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Ceredigion needs ‘21st century service’ from council

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COUNCIL leader Ellen ap Gwynn stressed the importance of communication within our communities while delivering the Corporate Strategy 2017-2022 at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (Oct 17).

The purpose of the report was to present the draft Corporate Strategy 2017-2022, including Well-being and Improvement Objectives 2018-19 which is currently out for consultation.

Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader and responsibility for Corporate Services, Improvement and Performance Management, said the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 introduced new arrangements for securing continuous improvement in delivery of public services in Wales.

The County Council is under a general duty to ‘make arrangements to secure continuous improvement in the exercise of functions’. The Duty, ‘making arrangements’ to improve, means putting in place arrangements which allow us to understand local needs and priorities, and to make best use of resources to meet these needs.

The duty refers to continuous improvement to ensure that the Improvement Objectives remain relevant; that the best arrangements are in place for delivering improvements and that we are able to understand the impact and the outcomes for citizens.

In discharging its duty, the Authority must each year prepare an Improvement Plan, which outlines high level objectives for the Authority that it seeks to make towards progressing the Council’s Corporate Strategy and other improvement priorities.

Cllr ap Gwynn stated that it is through having plans that the Council can demonstrate it has appropriate arrangements in place to secure improvement across the range of its functions. The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 introduced new governance arrangements for the delivery of public Services in Wales and the Council has a duty to set and publish Well-being objectives that are designed to maximise our contribution to achieving seven National Well-being Goals.

The council must take all reasonable steps towards achieving these Wellbeing Objectives and must publish an annual report outlining our progress in meeting those objectives.

The Act requires public bodies in Wales to carry out sustainable development. Sustainable Development is defined as a process of improving the economic, social, environmental and cultural Well-being of Wales.

This needs to be done by taking action in accordance with the Sustainable Development Principle so that the Well-being Goals are achieved.

The Sustainable Development Principle is made up of five ways of working that are about looking ‘long term’, integrating our approaches with other public or voluntary sector bodies, involving others in decision making, collaborating on shared solutions and a focus on preventing issues by working to understand the root causes.

The Act directs that Public Bodies should not treat the requirement to set well-being objectives as separate from the objectives that guide and steer the actions and decisions of the organisation. Therefore application of the well-being duty should be through a single integrated corporate approach and the setting of well-being objectives could and should be included as part of a Corporate Plan or other similar document.

Following the local elections in May, the Council has prepared a new Corporate Strategy 2017- 2022 setting out its Priorities for the next five years.

The proposed priorities are boosting the economy, investing in people’s Future, enabling Individual and Family Resilience, promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.

Cllr ap Gwynn added in accordance with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 for each priority area the Council has identified a set of Well-being and Improvement Objectives 2018-19 that will enable the Council to deliver its Priorities as well as maximise the contribution that can be made to the seven well-being goals and seek to provide continuous improvement for the citizens of Ceredigion.

The Corporate Strategy 2017-2022 including Well-being and Improvement Objectives 2018-19 includes an action plan detailing the actions that will be necessary to deliver each of the objectives and therefore the Priorities. The Strategy went out for consultation between the August 14, 2017 and the September 29, 2017.

The consultation documents included the Corporate Strategy 2017-2022 and a summary document detailing the Well-being and Improvement Objectives 2018-19.

Cllr ap Gwynn concluded by saying any impact that the responses have had on the Strategy and/or the well-being objectives will be incorporated into the final document.

The final Corporate Strategy 2017-2022 including Well-being and Improvement Objectives 2018-19 will be presented to Council on October 26, 2017 for approval.

Addressing the cabinet members, Cllr ap Gwynn said that the council needs to provide a service that is fit for the 21st century and communication with communities is important.

Cllr ap Gwynn concluded the report by thanking those involved for their input, and it was agreed that the report will go before the council for confirmation.

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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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