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Break the rules and pay the fine, Ceredigion residents warned

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Ceredigion residents are being warned they risk fines of up to £10,000 and possible criminal conviction if they breach COVID rules.

The warning comes following recent massive fines being issued to the organisers of parties and mass gatherings.

As part of the national fire-break, which was introduced by the Welsh Government in response to a sharp rise in cases of coronavirus, and to save lives and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed, people in Wales have to follow strict rules, including staying at home, except for very limited purposes, and not visiting other households or meeting people they do not live with.

Failure to follow the rules would result in fixed penalty notices being issued, carrying a fine of £60, which would increase to £120 for a second offence and continues to double for repeated offences, up to a maximum of £1,920. If prosecuted, a court can impose unlimited fines. Meanwhile, organising an unlicensed music event of more than 30 people is a separate criminal offence punishable by conviction and an unlimited fine or, as an alternative to conviction, by a fixed penalty set at £10,000.

Dyfed-Powys Police Superintendent, Robyn Mason, said: “Let’s be clear – the national firebreak measures apply to everyone in Wales. We are supporting the Welsh Government in its efforts to regain control of coronavirus across our communities, and our officers and PCSOs are being proactive to help keep us all safe. Our approach in the first instance is to engage with people, explain what you need to do and encourage compliance. But for those that don’t respond, we do have powers and we will use them.

“Everyone needs to understand the severity of the situation, and the potentially serious health consequences for individuals and their loved ones, which should see them complying with the regulations – without having to be issued penalties. But if they refuse to comply we will enforce. The success of the firebreak depends on each and every one of us playing our part. It’s simple, before going somewhere or doing something, ask yourself if it’s really necessary.”

Ros Jervis is public health director at Hywel Dda University Health Board and chair of the Ceredigion Incident Management Team, a multi-agency partnership between Ceredigion County Council, Aberystwyth University, Public Health Wales, Dyfed-Powys Police, the Ceredigion Contact Tracing Team and Aberystwyth Student Union. The IMT was established to tackle the spread of the virus in the county. She said: “While the majority of people are behaving responsibly and protecting themselves and others, it is apparent that a small minority are not following the rules, which in turn is putting people’s health and even lives at risk. I strongly urge people to follow the rules, maintain social distancing guidelines, wear face coverings, wash hand regularly, and get tested if they have any symptoms – a new persistent cough, loss or change of taste or smell, or a high temperature.”

In Manchester, the organiser of a party attended by more than 50 people received a £10,000 fine for breaching Covid-19 regulations. Meanwhile, in Nottingham, four students received fines of £10,000 each for breaching lockdown restrictions by hosting a house party.

Tests must be booked via the online UK portal at www.gov.wales/coronavirus.

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Jail after heroin worth £45,000 seized

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AN ABERYSTYWYTH woman has been jailed, and an organised crime gang disrupted, after heroin worth £45,000 was found at her home.

Dyfed-Powys Police found more than 400g of the class A drug during a warrant at Susan Marie Proffitt’s home – resulting in one of the force’s largest single seizures of heroin in Ceredigion.

The result has disrupted an active organised crime gang supplying class A drugs to the area.

Sergeant Steven Jones said: “This swift and thorough investigation involved officers and staff from departments across the division, who worked together to secure this result.

“The defendant had a huge amount of heroin at her home, with efforts taken to conceal bags of the drug around the property.

“There is no doubt that in taking Proffitt out of the supply chain we will have disrupted an organised crime gang which she was a trusted part of in supplying heroin into the division.”

Officers carried out a warrant at the 52-year-old’s home in South Road on August 30, 2020.

On searching the property, a box containing 408g of heroin was found concealed in a vent under the staircase, and two further wraps were found in a shower head bracket. Fingerprint marks matching those of Proffitt were found on these items.

Four mobile phones were also seized from the property.

Sgt Jones said: “The quantity of heroin recovered is far in excess of what he would expect to see someone who is simply a user to be in possession of for their own use.

“Given the value of the heroin recovered and the financial circumstances of the defendant, we were confident it was unlikely she would be able to fund a purchase of such a quantity of heroin without being involved in the supply of drugs.

“The only realistic reason for possessing this quantity of heroin was for supply onto others.”

Proffitt was charged with possession with intent to supply, and pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 57 months in prison when she appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Thursday, November 26.

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New permanent walk-in test centre opens in Aberystwyth

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PEOPLE in Aberystwyth with symptoms of COVID-19 now have access to a permanent walk-in testing facility.

Hywel Dda University Health Board has arranged for a Local Testing Site (LTS) to be located inside the former Padarn Nursery building, (behind, but not connected to, Padarn Surgery), on Penglais Road.

Local people should avoid using the nearby nursery car park, leaving it free for those people accessing tests to park there. People who attend the walk-in centre must wear a face covering.

Meanwhile, the drive-through facility at Canolfan Rheidol has now been relocated to Cardigan in response to a rise in cases in that area. Residents of Aberystwyth will not be impacted by this move as there is plenty of testing capacity at the LTS.

Alison Shakeshaft, Director of Therapies & Health Science at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are very pleased to have secured this LTS for the people of Aberystwyth. Many residents in the town, including students, do not have their own private vehicle in order to access drive-through testing facilities, so the option of a walk-in facility is very important.

“This is a challenging time and I urge everyone to remain vigilant and follow the rules, including wearing face coverings where required, maintain social distancing, washing hands regularly, or using a hand sanitiser if hand washing is not possible.”

Anyone who has symptoms of the virus (a new persistent cough, high temperature or loss/change of taste or smell) must book a test as soon as possible.  This can be done through the online UK portal at www.gov.wales/coronavirus.

University students with COVID-19 symptoms, when booking a test, are required to provide their local address in Aberystwyth.

Please do not book a test if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and do not attend testing centres without booking first as you will not be seen without an appointment.

Please follow the latest self-isolation guidelines which can be found here.

For the latest news and updated from Hywel Dda University Health Board visit https://hduhb.nhs.wales/

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Improvements required at a pub in Devil’s Bridge

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A HOSPITALITY business in Devil’s Bridge has been required to make improvements to safeguard the public’s health and well-being as part of the coronavirus regulations.

A Premises Improvement Notice has been served to The Hafod, Devil’s Bridge, Aberystwyth by Ceredigion County Council’s Public Protection Officers due to non-compliance with The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 4) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

As part of the Premises Improvement Notice, the Premises must ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises, and put measures in place which limit close face to face interaction and maintain hygiene. 

These measures will need to be implemented by 17:00 on November 27, 2020. The full notice can be seen on the Council’s website under Improvement and Closure Notices.

Information for businesses is available on the Council’s website under Supporting Ceredigion’s Economy.

Any business who is unsure of their responsibilities is urged to check the Welsh Government website

Any business that requires further information or guidance can contact the council’s Licensing Team on 01545 570881 or clic@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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