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​ Lampeter business closures hit town

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​Black Lion: SA Brain claim planning refusal caused closure ​

THE BLACK LION H​OTEL, situated in Lampeter’s High Street​,​ is to close with the loss of ​17 jobs.

The closure is another blow for the University town, following the closure of the Spar on College Street on August 27.

SA Brains, which owns the Black Lion, has blamed the closure on the rejection of a planning application to construct nine houses on land to the rear of the premises and claims that the venue had become unprofitable.

The closure of the Black Lion follows a tide of business closures in Lampeter over recent years.

Both the King’s Head and the Royal Oak were closed for extended periods, with the former reopening after almost two years as a vacant premises when a new tenant took up its lease after the former licensee was stricken by ill-health.

Hag’s Record Shop ceased trading, unable to compete with online competition; the town’s bookshop went the same way; many businesses are either up for sale or running extended closing down and stock sales

A sharp decline in student numbers has also led to a decline in footfall within the town. In the academic year 2016/17, around 170 students started campus study at the University. While the presence of the University has been a bulwark of town trade for many years, the dependence of some businesses on student trade has proven a double-edged sword. And with UWTSD continuing to run down the campus while concentrating on its Swansea SA1 project, the more-or-less managed decline of the campus is likely to continue.

With the removal of key health services from the town on a supposedly ‘temporary’ basis, the town of Lampeter runs the risk of becoming another Welsh market town and small local centre left twisting in the wind as customers shop elsewhere or online and with little to attract shoppers or visitors other than custom and habit.

Dinah Mulholland, Lampeter Town Councillor for the Labour Party, told The Herald: “Along with many other people, I am very concerned at the growing number of empty shops in Lampeter.

“Rather than have empty shops, it might be an idea for landlords to allow those premises to be used as ‘pop-ups’ for young and growing businesses and, in that way, try and help towards Lampeter’s regeneration.”

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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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