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A digital future for Ceredigion

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STARTING from today (Dec 15), we are excited to announce that The Ceredigion Herald will be a digital only publication.

Our website and social media pages have always been an important outlet for delivering news to Ceredigion, and with the re-launch of Herald Radio this year, and the launch of our news channel Herald News 24 next year, the methods in which we deliver news to Ceredigion is only going from strength to strength.

Put simply, what this means for our readers is more content, delivered quicker, and with all the benefits that only an online platform can provide – such as picture galleries and video content.

Since the first edition, The Ceredigion Herald has gained a reputation for tackling the tough stories which others ignored, reporting on local news and events, and being a voice for the communities across Ceredigion.

This is not changing.

Over the coming weeks and months we will be rolling out new additions to the website, launching our online news channel, and much more.

We hope you look forward to the evolution as much as we are, and if you have any comments, feedback or ideas, we’d love to hear them.

A note from the Editor

There’s a headline that means exactly what it says on the tin.

This is the last print edition of The Ceredigion Herald.

And there’s another bald statement to follow the first.

We have been reviewing how we offer news to our readers for several months and have decided to use Ceredigion as a test bed for a new and exciting way of delivering news to Ceredigion.

It is a new way of doing things.

The smart language says it is ‘hyperlocal media’ – it’s the buzz phrase alighted upon by media know-alls who think local news is solely commercial and not a service. What ‘hyperlocal’ means is local news, locally focused, provided locally; or at least it should … as we will see below.

The Herald family of newspapers have always pushed the news agenda in each of our publication areas and we want to find out if we can also expand the way in which local news is presented online. In order to do that, we made the difficult decision to end print publication in Ceredigion and to test the market for digital news in a way which is more than the usual one man band ranting away on Facebook or on a website.

We have been paying close attention to the workings of the Welsh Assembly Committee on Culture, Welsh Language, and Media and also been following the way in which the Welsh Assembly itself is considering reshaping the way it communicates with the public under the guidance of advisers such as former Cabinet member Leighton Andrews.

Local print media in Wales is dominated by newspaper groups – Newsquest and Trinity Mirror – who, particularly in the case of the latter, have abandoned their local news offer in favour of directing people looking for local news to clickbait sourced and provided in Cardiff. Their reward for that indolence and neglect is having public money thrown at them via the licence fee to persuade them to cover news they sacrificed in order to tell the public the top ten cat names in New Tredegar.

The Cambrian News, a Tindle publication, is one of the few local newspapers in Wales that both reports on local news and subjects the local authority to some scrutiny. Apart from The Herald group and a few other independent local news outlets, you will need to search long and hard for other newspapers who do what local newspapers should do and always used to do: hold power to account, report on the local courts, and reflect the communities they serve with humour and rigour.

At The Herald, our focus has been on three strands of news: local, regional, Welsh national. We have done that because we believe that the way local councils and regional bodies exercise their power over us all is inextricably linked to what the Welsh Government does and – beyond that – how UK policies affect Wales, west Wales, and our edition areas. Treating our readers as though they want more than hatches, matches, dispatches combined with a little jam and Jerusalem is the Herald way of doing things.

We do not always get things right – sometimes we get things wrong – but we believe that there is more to news than just the superficial. We believe that good newspapers are properly sceptical reporters and commentators on events that impact their local communities. It is also right to be sceptical and subject news stories to as much rigorous analysis as can be fitted into seven days of writing.

That is not going to change.

Like all media outlets, you will get a share of press releases – that happens everywhere. However, with those press releases you will still get original news reporting, shaped for an online audience, and supported and complemented by other unique local media provided by Herald outlets.

Herald Radio has been broadcasting for some time online. Unlike other ‘local’ radio, this is properly local. Local presenters talking about local events. It appeals to a fresh and young audience. The Herald Group is now going to also provide local video news reporting online. From our studios, we will cover local news – Ceredigion news, west Wales news, Welsh national news – and provide those reports online via our online outlets. Those will all feed into The Ceredigion Herald’s future online offer to our readers. It is a new way of approaching local news by a local newspaper group: a fresh way, and a new challenge.

And we will do so in Welsh and in English.

We say it’s a challenge, and it is also a test. We will be finding out what works, what doesn’t work, and what opportunities there are for improvement as we develop and shape our service to you.

We are proud of what we have managed to bring to Ceredigion in the time we have printed and published The Ceredigion Herald. Local news needs to be plural to stop one voice and one viewpoint drowning out all others.

We are going to continue to provide a different voice and different viewpoint. We will just be doing it in a different way.

For The Ceredigion Herald, it’s not the end.

It’s the future.

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Communities and staff thanked for flood support

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COMMUNITIES and staff have been thanked for their work during the Storm Callum Floods. The October floods caused great damage to homes, businesses, roads and bridges in the south of Ceredigion. The floods were the biggest flood event in the last 31 years in Ceredigion.

During the flooding, the council supported the emergency services to prioritise the saving of lives. This included making sure that roads and bridges made dangerous by floodwater were closed. The council’s emergency response and recovery procedures were carried out during the event. Multi-agency emergency procedures were also carried out.

Ceredigion County Council Chief Executive, Mr Eifion Evans said, “Council staff went above and beyond their duties over the weekend of the floods. I saw their efforts with my own eyes; staff who weren’t on duty were offering to come in to help our residents. We had to send some staff home as they wanted to work longer than the 12 hour maximum that staff are allowed to work in one shift.

I have also been impressed by the huge efforts made by communities to help each other during, and in the aftermath of the flooding.”

After water levels dropped, council staff from Community Wellbeing, Housing and Highways Teams immediately went to the affected areas to offer practical support and advice. They also saw the extent of the damage that had been caused.

Everyone who has been in touch with the council has been offered help with housing, including being offered emergency temporary accommodation where needed. The Housing Team have worked with local landlords and B&B owners to provide additional accommodation, and to provide ongoing support for people who have been affected by the flood.

The Community Wellbeing Team have also provided advice and specialist equipment to residents to help to begin to dry out their homes. This support is ongoing.

The council organised drop-in sessions in Lampeter, Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul and Llechryd. The sessions were attended by many organisations that can offer support and advice. The sessions gave residents the chance to ask the organisations any questions they had about recovering from the flood.

The Highways Team have arranged a free service to pick-up and dispose of flood damaged materials and have put skips in local household waste sites for flood damaged possessions. The team also cleared 100 tons of earth from the B4459 near Capel Dewi after a landslide covered the road. The Highways Team also repaired damaged roads and bridges.

Mr Evans continued, “The council is dedicated to helping our residents recover from the devastating effects of the recent floods. I understand that the impact is still very raw for people who have been affected, especially those who have been made homeless. I want to reassure every resident that our committed staff are working hard to help you. Despite severe pressure on council budgets, we will do everything in our power to continue to offer practical help to residents.”

A flood recovery group has met regularly to look at how the Council can target help in the most effective way. A further flood newsletter will be published in the near future. The Council will also be hosting flood advice surgeries and building on the work of developing emergency support groups for flooding.

More information about the help the council can offer is available on the website on www.ceredigion.gov.uk/stormcallumfloods

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Training company enjoy successful open evening

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HYFFORDDIANT CEREDIGION TRAINING (HCT) enjoyed a successful open evening on November 7 as it opened its doors to the public.

Opening HCT’s doors gave people the opportunity to see the fantastic range of training opportunities available for them. This included opportunities for young people who are interested in seeing what apprenticeships HCT has to offer.

Mark Gleeson, Manager for Post 14 Vocational Learning said, “It is important that HCT holds open evenings to showcase different learning opportunities that are available to all learners. HCT offers a large number of apprenticeships which ensures that the next generation of skilled workforce is being trained and employed by local companies. This is very important to the economy of Ceredigion.”

There was an opportunity to have a tour of the building, to speak to tutors, to have a look at the workshops, and to see trainees and apprentices in action. This gave a flavour of the kind of work that is done daily at the training centre.

Traineeships and apprenticeships, but also evening classes, are taught at HCT, as Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet Member for Learning Service and Lifelong Learning explains, “If studying towards a full qualification in a given trade is not what you are after, but you want to gain some of the basic skills in the various routes HCT specialises in, why not join an evening class? The next round of evening courses are beginning now. So, what are you waiting for? Contact HCT to see what it has to offer you.”

Evening classes run for six weeks and HCT offers these 2-3 times per year. HCT offers a range of vocational courses for people of all ages, including Hairdressing, Childcare, Business Administration, Information Technology, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrics, Blacksmithing, Agriculture, Motor Mechanics and Welding.

For more information, find ‘Hyfforddiant Ceredigion Training’ on Facebook, or visit the website, http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/public-it/hct/index.html

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Vandalism at coastguard lookout point

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POLICE are investigating vandalism at the old coastguard lookout point at Bird’s Rock.

A council spokesperson said: “We’re very sad to see vandalism to the old coastguard look out at Bird’s Rock on the coastal path a mile to the west of New Quay last week.

“All five windows was smashed – some even had their wooden frames ripped out.”

Melanie Heath, Ceredigion County Council’s Marine Protected Area Officer, added: “This act of vandalism is so distressing to see. The look-out was restored thanks to a special grant from the Crown Estate. It is used by our Dolphin and Porpoise Watch volunteers throughout the monitoring season. It is also a special place for many local people and visitors alike to sit for a while and take in the spectacular views of Cardigan Bay.”

If anyone has any information, contact Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police on 101

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