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Government to halts competition law and considers bringing in army to deliver fuel

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THE UK GOVERNMENT is to suspend competition law to allow oil firms to target fuel deliveries at petrol stations following recent panic buying.

Petrol stations in Ceredigion, and across the UK, have struggled to keep stocked over the last few days, with several running dry altogether. Other forecourts have run out of certain fuels, with diesel it seems, in particularly high demand.

Officials said the move would make it easier for companies to share information and prioritise parts of the country most at need.

It follows days of long queues at the pumps, after fears of disruption to the fuel supply sparked larger than usual demand at the petrol pumps.

The news comes after it emerged that hundreds of soldiers could be scrambled to deliver fuel to petrol stations running dry across the country. The plan expected to be considered by Boris Johnson on Monday (Sept 27).

The prime minister will gather senior members of the cabinet to scrutinise “Operation Escalin” after BP admitted that a third of its petrol stations had run out of the main two grades of fuel, while the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents almost 5,500 independent outlets, said 50% to 90% of its members had reported running out. It predicted that the rest would soon follow.

Conceived years ago during the planning for a no-deal Brexit, “Operation Escalin” would mean hundreds of soldiers being drafted in to drive a reserve fleet of 80 tankers. It is understood that it would take up to three weeks to fully implement, because some of those mobilised may already be on other deployments and others could be reservists. Escalin was touted as an option last week, but government sources downplayed the chance of its activation.

Announcing the measure to exempt the oil industry from the Competition Act 1998, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the government had “long-standing” contingency plans to maintain fuel supplies.

“While there has always been and continues to be plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals, we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains.

“This is why we will enact the Downstream Oil Protocol to ensure industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure disruption is minimised.

“We thank HGV drivers and all forecourt staff for their tireless work during this period.”

Transport secretary Grant Shappson on Sunday urged people to “be sensible” and blamed “one of the road haulage associations” for what he called a manufactured crisis, suggesting on Sky News that the group had leaked details from a meeting last week about driver shortages at fuel firms. However, the Road Haulage Association branded it a “disgraceful attack” concocted to “divert attention away” from the government’s handling of the issue.

BP, Esso, Texaco and Shell have introduced a £30 limit on fuel purchases after motorists were seen filling multiple jerry cans as the government warned the public not to panic buy fuel.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We are experiencing temporary outages in a small number of areas. We have good availability of fuel, and we’re working really hard to ensure regular deliveries to our petrol filling stations across the UK every day.”

A BP spokesman said: “We are experiencing fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites in the UK. This is being caused by delays in our supply chain due to a shortage of qualified drivers – this issue is impacting industries across the UK.

“Most of the 1,200 sites we supply across the UK remain supplied and open. However, with the intense demand seen over the past two days, we estimate that around 30% of sites in this network do not currently have either of the main grades of fuel. We are working to resupply as rapidly as possible. Sites that have multiple grade-outs may have closed for fuel purchases – we do not have an estimate of this number.

“We continue to work hard with our haulier supplier, Hoyer, to optimise fuel distribution and to minimise the level of disruption, keeping key sites supplied and restocking as rapidly as possible. The sites affected are changing as we continue deliveries.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Shell added: “We are working hard to ensure supplies for customers. Since Friday we have been seeing a higher-than-normal demand across our network which is resulting in some sites running low on some grades.”

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Education

Ceredigion shortlisted for Youth Excellence Awards 2021

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THE YOUTH WORK EXCELLENCE AWARDS is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate outstanding youth work projects, youth workers and those involved in youth work across Wales including volunteers, managers and community partners.

Youth work provides and facilitates an environment within which young people can relax, have fun, and feel secure, supported and valued. Through non-formal and informal educational opportunities and experiences, youth work approaches challenge young people to enhance their life chances.

In 2019, Ceredigion Youth Service were successful in having two projects and one volunteer shortlisted with two winning their respective categories. This year, Youth Worker Rebecca Williams has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Youth Worker category.

Team Manager for Community Youth Work and Prevention, Gwen Evans said: “We decided as a service to nominate Rebecca because we recognised the outstanding efforts and commitment that she has shown throughout the pandemic and continues to have an exceptional impact on the lives of young people. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Rebecca has adapted her work to be both digital and in-person focussed depending on the needs of young people, ensuring that young people do not feel isolated and are included in online activities, phone calls and door step visits which have recently increased to wellbeing walks and structured activity groups.”

In addition to this, Ceredigion Young Farmers Club have also been shortlisted for the award ‘Demonstrating excellence at a local level in Partnership Planning and delivery’ for the collaborative approach that they’ve shown throughout the pandemic.

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Schools, Lifelong Learning & Skills, Support and Intervention. She said: “Young Farmers Clubs across Ceredigion have been supporting their local rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. From delivering essential groceries and collecting prescriptions to walking dogs and checking in on the most vulnerable, YFC members, young people, have stepped up and rallied around their communities. We feel that the response of Ceredigion YFC during the pandemic is an excellent example of how the firm foundations of good quality Youth Work has made a positive difference to the lives of vulnerable people and communities during an incredibly challenging year.”

Elen James, Corporate Lead Officer for Porth Cymorth Cynnar said: “It is fantastic for the service to have these recognitions for the hard work and resilience that has been shown throughout this period. It’s a testament to them as individuals and the teamwork that has been shown for the benefit of young people and their communities. We have also recently been awarded with additional Youth Support Grant funding to develop Welsh language activities as well as developing the work around early emotional and mental health support for young people. This will enable us to continue to work closely and effectively with a wide range of voluntary and third sector partners to develop opportunities for children, young people and their families.”

All nominations will be assessed by a panel of judges made up of young people and representatives from the youth work sector in Wales. The Award Ceremony will take place virtually on 9 December where all finalists will be announced.

For more information about the work of Porth Cymorth Cynnar and the Support and Prevention Service, visit their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page at @GICeredigionYS. You can also visit their website at www.giceredigionys.co.uk or email porthcymorthcynnar@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Community

Studt’s Funfair confirmed for return to Aberystwyth next month

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THERE will be a fun fair in Aberystwyth, from Monday, 15 November until Monday, 22 November for eight consecutive nights, Vernon Studt of Studt Fun Fairs confirmed this week to The Ceredigion Herald.

Vernon Studt said: “We have had constructive talks with Ceredigion County Council and will be returning to Aberystwyth and putting on a good show.

“We have been visiting Aberystwyth since 1837 and I am almost certain that last year was the first time in 183 years that there was no fair in the town in November.

“People will be welcome to wear masks, but they will not be mandatory. All we ask is that people behave responsibly and follow the guidelines.”

The fair and market will be open from 4pm on weekdays and 2pm on weekends.

Vernon added: “We are excited to be returning to Aberystwyth and I am sure children in the area are looking forward to it too.”

Cardigan fair will also return and will take place on Wednesday, 10 November.

The road along Park Avenue will remain open during this time as a new home has been found for the market stalls.

They will now be set up across the road on the site of the former Arriva depot, which was demolished earlier this year and has been hosting the fortnightly farmers market over the summer. Cardigan fair will also return and will take place on Wednesday, 10 November, it is understood.

Image: Rose Voon

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Community

Ceredigion celebrates Shwmae Su’mae Day 2021

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SHWMAE Su’mae Day is celebrated annually on 15 October.

The purpose of the day is to show that the Welsh language belongs to everyone – fluent speakers and learners.

This year, Cardi Iaith have arranged various activities and events to celebrate Diwrnod Shwmae Su’mae in schools across Ceredigion. Games, quizzes and competitions – there’s something for all pupils and even families to get involved in.

Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of the Council, said: “The Welsh language is extremely important to us in Ceredigion. We have hard working and dedicated Welsh speaking staff across Council services and we want to encourage people to contact us in Welsh and use those Welsh language services. So let’s start our conversation, today and every other day with Shwmae. Give it a go!”

More than 90 Ceredigion County Council staff studying on the Council’s Work Welsh scheme this year will have the opportunity to compete in a quiz on Wales and Welsh to celebrate Shwmae Su’mae day.

Follow Cardi Iaith on Facebook for the latest throughout the day.

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