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RNLI warning to Respect The Water during the ‘deadliest’ month

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COASTAL death figures released today (Aug 1) by the RNLI show more people die at the Welsh coast in August than in any other month of the year, in line with the UK national trend.

Yet, worryingly, research from the charity shows less than one-fifth (17%) of the UK population say they would call 999 immediately to request help if they saw someone fall into open water.

The number of near-fatal incidents is also highest in August, with the charity’s Welsh lifeboat crews and lifeguards saving the most lives during this busy summer month.

The charity is reminding people to dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard in the event of an emergency at the coast.

Over the past five years, there have been 16 deaths at the Welsh coast in August, more than in any other month.

This is also the busiest time of year for the RNLI’s lifesavers. Last August the charity’s lifeboat crews in Wales launched their lifeboats in response to 278 emergencies (23% of their total annual launches and the highest number in the five years). Meanwhile, RNLI lifeguards in Wales responded to 690 incidents on beaches (55% of their total annual incidents and the highest number in the five years).

Last August, RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards in Wales saved the lives of 36 people (37% of all the lives they saved in 2016).

As part of the RNLI’s drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, the charity is calling on the public to help save more lives during this busy August period by remembering and sharing key survival skills. First, if you see someone else in danger in the water, fight your instincts to go in after them and instead call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Research commissioned by the RNLI has revealed that less than one-fifth (17%) of people in the UK say they would call 999 immediately to request help if they saw someone fall into open water5.

While summer air temperatures may be warm, UK and Irish waters rarely exceed 15C, making them cold enough year-round to trigger cold water shock, which causes the instinctive reaction to gasp and swim hard, which can quickly lead to drowning. With around half the coastal deaths each year being people who accidentally slip or fall into the water, the RNLI’s second piece of advice is: If you fall into cold water, fight your instincts to swim hard and thrash about. Instead, float for 60–90 seconds until the effects of cold water shock pass and you can catch your breath before then swimming to safety or calling for help.

Helen Church, RNLI Community Safety Partner for Wales, says: “With summer holidays upon us and hopefully some hot weather, our fantastic beaches are naturally a draw for many people – but sadly this also means more people tragically losing their lives or getting into serious danger at the coast.

“We need to start a national conversation that encourages people to fight their instincts around water, so we are asking people to remember and share two skills.The first is, if you see someone else in trouble, don’t go into the water yourself as you may also end up in serious danger. Instead, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.  The second is, if you fall into cold water, fight your instincts to swim hard or thrash about as this could lead to drowning. Instead, relax and float on your back, keeping your airway clear, for around 60–90 seconds.

“This will allow the effects of cold water shock to pass so you can regain control of your breathing and then swim to safety or call for help. Just remembering these two simple points could help save your life, or someone else’s, this summer.”

Anyone planning a trip to the beach is advised by the RNLI to choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags, which is the area most closely monitored by the lifeguards.

The RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, is part of the charity’s work to halve coastal drownings by 2024. The theme of the campaign is: ‘Fight your instincts, not the water.’

It reminds people of the risks but, most importantly, provides them with the skills to survive for longer if they unexpectedly find themselves in water, and the knowledge of what to do should they see someone else in danger. ]

The RNLI is asking people to visit RNLI.org/RespectTheWater where they will find safety advice. On social media search #RespectTheWater.

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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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