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Lifeboat campaign gains cross-party support in Westminster

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AN EARLY DAY MOTION opposing the RNLI’s decision to downgrade search and rescue provision in Ceredigion was tabled by Ben Lake MP in the House of Commons last Wednesday (Feb 7). The motion tabled by the Ceredigion MP voices the concerns of nearly 20,000 people who have signed the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign’s petition opposing the RNLI’s plan to remove New Quay’s all-weather lifeboat in 2020.

The motion was sponsored by a cross-party group of Welsh MPs, including Liz Saville Roberts MP, Jonathan Edwards MP, Hywel Williams MP, David Davies MP and Tonia Antoniazzi MP, and has received the support of MPs of all parties, from as far afield as Coventry, Glasgow and Strangford in Northern Ireland.

The motion states: “That this House commends the staff and volunteers of the RNLI for their life-saving work around the coat and at sea; is disappointed by the decision to downgrade the all-weather lifeboat provision at New Quay; is concerned that this decision is contrary to the RNLI’s core objective and principles, and put commercial vessels, visitors, and the local RNLI crew at increased risk; reaffirms its respect for the RNLI and its indispensable work; and calls on its Trust Board Members and Senior Management Team to review decision that would deprive Ceredigion coastline of effective all-weather lifeboat provision.”

Speaking after tabling the motion, Mr Lake commented: “Given the widespread concern surrounding the proposals to downgrade Ceredigion’s all-weather lifeboat provision, it was important that this was raised in this motion so that decision makers understood that there is a great deal of agreement at Westminster that this decision needs to be reconsidered.

“The motion tabled commends the incredible work of RNLI staff and volunteers, and expresses concern that the decision to downgrade the all-weather lifeboat provision at New Quay would place commercial vessels, visitors, and the local crew at increased risk.

“As a supporter of the campaign to keep the all-weather lifeboat at New Quay, I am glad that other MPs from across the political spectrum – and indeed the UK – have not only recognised the incredible work of the RNLI, but also the importance of maintaining effective all-weather lifeboat provision for the entirety of Cardigan Bay. I hope that Board Members and Senior Management will now acknowledge the valid concerns raised by communities along the Ceredigion coast, and review their decision accordingly.”

Richard Taylor, Chair of the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign, added: “This is exciting news from Westminster, and it is heartening to know that our MP Ben Lake who, together with Elin Jones AM, has supported the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign from the outset, has gained cross-party support for this Early Day Motion in the House of Commons.

“An earlier question raised by Ben gained the personal support of Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House.  It is vital that our campaign has a voice in powerful places.

“It is a particularly fruitful time for us. Ben’s intervention follows hard on the heels of the Charity Commission writing to the RNLI Trustees asking them to overturn their decision to keep secret all the data relating to their ill-considered decision to strip Ceredigion of its only all-weather lifeboat.

“This is a good time to acknowledge and thank the campaign action group members and all our supporters, close to home and far and wide, for the effort that has been put in so far. Many people consider this a reckless decision that will put the lives and well-being of future lifeboat crews and other seafarers in our area at avoidable risk and we will not rest until the top management of the RNLI reverse this decision.”

There has been an all-weather lifeboat in New Quay for over one hundred and fifty years but, while the RNLI are rolling out state-of-the-art Shannon class all-weather lifeboats around the coast of the UK and Ireland, New Quay has been chosen as one of the first stations to lose all-weather lifeboat capability in the RNLI’s recent Coast Review. The RNLI claims that it will save around £8 million by not having an all-weather lifeboat in New Quay

To find out more about the campaign to save New Quay’s all-weather lifeboat, visit www.ceredigionlifeboatcampaign.org.uk.

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Police investigate after child dies in west Wales caravan fire

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DYFED POWYS POLICE is investigating the circumstances around a fire at a caravan in Ceredigion in which a child died.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cockwell said: “We received a call at 5.35am today (Sunday, January 19), reporting a fire at a caravan at Ffair Rhos.

“Enquiries so far lead us to believe that three people were inside the caravan at the time the fire broke out. These were a father and two children – a four-year-old, and a little boy who we believe to have been aged three.

“While the father and the eldest child were able to get out of the caravan, the younger of the siblings was tragically found deceased inside.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this extremely difficult and traumatic time, and specialist officers have been put in place to support them.

“The father is currently in a stable condition in hospital, while the four-year-old is critical but stable. Both suffered burns.

“The Criminal Investigation Department is investigating the cause of the fire, and a major incident room has been set up at Aberystwyth Police Station.

“We are also working closely with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, who were in attendance when our officers arrived. We would like to thank our colleagues at the fire service for their professionalism in dealing with what turned out to be a highly traumatic incident.

“We would like to speak to anyone who was in the Ffair Rhos area around the time of the fire, who might have information that could help our investigation.

“This was a tragic incident, and we will be doing all we can to find answers for the family, whose world will have been torn apart by this morning’s events.”

If you have any information that could help officers, call the Criminal Investigation Department on 101, using Storm reference 39 of January 19.

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Police issue warning to community over ‘fake beggars’

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POLICE in Aberystwyth are warning the community about a fraudulent group who have been travelling to the area to beg.

Many residents and visitors have donated cash believing members of the group are genuinely in need.

PC Phil Woodland: “I’m proud to work in a town where people want to help each other, but in this case, their kindness is being exploited.

“We’ve tried working with the group to ensure they have the support they need, and through this effort it’s become clear they are not genuinely homeless. We are using legal powers where possible and necessary to deal with the issue.

“Giving money to someone who is begging is a personal choice, however, on this occasion the community is being misled. At the end of the day, these people are returning to their homes – they are essentially scamming people.”

Those involved are described as men and women of Romanian descent, aged between 30 and 50. Police say they visit Aberystwyth on the train or bus, and return home to Cardiff at the end of the day.

The situation is being monitored by the neighbourhood policing team, and anyone with information is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police online: http://bit.ly/dppReportOnline, by email: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

If you are concerned about someone you believe is sleeping rough, StreetLink exists to help connect them with the local services that can provide support: https://www.streetlink.org.uk/

Shelter Cymru offers practical advice on how to help someone who is begging, or you believe is homeless, on their website: https://sheltercymru.org.uk/7-ways/

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RNLI in Wales urges people to stay safe as Storm Brendan hits

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging people to stay safe near the Welsh coast as severe weather could make our seas and coastlines particularly dangerous.

Lifesaving charity, the RNLI, is encouraging people to exercise extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers.

The expected strong winds and severe gales pose a severe safety risk to those visiting the coast.

Named Storm Brendan by Met Eireann, it swept eastwards across Ireland before making its way through the rest of the UK this morning with yellow wind warning in place for most of the Welsh coast.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for Wales said:

‘This rough weather could make visiting parts of the Welsh coastline treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.

‘Sadly, around 150 people lose their lives on British and Irish coasts each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.’

If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.

The charity, which provides a search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, is facing its own Perfect Storm as demand for its services has increased but it is facing a shortfall in funds. This past year, the RNLI has been busier than ever, and stormy conditions can mean additional call outs for the already extremely busy volunteer crews. Whatever the weather, RNLI volunteers will still be on call to rescue those at difficulty at sea.

The RNLI’s major new fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, which aims to help the charity get back to living within its means, is running throughout November and December. To find out more or to donate visit RNLI.org/ThePerfect Storm.

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