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‘Considerable concern’ over RNLI plans

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SINCE the RNLI announced its decision to replace the all-weather Mersey-class lifeboat at New Quay with an Atlantic 85 inshore boat in 2020 the issue has been taken to the Government.

Campaigners fighting the plan say the RNLI’s decision will leave a gap of nearly 70 miles between all-weather lifeboat stations in an area frequented by fishing vessels, passenger boats and leisure craft.

Ben Lake MP and Elin Jones AM are two notable names who have raised concerns of the announcement.

In the House of Commons Chamber on October 19, Ben Lake MP asked for a statement detailing the Government’s expectation with regards to lifeboat provision.

He noted that ‘there is considerable concern in Ceredigion that proposals under the recent coastal review of Cardigan Bay would leave the entire Ceredigion coastline without sufficient all-weather lifeboat provision’.

An encouraging response on behalf of the Government came from Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons and a former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

She said: “I think the honourable gentleman raises an extremely important point and I do encourage him to go direct to the Department.

“I am sure if they’re aware of this situation they will be equally concerned and I am happy to raise it with them on his behalf if he’d like to write to me.”

Mr Lake has since written to Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport asking for a detailed UK Government policy on all-weather lifeboat provision, and to clarify whether the RNLI’s decision should be reconsidered as a consequence.

Ben Lake MP said: “I hope to receive a positive response from the Secretary of State. The proposed downgrade of the all-weather lifeboat in New Quay is in danger of placing casualties, seafarers and RNLI crews at unnecessary risk, and so I am sure that all parties involved can come together to reconsider this decision.”

Elin Jones has also written to the Welsh Government outlining her concerns.

In the letter she said: “The proposed new lifeboat is not suitable for use in all weathers, it is a much smaller ship than that which is currently deployed in New Quay, and it will vastly restrict the capability of rescuing people at sea from the station.

“The RNLI volunteers have showed me evidence of the effect that this downgrading will have on Ceredigion’s coast, and have raised concerns that people at sea would be left at considerable risk. With the downgrading of the rescue ship at New Quay, the vast majority of the Ceredigion coast will be left without an hour response All-Weather vessel.”

Replying on behalf of the Government, Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs, said: “I too share your concerns. The safety of our fishing industry is a key concern of mine, and whilst fishing will always be an inherently dangerous occupation, it is imperative we do all we can to improve the safety of our operations.

“Whilst I am unable to intervene in the decision, I have asked my officials to reiterate our concerns and seek clarification from the RNLI regarding its decision.”

Following this, Elin Jones AM, said: “It is very encouraging that the Welsh Government have decided to support this campaign. There is a clear need for an all-weather lifeboat to cover the coast of Ceredigion, as recent weather has shown us.

“Over the last few months, along with Ben Lake MP I have met several times with volunteers of the RNLI in New Quay, Ceredigion. We have also met with George Rawlinson, Operations Manager for the RNLI, and I feel that many of the concerns raised by the volunteers, related organisations and general public, are not being met.

“The most important of these is that there has been a lack of consultation with the public, Ceredigion County Council, other emergency services and with the local volunteers.

“Therefore, I hope that with the Welsh Government raising its concerns with the RNLI, the decision to downgrade the lifeboat will be halted.”

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Parents saving on average £350 on childcare per month

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Parents in Ceredigion have saved an average of £350 a month on childcare costs after the introduction of the Childcare Offer in September 2018.

Parents and guardians of three and four-year-old children living in Ceredigion can be eligible for the offer if they work the equivalent of 16 hours per week. This includes self-employed parents and seasonal workers.

The Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services, Councillor Catrin Miles said, “It’s great to see that the Childcare Offer is having such an impact across Ceredigion in the first few months. The savings will only increase as more parents register for the scheme. This will have a real positive effect on the lives of many parents. I urge anyone who thinks they are eligible to find out.”

Ceredigion County Council manages the scheme in the county, and will manage the scheme in neighbouring counties as the scheme is rolled out in 2019. The Welsh Government fund the Childcare Offer.

Parents and guardians who want to see if they are eligible can visit the Childcare Offer page on the Council’s website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/ChildcareOffer.

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Police manhunt now extending beyond Dyfed-Powys region

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POLICE looking for a man who attacked a police officer on Saturday afternoon have evidence to suggest he has now left the Dyfed-Powys force area.

The investigation team is now working with other forces as the operation to find him continues.

The man has been wanted by Dyfed-Powys Police since Saturday, when he attacked a police officer who stopped the car he was travelling in. The officer stopped the car based on information that he was connected with criminal activity in other areas.

Extensive searches have been carried out in Ceredigion, using the armed response unit, dog unit and NPAS helicopter, and officers now have evidence to suggest he is in another area.

A second man who was arrested following the incident has now been charged.

Wayne Dobson, aged 29, has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm, criminal damage, aggravated vehicle taking and vehicle damage, and two counts of taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent.

Chief Superintendent Peter Roderick said: “This has, and continues to be, a long and intense investigation, which now involves colleagues from other forces as efforts are focussed on locations outside Dyfed-Powys.

“We understand that there has been a high level of concern in our communities since Saturday afternoon, and we would like to thank the public for their patience as operations have been carried out across Ceredigion.

“Due to the nature of the enquiry, and information we have been working from, the level of detail about the wanted man that we have been able to release has been limited, but we have endeavoured to keep our communities updated as best we can.”

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CCTV to return to Aberystwyth

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ABERYSTWYTH is set to have it’s CCTV returned to the town.

The CCTV was scrapped in the town five years ago following a cost-cutting move by Ceredigion council.

Work is due to start this month with 10 state-of-the-art cameras, Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn have confirmed. The system was removed in 2014, despite strong opposition.

Rising crime rates and falling conviction rates, has seen a call for the reinstatement of the system ever since its removal.

Ceredig Davies, Aberystwyth Councillor has said: “Switching off the town’s CCTV cameras was a retrograde step, and as the councillor in whose ward all the cameras are located I looked forward to them being reinstated.

“I have had numerous conversations with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, on the matter and on behalf of residents and visitors to the town I applaud him on keeping his election pledge.”

When Dafydd Llewelyn took over from Christopher Salmon as Police and Crime Commissioner, he mad a key campaign pledge to return the CCTV to the town. Speaking on the reinstatement he said he was “very pleased” to stick to his promise.

He added “Aberystwyth is a busy town within the Dyfed Powys Police force area where CCTV is required to safeguard communities and assist in investigations.

“Crime mapping analysis has identified 10 locations for cameras for the town that I am delighted that work is to begin there very soon.

“A project of this nature is very intricate and complex. The CCTV project team is working team is working hard to keep the project moving along as swiftly as possible.

“Work starting in Aberystwyth marks the halfway point of the project.”

The removal of the old CCTV system is said to have saved Ceredigion council £150,000 a year.

The new CCTV system set to start in Aberystwyth is part of a larger project, which will see 120 cameras in 17 towns across the region by completion.

The images will be fed directly to a monitoring room at Dyfed Powys Police headquarters Llangunnor, Carmarthenshire where they will be monitored by dedicated staff.

Marie McAvoy, project manager said: “I am grateful to the team I work with for their continued determination to ensure this project is delivered for the benefit of the communities we serve.

“I am also grateful to Ceredigion County Council and North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agency for their assistance and support in ensuring that this reinvestment in CCTV in Aberystwyth is delivered.”

Mark Collins, Chief Constable said: “I’m confident the system will prove to be an invaluable asset in preventing crime and responding to emerging incidents swiftly before they escalate.

“Evidence from the CCTV cameras will also no doubt prove an important investigative tool for officers.”

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