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Ceredigion to be considered priority for next phase of broadband roll-out

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Following the announcement of the next stage of broadband roll out in Wales, Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP have urged Ceredigion constituents to come forward so that their lack of broadband can be raised with the Welsh Government and Openreach. After many calls from Elin Jones and Ben Lake, the Welsh Government has indicated that it will put Ceredigion as a priority, following revelations that the county has among the worst broadband connectivity rates in the UK.

The AM and MP have joined forces to put pressure on Openreach to complete the work that came to a halt with the end of the Superfast Cymru contract with the Welsh Government at the end of last year.

To do this, Elin and Ben are collating information on areas and individual premises where broadband is not currently available in Ceredigion.

Elin Jones said:

‘The announcement that Ceredigion will be considered early on in the next Welsh Government broadband project is very welcome news, especially to constituents currently without Superfast Broadband. Ben Lake and I want to bring the attention of the Welsh Government to these cases sooner, rather than later.

‘Up until the end of last year, many communities in Ceredigion saw Openreach workers hanging fibre cables on masts. In many cases these have been left hanging, coiled up, and communities have been left without a superfast connection, which was so close to being installed.

‘The Welsh Government has agreed with Openreach to extend the build phase of Superfast Cymru project so that delayed works to around 2,500 premises throughout Wales can be completed. We want raise more of these cases with Openreach, like we have with Oakford, whose residents are now seeing their homes connected. We want to urge Openreach to do more, and we need the help of our Constituents in order to do this.’

Ben Lake said:

‘Many constituents across the county have approached me over the past few months regarding insufficient broadband speeds and the frustratingly slow Superfast Cymru roll-out to premises in Ceredigion.

‘We have to make sure that the benefits of superfast broadband are available to everyone, and access to fast, reliable broadband is increasingly essential for businesses. It is crucial that both Openreach and the Welsh Government recognise the commitment they have made to so many communities in Ceredigion, and also their responsibility to ensure that we do not see a digital divide emerge in Wales.

‘In response to the Minister’s statement regarding the Superfast Cymru extension, I am urging more constituents to come forward and register their details with us, so we can supply the relevant information to Openreach and the Welsh Government, and ensure that Ceredigion remains a priority during this extension period.

‘Early planning for the next phase is vital, and the Welsh Government has confirmed that properties ‘in scope’ for the next Superfast Cymru project will be agreed upon early in the tendering process. It is vital therefore that we provide the Welsh Government with a comprehensive list of premises and locations across Ceredigion that are not able to access decent broadband speeds.’

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Aberystwyth waste pilot launched

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AN innovative pilot scheme has been launched in North Parade, Aberystwyth to help promote positive waste behaviours in the town centre.

The initiative sees communal wheelie bins being delivered to the pilot area on the afternoon before the usual scheduled waste collections. The bins provide a means of containing the waste for the time between it being presented and being collected. Protecting the waste from attack by animals, including seagulls, will help keep the town centre’s streets clean.

The new approach will also help support more local residents, especially those living in properties where space to store waste is limited, to make full use of the weekly recycling and food waste collection services. Reducing the amount of recyclable waste that goes into black bags is not only better for the environment but it also helps ensure it is dealt with in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

The days and frequency of waste collections will remain the same with wheelie bins being provided each week for clear recycling bags and food waste and fortnightly for black bags. Waste should be presented in the correct wheelie bin by 8am on the day collection.

Once the waste is collected the wheelie bins are removed which avoids problems that would arise if they were left there permanently which includes causing unnecessary street clutter and obstructions as well as potentially being misused and attracting fly-tipping.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards, the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services, said: “I am fully supportive of this initiative. It is an example of the Council working in partnership with communities on resolving issues. I wish the initiative every success and look forward in the future, to further working closely with our communities on finding creative solutions to the issues we are all concerned about.”

The scheme started on August 6-7. If it proves to be successful, consideration will be given to extending the pilot to other areas where it may work. Consideration is also being given to other ways of further supporting positive waste behaviours in Aberystwyth and Ceredigion in general ahead of a new domestic waste collection system that will be introduced in 2019.

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Consultation on future of gas network for west Wales enters final week

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PEOPLE from west Wales are being urged to have their say as a public consultation on the future of the local gas network is set to close on Friday (Aug 17).

Wales & West Utilities look after the pipes that bring gas to homes and businesses across Wales and the south west of England. The company has received almost 20,000 responses to its consultation but is now urging as many people as possible to take two minutes to pipe up and shape its plans for the future. Everyone who completes the consultation will be entered into a weekly draw to win a £100 Amazon Gift Card.

The company is asking people to give their views on issues such as the gas emergency service, investment to keep the gas network safe and reliable and how it supports those most in need. It is also seeking views on preparing the gas network for a greener future, making sure it can continue to deliver essential services for generations to come.

Wales & West Utilities charge for their services through consumer gas bills. Currently, their services make up 20% of an annual gas bill – so for the average gas bill of £630, that’s £128 a year – or 35 pence per day.

Graham Edwards, Chief Executive at Wales & West Utilities, explains: “The pipes we look after are mostly underground and out of mind, but we provide an essential service in keeping people safe and warm in their homes and powering businesses. Now, as we plan for the future, we want as many people in West Wales as possible to have their say on the future of their gas network and the services we provide.”

“This consultation is about ensuring our customers’ views are heard so that we plan and work towards getting the balance right between investing to maintain and improve our services and preparing the gas network for the future, while keeping bills low.

“We understand the financial pressure households across the area are under and we remain committed to keeping our portion of the gas bill to a minimum – we have already reduced the cost of our services since 2013 from £145 to £128 today.

“We’re looking forward to hearing customer feedback from West Wales as this will play a vital role in shaping our business for the future.”

Wales & West Utilities also connects around 11,000 homes and businesses to the network each year. And, for customers in need of extra support, the company has a scheme offering low-cost gas connections and financial help for appliance repairs. There is also a priority register to make sure people in vulnerable situations are prioritised when things go wrong.

To have your say on the future of your gas network and the services Wales & West Utilities provides please go to PipeUpOnline.co.uk or Facebook.com/wwutilities and be in with a chance to win a £100 Amazon.co.uk Gift Card.

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Elin Jones welcomed to Gorsedd as ‘Elin Ceredigion’

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AT THIS year’s National Eisteddfod, held in Cardiff Bay, Elin Jones, AM for Ceredigion, was welcomed into the Gorsedd.

The ceremony of the Gorsedd of the Bards is an integral part of the National Eisteddfod, and honours people who have made a significant contribution to the Welsh language and to Wales. Upon being admitted to the Gorsedd, the member is able to choose their ‘Bardic name’. Elin Jones has chosen to be known as Elin Ceredigion.

Elin Jones said: “It’s an honour to be admitted to the Gorsedd at this year’s National Eisteddfod, and to be known there as Elin Ceredigion.

“This was a very different and diverse National Eisteddfod. People from all over Wales and from many different cultures were able to see the Welsh Language thriving.

“The National Eisteddfod is important in whichever part of Wales it may be held. In two years’ time, it will be in Tregaron in Ceredigion which will be equally as exciting and important an Eisteddfod.

“The Gorsedd will next meet in Ceredigion in July 2019 – to proclaim the 2020 Ceredigion Eisteddfod.”

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