Ceredigion Cabinet finally says Yes to Civil Parking Enforcement

Ceredigion Council’s Cabinet voted on Tuesday to take on Civil Parking Enforcement. The decision, some 13 years after it was first discussed by the Council, will next year see the Council taking over the role of traffic wardens from the police, who have said they will withdraw their service from the end of May due to the lack of Council progress on the issue.

During the debate, the Cabinet Member for Highways, Ray Quant, acknowledged that he had begun to feel, “like King Canute” in trying to hold back the tide of opinion running in favour of the measure, whilst surrounding Councils all adopted it. He also acknowledged that it had been the action of the police that had finally made the decision unavoidable but also mentioned that Council officers had been, “pushing me and pushing me” on the issue.

Although non-Cabinet councillors like myself aren’t allowed to vote on the issue, we were allowed a peripheral role in the Cabinet debate on Tuesday. Although I’ve been a constant critic of Ray Quant on this issue, I did try to strike a striking a conciliatory note by acknowledging that he had made the right call on some other controversial issues (like weekly recycling collections and street lighting). I also asked the Council to seek a meeting with the police in the hope that they may find a way to maintain their traffic warden service until next year now that they are assured the Council will take it on after that.

As discussed here, here and here, Civil Parking Enforcement will allow the Council to recycle money from parking fines into improved local traffic management, whereas fines currently go straight to the UK Treasury. Civil Parking Enforcement is now likely to be introduced in Ceredigion around June 2012. It is also hoped that the measure will eventually enable the Council to adopt residents parking schemes around Aberystwyth town centre.

One interesting anecdote from the debate; In Blackpool, Civil Parking Enforcement was opposed by shop owners as they believed that improved parking enforcement in streets with short-term parking would discourage trade. When a survey was done, it was found that the majority of parking spaces in these streets were actually taken up all day, not by shoppers, but by the shop owners and workers themselves. When Civil Parking Enforcement came in and the shop workers had to park in the car parks, retail increased by over 15%. 


Major Bronglais funding announcement

Press statement on Bronglais Hospital released today:


"Plans for improvements to west Wales health services also move forward.

"The Welsh Assembly Government will invest £38million in Bronglais Hospital, Aberystwyth, Health Minister Edwina Hart announced today [Tuesday, 22 March].

"The final plans include:
• New emergency department, clinical decisions unit, and GP out-of-hours services – speeding up access to treatment and reducing inappropriate hospital admissions;
• Purpose-built day surgery unit, incorporating two day case theatres;
• New short-stay surgical ward;
• New maternity unit, including relocating antenatal and paediatric clinics;
• Refurbish existing accommodation to relocate pathology services to establish an integrated blood sciences department to improve turnaround times; and,
• Refurbishment of the main theatre suite.

 "Work to demolish old workshops and stores and the development of a new multi-storey car park and off-site car park has been completed to pave the way for the major improvements.

"Construction work on the new build is expected to begin in May 2011 and completed by February 2013 followed by refurbishment of the existing emergency department and outpatients and the development of the new maternity unit.

Mrs Hart said:
“This major investment in modernising Bronglais Hospital secures its long-term future. This demonstrates the Welsh Assembly Government’s commitment to provide first class district general hospital services for the residents in mid and west Wales.

“The new facilities will improve patient care by ensuring the Health Board can sustain and improve on our waiting times targets and improve the working environment of staff.”

Hywel Dda Health Board is developing business cases to improve health and social services in West Wales including plans for:

• £20m for new critical care and emergency assessment facilities at West Wales General Hospital, Carmarthen;
• £6m for a new renal unit at Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest;
• £20m for the development of a new hospital in Cardigan;
• £18m for increased capacity for Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli to improve facilities for short stay and day surgery;
• Developing an integrated health and social care facility in Aberaeron to replace Aberaeron Hospital; and,
• Plans are progressing on the development of a new health and social care facility in Tregaron.

Chris Martin, the Chair of Hywel Dda Health Board, said:
“This is wonderful news for the people of Ceredigion, South Gwynedd and North Powys. This significant funding approval made by Welsh Assembly Government secures the future of Bronglais as a District General Hospital. I hope this will reassure the public about our commitment to ongoing investment into the future of health and social services in Ceredigion.

“The Health Board’s other business cases in development will make sure that patients in Hywel Dda healthcare area are provided with modern, high quality services for the 21st century.”

The Health Minister, Edwina Hart, has approved the Final Business Case (FBC) for the re-development of Bronglais Hospital, Aberystwyth. The Welsh Assembly Government is fully funding the £37.978 million capital cost of this development.

The FBC is the final phase of a three-stage business case process for significant capital investment in the NHS in Wales. "

Update 23/3/11

Ceredigion’s Assembly Member Elin Jones has now also commented:

“I’m very pleased that this project has been signed-off by the current One Wales government.

“In going into government in 2007, Plaid Cymru ensured that the then hospital centralisation plans were dropped and I’ve fought hard to ensure that Bronglais remains as a District General Hospital.

“This funding confirmation now ensures Bronglais’ future as the major hospital serving all of Mid Wales and it will be almost impossible for the next Assembly Government to reverse a decision of this magnitude.”


Welsh tweeters at number three in the world's small languages

Welsh has the third highest number of Twitter users of all the world's minority languages, according to the blog Indigenous Tweets, with users in Aberystwyth being central to the scene.

The most prolific minority language group on Twitter is Haitian Creole with Basque next and then Welsh, followed by Frisian and Setswana,  a South African language. The site, which lists all Twitter users of minority languages in incredible detail (for example, apparently 29.5% of my tweets are in Welsh), records 1598 people as using Welsh on Twitter. The next highest Celtic language is Irish Gaelic on 771.

The Indigenous Tweets project aims to increase further the use of minority languages on Twitter. Any Welsh tweeters not on their lists can get themselves added. More information here.

Diolch i Hacio'r Iaith am adnabod y stori.


Assembly agrees funding for five more projects in Aberystwyth

The Welsh Government's Deputy Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Jocelyn Davies, has announced that the Aberystwyth Regeneration Area Partnership Board have approved a variety of projects for the town, including an ‘Adizone’ and multi-use games area at Min y Ddôl, Penparcau and a £1 million scheme to improve housing and living conditions in properties along the promenade.

Funding for improvements to Aberystwyth’s bus station and the area around the town’s train station was also granted, as well as an approval in principle for the development of the Mill Street car park site.

Following the announcement, Ceredigion's Assembly Member, Elin Jones, said:

“I’m very pleased that the Deputy Minister is now in a position to officially confirm that five projects in Aberystwyth have been approved for funding under the town’s SRA scheme.

“These are very welcome projects which will improve the town’s amenity for both local residents and visitors alike, and I look forward to seeing tangible progress on these schemes in the near future”.


Ceredigion votes Yes by 2:1

The Yes for Wales campaign in Ceredigion achieved two thirds of the vote in yesterday’s historic referendum to extend law-making powers for the Welsh Assembly. The decisive victory for the Yes campaign across Wales, in which 21 of the 22 local authorities voted Yes, greatly shifts the balance of power from Westminster to Wales and paves the way for Wales to plough a much more distinctive political furrow than we’ve previously been allowed.

Ceredigion achieved the second highest turnout in Wales, just 0.29% behind Carmarthenshire, with what Radio Wales today described as, “one of the best organised and disciplined Yes campaigns”. This maintains the county’s tradition as a good participator in the democratic process. Ceredigion also had the second highest turnout at the referendum which established the Assembly in 1997.

In keeping with the pattern across Wales, the gap between the Yes and No votes in Ceredigion widened by 14% compared to 1997 to over 32%.

Although the referendum question appeared to be something of a technicality, and the campaign a low-key one due to the No campaign’s refusal to allow government funding for a proper debate, the long-term significance of the vote will be far greater than that of the coming Assembly elections on May 5th.

The result in Ceredigion:
Yes 16,505 (66.24%)
No 8,412 (33.76%)            Turnout 44.07%

1997 Ceredigion Result
Yes 18,304 (59.2%)
No 12,614 (40.8%)       Turnout 57.1%