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Momentum builds for Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign

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(Sitting) Ben Lake: (Standing L-R) Nick Sawyer, Huw Williams, Roger Bryan, Adrian Turner, Richard Taylor, Ashley Williams, Bernie Davies, Tim Richards

10,000 people have signed the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign petition, which is challenging the RNLI’s decision to remove the all-weather lifeboat in New Quay, Ceredigion, with cross-party political support increasing day by day across Wales and the UK.

Seafarers and visitors to the coast are worried that if the RNLI go ahead with their decision, there will be a 70-mile gap in all-weather lifeboat provision, and that there will be no all-weather lifeboat in the whole of Ceredigion.

Support has been gaining momentum since the RNLI’s announcement in June, and an online petition now has more than 5,000 signatures, with a further 5,000 signatures on paper.

Not only is the general public voicing their concerns, but the campaign has gained cross-party political support, including Ceredigion MP Ben Lake, AMs Elin Jones, Simon Thomas and Joyce Watson, town and county councillors, Dyfed Powys Police & Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, and Sheryl Murray, MP for South East Cornwall, who has a special interest in maritime safety.

The campaign is a community-led initiative, comprising elected members of the lifeboat crew, New Quay and Aberaeron yacht clubs, the Welsh Fishermen’s Association, passenger boat operators, commercial fishermen, town and county councillors, and professional subject matter experts from the local community.

Chair of the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign Richard Taylor explained the objective of the campaign: “Following the RNLI’s decision to remove all-weather lifeboat provision at New Quay lifeboat station, the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign was founded to make a well-researched and reasoned response. Our group includes a number of New Quay Lifeboat crew members and supporters who respect and remain loyal to the RNLI, and we are all committed to its values and ideals. We wholeheartedly believe, however, that on this occasion, the RNLI has made a poorly considered decision that cannot go unchallenged.”

The campaign has recently written to the RNLI to request full disclosure of all the data, supporting documents, and minutes of trustee meetings in relation to the decision.

Mr Taylor added: “In accordance with the Charity Commission guidance, our letter makes it clear that, as stakeholders of the RNLI, we are expected to hold our trustees to account for the decisions they make. We have asked for full disclosure within 14 days and look forward to hearing from them.”
Huw Williams, a New Quay town councillor and lifeboat crew member described the implications of the proposed change: “The RNLI’s decision to replace the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat at New Quay with an Atlantic 85 will leave a dangerous gap in all-weather cover. The Atlantic 85 is an inshore lifeboat, designed to operate closer to shore, and in up to force 7 conditions in daylight and force 6 at night. Over the last 10 years, New Quay Lifeboat has carried out many services that were beyond the capability of an Atlantic 85, saving many lives.

“The nearest all-weather boats based at Barmouth and Fishguard would take up to an hour and a half to respond to an emergency in the New Quay and Aberaeron areas. This is clearly at odds with the RNLI’s central Mission Statement: ‘We aim to reach at least 90% of all casualties within 10 nautical miles of the coast within 30 minutes of a lifeboat launch – in any weather.’”

The campaign has been actively raising awareness at events throughout the county over the last few months, appearing at the Cardigan Bay Regatta, Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Aberaeron Carnival, the Round Table Tug of War, and Lampeter Food Festival, with many more public consultation events planned for the coming months.

Ben Lake MP is in full support of the campaign and is actively involved. He is building support amongst MPs in Westminster, and is meeting with the operations director of the RNLI at the end of September.
Discussing the campaign, Ben Lake said: “To me, and everyone I talk to, it is glaringly obvious that there will be a gap in all-weather rescue capability for Ceredigion’s coastline after 2020. This is not satisfactory and I intend to do everything I can to overturn this decision. The RNLI Lifeboat Station at New Quay has delivered an excellent service for the past 153 years, and its crew needs to be given the correct equipment to continue their lifesaving work. This decision will not only affect New Quay but the whole of Cardigan Bay.”

To sign the online petition, please go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-shannon-class-lifeboat-at-new-quay or visit local businesses for paper petitions.

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Recognition given to long-standing members of Council committee

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AT AN Ethics and Standards Committee (virtual) meeting held on 17 September 2021,  Rif Winfield and Hywel Wyn Jones were given recognition for their 10 years’ of service to the Committee between 2011 and 2021. A small plaque was presented to both.

Hywel was Chair of the Committee for 3 years.

In their place, two new independent members Alan Davies and Caryl Davies have been appointed.

Eifion Evans, Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council said, “Ceredigion County Council has benefitted from a decade of advice and considerations provided by Rif & Hywel. We welcome the new members of the committee and their input to the function of the Committee will be greatly appreciated.”

Standards Committees of local authorities exist to do all that is possible to promote and safeguard the standards that the public rightly expect from their elected representatives.

Ceredigion County Council Chairman, Councillor Paul Hinge, said, “Our thanks go to Rif and Hywel who have given their time to contribute to the Committee and we welcome the new members.”

The Committee is made up of five independent members, two county councillors and two town/community councillors. Meeting quarterly, reports for the Ethics and Standards Committee including dispensation applications can be found on the Council website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Exciting new developments on the horizon for Lampeter Wellbeing Centre

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Architects have been appointed to oversee the project and work will now begin on the proposed layout for the facility

At a Cabinet meeting held on 01 December 2020, it was agreed that Lampeter Leisure Centre would become the location of the Council’s first Wellbeing Centre in the County.

A significant amount of work and investment is to be made at the Leisure Centre which will improve the facility and the resources for years to come.

Over the coming months, as we see the plans and proposals for Wellbeing Centre develop, they will be shared with service users and the residents of Ceredigion.

Architects have been appointed to oversee the project and work will now begin on the proposed layout for the facility. The layout will be a reconfiguration of the existing facility in order to provide a Wellbeing Centre that can provide an enhanced range of Through Age Services, including Leisure Services to the residents of Lampeter and the mid of the county. 

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member, said: “We are looking forward to the development of the new Wellbeing Centre at Lampeter. This will provide a range of services to residents within their local community.

This development comes at a welcome time, as Ceredigion Public Service Board is carrying out an Assessment of Local Wellbeing, in order to find out about the wellbeing of local people and communities, now and in the future.”

Lampeter Leisure Centre will be closed during the building works, but during this period alternative provision will be made available for all service users and clubs.

We look forward to being able to share these alternative plans with you over the coming weeks, as soon as these arrangements have been finalised.

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UK Government must improve HGV drivers’ working conditions – Ben Lake MP

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Many people in the HGV industry have expressed concern

FOLLOWING his contribution during PMQs on September 8 regarding the HGV driver crisis, Ben Lake MP has raised the issue again, with Minister Grant Shapps.

Ben Lake MP has said:

“Many constituents who work in the HGV industry have come forward to share their experiences with me about the HGV driver crisis. As well as expressing grave concern, they have also shared ideas and long-term solutions that would greatly improve the current situation. 

“It’s important that the UK Government listens and gives full consideration to these suggestions and I look forward to meeting with the Minister in the near future to discuss them further.”

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