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Skates makes case for rail

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Rail investment inequitable: Ken Skates demands action

TRANSPORT S​ECRETARY Ken Skates has cited slow speeds, manual Victorian signalling and level crossings bringing traffic to a standstill up to 200 times a day in his call on the UK Government to make available an equitable level of funding for rail infrastructure enhancements in Wales.

In May, Ken Skates announced Cardiff University’s Professor Mark Barry would lead on the case for investment in rail infrastructure in Wales, against the backdrop of the UK Government’s £50bn investment in HS2.

The Transport Secretary summarised the case in the Senedd on Tuesday​ (Jul 17)​.

Ken Skates told Assembly Members: “The initial findings of this work are stark. Wales has not received an equitable share of UK rail investment over a sustained period, denying us the economic benefits enjoyed elsewhere in the UK.

“Network Rail’s Wales Route, which makes up 11% of the network, has received little more than 1% of total spend on enhancements in England and Wales.

“This has resulted in low lines speed on the South Wales Mainline, capacity and speed constraints along the North Wales Coast, infrequent commuter services for the Swansea Bay city region, and inadequate cross-border services in both North and South Wales.

“I continue to support HS2, but call once again on the UK Government to make the right choices to benefit north Wales, and exert pressure on them to mitigate against the probable impact of HS2 on the economy in South Wales.”

The work carried out by Professor Barry highlights the use of old, inefficient, and unreliable infrastructure constraining the number, speed, and quality of services.

“These constraints dampen demand, restrict economic growth, and increase costs to passengers and tax-payers.

“I will continue to set out a broader vision for a successful rail network. One that helps us meet our obligations to the environment, responsibilities for Well-being and Future Generations, delivers the goals of the Economic Action Plan, and meets the UK Government’s commitment to rebalance the economy.

“The work undertaken has identified direct transport user benefits of at least £2bn, generated by reducing journey times for rail passengers. Additional benefits also arise from reduced road congestion leading to environmental and safety improvements.”

James Price, Chief Executive, Transport for Wales said: “The success of the Wales and Borders rail service relies on efficient and reliable infrastructure with the ability to transport more people more efficiently. We look forward to working with the Welsh and UK governments to deliver improvements that meet the needs of passengers in Wales and across the border.”

Cardiff University Professor of Practice in Connectivity, Mark Barry said: “Wales’ railways are stuck in second gear. Long-term under-investment compared to the UK as a whole has left them unfit for purpose.

“It’s no great surprise fewer people in Wales choose to use the train than in the rest of the UK, leading to less efficient rail operations, higher subsidies per passenger and more road congestion. This is a brake on our economic growth, improvement of air quality and carbon reduction.”

Business

Trainees are the lifeblood of expanding local accountancy firm

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ASHMOLE & CO are encouraging those qualifying from university, sitting their GCSEs or A Levels this month to consider a future career in accountancy. Trainees are the lifeblood of the accountancy firm which has offices in Haverfordwest and Tenby.

Ashmole & Co employed Adam Bowen last year as a Trainee Accountant based in the Haverfordwest office. Adam lives in Pembroke with his parents and brother. Day to day he prepares statutory accounts for clients, Tax returns and VAT returns for local individuals, sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.

William Hughes, Partner in the Haverfordwest Ashmole & Co office, said, “It is important as a profession that we help nurture the next generation of professional accountants. Trainee staff members are the lifeblood for the future success of our firm. We are a local business and are always keen to employ those who live locally.”

After passing his A Levels Adam completed a Business Management Degree gaining a First Class Honours and an MSc Accounting and Finance Masters with Distinction, both at Swansea University. He began his Masters in September 2020 and joined Ashmole & Co in February 2021. He then went on to complete his Masters exams and dissertation as an Ashmole & Co employee completing his course in September 2021 and graduating in December 2021. 

Commenting on his appointment Adam said, “I was delighted to be given the opportunity to work with the experienced team at Ashmole & Co who are one of the most established and largest teams of chartered and certified accountants and auditors in south and west Wales. It is very rewarding to be able to learn new skills and apply the skills I’ve already gained from my University and ACCA studies.”

In his spare time Adam likes playing football. He plays for Hundleton Football Club and when he isn’t taking part himself he enjoys watching the game.

Ashmole & Co are one of the largest chartered certified accountants in Wales. The rapidly expanding and modern firm often has job opportunities for enthusiastic individuals both qualified and non-qualified within the organisation. If you feel you have the qualities to be part of the team at Ashmole & Co, please email, with your CV attached, to AshmoleHR@ashmole.co.uk. Alternatively, apply for a specific vacancy listed on the website: www.ashmole.co.uk

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Aldi launches Jubilee Street Party Fund with £500 vouchers being given away

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ALDI is calling on streets across the UK to enter a competition to win funding for the ultimate Jubilee bash.

The supermarket’s Jubilee Street Party Fund will see it give away a series of £500 Aldi vouchers to help communities up and down the country celebrate Her Majesty’s big day.

Ten lucky winners can use the vouchers to purchase food, drinks and decorations from Aldi’s Jubilee-inspired range, such as its Eton Mess Gin Liqueur and light-up, shimmering Strawberry and Mint Gin Liqueur, Specially Selected English Sparkling wines, Jubilee IPAs and Jubilee gourmet popcorn, giving them everything they need to toast the Queen’s reign.

Aldi’s Facebook page is hosting the competition, with entrants asked to tag their local community Facebook group or a friendly neighbour to be in with a chance of winning.

Entries are open from now until 8am on Thursday 26th May and T&Cs apply.

Winners will be contacted on Friday 27th May to allow plenty of time for them to stock up on all their street party essentials.

Richard Thornton, Communications Director at Aldi UK, said: “Winners of our Jubilee Street Party Fund competition will receive vouchers to buy all they need to celebrate this momentous occasion with their neighbours.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for communities to come together to organise their street parties, and look forward to seeing how the lucky winners of our competition decide to mark the big day.”

To find out more and enter the competition visit: https://fb.watch/db1SIlL-t5/

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Business

Fantastic conversion of old double decker as hop-on-hop-off bus for Tenby

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THE WILL be an exciting new bus on the streets of south Pembrokeshire from next month as First Cymru launch their Cymru Coaster service between Tenby and Saundersfoot.

First say that their “beastly” Euro 2 Volvo B7TL/Alexander ALX400 is a great bus for the route, and that there are no low bridges along the route they plan – so no issues for the double decker.

The bus, which is over 20 years old has been in service across the UK including in Bristol but has been completely overhauled for its new role in Pembrokeshire.

The new service is launching on Thursday 2nd June in time for the Queens Platinum Jubilee Holiday.
Its the first time that double-deckers have been in use in the county since Silcox Coaches retired their old school buses of this type in the late 1990’s.

First say they are looking forward to passengers using their “hop on hop off service from next month.”

The same bus back in 2016 in use in Bristol before the conversion
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