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Higgins supports public ownership of railways

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CALUM HIGGINS, Welsh Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, has announced that he back the return of publicly run rail services in West Wales.

He says that rail services, including on the ‘Heart of Wales’ line and a re-opened Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line should be re-nationalised. In his opinion, arm’s length public companies or cooperatives could save the taxpayer money and increase investment in the railway network.

Mr Higgins says: “The railways are a fundamental public service, for too long they have been run for a profit despite being funded by a tax payer subsidy. The subsidy allows rail operators to make a profit while increasing fares for service users and pricing some out of using trains. I back the return of publicly run railways, and the Heart of Wales line should be one of the first.”

Mr Higgins is insists that public ownership is not just affordable, but profitable for the taxpayer: “In the last few years the taxpayer has been running the East Coast Mainline from London to Edinburgh. Since 2009 over £1 billion has come back to the treasury in profit, but this Conservative Government has re-privatised it and handed the yearly profit back to private companies. We now know that publicly owned rail services can make money for the tax payer which can be reinvested in the network. The not for profit rail model would provide money to re-open old lines such as the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line.”

He outlined his plans to support a public ownership or cooperative model for the Heart of Wales line: “I really believe that the public are the best people to run a service. The Heart of Wales line franchise is to be renewed in the next couple of years and could be one of the first railways to return to public ownership.

“The Heart of Wales line could be owned by a public interest company or a cooperative, giving local people the biggest say on how it’s run. The line has so much potential and could be a great commuter service between Ammanford, Llandybie, Llandovery, Llanelli, and Swansea. My priority would be to see this happen here, across Wales, and the UK. Let’s put the profits from rail services into improving the service for our rural communities.”

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New Quay dog charity supported by national company

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John Burns: Has been feeding happy and healthy pets since 1993​

​A CHARITY based in New Quay, Ceredigion, that rescues and rehomes German shepherd dogs, is celebrating securing backing from the charitable arm of one of the UK’s biggest and most successful independent pet food companies.

The Burns Pet Nutrition Foundation, part of Burns Pet Nutrition, a family company in Wales that makes specialist foods designed for the health and well-being of pets, has unveiled three charities it will support in 2018.

One of these is the UK German Shepherd Rescue, a rescue charity made up of volunteers who donate their free time to helping rescue and rehoming unwanted German shepherd dogs and puppies throughout the UK.

Suzanne Syers, founder of UK German Shepherd Rescue, said she is looking forward to partnering with Burns on many levels.

Suzanne said: “UK German Shepherd Rescue are thrilled to be chosen as one of Burns’ Charities of the Year for 2018, and are grateful for the package of support from Burns which will help us immensely. We are looking forward to developing a strong partnership with everyone at Burns and also to benefit from the nutritional advice and support that they can bring to help improve the quality of diet (and overall wellbeing) of the dogs in our care.”

The other two charities backed by Burns in 2018 are: Forever Hounds Trust, which matches greyhounds and lurchers to happy homes; and Dogs for the Disabled, an Irish charity that trains assistance dogs to assist physically disabled children and adults to carry out a range of practical tasks.

The Burns Pet Nutrition Foundation has run the Burns’ Charity of the Year since 2015 in addition to other community schemes including Burns in the Community and Burns by Your Side, a scheme that helps school children improve their literacy and communication skills with the aid of trained volunteers and their reading dogs.

The chosen charities will receive free, healthy pet food which has been developed by Veterinary Surgeon, ​​John Burns and has been feeding happy and healthy pets since 1993. The charities will also receive expert advice from Burns’ team of in-house nutritionists, joint promotional opportunities, and in some cases, financial donations. These new charities will replace the two charities it supported this year: the National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) and Appaws for Autism.

John Burns, Veterinary Surgeon and founder of Burns Pet Nutrition, said: “Myself and the Burns Pet Nutrition team are extremely passionate about supporting and giving back to the community in any way, shape or form possible – and the same goes for charities in need of the support they aren’t currently receiving.

“We are looking forward to working with the selected charities throughout 2018 and, hopefully, they will feel the benefit of the support Burns Pet Nutrition can offer. We’re proud to be entering our third year of running Burns’ Charities of the Year, and we look forward to the years to follow.”

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New Sensory Room for Aberystwyth respite service

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Opening the sensory room: Adrian Jones

A FANTASTIC facility is ready to use in Aberystwyth which will aim to benefit the disabled within the community.

Bryn Siriol, a respite service for adults with learning disabilities located on Fifth Avenue in Penparcau, has now opened a new sensory room for those with learning disabilities throughout Ceredigion and is the result of a three-year project.

The Herald spoke to Karen Dagg, who had been the registered manager at Bryn Siriol for seven years.

Describing the sensory room and its benefits, Karen said: “The sensory room provides a ‘quiet’ room where the people we support can relax. The people using our service have varying support needs all have a learning disability and some have physical disabilities.

“The sensory room is now equipped with fibre optic lights, bubble/light machine, projector, glitter ball and a water bed. The room is accessible to people who are in wheelchairs.”

She described the journey that was taken to open the sensory room: “The sensory room has always been a dream for myself and the staff at Bryn Siriol. A few years ago we were fortunate enough to receive a bequest from Mr Williams, whose daughter Thelma used to use the respite service before moving into supported living in the Cardigan area.

“The money Mr Williams left to us was enough to purchase the sensory chalet, have it erected and for some of the equipment, however there was a considerable shortfall.

“The shortfall has been possible due to the hard work of the staff team at Bryn Siriol doing car boot sales with items generously donated by the residents of Ceredigion. Also some of the staff from CTLD (Local Authority) did a sponsored walk.”

“How important do you feel it is for Bryn Siriol to have such a facility?” we asked.

“The sensory room will be available to all people with a learning disability and this gives them the opportunity to enjoy the facilities as well as meeting other people from within the area. As far as I am aware there is not another facility like this within Ceredigion.”

Karen told us how successful the sensory room had been so far and how she thinks it will bring the community together.

“The sensory room has been used by people who access the respite service and there has been fantastic feedback not just in words but in the faces of the people with profound disabilities who are unable to communicate verbally.

“The sensory room has only been open since October 4 and we are anxiously waiting for people from outside of our service to enjoy the facility.”

Bryn Siriol will be holding a tea party on November 8 at the service. People are welcome to go along and join them for tea and cakes, as well as to look at the sensory facility.

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Going for Growth event helps businesses reach new markets

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Going for Growth: A successful day

F​OOD CENTRE WALES recently hosted a very successful ‘Going for Growth’ event to help local food and drink businesses to focus their attention on developing and reaching new markets.

The event was well attended with over 70 attendees, mainly consisting of local food and drink producers as well as other business support agencies.

In extending a welcome to everyone to Horeb, ​​Leader of Ceredigion County Council, Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, said​:​ “The food industry is one of the main industries in the County, with some 3,700 people working in it and, of course, based on our excellent agricultural products. Some of the most strategic and iconic companies of the food sector in Wales have sites in Ceredigion, for example, Rachel’s, Dunbia (formerly Oriel Jones), Tŷ Nant and Volac. Horeb Food Centre has served most of the Ceredigion food and drink companies since it opened in 1996. We are very pleased that the Centre has also successfully provided services to many other companies across Wales and beyond.”

Rachel Rowlands, founder of Rachel’s Organic, opened the event by sharing her experience of growing a food business. Welsh Government presented the latest industry research data to help businesses identify potential growth areas for their businesses. Ruth Davies from Cwm Farm, who shared her experience of product development, supplying Selfridges and exporting.

Arwyn Davies, new Business Development Manager for Food Centre Wales who will talk about how food and drink producers can benefit from the support offered by the Food Technologists and the HELIX project. The morning finished with Morrisons buyer, Matt Trigg, explaining what they look for in food products and how to get onto their supermarket shelves. He also met with many of the producers for private meetings in the afternoon.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic and Community Development highlighted the important role of Food Centre Wales in the food and drink industry in Ceredigion, saying, “This event goes to show how valuable Food Centre Wales is for small and medium businesses. I’m certain that local food and drink businesses were inspired from the Going for Growth event where they were treated to experience, knowledge and advice. We’re proud of the high standard of our locally produced food and drink within Ceredigion and are enthusiastic about how we can show support in local businesses to flourish. I’m very much looking forward to the exiting developments in the food and drinks industry in the future.”

The delegates enjoyed a lunch of locally produced food incorporating many food producers who have received help from Food Centre Wales. The afternoon started with attendees participating in a tour of the Research and Development building, followed by 1-2-1 sessions with Food Technologists, Matt Trigg and other business support Agencies – Business Wales, Landsker, Finance Wales, Antur Teifi, Menter a Busnes and Lantra.

The event was organised in collaboration with Cywain and the LEADER groups – Arwain Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire), RDP Sir Gâr (Carmarthenshire) and Cynnal y Cardi (Ceredigion).

The HELIX project is a Welsh Government initiative designed to help develop the food and drink industry in Wales take advantage of the much needed funding available to help their businesses grow in the marketplace. New and existing small and medium enterprise food and drink manufacturers are able to access bespoke assistance from food technologists that is specific and tailored to the individual business.

If you are a food or drink producer and would like to receive help from Food Centre Wales, phone 01559 362230 or email gen@foodcentrewales.org.uk.

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