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Innovative ideas sought to help shape the future of rural Ceredigion

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THE CYNNAL Cynnal y Cardi Local Action Group (LAG) is looking for innovative community led project ideas that could make a real difference to the lives of people living and working in Ceredigion.

Cynnal y Cardi, which is administered by Ceredigion County Council, has five themes where ideas are being sought under the LEADER scheme. All ideas are welcome on a rolling basis, with Monday, March 5 being the first closing date of 2018 for submitting ideas or expressions of interest.

LEADER, which aims to support innovative responses to opportunities or challenges faced by rural communities, is supported through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic and Community Development Services, Ceredigion County Council said: “We hope that this call for project ideas will continue to enhance the capability of rural communities, providing opportunities to develop the rural economy of Ceredigion.”

The five themes that ideas can be supported under include: enhancing the natural and cultural resources of Ceredigion; facilitating pre-commercial activity and new business partnerships and networks; exploring new ways of delivering non-statutory services, facilities and activities; exploring renewable energy opportunities; and making the most of digital technology in local communities. Cynnal y Cardi welcomes ideas under any of the above five themes, in particular those that can be supported under the second, fourth and fifth themes.

The second theme aims to support a knowledge-based economy, strengthening networks between community and business sectors in the county by sharing best practice and resources. Supporting new and innovative opportunities is key to this theme in terms of trialling new products/processes and supporting feasibility and research work.

One of the challenges facing Ceredigion is the number of young people leaving the county to find work elsewhere. Ideas are welcome under the second theme to support initiatives that assist individuals to access work, training, volunteering opportunities and other services and to encourage leadership skills as well as upskilling Ceredigion’s employment workforce.

The fourth theme aims to support ideas relating to renewable energy on a community level. Support is available for pre-development work such as facilitating partner/stakeholder meetings, undertaking familiarisation study visits and investigating the feasibility of developing a community renewable initiative. Reducing the impact of long term rises in living costs is also a priority.

The fifth theme supports ideas that ensure the best use is made of new and emerging technologies that are key to developing the rural economy. Ideas can relate to the piloting of projects that improve service delivery to remoter areas; that combat isolation; that support skills development and opportunities promoting the culture and heritage sectors for the economic benefits of the county.

Chair of the Cynnal y Cardi LAG, Mared Rand Jones said: “These are just a few areas of activity that Cynnal y Cardi Local Action Group is looking to support.  Ceredigion has a lot of potential and so we are looking for innovative ideas from people who want to make a real difference to their rural communities. Whether it is a pilot project or a feasibility study that needs supporting and developing – it’s a positive step toward a stronger and more resilient Ceredigion.”

To discuss your ideas and for information regarding eligibility of support, please call Meleri Richards or Marie Evans on 01545 572063 or visit www.cynnalycardi.org.uk.

The closing dates in 2018 for submitting ideas/expressions of interest are: 05 March; 11 June; 10 September; and 17 December. All submissions are welcome in Welsh or English.

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Community

Fund to bring underused buildings in Regeneration Towns back into use bringing results

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A fund to bring underused commercial buildings in Llandysul, Tregaron and Lampeter back into use is helping businesses to expand and support the local economy. The Mid Wales Town Centre Property Investment Fund (TCPIF) is still open and welcoming applications.

After a four year struggle, Mark and Jayne Ludgate of the Arcade in Llandysul can expand their business thanks to a £200,000 grant from the TCPIF. They wanted to develop their family business through online sales, but didn’t have the space to store, process and package stock.

Additional warehouse space was needed to solve the problem, but the cost of building the warehouse space would have been greater than the value of the warehouse when built. This meant that funding through borrowing alone was unrealistic. The grant was crucial in unlocking the Ludgates’ ability to grow their business.

The grant will allow them to use their high street location as a shop floor to greet customers. They had previously been forced to use it as storage space. They will use the money to build a warehouse outside Llandysul to keep stock to allow them to use their high street property for it’s most effective purpose.

Councillor Rhodri Evans is Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for Economy and Regeneration. He said: “This is a good example of why the Mid Wales Regional Partnership set up the TCPIF. In towns like Llandysul, the costs of developing property are often greater than the eventual value of the property. It makes investing through borrowing alone very difficult. The TCPIF grants are designed to close that market gap and support the plans of local businesses to expand.

If the cost of renovating an underused building is holding your plans to expand your business, I urge you to speak with your local officer to see if the fund can help you. This is important for local businesses and the broader economy.”

TCPIF is funded by Welsh Government Targeted Regeneration programme money and is available in the towns of Llandysul, Tregaron, Lampeter, Brecon, Llandrindod Wells and Newtown. Applications are welcomed from owners or leaseholders of underused properties. Applicants can get in touch with their local regional officer; Gareth.rowlands@ceredigion.gov.uk in Ceredigion or Alan.davies2@powys.gov.uk in Powys to discuss eligibility.

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Appeal following Aberystwyth assault

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Dyfed-Powys Police is appealing for witnesses following a suspected assault in Aberystwyth on Saturday, February 1.

A 59-year-old man sustained serious injuries and was taken to hospital.

A 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of ABH and released under investigation.

The incident occurred at around 9.30pm on the corner of Upper Portland Street and Terrace Road.

Police are aware there were a number of people in the vicinity at the time of the incident and would like to speak to anyone who saw what happened, or may have information that could help the investigation.

Please call 101, visit bit.ly/DPPReportOnline or email contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired you can also text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/1743/01/02/2020/02/C.

Information can also be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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Leading the way in managing planning

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A KEY Officer in Ceredigion leads the way in sharing what it’s like to have a career in planning.

Russell Hughes-Pickering is Ceredigion County Council’s Corporate Lead Officer for Economy and Regeneration, which involves being the head of planning. He has been part of an informative article in February 2020’s edition of ‘The Planner’, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Russell Hughes-Pickering is one of twelve Corporate Lead Officers who sit on the council’s Leadership Group. He says planners need to “be politically astute and look above plans and policies”. This means understanding the organisation, their role in delivering corporate objectives and thinking strategically “so they see how they fit in across the board and in turn help deliver better services and better places for people.”

Russell left Llandovery College in 1985 to start a degree in planning at the University of Westminster. He started work at the London Borough of Hounslow in 1989 as a planner before becoming the lead officer in development plan work in 1997.

The RTPI’s article delves into the careers of a chief planning officer and is campaigning for heads of planning to be incorporated into local authority senior leadership teams. This is amid fears of a declining profile and diminishing corporate presence of spatial planning.

Russell continues, “The more I’ve been involved in preparing corporate plans or the council’s development programme, the easier it is to see, influence and ensure planning is involved at the right time. This has helped avoid issues when major projects go through their planning stage, whether that’s a town centre development, a change to a care home or a new school. Fortunately, I’m involved in an excellent leadership group where the culture focuses on improvement and helping each other to achieve better services.”

He moved back to Aberystwyth in 2000 when taking up the Principal Forward Planner role at Ceredigion, before becoming the Assistant Director for Planning in 2006. This job evolved from a primarily planning remit to one that also included building control and housing matters. In May 2013, he became Head of Performance and Improvement, then became Head of Performance and Economy in 2015. From 01 April 2018, Russell has been the Council’s Corporate Lead Officer for Economy and Regeneration.

When asked what advice Russell would give younger colleagues, he wants to see more authorities improve arrangements on major development projects by setting up corporate development and project management groups and involve planners in them. He also wants to involve the next generation of planners. He said, “Young planners should get involved in these as much as possible so they’re involved in a wide range of service improvements, embrace projects or new development, seek ways to help progress and improve them, and engage in a positive way.”

Councillor Rhodri Evans is the Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, which includes planning. He said, “We are grateful to Russell for his vision and strong voice for planning matters in Ceredigion. A planner has a big part to play in helping to develop and deliver corporate priorities. It shapes the future of our county for future generations.”

The council’s decision to prioritise the planning process shows how the council is working to reach its corporate priorities of boosting the economy and Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.

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