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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Town Council objects to Vicarage Road homes plan


* The site of the proposed new homes off Vicarage Road.

LLANGOLLEN Town Council has formally objected to a plan to build 99 homes on land at Vicarage Road in the town.

Castlemead Homes recently submitted an application to Denbighshire County Council for the development, which includes a mixture of two, three and four bedroom detached and semi-detached properties.

But the scheme has sparked fears amongst people in the area that local roads will not be able to cope with the extra traffic it will generate both during construction and when the new homes are occupied.

As part of the formal consultation process, the town council has been able to give its official response to the application although a decision on it rests with the county council.   

And all seven members of the town’s planning committee present for last night’s meeting at the Town Hall voted to object to the proposal.

Planning permission to build 54 houses on land adjacent to Vicarage Road was granted to Castlemead on appeal by Denbighshire back in 2001.

Attached to the original application was a Section 106 agreement under which the developer was legally bound to build a new access road to the site before the scheme was started.

The field above the main site has since been included in the Local Development Plan at the request of the Planning Inspectorate to encourage the building of more houses to meet local demand.

And Castlemead  recently submitted a new application to build a further 45 homes, making a total of 99 houses on four parcels of land.

A statement issued on behalf of the company by planning consultants in support of the application says it would not be economic to build the access road before construction work starts on the houses and suggests it should be put in place by the time the 31st dwelling has been occupied.

Planning committee chairman, Cllr Sheenah Burrell, said the town council had received 57 separate representations about the scheme from people in the area, which would all be passed to the county.
Opposition to the scheme was led by the Mayor, Cllr Mike Adams, who said that while there was a desperate need for modern, cost-efficient housing in the area, there were a number of points on which objection could be made to the scheme.

These, he said, included the “loss of visual amenity” across the valley which the development would lead to, an inadequate number of parking spaces in the proposal and highway safety.

“There are very narrow access roads to the site and the planned increase in traffic is bound to present an additional hazard,” he argued.

He added: “The traffic generation of these additional homes should be taken into consideration.

“I believe we have genuine grounds for concern and I therefore propose we object to the current application.”
Former town Mayor, Cllr Bob Lube, also spoke against the application, saying: “I don’t think we can possibly agree with this until the road is done.”

Fellow members of the committee voted unanimously to object.
Cllr Burrell said: “I think we have been prudent and taken the emotion out of it and I thank everyone for their interest and information.”

Just over a dozen members of the public were at the meeting to hear the discussion.
The Welsh Government recently told the county council not to decide on the application until major road issues are clarified.

As part of the usual consultation process, the council asked the Welsh Government for its views on the application.

In a letter to the county’s planning chief an official from the government’s Department for Economy, Science and Transport writes: “I refer to your consultation of 14 April 2016 regarding the above application and advise that the Welsh Government as highway authority for the A5 trunk road directs that permission be withheld until further notice while additional information is sought from the applicant and/or information provided by the applicant is analysed to enable appropriate highway observations to be made.”

The letter adds: “The applicant must provide previous and proposed Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) values for Hall Street/A5 junction.

“The applicant must increase the future year assessment from 2020 to 20 years from year of opening.” 



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Warning from police boss over Brexit consequences


* North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.

A police boss has warned North Wales will be a more dangerous place if Britain votes to leave the European Union.

According to the newly-elected North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, a former police inspector, the terrorist threat was a key reason to stay in Europe.

He believes the Paris and Brussels atrocities were stark reminders of what is at stake.

Mr Jones feared the European Police Office, known as Europol which contributes to more than 13,500 cross-border investigations every year, would be weakened if Britain withdrew from the EU.

In addition, life would also be made more difficult for other joint investigation teams tackling a range of crimes from terror to child abuse.

Mr Jones said: "We in North Wales are particularly vulnerable as we have in Holyhead one of the UK's major ports for entry from another EU member state.

"North Wales Police have always worked closely with the Republic of Ireland's Garda to safeguard traffic between our two countries but achieving the same levels of co-operation would be much more difficult in the event of the UK voting to leaving Europe.

"We know that the current UK terror threat remains severe, meaning that a terrorist attack in the UK is 'highly likely'.

"That means that those involved in law enforcement and safeguarding the public need to focus on doing just that and making use of the methods that we and our counterparts in Europe know work best.

"We are not part of the Schengen agreement so we already have border controls that other EU nations don't have and we have that vital sea barrier as well but we still need to work with governments and law enforcement and other agencies in the EU to keep our people safe.

"You only have to be on the A55 at 2am to appreciate the volume of road traffic that is heading to and from Ireland and that makes it vital that we liaise closely with our Irish counterparts.

"We would hope to use these measures to prevent terrorists getting into the country but if suspects are identified we need to be able to rely on our EU colleagues to apprehend them and we need to be able to rely on the evidence they gather to be presented in our courts.

"All that is currently available to us using current EU criminal justice and security measures and we would be unwise to jeopardise that by voting to leave the EU.

"The Brussels and Paris atrocities are a stark warning that we need even greater sharing of intelligence, pooling of resources and joint working across Europe.

"Outside the EU we would find it more difficult to respond quickly and forcefully to those who would threaten our communities and our values, and that's why there is a clear security case for us to stay in the EU."

Mr Jones was also concerned that a vote to leave Europe could trigger a further recession, particularly in rural communities in areas such as North Wales.

He added: "That could lead to a loss of income for farmers and increasing unemployment and rural depopulation and those factors could also make our countryside and its towns more prey to crime.

"I have the same commitment to our rural areas as my predecessor did and they deserve the same care and attention when it comes to ensuring the safety of the public."

Monday, May 23, 2016

Police mount extra mountainside patrols

Wrexham.com is reporting that police mounted extra patrols across Llangollen and Wrexham over the weekend following reports of illegal off-roaders causing damage to several mountainside areas. 

* For the full story, see:
http://www.wrexham.com/news/illegal-off-roaders-cause-damage-to-mountainside-113722.html

Eisteddfod fundraiser is a big hit


* Stage 2 Stage's performance prompted a standing ovation. 

A fundraiser for Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod at the Town Hall last night (Saturday) brought a packed audience to their feet at the end of a choral concert and then had them putting their hands in their pockets to the tune of over £1,700 as they bid for lots in a fun auction.

The concert, compered by Eisteddfod stalwart Christine Dukes and musically directed by Elen Mair Roberts, featured a two-set programme by locally-based choir Stage 2 Stage in which they showcased songs from a host of shows and films, from Guys & Dolls and Chicago to Evita and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

At the end of the performance the packed audience gave them a rousing standing ovation.

In the auction which followed, conducted by Ian Lebbon, Chairman of the Eisteddfod’s Marketing Committee, 19 lots went under the hammer, including pieces of art connected with the festival and items signed by recent star performers such as Rufus Wainwright and Jonathan Antoine.

Lots which created most interest were a Wales rugby shirt signed by all members of the rock band Status Quo, which went for £350 after some hot bidding, and a signed cartoon by legendary singer-songwriter Burt Bacharach of his hit song Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head which realised £210.

Total amount raised by the auction was over £1,700.

Historic garden's new lease of life


* The renovated garden at Nantclwyd y Dre. 

A historic garden at a popular townhouse in Ruthin has been opened to the public after a three-year restoration.
                
The project to rejuvenate the Lord’s Garden at Nantclwyd y Dre cost £220,000 and has been funded by Denbighshire County Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Ruthin Town Council and the Friends of Nantclwyd y Dre.

The work of renovating the garden was assisted by over 100 volunteers who learned traditional skills such as hazel hurdling and meadow scything along the way.

The garden is a listed landscape, originating from medieval times and has been lovingly restored to reflect several ages of its history.  The gardens are open at the same time as the main house, as part of the Nantclwyd y Dre visitor experience.

Nantclwyd y Dre is Wales’ oldest dated timbered town house. The house was first built in 1435 and has been added to, updated and upgraded throughout the centuries..

Nantclwyd y Dre has been beautifully restored to demonstrate the changing fashions and the lives of its residents.

Visitors can observe a colony of Lesser Horseshoe bats in the attic rooms via ‘bat cam’, participate in a quiz and use interactive media screens to learn more about the house and its inhabitants.

Nantclwyd y Dre is open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays during May and September; Open on Saturday – Wednesday from June until end of August.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

County comes up with new anti-fouling signs

New signs are being placed on lamp-posts across Denbighshire as part of the county council’s latest initiative to tackle dog fouling.

The warning signs have been designed using images of ‘reflective eyes’ which bounce back light in the hours of darkness and warn the public that the area is being monitored.

* Watching you: the new anti-fouling signs.
Small cameras will also be used in areas that are deemed to be fouling hot-spots and signs will be placed to warn people they may be filmed. 

The council says the cameras used are not covert, are easy to set up and have the flexibility to be moved to another location quickly. Officers from Kingdom Security, working on behalf of the council are focussing their efforts on patrols specifically to identify offenders over the coming two weeks. 

They will be out and about working two shifts, 6am-2pm and 12pm until 8pm. They will also engage with dog owners about the need to clean up after their animals.

Other activities will see the council providing free bags to do owners; dog mess found on pavements will be painted using chalk, in order to highlight the problem and officers will also be gathering intelligence to enable further enforcement.

Dog owners found to be cleaning up after their animals will be  offered the chance to enter into a prize draw as part of the Bin it to Win It scheme.

Councillor David Smith, Cabinet Lead Member for Public Realm, said: “This is the latest in a range of initiatives undertaken by the Council to tackle dog fouling in the county.

“Residents tell us that it is one of the biggest issues of concern to them. The majority of individuals want to live in, work in and visit an area that is free of dog mess. It is a blight on the landscape and can be detrimental to people’s health and well-being.

“This campaign is about educating people to be considerate and not allow their dogs to foul in public.  The majority of people do act responsibly and we thank them for that. It’s the small group of individuals that we are trying to reach with our message.

“Dog fouling will simply not be tolerated in our county and we hope that our high profile and visible approach will make a real difference."

Responsible owners or any member of the public can contact the Council with information and remain anonymous if they wish. They can report issues through the website: www.denbighshire.gov.uk or through the Customer Service Centre, on 01824 706101.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Trials competition returns at LlanBikeFest


* A Junior Kick Start style competition will roar into LlanBikeFest in July.  

The BBC’s Junior Kick Start style of trials competition is bouncing back at the Llangollen International Motorcycle Festival – LlanBikeFest - on Saturday July 23 and 24.

The Kick Start show aired from 1979 until 1988, with the original course laid out by Sammy Miller.

The Junior Kick Start offshoot was hosted by Blue Peter’s Peter Purves and encouraged the talents of youngsters such as trials legend Dougie Lampkin.

At the festival, junior riders from Llangollen and District Motorcycle Club (LLDMC) will have to negotiate a series of obstacles without putting their feet down or stopping, plus there are time penalties. 

LlanBikeFest co-organiser John Hutchinson said: “The Junior Kick Start event will provide plenty of action for spectators to watch and be a tough challenge for the young riders taking part.

“Even more off-road spectacle will be provided by professional trials stunt experts Inch Perfect. 

“Their act features massive jumps up vertical walls, breath-taking ‘drop offs’ and a full range of freestyle tricks.

“They will be joined by the Extreme Mountain Bike Show - Europe’s number one mountain bike and Trials/BMX demonstration team, led by the multiple British and European trials bike champion Danny Butler.”

LlanBikeFest 2016 will build on the success of last year’s festival, with guest of honour Giacomo ‘Ago’ Agostini – winner of an unbeaten 122 Grand Prix wins and 15 World Championships - flying in especially from his Italian home to spend the weekend at the festival meeting fans, judging competitions and providing opportunities for autographs and photos. 

Held at the town’s Pavilion, the festival’s on-site attractions will include hundreds of bikes, displays, stunts, demonstrations, trade and club stands, plus beer, bands and evening entertainment in Llangollen town.

There will also be a charity raffle in aid of Wales Air Ambulance.

Follow the event on Twitter at @llanbikefest and Facebook at Llangollen International Motorcycle Festival.

Day tickets are £10 on the gate or online at www.llanbikefest.co.uk with concessions, or contact the festival office at 07960 693398, office@llanbikefest.co.uk. Club stands and exhibitor bookings are free.