Aberystwyth Street Cycle Race 2011

The televised Halfords Tour Series street cycle race came to Aberystwyth on Thursday with professional cycle racers, including some expecting to be in the Olympics, competing around a tight track along the Prom and through the old town. Cold, gale force winds hampered the event, with the main race having to be shortened. However, although those from further afield were put off by the weather, there was a good turnout of  local people to watch what turned out to be a really spectacular event for the town. Televised on ITV 4, The race, organised by the Ystwyth Cycle Club, will be returning to Aberystwyth again next year. 

Photos of the event here
ITV 4 iplayer here
Full report from a cycle sports perspective here


Lib Dem town councillor resigns

As if the Lib Dems didn't have enough trouble elsewhere, one of their town councillors in Aberystwyth, Martin Shewring, has resigned from both his party and the Council. It's understood that the resignation is due to internal tensions within the local party and that he now intends to call a by-election in the town's Rheidol ward and stand again as an Independent.


New Court planned for Aberystwyth Harbour

The Courts and Tribunals Service has earmarked Y Lanfa in Aberystwyth harbour as the proposed new County and Magistrates Court for the area. Detailed conversion and extension plans have been drawn up to convert half the building, which has been vacated by the Welsh Assembly, into a combined court to serve Aberystwyth and Mid-Wales. A formal public consultation is due to take place in the next few months. Plans to site a new court on derelict land next to the Welsh Assembly Government office in Boulevard St Brieuc have now been abandoned in favour of the new proposals.


Ceredigion Against the Cuts Rally

Ceredigion Against the Cuts staged a highly successful rally in Aberystwyth yesterday when 250 people marched through the town centre led by the local samba band before holding a rally at the Castle.

Newly elected Assembly Member Elin Jones was one of the speakers, alongside members of the PCS and Unison Trade Unions who had organised the rally together. Other speakers included Huw Diprose from Aber Students Against the Cuts, Bethan Williams from Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, Jill Evans the Plaid Cymru MEP, Mark Ferguson from Unison Scotland and Sian Wiblin, Wales TUC President. A group of campaigners for the retention of Coastguard services in Wales travelled up from Milford Haven.

40% of the Ceredigion workforce are employed in the public sector. More photos of the event can be seen here


Elin wins Ceredigion again

Plaid Cymru's Elin Jones retained her Ceredigion Assembly seat fairly comfortably last night with a majority of 1,777 over the Lib Dems. The turnout was 51.9%, the second highest in Wales.

Elin is pictured above making her victory speech at Aberaeron Leisure Centre. Liz Evans (Lib Dem) and Luke Evetts (Conservative) are standing behind.

The Plaid and Lib Dem candidates showed there was no personal animosity with kind words about each other in their speeches. Liz Evans said Elin Jones was, "Someone I like and respect". This picture was taken of them together after the result was declared. More photos of the night can be seen here

Both Plaid and the Lib Dems lost some of their vote share with Labour, Conservatives and Greens all increasing theirs. The Greens, with candidate Chris Simpson, scored their highest ever stand-alone vote in Ceredigion, saving their deposit for the first time. However they did not achieve their aim of winning a Regional List seat anywhere in Wales. 

On the Mid & West Wales Regional List, the big story is former Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion Simon Thomas getting back into front-line politics after he was elected on the top of the Plaid Cymru list for the region. Nick Bourne, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, lost his seat. Labour's Joyce Watson was re-elected whilst Rebecca Evans (Labour) and William Powell (Lib Dem) were newcomers elected on the list.


Four good reasons to vote for Elin Jones in Ceredigion on Thursday

1/ All outside observers agree that Elin has performed extremely well as an Assembly Government Minister. Having relaxed into the role, she has developed an engaging combination of being utterly committed to Ceredigion, the seriousness and gravitas expected of a minister, alongside a refreshing and sunny informality unusual amongst politicians.

2/ The One Wales Labour-Plaid coalition government in Cardiff has worked well for Wales because it has provided a vital balance between urban and rural areas. If Labour win this Assembly election outright that balance will be lost. Attention will be focussed on the geographically small urban areas of the country and the gains made for Ceredigion in the last few years won’t happen again. Labour are unlikely to go into alliance with any other party. It’s vital for Wales as a whole that Plaid are back in government.

3/ If it wasn’t for Plaid Cymru we wouldn’t even have an Assembly to vote for. If it wasn’t for Plaid activists we wouldn’t have won the Yes vote to devolve more powers from Westminster in March. If it wasn’t for Plaid over the last 80 years the Welsh language would be all but finished. This is a party with vision that achieves things.

4/ I don’t know of any perfect political parties. But Plaid give a much-needed alternative and left-of-centre perspective to the stale, moribund Tory/Labour/LibDem parties who have increasingly coalesced until it’s hard to tell the difference . It’s only us here in Wales who can vote for Plaid Cymru. Let’s make sure we do.

My top six reasons for voting Yes to AV

1/ Looking at the people who support a Yes vote (Plaid, Greens, most of Labour, oh yes the Lib Dems) and those campaigning for a No vote (Conservatives, BNP, Rupert Murdoch), it’s very clear who the good guys are.

2/ The Conservatives have been in power in the UK for two-thirds of the last 100 years. And yet only once in that time have they actually won a majority of the vote. Is that how democracy should work? AV would keep the Tories out for good unless they can get over 50% of the vote – that’s why they’re funding the No campaign. Anyone even mildly left of centre should vote Yes to AV

3/ The BNP know they’ll never get more than 50% of the vote anywhere. They can only get elected under First Past the Post (FPTP) – that’s why they’re backing the No campaign.

4/ The utterly dishonest and scaremongering tactics of the No campaign.

5/ If the No campaign wins that’ll be the last chance to get a better electoral system in a generation. The idea of voting No in order to hope for a referendum on a better system next time is absolutely mistaken. There won’t be a next time, at least not in the next decade.

6/ First Past the Post may work best in a horse race but politics is about real life, and too important to be treated like a sport. Most people agree our political system is not working well. We need a better way of finding a genuine consensus on how we want to be governed. Instead of electing an MP who the majority oppose, as in most FPTP elections, AV produces that community consensus in each constituency. Instead of sticking with yah-boo politics, we can then work together for genuine solutions.