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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Direct debit scheme for garden waste launched

Denbighshire County Council has launched a Direct Debit payment option for its subscription garden waste collection service.

Whether renewing an existing subscription, or registering for the first time, residents can now opt to pay by a single annual direct debit payment, as well as via the  internet, telephone or face to face payment methods.

The launch of the direct debit payment option means the council can offer its lowest subscription rates to residents who cannot, or prefer not to, use the internet.

The annual cost of a fortnightly garden waste collection service remains £22 (or £34 for the enhanced service) for those who subscribe using the internet.

The cost for residents who choose to pay over the telephone or at a Council One Stop Shop remains £24 (or £36).

Direct debit mandate forms are being sent out to residents with all subscription renewal reminders sent by post.

Residents who receive renewal emails can obtain a mandate form by contacting Denbighshire’s Customer Service Centre, from Council One Stop Shops or by sending an email to gardenwaste@denbighshire.gov.uk or gwastraffgardd@sirddinbych.gov.uk.

Councillor David Smith, Lead Member for Highways & Environment, said: “Denbighshire County Council is committed to keeping the cost of the garden waste service as low as possible. The efficiency of the direct debit process allows us to offer our lowest prices to even more residents. For many it will also remove the worry of having to remember to renew their subscription every year.”

Notes on Payment Options & Rates
Direct Debit/Internet Costs: -
·         STANDARD SERVICE £22.00 per year (26 collections of 1 x 140 litre bin)
·         ENHANCED SERVICE £34.00 per year (26 collections of 2 x 140 litre bins)

Telephone/Face to Face Costs: -
·         STANDARD SERVICE £24.00 per year (26 collections of 1 x 140 litre bin)
·         ENHANCED SERVICE £36.00 per year (26 collections of 2 x 140 litre bins)
Customer Service Centre: Cymraeg :01824 706100, English: 01824 706101

Friday, February 24, 2017

North Wales police officers to have body-worn cameras


* Superintendent Sacha Hatchett  and Arfon Jones,
Police and Crime Commissioner, with PC Luke Fox.

Every front line police officer in North Wales will soon be wearing chest mounted video cameras.

North Wales Police have taken just delivery of 301 extra body worn video kits and 50 docking stations and they're being rolled out across the region.

They have been paid for by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, a former police inspector, who has invested £163,000 in the technology.

Mr Jones is fulfilling a promise he made in his manifesto before he was elected with a large majority last May.

Body worn video, which captures evidence of crimes as they happen, was first
introduced in North Wales in 2015, with 120 kits being deployed across
the region which meant a third of response officers had access to the cameras.

The arrival of the additional devices means the force will be the first in Wales to give the crime-fighting technology to all its police officers and police community support officers while on front line duty, including members of the specialist firearms and rural crime teams.

One area where the high-tech equipment has already proved particularly useful is in the aftermath of an incident of domestic violence where evidence of any
injuries and damage can be gathered along with the behaviour and demeanour
of the aggressor and the victim.

It's expected that the extra kits will result in a 12 per cent increase in the number of successful prosecutions in domestic abuse cases, a surge in the number of guilty pleas generally and a reduction in the number of complaints against officers.

Mr Jones said: "I promised in my manifesto that I would supply all front line officers with body worn video and today’s the day. I’m very, very happy that we’ve found the money to be able to do this.

"It’s going to help victims of crime, help us arrest more offenders and improve the quality of life of vulnerable people.

"It's been shown that the introduction of body worn video equipment improves the success rate in domestic violence cases by 12 per cent. That's massive.

"I look forward to seeing more and more offenders appearing in court and less survivors having to put up with a poor quality of life.

"I would expect there to be more guilty pleas and that’s a good thing.  It avoids survivors of domestic violence having to give evidence in court.  It saves money and it’s obviously better for the perpetrator because the earlier they plead guilty, the more reasonable the sentence will be for them.

"Body worn video is making North Wales a safer place. It's good for everybody except for the criminals."

Chief Superintendent Sacha Hatchett, Head of Local Policing Services, said: "We're absolutely delighted the Commissioner has invested in this new kit.

"The results for body-worn video nationally speak for themselves.

"When police officers are using body-worn video they are showing what’s happening in reality - the evidence is incontrovertible.

"Officers are being really innovative. They’re used for anti-social behaviour patrols, they’re used on the night-time economy, so you can actually see if there is affray or fighting taking place, what that actually looks like, what that actually means at that time.

"They're being used when officers go to road traffic accidents and they’re using them when they serve warrants.

"There is a sound evidence-base for us having body-worn video, and it’s supporting my officers on the front line who do a very difficult job well and they are very professional in what they do, so anything to support them gets my support.

"We’re still analysing the data but we are finding that complaints against officers have gone down, people making vexatious complaints have reduced."

PC Matt Jones is a big fan of body worn video.

He said; "It’s made a big difference. When we attend various scenes, for example a road accident, our priorities would be casualties and things like that. We can use our body-worn video on whilst we’re dealing with casualties.

"The equipment also makes people less likely to want to be abusive, threatening or violent because they know they’re being recorded on camera, It nips problems in the bud."

The introduction of the equipment has been masterminded by the force's Chief Information Officer, Ian Davies.

He said: “It can make a massive difference in all areas of policing including domestic related crime and success rates for convictions are going from 70 per cent to 82 per cent. It's fantastic news for the victims and that's the important thing."

The new technology also has the enthusiastic backing of the North Wales branch of the Police Federation.

Secretary Richard Eccles said: "The introduction of extra cameras by the PCC and the notable reduction in public complaints are very much welcomed.

Officers are increasingly keen to utilise the cameras to deter assaults and abuse from those who blight our communities in North Wales.

"Hopefully, as we put more evidence before the courts showing exactly how officers are treated by a criminal minority we will see increased sanctions and increased public confidence."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Two charities receive Christmas bonuses from Llan


* Alyson Winn, community co-ordinator for Wales Air Ambulance, picks up the cheque for £740 raised at the Santa Christmas events from town crier Austin Cheminais.


* The cheque for £1,000 is handed over to Alyson Winn of Wales Air Ambulance by Austin Cheminais watched by fellow festival committee members, from left, Sandy Attenburrow, town clerk Gareth Thomas, George Hughes and Ian Parry.


* Colin Burman, chair of Llangollen Canal Boat Trust, receives the cheque for £500 from Austin Cheminais watched by, from left, Rhodri Thomas, Penri Thomas and Ian Parry.    

Two charities picked up a Christmas bonus from the people of Llangollen at the Town Hall this morning (Thursday).

As a result of the town's successful Llangollen Christmas Festival back in November members of the organising committee handed over donations from the proceeds to Wales Air Ambulance, which received £1,000, and the Canal Boat Trust which was given £500.

Wales Air Ambulance received a further £740 from Town Crier Austin "Chem" Cheminais, which came from various Santa events he arranged around Christmas time including quizzes, an auction and the Rotary sleigh ride through the area.

Chem, who also chairs the Christmas Festival Committee, said: "We normally just support Wales Air Ambulance but this year to acknowledge the significant contribution made by Gill Thomas to the Festival and the grotto before her untimely death last year we decided to make a donation to the Canal Boat Trust which was very dear to her.

"I'm delighted that Gill's two sons, Rhodri and Penri came along to receive the cheque."

He added: "We were overwhelmed by support for last year's festival, which attracted over 2,000 people to the town during the course of the day.

"Santa also arranged a programme of fundraising events in the run-up to Christmas and he passes on his thanks to everyone who supported them in aid of such a good cause."

Tender arrives for railway's steam gala


* The tender arrives in Abbey Road.

An important component of the forthcoming Spring Steam Gala at Llangollen Railway arrived by road yesterday (Wednesday).

The tender for the visiting locomotive Raveningham Hall was trailered to the Abbey Road entrance of the railway in plenty of time for the gala over the weekend of March 3-5.

The front end of Raveningham Hall - the part with the boiler, cab and large driving wheels - arrived separately by low-loader the previous day.

Entitled Along Birkenhead Lines, the gala will feature an intensive timetable of both passenger and mixed traffic trains, a great collection of historic steam locomotives and special attractions along the line.

The weekend also marks the 50th anniversary of two significant events - the last steam-hauled Cambrian Coast Express and 50 years since the last through working from London Paddington to Birkenhead (Woodside).

A railway spokesperson said: "The gala will be one of the most historically accurate and authentic steam events yet achieved at Llangollen. Expect to see cameos, displays, recreations and all the appropriate paper ephemera."

The event will feature a number of special visiting steam locomotives :
  • LMS 8F No.48624 (c/o The 48624 Locomotive Group & GCR PLC)
  • GWR No.6960 Raveningham Hall (c/o West Somerset Railway)
  • LMS 'Flying Pig' No.43106 (c/o The Ivatt Class 4 Group & Severn Valley Railway)
In addition, the Llangollen Railway's 'home fleet' pool of locos for this event will be:
  • LMS 'Black 5' No.45337 (making her return after overhaul)
  • BR Standard Four tank No. 80072
  • GWR '5101' Large Prairie No.5199
  • BR Manor No. 7822 "Foxcote Manor"
  • Class 03 Diesel No.03162 (a former Birkenhead shunter)
The visiting Ivatt Class 4MT 43106 was the last BR steam locomotive to travel between Chester and Shrewsbury, on August 1, 1968.

* Download our FREE Advanced Information booklet for the latest news on the gala from: http://www.llangollen-railway.co.uk/event/spring-steam-gala-3rd-march/

Refugee talk planned by local support network

Llangollen Refugee Support Network is hosting a talk on refugees by Peter Last at Llangollen Golf Club on Friday March 3, starting at 7.30pm.

Peter Last has worked with Voluntary Services Overseas in Tanzania, Sudan and Thailand and also with Greenpeace for a number of years.

More recently he has been in the refugee camps in Calais and Palestine and is coming to Llangollen to talk about  his experiences and bring awareness of the plight of refugees and asylum seekers.

* For more information, contact Brian on 01691 600307/07884445919.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Prize boost for prestige eisteddfod competition


* Mario and Gill Kreft of Pendine with eisteddfod musical director Eilir Owen Griffiths (right).

A competition to find the world’s best young singers has been flooded with entries after a pioneering care organisation teamed up with opera superstar Sir Bryn Terfel to increase the prize money to £10,000.

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, revealed there's been a huge surge in entries as a result of a boost  to its prize fund by  Pendine Park and the Bryn Terfel Foundation. 

The finalists will compete for the Pendine Prize and a cheque for £6,000 while the two runners up will each receive £2,000. 

Arts-loving Pendine Park, who are long-term supporters of the Eisteddfod, have pledged to contribute £5,000 to the Voice of the Future competition with £3,000 coming from Sir Bryn's foundation and £2,000 from the Eisteddfod. 

As a result, the total prize pot is more than six times the £1,500 awarded in previous years and the aim is to catapult the competition into a whole new league. 

The idea is to showcase and nurture young talent, providing each year’s winner with support and a cash injection to advance their burgeoning careers. 

As well as being awarded the cash and the Pendine Prize, the winner will also have the opportunity to perform in future Eisteddfod concerts, where their talent will be showcased alongside other international performers.

Previous winners include Meinir Wyn Roberts, who will be special guest soloist at this year’s 70th anniversary opening concert, Elsa Roux Chamoux and Eirlys Myfanwy Davies, who performed with Sir Bryn Terfel and the world-renowned Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja at the International Eisteddfod last year. 

The prestigious Voice of the Future competition is open to anyone under the age of 28 and designed to advance the career of a young soloist. Entries for the 2017 competition will close on Friday, March 3, and hopefuls can apply on the Eisteddfod competitors’ website http://eisteddfodcompetitions.co.uk/. 

The festival’s Musical Director, Eilir Owen Griffiths, said: “The generous boost from Pendine Park and the Bryn Terfel Foundation has certainly had an impact on entries this year - they are flooding in and the standard is exceptional.  

“From the entries we have already received, we can promise spectators a spectacular performance and the category is certainly going to be hotly contested this year. 

“There is still time to submit any entry so we encourage any young soloists who would love the chance to compete to enter by Friday 3rd March so they don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity.”

Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: "We are delighted to be sponsoring the Voice of the Future competition, particularly as music and the arts generally are an important part of our enrichment programme to improve the quality of life of our residents at our care homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon. 

"Our aim in supporting the event and providing the Pendine Prize is to help transform it into a truly international competition that attracts the best singers from across the world. 

"It is wholly appropriate that the Bryn Terfel Foundation is also involved because the Eisteddfod provided him with a stepping stone to his stellar career and he is keen to nurture the talented young singers following in his footsteps." 

The competition will span two days of the 2017 festival, which gets underway on Monday, July 3. 

The preliminary round, on Wednesday, July 5, requires competitors to perform up to eight minutes of music in one of four styles - Oratorio, Opera, Lieder or Song - to be sung in the original language.

For the final this year the selected competitors will take centre stage at the International Celebration evening concert on Thursday, July 6, when they are required to perform up to 12 minutes of music.   

Tickets for this concert, which also features international competitors and special guests, Principality Only Boys Aloud Academi, are available from http://internationaleisteddfod.co.uk/ or phone the Box Office on 01978 862001.  

The announcement about Pendine Park’s sizeable financial contribution was originally made by Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure and the AM for Clwyd South, which includes Llangollen. 

Mr Skates, whose ministerial portfolio includes tourism and culture, said: “It’s a fantastic, incredibly generous investment by a very well-respected and responsible employer.

“I believe that in Wales we need to have what I call the ‘Martini arts’ because they are available any time, any place and anywhere. 

“Pendine is helping to deliver this in a social care setting, and I toast their success.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Valle Crucis Abbey invaded by dragons


* Author David Wilson with his new book, Aaron Gray and the Dragon War, which features Valle Crucis Abbey.

Valle Crucis Abbey is set to feature in a new children’s book out next month.

The ancient abbey on the outskirts of Llangollen is the inspiration for St Jadis’s Abbey, the home of Cecil the Dragon in the fantasy novel aimed at ages 10+ which will hit bookshelves on March 1.

The book by David Wilson, called Aaron Gray and the Dragon War, is about a troubled child from a care home who gets sucked into a world of dragons and other magical creatures where he is forced to use every trick he can think of in order to survive.

The abbey is seen almost as soon as Aaron enters the fantasy world, when he lands just outside it ... in a pile of dragon dung.

The story goes: Behind Aaron and Julia was an ancient church. Grass and mud covered the floor and there was no roof over what once must have been the main room. Most of the church walls remained intact but seemed to have been made from whatever stones had been lying around at the time, stuck together by a strange muddy concrete.

"A group of five small flying creatures, about the same size as dragonflies, were flying around a well that was close to the main entrance, their wings glistening in the sunlight. Aaron could hear water flowing nearby, probably from the river that he'd seen while he was plummeting to the ground.”

Later the children walk around the abbey and past the pond before meeting a terrifying, green dragon who sends them on a quest through the valley.

David Wilson said: "My family shared a caravan on the site next door to the abbey, so I was there for about half of my childhood.

"I lived with my Grandma in Llangollen while I was at university, and was given my first ever dragon by a Llangollen shopkeeper. It seemed only fair to include a small part of Llangollen in my fantasy world, as my way of saying thanks."