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Firm wants Aberystwyth-Carmarthen link

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TRAWS LINK CYMRU are to host a meeting to report on the progress of the campaign to re-open the rail line between Carmarthen and Aberwystwyth.

On Thursday March 19, in St. Peter’s Civic Hall, the West Wales Rail Campaigners will host the meeting, which will be open to the public.

Following two meetings held in Lampeter in Autumn 2013, Traws Link Cymru was formed in the spring of 2014. In order to provide a railway connection between north and south Wales, Traws Link want to re-build the rail link between Carmarthen and Aberwystwyth, as well as a connection between Afon Wen and Bangor.

In 1998, the idea to better the connection between the north and south of Wales was first put forward by Friends of the Earth. The idea gained renewed relevance when the Scottish Borders Railways, from Edinburgh to Galshiels, were due to reopen in 2015.

A debate was led by Simon Thomas (AM) at the Welsh Assembly in March 2014 and was supported by all political parties. It gave momentum to the campaign, and a meeting was soon held with Network Rail, who supported the idea.

8,000 signatures were accumulated over the summer, emphasising the desire for an improved connection. A survey of the trackbed indicated that less than 3% was already built on. The First Minister, Carwyn Jones, indicated his support and Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion have now voted to support the campaign, along with over 40 community and town councils along the line.

Traws Link are soon to meet with civil servants in Cardiff to help prepare for a Feasibility Study. They are also going to meet with the Minister of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb MP, to discuss plans for the improving railway links in Wales.

Traws Link have said: “The new railways will provide a swift connection across west Wales linking six universities and providing passengers with access to hospitals, shopping and cultural facilities. It will encourage investment and new job opportunities for one of the poorest parts of the EU and help sustain the Welsh language. In addition, the potential for freight transport will help to make our roads safer and encourage a more environmentally sustainable transport infrastructure.”

Adrian Kendon, the Chairperson of Traws Link Cymru, commented: “We expect that, following the devolution to the Welsh Government of responsibility for infrastructure and the completion of a feasibility study, the railway will be rebuilt from 2019 onwards. We have estimated the cost as being between £400m and £650m including devising new routes into Carmarthen and Aberwystwyth.”

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Council provides feminine hygiene products to local communities

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CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL in partnership with local community groups and services are ensuring that women and girls have access to feminine hygiene products.

A number of local groups and organisations have received a stock of feminine hygiene products which are available to be distributed to individuals facing hardship within our communities.

Ceredigion County Council’s aim is to ensure that tampons, sanitary towels, or sustainable alternatives are available for women and girls from low income households in Ceredigion who cannot afford them.

Local community support groups and organisations have a wealth of knowledge of their local areas, and will be able to support those in need through ensuring they receive these products at this particularly challenging time.

To find out which groups or organisations hold a stock in your local area, please contact porthcymorthcynnar@ceredigion.gov.uk.

To learn more about other grants and assistance available to those facing hardship, go to the benefits section on the Council’s website: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/coronavirus-covid-19/benefits/.

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Education Minister announces ‘back to school’ plans for September

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DECISION backed with £29 million to recruit, recover and raise standards

The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has today confirmed that all pupils will be able to return to school in September.

“plan to open in September with 100% of pupils physically present on school sites, subject to a continuing, steady decline in the presence of COVID-19 in the community.”

The Minister announced that:

  • Schools will return to full capacity, with only limited social distancing within contact groups.
  • At full operations, a contact group should consist of around 30 children. Some direct or indirect mixing between children in different contact groups will also be unavoidable, such as on transport, receiving specialist teaching or due to staffing constraints.
  • Social distancing for adults should remain in line with regulations and guidance.
  • Schools will be required to minimise the risk of transmission by taking other mitigating measures using the hierarchy of risk controls.
  • Every school should continue to be “Covid Protected” – having carried out risk assessments and mitigated them with a combination of controls such as hand and surface hygiene, one-way systems and so forth.
  • If early warning information shows a local incident or outbreak then nearby schools should implement appropriate restriction measures.
  • Each school will be provided with a supply of home testing kits.

The Minister confirmed that the autumn term will start on 1 st  September and schools that can accommodate all pupils from the start of the term should do so.

The Minister outlined plans just hours after confirming the Welsh Government would make £29m available to ‘recruit, recover and raise standards’ in Welsh schools in response to the impact still felt from the pandemic.

Commenting on the additional funding announced, the Minister added: “We will recruit, recover and continue to raise standards.”

It is thought that there will be around 800 newly qualified teachers in September and around 800 supply staff currently working within Wales.

“With this funding, we will recruit the equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants throughout the next school year.

“We will target extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages.

“The support package, provided at a school level, could include extra coaching support, personalised learning programmes and additional time and resources for exam year pupils.

“We must never lower our expectations for any of our young people, no matter their background.

“Together, we will continue to raise standards for all, reduce the attainment gap and ensure we have a system that is a source of pride and public confidence.”

Councillor Ian Roberts, WLGA Spokesperson for Education, said: “Since schools closed at the start of the crisis, many children and young people have felt anxious about loss of learning and not being able to see their friends.

The Minister’s plan today will enable schools to safely reopen classrooms from September. Local authorities will work closely with their schools to make sure that necessary arrangements are in place to abide by Welsh Government guidance.

“Our schools have been hit by severe disruption during this pandemic, and we welcome the £29m pledged by the Minister for targeted support to minimise the effects of the past few months on pupils. We will continue to work together in partnership the safest and best possible learning experiences for our children and young people, especially in such challenging circumstances.”

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Police urge visitors to stay safe and respect Wales as travel ban is lifted

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POLICE are urging visitors to say safe and respect Wales as they get set to welcome visitors this weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police has issued a message to people preparing to travel to mid and west Wales after the requirement to stay local was lifted on Monday (Jul 6), asking them to be safe, sensible and respectful.

With people now able to travel around Wales and to cross the border into the country, coupled with a fine weather forecast, police are expecting visitors to arrive in droves to enjoy the Dyfed-Powys area.

Temporary Chief Inspector Andy Reed said: “We are very lucky to police beautiful areas across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys, which attract thousands of visitors every week over the summer months.

“With restrictions having been in place since March, we understand that people are now keen to venture further afield and enjoy the beaches, mountains and countryside they’ve missed, and are anticipating a busy weekend ahead.

“Our officers look forward to welcoming you, and will be here if you need any help, but we ask that you help us by being respectful of the areas you visit, and by planning your journey before you set off.”

For anyone travelling to areas they are not familiar with, police are recommending that they plan their route in advance, check traffic updates regularly online and by listening to local radio stations, and be prepared to turn around or reroute if necessary.

T/CI Reed said: “Many of the areas that are popular with tourists aren’t served by main roads, but by B roads that can become backlogged very quickly.

“Nobody wants to spend hours stuck in traffic when they could be enjoying a day out, and there are ways to avoid this.

“If you’re heading to the beach in Pembrokeshire, for example, don’t set your sights on one place. Make a list of beaches you could visit, and be prepared to change your plans if you hit traffic off the main road.

“If you’re planning a hike in the Brecon Beacons, take a look at a few different walking routes – there are plenty of options besides Pen y Fan, which frequently gets overrun on sunny weekends and can cause problems on the roads with high volumes of traffic and parked cars.”

Over the past three months, Dyfed-Powys Police has implemented Operation Dovecote – an engagement, encouragement, education and enforcement approach to ensuring people adhered to the restrictions. With the ease in regulations, officers across the force will take a different approach this weekend – engaging with visitors, clamping down on antisocial behaviour and working with partner agencies to ensure places are left as they were found.

T/CI said: “Our officers will be out and about across the force, making sure everyone is staying safe and respectful. With that in mind, we ask that you be mindful of people who live in the areas you are visiting by acting responsibly – we will not tolerate antisocial or illegal behaviour that will impact on them or other tourists.

“Please park considerately, leave gates and property as you find them, be careful with barbecues and don’t light fires, keep dogs under control, and check what facilities will be open before you start your journey.

“We will be working closely with partners to protect beaches, countryside and waterways – you can help us by making sure you take all your rubbish and belongings with you, and leaving no trace of your visit.”

If you need to report an incident while visiting the Dyfed-Powys area, you can use one of the following options: Online: bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, Email: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk or Call 101.

If you are Deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Always call 999 in an emergency

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