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Jail suspended for death crash pensioner

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crowncourt-1024x682A WELL known Aberystwyth man died in a head-on car crash when “age caught up” with an elderly driver and she fell asleep at the wheel.

Margaret Christopher, aged 81, had been looking for a layby to take a break when she failed to even attempt to take a left hand bend and drove straight into Dai England’s Peugeot 208.

Mr England died two days later from injuries to his heart and his central nervous system.

His daughter Rhian, a passenger in the front seat, suffered fractures to her arm, elbow and knee and spent three months in a wheelchair.

For the 48 hours after the crash doctors thought Christopher would die but she survived.

Today, she admitted causing death by careless driving. She was jailed for 14 months, suspended for two years, and banned from driving for two years.

Francis Jones, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that on March 19 last year Christopher, then aged 80, was part way through a six and a half hour drive from her home in Southport, Lancashire, to her daughter’s home in Broad Haven. She had promised to look after her daughter’s dog while she went on holiday.

Christopher had taken two breaks, the last one in Machynleth. But as she approached Aberystwyth on the A4159 at Lovesgrove she felt she needed another one.

Mr Jones said Christopher entered a left hand bend but drove straight on and her Vauxhall Astra hit the Peugeot.

Mr England and his daughter had to be cut out of the wreckage. At the scene he was able to talk to paramedics but the 67 year old died in the University of Wales hospital in Cardiff two days later.

Mr Jones said other drivers thought Christopher had not even tried to take the bend and there was no sign that she had braked.

Rhian England remembered her father braking hard and turning to his left, but he could not avoid the collision.

Mr Jones said both cars were in good condition, as was the road surface, and the weather had been fine and visibility was good. Speed was not a factor, he added.

Christopher, he said, had no recollection of the collision and could not offer an explanation.

In a victim impact statement Mr England’s widow, Mair, said she thought about her soul-mate all of the time. They had been married for 44 years and had three children and two grandchildren.

Andrew Nuttall, the barrister representing Christopher, said she also thought about Mr England and his family every day.

“She understands very well that words give little comfort to the family. But all she can say is that she is very, very sorry.

“She really has no idea what happened. She has decided never to drive again,” he added.

Judge Huw Davies told Christopher, “Age caught up with you in a tragic way and without warning.

“You think you must have fallen asleep. There is no other explanation for what happened.”

He said Christopher had “taken a chance” by undertaking such a long journey at her age.

“That day, that drive was asking too much or your stamina. But you took the risk of carrying on,” he added.

Judge Davies said Christopher had been driving since 1960 and had an impeccable record.

But he had to pass a prison sentence that was aimed at the whole community and reflected the consequences of driving without due care.

Christopher, of Hoole Lane, Banks, Southport, was also ordered to pass an extended driving test should she ever want her licence back.

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Changes to bus services in Ceredigion confirmed by local authority

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THERE will be changes to local bus services in Ceredigion from Tuesday 3 January 2023.

The tenders received as part of a procurement process for operating several services have shown significant cost increases. This has resulted in substantial increases in subsidy levels being requested at a time when public finances are under tremendous pressure. The higher costs are largely reflective of particular challenges affecting the bus industry currently which includes considerable increased operating costs, lack of qualified and available drivers, uncertainty around future funding mechanisms as well as declining passenger numbers and changing travel behaviours.

Bus passenger numbers have been in decline across Wales and essentially halved in the period between 1982, where there were 181 million passenger journeys and 2019/20 where there were 91 million passenger journeys. This has been severely compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw a drop to 26 million passenger journeys in 2020/21, that has further impacted on the viability of local bus services.

The 22T (Aberystwyth-Devil’s Bridge), 27T (Penrhyncoch-Penbontrhydybeddau) and T29 (Tregaron Circular) demand responsive services will stop at the end of December 2022. This is due to the significant costs associated with providing them and the very low level of usage, which equate to unviable levels of public subsidy per passenger journey.

There will be changes to the timetables on the 525 (Aberystwyth-Ponterwyd), 526 (Aberystwyth-Penrhyncoch) and 585 (Aberystwyth-Tregaron-Lampeter) services. The timetables for these services, subject to submission by the operators and approval by the Traffic Commissioner, are attached. These timetables are based on proposals provided by the local bus operators and reflect what is operationally deliverable with the resources available, in terms of buses and drivers, at this time.

The T21 (Aberystwyth-Llanafan-Tregaron) and 552 Cardi Bach (New Quay-Cardigan) services will continue as currently.

All these contracts have been awarded on a 6 month basis to allow for a wider review.

Councillor Keith Henson, Cabinet Member for Highways and Environmental Services and Carbon Management said: “I would like to thank the local bus companies for their ongoing engagement in what is very challenging operating environment. We continue to work with them and in partnership with the other key stakeholders including the Welsh Government and Transport for Wales, seeking possible solutions and a way forward. Bus services and networks are dynamic and subject to change. Further changes are likely as the reality is that, in addition to the sparsity of resources, the amount of subsidy now required to provide the services is unaffordable, unjustifiable and unsustainable in the current financial climate.”

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Urgent police appeal for missing Ceredigion man

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POLICE in Ceredigion are appealing for help to find Dyfed who is missing from the Talybont area.

He was last seen at his home address in the Ceredigion village at around 10.30pm or 11pm on Saturday, 3 December.

Dyfed is described as being 5ft 10ins, of medium build, with short mousey brown hair with short ginger beard, and was wearing grey waterproof trousers over jeans, a blue-check padded shirt and woolly hat and wellies.

Have you seen Dyfed, or do you have info that might help us find him? Please, let us know:

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New Rural Health Economics Professor builds on University healthcare provision

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AN ACADEMIC who played a key role in decision-making in the adoption of medicines in NHS Wales and NHS England has been appointed as Professor of Rural Health Economics at Aberystwyth University.

Professor Murray Smith, an expert in the use of economics and statistics to predict outcomes in health and health-related behaviours, joins Aberystwyth Business School.

His recent research has centred on the quality of use of pharmaceutical medicine, with one project exploring the use of an inhaled analgesic for acute pre-hospital trauma pain, and others on topics that have spanned medicine use across a number of chronic disease areas.

After beginning his career in Australia, Professor Smith moved to the United Kingdom in 2007 and has worked at the universities of Aberdeen, Nottingham and Lincoln.

Professor Smith said: “I am delighted to join Aberystwyth Business School. Health economics is a vital subject because it provides methods and tools to help decision makers in the choices they face when trying to deliver high quality healthcare in a modern resource-limited economy.

“I am excited about adding to Aberystwyth Business School’s existing portfolio of expertise in research and to being given the opportunity to continue to use my skills to help the NHS to identify and deliver cost-effective healthcare and services to the people of mid Wales.”

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University said: “It is vital as a society that we continue to innovate in our approaches to healthcare and Aberystwyth University is stepping up to the challenge with the launch of our first ever nursing degrees in September 2022 and through interdisciplinary research into combating diseases, using artificial intelligence to improve patients’ health, and exploring new techniques to improve human health through diet.

“The appointment of Professor Smith demonstrates our continuing commitment to developing and delivering high quality healthcare education and research at Aberystwyth. His expertise will focus on the economic aspects of healthcare, and his teaching and research will benefit our students and beyond.”

Professor Smith’s appointment coincides with the awarding of Honorary Professorships to three executives from Hywel Dda University Health Board, further strengthening Aberystwyth University’s expertise in healthcare as well as building on its partnership with the local health board.

Dr Helen Munro, Consultant in Community Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare at the Board; Dr Leighton Phillips, the Board’s Director of Research, Innovation and University Partnerships, and Huw Thomas, its Director of Finance collectively have decades of expertise in the health sector in the United Kingdom.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “On behalf of the Board I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Helen, Leighton and Huw on their appointment as Honorary Professors at Aberystwyth University. Our partnership with Aberystwyth University continues to go from strength to strength and we look forward to continuing our vital work together in the future.”
Professor Elizabeth Treasure added: “I am delighted to welcome our new Honorary Professors, who together will bring decades of experience to our research and teaching. Their expertise will further contribute to the role we have to play as a University in helping improve healthcare provision for everyone.”

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