THE UK GOVERNMENT has pulled the plug on the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project in a move described as a vote of ‘no interest in Wales, no confidence in British manufacturing and no care for the planet‘.
Having delayed its announcement until after crucial votes on Brexit in the House of Commons, the Government announced the news just ahead of a vote on a third runway for Heathrow, which could be seen as trying to bury bad news.
An announcement on the tidal lagoon project had been strung out by the Westminster government, the project having first been mooted to David Cameron’s ‘greenest ever government’ in 2011 and subject to a statutory consultation in 2013.
The first of its kind in the world, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon would have produced enough energy to power 150,000 Welsh homes for 120 years, sustain over 2,000 construction and manufacturing jobs in Wales, and support as many as 311 industrial and manufacturing businesses along the supply chain.
It would have delivered £8 million in tourism revenue, and required more than 100,000 tonnes of steel, much of which would come from the Port Talbot steelworks, with further jobs downstream making the component parts.
In early 2017, a review led by former Conservative Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change Sir Charles Hendry, endorsed the scheme’s construction.
Since then, however, there has been near silence from Theresa May’s government.
The decision to refuse funding comes 11 months after Theresa May intervened personally to cancel the promised electrification of the rail line between Swansea and Cardiff and has led to allegations that both the Prime Minister and her government know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.
The decision was made in spite of an offer from the Welsh Government to invest heavily in the £1.3bn project and interest from the trustees of the Welsh Local Government Pension Funds in supporting it by investing pension funds into the project.
A statement from the UK Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to Parliament claimed that: ‘The inescapable conclusion of an extensive analysis is that however novel and appealing the proposal that has been made is … the costs that would be incurred by consumers and taxpayers would be so much higher than alternative sources of low carbon power, that it would be irresponsible to enter into a contract with the provider’.
However, the arithmetic used by the UK Government – a claim that it would add £700 to the cost of household electricity bills between 2031 and 2050 – while eye-catching, is the equivalent of 67p a week.
Council tax reduction supports people on low incomes
A COUNCIL Tax Reduction Scheme is in place to help people who are on a low income. The council administers the scheme on behalf of the Welsh Government for people who are liable to pay Council Tax and who live in Ceredigion. With the recent decision to raise Council Tax by 7%, residents on low incomes are being urged to find out if they are entitled to some help towards paying their Council Tax.
People can be eligible for the reduction if they are on a low income, working or unemployed, cannot work because of illness, retired or are caring for someone. The amount of the reduction depends on a person’s circumstances and how much Council Tax they need to pay.
Councillor Gareth Lloyd is the Cabinet member responsible for Financial Services. He said, “We made the difficult decision to raise Council Tax by 7% to reduce the amount of cuts we have to make to council services. The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising.”
“We want to urge anyone who is on a low income to consider if they are eligible for Council Tax Reduction. Tax increases can add pressure onto people’s budgets, and although this increase is vital to keep quality services in Ceredigion, we want to make sure that anyone who is eligible for help gets it.”
For more information on eligibility and how to claim council tax reduction, email email@example.com or call 01970 633 252.
7% council tax increase to protect education funding
THE COUNCIL TAX in Ceredigion for 2019-2020 will increase by 7%. The increase was agreed by councillors to reduce the impact of cuts to the Council’s budget and, in particular, to protect education spending. The decision was made in a Council meeting on 21 February 2019.
2% of the 7% increase will be used to protect education spending. Schools budgets have been under severe stress after years of needing to make savings. Costs have increased yet again following the agreement of new teachers’ salary increases together with increased pension contributions. This extra 2% uplift will enable school budgets to be kept flat.
The council tax rate increase is set by three key components, the County Council’s tax, the precept of Town and Community Councils and the Police precept. Increases set by the Police and Town and Community Councils result in a combined increase of 7.56%.
Councillor Ellen ap Leader of the Council, said, “We had no option but to ask Council to increase Council Tax by 7% in order to reduce the impact of the cuts we have had to make across council budgets. A successful Ceredigion in the future needs well-funded and well run schools. We want to invest in the future of our children and our county.”
“The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising. The uplift of teachers’ salaries and pensions has not been fully funded by Welsh Government to date. If council tax had not increased, we would have to make deeper cuts.”
In 2018-2019, the average Council Tax Band D property was £1,226.48. The increase means that the same property will pay £1,312.33 in 2019-2020. The council’s budget has been cut by £39m or 25% in the last seven years. The Council will still need to save another £6m in the coming financial year.
Information management policies updated to improve security
THREE key information management policies have been updated by Ceredigion County Council. The policies were updated because of new laws and the need make sure that they are effective in a changing technological environment.
The updated policies were approved by the council’s Cabinet in a meeting on 19 February 2019.
The three policies that have been reviewed are:
· Data Protection/GDPR Policy
· Information Security Policy
· Information and Records Management Policy
The Deputy Leader of Ceredigion County Council and Cabinet member responsible for Governance, Councillor Ray Quant MBE said, “The council needs to keep information and data to carry out the many service we provide. Because of this we have to make sure we’re up to date on data and information protections laws. This decision means that we have approved the hard work done to update the policies and make sure that they are fit for use.”
The policies are essential to manage digital and paper records of the council.
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