Ceredigion to pursue cruelty-free cleaning policy

Placeholder Img 1Ceredigion Council today agreed to look into adopting a policy of only using cleaning products which have not been tested on animals.

Having been lobbied by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection at the last Plaid Cymru conference, I presented a motion to the Council proposing that only products approved under the BUAV’s Humane Household Products Standard would be used in future.

Council officers see little problem with the idea and think there would be minimal cost implication. The scheme works in a similar way to Fairtrade which Ceredigion is already signed up to.

Councillors at the meeting wanted to check out the practicalities but agreed to the principle and directed their officers to produce a report which will hopefully lead to the idea becoming Council policy.


Aberystwyth developers request more greenfeld land for housing

Developers in the Aberystwyth area have proposed a number of greenfield sites for housing development in addition to those proposed by the Council in the deposit version of their Local Development Plan. The new sites proposed are:

*  Land at Ropewalk Fields at the foot of Pen Dinas off Penparcau Road in Trefechan (pictured).

*  Land on the seaward side of Pen Dinas, this time behind the new houses towards the far end of Felin y Mor Road, Trefechan.

*  A substantial area of land on the north side of Primrose Hill in Llanbadarn Fawr

*  A small section of land between the new hospital car park on Clarach Road and the existing Plashendre

*  Land 'for various uses' opposite Bryncarnedd Caravan Park on the Clarach Road

*  A large section of land just past Midfield caravan park on the Southgate–Capel Seion Road

*  A large section of land on the north side of Capel Seion

*  A small section at the Llanfarian end of the Rhydyfelin-Llanfarian cyclepath

The proposals are currently out for consultation. A link to have a closer look and submit views is here. Click on the 'Aberystwyth settlement group'.

The deadline for submissions is July 12th.

One reader has pointed out this on-line petition to the Welsh Government about over-inflation of housing numbers in LDPs which may be of interest.


Council meetings should allow filming

I was talking at Friday's Aberystwyth bloggers meet-up about Jacqui Thompson, the blogger who was ejected from a Carmarthenshire Council meeting for filming on her mobile phone and subsequently handcuffed and put in a cell by Carmarthen police. The incident has now been picked up by the wider press and the general outcry looks likely to lead to a change of thinking by Councils.

journalist/blogger from Cardiff said she was used to going to Assembly meetings and seeing those fully televised so couldn't understand how Councils could be any different. I must say I agree. Councils allow public and press to attend most meetings so there would really be no difference in principle if council debates were televised, if anyone was sufficiently interested, that is.

There's no doubt that being filmed can be stressful, and most local councillors aren't really geared up for that degree of limelight, but, now we're in a new technological age, I think it's something that has to be accepted at all levels of government in the interests of openness and transparency in the 21st century.

I don’t buy the idea, promoted by some elements of the English press, that anyone taking part in democracy effectively has no right to a private life, but a general rule of thumb should be that any meeting open to the public should allow filming from the public gallery, whether by professional broadcasters or the general public. At least there won't be any misquotes.

Update: Since writing this post I've come across this petition to the Welsh Government which takes the idea a step further.


Aberystwyth loses its traffic wardens

Ceredigion, and Aberystwyth in particular, has come in for an unaccustomed spot of UK-wide publicity recently (here and on tonight's One Show) with the story about the breakdown of street parking control (covered regularly on this blog). This is my take on it:

Councils across the country are taking over control of street parking from the police. It’s called Civil Parking Enforcement. All of Ceredigion’s immediate council neighbours have either already done this or have announced firm plans to do so.

Money that police traffic wardens claim in parking fines goes straight to the UK Treasury. It’s not even retained by the local police force. The great advantage of Civil Parking Enforcement is that, unlike the police, Councils can use the money from parking fines to reinvest in local traffic management according to local needs. It’s a complete no-brainer.

Ceredigion Council have, uniquely, over a period of many years, and for reasons of what I’d describe as stubborn conservatism (others have described it as burying their heads in the sand), simply refused to take up these powers.

The police, under increasing financial pressures, and having given up on the nice approach, finally lost patience with Ceredigion Council and announced it was withdrawing its traffic warden service.

Shocked out of their complacency, and never actually believing that the police would take such drastic action, despite all the warnings, the Council then belatedly agreed to take on the responsibility for street parking that they’ve tried for years to avoid. The problem is, the whole scheme takes a year to put together.

I must admit I thought that, once the police had a firm date from the Council for taking on their enforcement role, they might delay their withdrawal. Apparently not. The police have stuck to their decision and made their traffic wardens redundant on May 31st, although have said they will still prosecute people causing an actual obstruction.

Some people have initially welcomed the loss of wardens. My feeling is that they’ll change their minds as the realities unfold. Already the disabled are finding people parking in their bays. Shops are starting to worry that cars parking all day in the two-hour parking bays meant for shoppers will start to affect trade. One or two narrow streets have already come close to being blocked to large vehicles by cars parked on both sides. In the remaining ten months or so before the Council gets its act together, the streets of Aberystwyth look like being an interesting experiment in anarchism.



Around 90 people packed into St Anne’s Church Hall in Penparcau, Aberystwyth tonight for a meeting on the possible closure of the much valued Council-run Bodlondeb residential home. This has arisen because the current building doesn’t meet CSIW (Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales) standards.

The meeting, called by Ceredigion Against the Cuts, heard there were three possible options being considered:

1/ Upgrade the current building at a cost of around £300,000

2/ Close the place and move the residents to Hafan y Waun, the Methodist Homes Association accommodation at Waun Fawr, by leasing a wing from them under the control of the local authority.

3/ As above but transfer residents and staff to the Methodists Homes Association.

Council Officers who attended to present the issues, together with the Cabinet Member, were on the ropes for much of the meeting and it was made very clear that Option 1 was the overwhelming preference if the meeting.

The next key date in the process will be when the feasibility study is presented to the Council’s Cabinet on 12th July in Aberaeron. Concerned residents were encouraged to lobby their councillor with their views leading up to that meeting.

The photos show Elin Jones, Assembly Member, holding forth and Hag Harris, Council Cabinet Member for Social Services, explaining the Council's position.


New Park & Ride for Aberystwyth agreed

A major new Park & Ride car park for the north-east side of Aberystwyth was today agreed by Ceredigion’s Development Control Committee.

The site will be a 200-space extension of the current hospital & university car park in Clarach Road, near the top of Penglais Hill, which opened earlier this year. This has proved to be well-used by hospital staff, many of whom have stopped using the shuttle and now use the walk from the car park to work as part of their fitness regime. The new extension will be opened up for use by the general public

The new car park, which will be funded by the Welsh government, is intended for long-stay commuter parking to relieve traffic congestion on the northern approach to town and to reduce the pressure on street parking which makes the lives of town residents very difficult and has led many people to move out of town altogether. It's viewed as a key part of the traffic management programme for Aberystwyth.

The plan is that the car park will operate from 6.30am–8pm with a bus service into town to support it.  The site will be barrier-controlled with no access after 8pm and car park lights switched off to avoid nuisance to local residents. The parking area will be shaped to preserve the wood close by.

The next priority for the Council’s Highways Department is now to find a site for a similar Park & Ride to the south of the town.