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Transport for Wales services to be impacted by industrial action

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THE MAJORITY of Transport for Wales (TfW) services across the Wales and Borders network will be suspended on two days in October due to the on-going national industrial action.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) has announced two days of strike action will take place on Saturday 1 and Saturday 8 October, across Network Rail and 15 train operators.

ASLEF has also announced strike action on Saturday 1 and Wednesday 5 October across 12 train operators, while TSSA have announced strike action on 1 October at Network Rail and 11 train operators.

TfW is not involved in this industrial action, but as a result of the dispute between unions and Network Rail, TfW will be unable to operate a number of rail services on Network Rail infrastructure on 1 and 8 October, while some services will be much busier than usual on 5 October.

More information about the industrial action can be found on the TfW website.

Saturday 1 and Saturday 8 October – very limited rail service, do not travel by train

The only services operating will be on the Core Valley Lines in South Wales and a Cardiff to Newport shuttle, with one train operating hourly in each direction, between 07:30 and 18:30.

No other TfW services across Wales and the Borders network will be able to operate.

Train services will operate between Cardiff Central and Rhymney, Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil in an hourly service in each direction between 07:30 and 18:30.

Customers are reminded there will be very limited road transport capacity between Radyr and Cardiff before 07:30 and after 18:30, when TfW is unable to operate trains via Llandaf and Cathays.

Amended timetables for Saturday 1 October will be in online journey planners from Tuesday 27 September.

Friday 30 September and Friday 7 October (the days before the strikes)

There is also expected to be disruption on the days prior to the industrial action, and services will be much busier than usual.

Customers are advised to only travel if necessary on Friday 30 September and 7 October, and to check online journey planners for any short-notice late night service alterations as a result of the following day’s strike action.

Core Valley Lines­ – Saturday 1 and Saturday 8 October

The first services of the day that depart Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil will all be timed so they will be arriving into Radyr after 07:00. No trains will run before 07:00 on any lines except between Treherbert, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil – Radyr.

No pre-planned road transport services will be in operation before 18:30 on Core Valley lines.

Services are likely to be much busier than usual – particularly the first services of the day.

All other TfW services – Sunday 2 and 9 October

No trains will run before 07:00 on these days, and those trains that do run are likely to be much busier than usual – particularly the first services of the day. There is also expected to be disruption to services due to trains being displaced from the previous day’s strike action.

In particular, services to Cardiff are expected to be busier than usual on the morning on 2 October due to the Cardiff Half-Marathon.

Customers are urged to check the TfW website, app or social media before they travel, particularly for the first services of the day from their station of origin.

Services on these days are to be extremely busy and customers are encouraged to travel via the alternative dates of Monday 3 or 10 October.

Wednesday 5 October

Some of our services are likely to be extremely busy as a result of the severely-reduced timetable put in place by other operators. This includes:

  • Services between Carmarthen and Newport
  • Services between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton
  • Services between Cardiff and Cheltenham
  • Services between Chester and Holyhead
  • Services between Chester and Manchester Airport
  • Services between Crewe and Manchester Piccadilly
    Due to the closure of Birmingham New Street station, services between North Wales and Birmingham International will terminate at Wolverhampton.

Customers are advised to only travel if necessary and customers are encouraged to travel via the alternative dates of Tuesday 4 or Thursday 6 October.

Amended timetables for Wednesday 5 October will be in online journey planners from Thursday 29 September.

Existing tickets

Advance ticket holders are entitled to change their journey using the ‘Book with Confidence’ and the change of journey fees should be waived if applied before 18:00 the day before travel. You’re still able to change your tickets after this time, and up until the departure, but a change of journey fee of £10 will apply to each ticket changed.

Customers with Anytime, Off-Peak or Advance tickets, also Ranger/Rover tickets, for a TOC on strike – dated for 1, 5 or 8 October are permitted to travel either on the day before the date on the ticket or up to 11 October 2022.

If you have a return ticket and cannot make your outward journey because of a strike, you’re permitted a refund on your ticket even if the latter is not affected by a strike. The same applies if the return journey is affected by a strike but the outward was not.

Alternatively, customers can claim a full refund, with no admin fee charged. Season ticket holders can apply for compensation via Delay Repay.

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£3m funding scheme for marine, fisheries and aquaculture projects announced

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A £3 MILLION funding scheme to support the fisheries, marine and aquaculture sectors is now open for expressions of interest, Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths has announced.

The funding is available over two years and replaces the previous European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

The aim of the Welsh Marine and Fisheries Fund is to support seafood producers, coastal communities and the marine environment to thrive, by investing strategically for the long-term benefit of the sector.

In this first funding round of the scheme the focus is on assisting with finding new markets for fishery and aquaculture products, promote the quality of products and help businesses to market their products.

Expressions of interest are also invited to support research to improve energy efficiency and mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change within the marine and fisheries sector.

Further details on how to submit an expression of interest for the Welsh Marine and Fisheries Fund is available through Rural Payments Wales (RPW) Online.

Later this week a further £800,000 challenge fund will open to build capacity in coastal communities. Funding support is provided to improve environmental outcomes and potentially increase demand for local seafood with strong sustainability credentials. The pilot scheme, to be managed by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action as part of the Local Nature Partnership network aims to enhance skills on a local level and encourage partners to work together.

Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “I’m pleased the Marine, Fisheries and Aquaculture support scheme is now open for expressions of interest. Our fisheries, marine and aquaculture sectors in Wales are facing many challenges following our departure from the EU and the cost-of-living crisis. I hope this fund will go some way to help support them in marketing their business, and also finding ways to deal with the climate emergency.

“The separate £800,000 funding will help build capacity in coastal communities for groups to work together on important projects to support sustainable growth, diversification and nature recovery. It is often people working locally who can deliver real change in their area, and this funding will support them to do that.”

Further details on Coastal Capacity Building and registering for an information seminar being held on 12 December is available by contacting Local Nature Partnerships at lnpcymru@wcva.cymru

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Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre fined £2.3m for ‘woeful pensions advice’

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THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY (FCA) has fined Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre Limited, which was based in Saundersfoot, £2,354,331 for unsuitable advice to consumers to transfer out of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) and other defined benefit pension schemes.

The FCA’s view is that most people should keep the guaranteed income provided by a DB pension.

Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre advised 420 consumers, nearly two-thirds of whom were BSPS members, on whether to transfer out of their defined benefit scheme – 93% were advised to transfer, and as a resulting PMC earned over £2m in transfer and ongoing advice fees.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre advised hundreds of consumers to give up valuable defined benefit pensions without any adequate justification or rationale, using generic, templated advice not tailored to the specific circumstances of their customers while earning fees in doing so.

“The quality of advice seen here was woeful.”

As of 30 November 2022, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has upheld 213 pension transfer claims against Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre and paid out more than £13.3m in compensation.

Many of the people advised were in a vulnerable position due to the uncertainty surrounding the future of the British Steel Pension Scheme and the short timescale they had to make a decision.

But the regulator found that 60% of people did not receive the quality of advice they needed to make an informed decision.

However, the FCA said they did not receive the quality of advice they needed to make an informed decision.

The regulator said they needed clear, objective and expert advice. Instead, Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre gave unsuitable advice in 60% of cases, even higher than BSPS as a whole.

The failings included the provision of generic suitability reports that were not tailored to the circumstances of individual consumers and contained contradictory, misleading and confusing statements.

The FCA said Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre also failed to have adequate resources to deal with the increase in cases caused by BSPS, further impacting the quality of advice provided.

Many consumers, according to the regulator, were advised to transfer out even though they were relying on the guaranteed income to fund their retirement and could not afford to bear the risk of transferring out.

This included those who needed the money to provide for dependents needing long-term care.

Steward added: “The failings were particularly egregious in the context of the British Steel Pension Scheme, where customers were in an unusually vulnerable position.

“The FCA’s investigation into the involvement of others in these matters remains ongoing.

“Any consumers who were advised to transfer should contact the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to see if they are owed redress.”

Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre Limited is currently in liquidation, The Pembrokeshire Herald understands.

The said that it would FCA will give preference to creditors (some of whom may be consumers), ahead of its financial penalty, to maximise funds available for redress – meaning it is unlikely that the fine would ever be paid.

The FCA has said that it continues to progress around 30 ongoing enforcement investigations into firms and individuals relating wholly or partly to BSPS advice, all of which are at a very advanced stage, and some are in litigation.

A former director

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Police and Crime Commissioner: Stark financial pressures facing the force

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THE POLIC AND CRIME COMMISSIONER, Mr Llywelyn has launched a public consultation on police funding, giving the public the opportunity to have their say on the police precept level for the next financial year.

Police and Crime Commissioners are responsible for setting the police precept which is the amount that local council taxpayers contribute towards policing.

The Commissioner’s overall budget for 2022/23 is £127.4m with £60.7m of funding coming from UK/Welsh Government and £66.7m from local council tax precept. Currently, a Band D Council tax payer in Dyfed-Powys pay £290.16 through their Council Tax to support policing.

In launching the precept consultation for 2023/24, Mr Llywelyn has warned of stark financial pressures and resultant operational risks which could threaten the continued safety of our communities.

Mr Llywelyn said: “Deciding on the precept level is always a challenging process but this year sees unprecedented challenges given the severe financial landscape.

“Inflation, rapidly rising costs and uncertainty about how much money forces will receive from the Government for the next financial year through the Police Grant Settlements, has put policing in an incredibly difficult position.

“There are also additional pressures arising from both the increase in volume and complexity of crime, which we must take into consideration as we look to the future.

“Given the scale of all the challenges, the Chief Constable initiated a Force Review during the summer to critically assess all areas of activity seeking efficiencies, savings and transformational opportunities.

“I am painfully aware of the pressure the cost-of-living crisis is putting on people across Wales and indeed locally.

“Sadly, these challenges and rising costs are hitting emergency services too, and we need to act now to protect our vital service to the public.

“Despite careful financial planning by the force, we will have to make increasingly difficult decisions over the next few years, but my priority is to ensure we can continue to run an efficient and effective Police force to continue to keep our communities safe.

“All options being put forward within this precept consultation rely on the force making efficiency and savings of between £4.1m and £5.9m in the next year.”

As he appealed to the public to complete the short consultation, Mr Llywelyn concluded: “It is a very challenging year, but it is very important for me to hear people’s views, therefore I am urging our residents and businesses to have their say through this consultation.”

The survey will remain open until 8 January 2023, and can be accessed here:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/R2WY8HV

Other formats of the survey are available on request from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office by emailing OPCC@dyfed-powys.police.uk or calling 01267 226440.

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