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Castle enters digital world

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Superfast: Carwyn Jones at Cardigan Castle’s official opening

Superfast: Carwyn Jones at Cardigan Castle’s official opening

SUPERFAST CYMRU is connecting Cardigan Castle with the world and enhancing the visitor experience, First Minister Carwyn Jones has said. The First Minister was officially re-opening the iconic castle following a major refurbishment and heard how having access to fibre broadband is making a big difference.

Thanks to the scheme, the castle can now provide high speed wi-fi facilities on site for visitors, while enabling its staff to work more efficiently.

Thedeploymentoffibrebroadband by engineers from BT’s local network business Openreach continues to progress at pace with 130 premises on average getting access to superfast broadband every hour across Wales. In total, more than 437,000 Welsh premises – and more than 13,000 in Ceredigion, now have access to the technology as a result of the project.

Superfast Cymru, a partnership between the Welsh Government, BT, UK Government and the European Regional Development Fund is the largest of its kind in the UK.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “Superfast Cymru is bringing a 900-year-old castle into the digital world, allowing it to reach out to all corners of the planet faster and more effectively. Since the opening in April, there have been around 3,000 visitors, with the figures continuing to rise, and having access to fast fibre broadband is helping enhance their experience. The Welsh Government is committed to seeing Wales become a truly digital nation and I’m pleased Cardigan Castle is benefiting from the Superfast Cymru programme.”

Jann Tucker, Chair of the Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust (CBPT) which led the campaign to save the Castle, added: “During our first year of trading, we’re aiming to attract more than 30,000 visitors to the site, and to establish Cardigan Castle as one of west Wales’ leading tourist attractions. In a digital age, it’s vital that visitors and overnight guests are able to access high-speed wi-fi, whether it’s to browse the web over a coffee at our on-site restaurant 1176, or to share pictures of their visit on social media, the development will certainly enhance the overall visitor experience.”

Ann Beynon, BT Director for Wales, said: “Ensuring visitors to Cardigan Castle have as enjoyable an experience as possible is crucial to its future success. Tourists have high expectations and despite being a 900-year-old castle people will still want to be able to use their smartphones. The superfast broadband network that our engineers are building in Ceredigion – and across Wales – will enable Cardigan Castle to provide wi-fi access to tourists that visit this much loved attraction. Superfast Cymru is also playing its part in getting ‘poetry in motion’. With this new technology our modern day poets can now compose and send their poems globally from the grounds of Cardigan Castle – the birthplace of the Eisteddfod – and all in the blink of an eye.”

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Warning to drug users in Ceredigion over ‘Street Valium’

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POLICE are once again warning drug users in Ceredigion to take extra care when taking illegal prescription drugs especially when taken in conjunction with other drugs and/or alcohol. Mixing drugs, knowingly or unknowingly, can be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that drug users are making use of “Street Valium” at the moment and this is very concerning as individuals just do not know what these tablets may have been combined with. Valium, also known as diazepam – is a benzodiazepine. Combining opioids and benzodiazepines is particularly dangerous because both types of drug sedate users and suppress breathing”.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”

To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/

Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.

In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.

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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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