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Communities benefit from forest industry co-operation

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​LORRIES laden with timber are a familiar, if not always welcome, sight on the roads of Wales.

The effect of ​​timber transport on rural communities has often been a cause for concern but a partnership between Natural Resources Wales, private forest sectors and the local authorities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys is addressing the problem through the Tywi Timber Transport Forum.

The forum was established in 2012 by NRW’s predecessor Forestry Commission Wales with the aim of taking as much timber traffic as possible off the unclassified road network by using in-forest haulage roads.

NRW’s Local Area Manager Brian Hanwell said:​ “Opening forest roads to timber traffic has benefitted small rural communities.

“For example, 7,000 vehicles which would have potentially driven through the village of Rhandirmwyn, in the north east of Carmarthenshire, over the last five years have instead used the eight mile long Esgair Dafydd to Cwm Henog forest road.”

The route is now the busiest forest road in Wales, taking traffic from the A483 trunk road into the 10,000 hectare upper Tywi forest holdings with the number of vehicles doubling since 2013.

The cost of maintaining shared haulage routes deliver benefits to communities, support rural industry, and reduce wear and tear on the public highway; and as forest gravel roads are cheaper to maintain than tarmac surfaced roads they save public money.

The forum’s investment in improvements and maintenance of the road, originally designed to carry around eight lorries per day, is an excellent example of collaborative working which​ ​promotes economic growth while recognising the needs of the local community.

Brian added:​ “We encourage all hauliers to register with us to use the Esgair Dafydd to Cwm Henog forest road. Authorisation clarifies insurance requirements, and we make no charge for this.

“In addition, we are able to pass on news regarding road closures to timber hauliers thanks to our close links with the highways authorities. And we also seek to reinforce good practice promoted in the Code of Conduct for Road Haulage of Round Timber.​”

Recently the forum has expanded its remit far beyond the Upper Tywi valley.

Significant volumes of timber traffic from the Tilhill Forestry and Scottish Woodlands holdings in the Brecon Beacons were due to travel through the small community of Coelbren in the Swansea Valley.

Before operations began, a consultation was held with local representatives, highway engineers and forestry area managers who drew up a joint Coelbren Timber Traffic Management Plan.

The plan restricted haulage to specific times of day to avoid the school run, and with speed limited to 20mph until traffic reached the A4221 Trunk Road.

Alastair Squire, Senior Forest and Harvesting Manager for Scottish Woodlands, and Iwan Parry, ‎Senior Forest Manager at Tilhill Forestry Limited said:​ ​“We have worked together to lessen the impact of timber traffic to Coelbren’s community. Soon all our hauliers were on board and compliant with the plan, and this seemed to address all the issues stemming from local residents.”

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Council staff show their support for Shwmae Su’mae Day

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SHWMAE Su’mae day was celebrated throughout Wales on Monday, 15 October to encourage people to start every conversation with ‘Shwmae’ or ‘Su’mae’! To mark the day this year, staff at Ceredigion County Council held a cookery competition during its weekly ‘Clwb Cinio Cymraeg’ session (Welsh Lunch Club).

‘Clwb Cinio Cymraeg’ is the Council’s new sessions that give staff who are learning Welsh a chance to meet and practice their Welsh in an informal setting. Shwmae Su’mae day aims to show that the Welsh language belongs to us all – fluent speakers, learners or those shy about their Welsh.

Huw Owen is the Council’s new Work Welsh Training Officer and teaches Welsh in the Workplace lessons to Council staff on different stages of their journey in developing their fluency in the Welsh language. Huw established the successful Clwb Cinio Cymraeg earlier this year and said, “The Clwb Cinio Cymraeg is a vital part of Ceredigion County Council’s Work Welsh teaching provision. Language is a communal phenomenon, and the informal learning opportunities provided by the Clwb Cinio gives the Council’s learners the opportunity to take their Welsh beyond the more formal world of the classroom and become a Welsh language community. The success of the baking competition on Shwmae Su’mae Day is testament to the Council’s learners’ commitment and enthusiasm for learning Welsh as a language through which they can work, live, and have fun.”

Last year, 125 staff members were recognised for their dedication to learn the language by attending regular classes. Staff this year are able to continue receiving Welsh in the Workplace lessons, alongside additional opportunities to practice the language through the Clwb Cinio Cymraeg and Ffrind Iaith (Language Buddy scheme). Ffrind Iaith is where Welsh-learners are paired with a Welsh-speaker mentor within the work setting.

Leader of Ceredigion County Council, Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn said, “Ceredigion County Council is committed in supporting the Welsh language and culture, and we encourage staff to take up the offer of developing their Welsh with these engaging learning opportunities. The Council ensures its services and activities promote and facilitate the use of the Welsh language throughout the county. Every member of the public in Ceredigion has the right to choose which language they wish to use when communicating with the Council and it’s a requirement of the Council staff to respond in a positive way to this choice.”

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Ceredigion’s first ‘Welsh in the Workplace’ business fair a success

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SMALL businesses in Cardigan came together to a special event on Thursday, 4 October 2018. The Business Fair was an opportunity to network, learn from each other and share experiences of using the Welsh language in business.

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Culture said, “With the excitement of the Ceredigion National Eisteddfod 2020 about to start, it was encouraging to see the county’s businesses coming together to learn how to market effectively and promote the Welsh language in business. It was refreshing to witness an honest discussion about the challenges facing businesses and also pleasing to hear how successful businesses have been since using the Welsh language.”

The event, held in Cardigan Castle, began with an interesting presentation by Huw Marshall from the Yr Awr Gymraeg. Huw discussed how the Welsh language can offer positive opportunities for local businesses and how it can boost business and the economy.

Kerry Ferguson said, “An extremely beneficial event. The panel demonstrated the benefits of Welsh in business, and also that there is plenty of support available – not just in various organisations, but businesses also. I would highly recommend Ceredigion businesses attend the next event!”.

This was supported by Rosalind Robinson, “Huw’s discussion was extremely helpful in particular how attractive the Welsh is in business for non-Welsh speakers. As a Welsh learner myself, I gained the opportunity to practice (and improve) my Welsh.”

An open discussion was held by a panel of businesses on the challenges of using the Welsh language in business and also to share good practice. The panel was chaired by Keith Henson (Coleg Ceredigion) and the panel consisted of Dwynwen Davies (Meithrinfa Y Dyfodol), Angharad Williams (Lan Llofft), Sioned Thomas (Ffenestri Kevin Thomas), Kerry Ferguson (Gwe Cambrian Web) and Huw Marshall (Yr Awr Gymraeg).

During the day, there were numerous information stands to visit, including Learn Welsh, Ceredigion Training, Cynnal y Cardi, Business Wales, Antur Teifi, Welsh Language Commissioner, Coleg Ceredigion and Cymraeg Byd Busnes.

Non Davies, Cered Manager said, “The day was an excellent opportunity to bring together businesses not only to receive advice and direction but also to discuss the challenges they face using the Welsh language. An honest and inspiring discussion took place highlighting many good practice ideas for the future. Cered’s Welsh in Business officers continue to visit businesses across the county and anyone is welcome to contact us to arrange a free visit.”

Contact Menter Iaith Cered’s Business Officers, Pat Jones or Owain Llyr on 01545 572350 if you are a business who is interested in receiving information or assistance.

The Welsh in the Workplace project has received LEADER support through the Cynnal y Cardi Local Action Group (administered by Ceredigion County Council) which is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

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Stoned Dihewyd driver reached ‘frightening’ speeds of 120mph

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A DRIVER who raced along country roads at speeds of up to 120mph has today received a suspended prison sentence and a driving ban.

Nico Royan, aged 37, admitted dangerous driving, driving with an excessive amount of cannabis in his blood, driving with a tyre without the required degree of tread and possessing a small quantity of cannabis.

Swansea Crown Court heard how shortly before midnight on April 19 Royan overtook an unmarked police car on the A487 near Llanrhystud at 100mph.

The officer began to pursue Royan, who reached 120mph on a narrow, twisting road with high hedges concealing entrances to properties.

After a mile the officer activated blue lights and Royan pulled over.

The court heard the officer could smell cannabis and Royan admitted he had been smoking the drug. Just over 5 grams of the drug were found in a bag in the front passenger footwell.

And an inspection showed the the rear offside tyre was below the legal limit for tread.

During police interviews after his arrest Royan, a sound engineer, accepted that his driving had been dangerous.

His barrister, Ian Ibrahim, said Royan now understood he had been stupid. But he knew the road well and at that time of night there was no other traffic about.

His only motive, said Mr Ibrahim, was that he was in a hurry to get home.

Royan, of The Caravan, Felinfeinog, Dihewyd, was jailed for 12 months, suspended for 18 months, and banned for three years.

He must also complete 200 hours of unpaid work for the community and £480 in costs and a surcharge.

Judge Keith Thomas said the speeds reached by Royan would have been dangerous even on a motorway and, on country roads, were positively frightening.

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