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Jail for illegal dog breeder

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AT Swansea Crown Court on 14 August, Steffan Lee Harries and Barbara Ray Howell were given prison sentences due to a number of serious offences, including animal cruelty. Steffan Lee Harries was sentenced to six months imprisonment with immediate effect; three months of which will be spent in custody and three months on licence depending on behaviour. His partner, Barbara Ray Howell was jailed for four months, suspended for 18 months due to being a young mother and also for having a smaller role in the criminal acts.

In addition, both have been banned from keeping dogs for five years. Harries has been banned from keeping poultry and sheep for five years.

The Crown Court ruling followed a hearing on 17 June 2019 at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court where Harries and Howell pleaded guilty to multiple charges of running a dog breeding business without a license. They also pleaded guilty to animal welfare charges and failures to dispose of animal by-products. They also pleaded guilty to trading standards offences that related to selling dogs as private owners on a website called pre-loved.co.uk.

The charges related to their former home of Waundwni in Tanygroes.

This followed a joint prosecution by Ceredigion County Council and the RSPCA, where the animals under the care of Harries and Howell were found in an appalling state of neglect. The RSPCA, with the assistance of the Police had to force entry into the locked buildings where dogs, chickens, pigs and horses had been left without food and water and no natural daylight.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd is the Cabinet member responsible for Finance and Public Protection Services. He said: “This is the first time that Ceredigion County Council and the RSPCA have worked together in a joint prosecution which used the expertise of both organisations and made full use of the court powers available to the council. This conviction should serve as a warning to those that breeding dogs illegally in Ceredigion and the high risks associated with such activity.”

RSPCA inspector Gemma Cooper said: “This was an illegal puppy farm where dogs and their puppies were kept in disgusting conditions which fell far below the minimum standard required. Even the working dogs were neglected, with an emaciated collie, lurcher and terrier all found on the premises. The poultry were dead or dying as we walked around and despite calling a vet to the scene, for many it was too late.

“Sadly, this is a sight we see in south and west Wales time and time again – but there is no excuse. All animals must have their needs met and respected.

“We are very pleased to work with Ceredigion County Council to combat this illegal trade and we advise anyone with animal welfare concerns to call us on 0300 1234 999 or with information about unlicensed breeding to call the council.”

The decision was taken to seize the most vulnerable animals, and they were taken into the protective care of the RSPCA. The remaining animals were then cared for carefully by the authorities. 47 dogs and 16 chickens were rescued. Harries also admitted a further animal welfare charge of failing to meet the needs of sheep that he had abandoned on rented land in Rhydlewis.

As well as sentencing the couple, later this year Swansea Crown Court will also be considering a Proceeds of Crime Act application made by Ceredigion County Council for the illegal dog breeding activity.

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Three services in two days for New Quay RNLI

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NEW QUAY RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was called into action three times in two days last week, firstly to a surfer near New Quay while on a training exercise on Thursday evening (17 June), then to a windsurfer in Aberaeron on Friday (18 June) and, while returning to station, a passenger boat in New Quay with a fouled propeller. 

On Thursday evening Dylan Price, New Quay RNLI’s helm was taking crew on a training exercise when they were requested by HM Coastguard to assist a surfer in difficulty in Llanina, near New Quay. Dylan said, “On arrival we found them safe and well so a false alarm with good intent. We then continued with our training which included search patterns, a man overboard scenario and boat handling drills.” 

Next, on Friday afternoon, in a strong northerly wind, the inshore lifeboat was tasked on service once again. Pete Yates, New Quay RNLI’s helm said, “We were requested by HM Coastguard to launch our inshore lifeboat at 1.40pm to a windsurfer in difficulty off Aberaeron. We made best speed up the coast in difficult conditions and arrived just as the casualty made it safely ashore, to be met by the New Quay Coastguard team. 

“On returning to New Quay we assisted a passenger boat with a fouled propeller. We were able to free the rope from the propeller and then returned to station. Good outcomes all round! Remember if you see if you see anyone in difficulty or you find yourself in trouble on the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

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Adjustments for Ceredigion’s Safe Zones are planned for Easter

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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.

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Wales is moving in the right direction to ease coronavirus restrictions

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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.

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