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Rural communities ‘starved of essential services’

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RURAL communities are being starved of essential services, with people in rural areas increasingly left without access to banks and healthcare services, according to Plaid Cymru.

Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, says rural communities are being let down by both the Welsh Government and Westminster, who have allowed banks – including those in which the public have a majority stake – to abandon rural towns across Wales.

Since 2011, 20 community post offices have closed across Wales, 15% of which were in Ceredigion; and 39 local banks have closed in 2017 alone. With rural Wales also suffering from some of the poorest provision of broadband and mobile data infrastructure, the combined effect is that residents and businesses are forced to travel a significant distance to access essential services, which is made all the more difficult due to the poor provision of public transport.

The Ceredigion MP has also highlighted the failure of the Welsh Government to ensure rural areas have adequate access to healthcare, resulting in people in rural areas being at higher risk due to the time required for emergency services to reach them, and to then reach the medical facility.

Mr Lake has called for both the Welsh Government and the Westminster Government to recognise the challenges being faced by rural communities and ensure that residents and businesses are able to access essential services in their own communities.

Commenting, the Plaid Cymru MP, Ben Lake, said: “Rural communities have been neglected for far too long by both the Welsh Government and the Westminster Government.

“Rural areas are being starved of essential services with post offices and banks disappearing at an alarming rate and healthcare services increasingly stretched.

“By now 84% of people in Wales are deprived of a local dental practice, and both banks and post offices are fast becoming just as hard to find. Both the Westminster Government and the Welsh Government are idle as these vital amenities are disappearing, and abandoning our rural towns and villages.

“The Labour Welsh Government has failed to protect local healthcare services, meaning those living in rural communities are forced to travel significant distances to access services. With our transport system in its current state, that is no simple task either. In this regard, residents of rural areas are disadvantaged for no other reason than the fact that they do not live in a city.

“Meanwhile, Westminster has allowed banks – in which the public hold a majority stake – to turn their backs on rural communities, despite the public bailing them out a decade ago.

“We cannot expect rural towns and villages to thrive if banks and post offices disappear, forcing residents and businesses to leave. The Welsh Government should consider creating a public bank, owned by the people and rooted in our communities.

“Both the Welsh Government and the Westminster government need to recognise these challenges, stop sitting on their hands, and start taking action to protect our rural communities.”

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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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£12,000 found in drugs bust to be retained by police

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POLICE have successfully obtained an order allowing them to retain £12,000 in cash seized in a drugs bust in Aberystwyth for six months whilst they investigate.

On October 19 at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court, the CPS, on behalf of Dyfed-Powys Police, said that they had reason to believe that the money they found in a raid at a residential address on St Davids Road, Aberystwyth, is recoverable property – as it was found with a substantial amount of prohibited drugs.

The money had been seized from Sadik Miah – he was not in court for the hearing.

The order was made under section 295(2) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

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Police release new CCTV image of murder suspect

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE has released a new CCTV image of Steve Baxter, who detectives are keen to speak to in connection with the murder of Simon Clark from Pendine, Carmarthenshire.

The image was captured in Glynneath on Saturday, September 29. He is believed to have traveled to the west Wales area shortly afterwards and is believed to be in the Haverfordwest area.

Baxter, also known as Steve Tidy, Steve Rowley, Wayne Tidy or William Tidy, is aged 52, 5’5” (1.65cm) tall and has tattoos on his forearms – the name Chez and entwined circles on his left arm and a serpent on his right arm.

He is bald, but was last seen wearing a hat and wig, as shown in this image. He may have made other attempts to alter his appearance such as growing facial hair or wearing glasses.

Detective Superintendent Huw Davies said: “We’re releasing this CCTV image from the latest confirmed sighting of Steve Baxter to give people the most up to date example of how he may be dressed and how he may currently look.

“Time is passing and we really need to speak to Steve Baxter to build a more accurate picture of what happened in Pendine.

“To anyone that may know where he is, please pass this vital information to police.”

The independent charity Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to £5,000 for information leading to Steve Baxter being found. Information would be taken by the charity anonymously.

If you see Steve Baxter call Dyfed-Powys Police on 999.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Steve Baxter call Dyfed-Powys Police on 101 immediately.

To pass on information anonymously, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or through the non-traceable anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

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