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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Road closed after man seen on roof

A stretch of the A5 through Llangollen was cordoned off by police this afternoon (Wednesday) after a man was spotted on to the roof of a property in Regent Street.

A number of police cars along with two ambulances were at the scene for over two hours.

The incident seemed to have drawn to a close by around 6.45pm when the man could no longer be seen. He is believed to have been unhurt.
 
The ambulances left soon afterwards but the road remained closed for some time.   

Traffic travelling along the A5 in both directions suffered considerable disruption.


* Police cars cordon off a section of the A5 in Regent Street.

Journalists take a steam train ride


* The group of visiting journalists at Llangollen Station. Picture: George Jones.

A group of eight journalists took a steam train trip aboard the Llangollen Railway yesterday(Tuesday).

The writers, from publications including the Daily Mail, Lancaster Guardian, Dorset Echo, Outdoor Adventure Magazine and Great Outdoors Magazine, had been invited to the area as part of an activity press visit organised by North Wales Tourism and commissioned by Denbighshire County Council.

After arriving in Corwen they were taken on to Pen Y Pigyn and then a tour of the 17th century Rug Chapel.

The visit concluded with a trip on a steam train on Llangollen Railway through the stunning Dee Valley.


Golden occasion for flower arrangement society


* Don Billington talks to members of Llangollen Flower Arrangement Society.

It was a big day for Llangollen Flower Arrangement Society yesterday (Tuesday) when members celebrated its 50th anniversary with a demonstration by Don Billington in the Denbigh Room at the Hand Hotel.

He took as his theme "One L of a Do".

Anniversary cake was served along with tea and there was also a raffle.

Llan Operatic casts professional singer as Nanki-Poo


 
* Professional opera singer Christopher Diffey.


* The full cast of the Mikado in rehearsals. Picture: Barrie Potter.

 
* From left, Helen Belton (Yum Yum), Jim Allen (Pooh Bah)
and Jo Potts and Karen Davies (Yum Yum’s friends). Picture: Barrie Potter.

LLANGOLLEN Operatic Society has chosen a rising young professional singing star for one of the leading roles in its forthcoming production of The Mikado.
Australian-born Christopher Diffey, who is widely acknowledged to be one of this generation’s up and coming tenors and has performed throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, will play Nanki-Poo in an updated interpretation of the classic Gilbert & Sullivan operetta which runs at Llangollen Town Hall from May 14-17.

And, according to the society’s artistic director Chrissie Ashworth, the role will hold no surprises for 33-year-old Christopher who has played Nanki-Poo twice recently for renowned touring company Opera Della Luna.
She said: “I’m sure our audiences will be delighted that we have been fortunate enough to secure the services of Christopher who is undoubtedly one of the best young professional opera stars in the country at the moment.

“It’s also a huge asset that he comes to us fresh from having played Nanki-Poo to great acclaim for Opera Della Luna, in Aberystwyth and Oxford, only in March.    
“I know that everyone who sees it is going to just love the show, which is an updated version of The Mikado set in the 1970s, complete with mini-skirts, flared trousers and dodgy hairstyles.

“Christopher is guaranteed to bring his own touch of class to the role of Nanki-Poo and I’m positive he will fit in perfectly with the rest of our cast – many of whom are also seasoned veterans of playing in The Mikado – and can look forward to receiving a warm welcome from our audiences old and new.”
After relocating from Melbourne in Australia, Christopher Diffey graduated from the Royal Academy of Music Opera Course before making his London debut at Saint Martin-in-the-Fields with the London Pro Arte Orchestra and the East London Chorus.

He performed Triplet 1 in James MacMillan’s Clemency for Scottish Opera at the Edinburgh International Festival, before returning to London to create the role of Karl in the new crime thriller opera The Face at London’s Gray’s Inn.

In 2011 he played Fenton in Verdi’s masterpiece Falstaff at the Longborough Festival and performed in two world premier pieces at the Tête à Tête Opera Festival.
 
Christopher’s stage work includes playing Rodolfo in OperaUpClose’s Olivier Award winning production of La Bohème, Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville with Opera Brava and Colonel Fairfax in Yeoman of the Guard at the Buxton International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival where he received rave reviews.
 
Appearing opposite Christopher in Llangollen’s The Mikado will be Helen Belton as his beloved Yum Yum, whose two friends are played by Jo Potts and Karen Davies.

The demanding role of Katisha will be taken by Justine Bradey, while society stalwarts Dave Short and Jim Allen are The Mikado and Pooh Bah respectively and Richard Mascarenhas is Koko, the Lord High Executioner. Kieran Davie takes the role of Pish Tush.

Musical director is Owen Roberts and some of the memorable songs featured in the show include A Wandering Minstrel and Three Little Maids. Co-director/choreographer is Pamela Williams.

·        Tickets, priced at £9 and £7.50 concessions, are available from Llangollen Tourist Information Centre in Castle Street (01978 860828), Jades Hair & Beauty in Oak Street and Stella Bond (01978 860441).  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Council steps up major events strategy

Denbighshire is stepping up its efforts to promote the county as an ideal location to host major events.

The Denbighshire Events Strategy, which was agreed by Denbighshire County Council's Cabinet today (Tuesday), sets out how the council intends to ensure that events have a meaningful contribution to the local economy, provides the highest quality events possible for residents and visitors, and enhances the county's reputation for hosting and attracting new events to the county.

The strategy also looks at raising the profile of Denbighshire as a destination that welcomes and supports events with professionalism and to increase the economic impact of events that are supported by the council, which are key aspects of the council's Economic and Community Ambition Strategy.

Councillor Hugh Irving, Cabinet Lead Member for Communities, said: "Over the past year, the county has hosted a number of high profile events such as Etape Cymru, Tour of Britain and Wales Rally GB, as well as its own varied programme of events.

"We want to build on that success and increase the quality and quantity of events held in the county, to offer memorable experiences which have a lasting impact.

"This strategy will provide the council with direction and confidence in its approach to managing events over the coming years;  it will help to stimulate new events and enhance existing events.

"It will also develop expertise and jobs in the creative and events support sectors, as well as in the more traditional retail, tourism and leisure businesses. We also recognise the need for events to have a positive impact on the lives of people living and working in Denbighshire."

Llan Cub Scouts in the great outdoors

 
 
* Cub Scouts up close and personal with a barn owl.
 
 
* Cub Scouts try out an obstacle course.
 
A group of Scouts from the Llangollen area had a day that many kids dream of - climbing trees, getting messy and lighting fires.
 
Over 100 Cub Scouts - girls and boys aged between eight and 10, travelled to Kibblestone International Campsite in Staffordshire.
 
As well as trying adventurous activities like rock climbing, caving and obstacle courses, they also got to have a go on a lathe, cooked on an open fire and even got to get up close and personal with barn owls and hawks.
 
Cub Scout Leader Karen Knight said: "The Cubs visibly grew in confidence as the day went on, completing tasks they didn't imagine they'd be able to do. The day was a huge success!"
 
If your kids need to get out more, phone the Scouts on 0845 300 1818 or visit scouts.org.uk to find out how they can join, or how you can volunteer to get outdoors yourself.

Guide to what's on in North East Wales

Denbighshire County Council's Tourism, Marketing and Communications Team has produced the 2014 North East Wales brochure which showcases all there is to see and do in the area.

With a print run of 60,000 it will be distributed widely to key markets in the Midlands and North West – underlying the accessibility of the area to visitors. The brochure will also be distributed via advertising campaigns, promotion at exhibitions and by direct mail as well as via media and public relations visits.

Councillor Huw Jones, Lead Member for promoting Denbighshire said: “This is a fantastic marketing tool, to encourage more visitors to the area, with so much to see and do is such a small area, it shows that Denbighshire is an ideal location for the family market as well as for the more specialist walkers and heritage enthusiasts."

The brochure is available from all UK Tourist Information Centres. The brochure can be downloaded from www.northeastwales.co.uk or contact Denbighshire’s Tourism, Marketing and Communications Department on 01824 706072 for a copy.

Monday, April 28, 2014

New foodbank will serve Clwyd South villages

A NEW foodbank serving a cluster of communities near Wrexham will open this summer, says Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates.

The Labour AM has been in talks with national charity the Trussell Trust for months about creating a centre to help feed some of the most vulnerable people in his constituency, and appealed in the Leader for help.

Semi-retired Ruabon businessman David Jones stepped forward, and a new ‘satellite’ centre will now open in mid-June to serve Penycae, Rhos and Johnstown and their surrounding villages.

Mr Skates said: “This is fantastic news for the area, and I am extremely grateful to David,  Andrew Sturgess from the Trussell Trust and Wrexham Foodbank for getting what was a few months ago just an idea to this advanced stage.

“Sadly, more and more people across Wales are having to rely on foodbanks because of rising costs of fuel and energy bills, static income, high unemployment and changes to benefits. Some 13 million people are currently living below the poverty line in the UK and food poverty is rising, so foodbanks are playing a crucial role in helping some of our the most vulnerable people.

“It was recently reported in the Leader that almost 1,000 a month across Wrexham and Flintshire had used foodbanks in the past year – truly shocking figures. I hope this project – and other similar ones planned for Clwyd South – can go some way to addressing the impact locally of what is truly a national scandal.”

Mr Jones said the satellite foodbank will be based St Thomas Village Hall, Penycae, as an offshoot of Wrexham Foodbank, and is likely to be open from 10am-noon every Wednesday for clients to redeem the vouchers given to them by welfare agencies and health professionals for enough emergency supplies to last three days.

He said: “The finer details will have to be agreed, but the plan is that food parcels will be packed at the Wrexham Foodbank premises and I will personally transport required items to the Penycae satellite on a Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning.

“The village hall is ideally located on a major bus route, with direct buses passing from Wrexham via Rhostyllen, Johnstown, and Rhos. There is also plenty of parking nearby, so the satellite can easily serve the densely-populated villages of Rhos and Johnstown.”

There are currently almost 400 Trussell Trust foodbanks in operation nationwide, and the charity’s goal is for every town to have one.

Mr Jones, who is managing director of Wrexham-based Lyan Packaging Supplies, said: “This satellite foodbank would be the first to open in Clwyd South, and we will be interested in opening one or two more in what I would call the Dee Valley corridor between Plas Madoc and Corwen in due course.”

Mr Jones, who is also a former chairman of Ruabon Community Council, has already found a couple of willing volunteers for the Penycae project, but anyone else who wants to help can contact him on 07930501513.

Curtain falls on Plas Madoc

The Leader reports today on the final day at Plas Madoc leisure centre was marked by supporters yesterday (Sunday).

See the full report at: http://www.leaderlive.co.uk/news/133214/lights-out-at-plas-madoc-leisure-centre.aspx

Journalists to be shown delights of Dee Valley

A group of eight journalists will take a steam train trip aboard the Llangollen Railway tomorrow (Tuesday).

The writers, from publications including the Daily Mail, Lancaster Guardian, Dorset Echo, Outdoor Adventure Magazine and Great Outdoors Magazine, have been invited to the area as part of an activity press visit organised by North Wales Tourism and commissioned by Denbighshire County Council.

After arriving in Corwen, local Green Badge Guide Sarah Jones will take the visitors on a walk up to Pen Y Pigyn following one of the many way-marked walks the town has to offer.

From the top they’ll have a grand view of the stunning countryside which surrounds the town and can see its development as a tourism and an outdoor activity hub.

A tour of the highly decorated 17th century Rug Chapel follows, with a chance to soak up some of the rich local history.  

The visit concludes with a trip on a steam train on Llangollen Railway through the stunning Dee Valley.

Along the route way the visitors will have a chance to see the progress that has been made on extending the railway into Corwen and the imminent arrival of a train service to the town this summer.

Malcolm Clements, chairman of Tourism & Leisure Corwen, said: “This is the second such visit to Corwen this year, the town is certainly raising a lot of interest, not only because of the railway but also the many other developments happening here.

“We have seen a lot of new businesses opening up here and with the funding announcements for arts projects and a new cultural and railway exhibition, the mood is very upbeat for the future of our delightful town.”

Community Garden showcases woodworking skills

Llangollen Community Garden has asked us to display the following poster for one of its forthcoming summer events ...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Llangollen U16s lose League Cup final but still make history



* Llangollen U16s line up at The Racecourse ground.

Saturday, April 26 2014 will stay forever in the memories of Llangollen Youth Under 16s players. 

The team played the final of the Wrexham and District League Cup at Wrexham FC’s ground,  The Racecourse, only to lose 4-1 against a very good Ruthin Town side.

Llangollen started the game well and had a couple of chances thanks to Sam Gostage’s pace and Aaron Davies’s skills.

The game was evenly balanced for the first 20 minutes but then Ruthin started to control the midfield and their physical strength made it very difficult for Llangollen to play their own way.

Llangollen had to make one unexpected change as one of our reliable defenders, Nathan Butler, had to retire due to an ankle injury.

Luke Edwards, his replacement, played an excellent game but the lack of option on the bench to cover the back coupled with the huge size of The Racecourse pitch meant that players’ physical endurance and strength would eventually tell.

The first goal came from the midfield and a very good Ruthin move ended up with an easy tap-in.

Llangollen’s players suffered from the blow and Ruthin kept on putting pressure on their goal resulting in a deserved second barely 10 minutes after the first one and coming from a similar play.

In the meantime Llangollen’s first half goal keeper, Jacob Colley, made an unbelievable save to keep his side in the game.

The first half came to a conclusion with the scoreline 2-0 in favour of Ruthin.

The half-time talk was very much about raising the spirits of the players and to make them realise what a fantastic occasion it was. They knew they had to play the passing football they know best and that scoring the next goal could put them back in contention to win the trophy.

With new intent and purpose the players came back fighting at the start of the second half and took control of the game putting a lot of pressure on the Ruthin goal. 

Following a scare in the first minute where our second half goalkeeper, Jack Carver, made a brilliant save, Llangollen were awarded a free kick about 30 yards from goal which their captain Tristan Lloyd dispatched to perfection. The Ruthin keeper managed to palm it away only for Sam Gostage to score from close range.

The roar that came from the stand where the Llangollen supporters were was amazing and lifted the team. Llangollen pushed for an equaliser and had a few chances but none of them fell kindly.

Ruthin had managed the storm and from their first chance in the second half scored a third from a badly defended corner. Llangollen tried to rally but their players had given everything.

Ruthin scored a fourth to give a final scoreline of 4-1 to Ruthin which was harsh on Llangollen.


Llangollen coach Nico Decourt looks back at the team’s memorable cup run ...


Llangollen U16s players will play the final three games of their youth football in the next few weeks before sitting their GCSE exams.

It is a 10-year story that is about to finish but the run they had in the League Cup this year will stay with them forever.

Llangollen U16 has 17 players and is a Llangollen team only in name as just three players live in Llangollen.

The squad has survived only because other local teams have folded – this may be due to a lack of boys born in 1997-98, interest in other sports or more likely the advent of the Xbox.

Meuryn Hughes, Sam Gostage, Mark Jones, Tom Phillips and Euan Decourt made their grand debut for Llangollen Youth FC in September 2004 against Coedpoeth to be joined a couple of years later by Josh Brazier and Nathan Butler.

Four years later it was Niall Roberts, Luke Edwards and Jack Carver turn to join when Acrefair Youth folded.

Other players came and went and although Llangollen was ‘lucky’ enough not to have many local rivals to fight players for, it was always a struggle to have enough reliable players to compete.

Chirk had a team in the early years but most of the players went to play for St Martins.

At the start of the U13s seasons, three years ago, St Martins also folded and Tristan Lloyd, Ross Briscoe and Rhys Kynaston joined the Llangollen squad.

Morgan Jones followed the season after and finally Jacob Colley, Aaron Davies and Brenden Clegg reinforced the squad this year following another team folding, this time Johnstown Youth. 

The misfortune of some made the squad stronger and created the amazing bunch of lads that are Llangollen U16s today. 

Llangollen Youth has never been renowned to be a ‘winning’ club, but more of a nice gentle club. However, over the last few seasons better results have come from some of the junior teams.

It is fair to say that the current Llangollen U16s were never considered title contenders, often winning the fair play awards at younger age groups, until this season.

A brilliant start to the league meant that for the first time Llangollen would be able to challenge for the honours. Their target from early on was the League Cup as the final would be played on Wrexham FC’s ground, The Racecourse.

Although some of the league results didn’t go Llangollen’s way and ended their title aspirations, their run in the league cup started with an away win against Rhosddu 2-1, followed by the only home tie this year and a win against Marford & Gresford 5-2.

Llangollen were now in the quarter finals and the draw put them against Garden Village, a team they never managed to beat. 

Llangollen played the quarter final in the most surreal weather - sunny to start with then windy in the first half quickly followed by rain, hailstones and lightning in the second half.

The game had to be abandoned with nine minutes to go and Llangollen winning 2-1. The game was replayed three weeks later and they won it 1-0.

The final step to The Racecourse was a game against the other Ruthin team, Ruthin Blues, which proved to be a fantastic game which Llangollen won 4-3.

Llangollen’s trip to The Racecourse was booked and they went there in style.

They booked a team coach, all suited with club ties, and although they lost the final to a worthy Ruthin team they all came back to Llangollen to watch Llangollen vs Chirk while enjoying a BBQ.

It was a fantastic day with the weather being kind to us and made extra special thanks to the support provided by many people from a wide Llangollen area – the roar that came after our goal will stay in my memory forever. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Never before had a Llangollen Youth team made the final of the league cup and as such this year’s Under 16s have made history. But with other fantastic teams coming up the age groups it won’t be long until another Llangollen team goes to The Racecourse and brings the cup back to town!

Stop-off points for Queen's Baton Relay announced

With only a month to go, the excitement is building in Denbighshire ahead of the Queen's Baton Relay's visit to the county on Friday, May 30.

A host of events are being arranged throughout the day to welcome the Baton to Denbighshire, only one of a handful of counties selected throughout the whole of Wales.

The baton relay routes and associated events are:

Rhyl Harbour  (9am-4pm)
The baton is welcomed into Denbighshire during the official opening of Rhyl Harbour.  At the beginning of the event, families will be able to enjoy a festival of colour and activities, including face painting, a treasure trail, bouncy castle, food, demonstrations from rescue services, kite surfing, watersports on Marine Lake and so much more.  For further details visit www.loverhyl.co.uk .  The baton  will be present between 9am and 9.30am

Rhyl Harbour to marsh tracks baton relay (9.30am-10.00am) Six local baton bearers, Michael Kitchin, Nathan Montgomery, Callum Perrin, Jamie Turley, James Morgan, and Tracey Jones will carry the baton between the two Rhyl events. Starting from the harbour at 9.30am, around Marine Lake to promote water sport activities, over the railway footbridge and along the countryside services path at Glan Morfa and into the Marsh tracks cycling centre on Marsh Road.

Marsh Tracks, Rhyl,  (10am-4pm) Free BMX and Road cycling bike hire and coaching, mountain bike track open as usual. Street games activities such as  football, rugby, ultimate frisbee, athletics, dance and more! Test your power against Team GB cyclists scores on the watt bikes leader board and recuperate with FREE drinks supplied by Asda (until stocks last) and food available to buy on- site from the taste academy, Rhyl. The baton will be there between 10am and 11am.

Moel Famau (12 noon – 4pm) The baton arrives on horseback, walking groups will relay the baton to the peak of Moel Famau, come and join in and see the views across the Clwydian Range whilst listening to a live band performance at the summit too! Fell runners will take the baton back down. The baton will be there between 1pm and 3pm.

Ruthin Family FUN day, Cae Ddol (12-5pm) An afternoon on activities for the whole family. Come down to Cae Ddol and join in and watch the battle of the bands, local sport fixtures, bouncy castles, face painting and sporting taster sessions from local clubs such as rugby league, netball, athletics, football, fun fitness boot camps, tennis, golf and bowls.  The baton will be there between 3.30pm and 4.30pm.

Coed Llandegla Forest (9am – 8pm), Oneplanet Adventure site Fun open day for mountain bike enthusiasts, all mountain bike tracks open as normal. Go-Race events organised by Welsh Cycling throughout the day, test your power against Team GB cyclists scores on the watt bikes leader board. Live music and entertainment from 6pm for the official baton handover event. The baton is there between  5pm and 6pm.

Councillor Huw Jones, Cabinet Lead Member for Leisure said: “It’s great that local athletes and those with connections with the county are to be given an opportunity to be part of this major event and will hopefully inspire a new generation of children and young people to see the benefits of sport and leisure activities in general."

Jamie Groves, Head of Communications, Marketing and Leisure for Denbighshire, said: “We have a team of staff working tirelessly to welcome the Baton Relay into the county and to arrange activities to coincide with this historic event.

“It is also a great platform for the county to show the rest of Wales and beyond that Denbighshire is a great place, not only to live and visit, but also to host major events of national significance.”

Follow the tips for safer cycling


* The number of cyclists injured on the roads is on the increase.

The number of cyclists seriously injured has increased in recent years, faster than the increase in cyclists out on the roads.

* The number of cyclists killed increased by 10% from 107 in 2011 to 118 in 2012
The number of cyclists reported to have been seriously injured increased by 4% from 3,085 in 2011 to 3,222 in 2012
* Pedal cyclist traffic levels are estimated to have risen by 1.2% over the same period
* Most (92%) of these accidents involve another vehicle

In a bid to make things safer for cyclists, the Government is running a campaign called Think!   
The campaign consists of a series of tips, developed to educate and remind drivers and cyclists about the correct way to drive and ride, and reduce the number of collisions on the road.


THINK! advice for when you're driving
* Look out for cyclists, especially when turning - make eye contact if possible so they know you’ve seen them.

* Use your indicators - signal your intentions so that cyclists can react.

* Give cyclists plenty of space when over taking them, leaving as much room as you would give a car. If there isn’t sufficient space to pass, hold back. Remember that cyclists may need to manoeuvre suddenly if the road is poor, it’s windy or if a car door is opened

* Always check for cyclists when you open your car door

* Advanced stop lines allow cyclists to get to the front and increase their visibility. You must stop at the first white line reached if the lights are amber or red and allow cyclists time and space to move off when the green signal shows

* Follow the Highway Code including ‘stop’ and ‘give way’ signs and traffic lights

THINK! advice for when you're cycling
* Ride positively, decisively and well clear of the kerb – look and signal to show drivers what you plan to do and make eye contact where possible so you know drivers have seen you

* Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen

* Always use lights after dark or when visibility is poor

* Wearing light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark increases your visibility

* Follow the Highway Code including observing ‘stop’ and ‘give way’ signs and traffic lights

* THINK! recommends wearing a correctly fitted cycle helmet, which is securely fastened and conforms to current regulations.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Message for local councils at Llangollen conference

Public sector organisations in Wales should learn from each other - that was the message at a conference recently hosted by Denbighshire County Council in Llangollen.

Delegates from public sector organisations across Wales attended the Learning for Change conference at Llangollen Pavilion and heard from the council about Denbighshire's experiences of managing the challenges faced by the authority following a critical Estyn inspection report in 2007 and a Corporate Governance report in  2008.

The Council's Leader, Councillor Hugh Evans and Chief Executive, Dr Mohammed Mehmet spoke about the "dark days" and how the council worked on transforming its culture, communication, performance management and its scrutiny processes following the publication of both reports.

Keynote speaker at the event was Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Local Government who outlined the current challenges facing the public sector in Wales.

The other presenter was Steve Thomas, Chief Executive of the Welsh Local Government Association, who spoke about Denbighshire's experience and the national picture of the public sector in Wales.
Councillor Hugh Evans, said: "It was a good opportunity for us to share our journey of improvement, but to also learn from other organisations about the challenges they have faced and their approach to managing their reputations and making changes to their services.

"I became Leader of the council at the start of our journey in Denbighshire.  We were clear from day one that things needed to change and we have focussed on a change in culture, improved leadership and a focus on performance and self-evaluation. We now have mechanisms in place to improve services and to monitor progress through service challenges and our political scrutiny system."

Mohammed Mehmet said: "Wales is a small nation and we should be sharing best practice and learning from each other. This is even more important during times of change and uncertainty.  

"Denbighshire has certainly gone through significant change and has transformed its way of working over recent years. Regulators tell public sector organisations they should learn from each other- that message came across clearly at the conference. Now we need to make that vision a reality - for the greater good of the public sector in Wales."

The  Minister, Lesley Griffiths, said: “Since becoming the Minister for Local Government and Government Business, I have stressed the importance of sharing best practice  across  the  public sector. It is  a challenging time for  public services but it is also a time of opportunity to consider new ways of working and new approaches to delivering services.

“During my visits across all 22 Local Authorities last summer, I saw many examples of innovative services and was impressed by the vision underpinning them.

“The examples I saw involved Local Authorities working with partners and citizens to create new approaches focusing on prevention, quicker action and more tailored service delivery. They also involved good collaboration within organisations.

“Local Government is at the frontline of providing everyday services for our communities. Delivering the transformational change to sustain services and deliver better outcomes for people and communities. The conference provided the platform for us to learn from each other, share experiences and discuss best practice.

“I congratulate and thank Denbighshire County Council for arranging  this conference,  to enable shared learning on such a  large-scale.

Meeting looks at Llan newspapers of the past

To launch the availability of "Tuesday Review" and "Broadsheet" on line,  [http://www.peoplescollectionwales.co.uk/  and search for either Tuesday Review or Broadsheet,
there will be a joint meeting of Hanes - Llangollen Museum - and Llangollen Civic Society at the Hand Hotel Wednesday 30th April at 7:30pm.

Peter Jones will give a history of Llangollen Newspapers, from 4th November 1860 to the present day. 

He will also demonstrate how it is now possible to access those from 1868 - 1908 and 1915 - 1919 as well as the newly available 1947 - 1983. 

Janet Wakefield will then show instances of how the newspapers reflected the life of the times that the newspapers were written, by picking out some of the more characteristic pieces of the time. 

For those without access to the internet it should be possible to use facilities at the Library to access the newspapers. 

The museum also holds a collection of the papers from 1868 - 1944 on microfilm, and the digitised copies of Tuesday Review and Broadsheet. 

Hanes provided the bulk of the issues for digitisation, but Llangollen Museum and Llangollen Library were helpful in providing their collections, as were several people in Llangollen.

Llangollen Museum provided the A3 scanner, and the software was bought using a donation from Sara Pugh Jones's first cousin twice removed, in Bogota, Columbia.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ken's been working on the railroad

Clwyd South AM Ken Skates got his hands dirty during a gruelling shift with a team of volunteers who are reinstating and extending a railway line.


The Labour Assembly Member (pictured right) rolled his sleeves up and got stuck into an afternoon stint with
the Llangollen Railway group in Corwen on Thursday afternoon (April 24).

He said: “It was great fun – I really enjoyed it. This is a fantastic heritage project and a
tremendous amount of work has gone into it so far, but it’s obviously a labour of love for the
volunteers. They’ve made astonishing progress.”

Mr Skates, who is based in Llangollen, spent the afternoon shifting ballasts and helping the
crew align quarter-tonne sleepers ahead of the planned opening of the Llangollen-Corwen.

He added: “It was hard work, but I don’t think I did a bad job keeping up with the volunteers
and I was glad to be able to help. The next step is to build and install a 100-metre platform and
access ramp leading off the embankment at Dwyrain Corwen East, but the laying of the track
was completed recently ahead of schedule so it’s now full steam ahead.

“I’d like to thank the team for having me along and wish them the best of luck – I’m sure their
wonderful vision will soon become a reality.”

Roadworks update



Latest update to roadworks in Llangollen from the county council includes:

Fron Bache, from May 6-8, road closure to allow BT works.

200 flock to Plas Madoc photoshoot


* Kids in roller disco gear for the photoshoot at Plas Madoc.

More than 200 people turned out to show their support for a campaign to save under-threat Plas Madoc Leisure Centre.

Alison Roberts, a committee member of the recently formed Splash Community Trust, organised a photoshoot to help with marketing material as the charitable group bids to reopen the popular facility in Acrefair this summer.
 
The shoot was held to coincide with a half-term roller disco for children on Thursday – and Alison, who works in marketing, was thrilled with the turn-out.
 
She said: “It was fantastic. The roller disco event is hugely popular and there was in excess of 200 there despite many thinking the centre had already closed. We had a professional photographer come along and the shots will be used in future marketing material.
 
"Parents and children were happy to support so we’ve got some brilliant pictures to use to promote Plas Madoc while our work to reopen it continues.
 
“It was an event tinged with sadness as it marked the last one, and for children, parents and staff it was emotional to say farewell to this iconic activity at Plas Madoc.”
 
The Splash Community Trust is working to take over the running of the Plas Madoc from Wrexham Council and operate it as a community enterprise, with all profits ploughed back into the facility. But they face a major battle to generate the funds needed.
 
Alison added: “The centre has been really busy over Easter, so we’re confident that if we can reopen in time for the summer, when usage is always high, we will be able to get off to a great start.”
 
A third public meeting is expected to be held over the next few weeks. In the meantime, anyone with fundraising ideas is asked to email jennymiller08@hotmail.co.uk or call Jenny on 07921 659099.

Musical mission in Llangollen


* Ksenija Sidorova is heading for Llangollen. 

“I am on a mission”, declares Latvian-born Ksenija Sidorova as she talks about her appearance at the 2014 Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

The classical accordion player, a former student of London’s Royal Academy of Music, says she wants to bring her instrument to the world and to audiences that simply don’t appreciate its versatility or true possibilities.

Ksenija, the ‘j’ is silent she is quick to point out in near perfect English, says she is honoured to have been asked to appear at the Eisteddfod having heard all about the festival from Bryn Terfel.

The Welsh bass-baritone knows Ksenija well, particularly after her success in being named, in 2012, the first international award winner of the Bryn Terfel Foundation.

Ksenija will be performing Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus Colores alongside acclaimed American tenor Noah Stewart and musicians such as Venezulan trumpet player Pacho Flores and a host of others.

She said: “I’m delighted to be having the chance to appear and perform under the baton of Karl Jenkins, who I admire so much.

“I’m really excited about the concert particularly as Bryn Terfel has told me so much about the festival and its wonderful history. It really will be an honour to perform in Wales again.

“I have worked with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and performed at Bangor a few years ago but I haven‘t been to Wales for quite a while. And I have never been to Llangollen which I’m told is such a beautiful place.”

Ksenija, 25, was encouraged to play the accordion by her grandmother although she says her mum also plays a similar instrument.

She said: “My mum plays a Bayan, a type of Russian button accordion, while my grandmother plays a slightly different instrument. Both are nothing like the classical accordion I play which has a keyboard and not buttons.

“As a child my grandmother encouraged me to learn and play and I’m glad I did. It wasn’t quite love at first sight but there was always something about the instrument. My family is quite musical, my dad also plays the guitar, but they only really play for their own pleasure.

“I had a very serious music teacher and everything had to be absolutely right and I was a quick learner. Perhaps my path in life, my destiny, was already set out for me and the accordion.

“I also played the piano which had more of the cool factor about it that, perhaps, the accordion didn’t. Other children seemed to find the accordion funny but I was always, more and more, sort of drawn to it.

“It’s a wonderful instrument and can be so many things, cool, sweet, sexy, it can produce sounds to suit any mood. It’s almost there when it comes to being recognised as a truly classical instrument. We just need to finally secure its place with the general public.

“It is up to people who have fought for it to have its own identity and to gain its full acceptance to bring it to the world, so everyone can listen and hear its true potential.”

Ksenija says she is delighted to be able to fit the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod into her busy concert schedule.

She said: “I have travelled extensively this last year with concerts in Morocco, Spain, Portugal and Kazakhstan to name just a few places; it’s been a really hectic year.

Ksenija moved to London from her native Latvia as she wanted to take advantage of more concert opportunities and the chance to study at the Royal Academy of Music.
She became a prize-winning undergraduate before receiving her Master’s degree with Distinction.

Awards and international competition successes have flowed regularly since 2009 and she is now very much in demand as a classical concert accordionist and has worked with a host of composers including Hans Abrhamsen, Samantha Fernando, Elspeth Brooke and of course, Karl Jenkins.    

Always keen to promote the accordion, Ksenija manages to fit in outreach work at primary schools across the UK with the support of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

And like many musicians Ksenija says she treats her instruments almost as human.

She said: “I have two accordions, both Italian and made by Pigini. They are delicate and I’m afraid I have to pay full adult fare on flights around the world for them. Whichever one I’m using travels with me and is placed on the adjacent seat.  
  
“As an instrument they are far too delicate to be put in aircraft baggage holds and, at £20,000 each, too expensive to replace.

“A benefactor helped pay for one while the other I had to pay for myself through a lot of saving and hard work although my family helped too.

“Each has its own characteristics, despite being the same model, and sound, to me very different but each also becomes an extension of my being when I play.”

She added: “I am really excited about the Llangollen International Music Festival and working with Karl Jenkins. I think Colores is a magical mix of classical and Latin music which the audience will really enjoy.

“And if I can convert another audience into loving the accordion as I do, well, it will be mission accomplished in Wales!”

The curtain raiser for this year's Eisteddfod will mark the return of opera superstar Bryn Terfel to Llangollen.
 
The acclaimed bass baritone will be playing the lead production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street featuring a stellar cast including top tenor Wynne Evans.
 
This year's will also feature concerts by Dutch jazz sensation Caro Emerald and veteran British rockers Status Quo.
 
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 ring the box office on 01978 862001 or go to the website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk
 

Two projects aimed at easier canal access

Two projects are making it easier for people to access Wales’ waterway World Heritage Site on the Llangollen Canal. 

A 200-year old ‘roving bridge’ built by Thomas Telford in Trevor is being updated to make it easier for cyclists and people with mobility scooters or pushchairs to cross the canal and a stretch of towpath in Llangollen is being resurfaced. 

The projects are being carried out by Glandŵr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales, as part of its ambition to make the canals of Wales accessible to all. It is being supported with funding from the players of the Peoples Postcode Lottery, WREN Community Landfill Tax, Northern Marches Cymru Rural Development Programme (ERDF), Wrexham County Borough Council, Taith Sustainable Transport, Denbighshire County Council and Sustrans Cymru.

Postles Bridge is a 19th century ‘roving bridge’ that was constructed to allow horses, towing laden canal boats, to cross the canal without the need to be unhitched.  Located immediately next to Trevor Basin in the World Heritage Site it forms a key link between this site and the canal corridor through to Llangollen. 

Access from Postles Bridge back onto the towpath is currently via a cobbled ramp which runs parallel to the canal with a steep turn at the foot of the slope.  The project, which will be completed by the end of May, will construct a new ramp from the bridge to meet current disability requirements, making the canal from Trevor Basin to Llangollen Wharf fully accessible to everyone.

As part of the project, Glandŵr Cymru commissioned Phil Chambers, an independent countryside and heritage consultant, and expert on wheelchair and accessibility issues, to undertake an access audit and provide recommendations to enable better access for all. 

The towpath improvements will include: widening and resurfacing 1,500 metres of towpath along the World Heritage Site between Horseshoe Waterfalls and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, adding to the 16km of towpath already improved by the Glandŵr Cymru. 

Kate Pearson, Deputy Head of Charities, Peoples Postcode Lottery, said: “Our players are delighted to support the project.  Opening up the countryside and making this Welsh World Heritage Site open for all is a really important addition to the local community and all that visit from across the country and beyond.” 

Jim Forrester, chair of the North Wales & Border partnership, said: “The bridge was very steep and the ramp was unsuitable for mobility scooters and cyclists and parents struggled with their pushchairs.  Thanks to the funding the new upgraded bridge and our other project currently on site, to upgrade the towpath along the Llangollen Canal, will allow everyone access to the hugely popular and beautiful World Heritage Site.”

Councillor Huw Jones, Denbighshire's Cabinet Lead Member for Tourism, said: "The council is delighted to be supporting this work as we see the canal as one of the Dee Valley's most valuable assets from a tourism perspective.  It is vital that we work with our partners to make sure the infrastructure is in place to enhance our tourism offer and provide visitors with a pleasurable experience when visiting our waterways."

Allan Forrest, Northern Marches Cymru Manager, Wrexham Council, said: “Wrexham Council is pleased to support the improvements to Postles bridge and the towpath which will significantly improve access for the local community and visitors at Trevor Basin.”

Richard Thorogood, grant manager for WREN, said: ‘WREN is very pleased to be a funding partner with such an important project to this World Heritage Site in Wales. The applicants submitted a good application which has resulted in WREN funding £50,000 towards Postles Bridge. The advisory panel were impressed by the consultation which showed that the improvements to Postles Bridge are needed and that local people support the project.’

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Plan for safer access to new health centre

County council highways officers have come up with a plan to make for safer pedestrian access to Llangollen’s new health centre.  
As revealed by llanblogger last week, at their recent meeting a number of Town Council members voiced concerns about how people making their way on foot to the new centre will cope with what has been described as a traffic “pinch point” where the main A539 narrows just past the Four Poster B&B.
The issue was raised for debate by the mayor, Cllr Bob Lube, who said: “Access to the centre site can be extremely dangerous and I think we should discuss this.”

Cllr Sheena Burrell said: “We have been told that access will be made safer by bringing the traffic speed down to 30mph and putting in pelican crossings.

“The possibility of a footbridge over the river has also been mentioned by some people but we have been told this would be too expensive.

“I’m really dreading it. It’s damn dangerous because everything seems to overhang the road at that point and it’s quite dark.

“It’s going to be absolutely horrendous. If you get a wagon or a bus going past there as people are walking by it’s a recipe for disaster.”

She added: “I am recommending that we invite someone here from the county council to tell us exactly what they are going to do about it.”

Her recommendation was unanimously approved by members and the town clerk was authorised to invite a representative from the county’s highways department to address a future meeting of the council on the issue.     

Local county councillor Stuart Davies later contacted llanblogger to say that he had asked county highways officers to a site meeting to discuss the safety concerns.

After the meeting he said: “I wanted controlled crossings but the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which is developing the new health centre, only talked about crossings.

"To address residents' concerns, I called for the site meeting to investigate. I was informed by our officers that the controlled crossings cannot be done because of the nature of the road there.

“What we are going to do is create `jut-outs’ in the road, which will mean that traffic travelling along there has priority one way and not the other. 

“This will have the effect of slowing the traffic down as one side stops to allow the other side to pass.

“It will have a natural traffic calming effect and I’m confident traffic will be slowed down.

“We’ll also have pink patches painted on the road to warn traffic it is approaching a slower section.  
 
“This sort of thing is doen quite a lot in Wrexham and I think this will be a good compromise for the A539.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Try a "dry swim" to support Plas Madoc

VOLUNTEERS vying to save Plas Madoc Leisure Centre want residents to show their support by taking part in a ‘dry swim’ around the popular facility this weekend.
 
Members of the Splash Community Trust, formed to take over the running of centre from the council, have organised the event for 3.30pm on Sunday.
 
The trust has until October 1 to reopen Plas Madoc before it’s demolished, but members are aiming to get it back open for business in time for the lucrative summer period.
 
Committee member Arthur Battram said residents and supporters are asked to don fancy dress with an aquatic theme to help raise awareness of the ongoing campaign.
 
“We thought this would be a fun idea and another way of raising awareness on the continuing fight to save Plas Madoc,” said Arthur.
 
“Last time we linked arms around the centre to show our support, now we are hopeful we can give birth to a new creation run by the community for the community.
 
“This time we want to demonstrate our support in a fun way. People of all ages are asked to dress up in their swimming togs, or as fish or octopuses – anything with an aquatic theme.
 
"We will then ‘dry swim’ around the building. Breast-stroke or crawl, it’s up to you, just get those arms going!”
 
The group is asking people to assemble in the car park at 3.30pm. There will be some brief announcements before the swim starts.

Latest roadworks



The county council has given details of the following roadworks in Llangollen:

Outside Prince of Wales pub, Regent Street, temporary traffic lights to allow water works from April 28-30.

The A5, Berwyn Road, temporary traffic lights to allow demolition works from April 28-May 23.

Isherwood backs campaign to end scams

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood is supporting Age Cymru’s Scams Awareness Month in May which aims to put an end to phone, doorstep and internet scams.
 
Age Cymru research reveals that more than 2,500 scams were reported to trading standards departments in Wales between February 2012 and February 2013, yet this figure could be the tip of the iceberg as the Office of Fair Trading believes that only 5% of scams are ever reported, which means that up to 50,000 could have been committed.
 
Mr Isherwood is already supporting Age Cymru’s ‘Scams and Swindles’ campaign, which is calling for Welsh Government intervention to tackle the inconsistent provision and enforcement of no-cold-calling zones across Wales and consequently provide more older people in Wales with protection from criminals, and has raised the matter in the Assembly Chamber on several occasions.
 
He said: “I very much welcome all that Age Cymru is doing to tackle this problem which many people across Wales are unfortunately falling victim to. It is vital that we make people aware of the various scams out there which include fake lotteries, psychics and rogue builders.
 
“Figures from The Office of Fair Trading suggest people in the UK lose £3.5 billion a year to scammers, with older people who fall prey to scammers losing an average £1,200 each.
 
“When I raised the issue with the First Minister in the Chamber earlier this year, I referred to Age Cymru’s call for no-cold-calling zones and for the Welsh Government to intervene to tackle the inconsistent provision and enforcement of these zones across Wales to protect older people. He replied that his program me for government sets out plans to extend no-cold-calling zones.
 
"However, programmes and plans are no substitute for action. If done properly, no-cold-calling zones are cheaper than painting yellow lines on the road and far cheaper than dealing with the consequences of scams and swindles. Therefore, let us tackle the postcode lottery and, perhaps, consider an opt-out scheme across Wales.”
 
Gerry Keighley from Age Cymru said: “Age Cymru is working hard to ensure that vulnerable older people are made aware of the threat of scams, especially people who may be isolated, lonely or live in remote communities.
 
"We are working with dementia sufferers and their carers to bring home the dangers of scams and we are equally concerned that younger people, especially family members and younger neighbours become more aware of the threat scammers pose to older people.”