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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Superfast broadband roll-out ends in December

A scheme to roll-out superfast broadband will come to an end later this year.

Denbighshire County Council is informing residents that the first phase of the Welsh Government’s Superfast Cymru project will finish in December.

The project, managed by BT, has helped increase the number of properties in Denbighshire with access to superfast broadband.

Areas still waiting for the roll-out will find out by June if they will be covered by this phase of the project.

Rebecca Maxwell, Denbighshire’s Corporate Director for the Economy & Public Realm, said: “Superfast broadband is available in 71 per cent of Denbighshire premises and by the end of the year this will have increased to more than 90 per cent.

“The council is working with the Welsh Government to ensure as many properties as possible still without superfast broadband will be included in the second phase of the project which will begin in 2018.

“We will also be working with them to make sure lessons can be learnt from the first phase, that there is better communication to residents and better targeting of premises.

“It is also important to remember that once your property is connected to superfast broadband you will still have to contact your internet provider to have the service switched on.”

Residents who would like access to superfast speeds before the second roll-out can apply for the Welsh Government’s Access Cymru Broadband grant, available to individuals and businesses, or the Ultrafast Connectivity Voucher which provides funding for the installation of ultrafast connections for businesses.

During the roll-out period the council has been working with businesses to make sure they are able to take advantage of the commercial benefits from being online by providing 45 hours of free digital training to more than 100 businesses as part of its Digital Denbighshire scheme.

Digital Denbighshire is part of the council’s work on developing the local economy to support healthy private businesses, create higher paid jobs and link these with residents to increase household incomes.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Probe for underground structures at castle

* Castell Dinas Bran where the survey is taking place.

Denbighshire County Council is carrying out a geophysical survey at Castell Dinas Bran in Llangollen to see if there are any structures underground.

The work is being done thanks to funding from Cadw and The Castle Studies Trust.

A geophysical survey involves the use of probes and magnetism techniques which will allow the council to get a picture of what is within the castle and hillfort without disturbing the ground at the protected monument and site of special scientific interest.

Work started this week and is being undertaken by specialist company Tigergeo and the results should be available within a few weeks.

County archaeologist Fiona Gale said: “This is a great opportunity for us to try and find out more about this fantastic site which has been an important place in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for thousands of years.

“It will be intriguing to know whether any remains of the 2,500 year hillfort are evident or did the castle obliterate it all? We think there must have been more buildings within the castle walls but we’ll have to wait and see whether there are any hints of their remains.

“Hopefully, the work will allow us to know a little more about the castle and that will help us care for it in the future and interpret it to enhance the visitor experience.”

Jeremy Cunnington, chair of trustees at the Castle Studies Trust, said: “We’re delighted to co-fund this survey work to advance our understanding of Dinas Bran which is an iconic and vitally important native Welsh Castle."

* To learn more about these and previous projects the trust has funded people can visit the Trust’s website:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

County to swoop in on ways to tackle seagull problems

Denbighshire County Council is to investigate a raft of measures to tackle issues with seagulls across the county.

The authority will also work on a major public awareness, education and enforcement campaign.

Whilst seagulls are seen by many as being a nuisance due to public safety, noise, damage and littering issues, there are limitations to what actions are open to the council to control and manage the seagull population.

Members of Denbighshire’s Communities Scrutiny Committee, meeting in County Hall, Ruthin today (Thursday) supported recommendations to  explore a number of options to reduce issues with seagulls in the county.

One of the key suggestions was to arrange a campaign to educate people not to feed gulls, to look at the possibility of introducing a by-law to ban such activity and to work with businesses and residents on preventative measures that could be taken.

Other suggestions included:

·         The introduction of a variety of methods to “scare”birds in certain problem areas
·         The introduction of netting/ bunting over public spaces
·         To discourage birds from perching on street furniture such as lamp-posts
·         To adapt existing Council  buildings to help make them seagull proof
·         To reduce availability of waste food through the Council refuse collection

Graham Boase, Head of Denbighshire Planning and Public Protection, said: “The council receives complaints from residents and visitors about the seagulls issue on a regular basis and it is an issue that’s causing us real concern.

“The situation is not unique to Denbighshire by any means and there are no simple quick fixes. We have tried innovative solutions to try and address the issue, but we cannot do it without support from the public.

“Many seagulls are protected and we need to be mindful that many see them as being an integral and traditional part of our coastal communities.

“What we want to see is a change in people’s behaviour so that gulls are not fed from food and refuse left on our streets.  This would certainly help our position, but one size does not fit all and we will need to work on a raft of options to hopefully make a difference."

County decides against drones ban

Members of Denbighshire’s Communities Scrutiny Committee have agreed not to proceed with efforts to ban drones over public spaces in Denbighshire.

A report discussed by councillors at County Hall, Ruthin today (Thursday)  followed a Notice of Motion that called for a report to be provided on the regulatory framework relating to drones and the powers, if any, for the council to introduce further restrictions.

In order for any ban on the use of drones to be effective, it would need to be enforceable. Merely passing a resolution banning drones would have no legal effect and the only way in which the council could bring a ban into legal effect would be to pass a by - law to regulate the use of drones.

However, the committee agreed that introducing a ban would be unenforceable and that national legislation already in place to regulate the use of drones was adequate. It was agreed that no further action was needed from the council.

The Government has recently been consulting on the legislation around the use of drones. As a result, the council will be keeping a ‘watching brief’ on the outcome of that consultation.

Cinema history in the frame at Hand antiques fair

* Some of the items on offer at Sunday's antique fair at the Hand Hotel. 

A slice of Llangollen social history will be among the items on offer at the town’s new antiques fair, taking place at the Hand Hotel this Sunday (March 26).

Film enthusiasts might also be interested in the collection which relates to the old Dorothy Cinema in Llangollen.

The Dorothy Cinema opened on Castle Street in 1931 and operated until 1965.

The collection to be sold at Sunday’s fair comprises programmes from the Dorothy, dating from the 1950s.

The programmes advertise showings of films such as ‘A Girl in Every Port’, starring Groucho Marx and William Bendix, and ‘Prisoner of Zenda, with Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr.

Fair organiser Robert Bellis said: “We’ll have a wide variety of interesting antiques and collectables on offer but for a local history, or indeed a film memorabilia collector, these should be of particular interest.

“They date from the 1950s which, I suppose, was the latter heyday of the local cinema when everybody would get dressed up and congregate to watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

“The Dorothy was where the cafĂ© and large second hand bookshop are on Castle Street today.

“In fact, you can still see, quite clearly, the evidence of the building’s days as a cinema upstairs in the bookshop.

“People in Llangollen still speak fondly of The Dorothy and, in fact, the name has been resurrected in the New Dot cinema nights which are now regularly held in the town hall.”  

The antiques fair takes place at The Hand Hotel in Llangollen, this Sunday, March 26, from 9.30am until 3.30pm.

Refreshments will be available and admission to the fair is 50p per person.

Parking at the hotel is limited so patrons are asked to use nearby public car parks when appropriate.   

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

MP still locked inside Parliament praises police over London terrorist attack

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones is amongst those still locked inside Parliament for their own safety following this afternoon's terrorist attack outside the building.

But she has warmly praised the emergency services for the way they have been handling the emergency.  

Media reports say at least two people are dead after a terror attacker brought carnage to central London, mowing down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before attacking police with a knife in the grounds of the Houses of Parliament.

At least 10 people were been hit by a vehicle on the bridge after a 4x4 drove into pedestrians and cyclists before crashing into the gates of Parliament.

An intruder then managed to break into the grounds of the Parliament and stabbed a police officer before he was shot and injured.

It is reported that the policeman is feared to have since died.

Ms Jones has just texted to llanblogger and confirming she was safe and said: "Police and security have handled things. We can't leave Parliament building yet, though."

She added: "My thoughts and prayers are with those injured and the families and friends of the people who have been killed.

"Huge thanks to our superb police and security services.

"The terrorists must never be allowed to win."    

Town council explains 38% precept rise

A llanblogger reader recently queried what he understood to be an increase of 38% in the precept element of the local council tax which goes to help finance Llangollen Town Council. Here, Town Clerk Gareth Thomas explains the situation:  

Your reader is correct as the precept will increase by 38% but his only equates to an annual increase of £21.37 on each band D property.  The rationale for this increase is detailed below.

In considering the draft budget for 2017/18 the Members of the Finance Working, in liaison with the Town Clerk consider a number of factors. 

The Town Council’s financial regulations state that the Council shall consider annual budget proposals in relation to a three year forecast of revenue and capital receipts and payments including recommendations for the use of reserves and sources of funding. 

The Good Councillors Guide also suggests that good practice to follow the PBP principle; Policy creates the Budget that determines the Precept. The Working Group therefore embarked on the production of a draft business plan, a statement of the Town Council’s vision for the town, its purpose, values, objectives and key priorities over the next five years.

The Working Group also consider that a well-run authority should have a prudent approach to setting its budget, and in each year it should consider its level of general balances. These general balances will also need to be supported by earmarked reserves for specific needs and commitments. In coming to a view on the adequacy of the Town Council’s reserves, account needs to be taken of the risks facing the Council in terms of any significant unforeseen spending commitments. 

Given the Town Council’s commitment to the refurbishment of the Town Hall, with the support of external funding, the working group were of the opinion that the Town Hall reserve needs to be continually strengthened with support for under-spends in the repair and renewal funds. 

In addition to ensure that adequate provision is maintained for other assets most notable the chain bridge , then a new repair and renewal fund needed to be established for that purpose, and again under-spends would be transferred to this specific reserve at year end.

In addition to the influences of the above, a number of growth items need to be budgeted for in 2017/18.  The first is the potential cost of an election (£4,000) as a result of the Local Council Elections 2017 and subsequent Member training (£770), the increases in NNDR following the revaluation of the Town Hall (£2100), and the new requirement to contribute to a workplace pension scheme (£550).

One other factor that needed to be considered was how to fund the proposed works to the Royal Gardens and the War Memorial. The estimated sum required by the Town Council would be £48,000 of which £3,000 was available from reserves.   The funding of the remainder could be achieved by either a loan from the Public Works Loan Board or from the revenue budget.

In respect of a loan, the original funds for the purchase of Royal Garden’s ends in December 2016 and therefore the budget line for loan repayments will reduce significantly in 2017/18 a new loan could be applied for but clearly with interest the cost of the loan would be an additional £1,624. 

Another option suggested was funding via the precept with other cost centres being withdrawn and the funds would be diverted to support project funding.  It was this option that the Town Council resolved to support and therefore this would place a one off increase of £13.85, in addition to other growth items on the precept, for 2017/18

The breakdown of the cost increases are shown below

Band D Per annum
After single occupancy discount
After single occupancy discount
Band D


Statutory cost increases.

Election cost


Member Training




Growth Items.





Staff Training


Christmas Lighting


Contribution to Chain Bridge reserve




War Memorial Project (Centenary  Square)