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Rural communities ‘starved of essential services’

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RURAL communities are being starved of essential services, with people in rural areas increasingly left without access to banks and healthcare services, according to Plaid Cymru.

Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, says rural communities are being let down by both the Welsh Government and Westminster, who have allowed banks – including those in which the public have a majority stake – to abandon rural towns across Wales.

Since 2011, 20 community post offices have closed across Wales, 15% of which were in Ceredigion; and 39 local banks have closed in 2017 alone. With rural Wales also suffering from some of the poorest provision of broadband and mobile data infrastructure, the combined effect is that residents and businesses are forced to travel a significant distance to access essential services, which is made all the more difficult due to the poor provision of public transport.

The Ceredigion MP has also highlighted the failure of the Welsh Government to ensure rural areas have adequate access to healthcare, resulting in people in rural areas being at higher risk due to the time required for emergency services to reach them, and to then reach the medical facility.

Mr Lake has called for both the Welsh Government and the Westminster Government to recognise the challenges being faced by rural communities and ensure that residents and businesses are able to access essential services in their own communities.

Commenting, the Plaid Cymru MP, Ben Lake, said: “Rural communities have been neglected for far too long by both the Welsh Government and the Westminster Government.

“Rural areas are being starved of essential services with post offices and banks disappearing at an alarming rate and healthcare services increasingly stretched.

“By now 84% of people in Wales are deprived of a local dental practice, and both banks and post offices are fast becoming just as hard to find. Both the Westminster Government and the Welsh Government are idle as these vital amenities are disappearing, and abandoning our rural towns and villages.

“The Labour Welsh Government has failed to protect local healthcare services, meaning those living in rural communities are forced to travel significant distances to access services. With our transport system in its current state, that is no simple task either. In this regard, residents of rural areas are disadvantaged for no other reason than the fact that they do not live in a city.

“Meanwhile, Westminster has allowed banks – in which the public hold a majority stake – to turn their backs on rural communities, despite the public bailing them out a decade ago.

“We cannot expect rural towns and villages to thrive if banks and post offices disappear, forcing residents and businesses to leave. The Welsh Government should consider creating a public bank, owned by the people and rooted in our communities.

“Both the Welsh Government and the Westminster government need to recognise these challenges, stop sitting on their hands, and start taking action to protect our rural communities.”

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Tregaron: Spider landed on driver before fatal crash

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A SPIDER landing on a woman’s hand caused a car crash which resulted in the death of her 11-year-old son, an inquest heard.

Tristan Silver was being driven to school by his mother Cloud Younger alongside his sister Branwen on May 4 2018, when the crash occurred near Tregaron.

The inquest in Aberystwyth on Wednesday (Jun 19) heard that the blue Subaru Legacy estate car drifted on to the wrong side of the A485 and hit a black Mitsubishi Shogun towing a trailer.

Farmer David Glyndwr Jones had loaded 60 lambs into the trailer before setting off for a market in Builth Wells with his wife. Around 8.45am Mr and Mrs Jones saw the Subaru driving towards them, and having seen that the vehicle was not slowing down, Mr Jones decided to pull his car into the verge and brace for impact.

When the cars met head-on, Mr and Mrs Jones, Mrs Younger and her daughter were left with minor injuries, but Tristan suffered serious head injuries. He was airlifted to hospital in Cardiff where he was pronounced dead.

After an interview with the police in June 2018, where Mrs Younger answered ‘no comment’ to each question, a prepared statement to police later explained that a spider had landed on her left hand as she was driving. This caused eight-year-old Branwen to start screaming, and Mrs Younger then tried to calm her daughter down, whilst continuing to drive.

The statement said that the Subaru had recently passed its MOT and all three people in the car were wearing seat belts. The inquest heard that the speed of the vehicle at the point of impact could not be ascertained, but Mr Jones said that his car was nearly at a standstill at the time of the crash.

Ceredigion Coroner Peter Brunton recorded a conclusion of misadventure.

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Plaid Cymru Cardigan hold event to support local initiatives

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MP Ben Lake led the evening

THE CARDIGAN plaid Cymru branch held a successful evening at the Fisherman’s Rest, Cardigan on Friday June 14 2019 to help share information and the experiences of local community benefit groups, as well as grant opportunities available to support such initiatives.

The evening was led by County Councillor Clive Davies and Member of Parliament for Ceredigion, Ben Lake. During the evening a presentation was given on far-reaching grant opportunities available for such community groups – drawing from examples of societies and community enterprises created in Cardigan over the last 5 years – and how they got started, grew from strength to strength, and received funding to achieve and support their objectives.

Following the meeting, Cllr Clive Davies said: “The success of local initiatives and groups have played a key role in Cardigan’s success as a vibrant market town over recent years. I welcomed the opportunity to further raise awareness of the opportunities and avenues of support available to such groups and enterprises to help them to continue to make an invaluable contribution to the town and local area.”

Ben Lake MP added: “Cardigan boasts a successful array of lively community projects and small businesses that have brought an added vigour to both the town and Ceredigion as a whole. It was useful to have the opportunity to discuss the challenges these groups face, as well as share information regarding the wide array of support and funding available to support and maintain their important work”.

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Ben Lake MP pledges support for advancing MS research

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BEN LAKE MP for Ceredigion has shown his support for investment in MS research, after visiting an exhibition by the MS Society in Parliament this week.

The exhibition, ‘Multiple Sclerosis – The Research Story’, gave parliamentarians the opportunity to hear from people living with MS and leading MS researchers around the UK. It featured personal objects from the MS community, representing what it’s like to live with the condition, alongside the latest developments in cutting-edge research.

Ben Lake, MP said: “I am delighted to have attended the MS Society’s parliamentary exhibit and see first-hand how close we are to stopping MS”

“MS is an unpredictable and challenging condition, which can be painful and exhausting. I want to see investment in this area of research continue to rise so everyone living with MS in Ceredigion and across the UK has access to effective treatments.”

Over the past 20 years MS research has led to major advances, including more than a dozen licensed treatments for people with the relapsing form of MS. But more investment is needed to find more, and better, treatments for everyone – including ones that can slow or stop MS from progressing.

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research at the MS Society, said: “We’re really grateful Ben Lake MP has pledged their support for our work. More than 100,000 people live with MS in the UK and many are still left without treatment options that slow or stop progression. But we are at a turning point in MS research and the UK is at the forefront of this. We are closer than ever before to having treatments for everyone with MS, and stopping MS for good.”

The MS Society is the UK’s leading not-for-profit funder of MS research and is currently supporting over 70 active projects worth more than £20 million. To find out more about the MS Society and the vital research it is funding visit www.mssociety.org.uk

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