Aberystwyth's new bandstand

These artist's impressions have been submitted with the planning application for the new bandstand on Aberystwyth Prom. 

The plans are described in the application as, "a new two-storey public performance space and restaurant building". They include, on the top floor, a 72-seat cafe/restaurant with an outside balcony containing a further 29 seats. The ground floor is a 150-seat public performance space, with room to also walk around the outside and a public toilet. The development will be funded by the Welsh Government as part of Aberystwyth's Regeneration Area status.

The current, somewhat more modest, bandstand is below.

Update 15/10/13
Just received - a manufacturer’s photo of the material.  I'm told this, "Illustrates its suitability for this water’s edge location where the building will reflect the subtly changing tones of light from both the sky and the sea.

"Rockpanel Chameleon is finished with a unique crystal layer which means that the surface of the material appears to change colour depending on the angle it is viewed from and the changing effects of light.

"It has unique sustainability properties being manufactured from a minimum 30% recycled material, and is 100% re-cyclable with no downgrading of the product in the re-usage recycling phase. It is also highly efficient in the use of natural materials for its manufacture and the product has been developed in parallel with the passive housing concept. Rockpanel has also been developed to resist all weather conditions and to limit maintenance requirements to a minimum. The boards do not rot or delaminate and have a 10 year warranty and an expected  minimum durability of 40 years."

By the way, since this is the subject of a planning application, I'm not expressing a view, just providing information.


Rail survey for central Wales launched

A new survey has been launched aimed at demonstrating the demand for an improved rail service to Aberystwyth.

Following the backtracking on the previously agreed introduction of an hourly train service on the Cambrian Line, the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth Rail Liaison Committee has been funded by the Welsh Government to conduct an exercise amongst the public of central Wales to gauge demand.

It’s very important that anyone who cares even slightly about rail services in the region fills in the survey either on-line or on a hard copy which will be available at various places. It's very clear to me that there are a wide range of people - commuters, students, shoppers, business travellers, tourists - who would use a more regular service and that this could significantly benefit the local economy, not to mention the environment. We need a big response to this as the outcome could shape our rail services for many years to come. 

The survey is here  (click on the linguistic choice in the left hand column) and is open till October 20th. Hard copies can be filled in at Aberystwyth Tourist information centre and many other places.


Arriva to pull out of Ceredigion

Arriva have announced the ending of their bus services in Ceredigion and the closure of depots in Aberystwyth, New Quay, Lampeter and Dolgellau. 

The company’s commercial services though the county will stop on 21st December and the 585 subsidised route, which Ceredigion County Council helps to fund, will finish on 15th February next year. 46 staff have received redundancy notices. 

The closures look like this:

From 21st December:
20  Aberystwyth - Cardiff
40  Aberystwyth - Carmarthen 
40C  Lampeter - Carmarthen
50  Aberystwyth - New Quay
x94  Wrecsam - Dolgellau - Barmouth

From 15th Feb 2014:
585  Aberystwyth – Tregaron - Lampeter

Details of all bus services running in Ceredigion are here

Whilst Arriva have fulfilled their statutory duties in terms of giving notice of the cuts, it’s very disappointing that more warning couldn’t have been given to allow other companies and agencies time to see what could be done to maintain these key routes through the county. In fact, at the time of writing, Ceredigion County Council had still not received formal notification of the plans.

As I've blogged about before, the Welsh Government have cut bus funding  by 25% this year and the effects of this had already started to be noticed with Arriva pulling out of some more minor services at the end of July. 

In a sane transport environment, everyone would be given plenty of notice and enabled to plan ahead for these kinds of changes. However the 1985 Transport Act, in which bus services were de-regulatedenables commercial companies to make decisions like this at very short notice and without consultation.

Arriva’s abrupt announcement actually makes a very strong case for the re-regulation of bus services and full devolvement of transport to Wales. Although transport is a devolved matter, the laws that govern it unfortunately aren't and this ties our hands in developing the kind of coherent bus system most of us in Wales would support.

Although, as a fairly regular bus user, I don't normally have problems using Arriva, there's no denying that the company are very unpopular with local bus campaigners who have accused them for years of running a poor service. 

The best case scenario now is that local bus companies, of which there are several and who Ceredigion Council has a very good relationship with, could pick up the routes that are being lost and bus users could actually end up with a better service than Arriva has been providing. The County Council will certainly be doing anything it can to help facilitate this.

Update 5/10/13: Constructive talks held with Welsh Government yesterday. Ceredigion, Gwynedd and Carmarthenshire Councils are actively pursuing solutions together for maintaining these routes