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Wales on four this summer

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(Pictured: Wales and Dragons lock Cory Hill)

WALES’ Grand Slam winners will be live on Channel 4 when they face England and Ireland at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in the Under Armour Summer Series this August – it was confirmed today.

The reigning 2019 Guinness Six Nations title holders host both fellow Championship opponents in preparation for the Rugby World Cup in September, with the auld enemy in town on Saturday 17th August (14:15hrs) and the Irish arriving on Saturday 31st August (14:30hrs).

Channel 4 showed their first Welsh rugby international last June when Wales beat South Africa in Washington DC, followed by a successful two-Test tour of Argentina.

The partnership will be rekindled for Wales’ Under Armour Summer Series matches, with the England game to be simultaneously shown on Sky, and it has already been announced that Channel 4 will show the final match of the campaign, at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, by virtue of their existing deal with the Irish Rugby Football Union.

“We will be delighted to welcome Channel 4 to Cardiff and join their portfolio of rugby programming this summer,” said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.

“Our experience working with them during last year’s summer tour in Argentina and for the game against South Africa in USA was hugely positive and, of course, their coverage of Heineken Champions Cup rugby is highly regarded.

“These two matches will not only be the last opportunity to see Wales at Principality Stadium before we leave for the World Cup in Japan, but they are also a final send off for our head coach Warren Gatland.

“We are expecting two incredible occasions, two huge crowds and a fitting spectacle for all those watching on TV screens around the world as we celebrate the most successful coach in the history of our game and send Wales to the World Cup in no doubt that an entire nation is behind them.”

Two away games top and tail the campaign, starting with a showdown at Twickenham on Sunday 11th August (itself shown on Sky) and culminating with a trip to Dublin on 7th September.

The two matches on home soil are a Cardiff curtain call for Gatland who will move on after Japan 2019, after serving 12 years at the helm.

Currently placed second in the World Rugby rankings, Wales will also be looking to extend a record 14-match unbeaten run during their four-game RWC warm-up campaign and Gatland will trim his squad, from 42 to the 31 who will make the plane, following Ireland’s visit to Cardiff.

The Grand Slam and Gatland-factor combined is expected to produce sell-out crowds for the summer after Wales completed a unique Championship-clean-sweep-hat-trick under his tenure, lifting the Guinness Six Nations Championship in 2019 to add to triumphs in 2008 and 2012.

“We’re delighted to be working with the Grand Slam winners once again and look forward to Warren Gatland’s men laying down markers against Ireland and England. It promises to be an intriguing summer of rugby for fans of all nations ahead of the Rugby World Cup,” added Joe Blake-Turner, Channel 4 Commissioning Editor, Sport.

Approaching 100,000 tickets have been snapped up for the UA Series already and both games are expected to sell-out the 73,931 capacity Principality Stadium ground – with remaining tickets priced from £40, (£10 U16s, available across more than half the seats in the ground) still available here www.wru.co.uk/tickets.

Wales’ 2019 Under Armour Summer Series fixtures:
Wales vs England: Principality Stadium, Saturday 17th August 2019 – Kick Off: 14:15hrs. £60 (£10 U16 concession available), *£40 (£10 U16 concession available) – lower and middle tier and AFZ sold-out
Wales vs Ireland: Principality Stadium, Saturday 31st August 2019 – Kick Off: 14:30hrs. £70, £60 (£10 U16 concession available), *£40 (£10 U16 concession available) – lower tier sold-out
*Alcohol Free Zone tickets are also in this category

Wales’ away summer fixtures:
England v Wales (Twickenham) Sunday 11 August
Ireland v Wales (Aviva Stadium) Saturday 7 September

Wales in Japan, RWC 2019:
Wales v Georgia – Toyota City, 23rd September, 11:15am (GMT)
Australia v Wales – Tokyo, 29th September, 8:45am (GMT)
Wales v Fiji – Oita, 9th October, 10:45am (GMT)
Wales v Uruguay – Kumamoto City, 13 October, 9:15am (GMT)

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Llanwrda bookshop in the running to be named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2020

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AN appointment only bookshop in Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire, which offers a beautifully curated collection of books as well as cards, wrapping paper and Fair Trade gifts, has been named on the shortlist of retailers in the running to be named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2020.

Books At The Dragon’s Garden says it “aims to make a visit to our shop an experience”. The shop runs a loyalty scheme for customers and offers promotions throughout the year. In addition, in its base at the market garden it uses organic compost, seeds and freshly picked vegetables and flowers. It only uses paper bags and has planted lots of pollinators in the garden to increase biodiversity.

The Best Small Shops competition is managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC), whose member trade associations represent approximately 100,000 independent retailers throughout the UK between them. The competition celebrates the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets and the central role they play in their local communities. It is sponsored by Maybe*, an engagement platform that helps make social media work for independent retailers. The winner will be announced next month.

In addition to the main award, Books At The Dragon’s Garden has also been shortlisted for a special award to be given to the independent retailer that has demonstrated specific innovation to combat the impact of COVID-19. This award is sponsored by booost, the loyalty, gifting and promotions app.

“It was impossible to make my previous shop both safe and financially viable, so I had a radical rethink and a conversion of two old stables at my market garden meant I was able to move the entire shop to a rural location,” explains owner Mandy Tomos.

In the interim I continued to promote the business on social media and sold online via the website. I received an award as a “Local Hero” for continuing to supply my local community during lockdown. As the shop is now appointment only, it is very safe for both customers and staff, numbers are low and social distancing is easy. Contactless payment is taken outside under cover. I used social media to maintain contact with my customers and wrote a chatty book suggestion column in our local free paper every month.”

“This has been a particularly challenging year for small, independent retailers and many have come through to this point through innovation, quality of product and service, a commitment to serve their local communities and a large dose of determination,” explains Mark Walmsley, Chair of the IRC.

“As more and more people have been forced to stay home and work from home, we have seen just how much we all value local independent shops and want to see them not just survive, but also thrive. These shops offer choice, diversity and genuine customer service. And, after what has been a rather dark year, that has to be worth celebrating.”

The annual competition highlights the best of Britain’s independent retail sector, celebrating the commitment and creativity of independent retailers and the central role they play in their local communities. Previous winners have included Bristol-based delicatessen Papadeli, the 2019 winner, and The Mainstreet Trading Company, a combined bookshop, café, deli & homeware shop based in St Boswells, in the rural Scottish Borders, which won in 2018.

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Safe Zone arrangements during firebreak

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Aberaeron Safe Zone

FOLLOWING the announcement by First Minister Mark Drakeford that introduced a ‘fire break’ across Wales, Ceredigion County Council will not be closing the roads daily within the safe zones between 6pm on Friday, October 23 and 11am on November 9.

Some aspects will remain where changes are in place 24/7 or temporary parking restrictions apply. Council owned public car parks will remain free during this period for residents and visitors alike.

Safe Zone – Recent amendments

Further minor amendments have come into effect this week, they are:

· In Aberaeron, on street parking will return between Cadwgan Place and Market Street junction.
· In Aberystwyth, there is controlled blue holder access to Eastgate from Portland Street as well as controlled access to Chalybeate Street from Terrace Road.
· In Cardigan, there will be controlled blue badge holder access along High Street.

Safe zones are reviewed fortnightly in line with the infection rate and available evidence. A further announcement will be made before 09 November.

More information can be seen on the safe zones Council web page: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/SafeZones

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Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday

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MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at 18:00 HRS, to last until Monday November 9 at 00:01 HRS

Mr Drakeford said: “This firebreak is the shortest we can make it. It must be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”

All non essential businesses, including tourism businesses will be told to close.

Businesses have been told that they will be given £1000 each automatically to help with the economic impact of the shutdown.

Mr Drakeford added that children will be the priority and that childcare facilities will open as normal. Primary schools will open after half term.

Secondary schools will be closed for a week after half term to help control the virus.

Universities will offer a mixture of face-to-face learning and learning via video link. Students must stay at their university accommodation during the lockdown.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a Wales-wide lockdown, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has called the lockdown “not-proportionate” and is calling on the Welsh Government to be “open and transparent” on the evidence to support a lockdown and if the First Minister is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns every month.

Paul Davies MS said: “Sadly, the First Minster has failed to get public support for this second Wales-wide lockdown, failing to be open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown and what his actions will entail for the future.

“The Welsh Government also has to be honest that this road they are taking us down is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns. This is not a two-week break to solve the pandemic, it is likely that we will see regular lockdowns across the rest of the year. The Welsh Government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“However, the main concern is that this national lockdown is not proportionate. The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.

“The First Minister needs to urgently come to the Welsh Parliament and answer these questions, to face effective scrutiny by elected representatives and not run his government by media.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb told The Herald: “The evidence to support an all-Wales lockdown is weak and I am sceptical that this so-called ‘fire-break’ will tackle the situation in those parts of Wales where infection rates have been out of control. The key issue for Welsh Government to address is what will be done differently after the firebreak ends in those parts of Wales where infection rates have spiralled out of control. Otherwise the whole of Wales risks being dragged back into a series of rolling lockdowns.

“As we saw earlier in the year, lockdowns come with huge costs in terms of harm to the economy and to people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. With the Welsh Government asking UK Government to fund this lockdown, I hope that as many businesses as possible get support they need quickly. Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by these latest restrictions and I will be fighting hard again to see that they are protected as the lockdown kicks in.”

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