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‘Considerable concern’ over RNLI plans

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SINCE the RNLI announced its decision to replace the all-weather Mersey-class lifeboat at New Quay with an Atlantic 85 inshore boat in 2020 the issue has been taken to the Government.

Campaigners fighting the plan say the RNLI’s decision will leave a gap of nearly 70 miles between all-weather lifeboat stations in an area frequented by fishing vessels, passenger boats and leisure craft.

Ben Lake MP and Elin Jones AM are two notable names who have raised concerns of the announcement.

In the House of Commons Chamber on October 19, Ben Lake MP asked for a statement detailing the Government’s expectation with regards to lifeboat provision.

He noted that ‘there is considerable concern in Ceredigion that proposals under the recent coastal review of Cardigan Bay would leave the entire Ceredigion coastline without sufficient all-weather lifeboat provision’.

An encouraging response on behalf of the Government came from Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons and a former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

She said: “I think the honourable gentleman raises an extremely important point and I do encourage him to go direct to the Department.

“I am sure if they’re aware of this situation they will be equally concerned and I am happy to raise it with them on his behalf if he’d like to write to me.”

Mr Lake has since written to Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport asking for a detailed UK Government policy on all-weather lifeboat provision, and to clarify whether the RNLI’s decision should be reconsidered as a consequence.

Ben Lake MP said: “I hope to receive a positive response from the Secretary of State. The proposed downgrade of the all-weather lifeboat in New Quay is in danger of placing casualties, seafarers and RNLI crews at unnecessary risk, and so I am sure that all parties involved can come together to reconsider this decision.”

Elin Jones has also written to the Welsh Government outlining her concerns.

In the letter she said: “The proposed new lifeboat is not suitable for use in all weathers, it is a much smaller ship than that which is currently deployed in New Quay, and it will vastly restrict the capability of rescuing people at sea from the station.

“The RNLI volunteers have showed me evidence of the effect that this downgrading will have on Ceredigion’s coast, and have raised concerns that people at sea would be left at considerable risk. With the downgrading of the rescue ship at New Quay, the vast majority of the Ceredigion coast will be left without an hour response All-Weather vessel.”

Replying on behalf of the Government, Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs, said: “I too share your concerns. The safety of our fishing industry is a key concern of mine, and whilst fishing will always be an inherently dangerous occupation, it is imperative we do all we can to improve the safety of our operations.

“Whilst I am unable to intervene in the decision, I have asked my officials to reiterate our concerns and seek clarification from the RNLI regarding its decision.”

Following this, Elin Jones AM, said: “It is very encouraging that the Welsh Government have decided to support this campaign. There is a clear need for an all-weather lifeboat to cover the coast of Ceredigion, as recent weather has shown us.

“Over the last few months, along with Ben Lake MP I have met several times with volunteers of the RNLI in New Quay, Ceredigion. We have also met with George Rawlinson, Operations Manager for the RNLI, and I feel that many of the concerns raised by the volunteers, related organisations and general public, are not being met.

“The most important of these is that there has been a lack of consultation with the public, Ceredigion County Council, other emergency services and with the local volunteers.

“Therefore, I hope that with the Welsh Government raising its concerns with the RNLI, the decision to downgrade the lifeboat will be halted.”

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Education

Free School Meals for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 from September 2022

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CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL will be offering Free School Meals from the Autumn term onwards to all Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 children.

This comes following Welsh Government’s announcement to offer Free School Meals for primary school pupils across Wales, starting with Reception classes from September 2022.

In response to the current rising cost-of-living, this is a positive step forward in ensuring that no child goes hungry while in school and tackling poverty in our County.

From Monday 5 September 2022 onwards, all Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 Children in Ceredigion schools will be offered Free School Meals, extending the offer beyond what needs to be done by September.

Ceredigion County Council and Welsh Government are committed to implementing this scheme quickly and would ask for your patience as we build catering capacity to ensure a successful phased implementation and work towards a whole school roll-out over the next three years.

The Council are working with Welsh Government to develop a process for you to be able to request a free meal for your child/children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 from September 2022, trying to avoid any unnecessary burden for you.

If your child is currently in receipt of free school meals and/or any other associated benefits, these will not be affected.

Wyn Thomas, Cabinet Member responsible for Schools, Lifelong Learning and Skills, said: “The Government’s aim is for Welsh Local Authorities to provide a free school meal for Reception pupils in September 2022. The Council has taken advantage of the flexibility of the scheme and so more pupils in Ceredigion will benefit from the offer of a free meal for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils in September 2022 in the County’s schools.”

Further information will follow by the end of term.

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Residential care home project approved to increase dementia support

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A DEVELOPMENT project has been approved by Welsh Government that will increase support provided for individuals living with additional needs due to living with dementia at Hafan Deg Residential Care Home, Lampeter.

This project will include renovating four bedrooms, improved personal wellbeing and social area and a securely enclosed outdoor sensory garden.

Councillor Alun Williams, Cabinet Member for Through Age and Wellbeing Services said: “The number of those living with dementia in Ceredigion is rising and we want to make sure that we increase our current provision. This new development at Hafan Deg will enhance the mental and physical wellbeing of both residents and staff and support a reduction in behaviours that challenge. The development will also help to reduce the numbers of residents needing to be moved due to their higher needs.”

Funding has been secured through the Welsh Government Integrated Care Fund Capital programme.

Through the tendering process, J&E Woodworks Ltd were awarded the tender and work is due to commence August 2022.

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New Quay RNLI crew member passes out as coxswain

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ON MONDAY (Jun 13), after many months of training and assessments, New Quay RNLI volunteer crew member Peter Yates passed out as a coxswain and is now qualified to take command of the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat based at New Quay Lifeboat Station in Ceredigion.

Father of two Pete, 33, underwent a year of intensive training, including courses at the RNLI College in Poole and assessments afloat and ashore at the station. On Monday he was put through his paces by RNLI Assessor Hugh Davies in his final assessment and passed with flying colours.

With 16 years of experience, Pete has given up much of his spare time to volunteer at New Quay Lifeboat Station and save lives at sea. In his many roles at the lifeboat station he is also an all-weather lifeboat mechanic, an inshore lifeboat helm and the station’s training assessor. Pete said, “It’s been a tough year but worth all the hard work. It was definitely a stressful final assessment as they throw every scenario at you from fire to emergency steering!

“I want to thank my partner Karis and the kids for their support at home, and of course I want to thank New Quay RNLI crew members for all their support, I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I am now looking forward to the challenge of being an all-weather lifeboat coxswain and welcoming the new Shannon class lifeboat in a couple of years.”

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said, “We all would like to congratulate Pete on his great achievement. He puts so much time into being a volunteer RNLI crew member, and now all his hard work has paid off. He thoroughly deserves being a coxswain. Well done Pete from all of us!”

Bernie Davies, New Quay RNLI mechanic added, “Only in the RNLI can you pass an assessment by driving a boat up the beach under emergency steering! Excellent work Pete.”

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