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Budget boost for rail campaigners

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A bridge near Lampeter: Much of the infrastructure is still in place

A bridge near Lampeter: Much of the infrastructure is still in place

THE RETURN of a railway service which last ran in the mid- 1960s moved a step closer to becoming a reality after the Welsh Government agreed to fund a feasibility study.

The railway track between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth was taken up shortly after it closed for commercial use in 1975 – a decade after the last passenger train ran – but much of the track bed and infrastructure remains in place.

While reopening the line has been discussed many times before, and has enjoyed cross-party support, the latest draft revenue budget allocates £300,000 towards carrying out a full feasibility study into reopening the line.

This follows on from a preliminary report published last year, which indicated that the project was potentially feasible, although large-scale works, including a tunnel costing in the region of £60m, would be necessary due to building on the track bed.

At the time, the then economy Minister Edwina Hart said that she was ‘open minded’ to alternative public transport links in the region, but pointed out that Aberystwyth and Carmarthen were already connected by a bus route.

When the matter was recently raised in the Senedd by UKIP, the First Minister said that the project was ‘close to my heart’. The project has also been supported by Plaid Cymru AMs, including Simon Thomas and Elin Jones, and Ceredigion’s Lib Dem MP Mark Williams.

It appears that the financial allocation was one of a number of Plaid Cymru priority areas, forming part of a £119m budget agreement with Labour.

Traws Link Cymru, who have been campaigning to get the line reopened, claim that ‘this is the breakthrough we have been waiting for’.

“Reopening the railway would bring social, cultural, and environmental benefits, and would provide an economic stimulus to West Wales.

“It would help alleviate transport poverty in the region, provide a safer form of transport, be a significant boost to tourism, and lead to improved connectivity,” a spokesperson added.

It currently takes more than two hours to travel between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen on public transport, but Traws Link Cymru hope that this journey time could be reduced to 90 minutes by train.

However, the cost of the project – estimated at between £350-750m – could prove problematic. Last year, the existing Welsh Government-supported bus service was used 102,000 times.

Edwina Hart also pointed out last year that funding of rail infrastructure was non-devolved at present.

It is also unclear whether external funding for large infrastructure projects will be as readily available in the future, given uncertainty surrounding European Union membership.

However, this funding commitment shows a political willingness to explore the viability of reintroducing this service.

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Future of The Pembrokeshire Herald newspaper secured

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THE COMPANY, which runs the Pembrokeshire Herald newspaper in west Wales, says it has secured an eleventh-hour investment to prevent the company from going into administration.

On Friday, The Herald’s management announced that a decision had been made to cease trading after a key investor pulled the plug – but now a deal has been struck with a new investor, which will secure the future of The Pembrokeshire Herald weekly print title, as well as three other news websites.

At least ten of the 24 staff working at The Herald have been told that they will keep their jobs following confirmation of the investment.

Herald News UK Limited has entered into a six-figure cash-for-shares agreement with Spanish advertising firm Rigographic Espana.

Its CEO, Ricardo Rigobon, who has 20 years experience in publishing and advertising, said that The Herald deserved to be saved.

He said: “As a campaigning newspaper, The Pembrokeshire Herald has served its customers well over the last six and a half years. Its circulation is strong, and the website is extremely popular. I believe with the new reduced costs business model we can secure the future of the newspaper.

“The Llanelli Herald and The Carmarthenshire Herald will continue online.”

Managing Director of Herald News UK Limited, John Hammond said that he was delighted that the future of the firm, and almost half the workforce was now secure.

He explained: “We have worked tirelessly over the weekend to get the necessary financing in place since our original investor pulled out. As a result of those efforts, we have now got a new partnership with a long-established firm in our industry.”

Editor of The Pembrokeshire Herald, Thomas Sinclair said: “I am excited that we have been given a new opportunity. It’s not a time for celebration as we still have colleagues who have lost their jobs. However, for the remaining team we now have a get on with the job of reporting the news and getting the papers out each Friday.”

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Herald publisher ceases operations

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HERALD NEWS UK LTD, the company which prints The Pembrokeshire Herald, The Carmarthenshire Herald and The Llanelli Herald has ceased operations.

Editor of Pembrokeshire Herald, Thomas Sinclair said: “After finalising today’s paper to go to print yesterday, a meeting was held last night. It was confirmed that the expected further investor funding would not be made available for the company.

“This meant that operations need be halted as the businesses was not able to pay its ongoing costs.

“At 10am today the 24 members of staff working at the newspaper have today been given notice of redundancy.

“We are absolutely devastated that after nearly 7 years and hundreds of editions of the paper we can no longer continued.”

“I would like to think that over those years, some of the stories we have written have made a difference to Pembrokeshire and beyond.”

Director of Herald News UK Limited, John Hammond said: “The company accountant could be appointing administrators as soon as next week.”

“The Owners of The Pembrokeshire Herald came to the conclusion last night during a finance meeting that the venture is no longer financially viable.

“Whilst every conceivable effort has been made to improve the financial situation of the business, we have to face the fact that there is no way that we can now continue in a solvent position.

“Whilst there has been a slow decline in readership of local newspapers, our costs for wages, printing and transport have substantially increased.”

“We would like to thank all of our loyal readers and staff.”

<img class=”wp-image-51343 size-large” src=”http://pembrokeshire-herald.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/herald2-1024×678.jpg” alt=”” width=”740″ height=”490″ /> Community: Herald titles were campaigning newspapers<img class=”wp-image-51344 size-large” src=”http://pembrokeshire-herald.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/herald3-1024×565.jpg” alt=”” width=”740″ height=”408″ /> Popular: 45,000 people read Herald titles each week in west Wales

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Theatr Felinfach Performing School presents CAMAU

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OVER the past few months enthusiastic members of Theatr Felinfach Performing School have been developing new skills through a series of masterclasses with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru.

The members have been busy creating material through scripting, directing, choreography, clog dancing, folk dancing and much more. All their hard work will be shown in their ‘CAMAU’ (steps) performance on Monday 28 October, 7:00pm at Theatr Felinfach. This is your chance to see the fruits of their labour!

The Performing School was established in January 2017 and has now grown into a very popular group. It’s a great opportunity for 7-18 years olds to gain new experiences in theatre skills through the medium of Welsh and to make new friends who share the same passion for performing.

This year two trips were organized for members of the Performing School. In June, the group visited the ‘Lexicon’ show by the UK’s leading large-scale circus company ‘NoFitState’ in Bluestone, Narberth. The audience was amazed at the performers’ talents and agility and seeing the children’s faces was invaluable.

Later in July, the group visited ‘Chores’ at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, a production organised by Cluster Arts, an Australian company. The story was about two young boys playing in their mess of a room where they began using their acrobatic skills to sort out the carnage. The show was inspired by ‘slapstick’ legends Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

Theatr Felinfach hopes to continue taking members to see various shows and productions to give them the opportunity to experience professional theatre.

The Performing School meet each Thursday evening – the primary members (7-11 years) from 4:30pm to 5:30pm and the older members (12-18 years) from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.

Membership fees are every half term and range between £30 and £35 depending on the age of the members.

If you would like more information about the Performing School and how to become a member in the new year, please contact sioned.thomas@ceredigion.gov.uk or call 01570 470697.

Tickets for ‘CAMAU’ are £6 for adults, £5 for OAPs and theatre members and £4 for students and Children. They’re available from the Box Office on 01570 470697 or online at theatrfelinfach.cymru.

 

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