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Brexit ‘presents a real threat to Ceredigion’

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The voice of farming must be heard: Grenville Ham, Green Party candidate

THE GREEN PARTY pledges to offer people a chance to remain in EU if they do not like the deal on offer at the end of the negotiation period between the UK and the EU.

The Greens say this will not be a re-run of the in-out referendum, but will be a vote about the ratification process.

Grenville Ham, Green candidate in Ceredigion, said: “The Brexit campaign was one of the worst – people can now see it was full of broken promises and empty threats. That’s why Greens are calling for a Ratification Referendum to give people a say on the deal on the table, rather than lies printed on the side of a bus.”

Mr Ham continued: “Brexit presents a real threat to Ceredigion.  Support for our farmers must be guaranteed by the UK government after 2020, or we will see the loss of many farms in Ceredigion and the decimation of rural communities.  Whoever is elected to represent Ceredigion, ensuring that the voice of our farming community is heard in Westminster must be a priority.

“Personally, I feel that we are at a crossroads.  We need to ask the questions, what kind of country should post-Brexit Britain be?  And what does that mean for Ceredigion? We’ve all heard about ‘taking back control’, but how much control does a country really have if it needs to import the majority of its food and energy?

“As a Green, I believe we need to develop a more self-reliant, localised economy. Globalisation sees us transporting large quantities of food and energy from abroad, when it could be produced in the UK.  We need to nurture and protect our farmers and growers, and develop greater food and energy security.

“And we need to update the subsidy system in order to protect wildlife and encourage biodiversity, to restore our soils and to encourage planting that helps protect against flooding. We know flooding is likely to get worse and our biodiversity is under threat so surely it is common sense to invest money in the green heart of Wales to protect us all.”

Greville Ham will be speaking on these themes at Ceredigion Green Party’s next Platform event, ‘Agriculture and Land Use Post Brexit’ at Victoria Hall, Lampeter next Saturday (May 27) from 2-5pm.  He will be joined by keynote speaker, renowned author and broadcaster, Colin Tudge.

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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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