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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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Energy Efficiency scheme to come to Cardigan

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If you live in a cold home in the town of Cardigan, your home may be eligible for a heating upgrade, wall or loft insulation or solar panels all free of charge under Welsh Government’s Arbed scheme.

Ceredigion County Council are working in partnership with Arbed am Byth, who manage the scheme on behalf of Welsh Government, to address fuel poverty in the County by improving the energy efficiency and reducing the Carbon Dioxide emissions from our homes. Cardigan has been identified as an area for a potential scheme. This scheme is funded by Welsh Government and European Union ERDF funds.

A cold home can have a negative impact on a person’s everyday health and wellbeing. Living in an energy inefficient home tends to have higher fuel costs due to heat loss as a result of a lack of insulation. The aim of the scheme is to make homes warmer, more comfortable and more affordable to heat. This will be achieved through installing a range of appropriate energy efficiency measures.

Homes in Cardigan are currently being assessed to see if they are eligible for free energy saving measures. If your home is located within the designated boundary of the scheme and is either owner occupied or rented from a private landlord the property qualifies for a home assessment. Every home within the designated area is eligible to apply regardless of the financial situation of the residents living in the home.

During the assessment visit the surveyor will establish whether the home qualifies for energy efficiency measures and which measures may be appropriate. The assessment is free and the home owner is not under any obligation to proceed with the scheme. Following the assessment, Arbed and Byth can advise what specific measures are applicable your home.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards is the Cabinet member with responsibility for Housing. He said, “We are pleased to work in partnership with Arbed am Byth to ensure that our county’s residents live in comfortable homes. This ensures better health and wellbeing for our people. This is a good opportunity for the people of Cardigan town to take advantage of improving their homes.”

Working with Ceredigion County Council, Arbed am Byth hope to support around 150 homes through the scheme. The Managing Director of Arbed am Byth, informs us that “the Cardigan Arbed scheme is a fully funded scheme which will help residents reduce their heating bills and improve the efficiency of their homes. It is a great opportunity to get much needed help at no cost, but the scheme can only address 150 homes, so I urge residents to apply quickly.”

Delivering a home energy efficiency scheme while the coronavirus pandemic is still with us is challenging. Arbed am Byth’s Service Excellence Manager, Jordan Price said, “We have introduced very robust measures to ensure we can work safely in your home through the Covid-19 pandemic. Our assessors and installers complete daily symptom checkers, work in bubbles, wear gloves and masks at all times and sanitise regularly. They always call ahead to check nobody has symptoms before they come to your home. While in the house, they will ensure social distancing.”

For further information on the scheme contact Arbed am Byth at info@arbedambyth.wales or call them 03300414647.

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Connect to Kindness Calendar launch

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Showing acts of kindness is now more important than ever, and this is why a kindness calendar has been launched as part of the Connect to Kindness campaign in Ceredigion.

Connect to Kindness is a regional campaign that was launched in July 2020 across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. The campaign aims to create more understanding about the benefit and impact of kindness to ourselves and others in our community.

As part of the kindness calendar, members of the public are asked to send in their photographs, artwork, or even prose of poetry, or anything that represents kindness and its power. The chosen piece will then be included in the calendar for a particular month in 2021.

Entries can be sent in via post or e-mail and must be submitted by noon on 22 November 2020. Full details can be found at: https://connecttokindness.wales/calendar/.

Cyra Shimell, “We hope the calendar will bring some fun at this unprecedented time. It will be interesting to see peoples various interpretations of what kindness means to them. Get as creative at you like!”

If you would like more information about this campaign, visit https://www.connecttokindness.wales/. You can also take a look at the Facebook page ‘Cysylltu â Charedigrwydd Ceredigion – Connect to Kindness Ceredigion’ to see some stories of random acts of kindness.

For more details contact Cyra Shimell, Community Connector Plus Development Ceredigion on cyra.shimell@ceredigion.gov.uk.

Share the message, as it all starts with one person, YOU!

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Business offer WG help in ‘non-essential’ shopping row

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THIS morning (Tuesday, October 27), the Wales Retail Consortium, CBI Wales and Association of Convenience stores presented the Welsh Government joint recommendation to resolve the confusion over non-essential items. The three industry bodies’ statement expresses the hope that the Welsh Government, ‘will agree to these recommendations and the people of Wales can refocus all their energies on respecting the Fire Break’. The recommendations come in response to confused and confusing messaging from the Welsh Government, which allowed its public health message to be drowned out over the weekend by rows over whether toasters, Lee Childs novels, and size 16 jeans were essential items for customers. The confusion was not helped by a mistaken tweet by supermarket giant Tesco which claimed women’s period products were not essential items when they are and always have been. The WRC, CBI Wales and ACS believe their recommendations will fulfil retail’s role in tackling the spread of the virus while allowing for discretion to be used on an individual basis – as recommended by Health Minister Vaughan Gething in a tense press conference yesterday, http://pembrokeshire-herald.com/61929/welsh-health-minister-defends-retail-restrictions/. The business bodies recommend:
  • To limit the spread of the virus and allow for individual discretion, retailers will prominently display Welsh Government approved signage in front of known non-essential items and in communal areas. The signage will make clear the government’s regulation and the need to abide by it.
  • This message will be reinforced through in-store announcements and social media messaging. Advising customers to put off non-essential purchases
  • We recommend the individual customer is trusted to make their own decision as to whether a product is non-essential or not, taking into account the notices displayed throughout the store and their immediate needs
  • If the customer goes ahead with the purchase of the item the final liability ought to rest with the customer
  • Retailers will remove special in-store promotional displays of non-essential items in order to minimise browsing and avoid triggering a non-essential purchase.
  • These recommendations would mean non-essential items are not removed from shelves – or cordoned off in stores – but large notices are placed in front of the products and in communal spaces informing customers of the Welsh Government’s regulations and the Welsh public are trusted to make the right decision.
They also say they ‘look forward to engaging with Welsh Government again this morning and we hope consensus can be reached’.
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