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Welsh road use 20% lower than rest of UK

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PETROL sales at filling stations across Wales are 20% lower than their counterparts in the rest of the UK, according to newly released official figures.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s research shows that while road use across the country was slowly returning to pre-lockdown levels at the end of May, Welsh road users continued to limit the use of their vehicles more than motorists in England.

The figures revealed a nationwide 7.5% weekly rise in fuel sales for the week ending 31 May. However, the same rise was not reflected in the data for Wales.

Responding to the new data, Greg Wilson, founder of Quotezone.co.uk, one of the country’s leading car insurance comparison sites, says: “It seems most motorists are taking those rules very seriously because there is a very marked difference between road use in Wales compared with road use in England.”

In Wales motorists are not allowed to travel more than five miles from their homes, whereas drivers in England no longer have any travel restrictions.

Across the UK, sales are 39% below their pre-lockdown levels despite a gradual easing of the lockdown in many regions.

In the eight weeks to 23 March – the day the lockdown began – average daily road fuel sales were 17,690 litres per filling station. By contrast, in the following ten weeks sales fell to 7,900 litres, a 45% drop.

The month of April saw the sharpest decline in fuel consumption though, when UK motorists spent 63% less on fuel than they did in February. The lowest average daily figure – 2,500 litres – was recorded on 12 April, at the peak of the pandemic. A month earlier to the day filling stations sold on average 19,500 litres.

The report used petrol and diesel sales figures from 4,500 filling stations, which make up over 50% of petrol stations in Great Britain. The study covered the period from 1 February to 31 May.

Greg Wilson added: “The lockdown has caused financial difficulties for a lot of people in the UK, but one area where many have been able to save a bit of cash is their transport costs. This new research reveals that the average amount motorists spent on fuel in April was 63% lower than in February, and an average of 45% less during the course of the lockdown.

“With a typical British household spending an average of £25 on fuel during a normal week, that means households are likely to have saved an average of £112 on fuel during the lockdown, although people with longer commutes may well have saved as much as £400 or £500.

“Of course, fuel isn’t the only expense drivers have been able to save a bit of cash on during the pandemic. Some motorists have also applied for a Statutory Off-Road Notice (SORN), which means they will have saved money on their car insurance and road tax as well.

“And it’s also worth mentioning that some car insurance companies are willing to reduce motorists’ premiums to reflect the lower mileage they’ve been doing whilst working from home, so it’s worth speaking to your insurance provider about that if you haven’t done so already.”

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Ben Lake MP stands up for Ceredigion’s hospitality sector in Parliament

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A WESTMINSTER Hall debate, brought about by an online petition signed over 200,000 times, saw MPs on both sides come together to shine a light on the challenges currently faced by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and supply chain businesses across the UK.

During his contribution to the debate, Ben Lake MP emphasised the importance of the hospitality industry to Ceredigion’s local economy. Ceredigion is home to nearly 400 food and accommodation businesses, including 75 pubs, and together hospitality businesses employ 4,500 people in the county. This equates to over 16% of all employees, without accounting for the many supply chain jobs that are dependent on the sector, such as those found in breweries, food wholesale, and catering equipment hire businesses.

Figures published by UK Hospitality have shown that approximately 41% of hospitality businesses suggested that they would fail by mid-2021 and only one in five sector businesses have enough cash flow to survive beyond February.

Ben Lake MP said: “The vaccination programme of course offers some hope that we will see the level of Covid disruption reduce significantly this year, but hospitality businesses across Ceredigion tell me that they are deeply concerned about their immediate prospects for survival.

“I support calls for the Treasury to provide additional funds so that businesses can be supported to bounce back once restrictions have been eased, and to pause employer national insurance contributions for furloughed employees as a way of alleviating the burden on businesses that are still, in many instances, required by law to close. I also urged the Treasury to consider extending the business rates holiday for the forthcoming financial year, as well as extending the hospitality VAT reduction scheme into 2022.

“Not only would these support measures give businesses the support they require to see out this pandemic, it would also avoid the terrible situation whereby businesses that have previously received Government support are forced to close for good – leaving their employees without a job and previous Government support in vain.”

While there will be no direct action as a consequence of this Westminster Hall debate, it is hoped the result will put increased pressure on the UK Government to consider the proposal more seriously.

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Lifeboat Operations Manager in New Year’s Honours list

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Richard Llewelyn Griffiths the Lifeboat Operations Manager of Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station has been recognised for services to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Wales.

He has been awarded a BEM.

Having served as a RNLI volunteer for an impressive 47 years, it is his role in the last 21 years as Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) which has earned him the most respect.

His local knowledge has provided reassurance to casualties and crews alike when launching in difficult conditions.

His operational decision-making and station management skills are outstanding, and he is greatly valued by crew, management, volunteers and coastal personnel both past and present.

He has contributed greatly towards Aberystwyth being recognised as a ‘benchmark’ Inshore Lifeboat Station, serving as an example to the whole institution of how a station could and should be run.

Richard said: ‘I’m very surprised but honoured to be receiving a BEM – the news still doesn’t feel real. My father was awarded a BEM in 1988 and I still have his medal at home, so to be awarded one myself for my work with the lifeboats is a great privilege. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of characters during my time with the RNLI – both at Borth and Aberystwyth – and continue to volunteer alongside a good crew today.’

Nationally, a total of six Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers have been recognised for their vital role in helping the charity save lives at sea through the New Year’s Honours.

Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive said: ‘Following a challenging 2020, it is particularly pleasing to see these RNLI volunteers recognised in the New Year’s Honours list. Together, they personify the RNLI’s ‘One Crew’ ethos, representing the variety and diversity of roles from a former full-time mechanic to shore crew and fundraisers to station managers, who collectively deliver a shared vision to save every one. On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, congratulations to you all for being recognised for your longstanding service, hard work and selfless commitment. And thank you for everything you do to help the RNLI save lives at sea.’

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Temporary closure of Minor Injuries Unit in Cardigan confirmed

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AS PART of its response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hywel Dda University Health Board says it has temporarily closed the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) in Cardigan in order to redeploy clinical staff to support the COVID 19 response within Ceredigion.

The MIU, which is based in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre and normally operates from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, will temporarily close with immediate effect. The situation will be under constant review and normal service will be resumed when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

In the meantime, minor injuries help and advice is available as follows:

– visit the 111 symptom checker (https://111.wales.nhs.uk/)
– visit your local pharmacy
– call 111
– please do NOT self-present to the GP reception in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre as they do not deal with minor injuries.
– for emergency care the A+E departments are as follows:
· Glangwili Hospital A+E Carmarthen SA32 2AF
· Bronglais Hospital A+E Aberystwyth SY23 1ER
· Withybush Hospital A+E Haverfordwest SA61 2PZ

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