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Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Sunday, 24 January 2010
Over the past fortnight, Plaid Cymru has been surveying the advertised origin of both organic and non-organic milk on sale at supermarkets and large convenience stores throughout Ceredigion.
Of the 16 locations visited, six stores (37 per cent) did not sell any Welsh milk. These included discount supermarkets Lidl and Aldi, and the Iceland chain.
Only three supermarkets – Tesco in Cardigan, Sainsbury’s in Lampeter and CK’s in Aberystwyth – came out top and offered shoppers the opportunity to purchase both organic and non-organic milk from Welsh farms.
Organic milk from Wales was available at 50 per cent of the stores visited while non-organic Welsh milk was available at only 31 per cent of the shops.
The Co-operative – which has stores in Aberystwyth and Lampeter as well as owning the Somerfield supermarket in Cardigan – only stocked Welsh milk in its Lampeter store.
Commenting on these findings, Plaid Cymru’s Penri James said:
“I’m extremely disappointed that such a large proportion of Ceredigion’s supermarkets and convenience stores don’t offer Welsh milk to customers. It’s essential that we support our local agriculture industry as much as possible and I believe that supermarkets have a role to play to help consumers proactively purchase Welsh milk.
“Over recent years, supermarkets have been supportive in the campaign to provide beef and lamb originating from Wales on their shelves. I believe that it’s about time that they make more of an effort to do the same for Welsh milk”.
Penri James and Ceredigion AM Elin Jones have now written to the Chief Executives of the supermarkets and convenience store chains to highlight the need to stock Welsh milk. Letters have also been sent in instances where stores only sold Welsh organic milk.
Plaid Cymru’s AM for Ceredigion, Elin Jones, added:
“Penri and I have now written to each retailer highlighted in our survey, congratulating those who are already stocking Welsh milk while urging the others to do the same. We were particularly concerned that the Co-operative is only stocking Welsh milk at its Lampeter store, and have asked the chain’s Chief Executive why the same cannot be done at its Aberystwyth and Cardigan stores.
“There is clearly a demand for Welsh milk among consumers and, at present, this demand isn’t being met in all instances. I’d therefore urge Ceredigion residents to ask their local supermarket to start supplying Welsh milk if they don’t already do so. Consumer power is hugely influential on the activities of supermarkets”.
Plaid Cymru has been visiting local businesses in Cardigan to discuss their concerns about the impending increase in business rates.
Plaid Cymru’s Elin Jones AM and Penri James joined Cardigan County Councillors John Adams-Lewis and Catrin Miles to visit local traders and highlight what steps have already been taken by the Assembly Government to provide assistance.
The Local Government Minister in Cardiff Bay recently announced that thresholds to qualify for small business rate relief in Wales will increase by at least 20 per cent. The multiplier used to calculate the amount of business rates payable will also be reduced in Wales from 0.489 to 0.409.
However, the revaluation of business premises in England and Wales which is being organised by the Valuation Office Agency – an executive department of the non-devolved HMRC – will go ahead.
Following the tour of Cardigan’s small traders, Plaid Cymru’s Penri James said:
“I was very pleased to visit local businesses in Cardigan to hear first-hand their concerns about the impending business rates increases.
“In the current economic climate, I’m disappointed that the Westminster government isn’t providing more support to businesses and are instead conducting this revaluation of properties and increasing the employer national insurance contributions, which is little more than a tax on jobs.
“Unfortunately, the ability of the Assembly to respond is limited by the settlement that it receives through the Barnett Formula and this emphasises the need for a comprehensive review of how Wales is funded, as advocated by the Holtham Commission and the House of Lords”.
Ceredigion AM Elin Jones added:
“I’m glad that the Assembly Government has been able to provide some assistance to small traders who will see their business rates increase as a result of the Westminster-initiated revaluation of properties. The businesses we visited in Cardigan were pleased to know that steps are being taken in Cardiff Bay on this issue in recognition of the difficulties they face”.
Sunday, 17 January 2010
Thursday, 14 January 2010
There has long been a waiting list for allotments locally, and both local county councillor Rob Gorman and Aberystwyth Town Council have been active in campaigning for additional land.
The new land adjoins the existing allotment site near Min-y-Ddol, and will provide eight new allotments.
Plaid Cymru’s Councillor for Penparcau, Rob Gorman said:
“I welcome this decision by the county council. Many of us have been calling for this for some time. There's a five-year waiting list in the Aberystwyth area, and this will go some way towards meeting the rising demand from people of all ages who are keen to grow their own food”.
Plaid’s Penri James added:
“I visited the allotments with Rob Gorman last autumn, when the County Council were considering whether to lease this land and I also wrote to Cllr Ray Quant the Cabinet Member responsible for allotments. I am very pleased that they have listened and that the land will now be made available.
“Finding land for people who want to grow food is a key part of the ‘7 Steps to a Green Economy’ document which Plaid in Ceredigion will soon be launching. Allotments can save people money, as well as benefiting health and being a very environmentally sustainable use of land”.
Penri James believes that moves should be made to require networks to introduce automatic roaming where mobile users can use the signals of competing operators when their company’s own signal isn’t available.
“As a society, we have become increasingly dependent on our mobile phones and, as the recent snowy weather has shown, we they can be invaluable in emergency situations. However, there remain many areas of Ceredigion which cannot receive a mobile phone signal, and many more which don’t receive a service from all network operators.
“Over recent months, we have also seen many of our rural phone boxes disappear due to insufficient use – the reasoning being that everyone now owns a mobile phone. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to use a mobile phone in these rural areas.
“I therefore believe that it’s important to look at the need to require networks to introduce automatic roaming in rural areas, as is already the case in some other countries. This move would certainly improve mobile reception in many areas and allow customers to make greater use of their phones, which would be good news for both the users and mobile networks”.
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Monday, 4 January 2010
Hedges are protected under Statutory Instrument 1997 No. 1160 The Hedgerows Regulations 1997 (see http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1997/19971160.htm) and under those regulations any activity for a length in excess of 20m requires notification and consultation with the local authority. I undertook a desktop exercise and estimated the length removed to be in the region of 280m. It is the duty of the local authority to enforce the legislation in this matter. I understand that no consultation took place with the local authority before the removal of the hedge and its unclear whether the hedge qualifies for any of the exemptions cited in the Hedgerows Regulations 1997. As a layman I think not but would defer to someone who has knowledge on the application of this piece of legislation. I also wonder whether permission is required from the Royal Mail before work can be undertaken in the proximity of a mailbox.
Assuming the face value evidence that no exemptions exist or consultations have taken place then by removing the hedge, the contractor and the landowner have committed an offence and its now a matter of credibility for the Local Authority to do something about it. Local Authorities are often seen as an easy pushover for arrogant developers who will make a substantial amount of money should this land be included in the LDP for future development. I would urge the Council to put some effort into bringing proceedings against the instigators of this act and seek the restoration of the hedge at the earliest possible opportunity.