THE BIG PATHWATCH, the Ramblers’ most ambitious project ever to survey all rights of way in Wales and England, has highlighted paths shown on the map that people couldn’t find on the ground and missing signs as the top problems found on footpaths in West Wales so far.
Launched in July, the Big Pathwatch calls on members of the public to step out and walk their local paths and report back on what they find – be it problems or beautiful views – using the free Big Pathwatch smartphone app. Almost 14,000 people have signed up nationwide, reporting thousands of problems along the way. However, as the clock ticks towards the deadline on December 31, the picture across West Wales remains far from complete.
In Carmarthenshire, only 27% of the county has been surveyed, while in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion the picture is even less encouraging, with only 22% and 20% respectively having been surveyed. There is currently no national picture of the path network.
Using a consistent approach to collect data the Ramblers Cymru aims to compare highway authorities with one another and identify patterns, for example, whether there is a correlation between the areas with the greatest problems, and the areas with the greatest funding cuts.
The survey will also provide reliable data on the most frequently occurring path problems, which will help to inform future Ramblers campaigns. We also want to use this project to engage a wider audience and encourage more people to care about their local paths. Ramblers Cymru Director, Angela Charlton said: “The Big Pathwatch is the first time a survey on this scale has ever been conducted.
We’re delighted with the amount of support and positive feedback we’ve received, and want to say a big thank you to the people of Pembrokeshire who have taken part in the project so far by walking the paths they love.” Over 600 problems have been identified across the path networks in West Wales, with half of those in Carmarthenshire.
200 problems have been identified in Ceredigion and 130 in Pembrokeshire. Local authorities and Ramblers’ path maintenance volunteers are using the reports to help remedy identified problems. However, it is not all bad news. Across West Wales many positives have been reported, including welcoming signs, stunning view of the countryside and coast, and many interesting buildings.
Angela added: “We still have more to uncover, and we urgently need the help of people in Pembrokeshire to check the remaining 78% of grid squares in the area to complete the survey. It’s easy to take part – all you need to do is download our free smartphone app, take a walk and tell us what you find. “With your help, we’ll be able to create a full picture of the state of our rights of way network, and come up with the creative solutions to ensure that our paths stay open for everyone to enjoy.”
Further delay to Universal Credit in Ceredigion
BEN LAKE MP for Ceredigion has expressed his concerns following a recent announcement by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that the roll-out of the government’s controversial benefit payment, Universal Credit, will be fully rolled-out across Ceredigion in December 2018.
The payment, which is set to replace longstanding benefits such as Income Support, ESA and Working Tax Credits, had initially been set to become active in Ceredigion in September 2018, however recent documentation shows the date has now been moved back to December 2018.
Ben Lake MP has expressed his concern that a roll-out in December 2018 will hit families and vulnerable people at the most difficult time of year.
Ben Lake MP said: “I welcome the news that the UK Government have decided to delay the roll-out of Universal Credit in Ceredigion, I hope that this will allow the Government an opportunity to address and resolve many of the well-publicised issues associated with the payment. There have already been significant problems with the roll-out of the new regime in other areas, however, the proposed timing of December for its roll-out in Ceredigion is particularly problematic.
“With the Christmas celebrations, cold weather, and lengthy holiday periods, December can often be a difficult month financially for many families and individuals. I have significant concerns therefore that the full introduction of Universal Credit in Ceredigion will not only see claimants put under additional financial strain, but that it will coincide with a period when many of the support services available will be disrupted due to the festive holidays.”
“I have since written to the Department of Work and Pensions expressing such concerns.”
Share experiences of sexual harassment to help police
PEOPLE who have been subject to sexual harassment are encouraged to share their experiences to help understand the scale of the problem in communities across Wales.
Dyfed-Powys Police is taking part in a country-wide campaign, which urges anyone who has been subject to sexual harassment to say when and where the incident took place, as well as how it made them feel, anonymously through an online survey.
The results will be used to challenge and change the culture of misogyny and sexual harassment, so people can feel safe to live their lives without fear of harassment.
Dyfed-Powys Police Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “Sexual harassment is simply unacceptable – it doesn’t matter who it comes from or where it happens, it should not be tolerated by anyone in society.
“We are committed to making sure everybody feels safe in their community, and has the freedom to make life choices without fear of sexual harassment. We want people to be able to access every area of society with confidence, from sports facilities and workplaces, to public transport or pubs and clubs.
“By taking part in this survey, you will help us to understand the scale of the problem in communities across Dyfed-Powys Police, which will enable us to listen to those affected by sexual harassment and to make a real difference in the future.”
To take part in the survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SWPCOM
Proposed salmon byelaws to be postponed until 2019
NEW fishing byelaws have been proposed which will make it mandatory for fishermen to release all salmon caught in Welsh rivers.
The procedures for introducing new byelaws are protracted and Natural Resources Wales wishes to avoid uncertainty for fishermen by delaying implementation of approved new measures until the 2019 fishing season.
The proposed all Wales byelaws, which include restrictions on fishing methods to help the survival of released fish and reduced net fishing seasons, are currently being considered by Welsh Government.
Dave Mee, Senior Fisheries Advisor for NRW, said: “At the moment timescales for a decision are uncertain, so we are proposing that introduction of any new measures should be postponed until the beginning of the 2019 rod and net seasons.
“We hope this will help clarify the situation for anglers, netsmen, fishery owners and clubs and associations.”
Welsh salmon stocks remain in a perilous condition. Although the mandatory catch and release proposals have proved unpopular with anglers, NRW firmly believes that they, along with other measures such as tackling agricultural pollution, improving water quality and managing the potential threats from predators are vital for the future survival of these iconic fish.
Peter Gough, Principal Fisheries Advisor for NRW added: “This delay is a pragmatic solution to resolving current uncertainty.
“However, it is important to note that this does not mean there will be further debate on the subject as NRW has concluded its position and the case for further controls has been made and presented to Welsh Government and it remains unchanged.
“Protection of the breeding resources of these wonderful fish is a fundamental part of our work to manage this important natural resource sustainably.”
This season, fishermen are again being asked by NRW to practice full restraint and ensure conservation of fish stocks by voluntarily releasing all the salmon they catch in 2018.
Dave explained: “Our salmon stocks are in serious trouble and have fallen to historically low levels and the same is true of about half of our sea trout stocks.
“Neither species can sustain uncontrolled killing of fish and so we are again asking all anglers to release all of their salmon.
“Most anglers are already voluntarily releasing the fish they catch, but some are not. We feel the situation is now so serious for salmon that we must ask all anglers to help preserve as many fish as possible by returning all their salmon.
“It’s also very important to take great care of returned fish. Fishing methods and tackle should be used that ensure fish have a high probability of survival, they should always be kept in the water while unhooking to ensure they can swim away strongly.”
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