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Aber student fuels his future with fare splitting petrol app

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A YOUNG entrepreneur studying in Aberystwyth has designed a fare splitting app that solves the problem of dividing petrol costs between friends when one person is the ‘designated driver’.

Friendfare, the brainchild of Jack Thomson, 21, calculates the amount of petrol spent per journey based on car type and distance, making it easy for lift-sharing friends to fairly split the cost between them.

The software engineering student at Aberystwyth University came up with the idea with his cousin Tom and friend Rob after spending long journeys travelling to various mountain bike locations around Wales. Following their trips they were inevitably faced with the task of working out how much the designated driver was owed.

Applying his knowledge of software design to solving this common problem, Jack spent several months designing and perfecting Friendfare. And his efforts are now bearing fruit with the app set to launch next month on both iOS and Android platforms.

Speaking about the launch of Friendfare, Jack said: “I hope Friendfare will be a handy solution to the common conundrum of when friends are trying to work out how much they owe each other in petrol costs.

“It’s gone through several prototype stages and been heavily influenced by user feedback to ensure it’s easy and functional to use. It’s been a labour of love and I can’t wait for it to go live now!”

Despite the app not being available to the public just yet, Jack is already thinking of ways to develop the Friendfare concept further still, in order to help facilitate solutions to other problematic day-to-day finance issues, such as bill splitting at a restaurant.

And crucially Jack is also developing mobile payment functionality within the app’s range of services, so Friendfare can become a full service mobile application.

Jack continued: “I believe there are real opportunities to branch out beyond lift sharing and now I am comfortable with building and developing the app, I’m actively looking for ways to continue expanding and evolving Friendfare’s offering.”

Tony Orme, careers consultant at Aberystwyth University said: “Jack is a fantastic example of a student applying entrepreneurial thinking to their studies to start their own business. At Aberystwyth we encourage all our students to act upon their entrepreneurial flair to enhance their own experience at university and increase their employability when they graduate. We’re looking forward to seeing Jack’s app launch soon and wish him every success in the future.”

Jack created the Friendfare app with the support of Big Ideas Wales, the support service for young entrepreneurs aged 5 to 25. Big Ideas Wales, which forms part of the Welsh Government’s Business Wales Service, and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, provides business support and mentoring for young people to enable them to kick start their business ideas.

Jack credits Big Ideas Wales with supporting his entrepreneurial ambitions, in particular his business advisor Sam Allen. Jack first heard about Big Ideas Wales through his university Entrepreneurship Society and soon after had his first meeting with Sam.

Sam was able to offer Jack advice on how to develop his business, as well as advising him about upcoming events hosted by Big Ideas Wales that could benefit him, including the annual ‘Bootcamp to Business’ event in Margam Discovery Centre.

The three-day residential workshop in November last year played host to fifty young entrepreneurs with the aim of equipping them with the essential skills they need to help get their business ready and grow their network of connections. It was here that Jack received advice from Big Ideas Wales mentors about his business plan, as well as meeting other likeminded young entrepreneurs.

Jack said: “Bootcamp was amazing. I left feeling so inspired and found myself constantly thinking of new business ideas. I’d encourage anyone with even the start of a business idea to think about attending the next Bootcamp event, as it will give you the information and tools you need to get it off the ground.”

The next Bootcamp to Business will be held at Rhyd-y-creuau, Betws y Coed, Conwy between 2nd – 4th March 2018. To apply for a place and for more information, visit www.bigideas.wales

The Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales programme encourages and supports young people aged between 5 and 25 to develop entrepreneurial skills and start a business. Part of the Business Wales Service, it is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. For more information, and to access support, visit – www.bigideas.wales

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Restaurant owner fined over £3000 for ‘significant rodent infestation’

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THE FORMER proprietor of a restaurant which had a ‘significant rodent infestation’ pleaded guilty to ten food hygiene offences at Aberystwyth Justice Centre on Monday (Jun 18).

Mr Rysul Asad of Gloster Row, Cardigan, and the former proprietor of Gulshan, Chancery Lane, Cardigan, has appeared before Magistrates.

Four offences related to the presence of a significant rodent infestation at the restaurant, which was under Mr Asad’s control at the time. A further five offences related to the poor standards of cleaning found during the investigation.

Emergency action was taken by Ceredigion County Council Environmental Health Officers in September 2017 following the discovery of an active rodent infestation at the premises, and resulted in the immediate closure of the food business.

Rodent activity, including the presence of droppings, entry points and gnawing, was discovered within food preparation and food storage areas of the premises. Furthermore, Officers also discovered dirty equipment and very poor standards of cleaning.

Rodents carry a number of dangerous microorganisms and pose a significant risk to human health. These can include Salmonellosis, Escherichia coli (E.coli), Hantavirus and Weil’s disease.

The presence of rodents within a food premises can transmit these diseases via contaminated surfaces, equipment and the food itself, to such an extent that it is regarded as an imminent risk to health.

Cabinet Member for Public Protection Services Councillor Gareth Lloyd said: “Food hygiene inspections, and Food Hygiene Ratings shown on the doors of the majority of food businesses in Ceredigion, gives reassurance to the public who live, work and visit the county that the food they eat is safe and has been prepared hygienically. However, on rare occasions the Council must take action to protect public health and the reputation of our excellent hospitality industry who work hard to maintain standards.”

Mr Asad also pleaded guilty to a further offence of failing to register his new food business, namely Shatun Sharha Limited trading as Shampan the Boat Restaurant and Takeaway, River Teifi, Quay Street, Lower Mwldan, Cardigan, for which he is now the proprietor. Mr Asad failed to notify the Commercial Services Team at Ceredigion County Council of this change following his departure from Gulshan in November 2017.

Councillor Lloyd added: “Cases like this underline the importance of the work of our food and safety team and the value of our inspection programme. The food safety team works hard with local businesses to meet and maintain legal food hygiene standards to ensure the best hygiene safety in our county.”

The Magistrates imposed a total financial penalty of £3,107 on Mr Asad for the offences. This included Council costs and victim surcharge.

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3,000 Welsh landlords still unregistered

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JANET FINCH-SAUNDERS AM has called on the Welsh Government to urgently work to improve landlord registration under Rent Smart Wales, as estimates released indicate around 3,000 remain unregistered.

Ms Finch-Saunders said: “Rent Smart Wales estimates that still 3,000 landlords are unregistered here in Wales.

“Whilst that makes up a small percentage of our total landlords, it is most concerning for those living in properties leased to them by those who have not yet registered.

“The Welsh Government has confirmed that a landlord who is not registered with Rent Smart Wales is unable to serve a valid Section 21 eviction notice – so where unregistered landlords do indicate that they want tenants to vacate a property, this is not recognised by local housing associations, which can cause stress to tenants who may not be aware of their full rights under the law.

“By focusing on ensuring that all landlords are properly registered, the Welsh Government can alleviate such concerns, and I will be urging the Cabinet Secretary to act to ensure all landlords are abiding by this legislation in full.”

The Minister for Housing and Regeneration told Ms Finch-Saunders that the latest figures released by Rent Smart Wales show that 90,812 landlords are now registered. Rent Smart Wales’ latest estimate for the number of unregistered landlords is approximately 3,000.

This is based on the dwelling stock estimates recently published by StatsWales, and an estimation of the average number of properties owned by each landlord.

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Public urged to enjoy dolphin sightings at a distance

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WITH summer on the way, bringing visitors enjoying Ceredigion’s wildlife rich coastline, the Council is urging members of the public to enjoy coastal activities without disturbing Cardigan Bay’s special wildlife and habitats. The call comes after individuals recently approached and swam with dolphins in Cardigan Bay.

The Ceredigion Marine Code of Conduct asks water users to stay 100 metres away from dolphins and porpoises encountered at sea, and to keep a distance of 50 metres from seals and nesting sea birds.

In no circumstances should the public attempt to feed, swim with or touch the dolphins. These are wild animals. Dolphins are large and powerful and can grow up to four metres long. As well as causing significant disturbance to the animals and pushing them off important feeding sites, close contact can also result in exposure to diseases to both humans and animals.

Repeated disturbance could cause the dolphins to leave important feeding sites to search for quieter areas.

Disruption to feeding, resting and nursing behaviour could have a long-term impact on the health and wellbeing of individual dolphins and populations.

The Cabinet member responsible for Economy and Regeneration, Councillor Rhodri Evans said: “Cardigan Bay’s wildlife is a great asset to the economy of our coastal communities and is also important in its own right. It is because of this that we ask residents and visitors to enjoy dolphin, and other wildlife sightings at a safe distance. Although the temptation to have a close-up view is understandable, we can’t risk disturbing Cardigan Bay’s wildlife and possibly driving them away. It’s the last thing anyone wants.”

The Ceredigion Marine Code of Conduct was established by Ceredigion County Council over twenty years ago, in response to local community concerns that the bottlenose dolphins that use these waters to feed, socialise and breed were experiencing greater pressures from disturbance by those enjoying recreational water-based activities.

The Ceredigion Marine Code of Conduct can be found online on http://www.cardiganbaysac.org.uk/?page_id=583

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