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County NFU elect new chairman

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mike plumbA MEMBER and past chairman of the Narberth local branch, Mike Plumb, was earlier this week elected into office for the coming year as Chairman of the Pembroke County branch of the National Farmers Union.

He succeeds Mansel Raymond, North West local branch, and will have as his vice–chairman, Simon Richards of Central area.Born in Oxfordshire, Mike came to the area as a teenager in 1966 when his parents, Peter and Mary Plumb, bought Plascerdin Farm at Llangynin.

He has a strong NFU pedigree for his father was elected Chairman of the Union’s Carmarthen branch for 1988. Like his father, he was a member of the St Clears local branch in Carmarthenshire. Mike served the county as livestock committee chairman and has continued to be actively involved in Union affairs since moving to farm at the 92-acre Blaenffynnonau, Narberth and has chaired the Union’s Rural Affairs Committee in Pembrokeshire.

Mike is married to June, who works for a well-established firm of accountants, and the couple have two sons, Steven, who works for the NHS, and Tim, who is a graphic designer – and three young grandchildren. As a means of generating extra income 16 years ago, Mike trained in pest control and started a service for farmers and others in disposing of rodent pests and he was also in demand in mole control. This side of the business had to end when the use of strychnine became prohibited.

More recently, in partnership with his wife June, with specialised equipment and well trained staff, he now works on private contracts and for the County Council and National Parks Authority on tree surgery (lopping and topping), tree removal (including an emergency 24-hour service), mobile wood chipping and log splitting, orchard and large garden maintenance and bracken control.

Mike manages all the practical aspects of the partnership, personally overseeing all of the work and insisting that his staff provide a reliable service and receive ongoing training and updating, to keep within latest safety guidelines.

Mike says: “We take immense pride in the fact that most of the work we undertake in the private sector, comes from the recommendations of
satisfied clients”.

Panel: Union activities
THE annual dinner of the NFU’s Pembroke County branch, attended by 160 members, friends and guests, was held last Friday evening at the new Crug Glas Function Centre, near Croesgoch, operated by union members, Perkin and Janet Evans. The guest speaker for the occasion was Andy Robertson, who was just over 12 months ago, appointed as the Union’s Director General for England and Wales.

This week’s annual general meeting was held at the Wolfscastle Country Hotel and the Union’s annual County Conference is to be held at the Nantyffin, Llandissilio on Thursday, January 9 when the guest speaker will be Prof Wayne Powell.

For the past five years Wayne has been the highly regarded Director of IBERS (The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University) and recently appointed as Chief Science Officer of the CGIAR Consortium –a global partnership of research organizations.

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Theatre companies show COVID resilience

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Over four decades ago, rural west Wales was at the centre of the greatest drugs bust in history. The police investigation, Operation Julie, resulted in dozens of arrests and the discovery of LSD worth £100 million. A brand-new musical play from Theatr na nÓg and Aberystwyth Arts Centre explores the story from both sides of the drugs divide – the police, and the hippies who settled in Ceredigion hoping to spread their ideals in a changing world.

This summer, Theatr na nÓg and Aberystwyth Arts Centre were due to launch an ambitious co-production for audiences in Aberystwyth. Operation Julie was to be a stage play packed with music, drama and comedy, telling the extraordinary story of what happened in and around west Wales in the mid-1970s when hippies settled in the area seeking a new way of living fuelled by acid and an alternative attitude. When a chance clue is discovered following a car accident, the local constabulary works with detectives from across Britain to uncover what turns out to be the biggest stash of acid ever found, taking out up to 60% of the world’s LSD market at that time.

When the coronavirus pandemic struck it became clear it would be impossible to open Operation Julie to live audiences at Aberystwyth Arts Centre in August and na nÓg and the arts centre made the decision to postpone its premiere until next spring.

Although a huge disappointment for both companies, they quickly decided to make the best of a bad situation, as Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s director Dafydd Rhys explains: “Though we’d prefer to be going into production now, that is no longer an option due to Covid – but it does allow the wonderful cast and team of creatives to get together to do some invaluable research and development work on the script, the characters and the music.”

Due to the continuing lockdown restrictions, writer-director Geinor Styles explains how they went about the R&D activity whilst being unable to physically rehearse together.

“I’m not a director that sits and pours over the script,” Styles says. “I like to get people up on their feet and moving. I believe I can solve things editorially whilst directing. This is probably the most frustrating thing and a real challenge for me because that is not possible over zoom. However there are advantages, the creatives, designers, sound, AV and lighting have been able to drop into rehearsal or listen in without having to physically be in the room. A real treat for us and them. It feels truly collaborative. Having them exclusively while still developing the script is very rare but such a real bonus.”

Geinor Styles, who has been developing the production since 2014 and believes that, due to COVID that the story has become even more relevant: “I feel as we move through this pandemic, that the story behind Kemp’s acid production and 8000 word micro doctrine, becomes more and more relevant to a planet that is being destroyed by consumerism and capitalism.”

She also feels the Operation Julie story is too important to be delayed. “I was astonished how relevant this story was to us living in a time where the climate was changing at an alarming rate,” she says. “That as a species, we needed to change our ways like the hippies of the ’60s and ’70s – their philosophy of wanting to ‘get back to the garden’. This philosophy was emphasised by our protagonist Richard Kemp, a talented scientist, who moved to Tregaron in the early 70s and created the purest form of LSD. He is the source of the whole story – without Kemp, you do not have Operation Julie.”

Theatr na nÓg and Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s version of events tells the story from both sides of the law, with Geinor Styles meeting and interviewing a variety of people from the area and of that time, one of the main acid dealers – Alston ‘Smiles’ Hughes, who was a key part of the LSD chain from his modest home in Llanddewi Brefi – and Lydia Jones, the daughter of the late Detective Sergeant Richie Parry, in the Zoom meetings with cast and crew.

Operation Julie is a musical play, a format favoured by the resilient and forward thinking theatre company, Greg Palmer is Operation Julie’s composer and musical director, working with actor-musicians over video call to create the score: “I’ve never rehearsed a show in this way before. My usual method is to be in the thick of things in the rehearsal room working with the actor-musicians in an organic way. This makes the cast feel part of the creative process. That immediacy is impossible to replicate via Zoom so the whole process becomes slower and more laboured.” This alterantive approach, though, has allowed Palmer to discuss LSD dealer Smiles’ psychedelic musical tastes and the records that influenced him during the period of the play. “I grew up as a teenager in the ’70s and listened to a lot of the music that Smiles et al would have been listening to. Smiles has

referenced a number of bands from that era – Caravan, Bob Dylan, Steely Dan. I’ve been very keen from the beginning of the process to have the sound world of the play reflect those musical trends.”

Theatr na nÓg and Aberystwyth Arts Centre are confident that this extended development time, will result in a truly memorable production when Operation Julie finally reaches the stage next year.

“Operation Julie will be a popular and important theatre production,” says Dafydd Rhys. “We remain totally committed to this uniquely Welsh tale that had an impact throughout the world. It also has the added bonus that the music will be fantastic! We know the audience will be in for a treat – a really good night of quality, thought provoking and popular theatre.”

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Annual Canvass to go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic

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The 2020 annual canvass is required by law and will continue despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Ceredigion’s Electoral Services are continuing their service, however staff will be working differently due to the coronavirus.

Electoral Registration Officer, Eifion Evans said: “This year’s canvass, which we have to carry out by law, is taking place during a challenging public health situation. We are working to ensure that we take account of public health guidelines, including the continued importance of social distancing.”

If we have sent you a letter that asks you to respond or complete a form, you can help us by replying to it quickly and, online, rather than posting it back to us if possible. This will save Council resources and reduce the number of letters that have to be handled by Council and Royal Mail staff.”

The link to respond is on the first page of the A4 letter you will receive with part 1 and part 2 security codes.

Residents who have any questions can contact Ceredigion’s Electoral Services on 01545 572032.

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CCTV cameras to be installed in Newcastle Emlyn

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Three new cameras are being installed in Newcastle Emlyn as part of the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner’s key pledge to reinvest in a public CCTV system.

The work on the installation programme in the town will begin on Monday, August 10.

Cameras will be cameras installed in Sycamore Street, Emlyn Square and Heol y Bont. The camera locations have been decided following a review of a crime pattern analysis and in consultation with partner agencies.

The work is being carried out by contractors Baydale Control Systems Ltd. The hi-tech cameras are being supplied by Hikvision UK & Ireland.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “Brecon is the next town in Powys to benefit from my key election pledge to re-install public space CCTV. This is a busy town, and I am confident the cameras will prove to be a valuable asset in keeping the town safe and assisting with the detection of crime.

“The CCTV project is continuing across the force, with three cameras also installed in Newcastle Emlyn last week. The number of towns we have now included in the CCTV project is 23.

“I am confident the cameras will prove to be a valuable asset in keeping these towns safe and assisting with the detection of crime.”

Ceredigion Commander, Superintendent Robyn Mason, said: “This is a positive move for Newcastle Emlyn. Having the cameras in place while we experience an increase in visitors to the area during the holiday period will help us to keep everyone as safe as possible and assist us in carrying out quality investigations when required.”

The CCTV project is bringing over 120 state of the art CCTV cameras to towns throughout the police force area of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys.

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