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Threats to boycott WH Smith over Post Office

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THE CAMPAIGNERS who are pushing to save Aberystwyth’s post office building are now threatening to boycott the town’s WH Smith branch.

According to campaigners, the firm is most likely to accept the franchise to become the new post office.

The Save Aberystwyth Post Office Campaign is calling on Post Office Ltd top brass to change its mind on closing the current post office on Great Darkgate Street.

The proposals are part of the Post Office’s UK wide program to modernise post office access in a climate of falling visitor numbers at Crown post offices. The move, according to the Post Office is a drive to bring the firm into profitability.

SAPOC has now written to the management of WH Smith, Spar, Tesco and Co-op with threats to ‘disrupt’ their operations ‘until they make a public commitment not to be a Post Office Limited franchise partner in the town.’

Tesco and Co-op has ruled out taking the franchise over in Aberystwyth, both saying that they have no plans to operate Post Office counters in the area, despite doing so successfully elsewhere in the UK.

A spokesperson for the campaign, Ms Jones, said: “Local people feel extremely strongly about this issue.”

The spokesperson added: “I’m pleased that the First Minister agreed with me that it would be a great loss if Aberystwyth were to see its Post Office downgraded and moved from its current location. The strength of feeling at the public meeting in the Morlan Centre was remarkable. People in the Aberystwyth area clearly won’t just accept this.”

Nationally the Communication Workers Union claims bosses at the company want to force a cost-cutting exercise, including the closure of Aberystwyth Post Office, through by the end of 2017/18 to net £10 million in profits.

Speaking to the Daily Express, Deputy general secretary Terry Pullingerm, said: “Tragically, this is yet another horrendous example of broken promises, irresponsible government and chronic mismanagement by the Post Office.

“The Post Office should never have been split from Royal Mail – natural synergies and public services have been sacrificed for greed and profit.”

CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey added: “This is devastating news for our members. It is death by a thousand cuts.

“The proposals disregard the wealth of expertise, experience and sense of pride in public duty which is shared by Crown post office employees.”

According to the CWU three branches – one in Barry, South Wales and two Northern Irish stores in Antrim and Shaftesbury Square, Belfast – are set to shut outright.

The rest of the under-fire branches will go out to tender for 28 days, after which the franchise offers will be reviewed and a public consultation will take place.

In a statement the Post Office admitted it is now breaking even, but insisted the branches on the list are not sustainable for various reasons.

Roger Gale, Post Office’s General Manager of the Crown network, told The Ceredigion Herald: “In some locations, directly-run Crown Post Office branches work well but in others there are alternatives, such as franchising, which can work better for the business and its customers, not just in terms of access to Post Office services but also in relation to long term viability.

“We need to continue to make changes to strengthen the Crown network and we have today announced that we are seeking suitable potential retail partners to work with us on providing franchised services for 39 branches and we are proposing to close three branches in areas where it is no longer viable to keep a Crown branch.”

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Ceredigion dog breeder fined for failing to comply with dog breeding licence

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A CROWN COURT has upheld a conviction that the dogs under the care of Mr. Jones were kept in overcrowded conditions in contravention of the minimum space standards required by the license conditions.

Other convictions were overturned.

On 27 November 2020, and 22December 2020, the Crown Court heard an appeal by Mr. Dorian Wyn Jones, of Dorwan Kennels, Penrheol, Talsarn, relating to convictions for failing to comply with dog breeding licence conditions. 

Mr. Dorian Wyn Jones had previously been convicted at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court of running a licenced dog breeding establishment far in access of the number allowed on his licence and that the dogs in his care were kept in overcrowded conditions.

The Court heard evidence that Mr Dorian Wyn Jones had been granted a licence for 33 dogs. However, during a visit undertaken by Ceredigion County Council’s Public Protection Officers on the 07 August 2019, they found 91 dogs at the premises excluding puppies, in breach of his license. The dogs were kept in pens of a size that were inadequate for the number of dogs kept within them.

On 9 February 2021, Dorian Jones was fined £1000 for the overcrowding offence, and ordered to pay legal costs amounting to £2500. 

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Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, dies aged 99

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The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s ‘strength and stay’ for 73 years, has died aged 99.

Prince Philip’s health had been slowly deteriorating for some time. He announced he was stepping down from royal engagements in May 2017, joking that he could no longer stand up. He made a final official public appearance later that year during a Royal Marines parade on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

Since then, he was rarely seen in public, spending most of his time on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, though moving to be with her at Windsor Castle during the lockdown periods throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and where the couple quietly celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in November 2020. He also celebrated his 99th birthday in lockdown at Windsor Castle.

The duke spent four nights at King Edward VII hospital in London before Christmas 2019 for observation and treatment in relation to a “pre-existing condition”.

Despite having hip surgery in April 2018, he attended the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a month later and was seen sitting beside the Queen at a polo match at Windsor Great Park in June. He and the Queen missed Prince Louis of Cambridge’s christening in July 2018, but he was seen attending Crathie Kirk near Balmoral in August, and driving his Land Rover in the surrounding Scottish countryside in September.

It is expected that flags on landmark buildings in Britain will be lowered to half-mast as a period of mourning is announced.

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford has expressed his sadness on the news of the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and offered condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal family on behalf of the Welsh Government.

He said: “It is with sadness that we mourn the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. Throughout his long and distinguished life, he served the crown with selfless devotion and generosity of spirit.

We offer our sincere condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, his children and their families on this sad occasion.

He will be missed by the many organisations that he supported as Patron or President over many decades of service”.Andrew RT Davies, the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, has led tributes to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose death was announced today.

In light of the sad news from Buckingham Palace, campaigning has been paused with immediate effect.

Mr Davies said: “This is a very sad day for the United Kingdom.
“The Duke of Edinburgh led a remarkable life, excelled himself with his career in the Royal Navy, was the strength and stay to Her Majesty The Queen, and has left a legacy to the nation through the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“Dutiful, devoted, and diligent, his like will never be seen again, and Welsh Conservatives offer their deepest condolences to The Queen, and the rest of the Royal Family.”

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru said: “On behalf of Plaid Cymru, I send my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. Many young people in Wales will have benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, a reflection of many decades of his public service. Thoughts are with the Royal Family at this time.”

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Elin Jones calls for a plan to revive Aberystwyth town centre

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AS NON-ESSENTIAL retail re-opens on April 12, many of larger shops in Aberystwyth town centre will not be re-opening, with head offices scaling back on their presence on high streets across the UK.

In Aberystwyth, their absence will be particularly obvious with many of these retailers being located along Great Darkgate Street. Multiple retailers such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Clinton Cards, Edinburgh Woolen Mill, M&Co and Lloyds Pharmacy will not be reopening leaving a large proportion of empty properties.

These closures are in stark contrast to many independent retailers on Aberystwyth’s other streets looking to expand or start.

Commenting on this issue, Elin Jones said: “It’s time for a major rethink for Aberystwyth’s Great Darkgate Street.

“The multiple larger retailers are turning their back on our town centre and now we need to re-focus these large premises in order to make them more attractive and accessible to independent, local businesses. There have been smaller independent shops opening along other streets in Aberystwyth and throughout Ceredigion, so there is definitely businesses who could be persuaded to have a presence on the high street.

‘It would be great to see a partnership effort in the town to persuade the absentee landlords to give rent-free start up opportunities, to re-purpose the larger premises to suit smaller businesses and to ensure the buildings look attractive on the street.

‘Welsh Government has confirmed that no rates will need to be paid for this whole financial year and therefore now is a great opportunity to support small local businesses to reclaim their place on Great Darkgate Street.

‘It is the town’s largest street and needs to be a star attraction in Ceredigion.’

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