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RNLI withdraws from talks with Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign

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THE long running dispute over the future of New Quay lifeboat has taken another turn with the RNLI announcing that it is cutting ties with the group campaigning for the retention of Ceredigion’s only all-weather lifeboat.

In a joint statement issued by the RNLI and the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign (CLC) in December 2018, both parties had agreed that they would meet regularly to discuss the proposed reconfiguration of lifeboats in the New Quay area as a “platform to review concerns.” At the time, both parties welcomed the opportunity “to exchange views and data, and to work constructively towards ensuring the most appropriate future lifeboat configuration for the Ceredigion coast.”

However, that dialogue now seems to be over. In a recent letter to the CLC, the RNLI’s Operations Director, George Rawlinson, states “it has become increasingly apparent to us that the dialogue is not heading towards a positive or productive outcome for either party. We have therefore reached the conclusion that further liaison with the CLC is not appropriate.”

A spokesperson for the CLC cited “cultural differences” for the breakdown in dialogue, “The RNLI has consistently made it clear that it is not prepared to submit its decision to public or peer group scrutiny, whereas the CLC is an open organisation, encouraging two way dialogue with local stakeholders.

“It is vital that the CLC retains the trust and confidence of the people we represent. We would lose that trust if we were to engage with the RNLI behind a veil of secrecy. The decision to strip Ceredigion of all-weather search and rescue provision in 2020 is a serious matter of public interest and should be explored in the public domain.

“We have made it clear to the RNLI that we will continue to gather relevant data and informed opinion, that we will present the evidence-based case to maintain an all-weather lifeboat in New Quay to the RNLI for their consideration, and that our completed report will be available to the public.”

Meanwhile, the RNLI has announced that it will commence dialogue with local volunteers over its proposed reconfiguration of lifeboats in Cardigan Bay.

A CLC spokesperson commented, “Whilst long overdue, we applaud the RNLI’s decision to engage with the crew and volunteers at New Quay lifeboat station, and we wish the process well. We hope that the RNLI will listen closely to many years of accrued local knowledge and seamanship.”

Despite the breakdown of talks with the RNLI, the campaigners are undeterred. The CLC spokesperson added, “The CLC enjoys committed support from our local communities and we have been given a mandate by over 29,000 petition signatories to seek to reverse the RNLI’s decision to remove New Quay’s all-weather lifeboat. We remain committed to this objective.

“We have recently had productive meetings with the Welsh Fishermen’s Association and the Wales Fishing Safety Committee and we would like to thank them for their support. Our MP, Ben Lake, has met with ministers from the Department for Transport and the Wales Office, and has further meetings planned with them for the coming weeks. We have a number of events planned for the coming months and we continue to build support, with donations arriving from as far afield as the US and Japan.”

To find out more about the campaign to save Ceredigion’s only all-weather lifeboat, visit www.ceredigionlifeboatcampaign.org.uk

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Ben Lake MP joins push to encourage more accessible rail journeys in Ceredigion

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Ben Lake MP has joined forces with the rail industry to encourage more disabled people in Ceredigion to travel by train using the Disabled Persons Railcard, which offers a third off journeys.

Ben Lake attended a parliamentary event on accessibility and inclusion in rail, hosted by the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail. The event showcased the work the rail industry is doing to change and improve the network to make it more accessible. This includes enabling disabled people to make more discounted journeys with the Disabled Persons Railcard.

Last year 2969 journeys starting from Ceredigion were made using the Railcard, up from 2401 in 2015. This compares to a 43% increase across the country as a whole, with Disabled Persons Railcard journeys rising from 5 million in 2015 to 7 million in 2019.

The Disabled Persons Railcard offers a third off adult rail fares at any time on the National Rail network for people with a disability, plus a companion. On average, passengers with the Disabled Persons Railcard save £108 a year, even after the £20 cost of the card is factored in.

The rise in accessible journeys reflects the work rail companies are doing to make services more accessible. The industry recently launched a new interactive ‘Access Map’ to make it easier for passengers to find out at a glance how accessible their local station is. The industry is also working together to improve passenger assistance bookings, with new technology currently being rolled out for staff and a customer app launching next summer to make bookings easier.

Since 2006, the rail industry has delivered £500million of improvements at stations including making them more accessible, with £300 million of additional funding from government to make 73 more stations accessible by 2024.

Ben Lake MP said: “Everyone in Ceredigion should have the opportunity to travel by train and today’s event shows the rail industry is working hard to improve accessibility across the country and make the railway easier for everyone to use. I’m pleased to work with the rail companies to raise awareness of the discounts offered by the Disabled Persons Railcard and hope more people will benefit from big savings that can be made.”

Jac Starr, chief operating officer at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies and Network Rail, said:

“We’re working hard to improve the railway, making more stations step-free and adding thousands of new and refurbished carriages which are more accessible. While record numbers of people are saving money with the Disabled Persons Railcard, we want everyone to benefit from the improvements we’re making which is why we’re encouraging eligible disabled people to sign up for a card and save on their journeys.”

Transport Accessibility Minster Nusrat Ghani said: “We are absolutely committed to improving the experience of disabled passengers across our network.

“Working alongside the Rail Delivery Group and Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, we are currently reviewing the eligibility criteria of the Disabled Persons Railcard, looking at how we can improve provisions for carers or companions.

“We also recently announced the 73 stations receiving a share of £300m of Access for All funding, as we work towards an entirely accessible transport network by 2030 with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier.”

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Ceredigion County Council commits to be a net zero carbon council by 2030

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CEREDIGION councillors have supported a motion to make Ceredigion County Council a net zero carbon local authority by 2030. The councillors supported the motion in a meeting on 20 June 2019.

The agreed motion was based on Councillor Mark Strong’s initial motion which raised concerns about a Climate Crisis. An amendment was made to commit the council to an ambitious and specific target. Councillors also agreed that a clear plan should be developed within 12 months to achieve the net zero carbon status.

Councillors also called on Welsh and UK Governments to provide the support needed to achieve effective carbon reductions.

The motion was proposed by Councillor Mark Strong. He said, “Faced with a Climate Crisis, I am pleased that my fellow councillors have agreed that we need to take drastic action to reduce our emissions. The council has already reduced carbon emissions a great deal, but we must go much further.”

Earlier in the month, the council’s Cabinet approved its third Carbon Management Plan. The ambitious new plan is targeting a 15% reduction in emissions by 2023. The previous plans have achieved a 45% reduction of CO2 since 2007/8, a reduction of over 7,000 tons of CO2.

The new Carbon Management Plan includes a number of projects to achieve the emissions reduction target. They include investing in a new more energy efficient fleet of council vehicles and improving heating systems in Ceredigion schools.

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Cered organises a Thai food cooking evening

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Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion officers organised several nights of activities with the ‘Ffynnon’ youth club in Llandysul to provide new opportunities through the medium of Welsh for the older members in the club.

The nature of the collaboration was holding a training evening to cook Thai food and then the following week, use their newly found skills by hosting a Thai food evening for the community. The older youth members of ‘Ffynnon’ were given the opportunity to entertain local people through the medium of welsh and encourage those who were learners of the language to socialise in Welsh.

Llinos, Cered Development Officer, said, “This work was a great opportunity for Cered to work with ‘Ffynnon’, the young people in the club and the community. They learned all sorts of new skills such as cooking Thai food, planning every element of the evening from the food preparation, the decorating of the room, serving food and so on. It was lovely to see the young people eagerly engaged in the tasks and raising confidence in practical work and all this through the medium of Welsh.”

The evening was a sheer success, and the money raised will go towards humanitarian projects which will include a possible trip abroad to Zambia to volunteer in a children’s orphanage.

Steffan from ‘Ffynnon’ said, “In Y Ffynnon, we are eager to give opportunities not only to hear the love of God, but also to show that through serving the local community in Llandysul. The Thai night was a great experience and hopefully a start on what we hope will be a great year.”

Both nights were run by Sian Davies and Noi Francis. Siân Davies said, “It was wonderful to have the opportunity to work with Cered and Ffynnon to teach new skills to the young people, whilst also supporting them to raise money for their future plans. It was a pleasure to work with everyone, and they worked really hard to make the evening very successful.”

For more information about Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion events and activities, visit their website, cered.cymru or their Facebook page, @ceredmenteriaith. Or, get in touch by calling 01545 572 358.

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