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From Rubble To Enterprise

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2020 brings exciting new developments in Lampeter as the work on redeveloping the Canolfan Dulais site in the town gets underway. With the aid of the European Regional Development Fund investment and Welsh Government Targeted Regeneration funding the project will bring an investment of £3.2m to the town.

Tai Ceredigion – who purchased the building from University of Wales Trinity Saint David in March 2018 – revealed the exciting new plans to demolish the old ‘Government Buildings’ in early 2019. The existing structure had poor insulation and the heating system was not fit for purpose. The new plans will create modern eco-friendly business units, particularly for SME’s and businesses, charities and organisations working in the social care sector. The new centre will also have a teleconference facility that will be able to be hired out.

Ceredigion County Council Officers supported the Canolfan Dulais project by encouraging the development through funding applications. The council also plays an advisory role on the project and represents the project in discussions with funding bodies and the regional partnership.

Contractors TR Jones of Ammanford have been awarded the tender. They started on-site on 13 January 2020 with work underway to demolish the current building. The development will also bring much-needed construction work for local trades within the town.

Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, said: “We see Canolfan Dulais as a real priority for the local and regional economy. We must create modern spaces for local businesses to use and grow. The social care sector is short of capacity in the area where we see a growing demand. We are confident that Canolfan Dulais will be an important step towards growing the sector.”

Steve Jones, Chief Executive of Tai Ceredigion added: “It has taken much hard work from our team to get to the point where the contractors can start on-site and the construction work can get underway. We are grateful to the Welsh Government, Welsh European Office and Ceredigion County Council for sharing our vision and for the support to help bring the idea to reality. We are looking forward to sharing updates on the development and starting conversations with potential new tenants for the building.”

Councillor Rhodri Evans, Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet Member for the Economy and Regeneration said: “I’m delighted that a first class premises for start-up and growth businesses, particularly in the Social Care sector, is coming to Lampeter and the work is underway. Canolfan Dulais is a vitally important development for the area which the Council is proud to support.”

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said: “It’s great that work has begun on this project. The Welsh Government has invested £1,530,000 of funding which will help improve access to an important community facility, which will bring people together, to help tackle social isolation, support jobs, provide training opportunities and the accommodation of social enterprises.

“We want to support local businesses, grow our fantastic town centres and I look forward to seeing it take shape.”

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Community

The latest on plastic free Ceredigion

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At its meeting held on 17 March, the Council’s Cabinet received an activity update from the Plastic Free Ceredigion Task and Finish Group, which was set up after full Council approved a motion on 22 February 2018.

Full Council approved the ‘Plastic Free campaigns throughout the County, including Plastic Free Aberporth and Plastic Free Aberystwyth’ motion to ensure that the Council helps to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in our day to day operations.

The motion involved a number of factors including; reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and encouraging local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives. Promoting the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events, supporting beach cleans and any other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics.

Since 22 February 2018, the Council have removed 5 single-use plastic that were used across the local authority, implemented projects in conjunction with NRW with local primary schools, worked closely with communities throughout Ceredigion and commenced the provision of Water bottle re-fills on request to all visitors to our public facing buildings.

In January 2020, the Schools Service were successful in bidding for funding from the Circular Economy Capital Fund, which allows for the purchasing of milk dispensers which will remove the need for the provision of plastic milk bottles and straws by 1,979 pupils at Foundation and Key Stage 2. This is equivalent to a reduction of 376,010 plastic milk bottles per school year.

Councillor Alun Williams, Member Champion for Sustainability said, “These are initiatives which, together, make a real difference to the amount of single-use plastics going into the waste stream from Council activities. Whilst it’s important that everyone seeks to minimise their use of single-use plastics, it’s particularly important that large organisations like councils take these kinds of actions because they can have a wider effect which, in turn, can lead to industry changing to more sustainable practices. Ceredigion Council is trying to lead the way in showing what’s possible within an organisation.”

This supports one of the Council’s corporate priority of Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.

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Community

WASPI women help MP take pensions case to House of Commons

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WASPI women have helped Ben Lake, Ceredigion Plaid Cymru MP, to take the case for 1950s women’s pension injustice to Parliament at a packed out Drop-In information session at Westminster on Wednesday 4th March.

“It was a pleasure to co-host this important event, bringing WASPI representatives from across the UK to Westminster to meet MPs of all parties face-to-face,” said Mr Lake. “It gave the WASPI women a chance to share their personal experiences and to show how these unfair pension changes have impacted upon the lives of 1950s women.

Unfortunately, despite being invited, Stephen Crabb MP (also Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee) and Simon Hart MP (also Secretary of State for Wales), failed to attend. Across their Constituencies there are over 10,000 1950s women affected and many were left disappointed that their MPs did not support them at this event.

After the Drop In Session, Ben Lake took the WASPI women around the Houses of Parliament. He was a very knowledgeable guide and told the ladies some interesting stories. They saw some of Prime Minister’s Questions and a House of Lords debate. It really was a day to remember!”

Pembrokeshire WASPI along with multiple 1950s campaign groups from across the UK will travel to London on 21st July for a mass rally to support the appeal for pension justice, at the Supreme Court. For the first time in this 9 year campaign, a coach will depart from Haverfordwest.

A local spokesperson for Pembrokeshire WASPI said “Whilst our WASPI aim is to achieve fair transitional state pension arrangements and compensation for all 1950s women who have been affected by the 1995 and 2011 Acts, we support the Backto60s with their appeal. Over 10,000 women are affected across the two Pembrokeshire constituencies and they want this issue resolved. To date there has been too many words and not enough action. Successive governments have failed to address the injustice done to the 1950s women. At least 82,000 women between the age of 60 and 65 have died since the fight for justice started including members of Pembrokeshire WASPI. Others have been plunged into poverty or are having to work longer in physically demanding jobs which is having an impact on their health. The appeal will see the collective voice of 1950s women groups pulling together for the first time ever to support the Backto60s and to let the Conservative Government know that we are NOT going away. Hopefully the outcome of the appeal will be in the favour of the 3.8 million women affected”.

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Cabinet decision on former care home still stands

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The Council’s Cabinet met on Tuesday 17 March to discuss the recommendation put forward by the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday 16 March, regarding the future of the former care home, Penparcau.

Following the discussion at Cabinet, it was decided not to support the recommendation put forward by the Committee. The Cabinet’s original decision made on 25 February will now be implemented.

The Committee recommended that Cabinet postpone progressing the sale of the former care home for 6 months, given the current situation regarding coronavirus, and following that period, both the Corporate Resources and Healthier Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committees reconsider the matter of future EMI Nursing in Ceredigion. The recommendation was made after councillors used the Councils’ call in process to review the Cabinet’s decision on 25 February 2020.

Councillor Rhodri Evans is the Cabinet member for Economy and Regeneration. He said, “The Council has actively sought the appropriate re-use of the former care home over a lengthy period of time. The Council initially undertook a procurement exercise to identify a provider between 2015 and 2017 and since 2018 sought to sell the property for a preferred use since. Both approaches have been unsuccessful. After careful consideration, it’s now time to consider alternative options for disposing of this asset and attract investment in the property. The money raised from the sale can then be used towards supporting service providing care elsewhere in the County.

The Council will continue to discuss options with Hywel Dda University Health Board for providing improved EMI provision in the County.”

The Council will liaise with Registered Social Landlords in the hope that a purchase can be agreed within 3 months. This is due to the continued need for affordable housing in the County. If this cannot be achieved, the land will be sold on the open market without identifying any preferred uses.

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