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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.

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New Quay and Aberystwyth RNLI lifeboats tasked to grounded fishing vessel

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Yesterday before sunrise (Monday 25 January) New Quay and Aberystwyth RNLI lifeboats were requested by HM Coastguard to assist a fishing vessel that had run aground south of Aberystwyth at Morfa Bychan. As the day went on the RNLI volunteer crews found themselves at sea for many hours in freezing temperatures. 

The pagers first sounded early on Monday morning with the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat from New Quay and the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat from Aberystwyth both launching on service at 6am into the darkness to a report of a fishing vessel aground.

Aberystwyth RNLI lifeboat arrived first and found the casualty vessel, a 40 tonne, 12m whelk fishing vessel which had run aground on the beach at Morfa Bychan. Aberystwyth lifeboat initially attempted to veer down but to no avail.

New Quay RNLI Coxswain, Daniel Potter said, “We made good speed up to Aberystwyth in slight to moderate sea conditions but freezing temperatures. Arriving on scene we worked with Aberystwyth lifeboat and assessed that everyone was safe on board. It was so cold that Aberystwyth lifeboat had to return to station for a crew change.

“By now the tide had dropped and there was no water around the vessel. It was therefore decided the crew would be evacuated onto land and we would return to station.”

Both lifeboats returned to station by 10am, with the Coastguard unit on the ground keeping an eye on the fishing vessel.

In the afternoon both New Quay RNLI’s all-weather and inshore lifeboats were tasked to return to the scene as the tide was beginning to turn and the vessel’s owners were onboard to attempt to refloat the vessel. New Quay RNLI lifeboats were launched shortly after 2pm with Aberystwyth RNLI’s inshore lifeboat launching at 3.30pm to assist.

Mr Potter continued, “Returning on scene we had to assess how we could ensure the safety of those onboard and prevent the vessel being pushed further up the beach by the waves. This was made more difficult by the shallow water and large boulders. However, the inshore lifeboat was able to access the shallow water to assess the situation and pass our towline to the casualty.

“After setting up the tow we held the vessel steady until she started to float at high water. With excellent team work between Aberystwyth’s and our inshore lifeboat we were able to extract the stricken vessel and tow her into deeper water. We then escorted the vessel into Aberystwyth in case of any damage to her hull or steering.”

Simon Rigby New Quay RNLI helm added, “It was the longest and coldest shout I’ve ever done on the inshore lifeboat, seven hours at sea and 32 miles covered.”

With the casualty vessel safely berthed in Aberystwyth marina, both lifeboats returned to station and the crew were stood down at 9:30pm, over 15 hours after the first launch.

Roger Couch, Lifeboat Operations Manager added, “This was a great example of excellent teamwork and seamanship, putting many hours of training to good use. We would like to thank our colleagues at Aberystwyth for their hard work in freezing conditions and their assistance in providing expert local knowledge.

“Over the last three days our all-weather lifeboat, The Frank and Lena of Stourbridge has been very busy, being launched on service three times. The volunteer crews have worked hard with strict Covid restrictions and guidelines. Remember we are on call 24/7 so if you see anyone in trouble on the coast please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

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Retail premises now required to take extra measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus

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New requirements have now come into force that require retail premises to take additional steps to protect workers and customers from coronavirus.

The additional measures were already guidance, but are now legal requirements. This includes businesses selling food or drink for consumption off the premises. These legal requirements include the need to:

  • Ensure systems are in place for controlling entry to the premises and to limit the number of customers in store at any one time;
  • Provide hand sanitisation products or hand washing facilities for the use of customers when they enter and exit the premises;
  • Introduce measures to sanitise any baskets, trolleys or similar containers provided for use by customers on the premises;
  • Remind customers to maintain a distance of 2 metres between each other and to wear a face covering by:

o   Displaying signs and other visual aids throughout the premises;

o   Making announcements on a regular basis;

  • Undertake and record a specific assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus at the premises and in doing so consult persons working on the premises or representatives of those persons (where a business employs five or more people);

All premises are still required to take all other reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus, such as:

  • Changing the layout of premises including the location of furniture and workstations;
  • Controlling use of entrances, passageways, stairs and lifts;
  • Controlling use of shared facilities such as toilets and kitchens;
  • Otherwise controlling the use of, or access to, any other part of the premises;
  • Installing barriers or screens;
  • Providing or requiring use of personal protective equipment

The Regulations and guidance may be found at Coronavirus legislation and guidance on the law on the Welsh Government website: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-legislation-and-guidance-law and also guidance to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus in workplaces and premises open to the public: https://gov.wales/taking-all-reasonable-measures-minimise-risk-exposure-coronavirus-workplaces-and-premises-open

 

Useful posters and guides are available from Business Wales website: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/tool-kit. A COVID-19 risk assessment template is available from Health and Safety Executive – What to include in your COVID-19 risk assessment: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/assets/docs/risk-assessment.pdf

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Ceredigion County Council remembers the Holocaust on International Holocaust Day

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THIS year Ceredigion County Council, along with many other Local Authorities across the United Kingdom, will illuminate two of Aberystwyth town’s most iconic buildings in a show of solidarity, respect, and honour to all victims of genocide. From Friday 22 through to Thursday 28 January, the Bandstand on Aberystwyth’s seafront and the Alun R Edwards Centre will be lit up purple.

Holocaust Memorial Day is an international event which takes place annually on January 27, the purpose of the day is to encourage remembrance of all victims of genocide world-wide, including honouring the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the millions of people killed under Nazi Persecution and in the genocides that have happened since in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 is Be the light in the darkness. It encourages everyone to reflect on the depth’s humanity can sink to, but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide.

Aberystwyth Bandstand

Holocaust Memorial Day is for everyone. Each year across the UK, people come together to learn more about the past and take action to create a safer future. Although this year we are unable to hold any actual events in person due to the ongoing pandemic, this does not mean that we cannot mark this extremely important day.

Ceredigion County Council Leader, Councillor Ellen Ap Gwynn, said: “On Holocaust Memorial Day let us all take the opportunity to reflect on the atrocities committed in the past and to shine a light to lead us to a more humane way of treating our fellow citizens of the world, whatever their colour or creed, in future.

“It is vital to remember and raise awareness that the Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation, and genocide must still be resisted every day.

“Our world often feels fragile and vulnerable and we cannot be complacent. Even in the UK, prejudice and the language of hatred exist and must be challenged by us all.

“Together we bear witness for those who endured genocide and honour the survivors & all those whose lives were changed beyond recognition.”

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