CALUM HIGGINS, Welsh Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, has announced that he back the return of publicly run rail services in West Wales.
He says that rail services, including on the ‘Heart of Wales’ line and a re-opened Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line should be re-nationalised. In his opinion, arm’s length public companies or cooperatives could save the taxpayer money and increase investment in the railway network.
Mr Higgins says: “The railways are a fundamental public service, for too long they have been run for a profit despite being funded by a tax payer subsidy. The subsidy allows rail operators to make a profit while increasing fares for service users and pricing some out of using trains. I back the return of publicly run railways, and the Heart of Wales line should be one of the first.”
Mr Higgins is insists that public ownership is not just affordable, but profitable for the taxpayer: “In the last few years the taxpayer has been running the East Coast Mainline from London to Edinburgh. Since 2009 over £1 billion has come back to the treasury in profit, but this Conservative Government has re-privatised it and handed the yearly profit back to private companies. We now know that publicly owned rail services can make money for the tax payer which can be reinvested in the network. The not for profit rail model would provide money to re-open old lines such as the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line.”
He outlined his plans to support a public ownership or cooperative model for the Heart of Wales line: “I really believe that the public are the best people to run a service. The Heart of Wales line franchise is to be renewed in the next couple of years and could be one of the first railways to return to public ownership.
“The Heart of Wales line could be owned by a public interest company or a cooperative, giving local people the biggest say on how it’s run. The line has so much potential and could be a great commuter service between Ammanford, Llandybie, Llandovery, Llanelli, and Swansea. My priority would be to see this happen here, across Wales, and the UK. Let’s put the profits from rail services into improving the service for our rural communities.”
Ceredigion lifesavers go the extra mile during lockdown
Loyal blood donors in Ceredigion have responded to a request from the Welsh
Blood Service to ‘donate differently’ by rolling up their sleeves to make a
lifesaving donation at one of the Service’s new regional hubs.
Across Wales, of the 6,808 individuals that visited a Welsh Blood Service donation
session in May 63% of donors attended a clinic that was not their usual donation
In Ceredigion, 293 donors came forward to give blood in May, with 34 attending a
donation session for the very first time.
Following a series of Covid-19 related venue cancellations and social distancing
restrictions, the Welsh Blood Service was unable to host donation sessions at the thirty
community venues it would typically visit across Wales each week.
The Service introduced a new collections schedule at the beginning of April which saw
collections taken from five regional donation hubs at different locations in Wales each
week. Donors were asked to travel to donate at their nearest hub.
Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “When it became clear we
couldn’t continue with business as usual, we knew we’d have to ask donors to donate
differently. Our regional donation hubs have replaced our usual local collections
programme and the response from donors has been remarkable.
“98.3% of the appointments we’ve made available since lockdown have been taken
and many of these appointments have been taken by donors who have been prepared
to go even further out of their way than they usually would just to make a potentially
The Service has also observed a sharp rise in the number of new donors coming
forward to donate.
Mr Prosser continued: “In May 2019, around 11% of those that attended our donation
sessions were new donors. This May, around 19% of our attendance has been people
who had never given before.
“We’ve also see a surge in the number of donors who haven’t given in years returning
to our sessions to help us boost stocks. It’s been amazing and we’re hugely grateful.”
Blood stocks in Wales have remained healthy throughout the pandemic as the reduced
collections activity has mirrored a reduction in the volume of blood used by hospitals.
However, the Service is urging donors to continue to attend their local sessions as and
when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
“Blood stocks are currently very healthy thanks to the commitment of new and existing
donors but we need people to keep giving blood to ensure we can continue to meet
hospital demand in the coming months. Travel to donate is considered essential travel
and anyone who is fit, well and eligible to donate can book an appointment through the
Porth Cymorth Cynnar supporting residents in Ceredigion
During this challenging period, Porth Cymorth Cynnar has established a virtual platform to ensure that we are able to keep in touch with vulnerable residents across Ceredigion.
Due to the restrictions introduced to safeguard our communities against COVID-19, many residents are not able to access their usual provision or support such as parent groups or GP Referral Exercise Classes. Instead, we are ensuring that all residents whom are known to our services, and others, are kept in touch with, through regular welfare calls, should they wish.
Around 2000 residents from young people to families to carers, who may require or benefit from regular contact whilst their service is not operating in its usual form, will receive communication from our staff.
To date, almost 2000 welfare calls have been made, and have been well received by people across Ceredigion. Residents have said that it is great that someone is keeping in touch with them, to give them an opportunity to have a weekly phone call and someone to talk to.
Mrs Jones* (name changed for anonymity) who is 92 and lives alone, is used to receiving regular visits from Ceredigion’s mobile library was identified as benefiting from a weekly phone call, to check how she was doing, now that her usual library service would not be visiting for a while. Porth Cymorth Cynnar aimed to get in touch with Mrs Jones, but did not have a contact number. After tracking down a contact number through the local directory, a member of the Porth y Gymuned team was able to make contact. Luckily Mrs Jones has the support of family and neighbours to collect groceries, but nonetheless was extremely grateful to have someone to talk to, and to check that she is OK. A weekly phone check in has been organised with Mrs Jones, to ensure that she is doing well and to organise if she is in need of anything.
If you, or anyone you know would benefit from the Keeping in Touch Service, please get in touch with our Customer Services team on 01545 570881 or firstname.lastname@example.org who will triage your query to Porth Cymorth Cynnar.
Porth Cymorth Cynnar are also regularly updating resource lists which are available on the Ceredigion County Council website here: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/coronavirus
The latest on plastic free Ceredigion
At its meeting held on 17 March, the Council’s Cabinet received an activity update from the Plastic Free Ceredigion Task and Finish Group, which was set up after full Council approved a motion on 22 February 2018.
Full Council approved the ‘Plastic Free campaigns throughout the County, including Plastic Free Aberporth and Plastic Free Aberystwyth’ motion to ensure that the Council helps to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in our day to day operations.
The motion involved a number of factors including; reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and encouraging local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives. Promoting the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events, supporting beach cleans and any other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics.
Since 22 February 2018, the Council have removed 5 single-use plastic that were used across the local authority, implemented projects in conjunction with NRW with local primary schools, worked closely with communities throughout Ceredigion and commenced the provision of Water bottle re-fills on request to all visitors to our public facing buildings.
In January 2020, the Schools Service were successful in bidding for funding from the Circular Economy Capital Fund, which allows for the purchasing of milk dispensers which will remove the need for the provision of plastic milk bottles and straws by 1,979 pupils at Foundation and Key Stage 2. This is equivalent to a reduction of 376,010 plastic milk bottles per school year.
Councillor Alun Williams, Member Champion for Sustainability said, “These are initiatives which, together, make a real difference to the amount of single-use plastics going into the waste stream from Council activities. Whilst it’s important that everyone seeks to minimise their use of single-use plastics, it’s particularly important that large organisations like councils take these kinds of actions because they can have a wider effect which, in turn, can lead to industry changing to more sustainable practices. Ceredigion Council is trying to lead the way in showing what’s possible within an organisation.”
This supports one of the Council’s corporate priority of Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.
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