COLIN HARDING, a model railway layout builder based in Ceredigion has been sentenced to a 6 month custodial sentence, suspended for 15 months, after pleading guilty to fraud and supplying unsafe electrical goods.
Colin Harding, of Pontsian, Ceredigion whose trading names included ‘Model Railway Layouts’, had pleaded guilty to four fraud offences and one safety offence earlier this week at Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court. He was also sentenced to 120 hours unpaid work.
The Court heard how Harding had taken payments of over £15,000 from customers as part of his business which he ran from home. He offered a service to design and construct model railway layouts but failed to provide any orders to those customers that he had defrauded. The Court heard that when he did supply a layout to one of the complainants, it was considered so unsafe by an expert electrical engineer who examined it that there would have been a high risk of electrical shock to anyone using it.
Harding gave a range of excuses to his customers for non-completion of work, including debt and other personal problems. His solicitor, told the court that Harding had spent the deposits on general living costs.
District Judge David Parsons noted in his summing up that the persistence of the frauds, the amount of money involved and the continued excuses given to his clients, made these serious offences and therefore the sentence immediately crossed the custody threshold. However, given Harding’s lack of previous convictions he suspended Harding’s six-month sentence for 15 months and ordered Harding to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay compensation of over £4000 to the complainants.
Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet member with responsibility for Public Protection said: “Dishonest traders need to be aware that persistent offending of this nature is likely to attract harsh penalties. The Ceredigion Public Protection team acts not only to protect consumers from dishonest traders, but also to help maintain trust in the honest traders who are in the majority in Ceredigion’s business community.
“I urge any consumers who believe that they are being defrauded by unscrupulous businesses to report the matter to Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040505 (Welsh language line) or 03454 040506 (English language line). The Public Protection team works in partnership with Citizens Advice and any matter reported will be notified to the relevant local authority.”
Adjustments for Ceredigion’s Safe Zones are planned for Easter
SAFE ZONES were originally implemented in July 2020. The key purpose of the Safe Zones and other measures introduced by Ceredigion County Council is to help protect our community’s health by reducing the risk of Covid infections.
Across Wales, infection rates remain higher than they were last summer, so measures are still needed to reduce risks as Wales wide restrictions are relaxed, soon to be followed by the easing of UK restrictions. With more people expected to holiday in Wales and Ceredigion we need to have measures in place that help people visit shops and services in our towns safely.
Proposed relaxations to current restrictions will have an impact. From 27 March self-catering accommodation is likely to re-open and people will be able to travel freely within Wales. Then from the 12 April more retail units are likely to be allowed to open, self-catering will open in England and the travel restrictions between England and Wales are likely to change with students also expected to resume face to face teaching.
Feedback was sought on the Safe Zones that were introduced in Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Cardigan and New Quay. The feedback was gratefully received and has been taken into account when putting plans in place for Easter.
New measures will be introduced for the Easter holiday period from week beginning the 29 March. The changes reflect the feedback received. These changes will be monitored and reviewed for the summer.
The arrangements for Ceredigion safe zones for Easter are as follows:
- Aberaeron – to retain the existing layout with some changes to parking provision in the town, including additional Blue Badge provision.
- Aberystwyth – to resume daily road closures but make changes that allows access to Bridge Street and Queen Street; to make Pier Street one way; to allow access for blue badge holders to Eastgate; to reverse traffic direction in Baker Street and Corporation Street; to provide more blue badge parking in Baker Street; to allow access from the promenade along Terrace Road and Bath Street; and to allow access into Cambrian Place.
- Borth – to create some pedestrian passing places and erect more signage.
- Cardigan – to close off parking bays in the High Street to allow more space for pedestrians. More extensive measures are planned for the summer that involves new road layouts.
- New Quay – to reintroduce closures and make minor changes.
The daily road closures in Aberystwyth will be between 11am and 5pm Monday to Saturday. In New Quay they will be between 12noon and 5pm every day. The daily road closure in both towns will end at 5pm on 17 April.
The public need to remain cautious and vigilant whilst the vaccination programme continues to be rolled out. We thank residents and visitors for following the guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone in Ceredigion.
More information can be seen on the Council’s Safe Zones web page.
Wales is moving in the right direction to ease coronavirus restrictions
THE NUMBER of coronavirus patients being treated in Welsh hospitals is at the lowest for three months, Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething has revealed at a briefing today (Feb 8).
The R number is below one, it was confirmed – the most recent estimate from SAGE is that R is between 0.7 and 0.9 in Wales.
He also confirmed that the latest figures show the testing positivity rate has fallen in Wales below 10%, which means Wales could soon be moving is from alert level 4 to alert level 3.
Mr Gething said: “There are some encouraging signs that the number of people needing hospital treatment for coronavirus is starting to fall.
“The number of people with confirmed Covid in our hospitals is at the lowest since 8 November and we have also seen a reduction in the number of people with coronavirus needing intensive care.
“Overall, we are seeing cases of coronavirus fall. Monday’s figures show there are around 115 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people in Wales.
“But this varies widely across Wales.
In Wrexham, rates are above 220 cases per 100,000 people, although this is falling. In Ceredigion, the rate has risen over the last seven days to 56 cases per 100,000 people. “The positivity rate – this is the percentage of tests, which return a positive result every day – is also falling. It now stands at just below 10%.
“This is still high, but it’s a lot lower than the very high rates we were seeing before Christmas, when we had overall rates of more than 650 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of more than 25%.”
BAM communities hesitant to get vaccines
Concerns have been growing in recent weeks about an apparent hesitancy from some people in black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to have the Covid-19 vaccine. Which is why Mr Gething also told the briefing that work was being done to counter some of the misinformation about the vaccine, which is common among some groups and communities.
He said that Welsh Government was closely monitoring vaccine uptake to make sure there are no barriers to take-up.
Enhanced Covid-19 testing introduced for care homes
Further Covid-19 testing for care home staff is beginning this week to help identify infectious individuals sooner and manage outbreaks more effectively, the Health Minister has announced.
The enhanced testing programme will involve the twice weekly testing of asymptomatic care home staff using rapid lateral flow test devices.
A £3 million funding package has been agreed to support additional testing in care homes.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:
“The protection of the most vulnerable people in our communities has been a priority during the Covid-19 virus outbreak.
“Care home staff, local authorities and health protection teams continue to work tirelessly to prevent the introduction and onward transmission of Covid-19 in our care homes.
“While we are making good progress with the roll-out of our vaccination programme, testing remains pivotal in our response to the pandemic to help identify infectious individuals within care homes sooner and manage outbreaks more effectively.”
Local health protection teams will also be able to consider the introduction of daily testing for a period of 10 days in care homes where there is an outbreak. This enhanced testing is in line with the ‘test to safeguard’ priority described in the refreshed Welsh Government Testing Strategy.
Lateral flow tests produce results within 20 to 30 minutes allowing for positive individuals to be identified and isolated much more quickly than through the current testing process.
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