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Jail for illegal dog breeder

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AT Swansea Crown Court on 14 August, Steffan Lee Harries and Barbara Ray Howell were given prison sentences due to a number of serious offences, including animal cruelty. Steffan Lee Harries was sentenced to six months imprisonment with immediate effect; three months of which will be spent in custody and three months on licence depending on behaviour. His partner, Barbara Ray Howell was jailed for four months, suspended for 18 months due to being a young mother and also for having a smaller role in the criminal acts.

In addition, both have been banned from keeping dogs for five years. Harries has been banned from keeping poultry and sheep for five years.

The Crown Court ruling followed a hearing on 17 June 2019 at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court where Harries and Howell pleaded guilty to multiple charges of running a dog breeding business without a license. They also pleaded guilty to animal welfare charges and failures to dispose of animal by-products. They also pleaded guilty to trading standards offences that related to selling dogs as private owners on a website called pre-loved.co.uk.

The charges related to their former home of Waundwni in Tanygroes.

This followed a joint prosecution by Ceredigion County Council and the RSPCA, where the animals under the care of Harries and Howell were found in an appalling state of neglect. The RSPCA, with the assistance of the Police had to force entry into the locked buildings where dogs, chickens, pigs and horses had been left without food and water and no natural daylight.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd is the Cabinet member responsible for Finance and Public Protection Services. He said: “This is the first time that Ceredigion County Council and the RSPCA have worked together in a joint prosecution which used the expertise of both organisations and made full use of the court powers available to the council. This conviction should serve as a warning to those that breeding dogs illegally in Ceredigion and the high risks associated with such activity.”

RSPCA inspector Gemma Cooper said: “This was an illegal puppy farm where dogs and their puppies were kept in disgusting conditions which fell far below the minimum standard required. Even the working dogs were neglected, with an emaciated collie, lurcher and terrier all found on the premises. The poultry were dead or dying as we walked around and despite calling a vet to the scene, for many it was too late.

“Sadly, this is a sight we see in south and west Wales time and time again – but there is no excuse. All animals must have their needs met and respected.

“We are very pleased to work with Ceredigion County Council to combat this illegal trade and we advise anyone with animal welfare concerns to call us on 0300 1234 999 or with information about unlicensed breeding to call the council.”

The decision was taken to seize the most vulnerable animals, and they were taken into the protective care of the RSPCA. The remaining animals were then cared for carefully by the authorities. 47 dogs and 16 chickens were rescued. Harries also admitted a further animal welfare charge of failing to meet the needs of sheep that he had abandoned on rented land in Rhydlewis.

As well as sentencing the couple, later this year Swansea Crown Court will also be considering a Proceeds of Crime Act application made by Ceredigion County Council for the illegal dog breeding activity.

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RNLI in Wales urges people to stay safe as Storm Brendan hits

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging people to stay safe near the Welsh coast as severe weather could make our seas and coastlines particularly dangerous.

Lifesaving charity, the RNLI, is encouraging people to exercise extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers.

The expected strong winds and severe gales pose a severe safety risk to those visiting the coast.

Named Storm Brendan by Met Eireann, it swept eastwards across Ireland before making its way through the rest of the UK this morning with yellow wind warning in place for most of the Welsh coast.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for Wales said:

‘This rough weather could make visiting parts of the Welsh coastline treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.

‘Sadly, around 150 people lose their lives on British and Irish coasts each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.’

If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.

The charity, which provides a search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, is facing its own Perfect Storm as demand for its services has increased but it is facing a shortfall in funds. This past year, the RNLI has been busier than ever, and stormy conditions can mean additional call outs for the already extremely busy volunteer crews. Whatever the weather, RNLI volunteers will still be on call to rescue those at difficulty at sea.

The RNLI’s major new fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, which aims to help the charity get back to living within its means, is running throughout November and December. To find out more or to donate visit RNLI.org/ThePerfect Storm.

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Are you missing out on a Council Tax reduction?

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IF YOU’RE struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, then help could be available for you through the Welsh Government’s flagship Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).

The scheme, which will continue to support vulnerable households in 2020-21, currently benefits one in five of all households in Wales. In the last year almost 280,000 low-income households have received help from the scheme, with 220,000 paying no council tax at all. Many more receive other discounts or exemptions.

You may be entitled to pay less council tax if:

• you believe you live on a low income
• you live alone, or with people/children who do not pay council tax
• you are a student
• you are disabled
• you are severely mentally impaired

Understanding why there are still vulnerable households not benefitting from the help they are entitled to is a priority for the Welsh Government. Last year we commissioned research to understand the circumstances of households in Wales and the effects of the UK Government’s Universal Credit on the CTRS.

The interim report out today shows that for many households, the move to Universal Credit can have a significant impact on council tax reduction awards. Whilst many households currently receiving a 100% reduction will continue to do so, for others, the move to Universal Credit is shown to have an adverse impact, particularly for employed households, self-employed households, and working households in receipt of a Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

Full findings of the interim report are available on the Welsh Government website. These findings will now be considered in more detail to inform the next stages of the research and policy development in this area.

Encouraging people to make sure they are not missing out on help they could be entitled to, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:

“Ensuring every household in Wales receives the council tax support they are entitled to is an important part of our commitment to making council tax fairer.

“Our scheme is already helping hundreds of thousands of households across Wales, but we know that there are still many missing out on the discounts, reductions and exemptions they are entitled to. I encourage everyone to check the Welsh Government website to find out if they could be paying less.”

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Ysgol Bro Pedr raise funds for life saving machine

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PUPILS at Ysgol Bro Pedr have raised enough money to buy a defibrillator machine for the school.

The idea came after 15 Year 11 pupils achieved their Level 3 Emergency First Aid Qualification with Ceredigion Youth Service. Pupils felt that it was incredibly important that they and others at the school had the skills, knowledge and equipment to use in an emergency.

Mrs Caryl Jones and pupils raised an outstanding £1,150 through organising a bake sale at the school on 28 March 2019. The school extends their thanks to Lampeter businesses ‘Oh My Cod’ and ‘Y Becws’ for their kind contribution towards the sale.

Guto Crompton, School Based Youth Worker said: “Although first aid is not a mandatory part of the school curriculum in Wales, young people at Ysgol Bro Pedr felt that it should be something that all pupils knew about. This would help them to know what to do in an emergency, whether that be in the school or out in the community. Pupils worked hard to achieve their First Aid qualification which covered aspect such as CPR, casualty management and the use of a defibrillator.”

The defibrillator machine will be placed in the school reception.

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