COUNCILS and political parties in Ceredigion are being urged to unite in a radical initiative to help counter the climate emergency by making the county the first in Britain to offer completely free – and more frequent – bus services.
Backers of the Ceredigion Green Party plan say it would slash carbon emissions and cut air-pollution by drastically reducing the number of cars on Ceredigion’s roads, while stimulating efforts to create a greener economy by making it free, and easy, for workers – especially the lower-paid – to get to and from jobs.
The scheme would follow the example of Dunkirk in northern France, where, a year after public transport was made free, a study has found 85 per cent of residents now use the region’s ticketless buses. Car parks have emptied, and poorer residents say it’s now easier to socialise and take advantage of entertainment and cultural activities. The region has a fleet of environment-friendly express buses running every 10 minutes throughout the day.
Greens want the county council to coordinate efforts to investigate sources of funding for the scheme, which it believes could be a pilot project for other counties.
Green Party election candidate Chris Simpson said:
“Climate emergency declarations by governments and councils often don’t go much beyond words. But here’s a way to make a real difference, and at the same time show that we recognise that efforts to lessen the effects of climate-breakdown, and to stop damage to biodiversity, will mean big changes in the ways our society functions.
“However, the beauty of this scheme is that it doesn’t make things harder but improves our quality of life. The experience of the T-buses in Ceredigion, which are free at weekends, shows how well-used buses are when there’s no charge. Make them free all the time, and frequent, and their popularity will soar, bringing so many climatic, social and economic gains.”
Funding, the party suggests, would come from central and local government and perhaps a levy on other public bodies and companies with substantial numbers of employees.
Dunkirk took its inspiration from Tallinn, Estonia, where public transport is free, and Luxembourg, where bus, train and tram fares are being scrapped as part of an environmental push.
At the same time, Greens are demanding HS2 be abandoned in favour of “a local transport revolution”, warning the planned £88 billion rail line would destroy dozens of ancient woodlands and biodiversity and take, by HS2’s own admission, 120 years to become carbon-neutral. Instead, the party wants decarbonisation focused on electrification of existing lines.
Community owned shop and café celebrated in national charity campaign
THE story of a rural community owned café and shop in Ceredigion which ensured vital supplies of food and other essential items reached people in need during the lockdowns of 2020 is being celebrated in a campaign by a national charity.
Cletwr shop and café in Tre’r-ddol received urgent calls and emails from families worried about elderly relatives who were shielding. Volunteers and staff at the shop ensured deliveries could be made to people across the remote rural area and also hosted events to keep the community connected.
Over many years the village lost its shop, post office, café, petrol station, school and church. The community owned business opened to meet local need in 2013 and the essential role it plays was further confirmed throughout the extraordinary events of 2020.
Now the inspiring story of Cletwr and its team of volunteers working to meet local need and provide essential social connections at a time of crisis is forming part of a national campaign to promote rural community businesses led by the Plunkett Foundation.
Karen Evans, manager of Cletwr, has been recorded telling the story, which will be one of five Lockdown Stories being shared by the charity in promotion of its Vision for a Covid-19 Rural Recovery. The businesses are all community owned and have each been innovative and committed to supporting their local community during the 2020 pandemic.
Karen said: “People have now realised how important Cletwr is, how important shopping local is, and I think they see a bigger picture of how that supports everyone in the community. It is definitely bringing the community together.”
Cletwr’s Lockdown Story is sponsored by The Retail Mutual which is a UK provider of business, home and landlord cover for independent retailers and service providers.
Plunkett helps rural communities tackle challenges such as social isolation, employment and poverty by supporting enterprises – including shops, pubs, bakeries, farms and woodlands – that are owned and run democratically by members of the community.
The Lockdown Stories were premiered at Plunkett’s virtual Community Business Fete on 24 November together with its Rural Vision Film, which are aimed at bringing the charity’s Vision for a Covid-19 Rural Recovery to life.
James Alcock, Plunkett’s chief executive, said: “The story of Cletwr is a truly inspiring one, and I am delighted that we are sharing it as part of our virtual Community Business Fete. This has been a year of touch challenges, but also one of great community spirit – and nowhere is that more evident than in the village of Tre’r-ddol.”
Kirsty Hampton, The Retail Mutual’s Mutual Manager, said: “Cletwr is a great example of the power of community, and is exactly why we are so proud to be members of Plunkett and to support the community business sector. The way they have pulled together in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic is hugely inspiring”.
Welsh Conservatives Select Candidate for Ceredigion
THE Welsh Conservatives have selected Amanda Jenner as their candidate for Ceredigion in next year’s Senedd elections.
Amanda, who is a Powys County Councillor, stood for the seat in the 2019 General Election and managed to increase the Conservative vote share by more than the national average.
Amanda is a past student of Aberystwyth University, where she met her husband, David. After University, she moved to Cardiff, completed a Masters in Law at Cardiff University and went on to become a Solicitor, working for Eversheds Sutherland. Amanda and David later moved to Mid Wales and Amanda retrained as a Secondary School Teacher, teaching English and Law.
Commenting on her selection, Amanda said
“I’m so pleased to be standing once again as a candidate in Ceredigion. It’s a place close to my heart, having studied here and with our family connections to Tregaron.”
The former solicitor lists business, farming and localism as her priorities.
On farming, Amanda says that farmers need clarity on what financial support will be available post 2021. She says the Welsh Government must listen to their views and new schemes must be adequately piloted before being rolled out.
She said: “I believe that our renowned quality food production is key to a sustainable Wales. Farmers are already part of the green solution and I will work to ensure their needs are not overlooked.”
Welsh Labour’s out of touch approach to business has discouraged new start-ups, and Amanda believes the whole system needs to be overhauled. She has also pledged to work hard to ensure Ceredigion businesses benefit from a share of the Mid Wales Growth Deal package for the area.
Turning to Localism, a campaign for major planning decisions to be made at local authority level – as opposed to by ministers in Cardiff – is also high on Amanda’s agenda. She said: “Local people know their area best. They know how large-scale developments will impact their communities. I will continue to fight to ensure local people are meaningfully consulted and listened to on all decisions that impact them.”
As well as her council role, Amanda also works in the office of Montgomeryshire MS, Russell George. She is a governor at two schools and a co-founder of CymruFuture– a networking group for young and junior professionals.
In her spare time, Amanda loves reading and being outdoors with her family. She is also learning Welsh and attends weekly lessons.
Comisiynydd yn canmol addewidion i fyfyrwyr
BYDD myfyrwyr Prifysgol Aberystwyth yn elwa ar ymroddiad newydd i gynnig cyfleoedd a chyfleusterau trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg, wedi i’r Brifysgol lansio cyfres o addewidion newydd ar 20 Gorffennaf.
Mae ‘Addewidion Aber’ yn nodi wyth ymrwymiad gan y Brifysgol i fyfyrwyr Cymraeg yn ystod eu cwrs. Yn eu plith mae darparu:
– Cyrsiau cyfrwng Cymraeg o bob math ar draws y Brifysgol;
– Llety Cymraeg i fyfyrwyr, gan gynnwys yn Neuadd Pantycelyn ar ei newydd wedd;
– Tiwtor sgiliau academaidd i gynorthwyo myfyrwyr gyda’u hastudiaethau cyfrwng Cymraeg.
Dywedodd Dr Anwen Jones, Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor sydd yn gyfrifol am ddarpariaeth cyfrwng Cymraeg Prifysgol Aberystwyth: “Mae ymestyn cyfleoedd a darpariaeth drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg yn fater o flaenoriaeth i mi’n bersonol, ac i Brifysgol Aberystwyth fel sefydliad. Rydyn ni am i fyfyrwyr gael y profiad gorau a llawnaf oll drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg, ac mae’r addewidion hyn yn gam arall ar y ffordd i gyflawni’r uchelgais honno.
“Mae gan y myfyrwyr hawliau cyfreithiol pendant sy’n ymwneud â’r Gymraeg, wrth gwrs, ond rydyn ni am fynd gam ymhellach a chynnig rhagor o wasanaethau a chyfleoedd i ddefnyddio’r Gymraeg yn naturiol, ac fel rhan o’u bywydau academaidd a chymdeithasol.
“Mae dyfnder ein darpariaeth academaidd cyfrwng Cymraeg yn galluogi myfyrwyr i ddilyn cynlluniau gradd cyfan drwy gyfrwng yr iaith. Yn ogystal, rydym yn cynnig profiad cymdeithasol Cymraeg heb ei ail yma.
“Mae hi’n adeg gyffrous iawn yn Aberystwyth wrth i ni baratoi ail-agor drysau Neuadd Pantycelyn i fyfyrwyr unwaith eto. Heb os, dyma gyfle unwaith-mewn-bywyd i’r genhedlaeth nesaf.”
Ychwanegodd Llywydd Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Aberystwyth (UMCA), Morgan Lewis: “Rydym ni fel Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Aberystwyth (UMCA) yn ymfalchïo fod y Brifysgol yn mynd gam ymhellach gyda’i hymrwymiadau i fyfyrwyr Cymraeg er mwyn sicrhau y cânt y profiad gorau posibl.
“Mae’n bleser i weld a bod yn rhan o’r addewidion a fydd yn hwyluso a helpu llunio bywydau’r myfyrwyr yn ystod eu cyfnod yma yn Aberystwyth.”
Mae Addewidion Aber yn mynd tu hwnt i ofynion statudol Safonau’r Gymraeg.
Mae Aled Roberts, Comisiynydd y Gymraeg, yn croesawu ac yn canmol y cyhoeddiad, gan ddweud: “Mae gan fyfyrwyr yr hawl i ddefnyddio’r Gymraeg yng ngholegau a phrifysgolion Cymru ers Ebrill 2018, ac mae’n wych fod Prifysgol Aberystwyth wedi mynd gam ymhellach trwy gynnig yr addewidion hyn.
“Felly, fyfyrwyr, mae gennych chi’r hawl ac addewidion pellach gan eich Prifysgol i ddefnyddio’r Gymraeg o ddydd i ddydd. Manteisiwch ar y cyfle, a gadael i’r Gymraeg dreiddio i bob rhan o’ch bywyd yn y brifysgol.”
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