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Ceredigion to be considered priority for next phase of broadband roll-out

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Following the announcement of the next stage of broadband roll out in Wales, Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP have urged Ceredigion constituents to come forward so that their lack of broadband can be raised with the Welsh Government and Openreach. After many calls from Elin Jones and Ben Lake, the Welsh Government has indicated that it will put Ceredigion as a priority, following revelations that the county has among the worst broadband connectivity rates in the UK.

The AM and MP have joined forces to put pressure on Openreach to complete the work that came to a halt with the end of the Superfast Cymru contract with the Welsh Government at the end of last year.

To do this, Elin and Ben are collating information on areas and individual premises where broadband is not currently available in Ceredigion.

Elin Jones said:

‘The announcement that Ceredigion will be considered early on in the next Welsh Government broadband project is very welcome news, especially to constituents currently without Superfast Broadband. Ben Lake and I want to bring the attention of the Welsh Government to these cases sooner, rather than later.

‘Up until the end of last year, many communities in Ceredigion saw Openreach workers hanging fibre cables on masts. In many cases these have been left hanging, coiled up, and communities have been left without a superfast connection, which was so close to being installed.

‘The Welsh Government has agreed with Openreach to extend the build phase of Superfast Cymru project so that delayed works to around 2,500 premises throughout Wales can be completed. We want raise more of these cases with Openreach, like we have with Oakford, whose residents are now seeing their homes connected. We want to urge Openreach to do more, and we need the help of our Constituents in order to do this.’

Ben Lake said:

‘Many constituents across the county have approached me over the past few months regarding insufficient broadband speeds and the frustratingly slow Superfast Cymru roll-out to premises in Ceredigion.

‘We have to make sure that the benefits of superfast broadband are available to everyone, and access to fast, reliable broadband is increasingly essential for businesses. It is crucial that both Openreach and the Welsh Government recognise the commitment they have made to so many communities in Ceredigion, and also their responsibility to ensure that we do not see a digital divide emerge in Wales.

‘In response to the Minister’s statement regarding the Superfast Cymru extension, I am urging more constituents to come forward and register their details with us, so we can supply the relevant information to Openreach and the Welsh Government, and ensure that Ceredigion remains a priority during this extension period.

‘Early planning for the next phase is vital, and the Welsh Government has confirmed that properties ‘in scope’ for the next Superfast Cymru project will be agreed upon early in the tendering process. It is vital therefore that we provide the Welsh Government with a comprehensive list of premises and locations across Ceredigion that are not able to access decent broadband speeds.’

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Warning to drug users in Ceredigion over ‘Street Valium’

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POLICE are once again warning drug users in Ceredigion to take extra care when taking illegal prescription drugs especially when taken in conjunction with other drugs and/or alcohol. Mixing drugs, knowingly or unknowingly, can be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that drug users are making use of “Street Valium” at the moment and this is very concerning as individuals just do not know what these tablets may have been combined with. Valium, also known as diazepam – is a benzodiazepine. Combining opioids and benzodiazepines is particularly dangerous because both types of drug sedate users and suppress breathing”.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”

To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/

Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.

In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.

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Ben Lake MP stands up for Ceredigion’s hospitality sector in Parliament

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A WESTMINSTER Hall debate, brought about by an online petition signed over 200,000 times, saw MPs on both sides come together to shine a light on the challenges currently faced by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and supply chain businesses across the UK.

During his contribution to the debate, Ben Lake MP emphasised the importance of the hospitality industry to Ceredigion’s local economy. Ceredigion is home to nearly 400 food and accommodation businesses, including 75 pubs, and together hospitality businesses employ 4,500 people in the county. This equates to over 16% of all employees, without accounting for the many supply chain jobs that are dependent on the sector, such as those found in breweries, food wholesale, and catering equipment hire businesses.

Figures published by UK Hospitality have shown that approximately 41% of hospitality businesses suggested that they would fail by mid-2021 and only one in five sector businesses have enough cash flow to survive beyond February.

Ben Lake MP said: “The vaccination programme of course offers some hope that we will see the level of Covid disruption reduce significantly this year, but hospitality businesses across Ceredigion tell me that they are deeply concerned about their immediate prospects for survival.

“I support calls for the Treasury to provide additional funds so that businesses can be supported to bounce back once restrictions have been eased, and to pause employer national insurance contributions for furloughed employees as a way of alleviating the burden on businesses that are still, in many instances, required by law to close. I also urged the Treasury to consider extending the business rates holiday for the forthcoming financial year, as well as extending the hospitality VAT reduction scheme into 2022.

“Not only would these support measures give businesses the support they require to see out this pandemic, it would also avoid the terrible situation whereby businesses that have previously received Government support are forced to close for good – leaving their employees without a job and previous Government support in vain.”

While there will be no direct action as a consequence of this Westminster Hall debate, it is hoped the result will put increased pressure on the UK Government to consider the proposal more seriously.

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Lifeboat Operations Manager in New Year’s Honours list

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Richard Llewelyn Griffiths the Lifeboat Operations Manager of Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station has been recognised for services to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Wales.

He has been awarded a BEM.

Having served as a RNLI volunteer for an impressive 47 years, it is his role in the last 21 years as Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) which has earned him the most respect.

His local knowledge has provided reassurance to casualties and crews alike when launching in difficult conditions.

His operational decision-making and station management skills are outstanding, and he is greatly valued by crew, management, volunteers and coastal personnel both past and present.

He has contributed greatly towards Aberystwyth being recognised as a ‘benchmark’ Inshore Lifeboat Station, serving as an example to the whole institution of how a station could and should be run.

Richard said: ‘I’m very surprised but honoured to be receiving a BEM – the news still doesn’t feel real. My father was awarded a BEM in 1988 and I still have his medal at home, so to be awarded one myself for my work with the lifeboats is a great privilege. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of characters during my time with the RNLI – both at Borth and Aberystwyth – and continue to volunteer alongside a good crew today.’

Nationally, a total of six Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers have been recognised for their vital role in helping the charity save lives at sea through the New Year’s Honours.

Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive said: ‘Following a challenging 2020, it is particularly pleasing to see these RNLI volunteers recognised in the New Year’s Honours list. Together, they personify the RNLI’s ‘One Crew’ ethos, representing the variety and diversity of roles from a former full-time mechanic to shore crew and fundraisers to station managers, who collectively deliver a shared vision to save every one. On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, congratulations to you all for being recognised for your longstanding service, hard work and selfless commitment. And thank you for everything you do to help the RNLI save lives at sea.’

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