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British Empire Medal awarded for fire and charity work

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In a ceremony held on December 19 in the Council Chamber, Aberaeron, the British Empire Medal was awarded to Paul Thomas of Sarnau.

The medal was awarded for pastoral care to the Fire and Rescue Service in Wales and his extensive charity work.

Mr Thomas worked for the Fire and Rescue Services for 34 years as an operational firefighter and then served as voluntarily Chaplain for Fire and Rescue Services for the last 15 years. The British Empire Medal was presented by Sara Edwards, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed.

Ceredigion County Council Chief Executive, Eifion Evans, who presided over the ceremony said: “Mr Thomas is fully deserving of the British Empire Medal. He has served communities at home and abroad with great compassion and dedication. His achievements are extraordinary and has certainly had a great impact on the lives of many.”

Mr Thomas established a school and a children’s home in Uganda and is Chaplain to the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. He holds the post of National Chair to the Fire and Rescue Service Chaplains’ Association of Great Britain and Islands. He is an ordained Elim Pentecostal minister and is part of the leadership team of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Cardigan.

He co-founded and is a trustee of Tŷ Cariad Africa, a UK charity, which raised the funds to convert a donated building in Uganda now called Tŷ Cariad into a children’s home and continues to work tirelessly to improve the work. The charity pays the running costs of the home which helps orphans and vulnerable children.

He has worked with ex-President Jimmy Carter building homes for the homeless in South Africa through Habitat for Humanity.

After receiving his British Empire Medal, Mr Thomas said: “I am delighted to have received this great honour and to have shared the ceremony with my family and friends. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve and help people in need.”

The British Empire Medal is awarded to people who have made sustained and high-impact work in their community.

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Council tax reduction supports people on low incomes

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A COUNCIL Tax Reduction Scheme is in place to help people who are on a low income. The council administers the scheme on behalf of the Welsh Government for people who are liable to pay Council Tax and who live in Ceredigion. With the recent decision to raise Council Tax by 7%, residents on low incomes are being urged to find out if they are entitled to some help towards paying their Council Tax.

People can be eligible for the reduction if they are on a low income, working or unemployed, cannot work because of illness, retired or are caring for someone. The amount of the reduction depends on a person’s circumstances and how much Council Tax they need to pay.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd is the Cabinet member responsible for Financial Services. He said, “We made the difficult decision to raise Council Tax by 7% to reduce the amount of cuts we have to make to council services. The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising.”

“We want to urge anyone who is on a low income to consider if they are eligible for Council Tax Reduction. Tax increases can add pressure onto people’s budgets, and although this increase is vital to keep quality services in Ceredigion, we want to make sure that anyone who is eligible for help gets it.”

For more information on eligibility and how to claim council tax reduction, email revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk or call 01970 633 252.

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7% council tax increase to protect education funding

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THE COUNCIL TAX in Ceredigion for 2019-2020 will increase by 7%. The increase was agreed by councillors to reduce the impact of cuts to the Council’s budget and, in particular, to protect education spending. The decision was made in a Council meeting on 21 February 2019.

2% of the 7% increase will be used to protect education spending. Schools budgets have been under severe stress after years of needing to make savings. Costs have increased yet again following the agreement of new teachers’ salary increases together with increased pension contributions. This extra 2% uplift will enable school budgets to be kept flat.

The council tax rate increase is set by three key components, the County Council’s tax, the precept of Town and Community Councils and the Police precept. Increases set by the Police and Town and Community Councils result in a combined increase of 7.56%.

Councillor Ellen ap Leader of the Council, said, “We had no option but to ask Council to increase Council Tax by 7% in order to reduce the impact of the cuts we have had to make across council budgets. A successful Ceredigion in the future needs well-funded and well run schools. We want to invest in the future of our children and our county.”

“The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising. The uplift of teachers’ salaries and pensions has not been fully funded by Welsh Government to date. If council tax had not increased, we would have to make deeper cuts.”

In 2018-2019, the average Council Tax Band D property was £1,226.48. The increase means that the same property will pay £1,312.33 in 2019-2020. The council’s budget has been cut by £39m or 25% in the last seven years. The Council will still need to save another £6m in the coming financial year.

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Information management policies updated to improve security

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THREE key information management policies have been updated by Ceredigion County Council. The policies were updated because of new laws and the need make sure that they are effective in a changing technological environment.

The updated policies were approved by the council’s Cabinet in a meeting on 19 February 2019.

The three policies that have been reviewed are:

· Data Protection/GDPR Policy
· Information Security Policy
· Information and Records Management Policy

The Deputy Leader of Ceredigion County Council and Cabinet member responsible for Governance, Councillor Ray Quant MBE said, “The council needs to keep information and data to carry out the many service we provide. Because of this we have to make sure we’re up to date on data and information protections laws. This decision means that we have approved the hard work done to update the policies and make sure that they are fit for use.”

The policies are essential to manage digital and paper records of the council.

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