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M4 relief road cancelled after cost estimates rise to over £2 billion

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THE WELSH Government has ditched plans to build an M4 relief road.

After years of planning, a lengthy public inquiry, and extensive controversy both about the delays in making a decision and the potential environmental impact of the new road, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced his widely anticipated decision to cancel the project in a statement issued on Tuesday, June 4.

The M4 relief road was a marquee project for the Welsh Government; however, internal Labour politics slowed down progress towards a decision with the result that former First Minister Carwyn Jones passed the buck for the final decision to his successor. Mr Jones favoured the scheme, while Mr Drakeford was more equivocal about its prospects.

Originally proposed in 1991, the scheme was dropped by the Welsh Government in 2009 on grounds of cost (then an estimated £1bn) before being revived in 2011. The project secured UK Treasury support in 2013 and was approved by the then-Welsh Government Transport Minister Edwina Hart in 2014, with a completion date of 2022.

Since 2014, the road lingered in development hell through a raft of consultations and a public inquiry.

M4 decision: Drakeford slated for dither and delay

The First Minister’s decision to cancel the scheme raises questions about the huge amount of public money and government manpower expended on it. His principal objection is the same as that which led to the original scheme’s cancellation in 2009: money, or the Welsh Government lack of it/unwillingness to spend it.

Friends of the Earth Cymru director Haf Elgar said: “This is great news for Wales and the planet.

“As well as costing Welsh taxpayers over £2 billion pounds, this devastating road would have ploughed through the unique, wildlife-rich Gwent Levels, pumped more climate-wrecking emissions into our atmosphere, and ultimately caused even more congestion and air pollution.

“This decision is a testament to the untiring efforts of local residents who have opposed this plan over decades and is a clear signal that the Welsh Government is taking its climate emergency declaration and commitment to future generations seriously.”

Ian Price, CBI Wales Director, said: “This is a dark day for the Welsh economy. After decades of deliberation and over £40m spent, no problem has been solved today. Congestion and road pollution around Newport can only increase. Economic growth will be stifled, confidence in the region will weaken and the cost of an eventual relief road will rise

“Today’s announcement is a short-term measure that regrettably solves nothing and sends the message that Wales is not open for business.

“As the Welsh Government said at the public inquiry, the black route would emit less carbon emissions than the current road and the whole project would be carbon neutral by 2070. The wider south Wales region around Cardiff and Newport constitute only 4% of Welsh carbon emissions in total. That figure will now likely rise at a higher rate than if the black route had been built.”

On  his Facebook page, Stephen Crabb MP said: “They’ve bottled it. The Welsh First Minister’s decision not to give the M4 relief road the green light is short sighted and will be deeply frustrating for number of commuters, businesses and tourists.

“I’ve spoken to numerous Pembrokeshire businesses, from hauliers to tourism operators, who are all fully aware the damage the congestion around Newport does for our local economy. One Pembrokeshire haulage firm alone runs 40 lorries each way through the M4 bottle neck each day, with drivers calling it a ‘no go’ area between 7.30am and 10am in the morning and from 4pm to 6.30pm in the afternoon.

“This decision even contradicts the independent public enquiry led by a planning inspector which backed the project. This is a failure of devolution as the Welsh Assembly was supposed to help projects such as this get off the ground.

“I recently held a debate in Parliament about the importance of this project for the wider Welsh economy, so it is very disappointing that Mark Drakeford has dropped it especially as this issue has dragged on for nearly 30 years.”

Full in-depth coverage in The Herald this Friday

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Annual Canvass to go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic

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The 2020 annual canvass is required by law and will continue despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Ceredigion’s Electoral Services are continuing their service, however staff will be working differently due to the coronavirus.

Electoral Registration Officer, Eifion Evans said: “This year’s canvass, which we have to carry out by law, is taking place during a challenging public health situation. We are working to ensure that we take account of public health guidelines, including the continued importance of social distancing.”

If we have sent you a letter that asks you to respond or complete a form, you can help us by replying to it quickly and, online, rather than posting it back to us if possible. This will save Council resources and reduce the number of letters that have to be handled by Council and Royal Mail staff.”

The link to respond is on the first page of the A4 letter you will receive with part 1 and part 2 security codes.

Residents who have any questions can contact Ceredigion’s Electoral Services on 01545 572032.

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CCTV cameras to be installed in Newcastle Emlyn

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Three new cameras are being installed in Newcastle Emlyn as part of the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner’s key pledge to reinvest in a public CCTV system.

The work on the installation programme in the town will begin on Monday, August 10.

Cameras will be cameras installed in Sycamore Street, Emlyn Square and Heol y Bont. The camera locations have been decided following a review of a crime pattern analysis and in consultation with partner agencies.

The work is being carried out by contractors Baydale Control Systems Ltd. The hi-tech cameras are being supplied by Hikvision UK & Ireland.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “Brecon is the next town in Powys to benefit from my key election pledge to re-install public space CCTV. This is a busy town, and I am confident the cameras will prove to be a valuable asset in keeping the town safe and assisting with the detection of crime.

“The CCTV project is continuing across the force, with three cameras also installed in Newcastle Emlyn last week. The number of towns we have now included in the CCTV project is 23.

“I am confident the cameras will prove to be a valuable asset in keeping these towns safe and assisting with the detection of crime.”

Ceredigion Commander, Superintendent Robyn Mason, said: “This is a positive move for Newcastle Emlyn. Having the cameras in place while we experience an increase in visitors to the area during the holiday period will help us to keep everyone as safe as possible and assist us in carrying out quality investigations when required.”

The CCTV project is bringing over 120 state of the art CCTV cameras to towns throughout the police force area of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys.

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‘Cam Nesa’ project provides wellbeing packs to 16 – 24 year olds

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The Cam Nesa project is part of European Structural Funds (ESF) Operational Programme and work’s with young people aged between 16 and 24 by providing them with options to access a range of tailored personal support and work-related opportunities to meet their needs and aspirations.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ceredigion’s County Council Cam Nesa team have been busy putting together wellbeing packs for its participants. The Well-being packs have been put together to support young people who may be experiencing loneliness, isolation or other vulnerabilities during this difficult time.

The wellbeing packs have been distributed to Ceredigion’s young people in recent weeks, over 3 months since the pandemic began and our usual way of life dramatically changed. Throughout the pandemic participants has also receive weekly calls as part of Porth Cymorth Cynnar’s keeping in touch service and it is hoped that the well-being packs support the work already done by this service by bringing some comfort and reassurance to Ceredigion’s young people.

Wellbeing packs included newsletters, leaflets, important contact details, information letters, puzzles, newspaper, hand cream, stress ball, calming art and colouring pencils, Shampoo/Shower gel, toothbrush, toothpaste, sanitary products, confectionery and a motivational quote card all in a reusable cotton bag.

One Cam Nesa participant you who received a wellbeing pack said, “Thank you so much for the wellbeing pack. Its very kind thank you very much!”

Another participant said “Thank you for the welfare pack, I am very impressed with its contents, especially the chocolates”

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