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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Have you twigged onto church's Christmas tree festival?

* One of last year's festival entries. 
Have you started planning yet to enter this year’s Christmas Tree Festival at Llangollen Methodist Church?  

This very popular (and closely contested) festival will be held once again this year, starting with setting up on Friday December 9 and finishing with dismantling on Wednesday January 4.

This year there will be two classes of entry plying for visitors' votes – traditional trees and creative interpretations.

You will need to supply and decorate a small tree, no taller than 5 feet, using an appropriate Christmas theme.

You might like to link the decoration to your business or organisation, or just be creative.   

Any lights must be battery operated. Hard bases are provided that you can cover with a cloth or paper as you wish.  

Small business cards or promotional materials can be placed at the base of the tree for visitors to pick up.

More details later but start planning now and please register your intention to enter by Saturday December 3 at the latest -  by emailing:, or phoning 01978 860557.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

County gives cautious welcome to cash settlement

Denbighshire County Council has given a cautious welcome to the provisional financial settlement by Welsh Government, with the proposed settlement slightly better than expected, but remains challenging.

The council will see an increase of 0.5% , the first increase since 2013/14.

It says this will help to ensure that the council can deliver its priorities and avoid further cuts next year.

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance, said: “The Council will need to consider the proposed settlement in greater detail.

“What it generally means is that the savings we have already identified for 2017/18 will be sufficient and the council will not need to find any further cuts for the next financial year.

“An increase in funding is always to be welcomed, but we need to consider this good news in the context of continuing increases in the council’s costs.

He added:  “We have worked tirelessly over recent years to prepare and respond to the financial challenges, whilst minimising the impact of cuts and protecting key frontline services as far as possible.

“We have also worked to be more efficient as a council, streamlining our services to be as effective as possible in the current economic climate, whilst continuing to provide value for money services and maintaining our position as being one of the highest performing councils in Wales.

“That commitment to maintaining the best possible services for Denbighshire residents continues.”

Ghost supermarket plan approved by county

llanblogger exclusive

* The supermarket site in Berwyn Street.

Denbighshire County Council has approved plans allowing Aldi and Home Bargains to jointly move into Llangollen’s controversial “ghost” supermarket.

Local county councillor Stuart Davies, who believes the discount retailers could now move in as early as next February, said council planning officers used delegated powers to give the go-ahead to the scheme for the use of the 34,000 sq ft unit off the main A5 road.
The building has stood empty since May 2015 when Sainsbury’s for whom it was built made the shock announcement that they would not be moving in due to a scaling back of their new store developments.

The latest planning application, made in the name of Sainsbury’s who still own the building, sought permission for the subdivision of the existing retail unit and alterations to allow it to trade as two retail units with associated internal and external physical alterations to the building, service yard, customer entrance and forecourt areas.

Cllr Davies said: “As there were only two objectors to the plan officers used delegated powers to approve the application earlier today (Wednesday), so it’s now all systems go.

“In line with the negotiations we had with them, the applicants have agreed to make parking spaces on the site available for a maximum of three hours, which I think is a good deal.

“There’s still some conversion work to be done to make it into two units but I’d take an educated guess that it will be open by February next year.

“Whilst there will be some impact on traders in the town, the jobs at the print factory were secured by this process of developing a supermarket on its former site.

“I believe a vast number of people are in favour of Aldi and Home Bargains moving in. It’s all about jobs for themselves and jobs for their kids.”

The Sainsbury’s pull-out, which they blamed on “adverse trading conditions” at the time, dashed hopes for 130 promised jobs.

The grocery giant announced they wouldn’t themselves be running the store directly and revealed they were looking for potential tenants.

Interest by Aldi and the discount group Home Bargains had often been speculated upon but never confirmed by either company.

Neither Aldi or Home Bargains have yet commented on their interest in the development.

* The application, reference number 03/2016/0887, can be inspected in full via the planning search section of the Denbighshire County Council website at:

Businesses invited to star in council film

Denbighshire County Council is calling on businesses gearing up for the festive period to take part in a Christmas video.

As part of the Council’s #LiveLoveLocal campaign which encourages shopping at local traders throughout Denbighshire, a video is being produced to highlight what the county has to offer.

#LiveLoveLocal aims to get people to show support for local businesses by using the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to promote good experiences they’ve had and promote products and services locally they have ‘loved’.

The council is looking for businesses who would like to take part in the video, with scenes involving customers within a shop setting.

Leader of Denbighshire, Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, said: “This video is part of Denbighshire’s commitment in showing residents and visitors what a great retail offer there is in the county.

“There are so many local traders who provide a professional, quality service to their customers.

“We are encouraging businesses to take part in the video which will feature a magical tale of a family at Christmas.”

* If you would like to take part in the video contact or by phoning 01824 706222.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Special events planned at Llan Museum

Llangollen Museum has two special events planned for this month ...

MP meets man heading bank closure probe

Clwyd South Member Susan Elan Jones yesterday (Monday) joined a cross-party delegation of MPs who met Sir Russell Griggs, the man conducting the independent review into bank branch closures.

Speaking after the meeting, she said: "Sir Russell's report is expected before the end of the year. At today's meeting, I expressed the anger of my constituents at local bank closures and also suggested some ideas of what I thought needed to happen if a bank branch closed.

"For instance, I shared with the meeting what many businesses in our area told me about the need for a free cash collection service. In my view, this is something banks should provide free of charge, using security companies. There are also issues regarding the ordering of cash that I think need to be looked at carefully.

"I also feel that if a bank closes, the bank should be under an obligation to inform all customers what financial services are available in the vicinity, including if that means advertising Post Office or other competitor services.

"Another issue I raised were the very unique problems facing charities, clubs and any organisation requiring more than one signature on a bank account."

Ms Jones has also arranged meetings with TSB Bank and Tesco Bank via the Industry and Parliament Trust, and is planning to introduce a Bill in Parliament next year on banking protocol in the aftermath of bank closures.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Chocolatier smashes truffle record at food festival

* Jo Edwards breaks the truffle rolling record at the show.

A chocolatier from North Wales has become the fastest truffle maker on the planet after smashing the world record in front of a cheering crowd at a food festival.

Jo Edwards broke the record of TV chef Gino D’Acampo in the main demonstration kitchen at Hamper Llangollen over the weekend and has now sent off the evidence to the Guinness World Records.

It was the perfect way for Jo, 42, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her artisan chocolate company, Aballu, which she founded in 2006.

According to Jo, it was more difficult than expected because the chocolate was stickier than normal making rolling and coating the truffles harder than usual.

Even so, she still managed to better D’Acampo’s total of 47 in two minutes with a new world best of 49.

The record was one of the highlights of Hamper Llangollen - now recognised as one of the top food festivals in the UK - which attracted thousands of foodies to the picturesque town in the Dee Valley.

Jo said: “It was a fantastic experience and the number of people in the audience was amazing, they really got behind me. I also had family who travelled from Manchester and South Wales to support me.”

“The Hamper Llangollen food festival has been brilliant and very, very busy; I’ve had a wonderful time introducing visitors to my artisan chocolate products.

“I make everything on site in Rossett and currently employ two people but I’m looking to expand.”

Hamper Llangollen chairman Colin Loughlin was delighted with the attendance at this year’s event.

He said: “It’s been brilliant and we are really pleased. This is our 19th year and the festival is clearly now a very well established and extremely popular event on the calendar of food lovers across North Wales and beyond.

“I’m delighted we continue to attract the very best exhibitors and suppliers to the festival and which helps brings so many visitors to then town.”

Also there was one of Britain’s youngest sommeliers, Dan Davies, 21, who has advised stars like Sir Tom Jones, actress  Jennifer Lawrence and Coldplay's Chris Martin on which wine to choose with their meals.

Dan, the son of celebrity chef, Dai Chef, has attended the festival every year since he was just five years of age and now works as the head sommelier at the four rosette Stovells hotel at Chobham, Surrey.

At Hamper Llangollen, he helped his dad present cookery demonstrations by talking about wines as well as sampling the delights of the food festival.

He said: “Stovells is a classic restaurant with a Mexican flare and my job is to run the department and buy the wines we sell. Wine is my passion and I trained over three years.

“I have advised singer Tom Jones on wines when he came into the restaurant for a meal and when I worked at the Clifton, a three rosette restaurant in Taplow, Berkshire.

“I also advised Jennifer Lawrence and Coldplay’s Chris Martin on their wine choice and took care of Heston Blumenthal when I was at the Clifton too.”

He added: “The Hamper Llangollen food festival is a wonderful event. I have been coming with dad and the family since I was a little boy and it’s always an event I look forward to.

“The quality of the products on display is first class and the range of exhibitors is amazing. It’s a really special event.”

Festival visitors were treated to flutist Maria Hayes as she played on the stall of Denbigh gin maker the North Star Distillery.

The artisan gin is the brainchild of hospital worker Mathew Rowland who launched the first new distillery in the Conwy hills for more than 100 years to produce his folk music inspired new gin.

Margaret Rowland, Matthew’s mum, says the classic gin distilled by her son is infused with music.

She said: “Matt is a keen folk musician and Morris dancer and plays musical instruments as the gin is fermenting; hence it is infused with the music of the region.”

The head chef of Gales, Llangollen, Jack Hatley, took to the demonstration kitchen stage to prepare a lamb shawarma for the audience and said he was amazed at how good the festival was.

Jack, who has previously worked in the kitchens of the Chester Grosvenor, also teaches regularly at Upstairs Downstairs, a cook shop in Oswestry which runs cookery lessons in everything from bread making to Greek or Italian cooking.

He said; “It’s my first visit to Hamper Llangollen and I’m really, really impressed. The variation and quality of the products on display is amazing."

Brian Horwich, who runs Pant Glas Bach Preserves, at Llanasa, says he has been attending and exhibiting at Llangollen since launching his business eight years ago.

He said: “I’m really happy with Llangollen the festival is always a highlight for me. I find regular customers come back year after year to buy from me and being in exactly the same place inside the exhibition hall each year helps too.

“I produce jams, marmalades, chutneys and curds using, whenever I can, local produce. I supply farm shops and independent food stores across North Wales. It’s always nice to attend Llangollen and see regular customers.”

* For more information about Hamper Llangollen go to