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Aberystwyth: Coopers sentenced over serious neglect of cattle

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A SENTENCING hearing was held on 10 April at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court to consider the guilty pleas submitted by Mrs. Margaret Cooper, 80 yrs old and Mr. Norman Richard Cooper, 55 yrs old. of Gilfachwith Farm, Bangor Teifi, in relation to the death and serious neglect of 84 cattle.

The prosecution follows an investigation by Ceredigion County Council Animal Health Officers, who visited the farm in May 2018 together with officials from the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

The Officers encountered scenes of utter devastation with dead cattle decaying in the livestock sheds. There were surviving cattle housed with these carcasses, and found to be suffering unnecessarily from neglect. The vet confirmed that the cattle were being caused unnecessary suffering, and the decision was made to take the remaining live cattle into the possession of the Council to prevent any further suffering. Some animals had to be dispatched following examination, due to the serious health conditions they had developed as a result of their suffering.

Ceredigion County Council’s Corportate Lead Officer for Policy and Performance, Alun Williams said, “The Animal Health Officers involved with this case have never experienced such appalling conditions at any farm in their careers. Most of the staff are from farming backgrounds, but they faced horrific circumstances in investigating and retrieving the live animals and the carcasses. This case does not reflect the usual high standards of animal husbandry that is the norm in the two and a half thousand farms in Ceredigion. Nevertheless, we remain vigilant, as this is unfortunately the second such case we have prosecuted in a matter of months. My gratitude to Council staff and to our solicitor in prosecuting this case is immense. I would also like to express my thanks to the Animal and Plant Health Agency, Rural Inspectorate of Wales, and the Police for working closely with the Council in dealing with the worst case of farm animal neglect in Wales in recent times.”

In sentencing, the Chair of the Magistrates said, “This was a horrendous case, as you know. We believe that your actions led to the sustained neglect of these animals, in that they were not provided with basic care needs, food, water, and bedding; dying tied to their stalls. There is clear evidence they have suffered over a long period of time. Also carcasses of those that had died were mixed in with those that were living, it was horrendous”.

Mrs. Cooper and Mr. Cooper were sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for two years, and disqualified from keeping any animals for ten years, with the only exception is that they are allowed to keep their four elderly dogs for the duration of the dogs lives. Mr Cooper was also ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work. They were ordered to pay costs to the Council of £2,500 each, with a victim surcharge of £115 each.

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Conservatives in disarray over alleged Christmas party lockdown breach

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THE CONSERVATIVE Party is investigating the attendance of senior Senedd members and staff at a Christmas party held during December’s lockdown.

Lockdown restrictions prohibit mixing with people outside your own household.

The Welsh restrictions barring such gatherings follow the basic outline of those imposed by the Conservative UK Government in December.

Those attending the drinks party included Paul Smith, the Conservative Chief of Staff at the Senedd, Darren Millar, the Party’s Chief Whip and campaign coordinator, and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS and Conservative Senedd Group Leader Paul Davies.

The Herald understands that a Labour Senedd Member who attended the Party has been suspended by the Labour Senedd Group pending its own investigation.

The Conservatives’ embarrassment at talking the talk but not walking the walk is intensified by Darren Millar’s presence at the shindig.

In May, Mr Millar led calls for Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething to be sacked for eating a bag of chips in a park with one of his own children.

If the Conservative Party follows the logic of their previously stated positions, Mr Millar’s and Mr Davies’ futures look bleak indeed.

With a Senedd election only months away, the revelations have thrown the Conservatives into disarray.

If they do nothing, the Conservatives will – at the very least – face claims they are hypocrites.

If the Conservative Party acts decisively, it faces massive internal problems.

The Conservatives responded to our request for a response to our story.

Those involved stressed they did not host a Christmas Party.

The incident happened on December 8, when the above met in the members’ tea room to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto with a Labour backbencher.

During the evening they did drink a glass or two of wine.

They stress that at no point were there more than four people in the room at any one time and that they maintained social distancing.

A joint statement from Paul Davies, Darren Millar, and Paul Smith said: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.

“While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

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Warning to drug users in Ceredigion over ‘Street Valium’

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POLICE are once again warning drug users in Ceredigion to take extra care when taking illegal prescription drugs especially when taken in conjunction with other drugs and/or alcohol. Mixing drugs, knowingly or unknowingly, can be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that drug users are making use of “Street Valium” at the moment and this is very concerning as individuals just do not know what these tablets may have been combined with. Valium, also known as diazepam – is a benzodiazepine. Combining opioids and benzodiazepines is particularly dangerous because both types of drug sedate users and suppress breathing”.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”

To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/

Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.

In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.

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Ben Lake MP stands up for Ceredigion’s hospitality sector in Parliament

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A WESTMINSTER Hall debate, brought about by an online petition signed over 200,000 times, saw MPs on both sides come together to shine a light on the challenges currently faced by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and supply chain businesses across the UK.

During his contribution to the debate, Ben Lake MP emphasised the importance of the hospitality industry to Ceredigion’s local economy. Ceredigion is home to nearly 400 food and accommodation businesses, including 75 pubs, and together hospitality businesses employ 4,500 people in the county. This equates to over 16% of all employees, without accounting for the many supply chain jobs that are dependent on the sector, such as those found in breweries, food wholesale, and catering equipment hire businesses.

Figures published by UK Hospitality have shown that approximately 41% of hospitality businesses suggested that they would fail by mid-2021 and only one in five sector businesses have enough cash flow to survive beyond February.

Ben Lake MP said: “The vaccination programme of course offers some hope that we will see the level of Covid disruption reduce significantly this year, but hospitality businesses across Ceredigion tell me that they are deeply concerned about their immediate prospects for survival.

“I support calls for the Treasury to provide additional funds so that businesses can be supported to bounce back once restrictions have been eased, and to pause employer national insurance contributions for furloughed employees as a way of alleviating the burden on businesses that are still, in many instances, required by law to close. I also urged the Treasury to consider extending the business rates holiday for the forthcoming financial year, as well as extending the hospitality VAT reduction scheme into 2022.

“Not only would these support measures give businesses the support they require to see out this pandemic, it would also avoid the terrible situation whereby businesses that have previously received Government support are forced to close for good – leaving their employees without a job and previous Government support in vain.”

While there will be no direct action as a consequence of this Westminster Hall debate, it is hoped the result will put increased pressure on the UK Government to consider the proposal more seriously.

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