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Forces work together to launch Ceredigion rural crime team

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IT will certainly be a change to life on the beat, but Dyfed-Powys Police’s first ever rural crime team is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

Coming from farming backgrounds with a knowledge of the issues and concerns these communities face, and undergoing enhanced training with North Wales Police’s well-established rural crime team, puts PC Esther Davies and PCSO Caryl Griffiths in good stead for the role.

From this week on, the pair will cover the Ceredigion division, from Crymych to Machynlleth, dealing with issues ranging from sheep worrying and livestock theft, to offering crime prevention advice and support. They will also work closely with partner agencies including the National Farmers’ Union, the Farmer’s Union of Wales and the Welsh Government.

The new role has come as a direct result of the force’s rural crime strategy, which committed to identifying named points of contact for rural crime matters, and developing the specialist rural skills and knowledge of its officers.

The team will benefit from an attachment to North Wales Police for a week of intense training in the first partnership of its kind between the two forces. Rural Crime Team Manager Rob Taylor and his team will pass on the expertise gained in the five years since the team was established, and the forces hope to continue to work together to tackle rural issues and cross border criminality.

Speaking about her new role, PCSO Griffiths said: “This post will be challenging, but extremely rewarding.

“I appreciate the importance of communication with rural and agricultural communities. It is vital to provide a familiar point of contact to the public, and also to seek their views on how we can serve their needs.

“With this in mind, I want to restore confidence in the rural communities so people can feel safe and be safe. I have mentioned the rural crime team to people while I’ve been out in the community and they are very supportive – they think it is definitely needed.”

PC Davies added that their first hand experiences of the farming environment will help them get to grips with the new role.

“Personally, being from a rural background and growing up in that environment means I know how the community works, as well as the issues and concerns the farming community has,” she said.

“It will be interesting to see how North Wales Police do it. Hopefully we will gain a lot of tips and ideas from them, which we can bring down to Dyfed-Powys.

“It’s an exciting opportunity because it is completely new for the force and we can make it our own with guidance. We will have to use our own initiative in establishing the best way for the role to move forward, which will be a good challenge.”

The pair will spend a week attached to North Wales Police, where they will learn how their counterparts work. They will receive classroom training on issues specific to the rural community, as well as getting the chance to shadow a PC and PCSO as they carry out their work.

And when they return to Dyfed-Powys Police, their first aim is to get out and about in the community attending as many events as possible to spread the word about their work.

“PCSO Griffiths said: “We want to be visible as well as proactive, so we will be showing our faces and making sure people know that we are here to support them.”

Robyn Mason, Dyfed-Powys Police’s lead for rural crime, said: “Tackling rural crime is a priority for Dyfed-Powys, and the only way to fully get to grips with these issues is to have officers and staff dedicated to the cause.

“This will be the first of four rural crime teams launched across our divisions, and it is a very exciting opportunity for the force.

“We look forward to seeing the skills and knowledge Esther and Caryl bring back from North Wales Police, and would like to thank Rob Taylor and his team for allowing us to work together in this new partnership.”

North Wales Rural Crime Team manager, Rob Taylor, said: “We have had a dedicated Rural Team in North Wales since September 2013 and although small, this team has been very impactive and has developed close links with our farming and rural communities.

“The attachment of these officers from Ceredigion will be an asset to both forces, which will allow us to share our rural policing knowledge and to tackle cross border criminality in Wales.

“Both officers are from farming backgrounds and they already have a good grounding of rural issues and there policing needs, so we have a lot to learn from them too.”

 

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River benefits after polluter pays

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A MAJOR river pollution incident in Mid Wales has cost a company £40,000.

Pencefn Feeds Ltd, near Tregaron has paid the sum after a detailed investigation by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) into the incident in December 2016.

Around 18,000 fish are thought to have been killed on a five-mile stretch of the Teifi when approximately 44,000 gallons of pollutant leaked from an anaerobic digestion plant.

The West Wales Rivers Trust will receive £15,000 to restore fish habitat in the area.

And a further £5,000 will go to the Countryside Alliance Foundation to fund education activities about fish and the local environment for children in the Tregaron area.

The payments are consistent with a potential fine and have been made as an “enforcement undertaking”. This means that the money directly benefits the local environment.
The final £20,000 is being paid to recover all investigation and legal costs relating to the case.

Ann Weedy, Mid Wales operations manager for Natural Resources Wales, said: “This has been a very complex and time-consuming investigation and we are pleased to see the financial penalty being used directly to repair some of the damage caused by this incident.

“This will make the Teifi a better place for fish and other wildlife by fencing river banks and developing riverside vegetation.

“We hope these payments serve as a reminder to businesses that we will take enforcement action if they pollute Wales’ environment and don’t operate responsibly.”

As well as investigating the incident and overseeing the clean-up operation, NRW also investigated the roles of all companies involved in the incident.

However, the sub-contractor mainly responsible for the incident, Hallmark Power Ltd, went into liquidation so no prosecution could be taken against them. And the main contractor, ComBigaS UK, also no longer exists, so no action could be taken against them either.

ComBigaS Denmark had links to the project but has no legal basis in the UK and is therefore not covered by UK law.

Site owner, Pencefn Feeds Ltd, had raised concerns with the companies about the quality of work, but this had not been acted upon. This would have provided significant mitigation if the matter had gone to court, so NRW concluded that accepting an enforcement undertaking was the best option in this case.

Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith OBE, Director of Afonydd Cymru, the umbrella body that represents Wales’ six Rivers Trusts commented: “This was a tragic case that was bad for the river Teifi and its fisheries.

“Nonetheless, we commend the use of an Enforcement Undertaking to resolve the regulatory aspect of the case as some funding will now be put towards restoration within the catchment itself.
“The resolution of longer term damage remains a separate issue.”

Rachel Evans, Countryside Alliance Director for Wales, said: “Fishing for Schools is always grateful to receive funding to help us reach out to more young people who benefit from our unique approach to education through angling.

“Funding coming from a pollution incident and resultant settlement whilst sad, will highlight the ever-present need to align conservation and the environment with our school work.

“Tregaron has always been a bedrock of angling within the Welsh community and heritage. We fully intend to enhance and extend that rich legacy by putting this award to good use.”

NRW has been monitoring the Teifi since the incident and confirms there has been minimal effect on invertebrates.

Salmon fry have been found in the affected area, so it is likely that at least some eggs did survive.

However, juvenile and adult salmon were killed. Large numbers of brown trout were also killed, and this species will take some time to recover.

Ann Weedy continued: “The Teifi is one of the most iconic and important recreational and net fisheries in Wales and an internationally important Special Area of Conservation for endangered fish such as lampreys, salmon and bullhead.

“We all need to work together to do all we can to restore the river and reduce the number of pollution incidents damaging our precious environment in Wales.”
NRW has carried out more than 100 pollution prevention visits to farms in Ceredigion and the Teifi catchment in the past year and these have helped reduce the risk of pollution from farm slurry.

It has also inspected the other three anaerobic digestion plants in Ceredigion to ensure that their pollution prevention measures are suitable.

Pencefn Feeds Ltd has now applied for an environmental permit so they can continue to operate (see additional information for more details).

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Ceredigion County Council’s Apprenticeship recruitment campaign is now live

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THE council’s 2019 Apprenticeship programme is now open for applications until Sunday 22 September.

A council apprenticeship gives learners the opportunity to build skills and confidence while earning a salary and gaining a nationally recognised qualification. With roles available in Business Administration, ICT Technical Support and Social Care teams, there is an opportunity for everyone.

The first year of the programme is nearing an end and has been a great success. Alanah Lloyd recently completed a Business Administration Apprenticeship. She said: “I would recommend doing an apprenticeship at Ceredigion County Council to all my friends. I enjoyed the balance of real responsibilities and having the space to keep on learning.”

Maria Lloyd, Alanah’s mother said: “When Alanah was successful with her application I was delighted. It gave her the opportunity to show her work ethic and continue with her education in an organisation where there is career progression. Alanah has now gained a permanent position at the council. I would highly recommend apprenticeships to other parents.”

Lynne Connolly, Apprenticeship and Work Experience Coordinator, Ceredigion County Council said: “This year we are continuing to demonstrate our commitment to ‘grow our own’, offering opportunities for school and college leavers to continue education in a working environment and for members of the community looking to return to work or change career. All our apprentices are paid well above the minimum apprentice wage which reflects how much we value their contribution.”

To apply and find out more visit career.ceredigion.gov.uk or contact us at apprentice@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Overall ‘excellent’ performance at Mynach Primary School

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A RECENT Estyn report on the primary school in Mynach has given the ‘Excellent’ status to each of the five inspection areas.

It was noted in the report that the school had attained ‘Excellent’ status in standards; wellbeing and attitudes to learning; teaching and learning experiences; care, support and guidance; and leadership and management.

The report notes, ‘A particular feature is the opportunities for Key Stage 2 pupils to plan and deliver lessons for the rest of the class, focusing on specific skills.’

Joyce George is headteacher at Ysgol y Mynach. She is also headteacher at Pontrhydfendigaid Primary School and Sir John Rhys Primary School. She said, “As a headteacher, I am extremely proud of the results of the survey and very grateful to the staff, governors and those who work effectively together as a team to ensure a first class education for all pupils. I am proud of the fact that the inspectors identified pupils’ literacy, numeracy and information and communication technology skills as excellent.

It was also noted that a pioneering feature of Ysgol Mynach is the way in which teachers adapt and develop the curriculum in order to raise pupils’ independence. Working together as a wider partnership with Ysgol Pontrhydfendigaid and Ysgol Sir John Rhys, Ponterwyd is a great advantage and an opportunity to share expertise, co-design and share ideas which extend and widen the experiences of pupils across the schools.”

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member for Learning services. She said: “The Estyn report shows that Ysgol Gynradd Mynach has achieved exceptionally high standards. The hard work and dedication of the headteacher, staff, governors and of course the children is very evident. The school shows that a way of working together with neighbouring schools in a progressive way can produce excellent results. Everyone in the school deserves congratulations.”

The report notes that the school is an extremely close community. It also notes that the head teacher has a progressive vision that is continually focused on maintaining and raising standards of pupils’ achievement and wellbeing.

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