Sunday, 30 December 2012

Something inspirational


How many people can resist temptation and stick to their principles? Of those, what percentage are politicians?

Well, here's one. The world's 'poorest' president, who gives away most of his salary and doesn't see himself as poor. He's also a vegetarian and cares about sustainable development. If all politicians had similar ethics then we'd be in a much better place. Fingers crossed for 2013!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Something tasty - Fry's products

We've been meaning to start doing reviews on the blog for a while. Time to get started!

Imitation meat products serve a few useful functions. Although some vegetarians avoid them, preferring to explore all of the exciting meat-free cuisines and ingredients from around the world, some people who have gone vegetarian for ethical reasons (rather than health or because of just not liking the taste of meat) find that they miss the tastes they grew up with. Meat substitutes can be a great comfort food, meaning that you can give up the cruelty of meat production without having to miss out on the flavours you are used to. It is also handy when creating meals for unadventurous non-vegetarians who are adamant that every meal should contain something meat-like. You can then knock up a meal that they'll be familiar with. The very good news is that nowadays the quality of meat substitutes are amazing. Some companies make products so realistic that occasionally vegetarians have a hard time eating them!

Linda McCartney foods have done a good job of creating fake meats to entice non-vegetarians to switch, or cut down on meat, for over 20 years; the products can now be found in every supermarket. However, there are plenty of other companies which make even better products, and we hope to feature some of them. One of those companies is Fry's, and you're sure to see their distinctive green packaging in more and more places. One of the great things about them is that all their products are suitable for vegans as well as vegetarians; whereas Linda McCartney foods, and supermarket-brand equivalents, are often not suitable for vegans due to small amounts of unnecessary animal products. Also the Linda McCartney foods brand is owned by a company which also farms meat, whereas smaller, independent companies like Fry's have no connections with killing animals. Quorn is another widely-available brand that is owned by a multinational company and whose products aren't suitable for vegans due to the use of eggs (which were from battery-farmed hens for many years). So Fry's win out: life is simpler when a company's whole range is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters! You can find out more about Fry's here, and note that in the last Ethical Consumer round-up of fake meat products (2006) they got a really good ethical score - see below.


Some of the Fry's products

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Trolley trails



Shopping trolleys being dumped is a big problem, a form of litter and a hazard. More than 3,000 shopping trolleys dumped in rivers every year, at a cost to the taxpayer of over £150,000. In places with rivers (e.g. Aberystwyth) the dumped trolleys are an eyesore and a potential hazard to swimmers/kayakers/birds etc.

You would think that retailers would do all within their power to prevent this. If they locked the trollies up at night they couldn't be stolen; deposit systems encourage people to return them. And retailers should collect them as soon as possible if any go astray, so they don't end up in rivers.

CIN members have regularly reported abandoned trollies, even taken them out of rivers occasionally. Recently there was a mass theft of trollies from the retail park in Aberystwyth. On Thursday morning there were around 8 trollies from the retail park dumped along a connecting cycle path, obviously all taken at once by a group. The trollies came from a mix of retailers including B&Q and Morrisons. It was reported to the retailers that morning (probably by multiple path users!), answered with thanks and promises to collect them immediately.


Some of the trollies that were dumped

That would be great, except that most of the trollies were still there today, including some from B&Q. Same trollies, same places: B&Q hadn't moved theirs. This can be a frustrating situation for local residents - those are popular paths for strollers, runners, cyclists and dog-walkers.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Planning permission is where it goes wrong

[New images added below, 19th November]

With greener streets comes less pollution, happier people, and a better environment. However, the county and town planning departments for Ceredigion seem to allow developments without requiring any significant form of greening at all. Take the recent 'Yr Hen Aelwyd' flats built on the site of a historic building on Llanbadarn Road in Aberystwyth as an example. The site was ideal for the incorporation of some trees and bushes, but instead the county council allowed development that was not in keeping with the area at all, and instead is mostly just car park with frontage right up to the main road (see photos below). Thankfully the older buildings on Llanbadarn Road play their part in making the area look green and impressive, but if Ceredigion County Council keep allowing this new type of concrete and brick development with no greenery then the future roads of Aberystwyth will be dull and dreary, sterile places. The county council should include requirements for trees, bushes and green spaces as part of the planning process for all developments. Without that there are missed opportunities all over the county. 


Crammed up to the road, imposing brick 

The view from one side, not one green area, bush or tree incorporated

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Fuel prices and cycling


Fuel prices
Whenever the Government increases taxes on fuel there are huge protests from groups like 'FairFuelUK', the RAC, road haulage companies, car drivers and so on. However, environmentally the increases are a good thing. What else would seriously make people consider other forms of transport, or how far they travel to work? What else would discourage people from commuting large distances or making unnecessary journeys? There is over-use of cars everywhere, often for short distances that could easily be walked. Watch the roads and see how many journeys are one person per car. We’ve already seen wars over the availability of fuel (more here) and that is only going to get worse. Society needs to change radically, in many ways, and fuel increases are probably only a fraction of the shock that we’ll have to face if we’re not to screw up royally. Most of the organisations supporting campaigns to lower fuel tax are guilty of promoting car use and road building, and of campaigning against sustainable alternatives, which is part of the reason we’re facing such a screwed future. Their support of a campaign is a warning sign. Greater restrictions on private car ownership are one of the unpopular things we must face in the future.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Think about the wildlife



Bonfires
Please see the advice above - many people start building a bonfire months in advance of 5th November. It's normally great to be prepared, but in this case animals like hedgehogs and some mice can move in to the pile of wood, thinking "Great! Somewhere to hibernate!" Then they get burnt to death when the bonfire is lit during their hibernation. Therefore please build bonfires in one location, and move the wood to another place nearby before lighting it, in order to make sure that there is no wildlife nesting in there. Then the bonfire can be a cruelty-free celebration for everyone. There is further advice here.

Fireworks
As well as being a wasteful way of watching your money go up in smoke (and sparks), many domestic pets and wild animals are terrified of fireworks. Therefore, if you must light them, please restrict fireworks to the 5th November only - at least that way it is just one night that scares the animals, not a whole week (or longer) of terror! Better yet, consider something less destructive. Here are some useful links:

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Transport in Ceredigion


Cars
Are you interested in lift sharing? midwalescarshare.com lets you register journeys where you could share your car with a passenger, or register to find journeys that match where you want to go. It's an environmentally-friendlier option than one car per person, and is also much cheaper when someone else is sharing the petrol cost!


Public transport
This month there will be a workshop where people can discuss the good and bad points of public transport in Ceredigion. It is organised by the Public Transport Users’ Committee (PTUC), an independent committee that advises the Minister responsible for public transport in Wales on strategic issues relating to public transport.

The workshop will be in Aberystwyth on Tuesday October 30 from 13.00 till 15.00 in the Merched Y Wawr Building, Vulcan Street, Aberystwyth. There will be refreshments. The workshop is open to anyone who wants to come and discuss transport integration issues in the Aberystwyth area.

Contact Elly Foster at ellyfoster@tiscali.co.uk or by phone on: 01570 471476 for more information.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The cove


The slaughter of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises, and small whales occurs in Japan each year. Starting on September 1st and usually continuing through March of the next year, fishermen herd whole families of small cetaceans into a shallow bays, then stab them to death (or leave them to drown once mortally wounded) until the water turns red with blood. There is more information on the Sea Shepherd site (including how you can help) and Facebook pages. They also have a page of videos.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Visible litter


Have you ever thought that grass verges look worse after the council has cut them? The reason being that they cut the long grass but leave behind all the litter that is revealed. This is the case throughout Ceredigion.

This month we asked Ceredigion County Council (Department of Highways, Property & Works) why they don't pick up the litter they reveal, even though it is one of their responsibilities. Their answer was that they contract external people to do the cutting, and don't ask them to pick up litter too - it is just ignored. The Council does not go around the next day collecting the litter, it is just left to look a mess and blow around.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Green burial in Ceredigion

Green burial is an important environmental topic. We have a massive global population. We all die. The means with which our remains are treated have a huge impact on the environment. For example, if granite is quarried and transported in order to cover green land in slabs of stone then we're losing diversity and wildlife space. Is there an alternative? Yes. Burial in green spaces with a living memorial such as a tree, bush or flowers means that not only are new natural spaces developed which are full of restful beauty, but these new spaces are protected from development for houses, supermarkets, roads etc. Symbols of new life and hope instead of increasing rows of leaning cold stone that will one day be fenced off by a council as a safety hazard.
"Green burial, sometimes known as Natural burial or Woodland burial is a rapidly growing alternative funeral choice with over 220 sites being developed nationwide since 1994. It provides a much more environmentally friendly burial option than cremation, which creates air pollution whilst using up precious fossil fuels. Moreover, by planting a tree instead of a headstone, an eco funeral actually helps to mop up surplus carbon in the atmosphere."  
Source.
There is some useful information in this two-page article from the Big Issue (October 30th 2006).


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Thought provoking


'Prominent scientists sign declaration that animals have conscious awareness, just like us' - the top scientists all agree that animals are conscious and aware "to the degree that humans are". This is good news for those who want scientific backing. Of course, this has never been in question for many people, but it sometimes takes science a few hundred years to catch up.

Let's hope the scientists at Cardiff University read the article above: they're currently cutting up kittens for their research. Maybe their labs should be renamed as chop shops.

We'll end with a quote from Richard Holloway:
"It is easy to fall into cynicism or despair as we contemplate what the human species has done to itself and to the planet that bore and nurtured it. Our arrogant self-consciousness has made us the most dangerous animals on Earth. Unlike the other creatures with whom we share the world, we seem incapable of finding a natural and harmonious balance in the way we relate to one another.

Our history is not one of peace punctuated by interludes of violence but one of violence punctuated by interludes of peace, as we line up against one another in racial, religious or political regiments. Human conflicts may vary in cause and occasion, but they all have one thing in common: in order to steel ourselves to destroy our enemies, we have to persuade ourselves of their inhumanity, their difference from us."
From the Big Issue, October 6th 2008, 'The Peacemakers' (p20).

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

France bans vegetarian meals in schools


This is not a new story, but we haven't covered it before, and it's an interesting example of authoritarian Governments trying to restrict choice. According to The Telegraph:
"There will be no meat-free days in French schools for six million children following a new decree from their government that all students will have to eat meat if they want lunch at school. Taking a packed lunch is not an alternative as they are also banned."
More links below.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

CCC - homes and poor service

Enid Jones fears her home will be demolished

In the past we have reported on threats to homes due to Ceredigion County Council wanting to encourage yet more identikit supermarket developments in Aberystwyth. There are a large number of posts on this site about why this would be bad. Well, Ceredigion County Council apparently want to force people out of their homes so that developers and supermarkets can have an easier time turning Aberystwyth into an even more built-up area and make it even harder for independent town-centre shops to thrive.
"A council report, which went before Ceredigion's cabinet on Tuesday, said the authority had been asked by developers Chelverton Deeley Freed to use compulsory purchase powers to force the sale of the homes in Glyndwr Road. [...] Ceredigion council officers recommended compulsory purchase orders (CPO)." From the BBC.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

David Attenborough: "This awful summer? We've only ourselves to blame..."


There is an excellent interview with David Attenborough on The Independent site. The best quote has to be:
"There is no question that climate change is happening; the only arguable point is what part humans are playing in it," he says. "I would be absolutely astounded if population growth and industrialisation and all the stuff we are pumping into the atmosphere hadn't changed the climatic balance. Of course it has. There is no valid argument for denial."
The question is: what are we going to do about it?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Ban cars every Sunday to make way for bicycles


"Calls have been made for cars to be banned from streets around Britain every Sunday morning so that people are free to walk, cycle and play on the roads in safety. In a report on physical inactivity published in The Lancet, Gregory Heath, an expert in public health from the University of Tennessee, argues that closing streets in this way is a meaningful way to encourage urbanites to take more exercise." [Source]
An interesting idea supported by the Environmental Transport Association, a company which offers green breakdown cover, cycle insurance and green travel insurance. Unlike the RAC and AA, the ETA don't lobby for more road-building and car use.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Bronglais Hospital



Society should be aiming for reducing the need to travel long distances. This is even more important when people are ill - they should be able to be treated as close to where they live as possible. Unfortunately Hywel Dda Health Board have been considering downgrading Bronglais Hospital and forcing patients to travel to hospitals elsewhere for treatment.

Take a look at the map above, courtesy of the excellent Save Bronglais group. It should be clear which hospital covers the widest area. However, that is the one which is due to be downgraded, removing services! Already some specialist services have been cut, forcing patients to travel as far away as Swansea for treatment (see Cambrian News 22nd March 2012 - Hywel Dda Health Board forced a woman to travel from Aberystwyth to Swansea for a check for oral cancer which took three minutes once she got there). Latest news is that the Afallon Ward has been shut and patients have to travel up to 50 miles to Carmarthen. No wonder there are protests - unfortunately the Hywel Dda Health Board have refused to turn up to public meetings on these issues. Of course, perhaps there is a vital need to save money which means local services have to go? After all, unless money is saved from providing healthcare, how can the Hywel Dda Health Board afford to pay their executives self-voted salaries of over £170,000, or pay their friends £1,000 a day to do research?

If you want to know more see the Save Bronglais Hospital Facebook group or Save Bronglais website.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Ethical banking


The money in your bank account funds projects and companies. Some of those might be things you disagree with, such as a arms sales, or tobacco. Very few banks are up-front about what they do with your money. An exception is Triodos Bank - on their site you can view all the projects they fund on a map, and entering your postcode shows those local to you.

The banks you use have an impact on the world, for good or bad. If you are interested in making sure your money is used ethically then there is some excellent information here. Ethical consumer also give a summary of current and savings accounts on their site (you need to subscribe to see the full reports, but EC are an excellent source of information and well worth joining).

Earth summit fails to deliver

'Rio+20 declaration talks fail almost before they begin'; from New Scientist.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Wet weekend

Lots of Aberystwyth was flooded over the weekend - mostly the floodplain area. The floodplain area that keeps getting built on, even though the more concrete and buildings get put there, the worse flooding is as it runs over non-porous surfaces with nowhere to soak away. As human populations grow, and development expands across more wild areas, natural events like floods, earthquakes and tsunamis inevitably have a much larger impact than they would otherwise have done. (Photos taken Saturday 9th June).

Blaendolau fields and Llety Parc flooded.

Water half-way up the doors of the new B&Q.

This field - the one covered in brown water - is the one that the Llety Parc owner wants to sell to Sainsbury's. This shows what a ridiculous site for development this is.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Is it recyclable?

There is often too much packaging on the things we buy, wasting resources - and in many cases it isn't even recyclable. It is bananas. One way to improve the world would be if only recyclable or compostable packaging could be used. It has got to the point that even teabags aren't biodegradable because of the unnecessary plastics that are added to them.

Examples of how it shouldn't be done


Thorntons - choosing non-recyclable packaging materials. "We would love you to recycle this packaging" they say, right below the box saying that it can't be recycled.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Toilets and public transport

A common sight at Aberystwyth train station

Being able to go to the toilet is a basic human need. Even when we travel.

The toilets on trains are not known for being pleasant places to visit (hello Arriva Trains Wales!), but they are vital. Unfortunately you sometimes find yourself at a train station waiting for a train, or having just left one, and in need of the toilet. You may then discover that a) there isn't one, or b) it has been closed (see above, a common occurrence), or c) you have to pay extra.

Why should you be bothered if you have to pay 30p or more to go to the toilet at some train stations? Well, the obvious issue is that you've probably already spent a fortune on your tickets (some commuters pay thousands for their season tickets). You would therefore expect to have free access to toilets at the train stations. "Hey, but what if people who didn't buy a train ticket just sneaked in to use a toilet?" I suspect that wouldn't be the end of the world, but in that case implement a system whereby if you have a valid train ticket the toilets are free, and anyone else can pay. That seems fair. However, it isn't clear who is responsible for stations and toilets in this world of privatised services and buck-passing.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Vegan Vitality blog


It's always nice to try new and tasty recipes, especially ones that are deceptively simple to make, healthy, and suffering-free, yet also fill you with hunger when you read about them! We recommend the Vegan Vitality blog for all these reasons.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Why do we throw away vast amounts of food?

'Surplus' oranges left to rot

It is not a new piece, but it is worth revisiting this collection of photos from The Guardian showing the "scandalous amount of waste all along the food chain".

Friday, 20 April 2012

Fly tipping

We've been forwarded some details of two cases that illustrate an interesting situation involving Ceredigion County Council which we'll give some space to.

In early February a county resident collected over 40 alcohol bottles, mixer bottles, cans and Morrisons carrier bags left in some nearby woods, planning to wash and recycle them. Many of the glass bottles had been smashed. However, they then found receipts in the bags for the alcohol, which had been purchased at Morrison's with a Visa debit card. They therefore got in touch with the police who said it was a fly-tipping issue and therefore Ceredigion County Council's responsibility to investigate and prosecute. The details were therefore passed on to Ceredigion County Council. The Council could work with the police: using the receipts and (if necessary for further evidence) fingerprints from the bottles it would be possible to track down the antisocial fly-tippers/public drinkers. However Ceredigion County Council did not respond, nor to any follow ups, until finally a formal complaint was made against them. At that point one of their departments (on February 24th) claimed that although the department was responsible for investigating these issues they were not going to. They did not want to work with the police to take the investigation anywhere, despite having all the evidence required to track down the fly tippers, on one of the rare occasions when there is a way of actually tracing those involved in anti-social behaviour like this (public drinking, smashing bottles and leaving it as litter). The Council also refused to collect the remaining bottles that the County resident had been unable to carry. The Council then signed the issue off at the start of April, saying that there would have been little chance of a prosecution.

A photo we were sent of some of the bottles collected

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Greening Aber’s Approach Road report

This could look very different!

Alun Williams' blog mentions a report which suggests planting trees along the main approach road to Aberystwyth. It is an extremely positive proposal, and CIN supports it wholeheartedly.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

More green areas lost

We thought it was worth posting these photos that were sent to us this week - Ceredigion County Council / Welsh Government removing a green bank all along Parc Y Llyn / Boulevard Saint Brieuc in order to add an extra lane to make things easier for car drivers, thereby encouraging more car use. It seems they have also added a cycle route, which is a benefit, but it would have been better it half the bank could have been left instead of the road being widened. It would have also been an option to at least add some trees lining the route, but as usual with CCC and WG that was not done. Instead the gateway to Aberystwyth is becoming a view of grey, featureless concrete.

The pink lines show where the grass bank was

Friday, 23 March 2012

Welsh badger cull scrapped


Fantastic news, the plans to kill protected wildlife in Wales have been scrapped! (See also here and here).

The Environment Minister John Griffiths took a science-led, sensible, and practical decision on bovine TB. Combined with the tighter cattle measures introduced by the last government, his proposal will hopefully address the problem in a proper scientific coherent manner. No doubt he has been under pressure from some anti-wildlife elements of the farming lobby, but he listened to all the people of Wales who were against the culling of a protected species, rather than a vested-interest minority.

In a surprising twist, the former Rural Affairs minister Elin Jones (Plaid Cymru) caused controversy with her silly and deplorable reactionary comments in the Plenary session on 20th March, for which she rightly received wide-spread censure. She said: "Farmers will now have to decide how best to protect their cattle and I for one would not blame them for anything they do."

Monday, 19 March 2012

News coverage bias


Recently there has been some negatively biased news coverage of the campaigns against vivisection (vivisection is experimenting on and killing non-human animals for the benefit of humans). Although most people who object to vivisection are motivated by compassion and good science, the media has been attempting to portray them as bomb-making terrorists! Even the BBC has not been immune to sensationalism, for example in one BBC Radio news piece on Wednesday 14th March (8am, and 8:10-8:20am) on animal vivisection and airlines/ferries, the reporter gave only one view (that of the pro-vivisectionists). Some examples:
  • The feature piece made up of a panel of John Humphreys, a reporter, and the Science Minister, used emotional manipulation, was inaccurate and biased. It seemed to equate a legitimate democratic right (writing to a company expressing one's view) into an act of terrorism. Writing letters to the ferry and airline companies pointing out the truth about the experiments and the alternatives can hardly be called threatening or endangering the safety of employees. The Minister for Culture in particular needs to brought to account for his ill-informed position on this.
  • Use of the term “animal rights extremists” was inaccurate, biased and emotionally manipulative. People who write in defence of animals are not 'animal rights extremists', they are merely concerned for other sentient beings. Implying that they were inciting violence was wrong and emotional point scoring. 
  • All three panelists focused on mice, but failed to mention that of the many animals (from lots of species) which are imported into the UK for animal vivisection, the numbers include wild-caught primates. That is, endangered primates who are abducted in the wild and then exported to the UK for experimentation then disposal. Falling back on the claim that it was "usually mice" is sloppy journalism. 

Friday, 16 March 2012

Further evidence of the harmful effects of red meat

Versus


A new report, Red Meat Consumption and Mortality (published in the Archives of Internal Medicine) has just been published. The study collected data over 28 years, based on 121,342 men and women. It concluded: 
"Red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, CVD, and cancer mortality. Substitution of other healthy protein sources for red meat is associated with a lower mortality risk." 
The report has been covered in many places (e.g. The Guardian) and backs up what we've seen in study after study over the years. The World Cancer Research Fund recommend: "Animal foods - limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat" and "Eat mostly foods of plant origin".

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Aberystwyth University updates

We've come across, or been sent, details of a few things connected to Aberystwyth University recently, so it made sense to put them in a single post.

Road connecting the University's Penglais Campus to the National Library of Wales

The route for the new road

We've mentioned this silly road before, as an example of a waste of public money (c. £200,000 in this case) in building a road between the National Library of Wales and the Aberystwyth University Campus (Soil Sciences buildings, which will be demolished as part of the work). There was already a route there - for pedestrians, away from traffic, with pleasant green surroundings, which encouraged walking rather than driving. Cars and buses could still go between the sites using the main road. However Aberystwyth University decided that wasn't easy enough for people, and wanted to encourage vehicles to drive between the adjacent sites. And our silly Government decided to fund the silly scheme, since they must have over-taxed the citizens of Wales then had to scrabble around for ways to spend the money, rather than give it back by reducing taxes next time.

 March 2012 - more trees and green spaces removed for unnecessary roads

Monday, 5 March 2012

Circuses to be banned from using performing wild animals

Another piece of good news. Defra is developing proposals to prevent wild animals from being forced to perform in travelling circuses.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord Taylor said:
“There is no place in today’s society for wild animals being used for our entertainment in travelling circuses. Wild animals deserve our respect. We have said many times we wanted to ban this outdated practice, but before we could do that there were serious legal issues we had to consider."
Hopefully it will eventually lead to an end to scenes like this.

Friday, 24 February 2012

A truly new forest


I was tasked with doing a good news post after we covered some of the frustration Ceredigion residents are feeling in the last post. One reader suggested a link to us and we gratefully accept it! There is a massive forest planting scheme taking place in Powys (the largest tree planting project in Wales for twenty years). The new woodland will comprise of oak, ash, alder, field maple and cherry trees. Fantastic! Read more on the BBC. Now, if only Ceredigion County Council cared enough to do this too... (Sorry, we almost slipped into being negative again then!)

Friday, 17 February 2012

Over to you

Some people may be aware of some of the regeneration plans that are proposed, or taking place, in Aberystwyth. According to one of their leaflets, Aberystwyth is one of seven areas which has been identified by the Welsh Government as a key regeneration area and £10.3 MILLION has been awarded to Aberystwyth "to help rejuvenate the town." You can find out more here.

Some of these schemes have already started, including a sports and game zone in Penparcau, an unnecessary road from the National Library of Wales onto the Aberystwyth University campus (couldn't the buses just use Penglais Hill like other vehicles?), the Halfords cycling event which took place in town in summer 2011 (and will take place again in 2012, hopefully in less windy conditions for the cyclists!), a photography festival, and the 'transport gateway', which is the main subject of this blog post. These things are all happening, or have happened, so there doesn't appear to be much chance to have your say on them.

They also appear to be planning the seafront and promenade changes, changes to the town clock square, new entrance to the train station (cost estimated to be £3 million), and proposals to turn the current/old town library building into a youth facility. As far as we're aware, the only proposal that's had any public consultation is the promenade. So, who is making these proposals to spend this public money? The Aberystwyth Regeneration Area Partnership Board is made up of 12 people. One person pointed out that they are all men. None of the 12 represent the residents, or Aberystwyth town council. The minutes of their meetings are available here and you can see the list of the board members and all the plans, leaflets etc from the Aberystwyth page.

We have had our own rants recently about Ceredigion County Council's lack of consultation and their desire to encourage extra supermarkets into the area. We get a lot of emails from people and these kind of topics have come up a fair bit recently. As such we are going to hand part of this post over to some of the comments we have received. Many people feel that their voice is being ignored: at least this way you can have your say. Keep them coming in, we'll add any others to the end. We don't have answers to some of the questions, best to contact the council. Over to you!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Some good news! Vegan/vegetarian café for the day in Aberystwyth on Saturday

It seems that at the moment Ceredigion County Council are letting everyone down. From our perspective it is their determination to bring more blood-sucking supermarkets into Aberystwyth; the way they merrily waste our money digging up green areas (such as the bushes by the Aberystwyth bus stops); the fact that they give planning permission without requiring replanting of at least equivalent green areas to what is being destroyed by the application (the latest damage people are reporting is the mess the Council are allowing in Penglais Woods).

How about some good news then? Free food, cruelty free on Saturday! We may have a Council that insists on removing those pesky high-maintenance trees and bushes (their plan next year is probably to replace them with nice low-maintenance plastic or rubber versions), but at least we can eat well.



This great event is being run by Eat Out Vegan Wales, and will be at The Morlan Centre (Queen’s Road, Aberystwyth) on Saturday 11th February, 10am-4pm

Saturday, 4 February 2012

A second public meeting held

A second public meeting (both organised privately rather than by the County Council) about town developments and the Mill Street car park/Tesco controversy was held on Thursday 26th January, at 7pm, in the Morlan.

Approximately 140 people attended including: Leila Kiersch (Chair), Timothy Foster (Co-chair), Eurwen Booth (Translator), various councillors and representatives from groups such as Age Concern Cymru, Friends of the Earth, Over 50s Forum, Save Park Avenue Day Centre, local businesses, and many members of the public.

Presentation
We'll relay some of the information given at the opening of the meeting.
  • Marks and Spencer has been unveiled as the second big name for the multi-million-pound development on the Mill Street Car Park in Aberystwyth, alongside Tesco.
  • Developers Chelverton say they have “agreed terms” with M&S to build them a 54,000 square-foot store, which will sell food, clothing and household goods. If the plans go ahead, the M&S would be at the front of the car park and the Tesco supermarket would stand behind it. The scheme would result in the demolition of the Park Avenue Day Centre, all the houses in Glyndwr Road and the Drill Hall.
  • Proposed floor plan below:

Monday, 30 January 2012

Milk is natural

...unless it is dairy milk!


Staff at Aberystwyth University's Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) are working on a laboratory-designed food additive to artificially manipulate the content of dairy milk. They say "it could provide a financial boost for dairy farmers and feed manufacturers." Another step removed from being in any way natural, then. Their next step is to begin experimenting by making cows eat the supplement.

Monday, 23 January 2012

More trees and green spaces, less waste of money

Ceredigion County Council is planning on using Welsh Government funding to make changes to the prom in Aberystwyth. You can see their current plans for the large pot of money here. We''ll summarise our thoughts on some of the ideas below.


Bandstand
It is amusing that the Council show photos of the worst-looking bits of the bandstand as a way of making their case, when the reason they look like that is because Ceredigion County Council neglect the building. Would they look after a new building any better? There's no reason to believe they would. Currently it is a building with some history (built in 1935). It should be repaired, and more importantly, clear permanent information on how to book it and what events are coming up in the next month or so, and costs (with no charge for local, non-profit events). There is no point having a community building and then putting up barriers to its use - the community pay for this, and deserve a better service. Sure, tart the building up a bit, more windows or better natural lighting or eco-features like solar panels. If someone can't make use of what they have then don't let them waste money on some new toy to mismanage.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

'Trojan Horse' Tesco criticised in public meeting


[Updates at the end of this post.]

On Wednesday 14th December around 40 people attended a snap public meeting organised to give Aberystwyth residents a chance to urgently find alternatives to the Mill Street proposals. The development is expected to see demolition of the existing day centre, possible compulsory purchase orders on houses on Glyndwr road in order to make way for a large Tesco store.

The meeting was initialised by mid and west Wales Green Party in response to the growing clamour of concern about the council backed development. The meeting was the first chance for many to have their views aired publicly. Many of those attending said how they were most critical about the lack of openness and lack of consultation with the council using commercial sensitivity to avoid providing information on the proposals. St Boulevard Road, one participant said, could be a beautiful gateway to the town centre but instead was being turned into a bland runway lined by sheds of shops.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Let's have some good news

 

To start off 2012 we'll include a few pieces of good news from the last year. All are very different, but each one has some element to be positive about.
  • Bolivia Set to Pass Historic 'Law of Mother Earth'
    "The piece of legislation, called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, is intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction."
    A sign of respect that would sadly never happen in the UK/US.
  • Ceredigion agrees cruelty-free purchasing policy
    "Ceredigion Council have adopted a cruelty-free purchasing policy for cleaning products."
    From Alun Williams' blog.