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Monday, December 30, 2013

Body found under bridge near Chirk bypass, says ITV

... Traffic Wales said at 4pm that the A483 is now open in both directions from Ruabon to Halton following the earlier closure due to the accident ... 


The ITV news website is reporting this afternoon (Monday) that the body of a woman has been found beneath a bridge over the A483 Chirk bypass.

According to the story, North Wales Police say the body was discovered at around 1.30pm just north of the Halton roundabout.

The woman has not yet been identified, but her death is being treated as unexplained.

A stretch of the A483 - between the A5 Halton roundabout and the A539 J1 Ruabon - will be closed while investigations are carried out. Diversions are in place, adds the story.

Senior church figure retires


* The Venerable Shirley Griffiths with pupils from Ysgol Dyffryn Iâl in Llandegla.
The most senior woman in the Diocese of St Asaph – the Venerable Shirley Griffiths, Archdeacon of Wrexham – will retire at the end of December.

As Archdeacon, Shirley has carried out work on behalf of the Bishop of St Asaph in Wrexham and in parts of Flintshire, Denbighshire and Gwynedd.  She was the first female Archdeacon in the Diocese of St Asaph.

Shirley has served in the Diocese as a Reader (lay leader), a Deacon and a Priest before becoming Archdeacon in 2010.  Her ministry has spanned 40 years.  She was one of the first three women to become Readers in the Diocese of St Asaph before being made Deacon here in 1982 and then being ordained as a Priest in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds in 1995.

Reflecting on her time with the Church, Shirley said: “Having started at a time when women couldn’t even take a service in the Church I’m retiring at a time when the Church in Wales has just agreed that women can be Bishops – not that I would ever want to do that, there’s enough hassle as an Archdeacon!

“I’ve got mixed feelings about retirement because I enjoy my work very much and I shall miss visiting parishes, working with clergy and being part of the Bishop’s staff team – although there are some problems I shall be happy to stop dealing with – fortunately the good parts have outweighed the difficult parts.”

Shirley has served as Rector of Llandegla and Vicar of Bryneglwys during her time as Archdeacon of Wrexham and helped to see a new school building for pupils at Ysgol Dyffryn Iâl come to fruition.  She has helped the children to produce a banner for their new facilities and will carry on being creative in her retirement.

She added: “I’m looking forward to taking up needlework again.  I used to teach it many years ago and I have very little time for doing it these days so I look forward to improving my needlework skills.”

The new Archdeacon of Wrexham will be the Revd Prebendary Bob Griffiths who will begin work on New Year’s Day.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fatal collision near Llandegla

Police are appealing for information following a fatal road traffic collision near Llandegla earlier today, Sunday December 29.

Emergency services were called just after 12.30pm to reports of a collision between a Ford Fiesta and a Mercedes van on the roundabout at the junction of the A5104 and the A542.
 
The female driver of the car was pronounced dead at the scene and a female passenger was airlifted to hospital in Stoke with serious injuries.
 
The van driver sustained minor injuries and was taken to Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
 
Anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to call North Wales Police on 101.

Former surveyor speaks out over Plas Madoc closure


* Plas Madoc Leisure Centre which is proposed for closure.

A FORMER senior surveyor has slammed Wrexham Council for spending almost £52,000 on consultants to advise on the shape of its future leisure provision.
 
Mike Edwards, who served as valuer and estate surveyor to the former Wrexham Maelor Council, recently submitted a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the current Wrexham Council asking how much the authority had spent on commissioning a review of its leisure facilities by the Sports Consultancy.
 
Against a background of budget cuts of nearly £14 million for 2014-15, the review led to a proposal by council chiefs just before Christmas to build a new leisure centre to replace Waterworld in Wrexham town centre by borrowing an estimated £11.9m and closing Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, which is regularly used by many people from the Llangollen area.

The consultants have stated an estimated £857,000 will be saved by closing Plas Madoc as well as closing gyms at Ysgol Clywedog and Queensway leisure centre, and handing back dual use facilities to schools, with the exception of Ysgol Clywedog’s swimming pool.

The proposals, which are due to before the council's executive board for approval early in the new year, have led to a storm of protest from users of Plas Madoc who have started their own Facebook page to oppose the closure which currently has over 2,500 members.
 
Mr Edwards submitted his FoI request for details of consultancy fees and has received a reply from the council’s Assets & Economic Development department, which says: “The amount paid to consultants as part of the Leisure Review was in two stages. £26,760 was paid in stage 1 of the review and £25,000 in stage 2 giving a total of £51,760.”
 
Mr Edwards said: “As Valuer and Estate Surveyor to the former Wrexham Maelor Council it is depressing to see the County Borough Council considering closing and disposing of facilities and assets.

“The former Groves School and old offices on Grosvenor Road have now stood empty, boarded up and derelict for numerous years as example evidence of the poor asset management practices now pervading. 

“The previous authorities, Wrexham RDC and Maelor, worked very hard to provide all these around the area for the benefit of the residents of the whole area not just the town of Wrexham, so I was even more perplexed to hear that the council had employed external consultants to advise them on the future of leisure services.
 
“Clearly the authority has little, if any, confidence in their qualified, officers who they pay to advise them and manage these facilities.
 
“Or is it just that when unacceptable recommendations are put on the table, it is the consultants who are placed in the firing line not the paid officials or elected representatives?”
 
He added: “Just to make the situation even more depressing for the council tax payers of the county borough I have discovered that the council have spent £52,000 to date on employing these consultants.

“Surely this is a total waste of public money which could have been spent on those very assets or services which the local authority are considering closing and centralising to the detriment of the residents in the villages and peripheral parts of the borough.” 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A golden moment for track extension project


* Representatives of the Corwen community on site during their visit
to the railhead near Bonwm.

Representatives of the Cowen community joined volunteers from Llangollen Railway Trust for a landmark occasion in the track extension project yesterday (Friday).

Two separate lengths of track were joined together near the Bonwm Bends on the adjacent A5 road to complete two miles of track west of Carrog station.

A golden fishplate was ceremonially fixed to the final rail joint to mark the volunteer effort which has seen over a thousand yards of track laid eastwards from the restored overbridge, near Plas Derwen, towards the existing railhead at Bonwm.

A volunteer workforce has achieved this milestone working two days a week throughout the autumn to assemble panels of track on a prepared base.

Denbighshire county councillor Huw L Jones, who assisted with fixing the fishplate, said: “A most impressive length of straight track has been assembled in recent weeks by the volunteers.

"Their achievement is clearly visible to users of the A5 road and has raised hopes for the early completion of the project.

"Today’s link up represents 80% of the track work necessary to bring the railway to Corwen in 2014.”

Speaking for Llangollen Railway Trust, the Corwen Extension Project Co-ordinator, Richard Dixon-Gough, from Llangollen, said: “The work has been undertaken by a volunteer workforce varying from 6 - 20 workers on site, comprised mainly of members over 60 years old age. In the course of 16 volunteer working days they have laid 52 panel of track.

“We have to thank many people and organisations for their help with this project. The extension has needed administrative, financial, verbal and physical help which has been forthcoming from Denbighshire County Council, Welsh Assembly, councillors and community leaders, members of the community and the Railway’s members.

“We still have some way to go yet, but with continued support from everyone we will be at our temporary station site in the near future. The next challenge is to lay 46 panels of track, plus installation of our buffer stop. This further stage requires purchase of a thousand concrete sleepers and all their fittings, plus ballast, and will present a financial challenge for the Trust.”

A Corwen Sleeper appeal has been launched on behalf of the Llangollen Trust by member Paul Bailey, aiming to raise £20,000 to finance the acquisition of the material.

A generous response from supporters has so far raised half that sum.

Well wishers may contribute donations to the appeal c/o Mr P Bailey, Dolwen, Bryneglwys, Corwen LL21 9LY, cheques payable to the Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Season's greetings from llanblogger


llanblogger would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas - and thank them for their continued support during our second year online.

During 2013 our total pageviews has soared past the 125,000 mark - and is still rising.

We hope you stay with us for lots more news and views from in and around our town of Llangollen as we head into 2014.  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tips to stay safe from fire over festive period


On average North Wales Fire and Rescue Service attends between one to two fires within the home every day - but over the Christmas and the New Year period this rises to up to five fires in a day.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to stay safe and protect their homes from fire by following twelve tips for festive fire safety:

1. Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard. Always use an RCD on outdoor electrical equipment (safety device that can save lives by instantly switching off the power).

2. Never place candles near your Christmas tree or furnishings. Don't leave them burning unattended.

3. Make sure your family and visitors staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency. Practice a fire escape plan.

4. Decorations can burn easily - Don't attach them to lights or heaters.

5. Switch off electrical appliances when not in use, unless they're designed to stay on. Take special care with Christmas lights. Always switch off and unplug Christmas lights before you go to bed. Christmas is a time when we use more electrical items such as lights and decorations as well games etc - don't overload sockets and plugs but use correctly fused multi gang safety leads.

 6. Celebrate Christmas and New Year safely. The risk of accidents, especially in the kitchen, is greater after alcohol is consumed.

7.Most fires start in the kitchen - never leave cooking unattended.

8. If you are planning to celebrate with fireworks, store them in a metal box, read the instructions, never go back to a lit firework and keep a bucket of water nearby.

9. Make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished.

10. Check the battery in your smoke alarm every week and use Christmas as a reminder to clean it and remove dust.

11. Keep candles, lighters and matches out of reach of children.

12. Take the time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours this Christmas - make sure they are fire safe.

- See more at: http://www.nwales-fireservice.org.uk/keeping-you-safe/current-campaigns/current-campaigns.aspx?lang=en?lang=en#sthash.oJSm6M7z.dpuf

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dee becomes raging torrent as rain continues


* A raging River Dee this afternoon (Monday).

High winds and rain have turned the River Dee through Llangollen into a raging torrent today (Monday).

Natural Resources Wales has issued a flood alert on the Lower Dee Valley from Llan to Trevalyn Meadows, which was last updated at 2.50pm.

Forecasters say persistent rain will clear during the early hours.

Things will become drier and clearer thereafter with scattered showers, possibly wintry over higher ground.

It will turn colder throughout the night and stay windy.

Railway's festive services go steaming ahead


*Santa with his special steam engine on arrival back at Llangollen station.

With the season of Santa Special trains coming to an end on Christmas Eve, Llangollen Railway is preparing for the running of daily services throughout the festive season, up to and including New Year.

The railway reports an excellent pre-Christmas season with full loadings on many days of the Santa Special trains which have taken families to see Santa in Lapland at Carrog.

Of the 42 Santa Special trains which have operated since November 30, most were fully booked weeks ago.

Family groups have come to Llangollen to see Santa on the steam train from the railway’s 50 mile catchment area drawing people in from a wide segment of England, as well as North Wales, and the visitors provide a welcome boost to the town in mid winter.

Mince Pie Specials Next

For those who missed out on a chance to meet Santa on the steam train, a series of Mince Pie Special trains will operate on the Dee Valley Line from December 26 to January 1.

Running three times a day, departing Llangollen at 11am, 1pm and 3pm, the steam trains will take visitors into a winter wonderland on the journey through to Carrog when mince pies and mulled wine are served to passengers as festive cheer.

George Jones, for Llangollen Railway, said: “A ride on the train followed by a brisk walk in the country from one of the railway’s stations is an ideal way work off any excessive eating or may be blow away the post Christmas blues!

"There are several short walks from all three stations along the line which provide easy opportunities to get out and enjoy the area of outstanding natural beauty which is the Dee Valley.

“Once again the Llangollen Railway will be providing the only steam hauled standard gauge train service in North Wales, and beyond, on December 26 when much of the National Network remains closed. 

"It is thanks to all our volunteers that these trains run and we can provide festive entertainment for those who wish to sample a ride on a preserved railway beginning from within the World Heritage site at Llangollen.”

Sunday, December 22, 2013

12 tips for a healthy Christmas from NHS Direct

Christmas Day might only days away now but it is never too late to protect your family’s health, says NHS Direct Wales.

It has published its 12 top tips for enjoying a healthy Christmas.

 1. Plan AheadIf you take regular medication, make sure you have enough to see you through the Christmas period. Contact your GP before they close for Christmas for further advice.

If you are spending the festive season away from home, make sure you pack enough medication. It is important to find out what health services, including GP out-of-hours, are available in the area you are visiting.

If you are travelling abroad, make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). To apply for a free EHIC, call 0300 3301350.

2. Get Your Flu Jab

Last year flu led to more than a hundred deaths in the UK, claiming 107 lives and affecting thousands more. If you are over 65 and have a long-term health condition, or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person, you can get your flu jab from your GP.

3. Stock Up

Do you have a first aid box to manage minor wounds? Do you know what needs to be in it? For more information, visit our interactive first aid box.

It is worth checking that you have enough basic medicines at home to manage common ailments, such as coughs, colds, headaches, indigestion, upset stomach and diarrhoea. Visit our medicine cabinet to find out what should be in your cabinet.

You can buy a number of medicines over the counter at your local pharmacy, but remember to check the recommended dosage before taking any medicines.

If you use home oxygen therapy, check that you have enough oxygen supply for the Christmas period. If you are going away make sure you make arrangements for any oxygen you need.

4. List Useful Contact Details

It is worth making a note of all your useful contact numbers, like your ICE contact (In Case of an Emergency), dentist, GP and other useful local health services, especially if you are visiting an area you are not familiar with.

For details of pharmacies that are open during the Christmas period, click here or call NHS Direct Wales 0845 46 47.

5. Stay Safe
Check the weather forecast on the Met Office website if you are visiting friends or relatives, and visit the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents website to ensure you are prepared for the drive.

If you go out keep your drink with you at all times, and avoid walking home on your own. Check how much alcohol is in your drinks by using our Units Calculator.

You should never drink and drive. Remember that you
could be over the legal limit many hours after your last drink, even if it is the morning after. Sleep, coffee and cold showers do not help to sober you up. Time is the only way to get alcohol out of your system. Visit THINK for more details.

Do not forget to check on vulnerable neighbours and friends during the winter period.

6.
Keep Well
If you are in pain or are worried about a condition then make an appointment with your GP before the Christmas holidays. Check your GP opening times over Christmas in case you need to contact them in an emergency.

Visit the dentist if experiencing toothache, or visit our Dental Symptom Checker for further advice and information.

If you are feeling unwell and are unsure what to do, NHS Direct Wales is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 0845 46 47 or visiting NHS Direct Wales.

7. Keep Active
Safe and enjoyable exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle. It may be harder to exercise in the colder weather but do try and keep active as much as you can.

8. Keep Warm
As energy bills soar, more people are afraid to turn up the thermostat, but Age UK has good advice on keeping warm.

Wear several thin layers, rather than one thick layer and go for clothes made from wool, cotton or fleecy fabrics. A lot of heat is lost through the head and neck, so if you are chilly indoors try wearing a hat and scarf. Wear warm clothes in bed, and when it is really cold, wear thermal underwear, bed socks and even a hat.

Draw your curtains as soon as it gets dark to stop the heat escaping and the draughts coming in, and keep any windows and internal doors closed when it is cold.

Your body keeps warm by burning food you have eaten, so make sure you have regular hot meals that contain carbohydrates, like potatoes, pasta, bread and rice. Try porridge with hot milk for breakfast and soups and stews for lunch and dinner.

If you are sitting down, a shawl or blanket will provide extra warmth. You should also try to keep your feet up, because air is cooler at ground level.

9. Food Safety

To help protect your family from food poisoning, remember to wash your hands before preparing food and cook your food correctly.

Meat is cooked properly when you cut into the deepest part and there is no pinkness left and any juices run clear.

Visit the Food Standards Agency website for more information.

10. Do A Good Deed

Pop into a neighbour and cheer them up by having a chat or ask if you can help them in any way.

Donate to charity, or donate a food item to a food bank.

11. Choose Well

Support NHS Wales’ Choose Well campaign to ensure busy emergency services are available for those who need them most urgently.

For advice and treatment of most illnesses, visit your GP, or call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 for confidential health advice and information.

Treatment for minor injuries, such as cuts, bites, stings and muscle and joint injuries, can be provided at your local Minor Injuries Unit, where there is no need for an appointment.

Only dial 999 in a life-threatening emergency, if someone is seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk.

Click here for more information on the Choose Well campaign.

12. Have a Merry Christmas!
Read our 12 steps to a healthy Christmas in full here.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Horseshoe Pass gets its own lifesaving machine



* Representatives of the Welsh Ambulance Service, including Public Access Defibrillation
officer Gerard Rothwell (front, centre) and trainer Claire Hurford (third from left) with representatives of North Wales Police, including Chief Superintendent
Jeremy Vaughan (far left) at the Ponderosa Cafe on the Horseshoe Pass.

ONE of North Wales’ premier beauty spots has taken delivery of a life-saving defibrillator.

The Horseshoe Pass in Denbighshire, a mountain pass popular year-round with motorcyclists, now boasts an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), as part of the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Public Access Defibrillator programme.

There are approximately 8,000 sudden cardiac arrests annually in Wales. A cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body.

The person may suffer permanent damage to the brain and other organs unless someone starts cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or delivers an electric shock through the chest wall, using a defibrillator.

Staffs at the Ponderosa Cafe were given training on the new device recently.

Claire Hurford, who delivered the training on behalf of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Once someone suffers a cardiac arrest every minute counts. They need immediate CPR from those around them, who will often be family members or passers-by. As well as good-quality CPR the patient needs to be treated with a defibrillator.

“An ambulance will obviously try and reach a seriously ill or injured patient as quickly as possible, but this defibrillator can be used in the minutes it takes for an ambulance to arrive. 

“The Horseshoe Pass is popular 365 days a year, and not just with bikers but with walkers and tourists too. Having a defibrillator nearby means people’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest are vastly improved.”

Also there last Friday was North Wales Police Chief Superintendent Jeremy Vaughan, who was promoting the force’s Bikesafe scheme, which aims to drive down the number of bikers being hurt on the roads.

Mr Vaughan said: "North Wales Police and Bikesafe are proud to support the Welsh Ambulance Service with the instalment of the new defibrillator at the Ponderosa Cafe, which is a very popular spot with bikers.

"Bikesafe is a police-led motorcycle project that is run by most forces in the UK with the main aim being to reduce the number of bikers being hurt on the roads. FBoS courses (First Bike on Scene) are also provided which allows riders to receive training in motorcycle-related first aid.

“The installation of the defibrillator at this popular spot now also means Bikesafe trained volunteers will have an additional tool to provide life-saving treatment."

The defibrillator on the Horseshoe Pass follows an initiative launched last year to install Public Access Defibrillators (PAD) in churches across Wales.

The Welsh Ambulance Service joined forces with the British Heart Foundation and The Church in Wales to make defibrillators available for remote communities across Wales.

St James’ Church in Wick, Vale of Glamorgan, was the first church in Wales to install a PAD on a church building. Defibrillators are also found in train stations, museums and shopping centres, and even down the Big Pit mining museum and on the summit of Snowdon.

The Welsh Ambulance Service works in partnership with other organisations, including Welsh Government, to provide equipment and training on the use of defibrillators under the Public Access Defibrillator Scheme (PADS). So far it has trained more than 5,000 volunteers in the use of AED.

If you are interested in establishing a PADS site or joining an existing team, call the PADS office on 02920 932917.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Council urges people to keep an eye on the weather

Denbighshire County Council is this afternoon (Friday) urging people to monitor weather forecasts as warnings for severe weather have been issued.

An area of heavy rain along with strong to gale force winds is expected to cross the UK from Friday afternoon and into Saturday.

This will bring some locally large accumulations, particularly on hills.  Following previous wet weather, may lead to some localised flooding.  

Further stormy weather is forecast for early next week.

Council staff will continue to monitor the weather situation and people are advised to keep up to date with the latest weather forecasts online, on television and radio, or visit the Met Office's website: www.metoffice.gov.uk

Advice on dealing with severe weather can also be  found on www.denbighshire.gov.uk

Legendary rockers Status Quo are heading for Llan


* Status Quo will headline the closing concert of LIME 2014. Picture courtesy of Dave Coulson.
 
The band that opened Live Aid in 1985 with ‘Rockin’ all Over the World have been unveiled as the headline act at the closing concert at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod next July.

Lead singer and guitarist  Francis Rossi OBE can't wait to perform on the pavilion stage after being told by Jools Holland - one the stars at this year's event - about the magic of the Eisteddfod.

He said: "Jools told me he did the Eisteddfod and what a brilliant place and atmosphere it was. He also explained about the event’s history and that excites me."

Organisers are thrilled the band, that's sold nearly 120 million records and has had 64 Top Ten hits, are joining an already stellar line-up.

Other headline acts include opera superstar Bryn Terfel and the Dutch jazz sensation, Caro Emerald.
 
The acclaimed bass baritone will be playing the lead in a special production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street featuring an all-Welsh cast.
In addition, there will be a world premiere of a new work by top composer Karl Jenkins and an appearance by the chart-topping singing brothers, Richard and Adam Johnson, from Holywell, in Flintshire.
 
Meanwhile, the Spirit of Unity concert will feature the Cape Town Opera, Africa’s premiere opera company, and the Wales Millennium Centre Only Kidz Aloud Chorus under the baton of celebrity conductor Tim Rhys Evans.
 
The Eisteddfod office will be closed over the Christmas holidays but tickets for all the concerts can be bought online via the website  www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk
Musical Director Eilir Owen Griffiths was thrilled he'd been able to sign up Status Quo to bring the 2014 event to a "fantastic climax".
 
He said: "Status Ouo are true rock legends and they are the final piece in the jigsaw for what promises to be one of the best Eisteddfod's ever.
 
"I am very excited by the galaxy of stars we have lined up - and by the end of the week we are going to be Rockin' All Over the World."
 
It was a sentiment echoed by the award-winning Village Bakery - recently named as Wales's fastest growing company - who are sponsoring the Status Quo concert.
 
Managing Director Robin Jones said: "As a locally based family firm, we are proud to have supported the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod for a number of years.
 
"Status Quo have rocked all over the world and now the world will be able to rock with them in Llangollen. It promises to be an absolutely fantastic night."
 
After performing at more than 6,500 lives shows in front of 25 million people, the Quo frontman Francis Rossi, now 64, can't wait to make his Llangollen Eisteddfod debut after five decades in the business.

Rossi formed The Scorpions, which became The Spectres, with fellow schoolboy Alan Lancaster way back in 1962.

And after a number of line-up changes they became The Status Quo in 1967, although they dropped The becoming simply Status Quo two years later.

By 1967 rhythm guitarist Rick Parfitt, now 65, joined the line-up, just as the band’s first hit, Pictures of Matchstick Men, was climbing the charts, and he forged a close friendship with Rossi which lasts to this day.

Original bass guitarist Alan Lancaster left in 1987 to be replaced by John ‘Rhino’ Edwards, now 60, while keyboard player and rhythm guitarist Andy Brown, 67, joined in 1976. 

This year Leon Cave, at just 35, took over as the band’s permanent drummer, the fourth since John Coghlan put away his sticks in 1981, although Coghlan did appear in early 2013 along with the rest of the band’s original line-up for a one-off mini tour.

In 2009 Rossi and Parfitt were recognised for their services to Music and Charity and were awarded OBE’s in the New Year’s Honours List.

When  Status Quo, take to the Llangollen stage Rossi is determined not to repeat the  mistake he made a few years ago when appearing at Llandudno.

He said: “How could I have been so dumb? We had just returned from a gruelling tour of Japan or Australia and I wasn’t at my best. Now I know, if the name of the town begins with double LL then the chances are, you’re in Wales.

“However, I just forgot where I was for a few seconds and in between songs announced how thrilled we were to be back in England. That was a lesson in how to lose an audience, at least for a while. I’ve never heard booing like it! I didn’t realise how passionate the Welsh are about Wales.

“But I know Llangollen is going to be amazing and I’m determined to enjoy it and make it special. Status Quo might be a lot different to Pavarotti but we are established and I hope, accepted.”
 
STATUS QUO FACTFILE

In September 1991 Status Quo entered the Guinness Book of Records after playing four British shows in 11 hours 11 minutes. The Rock ‘Til You Drop event saw Quo play sellout shows at Sheffield Arena, Glasgow, Birmingham NEC and Wembley Arena.

Rock ‘Til You Drop raised £2m for children’s charities. The marathon took a year to organise and involved 60 drums, 200 amplifiers, 62 guitars, 165 cymbals, 12 miles of cable, 50 cameras, 25,000 lights, 250 crew, eight helicopters, five jets and 16 police escorts.

Status Quo have recorded 64 British hit singles – more than any other band – 22 of which have been top 10 hits.

The band made 106 BBC TV Top of the Pop appearances – more than any other band.
In 1988 Quo played a record-breaking series of 14 sell-out shows to more than 300,000 people in Moscow’s Olympic Stadium.

In 1992 Quo performed at the prestigious Last Tattoo in Berlin in the presence of HM The Queen.

2005 was the band’s 40th year.

In February 2013 the ‘Bula Quo!’ movie premiered at the Berlinale Film Festival in Germany.
Francis Rossi’s preferred guitar is still the 1957 green Fender Telecaster he bought in 1968 for £70.   

Over the Christmas holidays tickets for all the concerts can be bought online via the website  www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk
 

Silver Band has Christmas concert tonight

Llangollen Silver Band's annual Christmas Gala Concert, which is now in its fifth year, will be held at the Town Hall this evening (Friday), starting at 7pm.


* A young band member practices for the concert.
Described as a real traditional celebration of Christmas, the evening will see the Senior Band playing seasonal tunes and there will be sing-a-long carols with word sheets are provided.

The gala will showcase not only the Christmas programme that the senior and youth bands have been working very hard on, but also the varied musical talents of the band’s players both young and old.

Pick up a ticket for just £5 from Honeypots, the Town Council office in Parade Street, or from any band member.

The cost of the ticket includes a mince pie, a glass of mulled wine and a generous helping of Christmas spirit.                                                       

Police warn over heating oil thefts

Crimestopers/101

Residents who use oil to heat their homes are being reminded to be vigilant and regularly check their oil tanks.
 
Officers from the Community Safety Department are issuing the advice as a reminder to all that if they see any suspicious activity around properties which have oil tanks – or any suspicious or unusual vehicles - to report it.
 
“With the colder weather here we are also urging people to consider what security they have in place around their oil tanks,” said PCSO Louise Wigglesworth. 
 
“Oil tanks can hold fuel worth a considerable amount of money so it is always worth making sure that you have quality locks fitted and that you make it as difficult as possible for a thief to access the tank and its contents.”
 
“We are also urging people to keep a record of the deliveries made to them – noting the date, how many litres were delivered, as this should help us in the event that they become a victim of crime.”
 
Householders can help deter thieves by taking the following measures:
 
•             Use good quality locks on your tank, close shackle padlocks are the best as offer the most resistance to tools usually favoured by a thief.
•             Check oil levels regularly.
•             Security lights and or CCTV cameras have a very positive effect on protecting your property and tank as will illuminate and capture any suspicious activity. 
•             Surround the tank with high fencing and walls or metal / grill cages which can be locked.
•             There are various devices on the market which can be attached to the oil tank, ask your supplier for further details.
·         Finally, residents thinking of converting to oil heating should consider where they plan to situate their oil tank. Placing it close to your home and somewhere it can be seen from your windows could help deter a thief from targeting your oil as they may think that their chances of being seen are too high.
 
 
PCSO Wigglesworth added: “Anyone with information relating to the theft of oil should contact North Wales Police on 101. Individuals with information can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fron Bache closed due to water burst says county

Denbighshire County Council sent out a warning just before 5pm tonight (Thursday) that Fron Bache, Llangollen has been closed due to a water burst.

The message said there was currently no further information.



Some users to miss out on energy price cuts says Plaid

Many of Conwy and Denbighshire's residents will not be eligible for the largest energy price cuts recently announced by the government, according to Plaid Cymru.

The Westminster government has brokered a deal with the "big six" energy companies to save as much as £50 per household on energy bills.

The move aimed to reduce the burden on those who struggle to pay for gas and electricity during the winter months.

However Plaid Cymru says almost a quarter of householders in North Wales will miss out on the full discount because the most substantial cuts only apply to dual fuel customers, where mains gas is supplied.

Thousands of people in Conwy and Denbighshire rely on "off-grid" sources such as oil and bottled gas.

Plaid Cymru’s Ruthin-based shadow energy spokesperson Llyr Gruffydd AM has written to the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change highlighting the issue and asking how the government proposes to ensure that people who receive "off-mains" energy supplies do not lose out.

Mr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said: "It's clear that the Con-Dem government at Westminster has not thought of areas such as Denbighshire and Conwy when arriving at its policies on energy. Rural areas in particular are far more likely to be off-grid and also have households in fuel poverty.

"It was with great fanfare that they hailed the agreements with the 'big-6' energy companies as a good deal for consumers, but it's far from clear how people who aren't on the gas main will get the full benefit.

"In large parts of Wales, people face a choice between getting all their energy from electricity or using oil, bottled gas or other off-grid fuels.

"This means that people aren't eligible for the cheapest tariff.

"Under these 'dual-fuel' deals, people who are near a gas main can get a discount on their energy bills. It's often these prices which are quoted by Government Ministers in their calculations.

"Plaid Cymru welcomes measures to reduce consumer energy bills, although the real reason for rising prices isn't green taxes but energy company profiteering that needs to be tackled. The average profit that energy firms make from each household has tripled in just three years—from £30 in 2011 up to £53 per household last year and up to a huge £105 this year.

"That is why the Party of Wales has proposed a publicly-owned energy company, Energy Wales, with a not-for-profit model."

AMs defend schools over banding drop

The Denbighshire Free Press is reporting today (Thursday) that Assembly Members for the area have defended high schools including Ysgol Dinas Bran over the drop in their latest banding by the Welsh Government.

See the full story at:  

http://www.newsnorthwales.co.uk/news/129318/ams-defend-schools-banding-slump.aspx

Timely Christmas advice from the police

As Christmas approaches North Wales Police and their partners are again seeking to raise awareness around issues of sexual consent.
 
Detective Inspector Kelly Isaacs of the Amethyst team explained: “We want people in North Wales to enjoy the festive season, and remember Christmas for all the right reasons.”
 
“The message is clear; having sexual contact if a person says no or is incapable of consenting through drink or drugs, is a serious criminal offence.”
 
Inspector Isaacs urged those attending parties and functions over the Christmas period to enjoy themselves, but to keep themselves and their friends safe from all types of crime.
 
“Alcohol and drugs can make you feel more confident; they can distort your perceptions and judgement and make you more vulnerable.”
 
Here are some simple precautions on how to stay safe:
  • Always leave your drink with someone you trust, don't share drinks and never accept a drink from someone that you don't know or have just met.
  • Don't get so drunk that you don't know what you're doing
  • Plan how you're going to get home. Don't walk home alone or go back with someone you have just met - stay with friends or use a taxi
  • Would you go alone into a stranger’s house at 11am in the morning? No? So why do it at 2am drunk? Arrange to meet new acquaintances when sober
  • Always make sure that someone knows where you are and when you're expected back
 
North Wales Police, in partnership with other agencies continue to invest heavily to reduce and prevent sexual crimes and take a positive approach to prosecuting offenders.
 
Insp Isaacs added: “We are focused on preventing sexual crime, and we need to understand the problem by encouraging anyone who has suffered an assault to disclose what has happened to us so we can offer them support and investigate crimes of this nature."
 
Rape and Sexual offences are always the fault of the perpetrator; victims will receive the full support of Amethyst partners.
 
If you or anyone needs help with these issues the police can be contacted on 101 or in case of an emergency 999. The Amethyst self-referral system (which does not involve police contact) can be accessed via 0808 156 3658.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Think of elderly as Christmas approaches says county

Denbighshire Social Services is encouraging communities to consider the needs of people who are vulnerable this winter.

As the weather gets colder and days are getting shorter, vulnerable people may suffer from poor health and may need some help in their everyday activities. 


Families, friends and neighbours are encouraged to support older people and others who are vulnerable with every day tasks, such as shopping. A friendly call or an occasional visit to see that everything is well is also important. 

Councillor Bobby Feeley, Cabinet Lead Member for Health and Well-being, who is also the Older People's Champion, said: “Healthy eating can improve the quality of life over the winter months and can help protect against illness. Keeping warm is also extremely important and at least one room at home should be properly heated and people should also wear enough clothes to maintain body heat.

“Of course, it’s important to keep an eye on the vulnerable all year round and a friendly call or an occasional visit to see that everything is well can make a world of difference to the health and well-being of individuals."

If you are concerned about the well-being of an older person or someone who is vulnerable due to ill health or disability, you should contact Social Services on 01824 712900.

HSBC will not leave behind ATM when branch closes



* The HSBC branch in Bridge Street earmarked for closure next February.

An HSBC bank boss has ruled out leaving behind a cashpoint when the branch closes as planned early next year.
The revelation came following a recent meeting to discuss the controversial closure between Assembly Members Mark Isherwood and Ken Skates and Andrew Tamplin, regional service manager, South West and Wales region, for retail banking and wealth management.

In an email sent to the two AMs after the meeting and copied to llanblogger by Mr Isherwood, Mr Tamplin says: “During our meeting we discussed the Cash Machine in Llangollen.
“We have looked at usage, and the current availability of ATMs within Llangollen, and as discussed on the day,  there are many fee-free cash machines in the town and as such we will not be leaving an ATM when the branch closes next February.

“Thank you for your time when we met, and I hope the above information is useful.

“As discussed on the day, if you have any specific customer issues, please let me know and we will do our utmost to help and resolve.”

Soon after the closure decision was announced by the bank, a group of local residents, led by members of the town’s Chamber of Trade and Tourism, held a demonstration outside the branch in Bridge Street, asking for HSBC bosses to reconsider the move.

Martin Crumpton, chair of local group Keep Llangollen Special, said: "The programme of closures by HSBC and others since 2009 is being interpreted as their response to the report by Sir John Vickers into banking reform following the wrld’s biggest crash since the depression of the Thirties.

"In short, ring-fencing has forced them to choose between the dull, staid world of retail banking and the lucrative world of casino banking, where the banks themselves determine the house odds.

"Those at the top are so addicted to it they’d rather sell-off the ball and chain of branch banking, and when you consider that branches are the prime source of new accounts, the conclusion is inevitable.

"Keep Llangollen Special is talking with a new, community-minded alternative that enshrines face-to-face banking with profits ploughed into the community, and we’ll need the backing of the business sector. We’ll have more news in the new year." * An online petition has been started urging the protection of banking services in vulnerable communities. It can be seen and signed at: https://www.assemblywales.org/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=947
 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Llan bid for CCTV upgrade cash needs your vote

Money seized from criminals might help to upgrade Llangollen’s ageing CCTV system.

Cash from the POCA (Proceeds of Crime) scheme and funds from the Police and Crime Commissioner are being made available for local communities across North Wales to use on projects which will help cut crime and reduce anti-social behaviour.
 
Each local authority area has been allocated £7,000 and selected projects will go forward to a final public vote, with each winning project receiving a maximum of £3,500.
 
Llangollen Town Council and Llantysilio Community Safety has just heard that its bid for £3,000 towards facelifting the CCTV system is one of five accepted for Denbighshire which will now be voted on by the public.

The Llangollen CCTV system, which is operated by the Town Council, was first commissioned in 2006, and at that time Llangollen was one of the first towns to utilise broadband technology for CCTV systems.

The system plays a significant role in reducing crime and disorder, increasing the community safety and public reassurance as well as assisting the police in investigating crime.

According to the bid submission, the project will enable the Town Council to replace the defective cameras and complete the upgrade of the system.

The submission says: “CCTV has served, first and foremost, as a deterrent to crime. The evidence collated has featured in a number of high-profile cases, proving invaluable in the fight against crime.

“The introduction of CCTV in the town has been an effective tool in addressing the fear of crime and plays a key role in helping to attract new businesses to the area, in particular those boosting the night-time economy.”

·        To vote for the Llangollen/Llanstysilio scheme go to the website below:

English language:

http://www.north-wales.police.uk/contact/your_community_voting.aspx?lang=en-gb

Welsh language:
http://www.north-wales.police.uk/contact/your_community_voting.aspx?lang=cy-gb

 

 

 

Applications invited for shop front improvement scheme

Traders are being invited to apply for a grant to improve their shop frontage in town centres across Denbighshire to help bring an extra 'feelgood' factor on to the street.

The scheme applies to the whole shop frontage up to and including the pavement area and surrounds and can include signage - bilingual signage is encouraged.

The scheme, which is being run by Denbighshire in conjunction with the relevant town councils, offers up to 50% of the eligible costs up to a maximum of £1,000.

The funding is limited and so schemes for key premises which will have the most impact on the street scene will be prioritised.

Denbighshire's Lead Member for Economic Development, Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, said: "This is an excellent scheme which will go a long way in helping businesses present their premises in the best light possible. Both the street scene will be improved and businesses will benefit from increased footfall - everyone will benefit."

For more information on the terms and conditions of the scheme, please phone your town clerk - contact details can be found at  www.denbighshire.gov.uk/business.

County gets tough on council tax non-payers

Denbighshire County Council says action will be taken against people who wilfully do not pay their council tax.

The warning comes after a 60-day suspended prison sentence was given to a Prestatyn resident for not paying council tax arrears totalling £2,674.

The resident had not contacted the council to discuss his arrears, despite the numerous letters requesting him to do so.

The authority had summoned the man to court multiple times to which he never attended. He was arrested and taken to Prestatyn Magistrate Court.

The magistrate found him guilty of Wilful Refusal, and issued him with a 60-day suspended sentence, and ordered him to make payments each month towards his arrears.  

If the tax payer fails to pay in accordance with the Magistrates instruction, the  prison sentence will be enforced.

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance, said: "The council recognises that a number of people may have difficulty in paying their council tax and we ask them to contact the Council at their earliest convenience to discuss a payment plan.

"The majority of people pay their council tax on time, but a small group of people wilfully do not pay their council taxes on time. This places a heavier burden on other taxpayers and this will not be tolerated."

The council says the most convenient way of paying council tax is through Direct Debit – this is the most popular method used by Denbighshire residents.

Anyone who has arrears but have not made any arrangements to pay can contact the council’s Recovery Team, on 01824 706321.

Police send out fraud warning

North Wales Police are warning all in the community and particularly the elderly not to be drawn into revealing their bank details after recent reports of ‘scams’ being attempted in the area.
 
The offences can take many forms.  Residents of Conwy recently received through the post a "Euromillions Commonwealth of Nations Online Lottery" letter informing them of a substantial financial win to be released upon personal bank details being submitted.  
 
Police say this is a "cruel and criminal fraud".
 
Many offences involve fraudsters, possibly based overseas, contacting victims at random either by email or direct to their home or mobile phones informing them they have won a cash prize in an on-line draw or competition but in order to release the money they have to pay a handling or joining fee.  Bank card details are then requested and victims have money removed from their account.
 
Det Supt Mark Pierce at North Wales Police is warning people to be on their guard.  
 
He said: “People committing this type of crime can often sound or appear very plausible.   Letters, phone calls or emails can be received asking for members of the public to pass over their bank details to allow funds of some kind to be paid into their accounts.  This is clearly a scam and anyone receiving such a request should treat it with the caution it deserves.   Under no circumstances should anyone give out their bank details in this way”.
 
“The best way to deal with these individuals is to simply cut them off and inform BT.  If you are concerned then seek advice from a member of the family or friend, CAB or Police.   This is a cruel crime, particularly at this time of the year but we can all take steps to protect ourselves from financial crime by calling the Action Fraud hotline on 0300 123 2040, or visit http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ .   
 
Det Supt Pierce added: “Action Fraud can provide up to date advice on current scams and can identify whether a scenario is fraudulent.  The Action Fraud Helpline will send details of the offence to the Force area where the offenders are located for further investigation.  If the fraud has been committed by persons within North Wales then a local investigation will be conducted.  We would encourage the public to use social networking to get this message out to as wide an audience as possible – the more people who know about it the less chance of them becoming a victim.”
 
Protect yourself from fraud:
 
Do not give personal details including banking details to anyone you do not know following unexpected requests for money made either in the street, on the doorstep, over the telephone or internet or as these details can be used to steal your identity.

  • Consider registering with the Telephone Preference Service to stop unsolicited telephone calls.  This is a free service.  Further details can be obtained from http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/ or 020 7291 3320.  Registration can be made on line or by phone 0845 070 0707.
  • Consider registering with the Mailing Preference Service as this supports the right to choose the mail you wish to receive.  Further details can be obtained from http://www.mpsonline.org.uk/ or 020 7291 3310. Registration can be made on line or by phone 0845 703 4599 begin. This too is a free service.
  • If you are suspicious that you’ve been targeted in a fraudulent telephone call this can be reported to Action on Fraud at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or telephone 0300 123 2040.
  • If you’ve lost money call your local police on 101.
  • Beware of cold calls even when the caller appears to have personal information such as your address or bank account details.  Legitimate callers will never be offended if you ask to call back in order to confirm their identity.  When doing so always use a phone number that you’ve obtained from previous correspondence or an independent source such as phone book or an official website.
 
.

Isherwood questions Minister over affordable housing

SHADOW Housing Minister Mark Isherwood has questioned the Housing Minister over action to address the "lack" of affordable housing in Wales, highlighting the increase in new home registrations in England, as they have plummeted in Wales.
 
Speaking in the Chamber, Mr Isherwood questioned the Minister over work to ensure that new affordable housing goes to local people, and also asked what action is being taken to ensure local authorities seek the best way of maximising the supply of quality homes for affordable and social rent.  
 
He said: “As you know, although half of the local authorities in Wales have transferred their housing stock, they all retain a strategic housing responsibility. How will you ensure that, in maximising the supply of quality homes for affordable and social rent, local authorities seek the best way of doing that, whether or not that means that the property remains or becomes council owned?"
 
Questioning him over section 106 agreements, he said: “In the quarter to August, new home registrations in England were up 16%, but down a further 24% in Wales. We know that your predecessor had commissioned some work on section 106 agreements, to try to reconcile the need to maximise the occupancy cascades, which prioritise local people, with the needs of mortgage lenders to protect in law the assets against which they lend. Will you update us on the recommendations of that work and how that is impacting on Welsh Government delivery?"
 
In his reply, the Minister insisted that house building in Wales is showing signs of recovery and said that he did not accept Mr Isherwood’s “negative comments regarding house building in Wales”.
 
Mr Isherwood added: “It is clearly a matter of concern if the Housing Minister in Wales does not recognise the official figures for new home registrations produced by the National House-Building Council (NHBC). It is also a matter of concern that the Minister failed to answer my question on a matter which is absolute key to the delivery of more affordable housing for young people in our communities.”
 
Mr Isherwood also asked the Minister what consideration he will give to enabling tenants in council areas where they have voted against stock transfer to consider voting fo r having a Community Housing Mutual within their own community.
 
He said: “The first community housing mutual was delivered in Knowsley village in 1981 under the Heseltine initiative. However, in Wales, we are still waiting to hear good news about how this can be maximised.”

Ramblers publish their winter 2014 programme

Llangollen Ramblers has sent llanblogger a copy of their programme for winter 2014, which begins early in the new year:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Plaid AM hits out over leisure centre closure proposals

Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd has hit out at Wrexham Council’s proposal to close Plas Madoc and Waterworld, with a possibility to build a new leisure centre on the latter site.
 
The North Wales AM, who lives near Ruthin, said: “I regularly take my four children to swim at Plas Madoc on Sunday mornings and am horrified at the suggestion that it and Waterworld may close to save £500,000.
 
“Coming so soon after the Olympics, where £12 billion was spent on sport-related infrastructure in London, I find it absurd that the legacy of the 2012 Games for Wales will be a series of closed swimming pools, gyms and other sporting facilities.”
 
He blamed a combination of UK Government cuts to Welsh Government and what he called an “inept local Labour council” that was targeting frontline services rather than non-essential services.
 
He said: “I fully support the campaign to reta in these facilities and believe alternative savings can be found by the council that do not impact on people’s health and wellbeing.”
 
His views were echoed by Plaid Cymru’s Parliamentary candidate for Clwyd South, Mabon ap Gwynfor, also a regular user of Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, who said: “Cutting leisure facilities when doctors are warning of a childhood obesity epidemic is perverse. Any short-term savings to taxpayers will mean longer-term costs to the NHS. Where else will children from the surrounding areas go to learn to swim if they can’t go to Plas Madoc? Swimming lessons in Waterworld are already over-subscribed and Plas Madoc is particularly good for younger children to get used to the water.”
 
A meeting by local campaigners is being held at the Air Products Club at Acrefair at 7pm on Tuesday.
 

Silver Band plays at church's carol concert



* Fresh from a successful appearance at a similar occasion in Chirk Castle earlier in the day, Llangollen Silver Band played at a carol concert in Llangollen Methodist Church yesterday (Sunday) evening. 

Plans submitted for Chirk station disabled bridge

The BBC is reporting today that work could start on a £1.4m disabled access footbridge and ramp at Chirk railway station could begin in January.

See the full story at:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-25368285

MP promotes "Justice for Robert" Bill

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones is promoting a new Bill in Parliament which would mean a review of sentencing for serious driving offences.

The proposed legislation stems directly from Ms Jones’s long-standing interest in the case of nine-year-old Robert Gaunt of Overton who died after being knocked down by a car on the road near his home in 2009.
The car driver was jailed for 22 months and banned from driving for four years after he admitted perverting the course of justice.

Claiming they had been “let down” by the justice system, Robert’s family began a campaign for a change to the law, which has been backed by Ms Jones (pictured right).
In the summer of 2011, she raised the issue in Parliament and called for the law to be toughened but the Government Minister responsible told her there were are no plans to bring in what he described as ‘tinkering legislation’.

Now, the MP has revealed that she is bringing a Bill before Parliament on January 8 next year which will effectively be “Justice for Robert”.  
She said: “The formal title of the Bill is Driving Offences (Review of Sentencing Guidelines).

“The formal description is ‘That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the Secretary of State to undertake a review of the maximum penalties for driving offences leading to death and serious injury; and for connected purposes’.
“My Bill calls for a review to be made of what the guidelines are on sentencing, i.e. what the maximum penalties are for various driving offences.
“For too long those who commit serious driving offences have been received overly lenient sentences. A review must be made of the maximum penalties in order to get justice for those families torn apart by these terrible offences.”

She added: “I am very pleased to say that the Labour Party front bench have given their support to this Bill and I very much hope that the Government will do so as well.”