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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

County aims to keep children safer online

Denbighshire County Council is encouraging schools to join in with this international event to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people

Safer Internet Day (SID) has been running for the past 11 years and there is a wealth of information and practical advice available for young people to be able to learn how to stay safe when using the internet and social media. There are also a wide variety of teaching resources available for schools to use to help children and young people think and act sensibly and safely online.

Denbighshire's cabinet Lead member for Education, Councillor Eryl Williams, explained: "Over the last decade, the internet and social media have become an integral part of our lives and we are using this technology for everything from work to socialising with friends.

"We all know the internet can be a fantastic tool for us but there are also risks involved and we need to make sure our children and young people know how to keep themselves safe online.

"I would encourage all of our schools to take a look at the resources available and use them to work with our young people to give them the best and safest foundations as they venture online."

How to get involved

There are a number of resources available (in Welsh & English) for schools on the website including
·        Posters
·        Lesson plans
·        Quick activities
·        Assembly scripts
·        Parent packs

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stuart Davies slams Llan parking study

Llangollen county councillor Stuart Davies has slammed a study drawn up by consultants employed by Denbighshire to report on car parking in the town.

And he called for a full parking needs study to be done after taking on board representations from residents and businesses in town.
He says several issues had been highlighted by himself and others ahead of the study.

These included the lack of car parking spaces and of proper enforcement of the existing rules and also “inconsistencies” in the orders governing street car parking.
He said that despite highlighted these points and discussing them with lead officers he was surprised to see that none of them had been addressed by the consultants.

The consultants said that based on data collection, analysis and review, they would recommend a number of traffic management and parking measures to complement the retail offer in Llangollen:

1. Change all on-street parking to one hour limited waiting and improve enforcement

2. Consider introducing Pay & Display control for all on-street parking

3. Redesignate Market Street car park as short-stay

4. Make the Pavilion car park half price or free

5. Consider introducing car park VMS signing on main approaches

Cllr Davies said:
Point 1 – He agrees with, especially the enforcement, this is the subject most complained about to him.
Point 2 - He disagrees with entirely, describing it as “a recipe to kill the High Street where people use the existing parking to pop in to the shops”.
Point 3 - He points out that Market Street is already a short term car park, adding: “What is needed to be done here is regularise the use of the short term by permit holders and complete the scheme to add 15 more places put in place by myself and my fellow councillor.”
Point 4 – He points out The Pavilion car park brings in “much needed revenues, over £10k a year, and could bring in more from tourists if enforced properly.”
Point 5 - He agrees with a proper sign and direction strategy, which he says will help to alleviate the issues.
He added: “The consultants talk about nearly full to capacity but at busy weekends we all know that it is impossible to park or move around as we see people driving around in circles looking for a space to park.

“The consultants also failed to comment on the future health facility where we will be gaining 75 more spaces and the new supermarket where there will be an extra 200 spaces.
“I have spoken to the Town Mayor and my fellow county councillor and none of us were consulted by these people.”

Denbighshire/Conwy merger plan rejected by Minister

Voluntary merger plans by six Welsh councils have been rejected by the public services minister.

The Williams Commission had called for the 22 councils to be cut by half.

Conwy and Denbighshire along with Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen and Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan had suggested pairing up in response to an appeal for voluntary mergers by Leighton Andrews.

However the minister said he was "not persuaded" that the councils had set out a "compelling vision" for merger.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Andrews said: "I am disappointed to report that on the basis of this assessment I am not persuaded that any one of these Expressions of Interest sufficiently meets the criteria for moving ahead to prepare a full Voluntary Merger Proposal."

The Leaders of Conwy and Denbighshire Councils have expressed  their disappointment  following the announcement.

In November, councillors in both Conwy and Denbighshire voted in favour of submitting an expression of interest to the Welsh Government regarding the possibility of a voluntary merger,  providing doing so voluntarily would offer substantial financial advantages.

A number of meetings have taken place between both councils over recent months to explore the idea further, political representatives in both counties have set up groups to oversee the merger developments, a number of discussions have taken place with Welsh Government officials and a high level meeting has taken place with Leighton Andrews.

Llangollen county councillor Stuart Davies said: "I am astounded to learn that the Minister, Leighton Andrews, has decided to not accept the offer of voluntary merger from DCC and Conwy.

"This Welsh Government is all over the place, it commissions a report at heavens knows what costs, then when some authorities go along with it, they turn them down!"

"Personally, I never wanted this to happen but after having gone through a budget process, where we are being forced to close old people's homes by the budget cuts from the WG, I find it difficult to comprehend the sheer waste of money.

"The Williams report cost an arm and a leg, local authorities have spent a small fortune on preliminary work and then this Labour Minister comes along and throws it all in the dustbin."

"When we see the sheer waste of money by this Labour-led Welsh Govt I wonder why people vote for them!"

Leader of Denbighshire, Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, said: "We are astounded by today's announcement and feel that he has missed a real opportunity.

"Conwy and Denbighshire were the first councils in Wales to publicly declare an interest in the potential of a merger  and we were the only councils to submit an expression of interest based on the boundaries suggested by the Williams Commission and based on the Minister's own White Paper on local government reorganisation.

"We were committed to developing a full business case for a voluntary merger and this would have looked at issues such as a full consultation and work to align services, in readiness for a new authority.  We feel that there was a very strong case for a merger and it was definitely the right approach. We also saw the merger as a way of sustaining and improving services for the future.
"We had also received feedback from the Minister's advisors that the Expressions of Interest for a voluntary merger between Conwy and Denbighshire would be endorsed and that any issues identified would be resolved when the full business case was compiled.  

"The Minister clearly has a different map in mind and it would have been fairer to us for this to have been made clear.

"Today's announcement is a shock and clearly we will now need to consider our position."

Leader of Conwy, Councillor Dilwyn Roberts said: “I’ll be very interested to learn in more detail the Minister’s reasons for not supporting the Expression of Interest. I look forward to meeting with the Minister to discuss his vision and latest plans for the future of local government in Wales.” 

Church members tuck into haggis lunch

Members of Llangollen's churches enjoyed a hearty haggis lunch on Sunday at St Collen's Church Community Hall under the able auspices of Bob Brown, who acted as the Master of Ceremonies.

The meal was in celebration of the birthday of Robert Burns, the Scottish bard, on January 25.

Bob gave an introduction to the ingredients for a traditional Burns' night celebration and later gave a fascinating introduction to the poet's life and work.

The lunch concluded with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Monday, January 26, 2015

MP hits out over PIP assessments

Today (Monday) in the House of Commons Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones questioned the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about the length of time people are having to wait for Personal Independence Payments to be assessed.

She said: "Last year, Iain Duncan Smith made a very clear promise that by the start of 2015 no-one would have to wait more than 16 weeks for an assessment.

"Today I asked a simple yes or no question as to whether this was now the case. The Government Minister couldn't answer it and just waffled about figures that were due out later in the week.

"The issue of Personal Independence Payment assessment times is a massive one for people with cancer and other serious conditions, in our area and more widely across the UK. It is  a great disappointment that David Cameron's Government has really let these people down."

County extends garden waste discount deadline

Denbighshire County Council is to extend the period for which an early-bird discount is available to residents by a further two weeks.

The reduced rates of £22 for the standard garden waste service and £34 for a higher capacity service will now be available to everyone signing-up before 14th February.

The offer was originally scheduled to end on 31st January.  So far, the Council had taken orders for 6,407 garden waste bins from 5,858 Denbighshire households.

Alan Roberts, Denbighshire’s Technical Waste Officer, explained that the level of orders placed exceeded expectations:  “This is the level of orders the Council expected to receive by the end of January and the Council would really like to thank everyone who has helped us plan the services by opting-in early.

"In fact the take-up has been so great, the Council has decided to extend the early-bird period in order to avoid a last minute rush of transactions.

 “Nearly 70% of orders have been placed by residents using the Council’s website. We would encourage this as it is not only convenient for the customer but it is the most cost-effective way for the Council to accept payments and helps us keep the cost of the garden waste service to a minimum.”

The Council is currently placing stickers on the wheeled bins of residents to remind them of the need to pay if they wish to receive garden waste collections in future.

These stickers show the extended early-bird discount deadline of 14th February. After this date, the prices for the garden waste service will revert to the standard price of £24 or £36 for the higher capacity service.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Air Ambulance quiz night planned

A quiz night in aid of Wales Air Ambulance will be held at the Britannia Inn, Llangollen on Thursday, March 19.

With a 7pm for 7.30pm start, cost is £2 per person with a maximum of five players per team allowed. Quizmaster will be Martin Goggan.

Meals are available from 5pm.