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Momentum builds for Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign

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(Sitting) Ben Lake: (Standing L-R) Nick Sawyer, Huw Williams, Roger Bryan, Adrian Turner, Richard Taylor, Ashley Williams, Bernie Davies, Tim Richards

10,000 people have signed the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign petition, which is challenging the RNLI’s decision to remove the all-weather lifeboat in New Quay, Ceredigion, with cross-party political support increasing day by day across Wales and the UK.

Seafarers and visitors to the coast are worried that if the RNLI go ahead with their decision, there will be a 70-mile gap in all-weather lifeboat provision, and that there will be no all-weather lifeboat in the whole of Ceredigion.

Support has been gaining momentum since the RNLI’s announcement in June, and an online petition now has more than 5,000 signatures, with a further 5,000 signatures on paper.

Not only is the general public voicing their concerns, but the campaign has gained cross-party political support, including Ceredigion MP Ben Lake, AMs Elin Jones, Simon Thomas and Joyce Watson, town and county councillors, Dyfed Powys Police & Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, and Sheryl Murray, MP for South East Cornwall, who has a special interest in maritime safety.

The campaign is a community-led initiative, comprising elected members of the lifeboat crew, New Quay and Aberaeron yacht clubs, the Welsh Fishermen’s Association, passenger boat operators, commercial fishermen, town and county councillors, and professional subject matter experts from the local community.

Chair of the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign Richard Taylor explained the objective of the campaign: “Following the RNLI’s decision to remove all-weather lifeboat provision at New Quay lifeboat station, the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign was founded to make a well-researched and reasoned response. Our group includes a number of New Quay Lifeboat crew members and supporters who respect and remain loyal to the RNLI, and we are all committed to its values and ideals. We wholeheartedly believe, however, that on this occasion, the RNLI has made a poorly considered decision that cannot go unchallenged.”

The campaign has recently written to the RNLI to request full disclosure of all the data, supporting documents, and minutes of trustee meetings in relation to the decision.

Mr Taylor added: “In accordance with the Charity Commission guidance, our letter makes it clear that, as stakeholders of the RNLI, we are expected to hold our trustees to account for the decisions they make. We have asked for full disclosure within 14 days and look forward to hearing from them.”
Huw Williams, a New Quay town councillor and lifeboat crew member described the implications of the proposed change: “The RNLI’s decision to replace the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat at New Quay with an Atlantic 85 will leave a dangerous gap in all-weather cover. The Atlantic 85 is an inshore lifeboat, designed to operate closer to shore, and in up to force 7 conditions in daylight and force 6 at night. Over the last 10 years, New Quay Lifeboat has carried out many services that were beyond the capability of an Atlantic 85, saving many lives.

“The nearest all-weather boats based at Barmouth and Fishguard would take up to an hour and a half to respond to an emergency in the New Quay and Aberaeron areas. This is clearly at odds with the RNLI’s central Mission Statement: ‘We aim to reach at least 90% of all casualties within 10 nautical miles of the coast within 30 minutes of a lifeboat launch – in any weather.’”

The campaign has been actively raising awareness at events throughout the county over the last few months, appearing at the Cardigan Bay Regatta, Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Aberaeron Carnival, the Round Table Tug of War, and Lampeter Food Festival, with many more public consultation events planned for the coming months.

Ben Lake MP is in full support of the campaign and is actively involved. He is building support amongst MPs in Westminster, and is meeting with the operations director of the RNLI at the end of September.
Discussing the campaign, Ben Lake said: “To me, and everyone I talk to, it is glaringly obvious that there will be a gap in all-weather rescue capability for Ceredigion’s coastline after 2020. This is not satisfactory and I intend to do everything I can to overturn this decision. The RNLI Lifeboat Station at New Quay has delivered an excellent service for the past 153 years, and its crew needs to be given the correct equipment to continue their lifesaving work. This decision will not only affect New Quay but the whole of Cardigan Bay.”

To sign the online petition, please go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-shannon-class-lifeboat-at-new-quay or visit local businesses for paper petitions.

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Aberystwyth: Driver on drugs hits lorry and causes ‘road chaos’

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A DRIVER high on drugs caused 15 miles of chaos as he approached Aberystwyth on the A44.

Brian Pitts hit an oncoming lorry and road signs as he drove on the wrong side of the road.

A car passenger filmed him because she was sure a serious accident was about to happen.

Pitts, aged 57, of Delmont Close, Tipton, west Midlands, admitted dangerous driving and driving while unfit through drugs he had taken.

Dean Pulling, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that on June 16 last year Pitts had been driving his Rover MGZR, towing a trailer full of wooden fencing posts, towards Aberystwyth from his home.

Richard Brooks followed the car through Llangurig and became so concerned he telephoned the police while his wife Victoria filmed Pitts on her mobile.

The Rover collided with a 13 tonne lorry driven by Andrew Paxton but failed to stop.

Pitts failed to take a roundabout and hit road signs and an embankment but still carried on.

During the 15 miles, said Mr Pulling, oncoming traffic had to swerve off the carriageway to avoid a collision.

Several motorists telephoned the police to report what they were witnessing, he added.

Pitts came to a stop in the middle of the road and another motorist snatched the keys out of the ignition–and noticed that Pitts had been driving with a dog on his lap.

Mr Pulling said police officers could tell there was something wrong with Pitts, but an alcohol text showed he was below the limit.

“He was clearly unfit,” said Mr Pulling, although it was still unclear what drugs he had taken.

Pitts was taken to Aberystwyth police station and then to Bronglais hospital, where he appeared to recover after treatment. But he soon deteriorated and had to be taken back to the hospital.

Pitts developed pneumonia and had to be kept in for nine days.

His barrister, Tom Scapens, said when Pitts had been shown the mobile telephone footage he felt physically sick.

Judge T Mervyn Hughes jailed Pitts for 10 months and banned him from driving for four years.

He told him, “If you had not been stopped I am quite sure you would have caused serious injury if not death.”

Pitts was told to pass an extended driving test before getting his licence back.

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Motion to support the reduction of plastic use in Ceredigion approved

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In a Full Council meeting on 22 February 2018, the Council unanimously supported a motion to reduce the use of plastic and to support plastic reduction initiatives in Ceredigion.

The motion was proposed by Councillor Mark Strong and was seconded by Councillor Gethin Davies. The motion calls on Ceredigion County Council to support the various ‘Plastic Free’ campaigns throughout the county by reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and to promote the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events.

Councillor Mark Strong said, “I’m delighted that the Council unanimously supported the motion. This is an important step for the Council but we must carry on to reduce plastic use. Everyone has a responsibility to reduce the environmental damage caused by plastic. Carrying out small acts such as buying milk from your local milkman supports the local economy but in turn also supports our environment by using reusable glass bottles.”

The motion also calls on the Council to encourage local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives as well as to support beach cleans and other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics under the “Plastic Free”, Caru Ceredigion, Tidy Towns or any similar initiative.

The motion was amended in the meeting to include the establishment of a Members’ Task and Finish group to support measures to reduce the Council’s use of plastic and to support initiatives in the county that reduce plastic use.

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Richards-Keegan cleared of sending underage girl nude pictures

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A BOW STREET man has been cleared of charges that he sent an underage girl photographs of his penis.

Paul Robert Morgan Richards-Keegan, aged 21, had denied two allegations of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Richards-Keegan, of Tregerddan, said the only messages he sent her via the internet were in response to approaches from her and did not include photographs of his private parts.

Catherine Richards, prosecuting, had told a jury at Swansea Crown Court that the 14-year-old girl had shared messages with Richards-Keegan via Snapchat.

At one stage police issued to him a child abduction notice, which he signed, instructing him not to contact the girl

In 2016 she told her mother that he was again sending her unwanted photographs of his penis attached to messages.

Richards-Keegan was arrested, and told police he had obeyed the order apart from messages he had sent after being contacted by the complainant.

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