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.
Conservative Candidate highlights concerns over large-scale wind farms
EARLIER this year, the Welsh Government published its Draft National Development Framework (NDF) setting the direction for development in Wales. Within the NDF there is a section dedicated to ‘Energy’ development.
The Welsh Government are proposing “large scale wind and solar development to be directed towards Priority Areas for Wind and Solar Energy”.
Over a dozen areas have been identified throughout Wales and two of these priority areas cover large sections of Ceredigion.
According to the document, there will be a presumption in favour of “large scale on-shore wind and solar energy development in these areas, and an acceptance of landscape change.”
Amanda Jenner told The Ceredigion Herald: “Like many people, I’m passionate about protecting our environment and I fully recognise the importance of tackling climate change. However, I am seriously concerned about the huge pylons that could be needed to connect the electricity to the grid. These proposals do not consider the impact on the tourism sector!”
“Tourism is highly important to Ceredigion’s economy and it includes many agricultural businesses that have diversified into this sector, a trend that is likely to continue. The Labour run Welsh Government must consider how large-scale energy developments will impact Ceredigion’s tourism industry.”
Decisions on large-scale energy developments will not be made under the usual Local Authority Planning processes. Rather, Welsh Government Ministers in Cardiff will decide whether to approve such developments, under the Developments of National Significance process.
Amanda further added: “The top down nature of these proposals is worrying! The fact that tourism hasn’t been fully taken into account nor the disruption of large areas of peat, which may be hugely important to the ecology of an area, shows just how far removed the Labour run Welsh Government are from us.”
“The considerable additional powers which Welsh Labour Ministers are accruing for themselves, undermine local democracy. At the very least, despite being decided by Ministers in Cardiff, the Welsh Government must ensure thorough local community engagement and consultation. It is essential that there is a clear process and communities must be given ample notice of planning applications, in order to assess the wider implications and impacts on their communities.”
The Conservative Candidate has urged the Labour run Welsh Government to follow the example of the Conservative Government in Westminster and to launch a review in to the impact of wind farms.
Amanda said: “I urge the labour run Welsh Government in Cardiff to follow this sensible decision by the Conservative Government and to launch a similar review in Wales”.
New plaque unveiled at Cardigan War Memorial to honour three fallen soldiers from Cardigan
A NEW plaque was unveiled at Cardigan War Memorial to honour three fallen soldiers from Cardigan. The plaque was unveiled during a public Commemoration and Dedication Service on 12 October.
The plaque commemorates Michael J. Dunphy who gave his life in the 1982 Falklands War and Lee T. Davies and David M.E. Greenhalgh who gave their lives in the 2001-2015 conflict in Afghanistan. The plaque was unveiled by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards.
Councillor Paul Hinge is Ceredigion County Council’s Armed Forces Champion. He said: “It was an honour and privilege to welcome everyone to the Service of Commemoration and Dedication, not only as a son of Cardigan, but as a veteran myself and Ceredigion County Council’s Armed Forces Champion.
“The three fallen soldiers of Cardigan, Michael Dunphy, Lee Davies and Dave Greenhalgh paid the ultimate sacrifice and their names are now immortalised on Cardigan War Memorial honouring their sacrifice.
“It was a privilege to work with all stakeholders involved in planning the day including the families, regiments, Cardigan Town Council and Ceredigion County Council officers. We were delighted with the strong attendance on Saturday which was a testament to how important this Commemoration is to all concerned. It was a fitting tribute to the fallen soldiers of Cardigan.”
Communities in Ceredigion will get extra support
COMMUNITIES in Ceredigion will get extra support as they take part in a census rehearsal The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has appointed a census engagement manager to support Ceredigion residents help rehearse the census this October.
Ceredigion was chosen as one of just four areas for the census rehearsal, which will enable the ONS to test some of the systems and processes it has put in place ahead of the digital-first 2021 Census.
David Lloyd Roberts, the area’s census engagement manager, will help organisations, charities, faith groups and community leaders within the county to raise awareness of the census rehearsal and the value to local residents in taking part.
David, who grew up on a hill farm in Pontrhydfendigaid studied history and Welsh history at Aberystwyth University before embarking on a career within the community as a trading standards officer. He went on to manage the local authority’s trading standards, licensing and community warden functions.
He said: “I’ve worked in local government in Ceredigion for over 34 years and served as a school governor for 10 years, so I like to think I know the area and its people well.
“This is a really exciting opportunity to work with community groups and residents to test out the processes to make sure everything works as well as possible and to help ensure everyone in Ceredigion get their voices heard.”
People in each of the rehearsal areas, Ceredigion, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Carlisle, will be asked to complete a questionnaire about those living in their household on 13 October 2019.
The rehearsal will be primarily online, with help for those who need it. Residents will be invited to take part later this year.
Director of census operations, Pete Benton, said: “The census helps inform vital public services such as the number of children’s school places, hospital and GP services and social care provision in local areas.
“As the census only takes place every ten years it is important we hold an operational rehearsal to ensure that all our processes run smoothly.
“The people of Ceredigion who take part will all be helping to ensure the overall success of the 2021 Census.”
The ONS’s recommendations for the next census were published in a government White Paper in December 2018.
The 2021 Census will, for the first time, collect information on veterans of the UK Armed Forces. This enables monitoring of the Armed Forces covenant – the deal between the country and those who served it.
And it is proposed that there will also be a new voluntary question on sexual orientation for those aged 16 and over. In addition to the usual question on being male or female, there will also be a voluntary question on gender identity for those aged 16 and over.
Everyone across the UK, including those living outside of the four rehearsal areas will be asked to take part in the actual census in 2021. More information will be made available nearer the time.
Community leaders in and around Ceredigion can find out more about the rehearsal by calling David on 07458109340 or emailing email@example.com.
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