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Friday, May 22, 2015

Chain Bridge walk cancelled

llanblogger is publishing the following emergency notice on behalf of The Rotary Club of Llangollen.  
 
Chain-Bridge pre-opening walk to raise funds for charity
Sunday 24th May 2015 has been cancelled
 
Please accept our apologies that the pre-opening crossing of the Chain Bridge planned by The Rotary Club of Llangollen for this coming Sunday, 24th May 2015 will not be going ahead due to reasons beyond our control.   Thank you for your ongoing support of the community via Rotary and we are sorry if this has caused you any inconvenience.   For any further information about the activities of Rotary in and around Llangollen please contact Club President Mr. Nigel Rainsbury on: nigelandJennifer@nrainsbury.plus.com  
 
 

Libraries put out call for young volunteers

Libraries in Denbighshire are offering volunteering opportunities for young people this summer to support children who are taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge.

By getting involved, says the council, young people can gain valuable work experience and volunteer hours, an opportunity to develop confidence, social skills, employability and literacy skills, and an opportunity to make a positive contribution to their communities and make new friends.

“If you’re looking for something to do this summer, want to develop skills and confidence that could help with college or job applications, or need to be involved with volunteering for the Welsh Bacc or DofE this could be ideal for you,” said Bethan M Hughes of Denbighshire Libraries.

“We’re looking for young people aged 14-24 who can offer us a minimum of 3 hours a week over at least four weeks between July and September.

"You’ll need to have good communication skills and preferably a willingness to engage with children and families in both Welsh and English, an interest in supporting and working with children, and in books and reading, and you’ll need to be flexible, friendly, and reliable.

“You will help children to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge, which this year is called Record Breakers. You will chat with children about what they’re reading, help them choose books to read and use the Challenge website, and encourage them to complete the challenge.

“This year, the volunteering opportunities are on offer in Prestatyn, Ruthin and Denbigh libraries.

"There will be an open information evening at each library when you can find out more about the volunteering opportunities: Prestatyn Library on June 1, Ruthin Library on June 2 and Denbigh Library on June 8, all between 5.30-7pm.

“If you think you’d like to join our team of Young Volunteers, just contact one of these libraries to pick up an application pack or go to denblibs.wordpress.com”

In 2014, 4692 children in Denbighshire took part in the Mythical Maze Summer Reading Challenge in their local library. This year’s challenge will be called Record Breakers and follow the theme of Guinness World Records.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sainsbury's pulls out of Llan store development

 
llanblogger exclusive ...
 

* Contractors started work only recently on the steel frame of the new store.

* Now with comment by Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates at the foot of story


SAINSBURY’S have pulled out of plans to take over the supermarket now being built for them in Llangollen.
And the shock move leaves a question mark hanging over the 130 jobs promised by the development.
 
The store giant says it is now looking for another business to take over the 34,000 square foot building currently being built on the former Dobson & Crowther printworks site off the A5.

It was known as that as a result of tough trading conditions the store giant embarked on a review of planned new stores across the UK at the end of last year.
And this morning (Thursday) a Sainsbury’s spokesman confirmed they would be pulling out of the Llangollen development.

The spokesman said: “Following a review we have decided we will not be going ahead with the store on the site in Llangollen.
“We have not taken this decision lightly and are very disappointed we are not able to open a new shop in Llangollen.

“Since the proposals were first announced, shopping patterns have changed considerably and following a review, the scheme is no longer viable for us.


“There has been a fundamental shift in the retail market and in ways of shopping, such as convenience and online which means the scheme is no longer viable.
“It was a tough decision because we had worked really hard to get the support of the local community and to get their backing for the plan.”

The spokesman added: “J-Ross are developers on the scheme and we will be taking the building in August.
“We are now speaking to a range of different businesses to gauge interest and looking for someone to occupy the building.

“We want to make sure we get someone in there as quickly as possible and do it in a way that is complementary to the town.
“We are open to ideas.”   

Stuart Davies, one of the town’s county councillors, said he had been given the bombshell news by Sainsbury’s official by telephone just before he headed off on holiday abroad early this morning.
Cllr Davies, who has been a keen supporter of the controversial development, said he was “saddened” by the announcement and hoped the new store, currently in the early stages of construction on the former Dobson & Crowther site off the A5, could still be taken over by another supermarket company such as Aldi or Lidl.

He added: “The news that Sainsbury’s won’t be coming after all is a real shock.
“The company did say recently that it would be reviewing its programme of store openings, including the one in Llangollen, due to difficult trading conditions.

“I was hopeful that this review would bear out the case for them coming here but now they have finally decided to pull out it is very saddening.
“Much will now have to be decided about the future of the building now going up on the old printworks site but I trust that it can still be used as supermarket, bringing much-needed jobs into the area.

“I will be asking our county economic development team to provide what assistance it can in ensuring Llangollen gets a new supermarket of some form.
“I don’t mind whether it ends up being Aldi or Lidl if they bring some jobs with them.”

The Sainsbury’s development on the old Dobson & Crowther site was part of a deal in which the print company was assisted to move to a new purpose-built factory just further along the A5 on former farmland at Cilmedw.
The firm took up occupation of its new headquarters last year and contractors moved in to clear its former site.

Work on the steel structure of the new supermarket has started in the past few weeks and the store was due to be trading by the end of the year.
The Sainsbury’s plan caused a welter of opposition from its announcement in 2012, which continued through its approval by the county council later that year and beyond.

Opponents, led by campaign group Keep Llangollen Special, argued that the town did not need such a large new food store and that it would badly damage the trade of small shops in the town.
They were particularly against the inclusion of a cafĂ© in the development, which they claimed would have a ruinous effect on local food outlets. 

Doubt was cast over the future of the development late last year after Sainsbury’s announced a half-year loss before tax of £290 million.
Like other large supermarkets they have been under pressure from the rise of discount chains like Aldi and Lidl.

Martin Crumpton, chair of Keep Llangollen Special, said: “This is a victory for common sense and persistence.

“KLS is thrilled an delighted and it’s cause for celebration from one end of the town to another.

“In terms of the site, we see this as a golden opportunity to bring in something like a technical park or warehousing that will bring in employment – skilled and semi-skilled jobs.”  

Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said: “While I am disappointed that Sainsbury's has decided not to occupy the building, it will be completed and it will be occupied.
 
"This latest development offers us an opportunity to see an alternative retailer such as Aldi or Lidl come to Llangollen if that is what people want.
 
“We also have an opportunity to say what business use or type of retailer we’d like to see here, so I will be relaying the views of residents to Sainsbury’s as they look to sub-let this brand new building. I would ask my constituents to get in touch and tell me what they want.
 
“The key demand is that we continue to safeguard and create jobs in Llangollen, as well as build on the town's fantastic reputation.”
 
 
 
 
* An artist's impression of the completed Sainsbury's store.

Nepalese dancers still aiming to be at Eisteddfod


* Sue McEvoy and Ben Sawin from Llangollen Eisteddfod
with  Todd Lochhead who is co-ordinating efforts to
bring over a dancing troupe from Nepal called
The Rising Culture Group to next year's Llangollen
International Eisteddfod and Lisa Lochhead.


Members of a Nepalese dance troupe  still hope to be at this summer’s Llangollen Musical Eisteddfod - despite the devastation caused by two earthquakes.

More than 30 dancers from the Rising Culture Group from the World Heritage site of Bhaktapur, about 10 miles from the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu and around 100 miles from Mount Everest, had hoped to  attend this year's festival.

A major fund-raising campaign had been launched to  enable them to travel 5,000 miles from their country on the roof of the world to compete at Llangollen 2015 in July.
 
But their dream of coming to Llangollen suffered a huge setback when the first 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on April 25, damaging large areas of the country and claiming over 8,000 lives.
 
Then, just as its people were trying to recover, Nepal was hit by a second large quake of 7.3 magnitude on May 12 which killed hundreds more and caused even further destruction.
 
In the wake of the second disaster, Todd Lochhead, the Bristol man leading the effort to bring the dancers to the Eisteddfod, decided to fly over to Nepal to visit Bhaktapur.
 
He wanted to offer what support he could to members of the group which is based at the Rising English School in the town run by his friend Kapil Banebepali and his wife Chandika who he first met when he was teaching English there 20 years ago.
 
One of the people 45-year-old Todd, a New Zealander who works as a financial consultant, greeted at the school on his arrival from the UK was the young drum-master of the troupe, Manish Shilpakar.
 
Speaking from the school, where he is now living after his home was badly damaged by the first earthquake, 24-year-old Manish said: “A lot of my family members and friends have also lost their homes.
 
“Conditions are pretty bad over here but we are coping by joining together as a community.
“Before the earthquakes we were all looking forward to coming to Llangollen and I am still hopeful we will be able to get there.”
 
Todd said he had been shocked to see the destruction on the ground when he arrived.
 
And while he stressed that day to day living was still the first priority for people associated with the dance group, he revealed he was due to discuss the possibility of at least a small number of them making a token visit to the Eisteddfod if at all possible.
 
Describing what he had found when he arrived in Bhaktapur at the weekend, Todd said: “When I see the result of the two earthquakes all around me the word devastation takes on a whole new meaning.
 
“I believe about 600 people in the town were killed in the first earthquake and I’ve heard that one or two died in the second one.
 
“I’d say 80 to 90 per cent of the houses in the town have either been completely demolished or are in an unstable condition.
 
“The great fear for many people is actually going outside into the street in case buildings fall on top of them.
 
“Although the front of the school collapsed in the first quake it was still semi structurally safe because it’s built of concrete.
 
“This means people from the area have been using it as a refuge. There were initially about 150 people sleeping outside in the school grounds.
 
“As I speak there are still about 100 people sleeping there – including myself – and they are on very simple matting.
 
“They are cooking and sharing what food they have. The shops are open, which is amazing when you see what destruction there has been.
 
“There are relief teams in the area, including the Chinese and Turkish Red Cross and Indian troops are helping with the clear-up operation.”
 
Todd, who is due back in the UK later this week, added: “Thankfully, no-one from the dance troupe has been injured or killed but some have lost relatives.
 
“The dance teacher, Mukti, has had his house completely destroyed which means he and his two children, son Roshik and daughter Rhosika, who are both around 10 or 11 years old, have been left homeless.
 
“Another family who are part of the group, Lashmi, and her three daughters, Manisha, Unisha and Ubisha, also lost their home. Nobody knew where they were for 10 days after the first quake but then they were found and I have now visited them in a Red Cross refugee camp.
 
“In the second earthquake earlier this month the two grandparents of one of the children at the school were both killed.
 
“In the April quake one of the adjacent buildings fell on to the school toilet. Ten people were killed but three children were rescued.”
 
Todd said that while daily survival was the main priority, before leaving Nepal he was due to speak to his friend Kapil about the possibility of a small number of the troupe trying to get over to visit the Eisteddfod.
 
“I will discuss whether one or two people might yet come over. I very much hope this could be done but it is still early days.
 
“After the two earthquakes I’d have said it was definitely not going to happen but every day there’s a bit more hope. We’ll just have to see how it goes.
 
“The number one priority for everyone sheltering at the school at the moment is shelter.
 
“I’m looking for a large tent along the lines of a marquee for them. They’re certainly going to need it if there’s another earthquake and, also, the monsoons are coming.
 
“If someone back in the UK could supply one of these it would be a godsend.
 
“As soon as I come home I’ll be trying to raise some money for the people in Bhaktapur.
 
“They need targeted aid for things like altering the school building to make it better able to withstand further earthquakes.
 
“These people are very resilient but these two disasters have had a huge impact on them.”     
 
Rising English School founder Kapil Banebepali said: “We are very much focusing on ensuring everyone is safe and it is difficult to think about anything else but that at the moment.”
 
Todd first came across the dancers when he journeyed to Nepal in 1995 to work as a teacher at the Rising English School.
 
Founded by Kapil and Chandika, who is now the principal, it offers lessons to children aged three to 13, many of whom would otherwise have ended up having to go out to work.
 
Kapil also started the dance troupe which performs traditional and highly colourful routines, one of the most striking of which is the stunning masked dance that has its roots deep in Hindu culture.   
 
Todd saw them perform and was so impressed that it became his dream to see them compete at Llangollen.
 
He visited the Eisteddfod office in Llangollen Pavilion a few days before the 2014 festival and arranged for them to register for the Children’s Folk Dance, Traditional Dance and Cultural Showcase competition categories.
 
Todd then set about the mammoth task of asking business contacts and friends to help him raise the estimated £40,000 to bring 34 people, including 20 dancers aged eight to 16, and musicians over to Llangollen.  
 
Fundraising was going well until the earthquakes hit Nepal with such catastrophic effects.
    

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

MP says hunting ban should stay

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones (pictured below) says Members of Parliament should be prepared to "vote through the night" to stop David Cameron's Government bringing in legislation that would repeal the Hunting Act.

Speaking on the day she took her oath in Parliament in Welsh and English, she said: "The Conservatives and Plaid may be keen to bring back fox hunting, but I and the bulk of people around here are certainly not. 
"As someone who comes from and is proud to represent a rural area in Parliament, I support population control of foxes. But what I am totally against is that so-called sport where a pack of dogs chase foxes and then rip them from limb to limb.

"A previous Labour Government was right to ban that cruel practice - and I promise local residents that I will join other Labour MPs and I hope some MPs from other parties who care about animal welfare to make sure that foxes, hare and deer are protected from the kind of abuses that sadly used to be legal in this country."

Help available with superfast broadband says AM

Welsh Government help is available for residents and businesses struggling with slow broadband speeds, says an Assembly Member.

Ken Skates, the Labour AM for Clwyd South, has been distributing details to households in some of the more rural parts of his constituency to make people aware that support is available while they wait to be connected to the Superfast Cymru network.

Mr Skates said anyone who lives in Clwyd South can contact him for more information about what is on offer from the Welsh Labour Government.

He said: “If your home or business can’t yet access high-speed broadband, the chances are it’s on its way as a result of the Welsh Government’s Superfast Cymru programme.

“We are investing record sums in North Wales and most exchanges in Clwyd South are now live – such as Brymbo , Rhos, Ruabon, Cefn Mawr and Llangollen – or soon will be, like Chirk and Glyn Ceiriog. Few other nations have adopted such an ambitious plan, and we are on track to deliver it with the help of European money.

“If you are still waiting, there is other support available from the Welsh Labour Government. 

“Access Broadband Cymru is a grant of up to 90% of the costs of installing a fast broadband system, for example a satellite connection, and is also available for community solutions. If your current connection speed is slower than two mega-bits per second, you can qualify.”

Anyone based in Clwyd South who is interested in seeking the support is asked to email ken.skates@assembly.wales for more information and an application form.

Mr Skates added: “You can visit www.superfast-cymru.com/where-and-when to see when you will be connected to the network.

“Superfast Cymru is a pioneering £425m project which aims to address the market failure of telecommunications companies, who have invested in urbanised areas where profits can be maximised instead of connecting homes in rural areas.

“We are on target to have 96% of homes and businesses linked up to the network by next summer – making us one of the best-connected countries in the world.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Councillor's concerns over pass road closure


* A council map showing the closure and alternative route.

LLANGOLLEN county councillor Stuart Davies says he has “grave concerns” about the temporary closure of a stretch of the Horseshoe Pass just as the busy summer season begins.

Cllr Davies has learned that Denbighshire County Council recently made an order banning vehicles from using a length of the A542 pass – one of the main approach routes to the tourist town – between the Ty Cerrig/PIas Norway junction and the White Hart/Pentredwr junction to allow carriageway reconstruction and resurfacing work to go ahead.

The county council public notice detailing the order says it will come into force on June 8 and remain in place for 18 months or until the completion of the works, whichever is the earlier.

However, the county says it is anticipated that the works will take about five weeks to complete.

The altemative route available for traffic will be via the A542, A5104, A494, Castle Street, Abbey Road and A542 and will be signposted accordingly.

Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout the period of closure.

Cllr Davies said: “I have grave concerns about this closure leading up to one of the busiest times of the year for the town.

“It will mean people having to divert through Corwen adding six miles or so on to their journey.

“I will be getting in touch with officers to make sure that the works are done as quickly as possible and to ensure that the closure is kept to a minimum period of time.”