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Father and son protest RNLI ‘taking vital equipment away’

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FATHER and son, Huw (43) and Steffan Williams (9), can be seen today (Jan 10) walking half-dressed and barefoot to the RNLI stand at the London Boat Show, at the ExCel exhibition centre, in a symbolic protest against the RNLI ‘taking vital equipment away’ from their lifeboat station in west Wales.

The pair travelled over two hundred and fifty miles to the capital to raise awareness of the RNLI’s plan to remove the only all-weather lifeboat from the county of Ceredigion in 2020, creating what has been dubbed the ‘Drowning Gap’ by the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign.

The ‘Drowning Gap’ is the sea area in Cardigan Bay which is currently served by an all-weather lifeboat at New Quay. Under the RNLI’s current plans, when this boat is withdrawn at the end of its operational life, there will be a gap of over 70 miles of coastline between the nearest all-weather lifeboat stations in Barmouth and Fishguard.

There has been an all-weather lifeboat in New Quay for over one hundred and fifty years but, while the RNLI are rolling out state-of-the-art Shannon class all-weather lifeboats around the coast of the UK and Ireland, New Quay has been chosen as one of the first stations to lose all-weather lifeboat capability in the RNLI’s recent Coast Review.

Whilst the RNLI has refused to publish its Coast Review report, it is clear that the decision to downgrade lifesaving provision will result in cost savings running into millions of pounds. However, a report published by the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign claims that 25% of rescues carried out by New Quay’s all-weather lifeboat could not have been achieved by the inshore lifeboat that the RNLI plan to station in New Quay.

Speaking at the show Huw Williams, a volunteer RNLI crewman and spokesperson for the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign said: “The Ceredigion coast is busy with passenger boats, leisure craft, and commercial fishing activity. Boats can sink and people can get swept out to sea in seconds. It is well documented that hypothermia is a killer after 30 minutes, and that means that every second counts. Whilst inshore lifeboats are good at what they do, they cannot launch in severe weather, meaning a wait of up to 90 minutes for a lifeboat to arrive.

“The introduction of new, faster lifeboats was supposed to improve rescue capability but, in Ceredigion, we will see a return to response times not seen since the 1970s and 80s. This puts lives at risk unnecessarily. As lifeboat crew members, we are happy to give our time voluntarily; all we ask for is the right equipment for the job.”

Joining Huw in London is his son, Steffan. Last summer, at only eight years old, Steffan made headlines across the world after twice rescuing people cut off by the tide. Steffan is passionate about the water, and particularly lifeboats. As well as being a keen RNLI fundraiser, he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps as a lifeboat crewman.

Steffan commented: “I am very upset that the RNLI are not replacing our lifeboat with a new Shannon. I want to join the crew when I am 17 years old and hope they will change their minds. The sea can be dangerous and we need the right boat to help people when it’s stormy. One day, I hope to be the coxswain.” Unless the RNLI change their minds, Steffan’s ambition now seems to be out of the question.”

Huw added: “The RNLI’s ‘Plans and Purpose’ states: “We aim to ensure our crews can reach at least 90% of all casualties within 10 nautical miles of the coast, within 30 minutes of a lifeboat launch – in any weather.” Under the RNLI’s current plans, this will be unachievable in Ceredigion from 2020. Why are we being treated differently?”

To find out more about the campaign to save New Quay’s all-weather lifeboat, visit www.ceredigionlifeboatcampaign.org.uk.

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A level results still high in Ceredigion

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THE ‘A’ level examination results published today by the WJEC (15 August) show that high standards are being achieved in Ceredigion schools once again. 97.9% of entries for WJEC examinations were graded A* to E, with 27.9% of the entries achieving the top ’A’ grades.

Ceredigion pupils continue to outperform the Welsh average. More pupils in Ceredigion achieve the top ’A’ grades and A* to E grades. The below table shows a comparison with average Welsh figures. These don’t include Welsh Baccalaureate results and those from examination bodies other than WJEC.

Wales 2019             Ceredigion 2019

Grade A* – A           27.92%                    27.0%

Grade A* – B           56.0%                      n/a

Grade A* – C          77.5%                        n/a

Grade A* – E          97.9%                       97.6%

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services. She said, “I would like to extend my warmest congratulations once again to Ceredigion’s sixth form students for their successes in this year’s A Level and AS examinations.

These results are the culmination of a long journey through school life which has seen them nurture and develop the academic and interpersonal skills that will enable them to move confidently into higher education, training or employment in fields of their choice. I wish them good luck for the future and would like to sincerely thank all who have contributed to their school journey in any way.”

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MP Ben Lake calls for reform of police funding

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HAVING recently shadowed Dyfed Powys Police officers in Aberystwyth, the Ceredigion MP has again urged the UK Government to review the police funding formula for rural areas.

Mr Lake visited Aberystwyth police station as part of the #GiveADayToPolicing campaign, a scheme for Members of Parliament to better understand the challenges currently facing police forces across the UK.

During his visit Mr Lake had the opportunity to experience a variety of aspects of local policing – from spending time with the neighbourhood policing team, meeting officers from different departments, and discussing policing challenges with front-line police officers.

Mr Lake has challenged the UK Government on several occasions to reform the formula for police funding – highlighting the need for the funding formula to take into consideration the seasonal pressures on forces, particularly the significant increase to the population of coastal areas during the summer months.

Mr Lake said: “I am very grateful to the officers of Aberystwyth police station for their welcome, and for taking the time to speak with me. I now have a better understanding of the challenges our police officers face, as well as a deeper level of respect and admiration of their work and commitment to public safety.

“As I have previously stated, we cannot expect a one size fits all approach to work effectively across the whole of the UK, and as such, it is imperative that the criteria used to allocate the Home Office police grant are revised so that they reflect the increased demands and unique challenges facing rural forces in areas such as Ceredigion, especially during summer months.”

Mr Lake added: “It is widely acknowledged that Welsh police forces have suffered under the present funding formula, and so it is high time that the UK Government either amends the formula accordingly, or devolves the responsibility for policing to the Welsh Government so that they may do so themselves.”

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New waste trial launched in Aberystwyth

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A NEW trial has been launched in Aberystwyth as part of the Caru Aber campaign, to help keep the town centre clean on waste collection days.

Heavy duty sacks will be placed on Aberystwyth streets on Monday afternoons before the black bag collection on Tuesdays in the following streets; Portland Street, Portland Road, Queen Street, Corporation Street, Eastgate Street, New Street and Cambrian Place.

Black bags should be put in the sacks by 8am on Tuesday mornings for collection. The intention is that the sacks contain the waste until it is collected. The sacks will be retrieved after the waste has been collected to avoid clutter and obstruction on the streets.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards is the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services together with Housing. He said: “We see this trial as a practical and relatively cost effective way of responding to long standing issues relating to domestic waste presentation in Aberystwyth town centre. The sacks will also provide a visible reminder to residents in the town centre on what days to present their black bags.

“The trial forms part of the Caru Aber campaign, and the wider Caru Ceredigion campaign, where the council looks to work with local communities to address issues which are of concern or are important to them.

“This innovative approach is another example of positive proactive action the council is taking. We hope that the residents of the town centre will play their part by making good use of the sacks as this will be the critical factor in measuring the success of the scheme.”

Clean recycling and food waste should continue to be presented on a weekly basis in the containers that the council already provides through clear bags and food caddies.

Ensuring that the right waste is presented in the right way and on the right day will help to make sure that the town’s streets are kept clean and that the waste is contained, managed and treated in the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way as possible.

The sacks were first used in readiness for waste collections on Tuesday 6 August 2019. The initial feedback is positive as they have worked to contain the waste on the streets, which were noticeably cleaner.

This latest initiative is developing on feedback and experience from two other trials undertaken. The success of the trial will be monitored on an ongoing basis and reviewed to reflect the experience which will include looking at ways of engaging all residents.

For more information about the new scheme, please contact the Customer Services Contact Centre on 01545 570 881 or by e-mail on clic@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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