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£370m boost for Post Office welcomed

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THE GOVERNMENT t this week has announced £370m of funding for the Post Office for the period April 2018 to March 2021.  This will secure the future of the Post Office and enable it to continue to invest in its network, products and meeting the changing needs of customers.

The funding announcement comes as the Post Office reached the important milestone of having moved into profit in 2017, for the first time in 16 years.

This indicates that the Post Office is well on its way to becoming a sustainable and successful business and less reliant on government subsidies.

Ben Lake MP said: “This investment is welcome news for rural communities at a time where Post Office branches are becoming more and more important with the contraction of the bank branch network.”

But whilst the UK Government appears to be investing in the Post Office, Ceredigion pensioners using their local branches to collect pension payments have recently received correspondence from the Government’s Department of Work and Pensions asking them to alter their future payment arrangements so that their state pension is paid directly into their bank accounts rather than from the Post Office.

The Department of Work and Pensions is keen to encourage all pensions and benefit claimants who are able to open a bank account to do so and enjoy the greater transactional services these offer, such as direct debit facilities and the option to have a debit card or cheque book. But the DWP has recognised that certain groups remain unable to access such services. The Department has also confirmed that although payment into a bank, building society or credit union account is the preferred way pension and benefits are paid, it is not compulsory.

Elin Jones AM said: “It is not compulsory for pensioners to receive their pension payments directly to a bank account, and I would urge everyone who currently use their local Post Office branch to collect their pension to continue to do so if they wish.

“Local post offices form the heart of so many local communities, with many people relying on their local branch in order to access important services.

Ben Lake MP said: “Whilst the vast majority of pensions and benefits are paid directly into recipients’ bank accounts these days, many older pensioners continue to prefer to collect their pension over the counter at their local Post Office, and the Post Office Card Account enables them to do this. Offering these services at the Post Office also retains footfall and generates income for the local branches. It is regrettable that the Government are encouraging pensioners to abandon the services provided by the Post Office.”

In response the Post Office stated: “99 per cent of customers of UK banks can access their accounts at local Post Office branches.  The Post Office is reassuring customers that they will still be able to visit the branch for cash withdrawals with the added benefits of being able to undertake other transactions such as cash and cheque deposits. For those customers who are not able to open a bank account, Post Office Card Accounts will remain an option for them.”

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Overall ‘excellent’ performance at Mynach Primary School

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A RECENT Estyn report on the primary school in Mynach has given the ‘Excellent’ status to each of the five inspection areas.

It was noted in the report that the school had attained ‘Excellent’ status in standards; wellbeing and attitudes to learning; teaching and learning experiences; care, support and guidance; and leadership and management.

The report notes, ‘A particular feature is the opportunities for Key Stage 2 pupils to plan and deliver lessons for the rest of the class, focusing on specific skills.’

Joyce George is headteacher at Ysgol y Mynach. She is also headteacher at Pontrhydfendigaid Primary School and Sir John Rhys Primary School. She said, “As a headteacher, I am extremely proud of the results of the survey and very grateful to the staff, governors and those who work effectively together as a team to ensure a first class education for all pupils. I am proud of the fact that the inspectors identified pupils’ literacy, numeracy and information and communication technology skills as excellent.

It was also noted that a pioneering feature of Ysgol Mynach is the way in which teachers adapt and develop the curriculum in order to raise pupils’ independence. Working together as a wider partnership with Ysgol Pontrhydfendigaid and Ysgol Sir John Rhys, Ponterwyd is a great advantage and an opportunity to share expertise, co-design and share ideas which extend and widen the experiences of pupils across the schools.”

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member for Learning services. She said: “The Estyn report shows that Ysgol Gynradd Mynach has achieved exceptionally high standards. The hard work and dedication of the headteacher, staff, governors and of course the children is very evident. The school shows that a way of working together with neighbouring schools in a progressive way can produce excellent results. Everyone in the school deserves congratulations.”

The report notes that the school is an extremely close community. It also notes that the head teacher has a progressive vision that is continually focused on maintaining and raising standards of pupils’ achievement and wellbeing.

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Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn visits Machynlleth

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ON Thursday 15 August Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed around 200 local Labour Party members from Mid, West and North Wales at Machynlleth Bowling Club. Tickets for the event had all been taken within 24 hours, and an additional video link was live streamed into the club bar to allow those who could not get into the packed venue the opportunity to hear him speak.

Mr Corbyn was joined by Christina Rees, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, and West Wales Regional AMs Joyce Watson and Eluned Morgan, Welsh Labour Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language.

Eluned Morgan AM’s passionate introductory remarks highlighted Welsh Labour’s ongoing commitment to improving outcomes in education, health, housing, jobs and the environment. She urged immediate action from international UK and international governments on the climate crisis, declaring ‘The emergency is now!’

Mr Corbyn made clear that he is expecting a general election to be likely very soon and proceeded to outlined the scale of the current crisis the UK is facing, with 14 million now in poverty in the world’s 5th richest economy, and child poverty predicted by some to rise as high as 40%.

He went on to congratulate Welsh Labour on the great work that has been possible in Wales to insulate the Welsh people from the worst of the effects of Tory austerity, protecting vital NHS services and preventing the worst of school cuts, but he explained that there was only so much that could be done without the full support of a Labour government in Westminster.

“Things will be very different under a Labour government” Mr Corbyn added, saying that Labour will invest in people, with principles of equality and social justice and to demonstrate his state of readiness, with great vigour declared: “I’m up for an election anytime”.

He expressed grave concern over the effects that a reckless No Deal Brexit would have on the UK economy with particular reference to the devastating effects on Welsh industry and agriculture. He promised that Labour will do everything they can to prevent a no-deal, including the offer of a second referendum with Remain as an option, and the formation of a national unity government to prevent further political chaos.

Outlining his commitment to green industrial development Jeremy Corbyn stated that a Labour government would support the creation of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon which would bring valuable new green transitional jobs to Wales which would lead the world on renewables technology.

Mr Corby thanked everyone present for their efforts in Wales and reaffirmed his commitment to core Labour values of equality and social justice. He received a standing ovation and stayed after the event to chat and have photos taken with supporters.

A Ceredigion Labour spokesperson commented: “Jeremy Corbyn spoke passionately and inspiringly. He was full of praise for our outstanding efforts in the 2017 election and said he would be visiting Ceredigion during the next General Election campaign.”

The following day Mr Corbyn visited the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth to see new renewable energy technology in action and learn about pioneering methods of sustainable building and farming. He also confirmed that he would not stand in the way of any future discussion of a Welsh Independence referendum, and that he was open to considering all options for Wales’future.

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Gypsy Traveller Accommodation Assessment 2019

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CEREDIGION County Council are currently trying to contact as many members of the community as possible to take part in a survey on accommodation for Gypsy Traveller communities. Information collected from the survey will be used to understand how many pitches may be needed in Ceredigion now and in the future.

The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 requires all local authorities in Wales to undertake a Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) at least every five years to ensure that appropriate sites are provided where an unmet need is identified.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards, Cabinet member with responsibility for Housing said: “An understanding of Gypsy and Traveller accommodation is essential for us as a Council to make properly planned provision. We need to speak to as many families and individuals as possible in order to produce a robust evaluation of need for a gypsy/traveller or showmen site, or sites, in the county. If you have any contacts in the gypsy or traveller community, let the Council know how to contact them or encourage them to contact the Council directly.”

Any personal data gathered will be held under the Council’s privacy notice which is available here: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/your-council/data-protection-freedom-of-information/data-protection/privacy-notice/.

Contact the Council directly using gt@ceredigion.gov.uk or phone Clic, the Council’s Customer Contact Centre on 01545 570881.

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