AN EXCITING new change is well underway for the people of Machynlleth and the wider area, which will guarantee to brings smiles all round.
After establishing in 2011, May 2013 saw the new Cletwr in Tre’r Ddôl spring back to life, with the Siop Cynfelyn and Caffi Cletwr opening their doors to the public and becoming more popular than ever.
Taking into consideration the building errors of the rent-free property, a small group of volunteers at Cletwr then set a target to raise enough money through local funds and applications to create a sustainable building as an alternative.
With the brand new building set to open by summer 2017, the community will be able to look forward to a modern and environmentally sound building which will hold a larger shop and cafe, a meeting room and offices to support community activities.
In addition to that, the building will even have solar panels to further reduce energy.
Cletwr has been very fortunate to have a wide range of funding from various sources, including £497,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, (of which about £300,000 went to buy the site), £172,000 from a Welsh Government grant and £88,000 from an EU grant.
There have also been smaller grants given to them by Ceredigion County Council, Trusthouse and donations from locals.
November brought even better news for Cletwr as they received a letter from the EU Rural Communities Development Fund, stating that all of the funding for the new build was officially in place.
North Ceredigion is known for being a relatively poor area and, with that in mind, one of the main aims of Cletwr is to tackle various issues affecting our community such as isolation, lack of services and poverty.
The Herald was able to interview the newly appointed Chair of Cwni Cymunedol Cletwr, Nigel Callaghan, where he was able to explain about the on-going development in greater detail: “Cwmni Cletwr was originally established in 2011, with the simple aim of re-opening the old Cletwr Services in Tre’r Ddôl as a village shop and cafe.
“The shop and cafe duly re-opened in Spring 2013, staffed mainly by volunteers. The owners of the site let us have the property rent-free for over 18 months, to help us get established. But then it got complicated – we became very popular!
“At that point, we decided to aim a bit higher, and seek funds to buy the site for the community and to build a replacement building; the existing one has a number of structural and environmental problems, and a new building could be an example of sustainable building.”
He continued: “We considered renovation of the present building as a cheaper alternative, but it would have meant closing for many months.”
Describing the inspirations behind the project, Nigel said that it was to ‘build a stronger and better community’. “When we started, the community had lost virtually all its services: shops, cafe, Post Office and petrol station all closed.
“Since then, we’ve also lost the school and the church. All that was left was a pub, a chapel, and a village hall. People had few or no opportunities to meet their neighbours. The community was in danger of becoming a dormitory.
“Initially, we aimed for the shop and cafe, but the scope of the project has now grown. We became aware that we could and should aim to provide far more than a shop and cafe, so instead we aimed to provide a wider range of services and facilities to tackle many of the problems associated with life in a rural area.
“Recent studies show that over 20% of the children in the community live in poverty. We do not think that is acceptable and through Cletwr we, as a community, can start to do something about that.”
We went on to talk about one of Nigel’s blog entries, where he said that ‘there should be some nice landscaping too, making the whole place a worthy ‘Gateway to North Ceredigion”. From that, Nigel described to us in detail about what people are able to look forward to with the new building: “The new building will be a model of sustainable building: highly energy-efficient, generating (hopefully) more electricity than it consumes.
“Our architect, Arwyn George of George a Tomos, Machynlleth, has ensured that it will be an attractive and interesting building.
“The old Cletwr services were a familiar and popular stop for travellers on the A487 for decades, and the new Cletwr is no different. It’s a convenient stop for coffee, a bacon sarnie and clean toilets, and a chance to buy a last minute present for Auntie May.
“We will also be extending the facilities for tourists, with more information about the immediate area, but also Ceredigion as a whole, and encouraging visitors to stop and spend money in the county!.”
“In your blog, you say that the Big Lottery, Welsh Government and the EU, plus Cyngor Ceredigion and Trusthouse, have all contributed costs towards the development. What were the procedures behind this and how would you encourage the public to continuously support the development?” we asked Nigel. He answered: “None of this would have been possible without considerable support from many organisations – public and private, large and small. One lesson that we have learned is that there are a lot of sources out there for funds for worthwhile projects, provided the aims of your project match theirs.
“People have questioned whether what we are doing is the best use of half a million pounds and whether it could be better spent on Bronglais. Undoubtedly, we all want more money spent on Bronglais, but it’s the Welsh Government that decides how to spend the money.
“They earmarked a fund for addressing poverty and deprivation and that’s what we received money for. Rural poverty is just as real as urban poverty, even if it is more subtle.”
“The funding wouldn’t have been possible without incredible work by several of our volunteers, who have invested weeks, even months, of their time, unpaid, identifying sources of funding, preparing the applications, and responding to questions.”
Nigel further added: “Some applications failed. Many involved very detailed written plans, running to dozens of pages. And once the money has been allocated, considerable time is spent doing the paperwork afterwards. The money is there but don’t underestimate the effort required to get it.”
Nigel then went to talk about one of his blog entries, where he said that one of the aims of the building is to tackle a number of issues affecting the community. Regarding this, we asked him what ways he believes the building will benefit in bringing the community together: “The impact of Cletwr, as a shop, cafe and community hub, is already being felt. We have over 50 regular volunteers, of all ages, helping with a wide range of activities, from serving in the shop and cafe, to baking award-winning welsh-cakes, cutting the grass and sorting out the WiFi.
“It’s already a place where people in the community meet up for coffee or attend one of our frequent events – the walks are very popular. A common comment from people is that there is a ‘buzz’ about the place. People stop to actually talk to their friends and neighbours.
“We organise activities that support Welsh in the community, including regular sessions for learners to mix with fluent speakers and develop their language skills. We also offer a free library of Welsh books for people to borrow.”
Nigel further explained: “Parents of young children like to meet up there as they can have a coffee and some homemade cake in a child-friendly space, with a proper play-area, well equipped with toys and books. The new building will allow us to offer a wider range of services, activities and products in the shop, providing even more reasons for people to call in and get involved.
“The shop, under the skillful management of Karen Evans, is already attracting customers who specifically call in because of the range of products, including many local and Welsh items.
“One of the most important aspects of Cletwr is that in involves all parts of the community: young and old, working and retired, incomers and people who have lived here all their lives, Welsh-speakers and non-Welsh speakers.
“Before we had Cletwr, there were few opportunities for people to mix. People talked about ‘community’ but that was just a geographical idea. With Cletwr, the idea is becoming a reality.”
Continuing his emphasis on how the building will benefit the community, Nigel added: “Cwmni Cletwr has been set up as a non-profit group. Any surplus we make will be invested back in the community, helping other groups within Taliesin and Tre’r Ddôl and the surrounding area, not just kept for Cletwr activities.
“With never-ending cuts in funding for local services, it is clear that communities will need to become more and more self-sufficient. A local community company can be a good starting point for this, but it requires dedication and effort from many people in the community.
“Of course, it’s not compulsory for people to volunteer in the shop to be a supporter; people have many demands on their time – work, family, health – and simply coming in from time to time to use the shop and cafe is just as important as helping with the washing up.
“Too many villages in Ceredigion, and throughout Wales and the UK, have turned into ghost towns as their shops and services have closed. Many are now starting to fight back.
“We’ve had a lot of help and advice from the Plunkett Foundation, who advise community groups on running businesses. Many already exist in Wales, from groups running a shop for a few hours a day to others who have taken over the village pub and Post Office.
“With services available again, it becomes worthwhile for people to think about leaving their homes during the day to use them. No need to take an expensive bus into town to go shopping.”
Nigel concluded the interview by telling The Herald:
“Our long-term aim is to ensure that there is a long-term future for our community. Through Cletwr and other activities, we want to make Llangynfelyn somewhere that people will want to live, somewhere where they can work, raise a family, and eventually live out a comfortable retirement, surrounded by a supportive community of friends and family.”
Wales’ hospitality sector will prepare to re-open outdoors from 13 July
The Minister signalled the first phase of a planned reopening for bars, restaurants and cafes with outdoor spaces following a rapid review of the sector.
A final decision about outdoor re-opening will be made at the next review of the coronavirus regulations on 9 July and will depend on whether rates of coronavirus are continuing to fall.
Future decisions about indoor re-opening will be made later and will depend on the success of the first phase of outdoor opening.
The Minister will today also confirm the timetable for re-opening outdoor visitor attractions and the partial opening of the tourism industry in Wales for the remainder of the summer season.
If the requirement to stay local is lifted in Wales on 6 July, outdoor visitor attractions will be able to reopen from Monday.
And, subject to the forthcoming review of coronavirus regulations on 9 July, the tourism sector is preparing to re-open self-contained accommodation.
The Minister will today confirm the date that owners of self-contained accommodation can accept bookings is being brought forward to 11 July from 13 July, to help with the pattern of Saturday-to-Saturday bookings.
Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language Eluned Morgan said:
“Tourism is a vital part of the Welsh economy at a national, regional and local level. I’d like to thank all our industry partners for working with us to carefully reopen the visitor economy.
“A successful, safe and phased return will give businesses, communities and visitors confidence to continue with the recovery of the visitor economy.
“We ask everyone who travels to and around Wales to enjoy their time here, but always to respect local communities. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Wales – but we want everyone to Visit Wales Safely.”
Guidance to help businesses in Wales’ visitor economy has been published this week. Further guidance for cafes, bars and pubs will follow.
Visit Wales has also worked with the other national tourism organisations on a UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to provide reassurance as the sector works towards reopening.
The Good To Go industry standard and supporting mark means businesses can demonstrate they are adhering to the respective government and public health guidance; have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked they have the required processes in place. The scheme is free to join and open to all businesses across the industry.
Folly Farm are ready to welcome back its loyal annual pass holders from 8 July and will open to all on 13 July.
Zoe Wright, head of marketing at Folly Farm, said:
“We’ve been preparing for our re-opening for several weeks and are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Folly Farm, safely.
“We’ve been hugely encouraged by the support we’ve received from our visitors and our local community. Lots of local accommodation providers have been sharing our staying safe re-opening guide ahead of their guests returning.
“We’ve got lots of measures in place to keep our visitors, staff, animals and our wider community safe, including the essential pre-booking of visits so we can limit visitor numbers and provide even more space across our 120-acre site. As an animal attraction, we’re naturally geared up to offer and encourage regular handwashing but we’ve added hand-sanitising stations across the park too.
“Our animals provide a fun way to encourage visitors, especially the younger ones, to follow our social distancing signage with paw prints marking out a safe distance in queuing areas and penguin and pig themed arrows for our one way systems.”
Sean Taylor, Founder & President of Zip World is making preparations to open on 6th of July and said: “As one of North Wales’s biggest outdoor tourist attractions, there is a huge responsibility in the way we restart our operations. We have a strong sense of community and have an important role to play in rebuilding the region’s visitor economy all of which has to be managed responsibly and firmly in line with the current government guidelines.
“We have spent the last few months rethinking the logistics of our operations to keep staff, customers and the community safe. To begin with, the reopening will be a staggered approach by only opening two of our three sites initially and 6 of our adventures. This means a reduction in capacity and we have also introduced robust hygiene regimes, clear wayfinding & signage, PPE and the use of tech where possible to reduce consumer touch points. There is now a simple 6 steps guide for all customers to follow before and during their visit – this includes signing the waiver online pre visit, contactless payments etc.”
South West Wales Virtual Open Day 8 July
Welsh local authorities, schools, colleges and work-based learning providers will be hosting
a series of Virtual Open Days for Year 11 pupils for the first time this month.
An event specifically for pupils from Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath
Port Talbot, Llanelli, Swansea and Powys will be held on Wednesday 8 July and will cover a
series of sessions on post-16 options including A Levels at sixth form or college as well as
Jonathan Davies OBE will host the sessions on apprenticeships and traineeships and will be
on hand to field questions about how to apply and get the most from industry-led training
Other sessions will be led by Pembrokeshire College, NPTC Group of Colleges, Coleg Sir
Gar and Coleg Ceredigion as well as Careers Wales and local authorities.
The spread of COVID-19 has not only meant a break in students’ learning, but also the
cancellation of many planned events like open days which were scheduled to take place
throughout the summer.
Open days are vital ways of helping Year 11 pupils to understand all their options for
continuing their education and deciding on the right path for them. It’s also the way pupils
make connections with new people and different environments to support them in making
With no indication yet of when face-to-face events might be able to go ahead again, over
220 schools, colleges and work-based learning providers across Wales are partnering with
the Welsh Government to hold virtual sessions for all Year 11 pupils in Wales to make sure
nobody misses out.
Organised by Welsh Government and hosted by Working Wales, the Virtual Open Days will
enable young people across Wales to discover the options for furthering their education in
their area, including what school and college courses are available, as well as training
opportunities like apprenticeships and traineeships, and access to careers advice from
Live sessions will be held for each region across Wales from 7 – 10 July, with lots of
additional content available throughout the second week of July and beyond. There will also
be the opportunity to put questions to local careers advisors and learning providers who
know about the provision in your area.
Virtual Open Days will be hosted online, but those without internet access at home will have
the option to phone and speak directly with schools, colleges and work-based learning
Welsh Government will be providing information about the full range of Virtual Open Days,
as well as links to partner websites and content, on Working Wales where there will also be
advice for those students who are unsure of what they want to do next.
Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education, said: “Now more than ever, it’s vital that young
people are equipped with the skills, information and training they need to find fulfilling work.
“If you’re a young person, you may be unsure of what you want to do after school, or
whether you want to continue in education at all. Open days can play a vital role in helping
access the right education or training, providing a vital insight into the different courses and
ways of learning that are available to young people considering their next options.
“Virtual Open Days are a really innovative way to explore options digitally and will help
young people in deciding what to do next. Whether you are shielding at home, returning to
school to say goodbye for the summer, or are not sure what to do next, our national virtual
open days will ensure learners in every region of Wales have the opportunity to engage and
ask questions at this important time.”
Nikki Lawrence, chief executive of Careers Wales, said: “Deciding what the next step is with
your education is an important time for young people across Wales and we want to make
sure that they are still able to explore the different options that are available.
“During the four days we will be offering additional support from our expert careers advisers
who will be available via our live web chat. This will enable young people who are not sure
what the next step is to get the advice and guidance they need.”
To find out more about Wales’ Virtual Open Days, call Working Wales on 0800 028 4844 or
go to www.workingwales.gov.wales/start-your-story.
Advice for businesses re-opening
AS LOCKDOWN restrictions are expected to ease, businesses and building owners are reminded to check the maintenance of their premises as they re-open.
People who manage or own buildings are being asked to follow the latest advice from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Health and Safety Executive (CIEH).
Particular attention should be paid to water systems not used during the lockdown to help minimise the risk from Legionella bacteria as they prepare to reopen following the lockdown period.
Legionnaires’ disease can be contracted by breathing in small droplets of water suspended in the air which contain Legionella bacteria. Symptoms include fever, a non-productive cough and pneumonia.
Prevention work includes flushing through cold water systems with fresh mains water as well as increasing the temperature of hot water systems to above 60°C if possible to achieve thermal disinfection of the hot water system.
This should be undertaken as part of a thorough risk assessment and may require other works to be done.
More information is also available from the Health and Safety Executive website.
The Food Standards Agency also has guidance for food businesses re-opening their operations. It includes information relating to food safety issues as well as COVID-19 expectations. The link is: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/reopening-checklist-for-food-businesses-during-covid-19
To confirm your business has taken the necessary measures and is operating in line with the Government guidelines click on:
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