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Councillors query budget

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county hallLAST THURSDAY’S full council meeting discussed the budget for 2014/15.

On top of everybody’s minds were the effects still being felt by the recent storms that have battered the county in the first few months of this year.

Many councillors took the time to thank workers for their efforts during the clean-up period. Querying the budget, councillors had questions about the roads, tourism, care services and fees and charges. At the start of the debate, discussions resolved around the budget for Highways and Transportation.

Concerns were expressed that the budget for this service had dropped by almost £1.8m from the previous year.

Former Council leader, Councillor John Davies said: “Our carriageways have taken a consistent battering because heavy rain leaves its toll and whether we like it or not, the way we maintain our carriageways is important to maintaining the living and breathing assets of our roads”.

Cllr Michael John added: “The roads are getting particularly poor in some areas”.

Cllr Jacob Williams then also gave his views on the matter: “The budget for the highways really concerns me; by and large the county’s roads are really good. Repairs that are made are done timely, so I think to cut the budget by such a large amount and we need to be careful about that. The roads are so important to such a rural county”.

Councillors then discussed how the Council could encourage economic growth with Pembrokeshire.

Cllr Peter Stock: “It’s important for us to be talking about the quality of services that this county is going to provide. We’re spending money, we’re looking at the future, and the one thing that I do feel we lack on is planning with a vision for the future of our town centres. I do believe we are lagging behind on that. A vision is important. The Welsh Government has said ‘The local authority will have a clear vision of the role and functions of the town centres within their control’.”

Cllr Mike Evans said: “We’re obviously in difficult times as a county. We must use the LDP to help and not hinder local businesses and also to allow growth where there is local need through building”.

Speaking about social care services, Councillor Rhys Sinnett said: “The people are important too. Whilst we are supportive of most of the cost savings proposed within this budget, it’s only right that we raise concerns about how those within the adult social care budget lines will be implemented. At the moment we are being asked to agree these changes without really having the details of how they are going to impact upon some of the most vulnerable in our community. If we do accept this it would have to be with the full assurance of the leader that the outcomes of these consultations will be referred to the relevant committees for their consideration”.

Members then gave their responses to some of the questions that had been raised.

Cllr David Simpson said: “In the past 12 months we have been awarded the Welsh Housing quality standard, we’re one of only three authorities in Wales that actually attained it on time and within the budget and I think that is a tremendous achievement”.

Cllr David Pugh added: “To maintain the level of commitment, we’re now working closely with communities first and we have a better working relationship with planning powers and Pembrokeshire College to deliver these some of these services so although there is a significant cost reduction to the council, the amount of grant that we hope to get is still the same”.

Cllr Pugh went on to say: “Tourism is being taken very seriously and it is a major part of the economy in Pembrokeshire”.

Cllr Sue Perkins said: “We have now got a full complement of social workers. We always need to be careful but in the future we need to carry on working to build on this and to retain our staff; we have to always be on our guard”.

Speaking about leisure facilities, Cllr Elwyn Morse said: “I would always take up the opportunity to improve leisure facilities. I am pleased to report that the cultural services of sport and leisure are committed to continuing the delivery of these valuable services despite having to make cost reduction within their operating budgets”.

Cllr Rob Lewis added: “We have had to take some of these decisions in a very short space of time. We have suffered from cuts in Welsh Government support for the bus service but we have carried out a substantial review with bus users as to how we will move forward in the future. The feedback is that residents would rather have some service than no service at all.”

Cllr Jamie Adams said: “This council, since its inception, has not increased the charges on the Cleddau Bridge.

“With regards to pay and display and car parking, I have been to Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire where I was shocked to be shelling out the sort of sums to park in the high streets of those two counties. I give the assurance that fees and charges in Pembrokeshire are considerably lower than others.

“I give the absolute assurance that any changes to adult social care provisions will be the subject of full equalities impact assessments”.

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Baroness visits New Quay RNLI

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ON Friday afternoon (4 October) Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist paid a special visit to New Quay Lifeboat Station to meet key crew members and to see the workings of the all-weather lifeboat station.

Having recently been appointed as the House of Lords’ spokesperson for the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales, Baroness Bloomfield was keen to visit the lifeboat station while passing through Ceredigion.

Baroness Bloomfield said, “The RNLI is a shining example of a voluntary organisation that goes above and beyond to save lives, serving as an inspiration to us all.

“It was an honour to meet the brave crew and lifeguards and those working behind the scenes at the New Quay RNLI Lifeboat Station. Their work to educate, supervise and rescue anyone at risk at sea across the UK and internationally is truly priceless.”

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager added, “It was great to show the Baroness around the station and chat about our operations here in Cardigan Bay. We hope she can visit again soon.”

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Aberystwyth University hosts debate on the Constitution Reform Group’s Act of Union Bill

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WITH Halloween and Britain’s impending departure from the EU looming, and with it a potential constitutional crisis between the four nations of the UK, a proposed new constitutional settlement for the UK will be the focus for debate at Aberystwyth University on Thursday 24 October 2019.

Joining leading constitutional expert Sir Paul Silk to discuss The Constitution Reform Group’s Act of Union Bill will be former Labour Ministers Lord Hain and Gisela Stuart and former First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones AM.

The Bill has been described by The Times journalist Iain Martin as “the first attempt to devise a coherent plan for what happens after many powers return from the European Union”.

It proposes a new federal structure for the UK and establishes the principle of self-determination for the nations and parts of the United Kingdom.

It also makes the case for radical reform and possible abolition of the House of Lords as well as a fairer distribution of tax collected by the centre.

Hosted by the University’s Centre for Welsh Politics and Society and chaired by Professor Emyr Lewis, Head of the Department of Law and Criminology, the debate takes place at Old College and runs from 6 until 8pm.

For more information, see attached news release or go online: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2019/10/title-226343-en.html

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New Young Ambassador leaders trained

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104 new young Ambassadors attended training at three different venues across Ceredigion to begin their Young Ambassador leadership pathway.

The Young Ambassador leadership pathway is implemented across all schools in Ceredigion and begins at Bronze level, which starts in years five and six at primary school and progresses in secondary school with the levels of Sports Crew, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

The Young Ambassador programme, delivered by Ceredigion Actif, aims to empower and inspire young people to become leaders through sport and help encourage their peers to become hooked on keeping fit.

Aberystwyth Bronze Young Ambassadors, Lampeter Bronze Young Ambassadors, Bro Sion Cwilt Bronze Young Ambassadors

During the training days, they prepare their ‘pledges’ for the year ahead and these action plans are announced to the rest of the school’s pupils and their parents. They then return to school and start organising activities and events to encourage more children to get active.

The training includes information on picking teams, how to encourage everyone to get involved, Disability Inclusion and Ceredigion Actif programmes such as Fit in 5 and the QR Codes which encourage skill development in early years.

All Bronze Young Ambassadors are tasked with arranging sports and skills for other year 5 & 6 pupils at sports festivals held around the county. Autumn term festivals are for years 5 & 6, Spring term festivals are for years 3 & 4 and Summer term festivals are for foundation phase children. They are also required to run lunchtime and after school clubs back at their schools.

Alwyn Davies is Active Young People Manager for Ceredigion County Council. He said “We’re really excited with this new group of young leaders. Now that they’ve attended the training days, they are ready to start delivering opportunities back at their schools. They will mostly lead lunchtime and after school clubs with the aim of getting more children active, creating an interest in health and wellbeing and improving children’s confidence to try a wide range of activities.

“In their first month, we will be asking them to work with us to provide a range of activities at our multi sports festival. This will be a useful way of mentoring them slowly as they start to achieve results. They have received their polo shirts and are eager to start on the leadership ladder.”

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Leisure Services. She said, “I’m very impressed to see the vast amount of young people interested in being Young Ambassadors. Fitness and well-being are key to the development of young people, and these new young Bronze Ambassadors will be role models in Ceredigion schools. I wish them the very best.”

For more information, or to learn more about opportunities that are available to you, go over to Ceredigion Actif’s Facebook and Twitter pages or visit their website on www.ceredigionactif.org.uk. You can also contact Alwyn Davies, Active Young People Manager on 01970 633 695 or by e-mail on Alwyn.Davies@ceredigion.gov.uk.

 

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