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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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A level results still high in Ceredigion

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THE ‘A’ level examination results published today by the WJEC (15 August) show that high standards are being achieved in Ceredigion schools once again. 97.9% of entries for WJEC examinations were graded A* to E, with 27.9% of the entries achieving the top ’A’ grades.

Ceredigion pupils continue to outperform the Welsh average. More pupils in Ceredigion achieve the top ’A’ grades and A* to E grades. The below table shows a comparison with average Welsh figures. These don’t include Welsh Baccalaureate results and those from examination bodies other than WJEC.

Wales 2019             Ceredigion 2019

Grade A* – A           27.92%                    27.0%

Grade A* – B           56.0%                      n/a

Grade A* – C          77.5%                        n/a

Grade A* – E          97.9%                       97.6%

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services. She said, “I would like to extend my warmest congratulations once again to Ceredigion’s sixth form students for their successes in this year’s A Level and AS examinations.

These results are the culmination of a long journey through school life which has seen them nurture and develop the academic and interpersonal skills that will enable them to move confidently into higher education, training or employment in fields of their choice. I wish them good luck for the future and would like to sincerely thank all who have contributed to their school journey in any way.”

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MP Ben Lake calls for reform of police funding

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HAVING recently shadowed Dyfed Powys Police officers in Aberystwyth, the Ceredigion MP has again urged the UK Government to review the police funding formula for rural areas.

Mr Lake visited Aberystwyth police station as part of the #GiveADayToPolicing campaign, a scheme for Members of Parliament to better understand the challenges currently facing police forces across the UK.

During his visit Mr Lake had the opportunity to experience a variety of aspects of local policing – from spending time with the neighbourhood policing team, meeting officers from different departments, and discussing policing challenges with front-line police officers.

Mr Lake has challenged the UK Government on several occasions to reform the formula for police funding – highlighting the need for the funding formula to take into consideration the seasonal pressures on forces, particularly the significant increase to the population of coastal areas during the summer months.

Mr Lake said: “I am very grateful to the officers of Aberystwyth police station for their welcome, and for taking the time to speak with me. I now have a better understanding of the challenges our police officers face, as well as a deeper level of respect and admiration of their work and commitment to public safety.

“As I have previously stated, we cannot expect a one size fits all approach to work effectively across the whole of the UK, and as such, it is imperative that the criteria used to allocate the Home Office police grant are revised so that they reflect the increased demands and unique challenges facing rural forces in areas such as Ceredigion, especially during summer months.”

Mr Lake added: “It is widely acknowledged that Welsh police forces have suffered under the present funding formula, and so it is high time that the UK Government either amends the formula accordingly, or devolves the responsibility for policing to the Welsh Government so that they may do so themselves.”

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New waste trial launched in Aberystwyth

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A NEW trial has been launched in Aberystwyth as part of the Caru Aber campaign, to help keep the town centre clean on waste collection days.

Heavy duty sacks will be placed on Aberystwyth streets on Monday afternoons before the black bag collection on Tuesdays in the following streets; Portland Street, Portland Road, Queen Street, Corporation Street, Eastgate Street, New Street and Cambrian Place.

Black bags should be put in the sacks by 8am on Tuesday mornings for collection. The intention is that the sacks contain the waste until it is collected. The sacks will be retrieved after the waste has been collected to avoid clutter and obstruction on the streets.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards is the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services together with Housing. He said: “We see this trial as a practical and relatively cost effective way of responding to long standing issues relating to domestic waste presentation in Aberystwyth town centre. The sacks will also provide a visible reminder to residents in the town centre on what days to present their black bags.

“The trial forms part of the Caru Aber campaign, and the wider Caru Ceredigion campaign, where the council looks to work with local communities to address issues which are of concern or are important to them.

“This innovative approach is another example of positive proactive action the council is taking. We hope that the residents of the town centre will play their part by making good use of the sacks as this will be the critical factor in measuring the success of the scheme.”

Clean recycling and food waste should continue to be presented on a weekly basis in the containers that the council already provides through clear bags and food caddies.

Ensuring that the right waste is presented in the right way and on the right day will help to make sure that the town’s streets are kept clean and that the waste is contained, managed and treated in the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way as possible.

The sacks were first used in readiness for waste collections on Tuesday 6 August 2019. The initial feedback is positive as they have worked to contain the waste on the streets, which were noticeably cleaner.

This latest initiative is developing on feedback and experience from two other trials undertaken. The success of the trial will be monitored on an ongoing basis and reviewed to reflect the experience which will include looking at ways of engaging all residents.

For more information about the new scheme, please contact the Customer Services Contact Centre on 01545 570 881 or by e-mail on clic@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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