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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Town's festival is a real Christmas cracker

THE festive season officially arrived in Llangollen today (Saturday) as the town staged its annual Christmas Festival.

The day started with a grand parade led by Santa – in Welsh Sion Corn – and ended with a grand firework display and a red-hot performance by a circus-style fire artist.
The parade, watched by hundreds of people packing the main Castle Street, began at 1pm from Mill Street and wended its way through the town centre to the Town Hall where Santa took up residence in his grotto with his elf helpers and was visited by scores of youngsters over the next few hours.
There were fairground rides in a closed-off Oak Street and throughout the afternoon there was a full programme of entertainment both on the Capel steps outside the library and inside the Town Hall where there was also a host of craft stalls.
Amongst the outdoor performers were the choirs from the two local schools, Ysgol Bryn Collen and Ysgol y Gwernant, Llangollen Male Voice Choir, Llangollen Silver Band, the musical group Radiant Events and Dragonsong, a community youth choir from Wrexham.
On stage inside the Town Hall were The Smiths Blues Singers, the Manic Monday Choir and Chris Burton.
As darkness fell the group of local residents who staged a series of events throughout the year to raise cash for extra Christmas lights along Castle Street were invited to perform the official switch-on by Town Mayor, Cllr Bob Lube.
A fitting finale to the day’s events came with a firework spectacular firework and a firey display from a circus performer on the Capel steps.
All proceeds of the festival will go to Wales Air Ambulance.

 

* Santa - Sion Corn - and his helpers lead the Christmas parade.
 


* Llangollen Male Voice Choir performs on the library steps.



* A climbing frame attracts the crowds in Oak Street. 



* Dragonsong from Wrexham sings for the crowds in Castle Street.




* Llangollen Silver band hits the right seasonal note.



* Santa leads the parade into Market Street.



* One of the gleaming classic cars in the parade.


* An open-topped veteran car heads over the bridge.



* Morris dancers were a colourful feature of the opening parade.


* One of the young stars of the festival arrives aboard her Christmas conveyance.



* A horse-drawn dray wagon from Llangollen Brewery pleases the crowds.



* A magic roundabout attracts the kids in Oak Street.



* Charlie, Shirley, Karen and Rebecca, who staged various events to raise cash for extra Christmas lights in the town centre, were invited to switch on the display just after 5pm. 


* A grand fireworks display rounds off the festival.


* A circus performer does tricks with fire.

Town to stage Small Business Saturday

Organisers have asked llanblogger to carry the poster below for the forthcoming Small Business Saturday event in the town:



Friday, November 28, 2014

Rhys tops the bill at Llan Christmas cracker

International star tenor Rhys Meirion will top the bill at a special Christmas Carol Concert to raise a Santa’s sackful of cash to help hard-up competitors take part in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
Every year the Eisteddfod turns Father Christmas by providing over £20,000 of travel and accommodation for competition entrants from as far afield as the Philippines and South America as well as Africa and Eastern Europe.
The Christmas Carol Concert at the Royal International Pavilion, which takes place this year on Sunday, December 14, plays a vital part in that fund-raising effort.
Rhys Meirion (pictured right), who lives in Pwllglas near Ruthin with his wife, Nia, and three children Osian, 18, Elan, 15 and Erin, 13, says he’s delighted to have the opportunity to help support young international competitors dreaming of travelling to North Wales to compete.
The schoolteacher turned opera star made his New York Carnegie Hall debut earlier this year in the premiere of Karl Jenkins’ The Bards of Wales, said it’s vital to support one of the world’s best international competitions.
Rhys, one of Wales’s very own Three Tenors – the others are Aled Hall and Alun Rhys-Jenkins, said: “Llangollen is such a special event which has so much tradition associated with it. I was in Budapest recently and speaking to people there it’s clear the economic climate remains difficult to bring choirs of young people over to Wales to compete.
“Air fares alone are astronomical so this concert to support the Bursary Scheme for international competitors from developing countries is a great idea.
“I always look forward to visiting the International Eisteddfod as a performer or a visitor. It’s a magical event and gives young people in particular an experience they will never forget.”
The Llangollen December concert will cap a busy year for Rhys in which he has just published his autobiography, Stopio’r Byd Am Funud Fach (Stop the World for a Minute).
In the book he tells of his anguish at his younger sister Elen’s tragic death following a fall, the effect it had on his family and his determination to honour Elen Meirion’s memory by raising awareness of the importance of organ donation.
He said: “We were very close and I treasure the time we had together as brother and sister. It’s important to me that I campaign as much as I can to raise awareness of organ transplants.
“It was what Elen wanted and we take great comfort from the fact as many as five people benefitted after receiving Elen’s organs following her death.
“Of course I am still affected by Elen’s death but losing her also gives me strength in many ways as I always feel she is there on stage with me.
“I know people who have been in a similar position to me and have lost someone close and they say they feel the same way. It’s something you can’t explain, that feeling that someone is there with you. You can feel their presence.”
He added: “My sister’s passing also taught me another important lesson in life and that’s to make the most of every day. The fact is, every day is a special gift.”
And Rhys is always looking for ways to boost his fundraising efforts for the Elen Meirion Fund which supports people in Wales who are in need of an organ transplant as well as other good causes. 
On Wednesday, December 10, he’s performing at the Gates Art Centre, Cardiff for the Cardiff Sinfonietta’s 10th anniversary concert in aid of Elen’s fund and Velindre Cancer Care and the following night he is presenting An Evening with Rhys Meirion, again in Cardiff, in aid of Kidney Wales.
It’s a Christmas concert with soprano Ellen Williams, the Pendyrus ,Male Voice Choir and Lucie Jones, of X-Factor fame who has now gone on to star in musical theatre.”
Back in Llangollen on December 14 Rhys will be joined on stage by teenage sensation Dewi Wykes, the schoolboy from Gellifor, near Ruthin, who came through auditions to make a huge impression alongside Bryn Terfel in the International Eisteddfod’s acclaimed Sweeney Todd in July.
Rhys said: “It’s going to be an amazing evening. I’m going to sing some carols and a few classical pieces accompanied by pianist Annette Bryn Parri. I have worked with Annette, who is unbelievably talented, many times over the years.
“Dewi Wykes, the boy selected to star in Sweeney Todd alongside Bryn Terfel and Sian Cothi at Llangollen in July is also appearing and, hopefully, fingers crossed, we will do a little something together.
“Add to that the Llangollen Silver Band, the choir of Ysgol Morgan Llwyd, who won the Eisteddfod’s Show Choir event in July, and the children of Mountain Lane Primary School and we are going to have a wonderful Christmas concert.
“It’s always a pleasure to perform at Llangollen as the audience is so knowledgeable. There is a level of expectancy, they really do know, understand and love their music.”
And once Christmas is over 2015 promises to be another busy year for Rhys with radio and television commitments for the former schoolteacher who took the plunge in 1997 and gave up his job as head of Ysgol Pentrecelyn, near Ruthin, for a life in music.
He said: “Regrets? The answer has to be no, not at all. As much as I enjoyed working in a classroom it doesn’t quite feel as good as walking out in front of an expectant audience knowing you have to deliver. That’s my workplace now and it’s something I really do enjoy.”
Christmas at Llangollen 2014, organised by the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod’s Music and Staging Committee, will take place on Sunday, December 14, at 7.30pm.
Tickets, priced £10 (£8 concessions), are available from the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod office at the Royal International Pavilion, Gwyn Davies, Butchers, Castle Street, Llangollen and Jades Hair and Beauty, Oak St, Llangollen.
For more information about the 2015 Llangollen International Music Festival visit www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk
For more information about Rhys Meirion and for details on where to buy his autobiography, Stopio'r Byd Am Funud Fach, £9.95, visit www.rhysmeirion.com

Thursday, November 27, 2014

New health centre now has roof in place

llanblogger's correspondent in the area, Phil Meyers, has sent us in the latest pictures showing progress on the new health centre currently under construction on the site of the old River Lodge.

Large sections of the roof are now clearly in place.




Public asked to help draw up policing blueprint

The North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner is seeking the public's help to draw up a new blueprint for policing the area.

Mr Winston Roddick CB QC (pictured left) says he wants to ensure that all communities, groups and representative bodies have a stronger voice in telling the police what they think is most important and what they are most worried about.

The Commissioner is updating his Police and Crime Plan and is keen for as many people as possible to be involved in the process.

According to Mr Roddick, the interests of victims and community safety will be at the heart of the new strategy.

He is proposing an integrated victims’ strategy incorporating the key themes of domestic abuse, sexual violence, hate crime and anti-social behaviour.

Mr Roddick said: "North Wales is one of safest places to live, work and visit in the UK. We want to have strategies that keep it that way.
 
"Crime in the area has been reduced in recent years and as Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, my job is to ensure this continues.
 
"My overriding objective, where I start from, is that people should feel secure at home and safe in public places and that the police should be visible and available when needed most.
 
“There is an open invitation to all parts of the community to share their views.
 
“As the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, I have statutory duty to consult local people on policing priorities.
 
“In consultation with the force, I draft an annual Police and Crime Plan and in order to do that the police and I need to be aware what local people believe  the policing priorities should be.
 
"My aim is to ensure that the views, needs and expectations of all parts of our communities are reflected in the plan.
 
“I am accountable to the people when it comes to crime and anti-social behaviour so it is vitally important for me to find out what people think about how the region should be policed.
 
“The updated Police and Crime Plan will set out in plain English and Welsh the level of service people can expect to receive from their local police force.
 
"I recently commissioned a detailed report to provide an independent assessment of the current victims’ support services within North Wales.
 
"As a result of this I have decided to develop an integrated victims’ strategy incorporating the key themes of domestic abuse, sexual violence, hate crime and anti-social behaviour, with the emphasis on providing a comprehensive service to victims.
 
"The plan will also focus on the rehabilitation of offenders with the aim reducing crime which will in turn mean there are fewer victims of crime.
 
“The purpose of the Police and Crime Plan is to ensure the force is paying specific attention to those points which have been identified as crucial by the public, me and indeed by the force itself.
 
“An important part of my role as Commissioner will be to monitor the force’s compliance with the plan and I will be rigorous in holding them to account on behalf of the people of North Wales."
 
Anybody wanting to contribute ideas can do so via the Commissioner's website www.northwales-pcc.gov.uk or they u can e-mail the Commissioner’s office OPCC@nthwales.pnn.police.uk  or write to the Commissioner at Glan-Y-Don, Colwyn Bay, LL29 8AW.  The deadline for submissions is December 18 the revised plan will be submitted to the Police and Crime Panel on January 19, 2015.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Work starts on Chain Bridge

The BBC is reporting this afternoon (Wednesday) that work has started on the restoration of the world famous Chain Bridge.

For the full story see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-30205556

Mike guides the guides around town


* Mike Smart (second from right) outside The Hand Hotel, Llangollen with some of the Guides. 

OFFICIAL guide Mike Smart spent some time last weekend guiding other guides around Llangollen.

Mike, who is local North East Wales Tourism Ambassador and Clwydian Range & Dee Valley AONB guide, led a group of 20 Green Badge Guides on a tour of the town.

Mike, who is also part of TREKsmart.net Guided Walking, said: "The Green Badge Guides had just completed their three years of studying to become the higher level Blue Badge Guides.
 
"The Blue Badge Guides course is overseen by Coleg Llandrillo and requires a huge in-depth knowledge of history, heritage, people and landscape, culminating in an intense week of activity and exams.
 
"My job at the weekend was to guide the guides around Llangollen and share my local knowledge of the Dee Valley, the AONB and its protected landscapes, the UNESCO Pontcysyllte World Heritage Site along with other places to visit when these guides re-visit with tour groups in the future.
 
"Tourism is hugely important to the area and we should help encourage it in any way we can."
 
Mike's TREKsmart organisation is arranging a walking festival in Llangollen on May 2, 3 and 4 next year.
This will take in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB and Pontcysyllte UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
He added: "Come and join us for short, medium and long walks.
 
"Two of the walks include a steam train ride, and there will also be wilderness walks, history walks with a Blue Badge Guide, food and drink walk, Nordic walking, photography walk and talk plus evening entertainment with Welsh folk storytelling music and songs."
 
* For more details, go to www.llangollenwalkingfestival.co.uk/ and on Facebook. Email: hello@treksmart.net

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fatal accident on A483: appeal for witnesses

Police are appealing for witnesses and information following a fatal collision on the A483 yesterday evening (Monday, November 24).

Officers were alerted to the incident at 6.13pm which involved a silver coloured Peugeot 307 and a Scania HGV on the A483 between Halton roundabout and the junction with Ruabon.

Emergency services attended the scene. The male driver of the Peugeot, who is believed to be in his 30’s and was the sole occupant of vehicle, died.

His next of kin have been informed.

The driver of the HGV is not believed to have sustained injury.

The section of road was closed for a number of hours and diversions were in place.

Investigations into the collision are continuing and officers are appealing to anyone who witnessed the incident to contact officers at the Roads Policing Unit at Deeside on 101 quoting reference R185086.

Police appeal follows serious A483 accident

Police have appealed for witnesses following a serious road traffic collision on the A483 between Chirk and Ruabon last night (Monday).

See more on the story on the Leader website at: http://leaderlive.co.uk/news/141135/police-appeal-for-witnesses-after-a483-chirk-crash.aspx

Walkers sought to organise local events

People from Llangollen are being sought to help with organising a suitable mix of walking events in the area.

Interested walkers from Llan recently held a meeting with those in Corwen to discuss future joint ventures and it became clear that the Dee Valley has vast potential to attract walkers and benefit the economy of the area.

Llan walker Ian Parry said: “The idea of creating a Dee Valley Walkers Are Welcome group was floated and gained much support particularly from the Corwen team.

“But we now need to encourage walkers from Llangollen area to  join and help with organising a suitable mix of walking events in the area.

“We would need to get the support of Llangollen Town Council and Corwen Business Association and Denbighshire's Dee Valley Business Action Group in order to proceed and this will be organised in the coming weeks.
“I would like to invite anyone from the Llangollen area interested in getting involved in this exciting venture and help the economy of the Dee Valley to contact me on  01978 753897, or email: ian.parry@uwclub.net.”

Monday, November 24, 2014

MP warns over "nasty scam"

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones is urging constituents to be alert to "a particularly nasty scam" that she says ends up costing people hundreds of pounds for just making a telephone call.

She has also written to the Secretary of State of the relevant Government department urging him to act fast to bust the scam operation.

Ms Jones said: "A constituent brought this scam to my attention so naturally I wanted to inform as many constituents as possible and get the Government to act. This is not the usual 'get rich quick' scam. In this case, many people could lose hundreds of pounds by making what looks like a simple phone call to collect a parcel." 

According to the MP, the "scam" is as follows:
 
A card is posted through your door purporting to come from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 0906 6611911 (a Premium rate number).
If you do call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £315 for the phone call.

Ms Jones added: "Anyone receiving a card with these sort of details should call Royal Mail Fraud on 020 7239 6655 and Crime Stoppers. UK. on  0800 555 111.

"It's also really important that people are aware that the premium rate number may change so please do not call any number stated on a card from PDS
 
"Constituents are of course always welcome to contact me if they feel they have been the victim of a scam or have any other problem I can help with." 
 

County to run free parking scheme again

Denbighshire County Council has announced that its "Free after 3" parking scheme will again be in operation this year to help support town centres in the run-up to Christmas.

The scheme provides free parking in all council operated pay & display car parks after 3pm on a daily basis.

The scheme will operate until December 31.

Christmas Quiz to be staged at The Hand

Holy Cross Catholic Church in Llangollen has asked llanblogger to display the poster below giving details of a forthcoming local event ...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

MP back Small Business Saturday

 
* Outside Marchwiel Store: Ruth Davies, Megan Lewis, Peter
Lewis and Susan Elan Jones MP
 
Susan Elan Jones MP is urging constituents to give special support to village and small town shops on Small Business Saturday which this year will be held on December 6.

The Clwyd South member made her comments after a recent visit to Marchwiel Store, a shop which this year has undergone a major refurbishment.

Ms Jones said: "It was great to meet up with store-keepers Megan and Peter Lewis who have traded here for 30 years and their store manageress Ruth Davies. This store provides the village of Marchwiel with a fantastic one-stop shop for everything from newspapers and hot snacks to fresh bread and Lottery purchases.

"Small businesses are vital in all of our villages and towns. Right across the Clwyd South constituency, from the energetic Cefn Traders' organisation that has done so much to regenerate the main street in Cefn Mawr to the Cittaslow movement in Llangollen and dynamic individual shops like Marchwiel Stores, we are seeing many people doing all they can to promote small businesses.
 
"But for the future of these businesses to be guaranteed in our villages and small towns, it's crucial we give them our custom. I hope residents will support local shops on Small Business Saturday and throughout the rest of the year." 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Latest picture of Chain Bridge work

George Jones of Llangollen Railway has sent in his latest picture of the scaffolding around the Chain Bridge.

Taken last Saturday, it shows work proceeding on the northern bank of the River Dee as part of the major restoration of the historic bridge.



Steam film to be screened at RAFA Club

Denbigh Film Club has asked llanblogger to display the poster below about one of its forthcoming events, which will be held in Llangollen.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Art and craft fair at Town Hall tomorrow

An art and craft fair will be held in Llangollen Town Hall tomorrow, Saturday, November 22, from 10am-4pm.

One of the organisers said: "There will be lots of wonderful crafts from a group of local people. "

AM calls for help with railway extension

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has called on the Transport Minister for Wales to support Phase 2 of the new extension of Llangollen Railway.
 
Last month the first passenger train ran into Dwyrain, Corwen East,  completing Phase 1 of the Corwen Extension Project. Funding is now required for Phase 2.
 
Raising the matter in the Assembly Chamber this week, Mr Isherwood said: “High passenger demand has been welcomed on the Llangollen Railway. In its first 10-day season 4,000 passengers travelled on the new extension to Corwen.
 
“Of course, Welsh Government grant aid was provided for that. Originally, the Welsh Government looked at this on the basis of wider regeneration potential for Corwen as well as Llangollen and the wider area. Now, Phase 2 has to be funded because the original grant funding could not be provided in full.
 
“What consideration can you and your colleagues give to supporting Phase 2 for the delivery of a station in Corwen and the wider infrastructure to go with it?”
 
The Minister, Edwina Hart AM,  Edwina Hart, said she could not provide “an absolutely positive answer on this issue” because “there are budgetary considerations for all of this.”
 
She added: “I can assure you that if the funds become available and we see successful operations we will be able to give further consideration to make them even more successful.”
 
Mr Isherwood added: I am hugely impressed by the achievement of Llangollen Railway and its volunteers on the track extension to  Corwen. They now deserve support for stage two and the region deserves the wider regeneration which this could bring.”

* Watch the question on Senedd TV: http://www.senedd.tv/Meeting/Archive/35764a19-6abe-4e5f-ad7b-969dd154e19a?startPos=3099&autostart=True
 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Joanna gets the chance to speak in Parliament


* Joanna Stallard, front row right, in Parliament with the rest of the group involved in the Westminster Debate. 

A Llangollen sixth former who may be heading for Cambridge has just been on a memorable visit to Westminster.

Joanna Stallard, 18, daughter of the vicar of the town’s parish church of St Collen’s, journeyed to London to take part in the UK Youth Parliament’s Westminster Youth Debate, organised by the British Youth Council, after winning the privilege of being able to give the commemorative WW1 speech at the dispatch box in Parliament.

Joanna, a pupil at Ysgol Dinas Bran in Llangollen, stood up on live TV to give a talk, in English and Welsh, about the soldier and poet Elis Humphrey Evans, known as Hedd Wyn.

She also had the chance to meet former Foreign Secretary William Hague and House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, even managing to get a selfie picture with him (pictured below left).

No stranger to public performance, Joanna has appeared a number of times in amateur productions in her home town.

She is also a budding politician and is currently receiving university offers, including Cambridge where she has an interview next month.

Joanne became involved in political events when she was 15 by joining the Denbighshire Youth Council and the former Welsh Youth Parliament (Funky Dragon).

Speaking of her big day in London, she said:  I had the honour of being one of 24 young people in Wales to attend the UK Youth Parliament's annual Westminster Debate organised by Mr Speaker John Bercow in conjunction with the British Youth Council.

“Along with four other young people from North Wales, I went down on the train to London where we met the group from the south for a meal and catch-up - all expenses paid by the BYC -  before getting a good night's sleep in a central hotel, ready for an early start the following morning.

“After a hearty breakfast we set off promptly to register in Parliament at 9am. There some of our group had the chance to grab a second breakfast, however myself and Avery - who had the prestigious role of being our lead speaker in the Living Wage debate - were quickly swept away to a formal reception with the Rt Hon William Hague MP, Richard Benyon MP and the Rt Hon John Bercow MP.

“There we had a photo opportunity and were able to engage briefly in conversation with these notable figures.

“We then made our way to the chamber, I  felt daunted but equally inspired after that unexpected exchange.

“Luckily, the commemorative speech was first on the agenda, after the parliamentary welcome, so I didn't have enough time to allow fear to completely consume me.

“As John Bercow called out each name I could feel myself shaking as nerves began to build up, I was very aware of what an honour it was to be sat in the hallowed chamber at all, let alone on the front bench meters away from the dispatch box, where so many of my heroes had stood to make iconic speeches previously.”

Joanna added: “This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and a privilege, I knew I could not let myself or my family down. This determination took over as I heard my name called and I made my way over to the dispatch box where I would deliver my message.

“As I arrived there, I felt all of my worries disintegrate, my dream was becoming a reality, I was in awe and loved every second of it. Across from me I could see William Hague, former Secretary of State for Wales, nodding with encouragement as I relayed a story he was clearly familiar with, the story of  a soldier, Elis Humphrey Evans aka Hedd Wyn.

“I tried to incorporate a few sentences in Welsh, as it was important  – it being my mother tongue - to have it incorporated in the Welsh contribution.

“The positive response my story received left me feeling elated and inspired. It confirmed my prior beliefs that politics might be a career I'd like to pursue in the future. I wanted to do it again, to say more, but of course, the time people had to speak was limited, I had been lucky to be among the few who did have the chance to speak and I knew the majority of those who'd wanted to speak had not been fortunate enough, so I was grateful that I had been able to do so thanks to the Welsh competition.

“It is thanks to my school council and the former Welsh Youth Parliament (Funky Dragon) that I was able to get involved in this event.

“I am sad that the funding for the Funky Dragon has been cut and I hope this decision may be overturned. I cannot thank those who helped me enough for having catalysed what I hope will be a successful career in politics in the future.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

PCC welcomes crime recording success

North Wales Police is one of the top five forces for recording crime figures accurately, it's been revealed.
 
A new report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary showed that 94 per cent of crimes in the region were recorded properly.
 
The news was welcomed by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC (pictured left).
 
But the Commissioner stressed there was "no room for complacency" and pledged to push for further improvements.
 
Mr Roddick said: "The integrity of crime figures is vitally important for a whole host of reasons, not least to provide reassurance to the public in general and victims in particular that the police are doing their job properly.
 
"Recording crimes reliably is important as it not only enables me to set policing strategy for North Wales, it also gives people confidence in the policing service they receive.
 
"The report shows that North Wales Police is among the best five forces in England and Wales in relation to the accurate recording of crime statistics.
 
"HMIC found that out of 78 cases where a crime should have been recorded that 73 were recorded by the Force and this is the fifth best compliance rate in this part of the report which means the force has a compliance rate of 94 per cent.
 
"Whilst, overall, the figures for North Wales Police are positive  there is certainly no room for complacency and there is always room for improvement.
"I take my responsibilities in this regard very seriously and scrutiny arrangements have been put in place in relation to the way North Wales Police records crime.
 
"The scrutiny process has included ensuring the force has the right leadership in place to ensure that crimes are recorded properly.
"Quite deliberately, my Police and Crime Plan for North Wales does not include specific targets other than the overall reduction of crime.
"Specific targets can lead to a target culture which puts pressure on police to keep their crime figures down."
Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said: “I welcome sight of the full report although HMIC provided North Wales Police with its interim findings earlier this year in May.  
"The full report endorses the interim account and confirms we have a very high compliance rate in how we record crime, i.e. 94 per cent which I understand is the fifth highest in England and Wales and very encouraging.”
“Following the interim report we have an action plan and Governance Group chaired by a Chief Superintendent on which I also sit and our focus is to improve our crime recording processes further still.”
“Since May we have strengthened our procedures by reviewing and reducing the number of decision makers and so a small cadre of experienced and highly trained staff in the field of Home Office Crime Recording rules can now focus on achieving uniformity and accuracy across the force.”
“However, we won’t rest on our laurels and will look to see from the reports overall conclusions lessons learned and best practice to tighten further our crime recording procedures.   It is important the public of north Wales have full confidence in the way we record, as well as investigate crime, and I am reassured that HMIC concur.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

EE mobile signal lost again

For the second time within a few days the centre of Llangollen has been left without an EE mobile phone signal.

The first loss of signal took place last Friday and Saturday and lasted for a number of hours on both occasions.

Latest blackout came this morning (Tuesday) at around 9.30am.

Responding to the first signal loss, EE's press office told llanblogger: "An electrical fault resulted in some disruption to service in the Llangollen are on Friday and Saturday.

"The mast was fixed on Saturday night, and normal service was resumed. We apologise to any customers affected."

An EE spokesman said engineers were currently looking into the second problem.

Llan councillor opposes merger with Conwy




Llangollen councillor Stuart Davies has voted against the possibility of a voluntary merger between Denbighshire County Council and neighbouring Conwy.

A deadline of the end of November has been set for councils across Wales to consider expressing an interest in a voluntary merger.

Councillors in both counties met separately in September and agreed to investigate the potential of merger, providing doing so voluntarily would offer substantial financial advantages.

They met again yesterday (Monday) and agreed to a positive response to the expressions of interest request.


But during a debate on the issue at County Hall in Denbighshire, Cllr Davies argued against the idea.

He said: “My people in Llangollen are talking to me and saying, `what is the point of going to Conwy’. They don’t like the idea and don’t see the point. It’s over the other side of the mountain, and I tend to agree. I tend to look the other way towards Wrexham.

“I’m the guy who fought the fight to keep Llangollen in Denbighshire in 1999.

“I think there is still too much uncertainty in this for me and in my view we should be staying where we are.

“I’m not going to be voting for this recommendation myself.

“Like Wrexham, we should stand up and say no. I’m fed up with the Welsh Government telling us what to do.

“We should keep the status quo and for a few little bits and pieces go to Wrexham.”


Subject to the Welsh Government's response to the Expression of Interest, which is expected in January 2015, work will start on preparing a full business case for merger, to be considered by both councils in summer 2015.

Leader of Denbighshire, Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, said: "We were the first councils in Wales to publicly declare an interest in the potential of a merger with a neighbouring authority, but we must make it clear that this is an expression of interest and not a full business case for merger. We have agreed to formally explore the options, with a view to consider submitting a full business case in the summer. We believe there are a number of important reasons to proceed to develop a full business case.”

Leader of Conwy, Cllr Dilwyn Roberts, said: "There are similarities between the local authority areas - cost savings could be made. There is early encouraging support from the Welsh Government and there are advantages to voluntary merger over a compulsory move, but there are also risks to managing the merger process and the outcome. All this will be taken into account when a full business case is drawn up.”

During their discussions today, councillors in both Conwy and Denbighshire acknowledged that the impact on residents and local communities would be a key consideration.

To see a webcast of the debate go to: http://www.denbighshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/155310
Cllr Davies appears at 1.21.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hosting Wales Rally brings "massive" opportunities to region



* The rally was at Chirk Castle on Saturday.

According to a story on the BBC news website, organisers of the event say hosting the Wales Rally GB in north and mid Wales gives businesses "massive" commercial and promotional opportunities".

For the full story see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-30074197



* The champagne finish of the rally.

Trio of stars to shine at eisteddfod concert



A TRIO of Welsh musical stars will top the bill at a Christmas concert which aims to raise cash to help bring competitors from abroad to next year’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

Rhys Meirion, one of the world famous Three Welsh Tenors, will appear alongside pianist Annette Bryn Parri and 14-year-old schoolboy sensation Dewi Wykes, who sang alongside opera legend Bryn Terfel in the production of Sweeney Todd at this year’s eisteddfod, at the concert on Sunday, December 14 in Llangollen Pavilion.

Masterminded by the eisteddfod’s Music and Staging Committee, proceeds from the big seasonal show will go towards the overseas competitor bursary fund which supports competitors from developing countries.           

Rhys Meirion, who was born in Porthmadog, Gwynedd, worked as a primary school headteacher at Ysgol Pentrecelyn near Ruhtin before leaving in 1997 to study opera at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

Together with Aled Hall and Alun Rhys-Jenkins, he is one of the inconic Three Welsh Tenors and his album with Bryn Terfel, Benedictus, was nominated for a Classical Brit Award in 2006.

He has sung the part of Rodolfo with Frankfurst Orchestra, West Australian Opera and Opera Australia and took the title role in Gounod’s Faust in Hong Kong.

He joined English National Opera in 1999 and later became company principal from 2001 to 2004.

There he sang most of the leading tenor roles including Rodolfo in La Boheme and Pinkerton in Madam Butterfly.

He has also played the role of Alfredo in La Traviata, Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore, Nadir in The Pearl Fishers, Marcello in Leoncavallo's La Boheme, Duke in Rigoletto, Tebaldo in Capuletti e Montecchi, Tamino in The Magic Flute, title role in Ernani, Sailor in Tristan und Isolde, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier, Froh in Das Rheingold and Zinovy in Lady Macbeth of Mtzensk.

Rhys was in Llangollen back in July when he stopped off in the town during his 200-mile sponsored walk to raise £250,000 for the Wales Air Ambulance of which he is official ambassador.

Annette Bryn Parri is a Welsh pianist, best known as an accompanist to opera stars such as Bryn Terfel, Rebecca Evans and Jason Howard.
She appears regularly on the Llangollen International Eisteddfod stage and also at the National Eisteddfod.

Born in Deiniolen, she studied piano with Rhiannon Gabrielson and graduated in 1984 from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester after studying under Marjorie Clementi.
Whilst at Manchester, she specialized in lieder, oratorio and opera, but her particular interest was in the Romantic composers.

In 1982, she won the Grace Williams Medal for composition at the Urdd Gobaith Cymru Eisteddfod in Pwllheli.
Schoolboy Dewi Wykes caused a critical stir when he appeared on stage with Bryn Terfel in the production of the musical Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street which was the curtain raiser to this year’s Llangollen Eisteddfod.  

He was hand-picked for the role of the young Tobias Ragg alongside the great bass-baritone in the of Stephen Sondheim masterpiece, bringing the house down with his stunning performance.
Also appearing at the concert, which starts at 7.30pm, are Ysgol Mogan Llwyd who were winners of this year’s Llangollen Eisteddfod Show Choir Competition, Mountain Lane Primary School and Llangollen Silver Band.

Tickets are available from the eisteddfod offices at the Pavilion, www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk/tickets (10978 862000), Glyn Davies the Butchers in Castle Street and Jades Hair and Beauty in Oak Street, both in Llangollen.