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Superfast roll out by councils is superslow

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Damaging businesses: Nine Welsh councils have no broadband plan

AN INVESTIGATION by broadband comparison website, BroadbandChoices, which analysed almost four hundred UK council websites and Ofcom performance statistics, has revealed that many councils have missed their own targets and deadlines for improving broadband connectivity in their areas.

And only one of Wales’ 22 councils – Newport – has hit the target; while nine have no plan at all.

The research reveals that many councils fall drastically short of targets set to provide superfast connectivity. Just 12 out of the 391 UK Councils analysed have reached 95% levels of superfast broadband penetration or higher, the UKs target. It also revealed that only 7 councils in the UK have met the targets for broadband speeds they set themselves.

The latest analysis from BroadbandChoices highlights how much work must still be done by Councils to provide sufficient connectivity to all homes and businesses in the UK, regardless of location.

With broadband speeds affecting small businesses, rural communities and those who work from home, internet speeds have a significant impact on productivity and can cost businesses money, time and even customers or clients and are costing businesses thousands in lost productivity.

The average percentage of premises with superfast broadband speeds has been revealed to be just 58% based on Ofcom’s report – nearly 40% lower than the 95% UK-wide target. The research also reveals that almost a quarter (24%) of councils don’t have a publicly available strategy when it comes to broadband.

After reviewing 391 council plans for broadband outlined on each council’s website and comparing them with actual broadband performance levels as compiled by Ofcom2 the research also revealed that the percentage of premises with access to superfast broadband ranges from just 11% in some jurisdictions, to 98% in others. This dramatic discrepancy in connectivity means some council areas have 87% fewer homes able to access superfast broadband yet no clear plans in place to improve performance.

The research exposes how the majority of councils in the UK under-estimated how long it would take to make superfast broadband available to premises within their borough. Sixty-seven councils were found to have failed to meet the targets they set themselves within the timeframes they identified.

The findings suggest that many councils in the UK have failed to make superfast broadband a priority. Surprisingly, 122 councils have information about plans to extend broadband penetration on their websites but exact details regarding reach and performance are inadequate. Broadband Choices research found vague claims in an unquantifiable format or without a specific target date for completing the work. Meanwhile, many other councils failed to even reference broadband on their websites.

The volume of ongoing council plans demonstrates that many councils are still working towards achieving widespread connectivity in their areas, and that more work still needs to be done to reach the UK Government target of 95% coverage for superfast broadband, despite some reports that it has already been achieved.

Vix Leyton, home comms expert at Broadband Choices said: “This study demonstrates that while many UK councils have active plans in place to improve connectivity for their residents, very few have succeeded in actually meeting their targets. Meanwhile, areas with the most need have councils who are failing to recognise good internet connectivity as a strategic priority.

“Whilst our research gives a broad stroke picture of the UK by comparing council intention to reported performance, a lot of consumers are still in the dark when it comes to the actual service and speed they will personally receive until after they have signed up for a deal. Broadband Choices has been lobbying for some time to inform consumer purchasing, using things like the postcode checker tool, to ensure that in the face of different reports about performance they will get a clear and honest picture of the position their home or business is in.

“Access to technology is a staple requirement and reliance on high-quality connectivity will only increase. That’s why we’re helping to educate consumers so they are better aware of the broadband available in their area, and what plans their local Council has in place to keep up with technology. Councils should have their plans and target deadlines clearly outlined on their website for constituents to see, and if targets haven’t been met this needs to be addressed and reviewed, and residents are entitled to know why.”

“The lack of superfast broadband has a combined impact on productivity and communication, which is a real concern, translating into a loss for small businesses, and communities. Councils need to do more to improve connectivity to protect the productivity of the UK workforce.”

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Business

Llandeilo going for Fair Trade Status

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A NEW steering group has formed in Llandeilo to achieve Fair Trade status for the town.

“Many of our local shops and venues already stock or serve Fair Trade products and I believe Llandeilo deserves to be officially recognised for this,” says co-founder town councillor Christoph Fischer.

“It’s fantastic to see so many businesses and stakeholders committed to Fair Trade in Llandeilo,” says Candace Browne of Y Pantri Glas, Llandeilo’s Zero Waste and Natural Foods store. “However, for me Fair Trade extends beyond insuring workers growing imported exotic produce like bananas and chocolate are treated fairly but also to trading fairly with our local producers and sourcing good food locally. As Chair of Slow Food Cymru, Slow Food Town status with a shared vision of “Good Fair Food for All” would also be great for businesses to work towards for our community.”

The group, which has representatives of several businesses and interested individuals, are currently mapping all products that local shops, schools, groups and organisations offer and are lobbying the town council and other bodies to get behind the movement by declaring their own commitment to Fair Trade.

“As town councillor and as individual I feel this initiative fits perfectly well with the trend in town for fair trade,” says Fischer. “As Member Pioneer for the Llandeilo Coop part of my role is to initiate projects like this and bring all parts of the community together. We already had positive replies from Café 139, The Lighthouse, Heavenly, Ikigai, CK’s, Crown Stores, Umami and Llandeilo Primary.”

If you and your organisation want to commit to Fair Trade or are stocking Fair Trade products, please contact ChristophFFischer@googlemail.com

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Council determined to close Aberystwyth’s window of waste

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ABERYSTWYTH town centre is provided with regular and reliable waste collection services. Unfortunately, some localised, seasonal issues continue to arise. One of the solutions to this is to close the Window of Waste!

The window of waste is the time between when waste is presented for collection and when it is actually collected. The longer the window of waste is open the more issues and problems that occur which includes the waste being ravaged by seagulls, other animals as well as the elements. This causes the problems that are experienced in some town centre locations mostly on and around waste collection days.

The County Council has been very proactive in Aberystwyth over recent years in introducing interventions and changes to waste collection arrangements with a view of addressing or improving long standing issues. These are currently being reviewed and include but are not limited to:

·         Additional early waste collections in the town centre to collect waste that has been presented too early.

·         Provision of wheelie bins on North Parade and heavy duty sacks at various streets to contain waste between the time it is presented and collected

·         Provision of free caddies and caddy liners for food waste and boxes for glass

·         Localised information provision

·         Closer working between Waste Collection and Street Cleaning teams

·         Closer monitoring

·         Ongoing liaison with residents and landlords

As part of Caru Ceredigion and Caru Aber all residents are encouraged to play their part in being part of the solution rather than the cause of the problem. This means working with us to ensure that:

·         Aber’s streets are kept clean and attractive at all times

·         Aber’s waste is dealt with in the most efficient way possible from a cost and environmental perspective

·         Aber remains a fantastic place to live and visit

·         Aber maintains the superb positive profile and image it deserves

We are asking all residents to help us close the window of waste by presenting the Right Waste in the Right Way and on the Right Day:

·         Right Waste: making full and proper use of the services provided for recycling and food waste which are collected every week

·         Right Way: presenting the waste in suitable containers, which includes the food caddies and glass boxes provided by the Council.  A range of bins from wheelie bins to traditional bins are available from local outlets or online to store and present waste.

·         Right Day: waste should only be presented for collection by 08:00 on the day of collection.

Businesses are reminded that they have a legal responsibility to have trade waste arrangements in place for all the waste their business produces

For the size and nature of the town, Aberystwyth is a clean town, which contributes to its overall attractiveness as a fantastic place to live and visit. If this were not the case then so many local people and visitors would not hold it in such high regard.  

For more information regarding Ceredigion County Council’s waste collection services, including a postcode finder, please visit www.ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Lidl branded best value as expanded store opens in Aberystwyth

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Lidl has been revealed as the cheapest supermarket in May, according to the latest monthly analysis from Which?.

Which? compared prices for a trolley of 20 items every day throughout May and found that on average, shoppers would have paid £22.66 at Lidl, beating the big four and Aldi to the accolade. Products checked included own-label products such as tomatoes and chicken drumsticks and branded goods such as Nescafé coffee, to see how UK supermarkets compared. The announcement recognises Lidl’s continued commitment to offering customers top quality products at great value prices as the retailer expands further into the future. Earlier this year, Which? named Lidl as the Cheapest Supermarket 2020, demonstrating that Lidl continues to offer UK shoppers consistently unbeatable prices.

The news comes as the supermarket expanded its operation in Aberystyth.

This pic of the new store was taken by Rose Voon.

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