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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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Another man charged in Ifan Owens assault case

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Ifan Owens: Seriously assaulted in January

ANOTHER man has been charged and remanded into custody in relation to the serious assault of Ifan Owens, aged 19, in Aberystwyth on January 14.

Michael Arwyn Jones, 24, has been charged with S18 Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent and Possession of Cannabis.

Last week, Billy Valentine, 19, of Terrace Road, Aberystwyth, and David Lloyd, 25, of no fixed abode, entered no pleas when they appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court.

The pair were sent to trial at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am.

Due to the serious nature of the offence, Lloyd’s bail was revoked.

The court found there was a real risk he would abscond or re-offend.

As well as being charged with grievous bodily harm, he was also charged with having a blade exceeding 3 inches in a public place without good reason or lawful authority.

Valentine was also charged with being in possession of herbal cannabis as the time of his arrest. This was by Magistrates, who gave him a 12 month conditional discharge, and ordered him to pay £20 to fund the victims of crime, and £85 to the Crown Prosecution Service.

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Consultation to launch today on future of health services in Ceredigion

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD are formally announcing the launch of their consultation at County Hall in Haverfordwest this morning (Apr 19).

The proposals, the Board say, will shape the future provision of health and care services to the general population.

These provisions will be ‘safe, viable and offer an improvement to what is currently provided’.

The Herald will be attending the event, which starts at 9:30am.

You can watch a live stream here.

The 12-week consultation, which is clinically-led, will involve a number of events for communities, both general and targeted, as well as an awareness raising campaign.

It is expected that the announcements will have big changes for Withbyush, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Bronglais hospitals.

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Issue of lifeboats raised to Prime Minister

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BEN LAKE MP made his Prime Minister’s Questions debut, raising the important issue of the future of Cardigan Bay’s lifeboat provision.

On Thursday (Apr 18) Mr Lake commended the valiant efforts of RNLI staff and volunteers at New Quay lifeboat station who have been safeguarding those who venture out into the bay, be it for work or pleasure, since 1864.

He also expressed concern at the possibility that there will no longer be an all-weather lifeboat in Ceredigion from 2020.

Mr Lake asked the Prime Minister whether she would agree ‘that the invaluable work of the RNLI serves as a fourth emergency service, and that as such it is essential the coastline of Ceredigion, like every other populated coastline, has access to this service whatever the weather?’

The Prime Minister responded: “Search and rescue at sea is provided by several organisations, including the coastguard and the RNLI. The RNLI has a proud tradition, and we should be grateful for its record on search and rescue at sea. It is obviously independent and decides where best to put its resources, but we are supporting the work of independent lifeboat charities through our Rescue Boat Grant Fund, which has allocated more than £3.5 million since 2014 to increase capacity and resilience by providing new boats and equipment.”

Ben Lake said: “I was glad of the opportunity to raise an issue that is of great concern to communities across Ceredigion with the Prime Minister. I look forward to working with the RNLI and campaign representatives in search of a long-term solution, and in particular seek to ascertain whether the Rescue Boat Grant Fund could be of benefit to ensuring the retention of an all-weather lifeboat at New Quay.”

The RNLI has decided to downgrade New Quay Lifeboat Station to an Inshore Lifeboat when the service life of its Mersey-class All-Weather Lifeboat expires in 2020.

The proposed new lifeboat will not be able to launch in conditions exceeding Force 7 in the daytime or Force 6 at night.

After 2020, there will be no All-Weather Lifeboats in the whole of Ceredigion, leaving a gap of 70 miles between the All-Weather stations of Barmouth and Fishguard.

The latest generation of All-Weather Lifeboats can travel at 25 knots in 30 minutes in calm conditions. In a challenging sea, the nearest boats at Barmouth and Fishguard would take more than an hour and a half to respond to an emergency off New Quay or Aberaeron.

The mission statement of the RNLI reads: “Our crews aim to launch their lifeboats with 10 minutes of being notified and can operate up to 100 nautical miles out at sea. We aim to reach at least 90% of all casualties within 10 nautical miles of the coast within 30 minutes of a lifeboat launch – any weather.”

The Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign are questioning how local rescues can take place in a challenging sea to meet this aim of the RNLI. Over 10,000 have currently signed a petition campaigning against the proposed changes.

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