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WASPI campaigners raise concerns over loss of free bus passes

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A WOMEN’S pensions campaign group has written to the Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport expressing concern about plans to raise the age for free bus passes from 60 to state pension age.

At a recent meeting, members of Ceredigion Women Against State Pension Injustice (WASPI) were dismayed to hear of the plans in the Public Transport (Wales) Bill Draft Regulatory Impact Assessment published in July.

“This proposal really is unacceptable,” said WASPI joint co-ordinator Helen Lyall Williams: “It surely conflicts with the Welsh Government’s stated commitment to older people and to supporting the WASPI campaign.

“The government’s consultation earlier in the year was clearly inadequate. We had heard nothing of these plans until BBC Radio Wales rang and asked for a comment.

“They will not only increase social isolation among older people who will not be able to afford to travel by bus. There will also be a knock-on effect as the bus companies lose income and cut back further on their services.

“WASPI groups have been campaigning in England for free bus passes for women over 60. We have been proud to tell them that the Welsh Government was the first government in the UK to introduce universal free bus travel for older people. We held Wales up as a model of good practice. I am so disappointed to hear that this may change.”

WASPI member Rose Barter, from Cardigan, has just retired after working almost six years extra to get her State Pension. “We travel everywhere by bus nowadays,” she said.

“I rely on my bus pass for shopping and socialising. Bus travel isn’t just a free way of getting from A to B. It’s enjoyable. It can be quite sociable when you get chatting to other passengers. It’s also good for the environment.

“My bus pass really adds to my quality of life. Without it I wouldn’t be able to get around half so much.”

Welsh Assembly member Elin Jones said: “I’m very concerned about the planned rise in the age for bus pass entitlement, and the effect this will have on many older people initially in Ceredigion.

“People affected by the rise in state pension age will already have their finances restricted, this will be a further blow to them in particular.

“I will write to the Welsh Government and emphasise that we need to encourage bus usage, especially in rural locations, and that making it more difficult to travel by bus could have a knock on effect on services across the board.”

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Cooperation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Ceredigion County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) are working together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three facilities in the county – Plascrug Leisure Centre and Penweddig School in Aberystwyth and Cardigan Leisure Centre – will provide additional capacity in response to the unprecedented challenges currently faced by the NHS and social care services.

Further sites across the county continue to be scoped and further information will be provided as and when these are confirmed. The health service is also working with its university partners in Aberystwyth on opportunities for them to support the efforts.

This follows announcements made last week confirming additional capacity in Parc Y Scarlets and the Selwyn Samuel Centre in Llanelli and Bluestone National Park Resort in Pembrokeshire.

Dr Phil Kloer, Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Delivering this additional capacity in Ceredigion will be essential to help us manage patient flow over the coming weeks and we are extremely grateful for all of the support that we are receiving from Ceredigion County Council to help make this happen.

“We have followed the situation in Italy closely to learn where possible and to help our planning. Our European colleagues have provided feedback that patient flow and throughput is a critical factor in response to COVID-19 pressures.”

Eifion Evans, Chief Executive said “Ceredigion County Council is proud to be supporting Hywel Dda University Health Board in establishing our Leisure Centres and one of our secondary schools as facilities which will provide additional capacity as we prepare for the potential impact of COVID-19. This is a reflection of the close partnership working between the two organisations. We thank all staff who have been working tirelessly to prepare for and respond to this crisis.”

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Ceredigion Public House to be served with a prohibition notice

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On Friday night, 27 March 2020, officers from Ceredigion County Council`s Public Protection Team came across a country public house serving customers alcohol, and open for business in contravention of the recently issued Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020. Police assistance was called and the landlord will now be served with a prohibition notice. A number of other offences were identified and a report will be made to the Council`s Licencing Committee.

Inspections by the Council’s Public Protection Team during the week have shown that the overwhelming majority of local businesses have voluntarily closed when they have been required to do so by the emergency regulations. Other businesses, where permitted to do so, have quickly diversified from serving foods to be consumed on their premises to providing deliveries or takeaways.

Premises that have been permitted to remain open have diligently and rapidly adjusted to social distancing measures. The vast majority of the community recognises the need for, and the importance of these emergency measures and has willingly played its part.

Over 70 premises were inspected last week, however only one premises failed to follow the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 introduced.

The Council’s Public Protection officers will continue to monitor compliance, with support from the Dyfed-Powys Police if appropriate. Businesses and premises which breach the regulations will be subject to prohibition notices and fines. Businesses that continue to contravene the measures will be forced to close down. Individuals and companies who do not pay their fine may also be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose potentially unlimited fines.

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Appeal following assault

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POLICE in Aberystwyth are keen to speak to a ‘good Samaritan’ who gave the victim of a serious assault a lift.

Aberystwyth CID are making enquiries into an incident in the early hours of Sunday, March 22, in which a man sustained significant injuries.

The assault took place in the Bridge Street area, near to Trefechan Bridge, shortly after 2am.

Officers are appealing for witnesses, or anyone with CCTV of the area, to make contact with the investigation team.

Police are also keen to speak to another man who has provided the injured victim with a lift in a van to the Trefechan area shortly after the assault.

If anyone has any information regarding this incident, or can assist the police in any way, they are asked to email contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or call 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired you can also text the force’s non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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