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Lifeboat campaign gains cross-party support in Westminster

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AN EARLY DAY MOTION opposing the RNLI’s decision to downgrade search and rescue provision in Ceredigion was tabled by Ben Lake MP in the House of Commons last Wednesday (Feb 7). The motion tabled by the Ceredigion MP voices the concerns of nearly 20,000 people who have signed the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign’s petition opposing the RNLI’s plan to remove New Quay’s all-weather lifeboat in 2020.

The motion was sponsored by a cross-party group of Welsh MPs, including Liz Saville Roberts MP, Jonathan Edwards MP, Hywel Williams MP, David Davies MP and Tonia Antoniazzi MP, and has received the support of MPs of all parties, from as far afield as Coventry, Glasgow and Strangford in Northern Ireland.

The motion states: “That this House commends the staff and volunteers of the RNLI for their life-saving work around the coat and at sea; is disappointed by the decision to downgrade the all-weather lifeboat provision at New Quay; is concerned that this decision is contrary to the RNLI’s core objective and principles, and put commercial vessels, visitors, and the local RNLI crew at increased risk; reaffirms its respect for the RNLI and its indispensable work; and calls on its Trust Board Members and Senior Management Team to review decision that would deprive Ceredigion coastline of effective all-weather lifeboat provision.”

Speaking after tabling the motion, Mr Lake commented: “Given the widespread concern surrounding the proposals to downgrade Ceredigion’s all-weather lifeboat provision, it was important that this was raised in this motion so that decision makers understood that there is a great deal of agreement at Westminster that this decision needs to be reconsidered.

“The motion tabled commends the incredible work of RNLI staff and volunteers, and expresses concern that the decision to downgrade the all-weather lifeboat provision at New Quay would place commercial vessels, visitors, and the local crew at increased risk.

“As a supporter of the campaign to keep the all-weather lifeboat at New Quay, I am glad that other MPs from across the political spectrum – and indeed the UK – have not only recognised the incredible work of the RNLI, but also the importance of maintaining effective all-weather lifeboat provision for the entirety of Cardigan Bay. I hope that Board Members and Senior Management will now acknowledge the valid concerns raised by communities along the Ceredigion coast, and review their decision accordingly.”

Richard Taylor, Chair of the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign, added: “This is exciting news from Westminster, and it is heartening to know that our MP Ben Lake who, together with Elin Jones AM, has supported the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign from the outset, has gained cross-party support for this Early Day Motion in the House of Commons.

“An earlier question raised by Ben gained the personal support of Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House.  It is vital that our campaign has a voice in powerful places.

“It is a particularly fruitful time for us. Ben’s intervention follows hard on the heels of the Charity Commission writing to the RNLI Trustees asking them to overturn their decision to keep secret all the data relating to their ill-considered decision to strip Ceredigion of its only all-weather lifeboat.

“This is a good time to acknowledge and thank the campaign action group members and all our supporters, close to home and far and wide, for the effort that has been put in so far. Many people consider this a reckless decision that will put the lives and well-being of future lifeboat crews and other seafarers in our area at avoidable risk and we will not rest until the top management of the RNLI reverse this decision.”

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. The RNLI claims that it will save around £8 million by not having an all-weather lifeboat in New Quay

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

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Communities and staff thanked for flood support

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COMMUNITIES and staff have been thanked for their work during the Storm Callum Floods. The October floods caused great damage to homes, businesses, roads and bridges in the south of Ceredigion. The floods were the biggest flood event in the last 31 years in Ceredigion.

During the flooding, the council supported the emergency services to prioritise the saving of lives. This included making sure that roads and bridges made dangerous by floodwater were closed. The council’s emergency response and recovery procedures were carried out during the event. Multi-agency emergency procedures were also carried out.

Ceredigion County Council Chief Executive, Mr Eifion Evans said, “Council staff went above and beyond their duties over the weekend of the floods. I saw their efforts with my own eyes; staff who weren’t on duty were offering to come in to help our residents. We had to send some staff home as they wanted to work longer than the 12 hour maximum that staff are allowed to work in one shift.

I have also been impressed by the huge efforts made by communities to help each other during, and in the aftermath of the flooding.”

After water levels dropped, council staff from Community Wellbeing, Housing and Highways Teams immediately went to the affected areas to offer practical support and advice. They also saw the extent of the damage that had been caused.

Everyone who has been in touch with the council has been offered help with housing, including being offered emergency temporary accommodation where needed. The Housing Team have worked with local landlords and B&B owners to provide additional accommodation, and to provide ongoing support for people who have been affected by the flood.

The Community Wellbeing Team have also provided advice and specialist equipment to residents to help to begin to dry out their homes. This support is ongoing.

The council organised drop-in sessions in Lampeter, Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul and Llechryd. The sessions were attended by many organisations that can offer support and advice. The sessions gave residents the chance to ask the organisations any questions they had about recovering from the flood.

The Highways Team have arranged a free service to pick-up and dispose of flood damaged materials and have put skips in local household waste sites for flood damaged possessions. The team also cleared 100 tons of earth from the B4459 near Capel Dewi after a landslide covered the road. The Highways Team also repaired damaged roads and bridges.

Mr Evans continued, “The council is dedicated to helping our residents recover from the devastating effects of the recent floods. I understand that the impact is still very raw for people who have been affected, especially those who have been made homeless. I want to reassure every resident that our committed staff are working hard to help you. Despite severe pressure on council budgets, we will do everything in our power to continue to offer practical help to residents.”

A flood recovery group has met regularly to look at how the Council can target help in the most effective way. A further flood newsletter will be published in the near future. The Council will also be hosting flood advice surgeries and building on the work of developing emergency support groups for flooding.

More information about the help the council can offer is available on the website on www.ceredigion.gov.uk/stormcallumfloods

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Training company enjoy successful open evening

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HYFFORDDIANT CEREDIGION TRAINING (HCT) enjoyed a successful open evening on November 7 as it opened its doors to the public.

Opening HCT’s doors gave people the opportunity to see the fantastic range of training opportunities available for them. This included opportunities for young people who are interested in seeing what apprenticeships HCT has to offer.

Mark Gleeson, Manager for Post 14 Vocational Learning said, “It is important that HCT holds open evenings to showcase different learning opportunities that are available to all learners. HCT offers a large number of apprenticeships which ensures that the next generation of skilled workforce is being trained and employed by local companies. This is very important to the economy of Ceredigion.”

There was an opportunity to have a tour of the building, to speak to tutors, to have a look at the workshops, and to see trainees and apprentices in action. This gave a flavour of the kind of work that is done daily at the training centre.

Traineeships and apprenticeships, but also evening classes, are taught at HCT, as Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet Member for Learning Service and Lifelong Learning explains, “If studying towards a full qualification in a given trade is not what you are after, but you want to gain some of the basic skills in the various routes HCT specialises in, why not join an evening class? The next round of evening courses are beginning now. So, what are you waiting for? Contact HCT to see what it has to offer you.”

Evening classes run for six weeks and HCT offers these 2-3 times per year. HCT offers a range of vocational courses for people of all ages, including Hairdressing, Childcare, Business Administration, Information Technology, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrics, Blacksmithing, Agriculture, Motor Mechanics and Welding.

For more information, find ‘Hyfforddiant Ceredigion Training’ on Facebook, or visit the website, http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/public-it/hct/index.html

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Vandalism at coastguard lookout point

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POLICE are investigating vandalism at the old coastguard lookout point at Bird’s Rock.

A council spokesperson said: “We’re very sad to see vandalism to the old coastguard look out at Bird’s Rock on the coastal path a mile to the west of New Quay last week.

“All five windows was smashed – some even had their wooden frames ripped out.”

Melanie Heath, Ceredigion County Council’s Marine Protected Area Officer, added: “This act of vandalism is so distressing to see. The look-out was restored thanks to a special grant from the Crown Estate. It is used by our Dolphin and Porpoise Watch volunteers throughout the monitoring season. It is also a special place for many local people and visitors alike to sit for a while and take in the spectacular views of Cardigan Bay.”

If anyone has any information, contact Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police on 101

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