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A digital future for Ceredigion

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STARTING from today (Dec 15), we are excited to announce that The Ceredigion Herald will be a digital only publication.

Our website and social media pages have always been an important outlet for delivering news to Ceredigion, and with the re-launch of Herald Radio this year, and the launch of our news channel Herald News 24 next year, the methods in which we deliver news to Ceredigion is only going from strength to strength.

Put simply, what this means for our readers is more content, delivered quicker, and with all the benefits that only an online platform can provide – such as picture galleries and video content.

Since the first edition, The Ceredigion Herald has gained a reputation for tackling the tough stories which others ignored, reporting on local news and events, and being a voice for the communities across Ceredigion.

This is not changing.

Over the coming weeks and months we will be rolling out new additions to the website, launching our online news channel, and much more.

We hope you look forward to the evolution as much as we are, and if you have any comments, feedback or ideas, we’d love to hear them.

A note from the Editor

There’s a headline that means exactly what it says on the tin.

This is the last print edition of The Ceredigion Herald.

And there’s another bald statement to follow the first.

We have been reviewing how we offer news to our readers for several months and have decided to use Ceredigion as a test bed for a new and exciting way of delivering news to Ceredigion.

It is a new way of doing things.

The smart language says it is ‘hyperlocal media’ – it’s the buzz phrase alighted upon by media know-alls who think local news is solely commercial and not a service. What ‘hyperlocal’ means is local news, locally focused, provided locally; or at least it should … as we will see below.

The Herald family of newspapers have always pushed the news agenda in each of our publication areas and we want to find out if we can also expand the way in which local news is presented online. In order to do that, we made the difficult decision to end print publication in Ceredigion and to test the market for digital news in a way which is more than the usual one man band ranting away on Facebook or on a website.

We have been paying close attention to the workings of the Welsh Assembly Committee on Culture, Welsh Language, and Media and also been following the way in which the Welsh Assembly itself is considering reshaping the way it communicates with the public under the guidance of advisers such as former Cabinet member Leighton Andrews.

Local print media in Wales is dominated by newspaper groups – Newsquest and Trinity Mirror – who, particularly in the case of the latter, have abandoned their local news offer in favour of directing people looking for local news to clickbait sourced and provided in Cardiff. Their reward for that indolence and neglect is having public money thrown at them via the licence fee to persuade them to cover news they sacrificed in order to tell the public the top ten cat names in New Tredegar.

The Cambrian News, a Tindle publication, is one of the few local newspapers in Wales that both reports on local news and subjects the local authority to some scrutiny. Apart from The Herald group and a few other independent local news outlets, you will need to search long and hard for other newspapers who do what local newspapers should do and always used to do: hold power to account, report on the local courts, and reflect the communities they serve with humour and rigour.

At The Herald, our focus has been on three strands of news: local, regional, Welsh national. We have done that because we believe that the way local councils and regional bodies exercise their power over us all is inextricably linked to what the Welsh Government does and – beyond that – how UK policies affect Wales, west Wales, and our edition areas. Treating our readers as though they want more than hatches, matches, dispatches combined with a little jam and Jerusalem is the Herald way of doing things.

We do not always get things right – sometimes we get things wrong – but we believe that there is more to news than just the superficial. We believe that good newspapers are properly sceptical reporters and commentators on events that impact their local communities. It is also right to be sceptical and subject news stories to as much rigorous analysis as can be fitted into seven days of writing.

That is not going to change.

Like all media outlets, you will get a share of press releases – that happens everywhere. However, with those press releases you will still get original news reporting, shaped for an online audience, and supported and complemented by other unique local media provided by Herald outlets.

Herald Radio has been broadcasting for some time online. Unlike other ‘local’ radio, this is properly local. Local presenters talking about local events. It appeals to a fresh and young audience. The Herald Group is now going to also provide local video news reporting online. From our studios, we will cover local news – Ceredigion news, west Wales news, Welsh national news – and provide those reports online via our online outlets. Those will all feed into The Ceredigion Herald’s future online offer to our readers. It is a new way of approaching local news by a local newspaper group: a fresh way, and a new challenge.

And we will do so in Welsh and in English.

We say it’s a challenge, and it is also a test. We will be finding out what works, what doesn’t work, and what opportunities there are for improvement as we develop and shape our service to you.

We are proud of what we have managed to bring to Ceredigion in the time we have printed and published The Ceredigion Herald. Local news needs to be plural to stop one voice and one viewpoint drowning out all others.

We are going to continue to provide a different voice and different viewpoint. We will just be doing it in a different way.

For The Ceredigion Herald, it’s not the end.

It’s the future.

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Man jailed for revenge porn against teenage ex-girlfriend

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A ‘PREDATORY OFFENDER’ who targeted young girls online and shared indecent images of them on pornographic websites has been jailed for more than two years.

Robin Edwards Jones, formerly of Lampeter, came to police attention after tracking down his former girlfriend – a teenager 26 years his junior – and sending a threatening email containing indecent images of her to her boss a year after their relationship ended.

The 48-year-old then uploaded hundreds of images of the then 17-year-old to pornographic websites, creating a personal bio for each site that allowed her to be identified through her Facebook account.

Jones has been jailed following a two-year investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police, which saw the force’s digital crime unit prove he had supplied the websites with these images.

Officer in case Detective Sergeant Steve Barry said: “This was a thorough investigation into what has become known as revenge porn.

“Two other police forces were initially involved in the investigation before passing it to Dyfed Powys Police, and our investigation spanned two years, with the safeguarding of the teenage victim at its heart.

“What we were faced with initially was a suspect who was alleged to have circulated indecent images of a teenage girl with the intent of causing her distress following the break-up of a six month relationship.

“As the investigation progressed, it transpired that Jones was a predatory offender, targeting young children online to obtain indecent images of them for his sexual gratification and desire to control them.”

The offender and victim met online in November 2015, when Jones claimed he was 28 years old in an attempt to instigate a relationship with a teenage girl.

Over the following six months, the victim sent a number of indecent images of herself to the offender on his request. He also created his own images from intimate video chats, increasing the library of images for his use.

The relationship ended in April 2016 when the teenager’s father became aware of the situation and notified the police.

There was no contact between the pair for 12 months after they separated.

DS Barry said: “It wasn’t until the following April when the victim started a new job, that Jones tracked her down and began his campaign against her.

“He set up an email account under a false name and sent the victim’s employer eight indecent images that she had taken during their relationship in a bid to get her fired from her job.

“Around the same time, the victim received a message asking if she was aware that these photos had been uploaded to a pornographic website – for a young girl, this was extremely traumatic.”

Enquiries linked the email account to Jones’s home address, and a warrant was carried out with the support of Dyfed-Powys Police’s Digital Communications and Cybercrime Unit.

A number of digital devices were seized and the suspect was interviewed in relation to the offences, strongly denying any wrongdoing – a position he maintained throughout the investigation.

“In the meantime, the victim received two messages on Facebook asking if images on another website were of her,” DS Barry said.

“She believed it was Jones further taunting her, but enquires revealed it was a man who had identified her through a false profile and hoped to start a sexual relationship.

“Applications were made to the sites to ensure these images were removed swiftly, to prevent further distress to the victim.”

As digital investigators analysed a computer belonging to Jones, they discovered he was also in contact with a 14-year-old American girl, with sexual messages exchanged between the pair.

“Evidence from the computers seized showed that Jones began his relationship with a girl in the US when she was just 12 years old,” DS Barry said.

“Contact was made through Interpol, but she and her family were unwilling to support our investigation.”

As the investigation was completed, officers found that Jones had more than 500 indecent images of the victims – 52 of which were the most serious classification – and that he had shared 162 private photos without consent of the victims.

He was charged with two counts of disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress; two counts of possessing indecent photographs of a child; and three counts of distributing indecent images of a child – with images spanning classes A, B and C.

Even with the weight of evidence against him, Jones maintained his innocence and opted for trial, however he admitted the offences on the day the trial began at Swansea Crown Court.

On September 17, he was sentenced to 27 months in prison. He must also register as a sex offender for 10 years, and was given a restraining order against contacting the victim.

DS Barry said: “This conviction was as a result of a team effort between forces and departments, but the effort and dedication from the digital cybercrime unit was outstanding and should be particularly commended.”

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Premises in Ceredigion issued with a closure notice over breach of coronavirus regulations

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A CEREDIGION premises has been closed down over breach of coronavirus regulations.

A closure notice has been served on The Mill Inn, Mill Street, Aberystwyth by licensing officers. The Mill Inn will remain closed until they can demonstrate that they have made improvements and meet the requirements of the coronavirus regulations.

Ceredigion County Council, supported by Dyfed-Powys Police, have stepped up their enforcement of businesses that are failing to keep their customers safe and to ensure that Covid-19 cases do not increase in the County.

There is growing evidence across the country that where there are insufficient controls pubs, clubs and bars increase the risk of Covid-19 spreading in the community and the Council will issue further closure notices where necessary to ensure compliance with the regulations.

The Council will act decisively if any business is found guilty of breaking Covid-19 regulations. In the interest of public safety, all businesses need to ensure that they are compliant with the regulations at all times.

Improvement notices are also being served on premises advising them to take action or face similar consequences. However, the Council is pleased to see how many businesses are operating well to provide a safe environment for their customers. Many of those visited in recent weeks have made further improvements following the advice of the council’s public protection team.

During the compliance visits, officers are checking that businesses are complying with the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions)(No.2) (Wales) Regulations 2020, and have the power to close, force improvements of review the premises licence or club premises certificate.

All pubs and clubs must ensure that:

· A Test, Trace, Protect system is in place to accurately record all visits to the premises so that customers can be easily contacted in the event of a positive case linked to the venue. This includes customers’ name and telephone number.
· Social distancing of 2 metres is maintained, with adequate signage, distance between tables and seating, and procedures for managing walkways and toilet areas.
· All premises must provide table service only i.e. no ordering at the bar.
· All food and drink must be consumed at tables.
· Customers are not drinking and standing at the bar.
· Customers are not drinking alcohol whilst standing, unless they are standing at a tall table – in all other instances they must be seated.
· There is no live music, and that recorded music is only played at a low background level.
· Hospitality businesses, including pubs, cafes, restaurants and casinos, will have to close at 10pm (coming into force on Thursday, 24 September at 6pm).

The Mill Inn’s Premises Closure Notice came into force 22 September 2020 at 21:00.

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Views sought on Aberaeron coastal defence scheme

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ABERAERON has a dynamic coastline with a legacy of flooding and damage from storms. These events continue today and with the onset of climate change and the predicted rises in sea levels these events are likely to increase in frequency and severity. Aberaeron is exposed to a wide range of wave conditions from the North-West and South-Westerly directions; with storm waves entering through the harbour entrance causing overtopping of the harbour walls and in extreme conditions overtopping the inner secondary wall. Storms in December 2013, January 2014 and October 2017 led to the closure of Quay Parade and overtopping of the current defences within the harbour and south beach.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways and Environmental Services said, “Ceredigion County Council along with the Welsh Government are committed to protecting the town. The Welsh Government have provided funding to design a scheme that will prevent the surrounding area suffering from future storms. It is predicted that 168 properties will be at risk of flooding by 2111 if nothing is done. The Council has engaged Atkins Consultants to design such a scheme. After investigating the effectiveness of various coastal defence options, they are seeking views on the scheme that is being put forward as the modelling confirms that it meets the current and future flood protection requirements.

The main aims are to protect the coastline from rising sea levels and storms; to protect people and property from flooding and to reassure residents and businesses that measures are in place to prevent flooding and coastal erosion. Opportunities for improved facilities, connectivity, investment and the re-design of open space within the harbour will be provided within the scheme and it will also enable other investment opportunities to be investigated.”

The Council is undertaking a public consultation which will allow residents and visitors to provide their views on the scheme. This which will include changes to South Pier, an extension to North Pier and the introduction of flood defence walls around the harbour areas. Feedback received will be taken into account during any detailed design for the scheme.

The consultation is available on the Council’s website at www.ceredigion.gov.uk/consultations with an opportunity to provide feedback. The consultation is open from 22 September 2020 until 20 October 2020. Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the public consultation will be held on-line only. Should you have any queries, contact clic@ceredigion.gov.uk or 01545 570881.

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