A BLOGGER has revealed the links between those involved in the various charitable trusts and enterprises at Cardigan Castle and drawn attention to the unusual recruitment process leading to the appointment of Facilities Officer, Sue Lewis.
Royston Jones, whose blog jacothenorth.net has given extensive coverage to the state of affairs at y Castell, sets out the tangled web connecting key parties.
Drawing attention to the coincidence that the Chair of the Trustees, Jann Tucker, the Trustee- Treasurer, Sandra Davies, and Ms Lewis all live in Aberporth, Jac o’ the North points out that they are all involved with overlapping organisations.
Jann Tucker, who is involved in a holiday homes rental business, is a trustee of Aberporth and District Youth Club, and also Aberporth village hall and recreation ground. Jann Tucker joined Joined Ymddiriedolaeth Cadwraeth Adeiladau Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust (‘Cadwgan’) on March 21 2000, and Ymddiriedolaeth Cadwraeth Adeiladau Castell Aberteifi Cardigan Castle Building Preservation Trust (‘Castell’) March 28 2000. She still serves as trustee on both charities and also served as a trustee / director on Cardigan Castle Enterprises Ltd from June 15 2010 to January 28 2015.
Sue Lewis, a former newspaper editor, is chair of the board of governors at Ysgol Gynradd Aberporth and also a trustee of Small World Theatre, who have coincidentally been heavily involved in Castell Aberteifi’s re-opening and launch.
Sandra Davies, the trustee treasurer, whose description of those expressing concerns about ‘mission drift’ at Castell Aberteifi as a ‘group of bigots’ is a millstone round the venue’s neck, is vice chair of the governors at Ysgol Gynradd Aberporth.
As Jac o’ the North points out: ‘We all say, ‘It’s a small world’, but humbling phenomena like this bring home to us how true that is’.
Another figure of mystery is Jonathan ‘Joff’ Timms. We know he was born in 1945, so he’s of a ripe age, and he joined ‘Cadwgan’ November 15 2006. On the Charity Commission website he is even listed as the contact for the trust.
As if that wasn’t enough, he and Sue Lewis seem to be the only directors left standing at Cardigan Castle Enterprises Ltd. So he appears to be the one person who is a trustee for both trusts and is also a trustee / director of the trading arm.
Given the distance between Mr Timms’ permanent residence in a village nestled in the North Downs, it can scarcely come as any surprise that Mr Timms has a holiday home in Ceredigion: As it happens, in – or near – Aberporth.
The public was originally told that among the project’s objectives was that it should attract ‘visitors who are seeking leisure learning activities related to the Welsh language, culture, crafts, environment and horticulture and ‘using the Welsh language, and the cultural traditions of the Eisteddfodau, as a tool for tourism development and regeneration’.
Jac o’ the North points out: ‘This has not happened except in the most cursory and superficial manner.’
A letter to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has bankrolled much of the development, and a copy of which has been seen by The Herald alleges: ‘In May of this year, the Gorsedd of Bards HAD AGREED to hold a Ceremony of Blessing at the Castle.. The Gorsedd Officials were KEEN to hold this ceremony and Mr Penri Roberts, of the Gorsedd Board of Officials will confirm that he was already’.
The next sentence alleges that a senior member of the Trust, not already named in this article, responded that the Eisteddfod would only visit ’over my dead body’.
The strength of local feeling is shown by correspondence shared with The Herald and with Jac o’ the North. One letter, dated June 15, reads: ‘Many people in Cardigan are very angry that the castle is being turned into an exclusive high end site with little opportunities for local people to get involved. It is scandalous that public meetings have not been held. We have at least sixty people in Cardigan who have asked to join as members but who have just been ignored’.
Cardigan Town Council is now taking an active interest in the activities at Castell Aberteifi. A council sub-committee has asked the Cadwgan Board for a copy of their constitution, as well as job descriptions of the trustees’ individual responsibilities. However the council will not now meet until September 1 because of the summer recess.
The council’s interest is likely to have been piqued by the decision to exclude the Town Council’s representative from a meeting regarding the future of suspended director Cris Tomos on the basis that it was ‘a staffing matter’.
And staffing matters have been a recurrent theme in recent months.
The post of Facilities Officer occupied by Sue Lewis since her redundancy as a newspaper editor did not exist before her appointment and was not advertised widely – not even in Ms Lewis’ former newspaper: So quite how Ms Lewis became aware of a serendipitous vacancy at a time when existing Castle staff were being asked to reapply for their jobs is something of a mystery.
Technically, the staff were on fixed term contracts which all came to an end in Dec 2014, and the staff were told that they would be welcome to apply for new posts. Sue Lewis was a member of the panel which did the interviews
The process ended around the beginning of December, and several of those who had been with the project for a long time were escorted from the premises. They included Rhian Medi, the daughter of the late Archdruid Dic Jones. Rhian was to have been education officer, but that post was axed showing a departure from the original vision for the project and a new focus on (possibly) ‘facilities’.
As a letter sent to the Heritage Lottery Fund points out: ‘Countless other interested parties along the years have been elbowed out of the project by a small group who view Castell Aberteifi as their personal property’.
The Herald emailed local Plaid AM Elin Jones for a comment. We received no reply.
An email to Mark Williams MP got only an automatic response.
Mid and West Wales regional AM Simon Thomas told us: ‘I have not been directly involved in the disagreements at Cardigan castle. As I have not been party to the emails you refer to nor talked to the parties involved, none of which have contacted me, I am not in a position to make a comment’.
Despite telling us that a statement was being prepared, the Welsh Government did not provide one before our deadline.
Aberglasney Gardens delighted to win 2022 Trip advisor Travellers’ Choice Award
ABERGLASNEY Gardens is thrilled to have been recognised by Tripadvisor as a 2022 Travellers’ Choice Award winner for being in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.
The Award recognises businesses that consistently deliver great service with the Gardens being rated ‘Excellent’ by 342 visitors.
The award celebrates businesses that have received great traveller reviews from around the globe on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months. As challenging as the past year has been, Aberglasney stood out by consistently delivering positive experiences to visitors.
Aberglasney’s Director of Operations Jim Stribling said: “We are delighted to have once again won an award from Tripadvisor. It is fantastic recognition for the team’s hard work and dedication. To rank among the top ten percent of those listed on Trip Advisor as one of the best places to visit is outstanding.
“We are grateful to all those who take the time to leave us a review after visiting. It is no cliché when I say all the team, be it in the gift shop, the gardeners, the tearooms and the administrative team, all take the reviews on board to help make a visit to Aberglasney the best possible experience for everyone.”
Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning, to booking, to taking a trip. Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.
With more than 988 million reviews and opinions of nearly eight million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodation, book experiences, reserve tables at restaurants and discover great places nearby.
As a travel guidance company available in 43 markets and 22 languages, Tripadvisor makes planning easy no matter the trip type.
“Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Winners,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travellers’ Choice Awards recognise the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests.
“Ranking among the Travellers’ Choice winners is always tough – but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travellers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.”
Council’s plan to expand bilingual education will be a gradual journey over 10 years
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s vision to increase bilingual education in Carmarthenshire will be a gradual journey over 10 years.
The Cabinet met yesterday (Monday, July 4) to discuss the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), and emphasised that it was important to give all children and young people the opportunity to develop their Welsh language skills.
However, members stressed that families will still have a choice on the language in which their children will be taught over the next decade and after 2032.
The plan sets out how the council will develop Welsh language provision in schools based on the outcomes and targets set by the Welsh Government.
All councils across Wales have to submit 10-year Welsh language education plans to the Welsh Government in order to meet its target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.
The outcomes include more nursery and reception children being taught through the medium of Welsh; more young people studying for qualifications in Welsh as a subject, and subjects through the medium of Welsh; increasing provision for learners with Additional Learning Needs; and increasing the number of teachers able to teach Welsh and through the medium of Welsh – with continuing support to develop staff through a comprehensive and flexible training programme.
The Cabinet said it was important for the council to provide more opportunities to be bilingual and referred to the various benefits it brings – from educational attainment to employability and health.
Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language, Cllr Glynog Davies said the aim was to meet and exceed the target set by Welsh Government on the percentage of Carmarthenshire pupils receiving their education through the medium of Welsh by 3032 (10-14%).
It included changing the language provision at 10 schools over the next 10 years creating an opportunity for a further 300 learners to be educated in Welsh.
He said: “We want to build on the progress made in early years education provision, and my ambition is clear – equal opportunities across the county.
“It is worth noting that we have the largest percentage 57.5 percent of nursery age children taught through the medium of Welsh. Immersion education is key to the strategy, and it is important that we continue to see an increase in the percentage of children transferring from the Meithrin groups to Welsh-medium education in the Foundation Phase.
“These early years are so important, the children are like sponges, absorbing information and absorbing a new language.
“We must then continue to see an increase in numbers in our reception classes, we say this even though we are the authority with the largest percentage (62.5 percent) of children receiving their education through the medium of Welsh.
“Children must continue to improve their Welsh when going from one school phase to another, and we need to make sure all children have the opportunity to pursue their secondary education through the medium of Welsh.
“At the same time, we need to give children and young people the confidence to use Welsh, in school and in the community. That’s what we want to see isn’t it, more and more using Welsh, hearing Welsh on the street. We need to develop and build on skills and confidence.”
Cabinet Member for Rural Affairs and Planning Policy, Cllr Ann Davies said: “I am extremely pleased to see this document and have a pleasure in supporting it. Working with young children, that is children under three-years-old, I can say that children pick up language very quickly, they absorb it, and the process is very different to learning a language. As they get older the process in the brain is completely different. I am pleased to see that there is an emphasis on early years, that is when we need to start.”
Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Alun Lenny said: “It is very important to state that there are many advantages to learning a language, obviously for careers, especially in health and social care where patients and clients must have a choice of language, it’s important particularly for older people, and young children, and people with dementia.
“The Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police has stated he is keen for all his staff to speak a certain level of Welsh, so we have a duty here to support that.
“The advantages of being bilingual are multiple, socially and in the world of work, and this strategy is very much welcomed.”
The WESP has come back to the cabinet for discussion following feedback from the Welsh Government, mainly to include some additional data and detail. It will now be submitted to the Welsh Government for final approval. A public consultation was held last year.
Warning of serious disruption on M4 and M5 today due to fuel prices protest
POLICE have warned of “serious disruption” to drivers using the M4 and M5 on Monday 4 July due to a planned protest.
Protesters intend to block the Prince of Wales Bridge from 7am until 7pm as part of a nationwide campaign against rising fuel prices.
The protest is due to start at the M4 Magor services at junction 23A eastbound and the Clevedon Interchange at junction 20 of the M5 westbound.
It is also expected to cause disruption to the M48 Severn Bridge and the M32.
Drivers are being urged to avoid the area or plan alternative routes.
Bristol Airport has issued a warning urging travellers to allow extra time if heading to or from the airport.
Police said additional officers will be brought in to ensure the protest is carried out legally.
Drivers have been advised by Gwent Police to work from home where possible and avoid the area between 7am and 7pm, with protestors planning to block parts of the road between M4 Magor services, junction 23A eastbound, and Junction 20 of the M4 between those hours.
Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said: “Gwent Police, and Avon and Somerset Police, are working jointly with neighbouring police forces and partner agencies to ensure emergency and critical services continue and to reduce disruption to both road users and local communities, however we are preparing for serious disruption throughout the day.
“I would encourage drivers to reconsider their journey, consider working from home and avoid the area where possible.
“The right to protest under UK law must be balanced with the rights of the wider community who may be affected. We have additional officers and support in place on Monday to ensure the protest is carried out in accordance with the law.”
The planned protest is thought to have been organised by the Facebook group Fuel Price Stand Against Tax, and has attracted both criticism and support online.
The latest travel disruption comes following the closure of the Severn Bridge for a second consecutive weekend, as well as the Severn Tunnel rain line which will be out of use until July 10 due to essential work. Motorists will be unable to cross the M48 Severn Bridge until 6am on Monday as it is undergoing essential work for eight months.
The bridge was first shut last weekend as painstaking work to repair and replace corroded suspension cables began. Traffic on the bridge is likely to be very heavy on Monday due to the fuel protest.
Police have told protesters banners must be tightly secured to vehicles and nobody should be walking around on the bridge during the demonstration. Protesters will stay inside their vehicles or stand beside them.
An organiser said: “We will now only be doing it on the Prince of Wales Bridge. We have to keep in mind everyone’s safety and if we block the bridge totally and there is an emergency there would be hell. Yes it means only one bridge but [due to the amount of traffic caused] there will still be a massive impact.”
Two weeks ago one of the initial M4 bridge protest organisers Ashley Fowler said : “We’re all car enthusiasts and we have all been worried about fuel prices and when I saw the post about blocking the bridges we began talking about it. Then people started asking me to make an event so we could update each other.
“I made the event because I run a car club in Cardiff which I started on social media during the pandemic lockdowns to help people’s mental health. When we can we go out to car parks and just meet up and have a chat but during the pandemic we weren’t able to do it so I made the group.
“Now we can’t meet up so much again because of the cost of fuel. I know some of them can’t drive so much because they need to feed their kids. It’s serious. People are getting really depressed about it. One of the boys in the group has actually sold his car due to fuel price rises.”
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