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Positive news for bus travellers

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THERE IS GOOD news for travellers as two well-known bus companies have recently introduced a new service from Aberystwyth to Birmingham.

Megabus announced last week that they have partnered with Aberystwyth-based company Mid Wales Travel to create a new bus service, the M39, which will take passengers from Aberystwyth to Birmingham.

The partnership will allow the M39 service to be a Mid Wales Travel vehicle, with Megabus branding inside, and will operate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Travellers will benefit from the timetable, which will offer day and weekend trips to Birmingham and surrounding areas, with stops along the way including Welshpool, Telford, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton.

From Birmingham, the service will include stops such as London and Liverpool, allowing more links for the student community and local residents.

If that was not enough motivation to use the new service, travellers will benefit from its low fares, which start at £1 with a booking fee of 50p.

Of the new service, Mel Evans, who owns Mid Wales Travel, said: “We are pleased to be continuing our partnership with Megabus.com with our new M39 service from Aberystwyth to Birmingham.

We hope local residents will find this a low cost, convenient travel option to Birmingham and the other stops we’re offering on the route.”

The partnership between Megabus and Mid Wales Travel has already been successful over the last 12 months as both companies have worked together to form the M7 service, which currently operates from Aberystwyth to London via Cardiff.

The Herald took to the streets this week to find out what Aberystwyth residents thought about the upcoming bus service.

One resident said: “I think this is a really good idea, especially with today’s economy and high travel prices. I was amazed to hear the low prices and, though I felt sceptical about it, I have a feeling that it will be very successful. I wish both Mid Wales Travel and Megabus the best of luck with it!”

Another person told The Herald: “I will be very curious to see how this works. I hope it does, but I have a feeling that it is all positive words and figures until both companies deliver an evidently good service. When Traws Cymru introduced the free weekend bus travel a few months ago, I thought that was a good idea.

“The more I learnt and heard people’s experiences with it, the more I feel any travel idea that the council or travel companies put forward is great but what they deliver is more important. As the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding.

“I used to travel regularly on the Megabus but now, I travel more frequently on Mid Wales Travel services. I think the quality of travel is very good for both companies, so I certainly hope the plans work out for them and their customers.”

A student studying at the local university added: “I really think this is a fantastic scheme for everyone, especially for students such as myself. With students surviving on very little money from loans these days, due to the high university fees and the way the economy is in today’s society, I think many students will benefit from it.

“I’m from London and so it’s great to think that the service will not only be low in price, but I will also have the option of the other stops along the way.

“On some weekends, when I want a break from University work, I like to travel to Aberaeron and even Carmarthen on the Traws Cymru services because of the free travel scheme.

“Initially, I didn’t think it would work that well as I expected huge numbers of people every weekend crowding the bus, but considering it is a very well used scheme I know that Megabus and Mid Wales will do well with the M39.

“My thoughts are, if the Traws Cymru services are doing well from the free weekend travel scheme, then I know the M39 will do exceptionally well because of the high demand for that service.

“It is so important to cater to the target audiences, and in the case of Megabus and MidWales travel, I would think students and residents of the designated stops would be the answer.

“From my experience of being an Aberystwyth student, there is nothing worse than living in quite a remote place but yet having limited ways of travelling home, with the only options you do have being very expensive.

“My friends always say the same thing and with train fares continuously going up, buses are the alternative option for non-drivers. So I know they will be pleased with this news!

“All in all, I believe that students and keen travellers will enjoy the benefits from the M39 service, and I look forward to seeing how successful it will turn out to be.”

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Police and Crime Commissioner to broadcast live conversation with Health Board

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ON WEDNESDAY evening, November 25, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn will broadcast a live conversation with Hywel Dda University Health Board Chief Executive, Steve Moore on social media.

Steve Moore will be PCC Llywelyn’s fourth guest on his fortnightly Facebook live broadcast series, Commissioner in Conversation following on from previous broadcasts with Dyfed-Powys Chief Constable Mark Collins, Superintendent Ifan Charles, and Deputy Chief Constable Claire Parmenter.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, said; “It will be a privilege for me to have Steve Moore as a guest on my next Commissioner in Conversation broadcast.  This year has been such a challenging year for our Health Board, and the NHS across the UK, with their staff being at the frontline, working hard to fight the pandemic, and saving lives on the way.

“This broadcast will be an opportunity for me to have an informal conversation with Steve to hear about his personal experiences of recent months, how the Health Board has dealt with all the challenges and the pressure, and to celebrate the fantastic work of his staff.

“We will not only concentrate on the COVID-19 pandemic, we will also discuss some partnership working between the NHS and the Police, how we often support each other, and as usual, I will try to get to know a little more about the person behind the name, his background and his journey to reach the position of Chief Executive at Hywel Dda University Health Board.”

Steve was appointed as Chief Executive at Hywel Dda UHB in 2014 following a career within both the public and private sectors. Like the rest of the UK, the NHS here in Dyfed Powys has seen significant challenges during the past few years but also significant advancements in care and outcomes for patients.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive Hywel Dda Health Board said: “The NHS is an institution that most of us hold very dear as it supports us from cradle to grave and can have a huge impact on our lives.

“I’m really looking forward to my conversation with the Commissioner as so many of our challenges, and indeed opportunities, are shared; and I’m particularly looking forward to receiving questions or input from social media users as well. COVID-19 has made us all look to new ways of connecting and I hope this provides an opportunity for people to find out more and for us to listen to the views of our communities and individuals.”

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn added; “This, again, will be a live broadcast, so please join us on our Facebook page, and feel free to leave your comments and questions, and as usual, we will try to reply best we can during the conversation.

Commissioner in Conversation with Steve Moore will be broadcasted live on www.facebook.com/DPOPCC  at 8pm on November 25, on the eve of Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn’s November virtual Community Engagement Day, where he will be spending the day meeting with several partners and organisations as well as community representatives.

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Schools and Businesses in Ceredigion close following a rise in coronavirus cases

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THE rise in cases of coronavirus in Ceredigion is a result of people mixing with other households and socially says council.

A spokesperson said that the number of contacts for each positive coronavirus case is increasing, which shows people are mixing more socially.

Seven schools have already closed and several businesses have been issued with closure orders.

The number of daily cases now stand at the highest since the pandemic began.

A number of businesses have already been served with closure notices for breaking regulations.

Seven schools have closed for a two week period starting Monday, November 27 and are due to re-open on December 7.

Schools which are closed ofr two week period are: Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi, Ysgol Gynradd Aberteifi, Ysgol Gynradd Penparc, Ysgol Gynradd Aberporth, Ysgol Gynradd T.Llew Jones, Ysgol Gynradd Llechryd and Ysgol Gynradd Cenarth.

A small number of pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Penglais, Aberystwyth have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days following the confirmation of a further COVID-19 case at the school.

All confirmed contacts of the positive case must remain at home for 14 days to reduce the possible spread of the virus to family, friends and the wider community. The pupils will be taught remotely for this period.

A council spokesperson said: “We are now seeing the virus spreading in our communities, several of which can be traced back to super spreader events such as parties and social gatherings.

“This kind of behaviour is totally irresponsible and is putting the health of our loved ones at risk, is having a direct impact on the education of our children and is putting pressure on the NHS.

“Contact tracing has identified that the number of contacts for each positive case has increased, which tells us that people are mixing households and are mixing socially.

“The council has taken action and has served several businesses with improvement and closure notices where they have been breaking coronavirus regulations.

“The council will continue to issue notice where we become aware of concerns or breaches.

“Members of the public are urged to inform us if they have any concerns that a business in Ceredigion does not have adequate measures in place to operate safely.

Stay apart to play your part. By doing this, we will be protecting the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable, including care services for the elderley and those whose medical conditions make them particularly at risk from Covid-19.

“We will be protecting the education provision within schools, colleges and universities. We will enable the local economy to survive the winter months.

“Together, we can keep Ceredigion safe.”

The council have issued the following guidance to residents:

  • Keep a 2m social distance from each other when out and about – indoors and outdoors;
  • Wash your hands regularly;
  • Limit your social contact;
  • Work from home wherever possible;
  • Households are able to form a ‘bubble’ with one other – that bubble arrangement cannot be swapped, changed, or extended further than one household;
  • People are allowed to meet with others from outside that bubble in a regulated venue, such as a pub or restaurant where there are strict safety protocols in place, but the maximum number of people that can meet is four and even then social distancing should be maintained wherever possible;
  • Wear a face mask in indoor public places, shops and on public transport;
  • Self-isolate immediately at the first sign of any COVID-19 symptoms and arrange a test immediately, only leaving home to get tested. A test needs to be booked online or by phoning 119.

Chief Education Officer for Ceredigion County Council said: “We are extremely concerned about the spread of coronavirus in the Cardigan area.

“A significant number of recent positive cases has resulted in a very high number of people being classed as contacts to a positive case.

“Many of these contacts now have coronavirus symptoms and we are awaiting the test results.

“There is overwhelming evidence that the speed of the virus in the Cardigan area means that immediate action is needed.”

The Council urges all parents to refer their children for a test if they develop any of the symptoms, which are:

  •         a high temperature
  •         a new continuous cough
  •         a loss or change to sense of smell or taste.

You can apply for a test on https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-covid-19-test or by phoning 119.

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Lib Dems urge Chancellor to ‘level the playing field’ for small local shops over Christmas

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CEREDIGION’S Liberal Democrats have called on the UK Government to “level the playing field” to help the county’s high streets compete with internet giants in the run up to Christmas.

The Liberal Democrats fear local shops hit by decreased footfall during the coronavirus pandemic will continue to struggle, and have therefore proposed a new scheme similar to how the Eat Out to Help Out scheme helped local restaurants.

To encourage people to support their local high streets while shopping from home, the Lib Dems want to see the UK Government cover postage costs. Lib Dem Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to adopt the idea.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has welcomed the idea to help firms survive. Mike Cherry, UK Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “This is the type of creative idea that would boost small businesses and balance out the playing field.”

Cadan ap Tomos, Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd candidate for Ceredigion, said:
“Small businesses across Ceredigion have been worried for months about staying afloat. For so many, Christmas is their most lucrative time of year but coronavirus restrictions mean our town centres are quieter than ever.

“When people turn online to do their Christmas shopping, free postage offers from online shopping giants are very tempting. That makes it even harder for small businesses in Ceredigion to compete, putting our high streets and local economy at further risk.

“The UK Government need to step in and level the playing field, to protect the vibrant array of small businesses that are the backbone of our local economy in Ceredigion.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds added:

“In the Summer, the Chancellor launched a campaign to support the hospitality sector. We now need to see the UK Government go the extra mile to support small business in the festive period.

“We want the Chancellor to pay the postage on online purchases from small local independent shops to make them a more viable option for people hunting for Christmas presents and encourage people to shop small from home.”

Mike Cherry, UK Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“This is the type of creative idea that would boost small businesses and balance out the playing field.

“We must do everything we can to help our small, independent stores.

“This is going to be the most important festive season our economy has ever seen and could be make-or-break for some of our small businesses. That’s why we must pull out all the stops to help them survive the end of 2020 and beyond.”

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