IN a workstream meeting on 3 April, councillors were given an update on the work to develop new ways of providing a music service in Ceredigion.
Councillors were told that the Ceredigion Music Service currently spends £65 per pupil, which is the highest spend of any council in Wales. It is almost three times higher than the next highest spending council, which spends £22 per pupil.
Under the new structure, the Music Service will still be the best funded in Wales. Despite a 32.4% reduction, the budget will still be more than double the amount that the second highest spending council pays per pupil.
The new service plan will offer a standard cost for instrument and vocal provision, to include lessons, ensembles, orchestras and choirs. This ensures fairness for families across the county. The current models allows schools to charge different amounts, with some schools not charging at all, and the highest charging £175 per year. The new model would allow the Music Service to retain all of the income generated from charging for provision.
Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services. She said “We are proud of the long and successful history of the Ceredigion Music Service and want to see it flourish in the future. We want to change the way the service works to give a fairer service to our pupils. The new plans give a minimum guarantee on lesson length, which isn’t the case under the current model.”
With the huge cuts to council budgets, it’s inevitable that we will need to make further savings in every council service, including the Music Service. We want to do this in a way that uses our budgets effectively and to carry on providing a music service we can all be proud of.”
“Unfortunately, false information has been spread online which has misled many concerned residents. I’m glad that councillors have had a chance to understand the true facts of the situation.”
The workstream was an opportunity to explain to councillors why information that has been shared on social media is incorrect. The figure of 68% savings that has been used on social media is incorrect as it only considers the overall reduction in core funding, without including any income from the music lessons. It is incorrect to suggest that the council has at any point considered overall savings of 68%.
The new proposals for the Music Service will be discussed further in the Learning Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 9 May. This meeting is open to the public.
Engagement events lead to several applications for new Cozy Caron scheme
SEVERAL households have applied for the new Cozy Caron scheme following several engagement events which were recently held in Tregaron, Bontrhydfendigaid, Ysbyty Ystwyth and Pontrhydygroes, Llanfair Clydogau, Llanddewi Brefi and Llangeitho.
The scheme is available for eligible households living in Tregaron and the rural villages surrounding the town to have a new central heating system installed. Eligible households are ones that do not have an existing central heating system installed in their homes, live in energy inefficient properties and are on a low income.
Tregaron is a deeply rural community with several of the neighbouring villages reliant on the town for resources. Due to its rurality, the gas network does not reach this community. Residents living in this area have to rely on more expensive types of fuel, e.g. solid fuel, oil, or LPG gas, to heat their homes. Coupled with this, the vast majority of the properties have been built with little or no insulation resulting in heat escaping through the roof, walls and windows, resulting in high fuel costs.
This scheme is funded through the £150m Warm Homes Fund; a national fund established by National Grid and administered by Community Interest Company, Affordable Warmth Solutions. The funding was secured by Ceredigion County Council’s Housing section through a competitive bidding process. City Energy will be working closely with Ceredigion County Council to deliver this scheme on their behalf.
Councillor Dafydd Edwards, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing said, “With fuel costs rising, this scheme is aimed at households who are finding it difficult to meet their fuel costs in order to heat their homes adequately. Adequately heating the home is beneficial to the health and wellbeing of all members of the family.”
The council have teamed up with Ceredigion Citizens Advice so that experienced benefits and energy advisers from Citizens Advice can give one-to-one support to householders and help to access funding or income maximisation alongside practical help with energy use and achieving a warmer home. Citizens Advice launched a new project in November 2018, which is also funded through the Warm Homes Fund. The project, ‘Warm Homes Ceredigion’, delivers advice and support to local people who may be at risk of not being able to heat their homes.
Jeremy Nesbitt, Managing Director of Affordable Warmth Solutions, said “We are excited about this investment from National Grid and are delighted to support Ceredigion County Council to fund the scheme to address fuel poverty across the area. Solving the issues associated with Fuel Poverty continues to challenge many of our stakeholders and the feedback we’ve already received provides evidence of how the Warm Homes Fund will make a positive difference to thousands of homes throughout Great Britain.”
Anyone interested in the new central heating system, or to find out more about the scheme, feel free to call the Housing Section on 01545 572 185 or e-mail Housing@ceredigion.gov.uk.
For more information on the Energy Efficiency and Maximising Income Advice or booking an appointment for the Warm Homes Ceredigion for one-to-one advice call Ceredigion Citizens Advice on 01239 621974 and ask for William or Bronwen.
Ben Lake MP joins push to encourage more accessible rail journeys in Ceredigion
Ben Lake MP has joined forces with the rail industry to encourage more disabled people in Ceredigion to travel by train using the Disabled Persons Railcard, which offers a third off journeys.
Ben Lake attended a parliamentary event on accessibility and inclusion in rail, hosted by the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail. The event showcased the work the rail industry is doing to change and improve the network to make it more accessible. This includes enabling disabled people to make more discounted journeys with the Disabled Persons Railcard.
Last year 2969 journeys starting from Ceredigion were made using the Railcard, up from 2401 in 2015. This compares to a 43% increase across the country as a whole, with Disabled Persons Railcard journeys rising from 5 million in 2015 to 7 million in 2019.
The Disabled Persons Railcard offers a third off adult rail fares at any time on the National Rail network for people with a disability, plus a companion. On average, passengers with the Disabled Persons Railcard save £108 a year, even after the £20 cost of the card is factored in.
The rise in accessible journeys reflects the work rail companies are doing to make services more accessible. The industry recently launched a new interactive ‘Access Map’ to make it easier for passengers to find out at a glance how accessible their local station is. The industry is also working together to improve passenger assistance bookings, with new technology currently being rolled out for staff and a customer app launching next summer to make bookings easier.
Since 2006, the rail industry has delivered £500million of improvements at stations including making them more accessible, with £300 million of additional funding from government to make 73 more stations accessible by 2024.
Ben Lake MP said: “Everyone in Ceredigion should have the opportunity to travel by train and today’s event shows the rail industry is working hard to improve accessibility across the country and make the railway easier for everyone to use. I’m pleased to work with the rail companies to raise awareness of the discounts offered by the Disabled Persons Railcard and hope more people will benefit from big savings that can be made.”
Jac Starr, chief operating officer at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies and Network Rail, said:
“We’re working hard to improve the railway, making more stations step-free and adding thousands of new and refurbished carriages which are more accessible. While record numbers of people are saving money with the Disabled Persons Railcard, we want everyone to benefit from the improvements we’re making which is why we’re encouraging eligible disabled people to sign up for a card and save on their journeys.”
Transport Accessibility Minster Nusrat Ghani said: “We are absolutely committed to improving the experience of disabled passengers across our network.
“Working alongside the Rail Delivery Group and Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, we are currently reviewing the eligibility criteria of the Disabled Persons Railcard, looking at how we can improve provisions for carers or companions.
“We also recently announced the 73 stations receiving a share of £300m of Access for All funding, as we work towards an entirely accessible transport network by 2030 with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier.”
Ceredigion County Council commits to be a net zero carbon council by 2030
CEREDIGION councillors have supported a motion to make Ceredigion County Council a net zero carbon local authority by 2030. The councillors supported the motion in a meeting on 20 June 2019.
The agreed motion was based on Councillor Mark Strong’s initial motion which raised concerns about a Climate Crisis. An amendment was made to commit the council to an ambitious and specific target. Councillors also agreed that a clear plan should be developed within 12 months to achieve the net zero carbon status.
Councillors also called on Welsh and UK Governments to provide the support needed to achieve effective carbon reductions.
The motion was proposed by Councillor Mark Strong. He said, “Faced with a Climate Crisis, I am pleased that my fellow councillors have agreed that we need to take drastic action to reduce our emissions. The council has already reduced carbon emissions a great deal, but we must go much further.”
Earlier in the month, the council’s Cabinet approved its third Carbon Management Plan. The ambitious new plan is targeting a 15% reduction in emissions by 2023. The previous plans have achieved a 45% reduction of CO2 since 2007/8, a reduction of over 7,000 tons of CO2.
The new Carbon Management Plan includes a number of projects to achieve the emissions reduction target. They include investing in a new more energy efficient fleet of council vehicles and improving heating systems in Ceredigion schools.
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