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Secretary of State visits college’s work programme

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college programSECRETARY of State, Iain Duncan Smith MP, visited Pembrokeshire College to find out more about their delivery of the Government’s Work Programme, which has been an effective tool for helping the long-term unemployed back into work.

Pembrokeshire College is the lead deliverer of the Work Programme across Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. Their successful back to work figures since the programme started in 2011 has ranked them as one of the leading deliverers of the scheme in the UK.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP and Minister for Wales, Stephen Crabb, visited the College in December 2012 to gain an update on their delivery of the new Government initiative.

Stephen was keen to help secure a visit by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to showcase the work that the College’s team has been doing to help support people back into work locally.

On Thursday, December 12, Iain Duncan Smith MP, accompanied by Stephen Crabb MP, visited the College’s Work Programme offices to meet both staff and customers and to find out more about the resources on offer to those seeking work.

The Secretary of State’s visit comes at the end of a year when unemployment levels have fallen steadily in Preseli Pembrokeshire.

Following his visit Mr Duncan Smith commented:“I was delighted to visit Pembrokeshire College with Stephen and see how the Work Programme is making a real differenceto the hardest to help jobseekers.

“It was a pleasure to meet the team and congratulate them for their hard work and dedication.

“The fall in unemployment figures in Preseli Pembrokeshire is extremely positive news, as it is in the rest of the country, and shows just why the Work Programme is so important to the long-term unemployed.”

Commenting from the College, Stephen Crabb MP said: “I am pleased to have arranged for the Secretary of State to come to Pembrokeshire and see the excellent progress being made in tackling unemployment this year. I have been very impressed with the way that the team at Pembrokeshire College, as local providers of the Work Programme, have been delivering intensive support to the long-term jobless.

“Helping people overcome the difficult barriers that stop them working remains one of the biggest challenges facing Wales. The performance of the Work Programme and our local Job Centre Plus has been very encouraging and it is good that Ian Duncan-Smith has been able to see it firsthand.

“I am very pleased that the Secretary of State, who is leading the Government’s welfare reform and back-to-work initiatives, has been able to see the passion and commitment that the team at Pembrokeshire College have in making one of his programs a success in our county.”

Director of Business, Development and Community Services at the College, Dr Geoff Elliott, added: “The Work Programme forms an integral part of the College’s Welfare to Work provision which is currently engaging with over 1,000 people across Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion.

“The success of the Work Programme at the College is testament to the hard work and commitment of the staff who work within this challenging sector. Our results show that the key to tackling long-term unemployment is ensuring that people receive the individual support they need to help them back into sustainable employment.

“We have found that there are many synergies between what the Work Programme offers and what we do at the College on a daily basis – training people to make them ready for employment.”

Stephen Crabb MP and the Secretary of State also visited The Lion’s Den on Snowdrop Lane in Haverfordwest to meet with the owner, Hayley Thomas and her staff. Hayley was helped to set up the indoor children’s play area, cafe and nursery through the New Enterprise Allowance which is available from the Department for Work and Pensions to help people set up their own business ventures.

Hayley is now employing 15 staff members and has worked hard to develop the business since it was founded in 2011. Hayley was recently selected to attend a reception at Number 10 to recognise the success stories of the Government’s new scheme and support for businesses.

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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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