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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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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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Pupils at Ysgol Henry Richard asked to self-isolate as COVID-19 case confirmed

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A SMALL number of pupils at Ysgol Henry Richard, Tregaron have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days following the confirmation of a COVID-19 case at the school.

The Contact Group have been asked to self-isolate as a precautionary measure in the first instance. All confirmed contacts of the positive case must remain at home for 14 days to reduce the possible spread of the virus to family, friends and the wider community.

In addition, pupils travelling on the same bus as the confirmed positive case have also been contacted and asked to self-isolate for 14 days again as a precautionary measure in the first instance. These pupils come from more than one Year Group from Ysgol Henry Richard.

Due to the strong procedures that have been put in place in the school, only a small amount of pupils are having to self-isolate. All parents have been contacted by the School and will also be supported by Ceredigion Contact Tracing Team.

The Council urges all parents to refer their children for a test if they develop any of the symptoms, which are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough
  • a loss or change to sense of smell or taste.

You can apply for a test on https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-covid-19-test or by phoning 119.

No further details will be provided regarding this matter.

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