More allotments needed

Plaid Cymru Councillor Alun Williams has called for more gardening allotments to be made available in the Aberystwyth area.
Speaking following a meeting of the 'Transition Town' group, the Plaid Cymru Councillor for the Aberystwyth Bronglais ward said:

"Aberystwyth currently has just 27 official allotments with a further eight temporary ones. There are a further eight out at Blaenplwyf. The waiting list currently stands at around 70 – 80 people with normally a five year wait before a plot can be offered. This is far too long.

"There was recently a very large meeting at the Morlan Centre on reducing our dependence on oil and becoming more self-sufficient. Looking at the size of the allotment waiting list, it is clear that the County is not providing sufficiently for the demand by people to be able to grow their own food.

"At a time when the Aberystwyth Masterplan is looking at the allocation of land around the town for various purposes it's important that we bear in mind that, whilst the Council obviously wants to get the best price it can for land around the town, we also need to remember our commitment to environmental sustainability and provide for local people who want to grow food themselves".


Bronglais ward get its own Rural Affairs Minister

This blog would like to congratulate our Assembly Member Elin Jones on becoming Wales’s Rural Affairs Minister. Elin has lived in Bronglais ward for many years.

She will be joining Ieuan Wyn Jones, Rhodri Glyn Thomas and Jocelyn Davies who have also been appointed as Plaid Cymru's first ever Government Ministers.
Commenting on her Ministerial appointment, Elin said:

"I am incredibly honoured to have been appointed as Rural Affairs Minister in the new One Wales Cabinet. After being in opposition for eight years, I'm now looking forward to the challenges that being a Minister will bring. I am particularly pleased that my portfolio in the One Wales Cabinet is dedicated especially for Rural Affairs since Plaid Cymru and others have called for this to become a reality for a number of years.

"My first Ministerial engagement will be hosting a meeting with the European Commission's Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, on Sunday and attending the Royal Welsh on Monday. However, as the daughter of a Teifi Valley farmer, I will also ensure that Ceredigion's voice is heard in the heart of government and my commitment to my constituency will continue to be my priority".

The One Wales agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party is arguably the most reresentative Welsh government possible, including, as it does, the largest number of AMs of any likely coalition and representing both the south Wales valleys and the rural areas of the Mid and North.

The text of the agreement can be seen at: http://www.plaidcymru.org/uploads/publications/281.pdf


Ystwyth Trail Cycle Route on track for completion


The Ystwyth Trail is a, so far, partially-built 21 mile long route for cyclists and pedestrians between Aberystywyth and Tregaron based around the old railway line to Carmarthen

The path starts off at Aberystwyth Football Club, goes across Pont yr Odyn footbridge, and down Felin y Mor Road. When all the work is done, it will then go along the route of the old railway line past Pen Dinas, through Rhydyfelin, Llanfarian, Llanilar, Trawsgoed, Ty’n y Graig, Ystrad Meurig and almost to Tregaron.

Old railways
Old railway lines are fantastic for cycle paths because they’re virtually flat paths, created with incredible effort by labourers in the 19th century. Often they had to dig straight through rock to keep the route flat. The Carmarthen line was closed in the 1960s after the Beeching report. If they’re not going to be used again for railway lines (which would, of course, be great) then they’re ideal for cycling and creating a cycle track is a fantastic way to make the best of all the work that’s been put into creating the tracks in the first place.

The path has received £1.4 million of Objective 1 funding because its recognised that it will create employment through the tourist industry.

Tourists v. local users
I’m slightly uncomfortable with the path being viewed as simply a route for tourists. For me it’s just as important that local people use it. And I’m particularly hoping that some people will use the section from Llanfarian, through Rhydyfelin into town to get into work in the mornings. This section will be tarmacked (the rest is compacted dust - not quite as fast as tarmac but still quite adequate for cycling.) so it’ll provide a good easy run into town. Certainly the inspector mentioned this in his report.

I’m not optimistic enough to imagine that it could make a big difference to the queues of traffic trying to get into Aber during the morning rush hour, which regularly stretch back as far as Llanfarian, but I do think we need to be offering people as many different transport choices as possible to reduce the congestion and it could make a small difference.

Compulsory Purchase Order
There has been a little bit of resistance from a few landowners along the path of the route so, after a public enquiry, the Council has now obtained a Compulsory Purchase Order to connect up some sections of the route that it’s not been possible to up to now and, most importantly, to build the Aberystwyth to Llanfarian section.

The Inspector at the public enquiry said that the Council’s proposal was well thought out and he said there was a compelling case in the public interest for the creation of the whole route. And of course landowners are fully compensated and the Council will work with them to erect any necessary fences and gates along the path.

The bad news
It’s not all good news. Towards the Tregaron end there will still be two sections of track that landowners have not released and that the Council has decided not to pursue as part of the Compulsory Purchase Order, even though they’re not in use and are very well suited to a cycle path. This means that in those places - near Trawscoed and near Ystrad Meurig - the route has to take fairly substantial detours along bridle paths and B roads which are quite steep in sections. That may be fine for committed, fit leisure cyclists but it does spoil the continuity of the route for local commuters and for families with small children.

I can understand why some landowners might feel threatened by the idea of cyclists going through a piece of their land but I think its based on misconceptions. People who use cycle routes are some of the most law-abiding sections of the population. There’s a wider public interest here and a wider economic interest for North Ceredigion in that cycle tourists bring quite a significant amount of money into an area. And I think its debateable whether its right for one or two people to be able to effectively veto the coherence, if you like, of the path for everyone. And that will lessen the economic benefits of the path.

But we have to accept what’s happened for now and, anyway, there are plenty of positives, particularly about the Aberystwyth end of the path. And I’m looking forward to next April when it should all be fully open.

Walkers and the disabled too
Of course, although we’re calling them cycle paths here, the paths are also great for walkers and, in many places, for the disabled who are now seeing parts of the countryside opened up that were never open to them before.

Sections in use now
Llanfarian to Llanilar and Trawsgoed
A section from the far side of Trawsgoed to approaching Ty’n y Graig
The section across Cors Caron

Work to be done soon
Work is taking place now at the Tregaron end
The Aberystwyth – Llanfarian section is due to start in October
The section between Ystrad Meurig and Ty’n y Graig will be started towards the end of this year.
It’s hoped that everything will be in place by April next year. Funding runs out in June so it will need to be done by then.

Despite the drawbacks I've mentioned, the completion of the Ystwyth Trail will be another step towards making Wales a cycle-friendly nation.

WANT TO SEE A COPY OF THE PLANNING INSPECTOR'S REPORT ON THE COMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDER? E-mail me your address at alunw@ceredigion.gov.uk and I'll send you a hard copy.


Full Masterplan Response


Firstly, I view this as a hugely positive document that the town has needed for some time. I fully support the high profile given to environmental issues, reducing the impact of cars and making the town more attractive for pedestrians and cyclists. I also support the criticism of the quality of recent developments and the call for higher standards in future.

Specific ideas I want to applaud are:
* Ensuring residents have an opportunity to park close to their homes – I very much hope this will give impetus to the Council’s consideration of residents’ parking and decriminalization.
* Attractive pedestrian and cycle routes and a layout that make non-car use an attractive choice
* The promotion of a rail shuttle and rail freight.
* The importance of Plas Crug Avenue and the possibility of extending it
* Improved access to Parc Natur Penglais from the town
* The identification of the potential of the harbour area
* The need for a ‘village centre’ in Penparcau
* Recognising and protecting existing quality streets, spaces and buildings – the architecture of Aberystwyth is impressive in many places but largely ignored at present
making more of assets such as the river corridor, coastline, green spaces and surrounding hills;
* A river walk-way between Trefechan Bridge and Pont yr Odyn
* The need to improve Glanyrafon Industrial Estate - there is no reason why industrial estates should be bleak and ugly, especially one next to a river. At the moment the roads on the estate don’t even have names.

Perhaps inevitably, I’ll spend a little more space commenting on the negative or questionable aspects of the plan as I see them but these should be taken in the context of my overall support for the plan.

North Road / Queens Road Tennis / Bowling Area
It’s difficult to see how the existing well-used open space uses can be maintained if the site is substantially re-developed. It should be borne in mind that there is currently a very attractive view over the bowling greens from North Road and this should be maintained.

The Arts
The Arts are given very little attention in the Plan, despite a superb Arts Centre and the presence of many nationally (Wales) important artists in the area. There is currently a group of local artists, some well-known, who are looking into the possibility of turning the Old Police Yard in Queens Road into a space for artists to use and exhibit. The town is much in need of a town centre place for them to work and display. I know they would be delighted to talk to LDA about their ideas.

A Llanbadarn Bypass
I was interested to hear in the verbal presentation that the team had not been fully convinced of the need for this. Since the mini-roundabouts were placed at the Llanbadarn junction it has become clear that what was previously thought of as an impossible junction to make good has now become far less of a blockage to the system.

I’m sure you are familiar with the idea that bypasses can create more traffic. I’m not at all sure that a bypass would have the effect on Llanbadarn that some people are hoping for, particularly if a Park & Ride and the football club are placed there as part of the package. I also note that the road through Llanbadarn is identified as a strategic route to the seafront.

Blaendolau and the Football Club
I’m not sure how the proposal to move the football club fits with the mention of the importance of protecting the integrity of the Blaendolau open space.

At the moment the vast majority of people attending football matches walk to the ground. Moving it to the outskirts of the town would immediately change attending football matches and the other activities held at the club to car-based activities. In addition there would be a net loss of playing field to the town.

It should be remembered that Blaendolau is one of the best quality training and tournament facilities in Wales. Various sports tournaments are held there. One of these, the ‘Ian Rush Tournament’, due to be held there in only a couple of weeks time, attracts youth football teams from all over the world, bringing considerable economic benefit. The Welsh Football Association bring professional players there to undertake their senior coaching qualification.

The loss of a significant amount of this quality sporting space to the town by moving the football club would be badly felt. My preference would be to substantially develop the existing football club site around the club itself.

Moving the Station
I understand the rationale for this but would need some convincing. The current location places the railway terminus perfectly in the heart of the town where, in an environmentally sustainable transport infrastructure, it should surely belong. I would prefer to see creative use made of the land alongside the line coupled with walkways across. The difficulties of negotiating with the railway authorities about any changes at all are, of course, well-known.

Areas of the Town
Dividing the town into zones has been a useful exercise. However I think you have missed the distinctive character of the streets on the Buarth and around the eastern side of Bronglais Hospital and also the existence of Trefechan as a community.

I hope you take these comments into consideration. I’m looking forward to when the more detailed sections of the Plans are released. Once again I’d like to say that I think the Masterplan makes a very welcome contribution to Aberystwyth’s future..

Yours sincerely

Alun Williams
County Councillor, Bronglais Ward, Aberystwyth

WANT TO RESPOND TO THE MASTERPLAN YOURSELF? The address is Steffan Roberts, Regional Development Manager, Welsh Assembly Government, Y Lanfa, Trefechan, Aberystwyth, SY23 1AS. steffan.roberts@wales.gsi.gov.uk
WANT TO SEE A COPY OF THE MASTERPLAN? E-mail me at alunw@ceredigion.gov.uk and I'll send you a copy.


Cefnogaeth y 'Masterplan' / Masterplan Support

Mae ‘Masterplan’ Aberystwyth a lansiwyd yn ddiweddar yn cynnwys cefnogaeth ar gyfer ardaloedd parcio ar gyfer preswylwyr yn dilyn argymhelliad cynghorwyr Plaid Cymru i’r ymgynghorwyr. Wrth ymateb i gwestiynau pan lansiwyd y ‘Masterplan’, dywedodd yr ymgynghorwyr y byddent hefyd yn trafod gyda’r Cyngor Sir ynglŷn â’r angen i drosglwyddo rheolaeth dros barcio o’r Heddlu i’r Cyngor. Mae hyn yn gam hanfodol cyn y gellir cyflwyno ardaloedd parcio ar gyfer preswylwyr.
The recently launched Aberystwyth Masterplan contains support for Residents’ Parking, following a submission to the consultants by Plaid Cymru councillors. When questioned at the Plan’s launch, the consultants said they would also be talking to the County Council about the need for parking control to be transferred from the Police to the Council, known as ‘decriminalisation’. This is a measure regarded as essential before a Residents’ Parking scheme can happen.

Yellow Line Consultation

The County Council's Highways Department is now formally consulting on plans to restrict parking on streets in the Bronglais and Buarth areas where over-parking has been causing serious access and passing problems. The plans, a draft of which was circulated to those most affected at the end of last year, have been modified slightly since then in the light of comments. All the proposals have been drawn up following specific requests from residents.

To summarise, the proposals are:
* Caradog Road - double yellow lines on the corner of the junction with Iorwerth Avenue. To prevent pedestrians being obstructed, to provide a refuge for passing cars and to allow cars to turn.
* Cae'r Gog - double yellow lines around the corners of the spur to Caradog Road to enable vehicles to turn the corners
* St David's Road - double yellow lines on the left side going towards the hospital at the Llanbadarn Road and Iorweth Avenue ends. To enable larger vehicles to get through. The lines in the draft proposals on the other side at the Iorwerth Avenue end have now been deleted following comments.
* Buarth Road - single yellow lines on the inside of the bend leading up from Llanbadarn Road. To enable cars to pass each other during the day. No restriction after 6pm

Getting the balance right between allowing sufficient parking space and maintaining safe access to the streets is never easy. On the one hand over-parking in narrow streets has led at times to them becoming impassable and to dangerous situations developing. On the other, restricting parking too much could make life more difficult for residents. Either way, everyone is welcome to comment.

The plans can be viewed in detail at the Town Hall reception from a date to be set early this month (July) or you can ask one of your councillors to bring them to you. Comments should be sent to the Highways Department, Neuadd y Sir, Stryd y Farchnad, Aberaeron, SA46 0AT.