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Council in Chaos Over Music Cuts

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AN UPDATE on Ceredigion Council’s cuts to its schools’ Music Service, due to be discussed by Councillors on Wednesday 17 July, shows that the Authority’s plans are in chaos according to parents and supporters of the Service.

Over recent weeks, parents have been asked to indicate whether their children are interested in receiving lessons from September 2019 at the new standardised charge of £140 a year.
The Council’s latest update says that between 700 and 800 children are interested in receiving lessons, down from just under 1,200 in 2018-19.

Also, the document says that changes to the delivery of the Service are now planned to come into force in January 2020, half way through the school year.

Supporters of the Music Service have questioned the purpose of a programme of Council cuts and restructuring, which may have put off up to 36% of pupils from receiving lessons for the sake of only increasing income by 8%.

A spokesperson from Friends of Ceredigion Young Musicians said: “We have warned for months that the cuts were badly thought out, and this seems to confirm it. The Council aimed to cut the core funding and introduce new standard fees for lessons, higher than most parents currently pay. But if their own figures are to be believed, over a third of families may have been put off taking up instrument lessons, so the income that Ceredigion receives to fill the funding hole may increase by less than a tenth.

“We very much hope that the numbers of children receiving lessons next year will be higher than the Council’s figures suggest, and we’ve been very active in encouraging parents to register their interest.

“But parents will wonder how on earth the Council can justify introducing changes to the Service, which may be far-reaching in terms of the teachers who will be employed and how lessons will be delivered, half way through a school year?

“All along, our main concern has been to ensure that music is available to all, not just those who can afford to pay more, and to ensure continuity for pupils. There are reports of good teachers looking to move elsewhere due to the uncertainty they’re facing.

“The Council has ignored any criticism of its plans, but must now surely pause and think again.”

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Ceredigion Conservative Association Elects a New Chairman

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On the 18th September, the Ceredigion Conservative Association held its Annual General Meeting, attended remotely by Conservative Members from across the County. The Association was formally re-established and Patrick Loxdale was elected as the new Chairman.

Commenting on his new position, Patrick says:

“ I am very honoured to be given the opportunity to serve in this position. I believe passionately in democracy and the democratic process. The Welsh Conservatives came second in Ceredigion in last year’s General Election, increasing the Conservative vote share by more than the national average. It shows that Conservative values are widely held by people of all ages in Ceredigion, and it is important that we have a functioning local association, and strong candidates to allow their opinions to be heard.”

Patrick, whose family have lived in Llanilar for five generations, previously served as a Medical Officer in The Royal Navy for almost twenty years, qualifying as a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. From 2001 to 2016 he worked as an NHS Consultant in Devon. Moving back to Llanilar when his brother passed away, Patrick now farms from his family home and enjoys acquiring new knowledge in organic farming and rural management. Patrick adds:

“Ceredigion is a fantastic place to live, with a world beating environment. There are great opportunities for our future and our children’s security, prosperity and fulfilment here. Yet the Labour run Welsh Government continues to fail to grasp this and rarely provides any real focus outside of the M4 corridor! In next year’s Senedd election, the people of Ceredigion deserve a credible alternative choice; a choice that rejects both the on-going failures of Welsh Labour and the separatist ideology of Plaid Cymru. It is time for the people of Ceredigion to vote for the Welsh Conservatives.

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Walk-in testing now available for Aberystwyth town

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From today [Wednesday 30 September 2020], people in Aberystwyth with symptoms of COVID-19 can access testing (through a booked appointment) via a temporary walk-in facility in the town.

Hywel Dda University Health Board has arranged this extra testing service in addition to the drive through facility already in place at Canolfan Rheidol, because many residents in the town, including students, do not have their own private vehicle in order to access the drive-through testing facility.

The facility is located in the former university nursery building (behind, but not connected to, Padarn Surgery), Penglais Road, Aberystwyth and can be accessed via the walkway which will be clearly signposted to ensure people get to the right place.

Alison Shakeshaft, Director of Therapies & Health Science at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “We have put this extra facility in place to make sure those in the local community without their own transport are not missing out on getting a test when they need it.

“We appreciate the efforts people are making to help protect each other during this challenging time. I urge everyone to remain vigilant and follow the rules, including wearing face coverings where required, keep social distancing, washing hands regularly, or using a hand sanitiser if hand washing is not possible, to help us live and work alongside the virus whilst containing its spread.”

Eifion Evans, Ceredigion County Council Chief Executive said, “We thank Hywel Dda University Health Board for providing extra testing service in Ceredigion. Residents and students alike are urged to utilise this service for the health of everyone living in our county and we are able to protect the vulnerable. This is a critical time for us to follow the rules and keep Ceredigion safe.”

Anyone who has symptoms of the virus (a new persistent cough, high temperature or loss/change of taste or smell) must book a test as soon as possible through the online UK portal at www.gov.wales/coronavirus.

Please make sure when booking your test that you select the option you need (for example, only book the walk-in centre if you are not able to travel in your own vehicle to the drive through facility). If you attend the walk-in centre you must wear a face covering.

University students with COVID-19 symptoms, when booking a test, are required to provide the temporary local address they are living at while they are students at Aberystwyth university and not their usual home address.

Please do not book a test if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and do not turn up without booking first as it will not be possible to accommodate you without an appointment.

Please follow the latest self-isolation guidelines which can be found here.

Thank you for helping to #KeepCeredigionSafe.

For the latest news and updated from Hywel Dda University Health Board visit www.hduhb.wales.nhs.uk

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Adjustment to Safe Zones

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In August, temporary traffic orders were introduced so that Safe Zones for four Ceredigion towns could remain for up to 18 months subject to regular reviews so minor adjustments can be made.

In line with the evidence collected on the use of the towns, Ceredigion County Council feel the need to keep the safe zones in place for the time being. Aberaeron and New Quay will continue as they are.

In Cardigan the closures will change to 11am until 4:30pm Monday to Saturday. The safe zones will not be in place on a Sunday in Cardigan. These adjustments will come in to force on Sunday morning, 04 October.

In Aberystwyth, additional parking has been implemented for the disabled and blue badge holders in Chalybeate Street close to the Care Society Mobility Centre.

Further enhancements to provide better access for the disabled and blue badge holders will also continue to be explored.

Safe zones were introduced in Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Cardigan and New Quay on 13 July to create safe and spacious areas for the public to visit and provide the confidence that social distancing can be maintained in these areas.

Safe zones will be in place until at least 01 November 2020 and reviewed fortnightly in line with the infection rate and available evidence.

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

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