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Carmarthen and Aberystwyth rail link restoration ‘feasible’



A REPORT prepared for the Welsh Government says that the restoration of the rail link between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth is feasible.

However, the report, prepared by the Mott MacDonald consultancy, also reveals that the £775m scheme does not present a positive economic case. As such, it is only likely to be progressed in regard to wider societal needs, and strategic aims.

The constraints of low local population levels (and levels of business, leisure, tourism activity, etc.) impose the key constraint on realistic demand levels and achievable economic benefit.

Subject to the satisfactory resolution of challenges presented by the proposed route, initial operational assessments have determined that, if reinstated, it could provide a regular hourly train service between Aberystwyth, Llanilar, Tregaron, Lampeter, Llanybydder, Pencader and Carmarthen, with an end to end journey time of around 85 minutes.

Based on a 2024 opening, initial demand assessments indicate that the reinstated railway service could attract up to 370,000 trips in its first year of operation, rising to 425,000 and 489,000 in the assessment years of 2027 and 2037 respectively.

The report notes that significant further work is needed to assess the local impact and the effect of the route’s re-opening on properties and environmentally sensitive areas cross by the proposed line.

Plaid Cymru’s local AMs and MPs called on the Welsh and UK Governments to work together to prioritise the reinstating of the rail link between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen.

In spite of the report’s failure to make a positive economic case, the Plaid representatives are optimistic that the cost can be met, so long as the UK and the Welsh Governments work together positively.

Elin Jones AM, said: “The Mott Macdonald report is the game-changer needed in the campaign to reinstate Aberystwyth to Carmarthen Rail Link. I’ve lived alongside this rail corridor almost all my life and I’ve never seen a train. For the first time, I can see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel in making this project a reality. It is now costed, it is technically feasible and it is now only a matter of political prioritisation by both Welsh and UK Governments.”

Ben Lake MP, said: “The report has thrown up many of the environmental and logistical constraints facing a project of this magnitude. But I am glad that the report has not shown the project the red light. I hope that communities along the route will now join together to consider the report’s implications and to put pressure on Governments to take the project to the next stage. I’ll be seeking an urgent meeting with the UK Railways Minister to discuss the report.”

Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards, said: “The cost of this project at first appears substantial, but as we’ve seen this weekend, the scheme would be minuscule in comparison to the £100billion projected spend on the England-only HS2 railway. Wales has already lost out on rail funding out to the tune of £5billion. This could fund a host of infrastructure projects including the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line.”

Carmarthen East and Dinefwr AM, and leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price AM said: “The decision to undertake the Technical Feasibility Study was a result of Plaid Cymru’s budget negotiations with the Welsh Government, and I welcome its optimistic and detailed assessment of the task ahead. It is an opportunity to create a national rail corridor starting with Carmarthen to Aberystwyth. This is an exciting and imaginative idea that I think will inspire people and will change the shape of our nation. If the Welsh Government is serious about developing every part of Wales, then this is the opportunity to prove it.”

With Wales’ transport infrastructure in the spotlight, Welsh Government ministers will be mindful of growing concerns that it is too focussed on the area around its own bubble in the Bay at the rest of Wales’ expense.


Ceredigion Youth Service’s Summer Activity Programme



THIS YEAR, Ceredigion Youth Service’s Summer Programme offers a wide range of activities over a period of four weeks during the summer holidays. There are 19 different projects, activities, workshops and events planned for young people aged 11-25 from across the county.

Activities this year focus on topics such as employability and upskilling, health and wellbeing, participation, sport and leisure and the environment. Young People will have the opportunity to develop new and existing skills including self-esteem, confidence, communication and problem-solving. They’ll all be held in fun environments where they’re able to meet new people, gain accreditation and participate in a range of activities.

Activities include a summer camp, an adventure residential stay, mountain biking, trips, taster workshops and more.

Gethin Jones is Ceredigion Youth Service’s Principal Youth Officer. He said: “The Summer Programme has been a big success for a number of years. It is of great importance to us that we continue to offer both targeted and open access opportunities for young people during school holidays, as well as term time so that support and engagement is available to young people throughout the year.

“The program offers a range of fantastic opportunities for young people from all across the county to get involved with, providing them with valuable opportunities and experiences that educate, build skills and develop confidence and esteem.”

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services, Lifelong Learning & Leisure. She said: “The Ceredigion Youth Service is providing a quality service which is clearly beneficial to our young people over the summer. The activities are great opportunities not only to enjoy but also to develop educationally, personally and socially.”

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Ceredigion Autism Conference 2019



ON JULY 5, 2019, Ceredigion Autism Spectrum Team and Aberystwyth University Accessibility Services hosted the Ceredigion Autism Conference at Aberystwyth University.

At the sixth annual conference, autistic people focused on what is important to them about how other people think about autism. They also looked at how they are supported if and when they need support, and how other people can help them to build self-esteem, confidence and identity.

The conference was attended by over 130 people, bringing together autistic people, parents, carers and professionals from health, education and social care services and the voluntary sector. The agenda promoted our shared ethos and vision of understanding autism as a different way of thinking, learning and being; different but equally valuable.

Councillor Alun Williams, Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for Adult’s Services and Champion for people with learning disabilities co-chaired the conference with John Harrington Head of Accessibility Services, Aberystwyth University. The conference was opened by Carys James, Corporate Lead Officer for Children and Adult Services.

Councillor Williams said: “This was the sixth autism conference to be held in Aberystwyth and once again was very well attended. Whilst the audience was a healthy mix of autistic people, friends and carers alongside professionals working in related fields, the speakers and panellists were all autistic people. This allowed them to set the agenda and provided a unique learning opportunity for professionals to better understand the kind of support that can make a positive difference and to further improve the services we provide in Ceredigion.”

John Harrington said: “It is always an immense privilege to co-host the Ceredigion Autism Conference at Aberystwyth University. This year’s line-up of key note speakers were all inspirational and thought provoking about their autistic journeys through life.”

Key notes speakers this year were Chris Bonnello, who gave his 11 top tips for building autistic adults and children; Marianthi Kourti, who spoke about the challenges of being an autistic autism professional; and Kieran Rose, who gave a moving and insightful presentation about the effects of ‘masking’ and about what needs to change for autistic people to be fully accepted and supported.

For the closing session of the day, local autistic individuals joined the key speakers to form an expert panel, giving their experiences and perspectives of support services and answering questions from the audience.

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Ceredigion Leisure Centres Summer holiday programme



A BUSY TIMETABLE of inclusive summer holiday activities for children has been organised across all Ceredigion County Council-run leisure centres in the county.

From football to bouncy castle sessions, from cycling skills to archery, there’s a wide variety of activities to choose from over the course of the summer.

There will also be day camps and multi-skills activity days available at some of the leisure centres, for children to attend for the whole day. There’s even a day trip to the beach with Teifi Leisure Centre!

A range of learning to swim programmes are available at Lampeter Swimming Pool and Plascrug Leisure Centre across the summer holidays. A week of swimming lessons will be delivered solely through the medium of Welsh in Plascrug Leisure Centre starting on 5 August.

Councillor Catrin Miles is the council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for Leisure Services. She said: “Ceredigion Actif is once again providing a busy timetable of fun activities during the summer. It’s a healthy and worthwhile way for children to spend their time during the summer.”

Booking for sessions is essential and staff at leisure centres reserve the right to cancel any session if attendance is too low.

For further information on the summer holiday activities planned, visit the Ceredigion Actif website.

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