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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.

Business

MP makes Budget case for support for self-employed and small businesses in Ceredigion

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BEN LAKE MP has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the government’s financial support package for businesses and self-employed workers in next week’s Budget as many struggle to stay afloat during continued lockdown restrictions. 

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak is to set out the UK Government’s budget on Wednesday 3 March, almost a year since the last Budget on 11 March 2020. 

To help businesses and our local high streets over coming months, the Ceredigion MP has called on the Chancellor to extend the lowered rate of VAT at 5% for hospitality and tourism for a year to March 2022 and to extend the business rates relief package. 

Mr Lake also called on the Chancellor to retain the furlough scheme for the duration of pandemic restrictions, as recent figures show more than 178,000* in Wales are still receiving government help from the CJRS. He also urged the Chancellor to expand the existing eligibility criteria for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme in order to offer some help to the many individuals who have not received a penny in Government support thus far. 

Ben Lake MP said: “For many businesses and self-employed workers, the financial support government has offered over the last 12 months has been a lifeline. Now, as we are finally starting to see light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, we cannot remove this lifeline prematurely. Extending this help for a little longer, and expanding the criteria to help those that have been excluded thus far, would offer small businesses the support they require to ‘bounce back’ from the pandemic.” 

Many businesses who are still not open due to lockdown measures are also now expected to start repaying their Bounce Back Loans. This is despite their situation largely remaining unchanged since they took out the loan, or in some unfortunate instances, worsened as they have not yet been able to trade.  

UKHospitality has estimated that the hospitality sector lost around £72 billion in sales in 2020 and faces, frankly, a debt mountain, including £4.2 billion in state-backed loans.  

Mr Lake said:  “It is important that businesses that took out bounce back loans and CBILS are required to pay only when they are in a position to do so – once they have ‘bounced back’ from the pandemic. Affording such a level of flexibility, and thus preventing avoidable business failures, would protect jobs, the taxpayer’s investment in the recovery, and the integrity of our financial system.

“We remain in the early stages of a vaccine-led recovery, and it is likely that we will have some form of restrictions for many months to come. Having done so much to protect the economy and the workforce, we must not withdraw support prematurely, as to do so would risk throwing away the investment taxpayers have made in the last year, and potentially our economic recovery.” 

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Wales looking for third win in a row against England

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WALES have won their first two games in the Six Nations Championship and on Saturday, February 27, they put that record on the line against great rivals England.

Having already beaten Ireland and Scotland, the Triple Crown will be on the line for Wales, a feat they last achieved in 2019 when they won the Grand Slam.

That will be incentive enough for Wayne Pivac’s men but to do it against England will make it that little bit sweeter.

With France’s game against Scotland on Sunday in doubt, it will also give the home side a great chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Wales do not have any fresh injury concerns going into the England game and it will likely provide a selection headache for Pivac.

George North could be set to make his 100th appearance for Wales if he plays against England, and is currently second in the list of all-time try scorers for his home country.

England lost their opening game of the tournament against Scotland but got back to winning ways with a resounding 41-18 win over Italy.

The 2020 Six Nations and Autumn Cup Champions will be eager to rediscover their winning form which brought them that success but they will not find it easy against Wales.

What happened the last time England visited the Principality Stadium?
Wales last welcomed England to the Principality on February 23, 2019, and it was a game which saw Wales earn a 21-13 victory.

Cory Hill and Josh Adams scored Wales’ tries in that match while Dan Biggar and Gareth Anscombe added the rest of the points from the boot.

Tom Curry scored England’s only try in that match while Farrell had a 100% success rate with his kicks.

What happened when the sides met in 2020?

It was an absolute classic last year with England triumphing by 33 points to 30 at Twickenham.

Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Manu Tuilagi got the tries for England on that day while Owen Farrell had again had a 100% record with the boot.

Justin Tipuric bagged two tries for Wales while Dan Biggar scored their other as the men in red came up short on this occasion.

Of course, the last two meetings between the two sides were played in front of capacity crowds but that will not be a factor this time around, owing to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Could that be a factor in the game or will both sides treat us to an excellent display of rugby?

After the England game, Wales travel to Italy on Saturday, March 13, while England will host France on the same day.

A win for either side this weekend will be crucial; a win for Wales and it sets them up for the Grand Slam while a win for England will reignite their hopes of retaining the Six Nations Championship.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 16:45 and can be seen on S4C as well as the BBC.

ENGLAND
Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, George Martin, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Max Malins.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, James Botham, Gareth Davies, Callum Sheedy, Uilisi Halaholo.

WALES
Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Jonathan Davies, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Kieran Hardy; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

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