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Pensioner crushed under car for nine days

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A PENSIONER was crushed to death under her car –  and lay there undiscovered for nine days, an inquest heard.

Jane Marion Lord, 76, had tried to stop the red Vauxhall Corsa from rolling down the driveway, at her home in Newcastle Emlyn.

She is believed to have died on December 21, 2016, and to have remained under the front passenger side of car until after Christmas, when a worried friend arrived – and her dog led her to the body.

The inquest in Aberystwyth heard how Miss Lord, of Penrallt Ffynnon, Cwm-cou, was last seen alive at around 7pm on December 21, when she briefly went to a party at the house of her friend Francesca Lis Ross.

Miss Ross said she first became worried about Miss Lord when she went over to her house on Friday, December 23, to give her a Christmas card, and found the door of the house locked but the car still on the drive.

“I assumed she must have gone away with a friend with a vehicle, so I left a present down at the house and left,” said Miss Ross.

Miss Ross returned to Penrallt Ffynnon with her husband and two dogs on 30 December after trying to call Miss Lord the day before.

They broke through the door of the house to check inside and searched the garden, but only found Miss Lord’s body when the dogs took an interest in the underside of the car.

PC Matthew Fraser of Dyfed-Powys Police’s forensic division described how Miss Lord had suffered crushing injuries to her shoulder and hip, and that hand marks on the car suggested she had tried to stop the car rolling down the drive before falling over and being pinned under it.

He added that the car’s handbrake was in full working order, but that the ‘three clicks’ the lever had been set at were only just enough to stop it from rolling down the driveway on most occasions.

PC Fraser said that five clicks of the handbrake would have engaged it fully, but that Miss Lord would have found it difficult to pull the lever this high.

Coroner for Ceredigion, Peter Brunton, gave a verdict of accidental death, and ruled that Miss Lord would not have survived the night of 21 December.

He said: “This was something that Miss Lord had been doing with that particular car from time to time and it had never gone wrong before, but on that evening the handbrake failed to hold.

“The evidence is quite clear that three clicks would only just hold the car on that incline and for reasons that we cannot ascertain, it rolled forward.“

He passed on his sympathies to Miss Lord’s family and friends, and added: “This is one of the those dreadful cases where if circumstances had turned out slightly differently we wouldn’t be here today.“

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Council tax reduction supports people on low incomes

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A COUNCIL Tax Reduction Scheme is in place to help people who are on a low income. The council administers the scheme on behalf of the Welsh Government for people who are liable to pay Council Tax and who live in Ceredigion. With the recent decision to raise Council Tax by 7%, residents on low incomes are being urged to find out if they are entitled to some help towards paying their Council Tax.

People can be eligible for the reduction if they are on a low income, working or unemployed, cannot work because of illness, retired or are caring for someone. The amount of the reduction depends on a person’s circumstances and how much Council Tax they need to pay.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd is the Cabinet member responsible for Financial Services. He said, “We made the difficult decision to raise Council Tax by 7% to reduce the amount of cuts we have to make to council services. The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising.”

“We want to urge anyone who is on a low income to consider if they are eligible for Council Tax Reduction. Tax increases can add pressure onto people’s budgets, and although this increase is vital to keep quality services in Ceredigion, we want to make sure that anyone who is eligible for help gets it.”

For more information on eligibility and how to claim council tax reduction, email revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk or call 01970 633 252.

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7% council tax increase to protect education funding

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THE COUNCIL TAX in Ceredigion for 2019-2020 will increase by 7%. The increase was agreed by councillors to reduce the impact of cuts to the Council’s budget and, in particular, to protect education spending. The decision was made in a Council meeting on 21 February 2019.

2% of the 7% increase will be used to protect education spending. Schools budgets have been under severe stress after years of needing to make savings. Costs have increased yet again following the agreement of new teachers’ salary increases together with increased pension contributions. This extra 2% uplift will enable school budgets to be kept flat.

The council tax rate increase is set by three key components, the County Council’s tax, the precept of Town and Community Councils and the Police precept. Increases set by the Police and Town and Community Councils result in a combined increase of 7.56%.

Councillor Ellen ap Leader of the Council, said, “We had no option but to ask Council to increase Council Tax by 7% in order to reduce the impact of the cuts we have had to make across council budgets. A successful Ceredigion in the future needs well-funded and well run schools. We want to invest in the future of our children and our county.”

“The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising. The uplift of teachers’ salaries and pensions has not been fully funded by Welsh Government to date. If council tax had not increased, we would have to make deeper cuts.”

In 2018-2019, the average Council Tax Band D property was £1,226.48. The increase means that the same property will pay £1,312.33 in 2019-2020. The council’s budget has been cut by £39m or 25% in the last seven years. The Council will still need to save another £6m in the coming financial year.

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Information management policies updated to improve security

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THREE key information management policies have been updated by Ceredigion County Council. The policies were updated because of new laws and the need make sure that they are effective in a changing technological environment.

The updated policies were approved by the council’s Cabinet in a meeting on 19 February 2019.

The three policies that have been reviewed are:

· Data Protection/GDPR Policy
· Information Security Policy
· Information and Records Management Policy

The Deputy Leader of Ceredigion County Council and Cabinet member responsible for Governance, Councillor Ray Quant MBE said, “The council needs to keep information and data to carry out the many service we provide. Because of this we have to make sure we’re up to date on data and information protections laws. This decision means that we have approved the hard work done to update the policies and make sure that they are fit for use.”

The policies are essential to manage digital and paper records of the council.

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