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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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AM calls for further protection of wild animals after Lynx deaths

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MID AND WEST AM Simon Thomas has called for further protection from the Welsh Government following the death of two wild cats from a zoo in Borth, near Aberystwyth.

The AM quizzed the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths in a topical question in the Senedd.

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs for Plaid Cymru Simon Thomas said: “The deaths of the two Lynx wild cats have created a great deal of concern to many people in the area and, more broadly, to people who care for animals and their welfare at zoos.

“I asked whether the Welsh Government approved of the steps taken by Ceredigion County Council in this case and more broadly with the position of the zoo. It’s clear that there’s something amiss when a wild animal can escape and another dies because of its handling. I requested we look at national regulations that govern organisations such as this to ensure that people who run zoos do have the appropriate skills, but also that the equipment is suitable for the animals kept there.

The Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths replied: “Ceredigion County Council is investigating the escape of the lynx and the death of a second lynx linked to the zoo to establish whether there have been any breaches of the operating licence. While inquiries are ongoing it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on this matter.”

She added: “Officials have been in frequent contact with Ceredigion County Council. The decision to dispatch the animal was taken by the county council along with Dyfed-Powys Police, officials from Welsh Government and also the chief veterinary officer. There are several issues that I think need to be looked into very carefully around the licence.”

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Police warn about scam phone calls

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE are warning Ceredigion residents about reports of scam telephone calls.

Officers have received reports of someone purporting to be from the Her Majesty Revenue and Customs (HMRC) asking for money.

Sgt Richard Marshall said: “Officers responded to a report of a telephone scam by fraudsters pretending to be HMRC collecting debt, in Aberaeron, yesterday (Thursday 16 November).

“Fraudsters are carrying out these calls in an effort to get personal financial details from residents, and eventually get them to pay money stating that they owe taxes.

“The HMRC would never target people in this way and would certainly never ask for money or bank details over the phone.

“Thanks to the prompt actions of a local shop in alerting us, we were able to quickly locate the victim and minimise his loss.

“Taking advantage of the vulnerable through fraud is wrong, and we will do all in our power to stop it and protect those who need safeguarding. Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) have been out and about this week spreading the message of how not to fall prey to fraudsters and ask for community support.

“A strong and concerned community is our best tool in protecting the vulnerable.

“Please be vigilant, do not part with any money or personal information. Remember – It is OK not to speak with cold callers – just put the phone down. If you are concerned please contact police on 101.”

Top tips on how to avoid scams:

· HMRC would never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way.
· Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephones display.
· If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately.
· Do not enter into conversation with them, provide them with any personal details or send them any money

For further advice and information on how to avoid being scammed visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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Cardigan: Welsh language nursery’s treasurer stole £16,336 from coffers

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A FORMER treasurer of Cylch Meithrin Penparc in Cardigan has been jailed today for a fraud that brought the Welsh language nursery to its knees.
Catrin Davies, a 33 year old single mother of two daughters, cheated the organisation out of £16,336.
After she left the post the nursery struggled to pay debts and at one stage was left with £1.84p in its bank.
Davies, of Bwthyn Lleine, Ferwig, admitted fraud and was jailed for eight months.
Judge Geraint Walters, sitting at Swansea Crown Court, told her the offending was too series for the sentence to be suspended.
Craig Jones, prosecuting, said Davies was appointed treasurer in September, 2015, and left the post in December 2016.
The new treasurer noticed discrepancies in the accounts. Davies tried to cover them up by sticking pieces of paper onto bank statements to blank out figures, photocopying them, and then carefully typing in new and bogus figures.
By then Davies had failed to pay money into the account and withdrawn some herself.
Mr Jones said that at one stage the nursery had to pay a roof repair bill. Davies knew there wasn’t enough money in the account but to keep the fraud going and to avoid detection she actually paid the bill out of her own money.
Mr Jones said after the true financial situation had been established Cylch Meithrin Penparc was at risk of closure. Internet access was cut off because the telephone bill could not be paid and staff found themselves buying essential items out of their own money.
And there was still a fear, he added, that the nursery would struggle to overcome the blow and to recover the confidence of parents.
Janet Gedrych, representing Davies, said she had suffered a devastating fall from grace.
Davies ran the Pink Orchid florists in Priory Street, Cardigan, for nine years and had a good reputation in the town.
But her partner left her and his debts behind and ran up more and she owed £30,000 in personal and business debts. By October, 2015, debt collectors were knocking on her door and she defrauded Cylch Meithrin Penparc to pay them off.
Judge Walters said the nursery provided a hugely valuable service to parents who wanted their children to learn Welsh and Davies had helped herself to money they had paid in.
“Your activity has reduced its ability to operate. It has not closed but it’s hanging by a thread.”
Judge Walters said he accepted that Davies had found herself squeezed financially, but many people struggled under similar circumstances.

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