Llandysul school plans to go ahead

Ceredigion Council today voted to endorse the recent decision of their Cabinet to establish a new school for all children between 3 and 19 in the Llandysul area and to close five primary schools. There were angry scenes in the public gallery, to coin a journalistic phrase, when the result of the vote was announced as around 30 parent demonstrators shouted and held placards as they walked out.

The opposition Plaid Cymru group on the Council had proposed that, instead of school closures, a federation should be created in the area with existing primary schools under one headteacher but this was narrowly defeated 17 – 14.



Hywel Dda Health Board are consulting on changing the official name of Carmarthen Hospital to Glangwili from the current 'West Wales General Hospital'. The hospital's official name has always seemed odd when there are actually three other large hospitals in West Wales - Bronglais in Aberystwyth, Withybush in Haverfordwest and Prince Philip in Llanelli (not overly happy about that last name either).

Elin Jones, Ceredigion's Assembly Member says,

“I've always called the hospital Glangwili. Having been brought up in the Lampeter area, it's been my family’s hospital and I never went to see my grandmothers in West Wales General. However, I went several times to Glangwili!

“In my experience only NHS managers have referred to it as West Wales General Hospital, and not patients and visitors to the hospital. I believe that it’s better for all District General Hospitals to be known by their local names – after all, they're all hospitals in west Wales, and no one hospital in particular should hold the name for all of West Wales”.

The online poll will be available on the
Hywel Dda Health Board’s website until 9th July.


Ceredigion & Powys to share highway services

Ceredigion and Powys Councils are planning to increasingly share their highway services in an effort to cut costs.

The two councils have been meeting for some months to sort out arrangements and are now in agreement that they can work more closely together on a regular basis following the holding of workshops between the staff of the two authorities.

The working together is likely to involve sharing highways contracts and workloads to take advantage of economies of scale. Ceredigion is also working with Powys on waste. The Councils have promised their staff the plans will involve no redundancies but that, when vacancies arise, they will be looked at across the two authorities. Responsibility for any work will remain with the individual authorities.

As an illustration of the kind of pressures highways authorities are going to be under in the new financial climate, the new Trunk Road budget is due to go down from £16.3 million per year to £8.1 million from September.

Gwynedd have also been involved in the talks but want to do more research before agreeing to take part. It may be that they’re also considering an arrangement with Denbighsire, Conwy and Ynys Mon. The idea of involving the private sector was thrown out unceremoniously at a meeting of Ceredigion councillors several months ago.

Ceredigion and Powys working together fits in with the Wales spatial plan which identifies Aberystywth as the main town in mid Wales and a town of national significance, as shown by the locating of the new Assembly offices at Parc y Llyn.


Plaid call in Llandysul school plans

Plaid Cymru have today called in the recent decision of Ceredigion's Council Cabinet to create a new school for all children aged 3-19 in Llandysul and to close five existing primary schools in the area. The calling in motion has been signed by Ellen ap Gwynn, Catrin Miles and Ian ap Dewi. The issue will now be discussed at a special meeting of the Council's Education Scrutiny Committee on 28th June ahead of a full council meeting on June 30th. As reported below, a similar proposal to create a new large school in the Tregaron area and close further primary schools is due to be discussed in the Cabinet meeting on 6th July.


Aber University selected as possible Olympic mountain bike training camp

A tweet just in from Aberystwyth University tells me they've been selected as a possible pre-2012 Olympic Games training camp for mountain biking, presumably due to the proximity to Bwlch Nant yr Arian and Coed y Brenin mountain bike tracks coupled with the good sports science facilities at the University.

Meanwhile, today's street cycling races in the town (see photo) went extremely well with entrants from all over Wales and several races over-subscribed.


Prom bikes to be organised this summer

Motorbikes will be given a designated place to park on Aberystwyth Prom and banned from parking wherever they please. That’s the decision agreed by the Ceredigion Cabinet on Tuesday. The plan follows numerous complaints over the last couple of years at the way bikers have been commandeering the full width of the Prom on some summer weekends, at times forcing pedestrians to pick their way through them in order to pass.

Some local people have called for bikes to be banned from the Prom altogether but the majority view recognises the economic value to the town of the large number of bikers, many from as far away as Shrewsbury, who enjoy a leisurely Sunday ride through the bends of Powys and North Ceredigion before ending by the sea at Aberystwyth. The mostly mature bikers are impeccable in their behaviour but, without parking being organised in some way, have often allowed haphazard parking to get out of hand.

The new parking area will be a seven metre wide strip of the Prom running alongside Marine Terrace from the North side of the snack bar by the bandstand for about 100 yards towards Constitution Hill and will accommodate around 100 bikes.


Aberystwyth roundup

After a bit of a hiatus on this blog over the past couple of weeks, here’s roundup of local stories:

Ceredigion’s Council Cabinet has voted to build a new Welsh medium school for all pupils aged between 3 and 19 in the Llandysul area. The plans will involve the closure of five small primary schools – Llandysul, Coed y Bryn, Aberbanc, Pontsian and Capel Cynon. A similar proposal for the Tregaron area is to be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting on 6th July.

The next round of public exhibitions on the proposed wind farm at Nant y Moch started on Wednesday in Penrhyncoch. The new proposals have reduced the number of turbines down to 64 from an original 106. The final decision wil be taken by the PCI , probably in 2012. If permission is given, the project could be completed by 2017. Further exhibitions will be held on:
Thursday 17th June, Y Plas, Machynlleth 3-8pm
Friday 18th June – Neuadd Goffa, Talybont 3-8pm
Saturday 19th June – Neuadd Capel Bangor 9am-2pm

Aberystwyth Art Centre has been credited with contributing £10.65m to the local economy each year in a study by a Cardiff-based concultancy firm. This amount has apparently increased by 50% over the past five years.

After a few teething difficulties with negotiating new contracts, Tai Ceredigion, the county’s new housing association, have undertaken to cut the grass of all its sheltered accommodations on a three-weekly cycle, significantly better than the performance of Ceredigion Council who previously managed the buildings.

A planning application for an extra 28 new housing units at Llys Ardwyn, on the site of the old Penweddig school, is the subject of a prolonged tussle between the developer and Ceredigion’s planning department. Last week’s meeting of the Council’s Development Control Committee agreed to ask planning officers to negotiate a smaller scheme. The Council’s Highways department also has concerns about the amount of traffic the new units would generate.

Hywel Dda Health Board are hoping that money saved from the revamped Bronglais Hospital scheme (see story below) can go towards a new health resource centre in Aberaeron.

Ceredigion Council has announced that sales of the various town centre council offices sold off following the building of new offices on the outskirts of Aberystwyth amounted to almost £850,000.

The Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth has launched its new report, Zero Carbon Britain 2030.
The report looks at political and economic solutions to the challenges set by climate change.


Lib Dem policy changes begin

This blog avoids too much political sniping. But it does seem that a significant point was reached on Tuesday when Ceredigion's MP Mark Williams and other Lib Dems voted against including Trident in the government's forthcoming Strategic Defence Review, despite having given assurances during the election that they would oppose the massively expensive weapons system. The vote, which would have forced the government to consider scrapping the £100 billion programme as part of their financial cuts, came as an amendment to the Queen's speech proposed by Plaid Cymru, the Greens and the SNP. More details here and here. This could be the first of many Lib Dem policy changes as a result of their alliance with the Conservatives.