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Views on future of education in county sought

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CONSULTATIONS on the future of education provision at three Ceredigion primary schools are now open and views are being sought.

In line with Ceredigion County Council’s School Review Policy, and due to a fall in numbers, budget deficit and a review of school provision in the area, Cabinet decided at its meeting on July 10 to cease to maintain education provision at Cilcennin Primary School in the centre of the county, and also at Beulah and Trewen Primary Schools in the south of the county. These decisions commence the consultation process which is now open until November 7.

The Cabinet Member responsible for Learning Services, Councillor Catrin Miles said, “Whilst the Welsh Government sets the overall policy and legislative framework for school organisation, Councils have a responsibility for the planning and management of school places and must secure efficient provision so as to focus resources on improving education outcomes for young people.”

Full consideration have been included in these consultations to comply with the requirements of the updated Welsh Government School Organisation Code which comes into force on 1 November.

Councillor Catrin Miles continued, “It is essential that we consult fully on the proposals to cease education provision at Beulah and Trewen Primary Schools and Cilcennin Primary School. There were careful consideration of the relevant factors of education in the area by the Schools Review Panel and Cabinet to ensure the sustainability of the educational provision in Ceredigion for the future. This is now the opportunity for the local communities to comment on the proposals.”

Arrangements will be made to consult with pupils, including those of any affected schools. The information provided will be presented in such a way that is relevant to their age and level of understanding, which will allow them to reach an informed opinion.

The consultation papers can be seen on www.ceredigion.gov.uk/consultations. Views can be expressed or further questions asked, by either completing the response form at the end of the document or in writing to: school.reviews@ceredigion.gov.uk or Ceredigion County Council, School Services, 2nd Floor, Canolfan Rheidol, Rhodfa Padarn, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3UE. Respondents can call 01545 570881 for a paper copy. Views are to be received by 7 November 2018.

A Consultation Report will be presented to Cabinet for decision on the proposals on 18 December. If a decision was to be made to cease provision at the three schools, there would be a Statutory Notice open for objections in January. The Cabinet decisions contribute towards realising the Council’s corporate priorities of investing in people’s future. The Full Council will make any further decisions on these matters after the consultation process.

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The county’s play areas to close

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ALL THOSE who manage Ceredigion Play Areas have been asked to close their play areas as of Monday, 23 March 2020.

This decision doesn’t come lightly as they are wonderful places to enjoy. However, you may have noticed people are still meeting in outdoor parks and communal areas outside. We must protect our communities and strive to ensure that people stay away from places where they can come together, especially children and young people who are not currently attending school. It is also important to note, it is reported that Coronavirus can remain on surfaces, including metals and plastics.

The Council requires all playground owners / managers in Ceredigion to ensure that the community keep away from the play spaces. These include community spaces, parks and skate parks.

If there is a gate or fence around the play area, it will be locked and a poster placed on the entrance. For those areas without a fence or gate, the poster will be put in a suitable place so that the public can understand that it is not safe for them to use the play area at present.

We thank all who are helping to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak responsibly.

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Community

The latest on plastic free Ceredigion

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At its meeting held on 17 March, the Council’s Cabinet received an activity update from the Plastic Free Ceredigion Task and Finish Group, which was set up after full Council approved a motion on 22 February 2018.

Full Council approved the ‘Plastic Free campaigns throughout the County, including Plastic Free Aberporth and Plastic Free Aberystwyth’ motion to ensure that the Council helps to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in our day to day operations.

The motion involved a number of factors including; reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and encouraging local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives. Promoting the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events, supporting beach cleans and any other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics.

Since 22 February 2018, the Council have removed 5 single-use plastic that were used across the local authority, implemented projects in conjunction with NRW with local primary schools, worked closely with communities throughout Ceredigion and commenced the provision of Water bottle re-fills on request to all visitors to our public facing buildings.

In January 2020, the Schools Service were successful in bidding for funding from the Circular Economy Capital Fund, which allows for the purchasing of milk dispensers which will remove the need for the provision of plastic milk bottles and straws by 1,979 pupils at Foundation and Key Stage 2. This is equivalent to a reduction of 376,010 plastic milk bottles per school year.

Councillor Alun Williams, Member Champion for Sustainability said, “These are initiatives which, together, make a real difference to the amount of single-use plastics going into the waste stream from Council activities. Whilst it’s important that everyone seeks to minimise their use of single-use plastics, it’s particularly important that large organisations like councils take these kinds of actions because they can have a wider effect which, in turn, can lead to industry changing to more sustainable practices. Ceredigion Council is trying to lead the way in showing what’s possible within an organisation.”

This supports one of the Council’s corporate priority of Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.

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Community

Cabinet decision on former care home still stands

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The Council’s Cabinet met on Tuesday 17 March to discuss the recommendation put forward by the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday 16 March, regarding the future of the former care home, Penparcau.

Following the discussion at Cabinet, it was decided not to support the recommendation put forward by the Committee. The Cabinet’s original decision made on 25 February will now be implemented.

The Committee recommended that Cabinet postpone progressing the sale of the former care home for 6 months, given the current situation regarding coronavirus, and following that period, both the Corporate Resources and Healthier Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committees reconsider the matter of future EMI Nursing in Ceredigion. The recommendation was made after councillors used the Councils’ call in process to review the Cabinet’s decision on 25 February 2020.

Councillor Rhodri Evans is the Cabinet member for Economy and Regeneration. He said, “The Council has actively sought the appropriate re-use of the former care home over a lengthy period of time. The Council initially undertook a procurement exercise to identify a provider between 2015 and 2017 and since 2018 sought to sell the property for a preferred use since. Both approaches have been unsuccessful. After careful consideration, it’s now time to consider alternative options for disposing of this asset and attract investment in the property. The money raised from the sale can then be used towards supporting service providing care elsewhere in the County.

The Council will continue to discuss options with Hywel Dda University Health Board for providing improved EMI provision in the County.”

The Council will liaise with Registered Social Landlords in the hope that a purchase can be agreed within 3 months. This is due to the continued need for affordable housing in the County. If this cannot be achieved, the land will be sold on the open market without identifying any preferred uses.

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