aberystwyth resident who voiced her concerns about the decision: “As a mother that uses these toilets on a regular basis, I can see it being an issue when getting the pram past paddle gates.

“There isn’t much room to manoeuvre there at the moment so I’m very concerned about the plans, to say the least.”

In addition, Laura, who has lived in Aberystwyth for six years, expressed her thoughts to The Herald: “It seems odd to me that the council can think they will raise money from this when they have to make alterations to the building in order to allow access gates to be put in.

“They will also need to maintain these gates for as long as they are in use and repair the gates when they inevitably get damaged or vandalised.”

Laura then added: “Why are we paying our council tax if they can’t afford to keep our public toilets free?”

With concerns for local businesses, Sam from Aberystwyth explained to The Herald: “Businesses are having enough problems as it is with high costs and lack of footfall because there is nowhere to park in town.”

Sam then went on to say: “It is a small price to pay for using the toilets, but it is just another obstacle for ordinary people like me.”

Meanwhile, Heather Jones from Aberystwyth told The Herald about she feels about the plans and what it would mean to the community: “I, personally, think that the plan is good idea but only if they make sure the toilets are kept spotless from here on out. With increased revenue, I think that the facilities can be better looked after.”

Heather then went on to tell The Herald: “I have spoken to a few people about this myself and they all feel that at least this way, the plan will help to guarantee the cleanliness of the toilet facilities and will give it the care that it needs.”

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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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Driving Wales to international skills success

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AS SKILLS CHAMPION for Wales, Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion principal Barry Liles is at the forefront of aspiring young people to develop high quality, world-class skills.

The vehicle used to drive this ambition are skills competitions, which are held on a Welsh, UK and international level.

Competitions in Wales begin with regional Welsh Government supported competitions which are events that culminate to find Wales’ top competitors who progress to take part in UKSkills national and WorldSkills international events.

This year, 36 competitors from the UK are competing at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi, four of which are from Wales, two of which represent Coleg Sir Gâr, which is an impressive percentage of UK representation. These competitors have undergone a rigorous training process by WorldSkills UK, supported by training providers and employers.

Coleg Sir Gâr students have been selected for Team UK since 2009 when carpentry student Cliff Williams made the team in 2009 competing in WorldSkills Calgary. He was followed by web designer David Bowen who competed for in WorldSkills London, 2011. Carpenter Gareth Jones won gold in EuroSkills in 2012 followed by Simon McCall and Eleni Constantinou who won two silvers at EuroSkills in 2014 for hairdressing and carpentry with Eleni progressing to represent the UK and Coleg Sir Gâr in hairdressing at WorldSkills, Sao Paulo in 2015.

Last year, the college was ranked joint third place in the UK for its medal success in the Skills Show – the UK final, for achieving three golds, one silver and one bronze award. The show, held at Birmingham’s NEC every year, brings together medal winners from all nations to compete and showcase their skills and to hopefully continue their journey to the international arena, representing the UK in Worldskills which brings over 50 competing countries together and is likened to the Olympic games.

Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales said: “To have an impact on the economy and raise Wales and UK’s GVA, we must raise the skills of the UK population and we’re trying to do this from a young age and we’re significantly targeting industries that are important to Wales’ economy.

“The anticipated result is hoped to impact on young people and help them raise their ambitions and to find highly skilled work.”

In Wales, to help achieve this ambition, is a Welsh-Government funded project called Inspiring Skills Excellence (ISE), which is providing a supportive infrastructure to enable competitors from Wales to achieve success at national and international level.

“Much of our work is supporting competitors across Wales in their participation, training and mentoring to help them achieve excellence in skills relevant to economic growth and delivering medal winning success at national and international competitions,” said Paul Evans, ISE pan-coordinator for Wales.

“Using state of the art equipment we also engage with schools, providing hands-on and exciting experiences for young people to raise awareness of careers and the pathways available to them.”

Barry Liles added: “Being Skills Champion for Wales is a long-held ambition perhaps because I came from a vocational engineering background, I am very passionate about it.

“Industry skills are vital in our economy and I don’t want Wales to be left behind, in fact in the last seven years we have helped drive the nation forward to being one of the leading and successful nations in UK skills competitions.”

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