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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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Aberystwyth waste pilot launched

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AN innovative pilot scheme has been launched in North Parade, Aberystwyth to help promote positive waste behaviours in the town centre.

The initiative sees communal wheelie bins being delivered to the pilot area on the afternoon before the usual scheduled waste collections. The bins provide a means of containing the waste for the time between it being presented and being collected. Protecting the waste from attack by animals, including seagulls, will help keep the town centre’s streets clean.

The new approach will also help support more local residents, especially those living in properties where space to store waste is limited, to make full use of the weekly recycling and food waste collection services. Reducing the amount of recyclable waste that goes into black bags is not only better for the environment but it also helps ensure it is dealt with in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

The days and frequency of waste collections will remain the same with wheelie bins being provided each week for clear recycling bags and food waste and fortnightly for black bags. Waste should be presented in the correct wheelie bin by 8am on the day collection.

Once the waste is collected the wheelie bins are removed which avoids problems that would arise if they were left there permanently which includes causing unnecessary street clutter and obstructions as well as potentially being misused and attracting fly-tipping.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards, the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services, said: “I am fully supportive of this initiative. It is an example of the Council working in partnership with communities on resolving issues. I wish the initiative every success and look forward in the future, to further working closely with our communities on finding creative solutions to the issues we are all concerned about.”

The scheme started on August 6-7. If it proves to be successful, consideration will be given to extending the pilot to other areas where it may work. Consideration is also being given to other ways of further supporting positive waste behaviours in Aberystwyth and Ceredigion in general ahead of a new domestic waste collection system that will be introduced in 2019.

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Consultation on future of gas network for west Wales enters final week

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PEOPLE from west Wales are being urged to have their say as a public consultation on the future of the local gas network is set to close on Friday (Aug 17).

Wales & West Utilities look after the pipes that bring gas to homes and businesses across Wales and the south west of England. The company has received almost 20,000 responses to its consultation but is now urging as many people as possible to take two minutes to pipe up and shape its plans for the future. Everyone who completes the consultation will be entered into a weekly draw to win a £100 Amazon Gift Card.

The company is asking people to give their views on issues such as the gas emergency service, investment to keep the gas network safe and reliable and how it supports those most in need. It is also seeking views on preparing the gas network for a greener future, making sure it can continue to deliver essential services for generations to come.

Wales & West Utilities charge for their services through consumer gas bills. Currently, their services make up 20% of an annual gas bill – so for the average gas bill of £630, that’s £128 a year – or 35 pence per day.

Graham Edwards, Chief Executive at Wales & West Utilities, explains: “The pipes we look after are mostly underground and out of mind, but we provide an essential service in keeping people safe and warm in their homes and powering businesses. Now, as we plan for the future, we want as many people in West Wales as possible to have their say on the future of their gas network and the services we provide.”

“This consultation is about ensuring our customers’ views are heard so that we plan and work towards getting the balance right between investing to maintain and improve our services and preparing the gas network for the future, while keeping bills low.

“We understand the financial pressure households across the area are under and we remain committed to keeping our portion of the gas bill to a minimum – we have already reduced the cost of our services since 2013 from £145 to £128 today.

“We’re looking forward to hearing customer feedback from West Wales as this will play a vital role in shaping our business for the future.”

Wales & West Utilities also connects around 11,000 homes and businesses to the network each year. And, for customers in need of extra support, the company has a scheme offering low-cost gas connections and financial help for appliance repairs. There is also a priority register to make sure people in vulnerable situations are prioritised when things go wrong.

To have your say on the future of your gas network and the services Wales & West Utilities provides please go to PipeUpOnline.co.uk or Facebook.com/wwutilities and be in with a chance to win a £100 Amazon.co.uk Gift Card.

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Elin Jones welcomed to Gorsedd as ‘Elin Ceredigion’

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AT THIS year’s National Eisteddfod, held in Cardiff Bay, Elin Jones, AM for Ceredigion, was welcomed into the Gorsedd.

The ceremony of the Gorsedd of the Bards is an integral part of the National Eisteddfod, and honours people who have made a significant contribution to the Welsh language and to Wales. Upon being admitted to the Gorsedd, the member is able to choose their ‘Bardic name’. Elin Jones has chosen to be known as Elin Ceredigion.

Elin Jones said: “It’s an honour to be admitted to the Gorsedd at this year’s National Eisteddfod, and to be known there as Elin Ceredigion.

“This was a very different and diverse National Eisteddfod. People from all over Wales and from many different cultures were able to see the Welsh Language thriving.

“The National Eisteddfod is important in whichever part of Wales it may be held. In two years’ time, it will be in Tregaron in Ceredigion which will be equally as exciting and important an Eisteddfod.

“The Gorsedd will next meet in Ceredigion in July 2019 – to proclaim the 2020 Ceredigion Eisteddfod.”

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