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Illegal off-roaders targeted after near misses with walkers at beauty spots

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POLICE are clamping down on illegal off-roaders in rural areas after a number of complaints and near misses with walkers over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police received several reports of off-road motorbikes being ridden illegally in Nant yr Arian forestry, near Aberystwyth, and Dyffryn Crawnon, near Brecon, on Sunday, July 19.

Among the reports were complaints of off-roaders riding recklessly on footpaths and biking trails, with near-misses leaving walkers concerned for the safety of visitors to the area.

Natural Resources Wales staff also reported wild campers leaving significant amounts of rubbish behind.

Aberystwyth Sergeant David Hawksworth said: “In response to these concerns, officers from Aberystwyth Response Team, Ceredigion Rural Crime Team and the Roads Policing Unit, in conjunction with staff from NRW, carried out a proactive operation to tackle the problem of illegal off-roading.

“During the course of the day, we located and dealt with more than 30 off road bikers, as well as a party of wild campers who were responsible for damage to the trail network and failing to dispose of refuse.

“This is an example of Dyfed Powys Police’s commitment to working with our partners to safeguard both visitors and residents, and to preserve our beautiful countryside for those who come to enjoy it.”

A multi-agency day of action also took place in Dyffryn Crawnon to disrupt illegal off-roading in the Brecon Beacons National Park following a number of complaints in recent months.

Breconshire Neighbourhood Policing Team and Powys Rural Crime Team worked with BBNP wardens, volunteers and NRW on Sunday, speaking with residents and visitors to highlight the issue.

Around 45 scramblers and off-road bikes, and two 4×4 vehicles were spotted in the area, and enforcement resulted in six warning being issued, as well as a small quantity of cannabis being seized.

Sgt Hawksworth said: “While we appreciate that people want to come and enjoy the beautiful countryside we’re lucky to police here in Dyfed-Powys, we ask that they respect the area and leave it as they found it.

“We’d like to remind all members of the public – both those who live in these areas, and who travel here – that antisocial behaviour, littering, and reckless or illegal use of off road vehicles will not be tolerated.

“We want everyone to enjoy the beautiful unspoilt environment safely, responsibly and lawfully, and as a result our officers will respond robustly to any reports of illegal or antisocial behaviour which damages the environment or threatens the safety or enjoyment of others.”

Andy Rendell, of Natural Resources Wales, said: “Now that travel restrictions have been eased across Wales, we are seeing an increase in visitor numbers at our sites.

“We’ve had to take special measures and carry out safety checks to be able to re-open to visitors. Riding motor vehicles on footpaths, bridleways and purpose built mountain bike trails is illegal, dangerous and unacceptable, so clamping down on illegal off-roaders is vitally important to make sure that our visitors can remain safe during their visit.

“Working with Dyfed-Powys Police, we were able to target specific hotspots and take proactive action, as well as issue reminders to people to respect the area, behave responsibly and help look after our beautiful countryside by disposing of their litter appropriately.

“This robust approach is also about protecting the environment, nature and wildlife on our sites. Illegal off-roading can damage those environments causing destruction that might take years to repair, if repair is possible at all.

“Please respect the Countryside Code; leave nothing behind you and treat others the way you would like to be treated.”

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Ben Lake MP stands up for Ceredigion’s hospitality sector in Parliament

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A WESTMINSTER Hall debate, brought about by an online petition signed over 200,000 times, saw MPs on both sides come together to shine a light on the challenges currently faced by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and supply chain businesses across the UK.

During his contribution to the debate, Ben Lake MP emphasised the importance of the hospitality industry to Ceredigion’s local economy. Ceredigion is home to nearly 400 food and accommodation businesses, including 75 pubs, and together hospitality businesses employ 4,500 people in the county. This equates to over 16% of all employees, without accounting for the many supply chain jobs that are dependent on the sector, such as those found in breweries, food wholesale, and catering equipment hire businesses.

Figures published by UK Hospitality have shown that approximately 41% of hospitality businesses suggested that they would fail by mid-2021 and only one in five sector businesses have enough cash flow to survive beyond February.

Ben Lake MP said: “The vaccination programme of course offers some hope that we will see the level of Covid disruption reduce significantly this year, but hospitality businesses across Ceredigion tell me that they are deeply concerned about their immediate prospects for survival.

“I support calls for the Treasury to provide additional funds so that businesses can be supported to bounce back once restrictions have been eased, and to pause employer national insurance contributions for furloughed employees as a way of alleviating the burden on businesses that are still, in many instances, required by law to close. I also urged the Treasury to consider extending the business rates holiday for the forthcoming financial year, as well as extending the hospitality VAT reduction scheme into 2022.

“Not only would these support measures give businesses the support they require to see out this pandemic, it would also avoid the terrible situation whereby businesses that have previously received Government support are forced to close for good – leaving their employees without a job and previous Government support in vain.”

While there will be no direct action as a consequence of this Westminster Hall debate, it is hoped the result will put increased pressure on the UK Government to consider the proposal more seriously.

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Lifeboat Operations Manager in New Year’s Honours list

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Richard Llewelyn Griffiths the Lifeboat Operations Manager of Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station has been recognised for services to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Wales.

He has been awarded a BEM.

Having served as a RNLI volunteer for an impressive 47 years, it is his role in the last 21 years as Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) which has earned him the most respect.

His local knowledge has provided reassurance to casualties and crews alike when launching in difficult conditions.

His operational decision-making and station management skills are outstanding, and he is greatly valued by crew, management, volunteers and coastal personnel both past and present.

He has contributed greatly towards Aberystwyth being recognised as a ‘benchmark’ Inshore Lifeboat Station, serving as an example to the whole institution of how a station could and should be run.

Richard said: ‘I’m very surprised but honoured to be receiving a BEM – the news still doesn’t feel real. My father was awarded a BEM in 1988 and I still have his medal at home, so to be awarded one myself for my work with the lifeboats is a great privilege. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of characters during my time with the RNLI – both at Borth and Aberystwyth – and continue to volunteer alongside a good crew today.’

Nationally, a total of six Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers have been recognised for their vital role in helping the charity save lives at sea through the New Year’s Honours.

Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive said: ‘Following a challenging 2020, it is particularly pleasing to see these RNLI volunteers recognised in the New Year’s Honours list. Together, they personify the RNLI’s ‘One Crew’ ethos, representing the variety and diversity of roles from a former full-time mechanic to shore crew and fundraisers to station managers, who collectively deliver a shared vision to save every one. On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, congratulations to you all for being recognised for your longstanding service, hard work and selfless commitment. And thank you for everything you do to help the RNLI save lives at sea.’

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Temporary closure of Minor Injuries Unit in Cardigan confirmed

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AS PART of its response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hywel Dda University Health Board says it has temporarily closed the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) in Cardigan in order to redeploy clinical staff to support the COVID 19 response within Ceredigion.

The MIU, which is based in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre and normally operates from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, will temporarily close with immediate effect. The situation will be under constant review and normal service will be resumed when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

In the meantime, minor injuries help and advice is available as follows:

– visit the 111 symptom checker (https://111.wales.nhs.uk/)
– visit your local pharmacy
– call 111
– please do NOT self-present to the GP reception in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre as they do not deal with minor injuries.
– for emergency care the A+E departments are as follows:
· Glangwili Hospital A+E Carmarthen SA32 2AF
· Bronglais Hospital A+E Aberystwyth SY23 1ER
· Withybush Hospital A+E Haverfordwest SA61 2PZ

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