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Step forward for Dyfed-Powys force

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Service for residents improving: PCC Dafydd Llywelyn

DYFED-POWYS POLICE FORCE has this week received its first ever ‘Good’ rating in its legitimacy assessment – a result that Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn welcomed as a ‘significant and positive step forward’.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) independently assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of police forces and fire & rescue services in the public interest.

HMICFRS defines a legitimate force as one ‘whose staff and officers are seen by the public consistently to behave fairly, ethically and within the law. It seeks to identify and resolve issues relating to fair and respectful treatment by the police’.

The assessment took place in June 2017, just over one year since Police Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn was elected to office and appointed a new Chief Constable to lead the force. That leadership, and the improvements initiated by a command team in place for barely six months, has been recognised by HM Inspectorate.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said he was ‘delighted’ with the report, but added that more needs to be done to increase standards.

Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “I am delighted that the tireless efforts of the entire police force – from the leadership command team to the support staff and support officers in our communities – have led to this very positive report result this week.

“When I was elected as Commissioner, just one year before the assessment was conducted, I was adamant that standards across the force should improve.

“There’s undoubtedly more to do to increase standards, and it is my role as Commissioner to ensure the command team does not rest on its laurels and progresses steadily to an ‘Outstanding’ categorisation.

“That said, we must recognise that this is the first time ever, since the PEEL inspection process was introduced four years ago, that Dyfed-Powys has achieved a Good rating in legitimacy assessment.

“This is a significant and positive step forward, and only goes to improve the service Dyfed-Powys Police provides to local residents.”

Deputy Chief Constable Darren Davies said: “We very much welcome the latest legitimacy report from HMICFRS which gives yet further substantial evidence of the progress the force is making, having last month seen some tangible signs of improvement when they released their efficiency report. This report also considers the leadership of the force.

“This is the fourth year of the PEEL inspection process, and we are delighted that for the first time Dyfed-Powys has achieved a ‘Good’ grading in ‘legitimacy’ since the inception of the process.

“This inspection took place in June, barely six months since the new command team had been in place, and has recognised the progress being made, supported by a dedicated workforce and a Police and Crime Commissioner whose direction for the future and ethos is closely aligned with that of the Chief Officers.

“HMICFRS has recognised the significant progress that has been made against both inspection areas in the last 12 months. We are confident that when the 3rd strand of the PEEL reports on ‘effectiveness’ is published in 2018, this will bring yet further evidence of progress.

“In 2015 & 2016 Dyfed-Powys Police was graded as requires improvement in both legitimacy and efficiency. For two years running there had been no recognised improvement.

“Together with all staff, we have worked tirelessly to improve performance and we are particularly pleased that we have been graded as good with regard to our understanding of demand as well as good for the way we treat the public and good for how ethically our staff behave.

“HMICFRS has identified areas for improvement and we have already begun the work to address these points and will continue to do so whilst supporting our staff who are maintaining this positive direction of travel.

“Much has been achieved, but there remains a lot of hard work ahead to continue to strive to deliver a top quality service for our communities.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn concluded: “As the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys I am delighted that the hard work and effort is being recognised. I am keen to see standards across the Force improving and believe that recent improvements are down to the new leadership, supported by a committed workforce.”

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Completing the Census will help improve the county’s services

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As Census Day approaches, everyone is reminded of the benefits of taking part in this once every ten years survey.

The Census gives an accurate picture of the population and the needs of the people in the county, and affects the funding that is allocated to Ceredigion from Welsh Government annually and therefore the funding that’s available to provide critical services in the county. As a result, it is vitally important for everyone to take part in this year’s survey.

Every household in the county will receive a Census Pack in the coming weeks, which will include either a letter with a unique access code for online completion or a paper questionnaire. The Census Packs will include instructions on how to complete the questionnaire.

The last Census, which was held in 2011, showed that 75,922 people lived in Ceredigion, including 11,318 students. The most popular occupation for the county’s residents was farming, with 2,063 people identifying themselves as farmers, and 676 people noted they were nurses.

Data from Census 2011 supported the identification of Ceredigion (and three other local authorities in Wales) as target areas for the £2 million Arfor Innovation Fund Scheme.The data highlighted Ceredigion as a suitable area for the scheme, due to the county’s high proportion of Welsh speakers, and inflow of older people and outflow of younger people. Consequently, almost £500,000 has been made available by the Welsh Government to Ceredigion, to support Welsh language businesses and entrepreneurs in the area.

In addition to this, the data collated during Census 2011 helped to develop play and recreation areas at Llanddewi Brefi, Llanon, Ponterwyd and Cardigan. By using this data, it was possible to apply to the Welsh Government Rural Communities Development Fund (RCDF) and show how much these services are needed by local residents.

Information gathered as part of the Census enables local and national governments to plan services for various sectors, including healthcare, social care, schools and transport.

Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, said: “Not only is the Census fascinating, but it also gives the best possible estimate of our population today. Over the years, we have been able to use this data to plan services, by tackling and prioritising the needs of our communities in Ceredigion. I urge everyone to complete this mandatory survey in order to gain a true picture of the county’s fabric. Who knows what the data from Census 2021 will bring? But one thing is certain, taking part will benefit the residents of our county.”

Census Day will be on 21 March 2021, but households will soon receive Census Packs in the post explaining how they can take part. The Census will include questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time, there will be a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

In Wales, households will also be asked a specific question about their Welsh language skills. And those who wish to complete the Census in Welsh can do so both online and in paper form. 

Because these things matter to us all, everyone needs to complete the Census. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the Census in England and Wales and is independent from government. Your details are protected by law and information published is always anonymous.

For more information and to find out how you can access help, go to www.census.gov.uk or call the contact Centre on 0800 169 2021.

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Elin Jones backs calls for business rates holiday extension for independent businesses

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CEREDIGION’S Member of the Senedd, Elin Jones, has backed calls by the British Independent Retail Association for the extension of the current rates holiday for non-essential businesses in 2021/22.

Many local independent businesses have been closed for the best part of a year, and many will be in a more precarious situation now than when the initial rates holiday was announced last year. Many businesses will be looking forward to the easing of restrictions over the next few months, but Elin Jones warned that many would benefit from the continued business rates holiday.

Elin Jones said:

“Every effort must be made to secure the future of independent businesses in Ceredigion. They are such an important feature of life in Ceredigion, both as employers, and as a draw for people to our towns and villages.

“Normal trading will eventually resume, and these businesses will be able to flourish again, but local businesses owners know that this cannot be rushed. Therefore we must continue to sustain our businesses until they are once again back on an even keel.

“It will take a while for footfall to resume, and extending the business rates holiday is one way to help in this time of need.”

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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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