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Friday, February 28, 2014

First sod cut at Cilmedw factory site

llanblogger exclusive ...




* At the sod-cutting ceremony, from left, are town crier Austin Chemenais,
Ken Skates AM, County Councillor Stuart Davies, Llangollen Mayor
Cllr Bob Lube, managing director of Dobson & Crowther Paul Holden and
Nick Scott, CEO of developers J-Ross.


* A general view of the Cilmedw site.

The first sod has been cut on the site of a new factory for the Dobson & Crowther  printworks at Cilmedw.

The ceremony this morning (Friday) was performed by the Mayor of Llangollen, Cllr Bob Lube, watched a group of VIPs from the company, developers J-Ross and the world of local politics.
The new factory will allow Dobson & Crowther’s current premises nearby on the A5 to be demolished to make way for a planned new Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Building work at Cilmedw is due to be complete by late summer with work starting on the supermarket shortly afterwards.
Clwyd South Assembly Member, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology in the Welsh Government, who was at the ceremony said: “This is a great day for Llangollen and the Dee Valley.

“It is vital that we attract high quality, skilled jobs to rural areas, particularly for younger people, and this project will do precisely that.
“It will not only secure Dobson & Crowther’s future but also open up opportunities for job creation and help Llangollen to become a stronger and more vibrant community.”

UPDATE

* Keep Llangollen Special has submitted the following statement in response to the story:

"Keep Llangollen Special regrets that the Mayor of Llangollen and other dignitaries have chosen to associate themselves in a supportive manner with the job losses at Dobson & Crowther.
 
"Having researched this particular niche industry in detail, KLS forecasted these losses - from an original workforce of 110, now 60 – over two years ago.
 
"Billed as safeguarding precious jobs at Llangollen’s largest employer, this was the crux of granting planning permission despite powerful objections, including well-founded predictions of these job cuts. There are no other firms in North Wales where these people’s skills will be sought after, which leaves them especially disadvantaged in the job market.
 
"The smiles to camera will not be shared by these victims of broken promises. We call on those present to show at least a little contrition for their plight and undertake to procure resources to help them retrain in new skills to help them support their families.
 
"Given the new building and new machinery, we predict further jobs in line with European competitors who are more productive and run with fewer employees.
 
"In particular, we call upon Councillor Stuart Davies to apologise for falsely blaming the job cuts on objectors."

Chair, Keep Llangollen Special
  

Health board spends almost £800,000 on staff redundancies

The BBC has a story this morning which reveals the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which covers Llangollen, has spent almost £800,000 on redundancy payments for three staff.

For the full story see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-26376046

Owner's ambitious plans for Old Armoury's future


* Ambitious plans ... the Old Armoury.

The woman who rescued an historic Llangollen building from dereliction has revealed her ambitious plans for its future.

Sue Hargreaves bought the empty and rundown Old Armoury, dating back to 1834, two years ago and embarked on an extensive renovation programme which has seen her introduce displays giving a flavour of its past uses as a lock-up jail and a police station.
And at the end of a fascinating talk about the project at Llangollen Museum on Tuesday night she gave details of her plan to complete the transformation of the building, which lies between between the A5 and Hall Street.

The scheme would see the armoury once again separated from the shop next door as it originally was before the first floor was turned into an army drill hall running the length of the first floor above the two buildings in the 1870s.
The ground floor of the armoury would then house a full reconstruction of the original lock-up while a small community hall, for exhibition and educational purposes, is created upstairs.

While the ground floor of the property next door would remain as a shop, a studio flat would be created above it, with income from its letting being used to help pay for the running of the armoury and hall.
In her talk, Sue Hargreaves said that when she bought the armoury two years ago she knew very little about it but immediately began looking into its history.

She started her investigation from the basis that it had been a police station but soon found there were no details of this use recorded at the Denbighshire county archives in Ruthin.
However, she did find a number of valuable documents including an original floor plan for the building, showing accommodation for a jailer and two cells downstairs with a small courthouse upstairs.

The building was in a poor condition and volunteers from Llangollen’s Tidy Town Team stepped in to clear it up and strip it back to basics.
Sue then decided to recreate, as faithfully as possible, the building’s earliest days as a lock-up and police station.

However, she is clear that it was never a fully-fledged jail but rather a place to hold prisoners temporarily until they could be brought before the magistrates.
By September 2012 the building was ready to be shown off to the public during Denbighshire’s Open Doors history event when it attracted 300 visitors on just two afternoons.

The armoury is still open to visitors on request to Sue who has made her recreation of the police station and lock-up as authentic as possible by kitting it out with props such as a Victorian policeman’s truncheon and handcuffs.
She told her audience at the museum that she had just submitted an application to the county council for listed building consent to carry out the alterations which will enable her to finalise her renovation plan.

“I want to restore the building to the same size it used to be, with no drill hall above, using the first floor of the armoury as an exhibition and education centre,” she said.
“We would have art and sculpture displays and perhaps Welsh classes there. I have had enquiries from a number of organisations who say they would be interested in using it once it is set up.

“We would form an organisation to run the building and the shop and flat next door. Its provisional title is Llangollen Arts Community and Education (LACE).
“The shop next door would stay as it is and have a studio flat above. The income from letting the flat would supplement the lock-up and the community hall.”

Old Armoury facts
·   The building was designed by the county architect for Denbighshire and is the only known building in Llangollen constructed from limestone.
·    Its first “keeper” was  a David Davies who lived in Chapel Street.

·    Sue’s research shows one of the lock-up’s prisoners was an Edward Hamer of Chirk who was arrested in 1860 after being found in possession of a chisel and poker and suspected of being about to break into a dwelling. He and another man, Thomas Humphreys, were eventually acquitted of the crime when they appeared at Ruthin quarter sessions. Sue has a recreation of Hamer lying on a bed in one of the cells – with his poker and chisel hidden underneath it.

·  Denbighshire was the first non-metropolitan county in Britain to set up its own police force in the 1840s, but Sue has been able to find very few details about the armoury being a police station. However, one piece of evidence for this comes in a reference made to Llangollen Fair in the book Wild Wales by George Borrow in which he details a family holiday through north Wales in 1854. The fair was held in a square (now Victoria Square) a principal feature of which was a police station, according to the author.

·   In 1871 the building was sold to local solicitor Charles Richards, with the purchase price apparently being less than the original cost of construction. In 1879 it became a base for the 9th Denbighshire Rifle Volunteers, which is why the drill hall was built above both the former lock-up/police station and the adjacent shop. It was at this time it became known as the armoury.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

It's almost time for the Accrington Pals to march

It's almost curtain-up time for the Twenty Club’s production of Peter Whelan's classic play The Accrington Pals.


* David Connolly, Andy Evans, Ally Goodman and Andrew Sully in a scene from the play. 
 
The Llangollen-based group is staging the moving First World War drama from March 6-8 in Llangollen Town Hall to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict in 1914. 

The Accrington Pals is based on the true story of how the smallest town in England raised a volunteer force to fight in the war, contrasting life at the front and in the 1916 Battle of the Somme with the women left behind.


* Left: Director Rachel
Morris with the famous
Kitchener recruiting
poster from World War
One.



* Right: Natalie Evans
and Anna Turner
rehearse for the play.


* Pictures by Dave Roberts

* For more details visit facebook.com/twentyclub.




Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Plas Madoc closure decision delayed

Wrexham.com is reporting that Wrexham councillors have voted to delay a decision on the closure of Plas Madoc leisure centre until a review of the issue has been carried out.

For the full story see: http://www.wrexham.com/news/reprieve-plas-madoc-closure-reviewed-41456.html

County gives reasons for bottle bank removal


* The recycling area now minus the bottle bank.

Denbighshire County Council has been explaining the reasoning behind the removal of the bottle bank from the Market street car park which was highlighted by llanblogger recently.

A council spokesperson said: "Our request to reduce the number of bottle banks was because the site was uneconomical due to the very low volumes.

"Before countywide kerbside recycling, the contractor was getting 7-8 tonnes of glass from the site every month, it has now dropped to a less than 1 tonne per month.

"Our request for the contractor to remove banks meant that instead of coming to the site every 5-6 weeks, he would have to attend at least twice as often and collect a fraction of the volume every time.


"It's just not viable for them to do this, particularly given Denbighshire is on the fringe of the operating area.

"The last remaining issue is whether the council could pay the contractor a premium to attend. Our estimate is that it would probably cost in the region of £100 per tonne to retain the service in Llangollen as we wanted it and that is an unjustifiable rate.


"If householders (the only people who should use the bottle banks) instead put their glass bottles with their fortnightly recycling collection at home it will actually generate more revenues (£20 per tonne) for the council and deliver greater value to the taxpayer.

"Several local authorities in England are currently removing all their recycling banks because reduced volumes have made them more expensive to operate than their household collections.


"In Denbighshire, all the plastic bottle and can recycling banks were removed three years ago because the costs became excessive given that household collections were offered everywhere."

* If you have any views on the removal of the bottle bank, please send them by email to llanblogger@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Old hospital could be sold to housing association



* The former Cottage Hospital could be sold to a housing association,
according to the health board.

The former Llangollen Cottage Hospital looks set to be sold to a housing association.

In view of speculation about its fate, llanblogger submitted a Freedom of Information request to its owners, the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, asking what plans it had for the 137-year-old building on Abbey Road, which has been empty since the hospital closed last March.

We also sought details of the asking price if the building was offered for sale on the open market.

In its a reply, the board says: “Local health boards in Wales are required to act in accordance with a protocol established by the Welsh Government where it is determined whether surplus land can be used to implement the Welsh Government’s objectives for the delivery of affordable housing in Wales. 

“The health board is therefore currently considering the sale of Llangollen Hospital to a local housing association.”

The reply adds: “We anticipate that the sale to the housing association will proceed. 

“However, should the property be offered for sale on the open market we would in the first instance seek advice from local agents in respect of an asking price.”

There are no details about which housing association the board is in negotiations with.

The hospital now lies empty, boarded up and surrounded by security fencing after it was closed almost a year ago despite an intense local campaign to save it from closure.

Its death knell was sounded after the health board revealed plans to build a new £5.5 million health centre on the site of the old River Lodge on the A539.  

This scheme was given the go-ahead by Denbighshire’s planning committee last week.

The replacement facility means the axe will also fall on the existing Llangollen Health Centre in Regent Street.

The health board said recently that it would follow the same process for disposal of this building – a former primary school – as the hospital, first exploring the possibility of using the site for housing and then offering it for sale if this is not feasible.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

Eat a hearty breakfast to support charity

Fancy eating a hearty breakfast to kick start your metabolism and help raise funds for a good cause at the same time?
 
Then why not join the Inner Wheel for The Big Breakfast on Wednesday, February 26 at The Community Hall, Regent Street, Llangollen, from 9 - 10.30am.

All proceeds are in aid of Cancer Research.

There will be a knitted garments stall, raffle and bring & buy.

Tickets are £6 per person.
 

Skates urges people on to the ice to try curling


* Ken Skates, right, in his curling days.
 
A WELSH Assembly Member who is a former champion curler is urging more people to take up the sport after the success of Team GB at the Winter Olympics in Russia.

Great Britain’s men won a silver medal at the Sochi Games last Friday to add to the bronze won by the women’s team earlier in the week.

And Clwyd South AM Ken Skates, who won a First Province of Wales Premier League title when he played for the Mid Wales Marauders, said he hoped more people would try their hand at the ‘fantastic’ sport as a result.

“Curling is a fantastic sport and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who has had their appetite for something new whetted by the success of our British teams at the Winter Olympics,” he said.

“It requires a lot of discipline, persistence and patience, but it’s also great fun. The Welsh Curling Association is based in Deeside and there are several teams across North East Wales. There are also a number of curling taster sessions planned next months for people who are interested in taking it up – go and give it a try!”

The taster sessions at Deeside Leisure Centre, Queensferry, are from 5pm-9pm on March 3, March 10 and March 17. The fees are £5 for adults (21 and over) and £3 for juniors, and no equipment is needed. 

Denbighshire makes its views clear on council merger

Councillors in Denbighshire have met to discuss their response to the initial recommendations of the Williams Report.

The Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery has recommended that Denbighshire County Council merges with Conwy County Borough Council

Councillors in Denbighshire agreed the following:

* Denbighshire would not pursue a voluntary merger option

* The council notes that enforced mergers will not happen before the next Welsh Government Elections in 2016, which realistically means that mergers are off the agenda for at least the next four to five years.

* It is urging the Welsh Government to respond positively and urgently to the report's recommendations on improving leadership and performance and simplifying funding arrangements in the public sector.

* Until any proposal for the future is agreed, the Council will concentrate its efforts on delivering its ambitious Corporate Plan and manage the cuts while maintaining priority services for residents.

Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of Denbighshire, said: "The Council has had time to consider carefully its response to the recommendations included in the report.

"The council has made its views known in the past that the public sector should concentrate its efforts on improving leadership, culture and performance rather than divert its attention to large scale reorganisation of public services. That view has not changed and whilst we will make our feelings known to the Welsh Government, only time will tell what the outcome will be."

Dr Mohammed Mehmet, Chief Executive of Denbighshire, said: "We have taken the decision not to merge voluntarily as we don't believe that large scale voluntary collaborations have worked in the past and there is no confidence that they will work in the future.

"There is a lot of uncertainty around whether these proposals will actually happen and if they will, when will the changes be implemented.  Such uncertainty is not good for the public sector and the time and effort involved in preparing for merger that may or may not happen would be much better directed to delivering our priorities.

"Our efforts continue to be focussed on providing the best services possible for the people of Denbighshire."

Go Compare man to sing alongside Bryn Terfel in Llan


* Incomparable ... top tenor Wynne Evans who'll be starring
in Sweeney Todd with Bryn Terfel at Llangollen International
Musical Eisteddfod.

Top tenor Wynne Evans has landed an incomparable new role - singing alongside opera superstar Bryn Terfel in Llangollen.

Wynne  – best known as the waiter who belts out catchy jingles in the Go Compare TV ads – will be starring with the bass baritone in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street at this summer’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
 
But first Wynne faces a mad dash from Covent Garden where he'll be performing in the Richard Strauss opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, the night before at the Royal Opera House.
 
He'll be joining Bryn and an all-Welsh cast in an English language production of the Sondheim classic on the opening night of the Llangollen Eisteddfod on Monday, July 7, that's being sponsored by the Pendine Park care organisation.
 
According to Wynne, 42, Llangollen is one of his favourite places on the planet.
He explained: “Llangollen is a very special place and one of the most special places on earth for a week.
 
“I performed in a headline concert there a couple of years ago and also presenting BBC 2’s coverage of the festival for the last two years.

“Llangollen is a wonderful place to return to especially as I’m going to be performing with my old mate Bryn Terfel.

“I’m playing the role of Pirelli, Sweeney Todd’s arch rival who is slain by the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Luckily, Bryn and I are good friends or I might just take it personally!

“We both attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, although he was a few years ahead of me. So we have been good friends having know each other for a long time."

Wynne, who was born in Carmarthen, was an established opera star long before he was picked to play Gio Compario for the Go Compare TV ads and has performed at many of the world’s top venues including the Royal Albert Hall.

The TV exposure, he says, has been a bonus when it comes to concert ticket sales.
He added: “It’s amazing really. Six years ago I was relatively unknown until of course Gio Compario came along. It doesn’t bother me though, I know I was a successful opera singer before he came along and I will continue performing in the future.

“I think about the attention I get as my being an ambassador for Wales actually. I have just been over to Dublin for the rugby international, I was working for a TV station, and, as usual, I got lots and lots of ‘Go Compare’ shouts from across the street.

“However, I feel quite honoured really. I know some artists and performers who get quite precious and don’t want to perform the very song that made them famous. I can never understand that, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

"People expect you to perform what they know you best for. What’s the point in disappointing people?

“I know a lot of people come along to concerts or opera performances I’m in as a direct result of seeing those TV ads so I am happy to celebrate that.

“And I’m filming a few more ads in the near future so you can expect to see Gio Compario back on your TV screens quite soon!”

Sweeney Todd was the perfect introduction for anybody who hasn't seen live opera before.
He said: “It’s superb. Fast moving and menacing it's got a bit of everything including murder and intrigue and the music is just sensational."

This year’s Eisteddfod will also feature concerts by Dutch jazz sensation Caro Emerald and veteran British rockers Status Quo as well as a world premiere of a new work, Adiemus Colores, by top composer Karl Jenkins.
 
He will conduct his Latin American themed work with American tenor Noah Stewart, Venezuelan trumpeter Pacho Flores and Latvian accordion player Ksenija Sidorova to the accompaniment of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod Orchestra.
 
The Friday night concert, Spirit of Unity, will feature the Cape Town Opera, Africa’s premiere opera company, famed for their "vibrant vocalism and high-octane stage performances".
 
Appearing with them will be Wales’ representative in Cardiff Singer of the World, Gary Griffiths, the Wales Millennium Centre Only Kidz Aloud Chorus under the baton of celebrity conductor Tim Rhys Evans and British Sinfonietta, one of the UK's leading independent professional orchestras.
 
The Choir of the World competition for the Pavarotti Trophy on the Saturday night is the blue riband event of the week-long festival which will close with a Sunday night concert by Status Quo.
 
To book tickets and for more details on the 2014 festival go to the website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Local youngsters shoot monuments film

Picture of Valle Crucis Abbey
* Valle Crucis Abbey.
 
Denbighshire schoolchildren will be the stars on the red carpet in an upcoming premiere of their films on Welsh heritage sites at the Llangollen International Pavilion.

Inspired by Welsh heritage sites at Rug Chapel and the Valle Crucis Abbey, the pupils will showcase the results of their hard work in creating films based on the monuments under Cadw guardianship.

The schoolchildren from Ysgol Caer Drewyn in Corwen and Ysgol Bryn Collen in Llangollen will showcase their work to friends and family in a launch on March 6.
 
Valle Crucis Abbey was visited by Ysgol Bryn Collen’s year 4 class.
 
The pupils spent the day exploring the site and its surroundings, including the ninth century Eliseg’s Pillar which stands on a Bronze Age burial mound just 500 metres from the abbey. After tours from the Cadw custodian and archaeologists, the pupils worked on creating their interpretation of the historical area in film.
 
Pupils from year 5 at Ysgol Caer Drewyn visited the Rug Chapel site and connected with its past through a series of poems they had written. A digital film was then created at the school which showcases the stunning historical site with the pupils poetry read out over the images.
 
The project, led by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, had utilised  the pupil’s skills in communication, team working and literacy, applying the Curriculum Cymreig to learn about music, languages, geography and art as well as history. The children have been working with award winning company Big Heritage to create the films.
 
Dean Paton, at the Big Heritage company said: “Big Heritage exist to create new ways for people to engage with their shared past, so we were really pleased to work with Cadw to help local schoolchildren to explore the stories of two amazing local places".
 
"Valle Crucis gave us an opportunity to tell stories of a whole landscape, whilst Rug Chapel focused on the tiniest of details that caught the imagination. The project has helped the local schools to appreciate their past, and the films leave a wonderful creative legacy for others to enjoy."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dai Chef cooks up his dream job

 
* Dai Chef at Bodnant Welsh Food.
 

A TOP celebrity chef who wowed opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti with his culinary skills has landed his "dream job".
 
Dai Chef, who lived in Chirk for many years, has vowed to champion Welsh produce after being appointed as the resident chef at Bodnant Welsh Food in the Conwy Valley.
 
The centre of excellence at the heart of the 5,000 acre estate has been a big hit since it was officially opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012.
 
According to Dai, his role at Bodnant  is the culmination of a 30-year mission to promote the merits of Welsh food.
 
Working with Executive Chef Clare Jones who's been at Bodnant since it opened, he will be running the centre's Hayloft restaurant and tea room as well as teaching in the cookery school, with the ingredients coming from Bodnant's acclaimed farm shop.
 
Dai famously cooked for Pavarotti when he came to perform at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in 1995, exactly 40 years after he first came to Llangollen as part of his father's choir from Modena, in Italy.
 
A native of Aberystwyth, Dai gained his initial experience in some of the largest hotels in London's West end and by the age of 21 he was the youngest chef saucier – in charge of the creation of delicious sauces – at the world famous Carlton Club in St James’s.
 
He was the founder of the Welsh Culinary Team and is now seen as the "Daddy of Welsh Chefs", having trained the like of Rhodri Williams, the Senior Sous Chef at Raymond Blanc's legendary Oxfordshire eatery, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.
 
For the past six years Dai has been chef director at the Ship Inn at Red Wharf Bay on Anglesey and in 2008 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship at Glyndwr University in Wrexham.
 
Dai, who's moved to live in Colwyn Bay, said: "I started championing Welsh food 30 years ago when it wasn't flavour of the month so my role at Bodnant - as the centre of excellence for Welsh food - is truly a dream job for me. It's a marriage made in culinary heaven.
 
"The menu at the Hayloft restaurant will be full on Welsh rustic food with a modern twist.
 
"All the ingredients are available right here literally on the doorstep. Bodnant has its own butchers shop and delicatessen. The butter is produced here, the bread is baked here. We're not talking food miles - it's more like food yards.
 
"I'm just putting the final touches to the menu for St David's Day and I've gone down the traditional route with lamb, leek and lava bread in a cawl style.  I’m going to slice some lovely potatoes over the top with some the award winning Bodnant cheese."
 
Gwyndaf Pritchard, the General Manager at Bodnant Welsh Food, was equally excited about Dai's arrival.
 
He said: "We are the Welsh Food Centre and Dai is very passionate about Welsh produce, as well as being extremely talented and creative.
 
"Bodnant is now well established as a centre of excellence but we are determined not to rest on our laurels and Dai's appointment will help take us to the next level.
 
"Food is an increasingly important part of the Welsh economy and we are doing our bit by sustaining local growers and local farmers.
 
"Forty per cent of the produce on sale in our shop comes from Bodnant Welsh Food and if we can't produce something ourselves, then the Conwy Valley is our first port of call.
 
"These are exciting times at Bodnant and we have an appetite for even more success."

Friday, February 21, 2014

New health centre plan gets go-ahead



* An artist's impression of the new health centre.

County councillors have approved plans to bulldoze the former River Lodge (pictured below right)and replace it with a new £5.5 million health centre on the same site off the A539.

The application from the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was given the go-ahead by the planning committee earlier this week.
However, a number of extra conditions were imposed on the original application.

These are:
8. The car parking areas shall not be brought into use until the written confirmation of the Local Planning Authority has been obtained to the proposed management arrangements for the use of the parking areas outside core operating hours.

Two conditions also need to be added to the suggested list, to cover the requirements of the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, and questions raised over the potential for contaminated land on the line of the former railway.

Suggested new condition(s):

20. No development shall take place within the application site until the applicant, their agents, or successors in title has secured the implementation of a programme of archaeological work in accordance with a written scheme of investigation, which has been submitted by the applicant and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The archaeological work shall be undertaken and completed in accordance with the standards laid down by the Institute for Archaeologists and MoRPHE (2006). On completion, appropriate reports and an archive assessment shall be submitted for approval to the Local Planning Authority and the Development Control Archaeologist, Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, 41 Broad Street, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7RR  Telephone 01938 553670.

Reason: To ensure appropriate archaeological investigation and works are undertaken in conjunction with the development.

22. If, during development, contamination not previously identified is found to be present at the site then no further development (unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority) shall be carried out until the developer has submitted a remediation strategy to the local planning authority detailing how this unsuspected contamination shall be dealt with and obtained written approval from the local planning authority. The remediation strategy shall be implemented as approved.

Reason: To ensure that appropriate steps are taken in the event of contamination being identified in the interests of protecting the adjacent main river from pollution.

Plas Madoc battlers could seek judicial review


* The packed public meeting in Acrefair. Picture courtesy of Mabon ap Gwyfor. 

Campaigners at a public meeting in Acrefair last night (Thursday) said they planned to consult a barrister about the possibility of a judicial review into the proposed closure of Plas Madoc leisure centre.

See a report on the BBC website at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-26269338

Segway centre plan is withdrawn

llanblogger exclusive

A planning application for a segway adventure trail on the edge of Llangollen has been withdrawn.

Details of the scheme - reference number 03/2013/1014 - on land to the north of Cilmedw Farm, were submitted to Denbighshire County Council last August. 
The plan called for the creation of a segway adventure trail, the demolition of an existing building and the erection of a replacement building to provide facilities for a segway centre and, as a white water rafting centre, the formation of vehicular access and creation of car park and associated development.

According to the planning brief, the site of the application was to the west of the A5 and to the north west of the White Water Hotel, and located close to the edge of Llangollen amongst a cluster of development associated with the town and set around the A5. 
However, yesterday (Thursday) an objector to the scheme was sent a letter from Graham Boase, Denbighshire’s Head of Planning and Public Protection, says: “I write to advise you that the above application submitted to the Local Planning Authority has now been withdrawn by the applicants/agent and the Authority will not therefore proceed any further with its consideration.”

The site of the application is currently agricultural land which slopes up from the A5 towards the northern and western sides of the site in line with the land form of the area, which is defined by the wooded slopes that form the western side of the Vale of Llangollen. 

The brief explains: “The proposal is a full application for the creation of a segway adventure trail and a white water rafting centre which involves the following elements:
• Creation of a segway track (with a grass surface);
• Demolition of existing agricultural building on site and erection of a replacement building of a similar size and scale which will provide facilities for the segway centre, and will also be used as the base for the applicant’s white water rafting business;

• Creation of a new access and formation of a parking area (gravel surface);
• Provision of wood chip path between parking area and building;
• Formation of soakaways to serve the building."
The planning brief submitted with the application said: “The proposal would make a positive contribution to the area’s economic character as it would provide employment and would be an additional attraction that would assist in attracting and retaining visitors. 
“A new access will be provided for the site onto the road bordering the northern section of the western edge of the site, this will then allow access onto the A5 via the existing junction.” 
Well-known local campaigner Martin Crumpton, of Berwyn, who led the initial opposition to the Sainsbury’s supermarket on the Dobson & Crowther site off the A5 and also battled plans for the closure of Llangollen Cottage Hospital, opposed the segway scheme.
Writing to a county council planning official last August Mr Crumpton expressed his concern the proposed development would destroy an identified, active badger sett and lead to what he described as “further decimation of AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and World Heritage land”.
On hearing that the application had been withdrawn, Mr Crumpton said: "The badgers who live at an undisclosed location west of Cilmedw are now safe."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Plaid Cymru to stage annual conference in Llan



* Llangollen Pavilion.
Hundreds  of delegates from across the country will be converging on Llangollen next autumn as Plaid Cymru stages its annual party conference at the town’s Pavilion.
Plaid leaders say they see it as a landmark occasion as it will be the last major gathering of supporters before the 2015 General Election.

It is also regarded as significant because it will be held just weeks after the referendum on Scottish independence.
The conference will take place oat the pavilion - home each summer of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod - on Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25.



An official statement from Plaid Cyrmu says:  “The party are looking forward to returning to Llangollen, following many successful conferences there in the past. 
“The venue is an ideal one for our conference,  with great facilities at the pavilion, ample accommodation nearby for our delegates and the backdrop of the beautiful landscape of the Llangollen area.

“Taking place under the shadow of the ancient Welsh stronghold of Dinas Brân, this conference will be held little over a month after the Scottish referendum on independence.


“Whatever the result, it will undoubtedly change the contours of politics in the UK and will therefore provide an enabling context for our debates. This is will also be our last annual party conference  before the Westminster elections of 2015.
“Many policies discussed and adopted at this conference will inform our 2015 manifesto and candidates for that election are sure to have a prominent presence on the conference stage. 

“The highlight of the conference will be on the Friday afternoon, when Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM will address delegates.”

David Davies, chair of Llangollen Chamber of Trade & Tourism, said: “We are delighted to hear that Plaid Cymru is to hold its annual conference this year in Llangollen.
“This will provide a great opportunity  to boost the economy of the town during the generally quiet autumn period and showcase the outstanding beauty and attractions of the area.

“Hopefully, it will also demonstrate what a good venue the Pavilion is for other conferences in future.” 
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM, said: "Holding our national conference in Llangollen is a great opportunity for delegates from all over Wales to see what exactly this part of the country has to offer. I'm sure Llangollen will be offering its customary welcome to the conference."

Plaid Cymru points out that its conferences are open to all members. Opportunity packs for organisations and charities wishing to book stalls are available now for the conference at Llangollen by contacting Gwenno George – gwennogeorge@plaidcymru.org

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Message about recycling from county council

Denbighshire County Council says it is advising householders in Llangollen to recycle their glass bottles and jars using the simple and convenient household recycling service provided by the council (blue bin/blue dumpy bag or clear sacks as appropriate) after reports that a contractor has removed the bottle bank on Market Street.
   
A statement from the council says: "Any businesses that have used the Market Street bottle banks will need to ensure they have the arrangements in place to comply with all waste legislation. Most waste collection contractors, including Denbighshire County Council, can offer collections of recyclable materials as well as non-recyclable rubbish."
 

Llan man launches new poetry collection

Mike Law of Llangollen will launch his new collection of poetry at the latest in a series of Viva Voce open mic nights at the Saith Seren Welsh community centre in Wrexham this evening (Wednesday)  from 8-10pm. Admission is free. 
 
 
 
 
 

Schemes benefit from seized crime cash

People across north Wales have chosen which community projects are to benefit from the money seized from criminals in the region.
 
Following a public online vote, two projects in each county have been awarded grants of up to £3500 towards reducing crime in their local area.
 
The grants have been distributed under the Participatory Budgeting Fund set up by Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick (pictured right) and partly funded with money seized by North Wales Police under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
 
The fund was launched at the beginning of November and community groups were invited to bid for grants to help cut crime and reduce anti-social behaviour.
 
A total of 73 projects were submitted and later shortlisted to five per county area following a panel discussion involving police, local authority and community representatives.
 
Commissioner Winston Roddick said: “It is only right that money recovered from those who commit crimes against people in north Wales should go back to benefit local communities.
 
“This small grants initiative goes a step further by allowing the public to decide on where and how it should be spent.”
 
The programme was coordinated by PACT (Police and Communities Trust), operated through North Wales Police.
 
North wales Police Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Simon Shaw said: “I would like to congratulate the groups on their success in securing funding for their initiatives.
 
“The worthy recipients cover a wide-range of interesting and exciting projects that will help enhance local communities. What makes this even more worthwhile is that they are being funded by money we’ve taken from criminals.
 
“I look forward to hearing about the development of the winning projects.”
 
The successful groups, by county, are:
 
ANGLESEY:                 Plas Road Allotment Project, Holyhead (£3500); Valley Community Group (£3301)
 
CONWY:                      Llandudno Junction FC (£3500); Llanrwst Junior Football Club (£3300)
 
DENBIGHSHIRE:          Prestatyn Youth Centre (£1150); St Asaph Football Club (£2000)
 
FLINTSHIRE:                Saltney Ferry Scout/Guide Group (£3500); DangerPoint (£3500)
 
GWYNEDD:                 Gwarchod Bermo Watch, Barmouth (£3500); Noddfa Community Church, Caernarfon (£3500)
 
WREXHAM:                 Wrexham Street Pastors (£3500); Groundworks North Wales, Alyn Waters, Wrexham (£3500)
 

County unveils new anti-bullying strategy

Denbighshire County Council's proactive approach to tackling bullying amongst children and young people has been highlighted in a brand new strategy hot off the press.

The council's Anti-Bullying Strategy aims to help schools reduce the frequency of bullying, increase the likelihood that incidents are disclosed to responsible adults and intervene effectively when bullying happens.


The council says it will help reduce bullying by:

·        providing a model anti-bullying policy and guidance for schools, including establishing effective procedures for recording and dealing with bullying incidents;

·        providing targeted training where appropriate, for example with regards to Internet safety and cyber bullying;

·        collecting information about incidents of bullying in schools to inform future policy development;

·        supporting schools in tackling bullying issues, for example directly through existing support such as behaviour support teachers and education inclusion officers or referrals to other external agencies;

·        establishing a mechanism for raising awareness of bullying issues, including sharing effective practice and useful resources.

An example of a proactive approach to tackling bullying has been the establishment of the Prestatyn Community Anti-bullying Group. The Council's Educational Psychology Service is part of the cohort of people that formed this group approximately two years ago. We have wide involvement from the local community.

Safe Havens have been created  in shops in the town centre and the Council provides training for people in the shops to safely engage with young people who feel unsafe in the town when they are out and about.

This venture is becoming quite successful and the intention is to have the community programme run out in other towns in Denbighshire.  This method of community action means that the focus is on protecting the young people throughout the school week, after school and weekends.

Michael Duke, Denbighshire's Principal Educational Psychologist, said: "There are many important categories of bullying, including bullying around racism, sexual orientation, gender-based, bullying of people with long term health conditions and cyber bullying.

"In Denbighshire, the Council has been active in training students, staff, parents/carers and other professionals for some years in the dangers of the Internet and safe use of social networking sites.  This is an increasing problem nationwide and is difficult to trace, requiring schools to be particularly vigilant and innovative in finding solutions.  

Dr Melaine Ackers, an Educational Psychologist with Denbighshire County Council said: "We are spending a lot of time working with schools to address any concerns or issues they may have, but also to raise awareness of issues around bullying and trying to prevent it from happening in the first instance. The situation in Denbighshire is no different to any other part of the country, but with new communications channels available, we need to be more alert to how bullying can happen and be more creative in our approach to tackling the issues."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sky man backs bid to save leisure centre

Sky Sports commentator and Wrexham Supporters' Trust president Bryn Law is the latest person to add his voice to the campaign to save Plas Madoc Leisure Centre.

The commentator, who was raised in Ruabon, said: "I'm aware of the threat to Plas Madoc. It would be a very great shame if it had to close.

 "The leisure centre and pool played a big part in my life when I was growing up in Ruabon. I'd never seen a pool with a slide and wave machine before I made my first visit on the very same day I moved house from Liverpool. Our new neighbours took me and my brother whilst my parents unpacked.

 "I've played football and badminton in the gym and I still go to the pool with my children when I come over to North Wales to visit my parents. At a time when we're all being encouraged to live more healthy lifestyles, I'd have thought it would be a better decision to improve not remove facilities. Good luck with the campaign."

His passionate plea is another boost to the growing campaign to save the leisure centre.

Clare Wright, speaking on behalf of the campaign to save Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, said they were grateful to Mr Law for speaking out on this important issue: "The level of support from people from beyond the immediate area is fantastic as they realise the threat to this unique leisure centre. Bryn speaks for many when he says how important it still is to him and his family.

"The full council is voting on the clo sure on February 26th and the campaign group will be holding a mass meeting at 7.30pm on Thursday, Feb 20th, at the Air Products Social Club in Acrefair to discuss our next move. We are clear in our minds that the future of Plas Madoc is in the hands of individual councillors and they must do the right thing next week. If they do not, we will hold them to account in their communities."