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New row over Circuit of Wales

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Circuit of Wales: Welsh Government 'did not tell' company of moved goalposts

THE WELSH Government has been accused of leading Circuit of Wales promoters ‘up the garden path’ by UKIP Leader Neil Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton’s words followed the revelation that the Welsh Government were not prepared to offer the level of guarantee which it had told the Heads of the Valley Development Corporation it would consider.

In evidence before the Welsh Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee on Monday, the Permanent Secretary to the Welsh Government told surprised AMs that the amount of the guarantee the Welsh Government was actually prepared to consider offering was under one half of that it had told the company it would consider.

In addition, under stiff questioning from Adam Price AM and Neil Hamilton, it emerged that the Welsh Government had ignored advice from the UK Treasury to seek advice from the UK Government infrastructure advisory service and had also failed to tell the company of its bottom line position.

The cross examination of two of the Welsh Government’s most senior civil servants also uncovered that the Welsh Treasury, despite ample notice of the evidence session, were unable to answer the most basic of questions – such as whether officials advising the Welsh Government were aware that the Welsh Government’s guarantees only came into play on completion of the project and whether or not officials handling the project for the Welsh Government had told the Heads of the Valleys Corporation about its changed position on the guarantee.

And the matter was made no clearer by questions directed to the Welsh Government’s Economy and Infrastructure Secretary, Ken Skates on Wednesday (Feb 7). Despite two days having elapsed since senior officials had fobbed off Adam Price and Neil Hamilton with a promise to provide the answers to questions they had failed to address, Mr Skates found himself in the identical position – kicking the can further down the road in the direction of civil servants in Mark Drakeford’s Finance Department.

In addition, despite holding out hope last year that a re-tooled project could receive support in the future, Mr Skates rather firmly closed the door on any prospect of the Welsh Government becoming involved in any racing circuit development.

The lack of preparation in response to questions for which both civil servants and Mr Skates should have been prepared is, perhaps, startling. It would certainly be unfair to suggest that neither civil servants nor Mr Skates wanted to give a straight answer to a straight question because they did not fancy the row that might follow.

Following Mr Skates’ performance, Mr Hamilton said: “Now we know the Labour Government never intended to give the kiss of life to this visionary scheme and transform the poorest part of Wales. They deceived the Circuit’s promoters into spending millions on a finance package that never had a chance of success.

“They deceived the voters of Blaenau Gwent and the northern valleys in last year’s General Election by delaying until after polling day the announcement of their decision to pull the plug.”

Mr Hamilton continued: “Welsh Government constantly moved the goalposts on their proposed guarantee. First, they told the Circuit they wouldn’t guarantee more than 80% of total project costs. That was reduced to 50% but, in truth, they were never prepared to guarantee more than 25%. Their deception is a major scandal. £9.3 million of Welsh taxpayers’ money was wasted because of the Government’s bad faith in negotiations. Worse still, was encouraging false hopes of economic revival in the heads of the valleys only to dash them after the General Election votes were counted.

“Labour politicians should hang their heads in shame and voters should take revenge on these cynics at the next election. UKIP will continue to fight to get the Circuit back on the road. We will fight for the true interests of working people against a Labour Party which has lost touch completely with its roots.”

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Exam Success for Ashmole & Co Accountants

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Gwenllian Phillips

ASHMOLE & Co are delighted to announce that Gwenllian Phillips, in the Cardigan office, has completed her studies and passed all her exams to become a qualified member of the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

Gwenllian, who is from Cardigan, joined the Ashmole & Co team as a Trainee Accountant in August 2020, after graduating from Aberystwyth University with a First in Accounting and Finance.

Karl Wilcox, Partner in Ashmole & Co’s Cardigan office said, “We are all so proud of Gwenllian and her fantastic achievements. She has become an integral part of our team in the Cardigan office. 

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch her going from strength to strength. It is important as a profession that we help to train the next generation of accountants. Qualified staff members are the lifeblood for the future success of our firm.”

Gwenllian’s day to day responsibilities include completing VAT returns, assisting in audit work and preparing end of year accounts for local sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.

Gwenllian said, “I am grateful to Ashmole and Co for being so supportive since I started and helping me gain my qualifications. I am enjoying working with local businesses and knowing that I am helping them with their needs. There has been a lot to learn and remember with every set of accounts being different but that means that every day is different which makes the role really interesting.”        

Gwenllian lives in Cardigan and in her spare time enjoys going to yoga classes, reading and walking in the countryside around Ceredigion.

If you would like to contact Ashmole & Co’s Cardigan office in Manchester House on Grosvenor Hill, please telephone: 01239 612162 or email: cardigan@ashmole.co.uk

Ashmole & Co are one of the largest chartered certified accountants in Wales. The rapidly expanding and modern firm often has job opportunities for enthusiastic individuals both qualified and non-qualified within the organisation. 

If you feel you have the qualities to be part of the team at Ashmole & Co, please email, with your CV attached, to AshmoleHR@ashmole.co.uk. 

Alternatively, apply for a specific vacancy listed on the website: www.ashmole.co.uk

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Lead distiller named Foundation Apprentice of Year at company’s awards

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Ffion Lewis receives the Foundation Apprentice of the Year award from Arwyn Watkins, OBE, managing director of Cambrian Training Company.

FFION LEWIS has been promoted to lead distiller at award-winning In the Welsh Wind Distillery, based at Tanygroes, near Cardigan, after completing a Foundation Apprenticeship in Brewing.

Now the 22-year-old’s learning journey has been rewarded with the Foundation Apprentice of the Year award at the annual Apprenticeship, Employment and Skills Awards held by Cambrian Training Company, one of Wales’ leading work-based learning providers.

There was a double celebration for In the Welsh Wind which also won the Small Employer of the Year award.

Ffion joined In the Welsh Wind as an apprentice distiller after returning home to Mid Wales from New Zealand where she lived for three years and has played a key role in the development of whiskey making at the distillery

With a background in laboratory work, the job was perfect for her. Having now progressed to a leadership qualification with Chwarae Teg Women’s Career Development Programme, Ffion says the Foundation Apprenticeship improved her confidence, self-esteem and employability.

Ffion, who is now supporting other apprentices within the business, said: “It means a lot to win this award. I think apprenticeships are really important. I had previously worked in a microbiology lab in New Zealand and didn’t have any experience in distilling before doing my apprenticeship.

“I was really happy to find a job in a job at In the Welsh Wind when I returned to West Wales.”

Recognising employers and learners who have excelled in apprenticeship, skills and employment training programmes delivered by Cambrian Training Company, the awards were held at The Metropole Hotel & Spa, Llandrindod Wells.

The other Foundation Apprentice of the Year finalist was Ryan Harding, 26, Kepak, Merthyr Tydfil who lives in Blaenavon.

With offices in Welshpool, Holyhead, Colwyn Bay, Llanelli and Llanelwedd, Cambrian Training Company delivers work-based apprenticeships across Wales.

Arwyn Watkins, OBE, the company’s managing director, congratulated Hannah and all the award winners and finalists for their achievement despite the challenging disruptions caused by the pandemic over the past two years.

“These awards showcase the dedication and commitment by individuals and companies to the apprenticeship programme here in Wales,” he added. “Ffion has demonstrated what can be achieved in career progression through apprenticeships.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

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Supporting Ceredigion’s small businesses at the Eisteddfod

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THE NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD OF WALES visiting Ceredigion will be an excellent opportunity to promote local businesses and boost the local economy.

In addition to the surge in visitors to the county, a number of Ceredigion businesses have taken advantage of the opportunity to sell their products at trade stands at the Eisteddfod.

Ceredigion County Council supports local/small businesses, and we are pleased that some have accepted the invitation to showcase their products in wooden huts at Pentre’ Ceredigion’s stand on the Maes.

We welcome the opportunity to show that Ceredigion is a good place to do business, and it will be an opportunity for the businesses to promote and sell their products.

Around 15 companies from Ceredigion will take advantage of the wooden huts during the week. These include Pethau Melys, Galeri Gwyn, Bay Coffee Roasters, CreatEmAber, Yoga Essentials, Canfas, Tonnau Surf, U Melt Me, Gwella, L P-D, Atebol, Coffi & Bara, In the Welsh Wind, Recover Eden, and Aberdabbadoo.

There will also be an opportunity for people to learn more about food and drink companies in the county during the daily cooking demonstrations at 11:30am in Pentre’ Ceredigion. Pop by for a treat for your tastebuds.

One local company who has taken advantage of this is the craft business L P-D. Lowri Pugh-Davies from Llangybi said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for my small business. I’m extremely grateful for the privilege and the chance to trade along with other businesses from Ceredigion, and only a stone throws away from my home. The experience will be even more special for me as this will be the first Eisteddfod where I’ll be taking a stand, and the biggest event for my small business. Thank you very much for the invaluable opportunity.”

Why not visit other areas in Ceredigion during the Eisteddfod period. You can get a glimpse of what the county has to offer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBFvGg23UqA

Councillor Clive Davies, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member for the Economy and Regeneration, said: “Ceredigion businesses have so much to offer and the National Eisteddfod’s visit to the county is a truly fantastic opportunity to celebrate and promote that. It will be lovely to see visitors venturing to every part of Ceredigion to get a taste and support local businesses, as well as finding interesting companies on the Maes itself. Ceredigion County Council is proud to support small businesses too by offering slots in the wooden trading huts during the week. Remember to drop by.”

You can see Pentre’ Ceredigion’s full timetable on our website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/eisteddfod

You can also download the Eisteddfod app and find more Information on the Eisteddfod’s website, www.eisteddfod.cymru, and follow us on social media:

Facebook: @CeredigionCountyCouncil

Twitter: @CeredigionCC

Instagram: @CaruCeredigion

Remember to share your photos too by using the hashtags #Steddfod2022 and #EisteddfodCeredigion.

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