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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Operatic seeking Sister Act sponsors



* Operatic members recently staged a Nun Run to raise money for their
production of Sister Act.

Llangollen Operatic Society has put out the call for businesses to sponsor its forthcoming production of the smash-hit musical Sister Act.
The show will be given its North Wales premiere by the society at the Town Hall between April 21 and 25.

Operatic spokeswoman Louisa Jones said:  “Sponsorship of a performance costs £125 and includes four prime viewing seats, four drinks of your choice from the bar, four programmes and the opportunity to advertise and distribute marketing material in Llangollen Town Hall.
“We currently have openings on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and the Saturday matinee performance.”

She added:  “Ticket sales are looking good and we have group bookings from as far afield as Shipley in West Yorkshire, so this is a great opportunity for a local business to promote themselves whilst enjoying an evening of great entertainment. “

* Anyone who is interested can contact Louisa on 07989 985644, or e-mail
louisa.jones@live.com

Major Ruabon development approved

A multi-million pound development scheme for Ruabon has been given the go-ahead by Wrexham planners.

For the full story, see the Daily Post at: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/multi-million-pound-ruabon-development-given-8951048




Road closure sparks message to traffic chiefs


* The road closure on the A5.

Mike Edwards, of Llangollen Cittaslow group, has written to Wales traffic chiefs about the long-running road closure on the A5 on the eastern approach to Llangollen.

In the emailed letter, copies of which he has sent to Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones and AM Ken Skates, he says:

"I understand that you have recently distributed an information leaflet to `certain"residents' in the vicinity of the A5 closure in Llangollen.

I feel it is disrespectful to all residents of Llangollen and the Dee Valley that the carriageway on this section of road has been closed since November, 2014 and only now have you given selected people information on why this action was taken.

You will no doubt have appreciated that this is a tourist and commuter route through Llangollen and used by residents travelling South towards Shropshire and the motorway network beyond Shrewsbury. The closure is causing unacceptable delays for residents which will be compounded next weekend when the holiday traffic intensifies coming to and through Llangollen, now we are in British Summertime.

It is further difficult for residents because the A539 Mill Street which provides access and egress to town from the other side of the valley has been and will be subject to temporary traffic control where BCHUB are constructing a new Medical Centre(I appreciate that this highway is under the control of Denbighshire CC). Minor routes through the Pengwern Vale are also subject to closures denying access to and from The Ceiriog Valley.

My main complaint is that you have taken actions to close a Public Highway without consulting nor advising residents in our Community why this action has been taken causing immense disruption for residents many who work outside the valley.

I fully expect a jargon riddled reply, but would be pleased to hear your explanation in the hope that it will be helpful to the people of Llangollen and the Dee Valley. I hope that your reply will provide useful information particularly how long this issue is likely to take to resolve bearing in mind that the International Eisteddfod is only  three months away. These issues must be causing great difficulties for the Emergency Services!"

Monday, March 30, 2015

Police warn over A483 collision

North Wales Police tweeted just before 12 noon today (Monday) ....

North Wales Police @NWPolice 3 minutes ago
Please be aware of a road traffic collision on the near the McDonald's r'about . Road not blocked but traffic getting busier.
 
 

New school governors sought

Denbighshire is seeking more school governors to come on board and register to be a community volunteer and help make a positive impact in our schools.

A council spokesperson said: "Governors have a vital role to play in supporting schools to provide the best possible learning experience for all pupils and are accountable for the conduct and standards of schools in Wales.

"We want to hear from people who are keen to make a positive difference in their local communities and who are interested in being part of a team and bringing their own expertise, enthusiasm and commitment to the role.

"In return, all new governors are provided with training and are fully supported through a mentoring programme."

* For more information and to register your interest, please visit www.denbighshire.gov.uk/governors

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Easter egg hunt planned for the abbey

Easter Egg Hunt
 
Why not hop along to Valle Crucis Abbey this Easter Sunday and participate in an Easter Egg Hunt.
 
Make sure you get there early to avoid disappointment.

The first 30 children that take part in one of our trails will be rewarded with an Easter prize for taking part.

Dates, times and prices

Dates
05 Apr 2015
Times
11.00pm - 4.00pm
Prices
Adult - £3.50
Family - £10.50*
Senior citizens, students and children under 16 - £2.65
Member - Am Ddim/Free
Disabled and companion - Am Ddim/Free
*Admits 2 adults and all children under 16

Saturday, March 28, 2015

More "difficult decisions ahead" for county

Denbighshire councillors are faced with more difficult decisions about the county’s budget, despite having already steered through “choppy waters”.

That’s the message from council chief executive Mohammed Mehmet writing in the first electronic edition of the County Voice magazine.

Mr Mehmet (pictured left) says the new `e-communication' is just one example of the many changes in Denbighshire arising from the budget setting process.

For this financial year, Denbighshire had to meet a savings target of £8.8m in order to set a legal budget.

The electronic version means the council has been able to save up to £20,000 annually in this one area alone.

The chief executive says: “As with every single cut we have made, we have had to weigh up the pros and cons and look for innovative ways to ensure we still have a suitable way to provide a service, in this case, how we highlight what is happening within the county council.

“Of course, we cannot assume everyone has internet access and so to mitigate this, print-outs will be available to read in our libraries and One Stop Shops.”

Dealing with budget cuts, Mr Mehmet says: “Councils across the UK have been absorbing cuts to budgets for the last five years.

“In Denbighshire, we have now set our budget for 2015/16 but it has certainly not been an easy process with some really difficult choices to be made by councillors.

“These have included cutting budgets in some important areas and also to popular services as well as having to introduce charges for others.

“We are at the stage where we seriously have to consider which non-statutory services we can continue and at any one time, our officers are working hard to ensure that, even when a budget is cut the service can continue to be delivered where at all possible.

“This is a very difficult task which requires expert knowledge in their field and can require us taking a very different, at times radical approach to the challenges we face.”

The chief executive says cuts have been made in order to protect more important priorities, such as:

* Setting the lowest Council Tax increase in North Wales and the second lowest increase in Wales at 2.75%.

* A £90m investment programme for building new schools and improving existing ones has also been protected.

* Protecting Social Services.

* All leisure, libraries and youth facilities remaining open next year.

* Keeping roads maintenance, public protection, building control and planning, and housing services at a level that is at least as good as the Welsh average standards.

Mr Mehmet adds: “I'm hopeful that, subject to no in-year changes from Welsh Government, we will be able to develop further proposals for minimising the impact of the cuts to our residents but I say this with the proviso that cuts are predicted to last for several years to come and, although we have steered our way through choppy waters so far - there is no doubt that our councillors will be faced with more difficult decisions ahead and work is already underway to this end.”

* To sign up for the electronic edition of County Voice, go to www.denbighshire.gov.uk/countyvoice

Friday, March 27, 2015

Leaflet gives details of A5 road closure

Nearby residents have today (Friday) had leaflets pushed through their doors giving latest details of  the long-running road closure on the A5 in Llangollen.

The leaflet says:


Tall tales to be told at the aqueduct


* Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Tall tales will be told when Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site hosts a family fun day.

Next Tuesday March 31, Ruth Moore-Williams, folk singer and story teller, will be enthralling children and adults with her canal ditties and wild words of the waterways.

A range of community craft and food stalls will be selling their wares and Explorers, the children’s education arm of the Trust, will be hosting activities for children of all ages.

Visitors to the event will also be the first to see the newly-refurbished grade II listed twin dry docks, which have been restored as part of an £88,000 project funded by the European Rural Development Programme, Wrexham County Borough Council and public donations to the Canal & River Trust.

Dating back to the early 19th century, the docks were in need of vital repair work to seal leaks in the chamber walls, remove vegetation, replace and repair posts and fences.

The project has included improvements to public access, painting and masonry repairs, and new paved pathways near the visitor centre. The covered dock is currently leased by boat hire company Anglo Welsh and is still used for boat repairs.

Lynda Slater, visitor centre manager at Trevor Basin, said: “The fun day will be a fantastic celebration to mark the end of the refurbishment and landscaping work and the start of the main summer season.

“Each year the magnificent Pontcysyllte Aqueduct attracts more than 200,000 visitors as word spreads of this stunning engineering masterpiece. Opened in 1805 and designed by Thomas Telford and William Jessop, it is the highest, longest aqueduct in the UK.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Part of Cynwyd closed by police, says BBC

The BBC reported around 8.30am today (Thursday) that part of the village of Cynwyd near Corwen had been closed by police.

For more on the story see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-32064302

* The Daily Post is reporting on the same incident: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/police-close-denbighshire-village-due-8922169

Nun Run makes heavenly £1,500 so far


* Nun Runners line up at the start line.

THEIR prayers for good weather were answered when devout members of Llangollen Operatic set off on their charity Nun Run on Sunday in brilliant spring sunshine.

And with offerings now almost complete, it looks like their efforts raised a heavenly £1,500.

The sponsorship cash they made  by running or walking the 10k course in the countryside close to the town dressed as nuns or priests will go to help pay for their forthcoming production of the musical Sister Act and also to the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability.

Society member Louisa Jones, who was on the run, said: "We were under starters orders from Christine Dukes at Llangollen Sports Club and then headed up Dinbren Road and along the Panorama before dropping down Sun Bank and joining the canal towpath for the final stretch back into town.

"A good number of the 23 participants were dressed in ecclesiastical costume and this was a source of great amusement to passing walkers and cyclists, many of whom couldn't believe what they were seeing at first.

"Everyone successfully completed the course at varying paces but congratulations must go to Ross Wilson and Louise Decourt who took first and second place respectively with some excellent times.

"Money raised through sponsorship and donations is currently around £1500 and there is still more to come in.

"Needless to say we are extremely happy with this result and would like to express heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported the event and helped to make it happen."

* Pictures by Barrie Potter.


* Marcus Ansloos under holy starter's orders.

 
* Ross Wilson powers his way around the course.
 
 
* Runners celebrate their celestial achievement at Llangollen Sports Club.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

County notifies of bus service changes

Denbighshire is informing bus users of a number of changes to bus services from April 7 and passengers are strongly advised to check timetables carefully.

All Denbighshire timetables are currently available online at www.denbighshire.gov.uk/travel and we expect the new printed timetables will be available from March 30.

Denbighshire's Director of Community and Economic Ambition, Rebecca Maxwell, said: "Earlier this year, Denbighshire set the final budget for the next financial year which included the need to make savings of around £10m across Council services. As a result, some bus routes will see fewer or altered journeys.

"We have worked with bus operators to ensure we continue to provide as comprehensive a service as possible for passengers."

Should passengers have specific questions, they can either telephone their operator or the County Council on 01824 706964

New measures help GPs to work in Wales

A new package of measures being announced today will make it easier for GPs to work in Wales, Health and Social Services Minister, Mark Drakeford has said.
 
These arrangements will make it easier for GPs who have previously worked in Wales to return to practice following a career break or a period of working outside the UK.
 
It will also support doctors who have qualified outside the UK and choose to work in Wales.
 
The package of measures includes a more targeted assessment of an individual’s skills, to identify those who can safely enter the workforce with minimum support or who require greater assistance.

Arrangements will also be put in place for overseas applicants to undertake their initial interview and assessment before they arrive in Wales, enabling tailored support for their return to practice to be agreed in advance.

It is also intended that the Medical Performers Lists in Wales be amended to provide GPs who wish to work outside the UK the opportunity to remain on the list for a maximum of five years.

This would remove the current obligation for all GPs who previously practiced within the Welsh health system to undertake the induction and refresher scheme on their return.

This approach will be underpinned by a requirement for the doctor to provide evidence of continuous professional development, clinical work and reflective practice.

Prospective returners to the GP workforce will continue to receive financial support for up to six months, depending on the clinical support required.

The Welsh Government will work with key stakeholders in Wales to take forward these changes.

Mark Drakeford said: “The changes I’m announcing today will make it easier to recruit new doctors to work in Wales and for GPs who want to return to work in Wales to do so. It also has the potential to reduce costs for those seeking to return.

“GPs, like many others, may decide to take career breaks for a number of reasons. Making it as easy as possible for them to return to work in Wales, while ensuring there are safeguards in place to ensure patient safety, is one of the ways we can increase the numbers of GPs required to provide care for patients in Wales.

“I recognise there are challenges in GP recruitment and retention in some parts of Wales, as there are elsewhere. We continue to work closely with NHS organisations to attract the best medical talent but we are operating in an extremely tough global market where many countries across Europe are experiencing shortages.

“The reforms we are making to Wales’ primary care service will help ensure that young GPs coming into practice have a wider range of options available to them, including opportunities to become involved in research and teaching in Wales.”

Crime tsar defends online surveillance to net cyber criminals.

 
* Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales,
Winston Roddick and his deputy Julian Sandham at a Cyber
Crime training day. They are pictured with student,
Detective Sgt Lisa Jones and Detective
Sgt Peter Jarvis of the Cyber Crime team.
 
A crime tsar has defended the use of internet surveillance to catch cyber criminals.

According to North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC, there was always a balance to be struck between personal freedom and public safety.

Mr Roddick was speaking after attending a training session for police officers at the police station in Penygroes, in Gwynedd, as part of a new campaign to combat an increase in cyber crime by serious and organised crime groups targeting North Wales.

North Wales Police launched their St Asaph-based Cyber Crime Team to coincide with National Cyber Crime Awareness Week.

The force has pledged to train more than 100 officers to combat the growing threat of online crime.

The campaign is being watched closely by forces in other parts of the UK.

The team have also agreed to hold training sessions for groups of vulnerable people so they can learn to stay safe online.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC says people rightly want assurances that the police are one step ahead of the criminal elements that use the internet to commit crime.

He said: “There will always be tension between freedom and liberty and surveillance. But the security of people is essential if they are to be free to enjoy their liberty. Surveillance is necessary to protect those freedoms.

“We need to be able to use all legal means to catch and arrest criminals who use the internet to commit crime and without effective internet surveillance that is not always possible.

“The police are savvy and are adapting to change, that is evident from what I have seen today. The police have to use every resource at their disposal if they are to prevent and detect crime. And that has to include electronic and internet surveillance.

“North Wales Police is ahead of the game and setting an advanced standard that many other forces are now looking up to. Policing priorities are fluid and constantly shift and change.

“We have addressed the threat of cyber crime in our Police Crime Plan. The simple fact is that whereas cyber crime is a relatively new phenomenon the police, and particularly North Wales Police, are on top of it and adapting strategies to deal with it.

“The public need to know that their police are technically enabled and are able to use all means at their disposal to combat crime in all its forms."

Deputy North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Julian Sandham added: “The Cyber Crime Team, who have all received enhanced training, have assisted with a number of high profile investigations as well as forging links with businesses and the National Crime Agency to ensure key messages to identify and reduce opportunities of falling foul of this ever increasing problem.

“I’m delighted North Wales Police is leading the way when it comes to tackling this ever increasing issue. The Cyber Crime Team is able to provide advice and guidance on both a technical and tactical level as well as having the enhanced capability to deal with complex cyber crime investigations.”

Detective Sergeant Pete Jarvis of the North Wales Cyber Crime Team promised they would pursue cyber criminals both across North Wales and internationally.

He said: “We will be working proactively to target criminal vulnerabilities and seek to prevent criminal opportunities whenever we can. We will also support partners in industry and law enforcement to better protect themselves against the threat of cyber crime.

“And by providing a highly visible investigative response to incidents of cyber crime we will assist other police forces and wider law enforcement agencies to prevent cyber-enabled crime and pursue those who utilise the internet for criminal means.”

There was, he said, a great deal people could do to keep themselves safe.

He added: ““Research indicates that up to 80% of cyber related offences could be avoided if simple computer and network hygiene guidance is followed.

“We would recommend using up-to-date anti-virus software, install all computer security updates as soon as they are released, use complex passwords for all accounts and never use the same password for multiple accounts.

“And never click on links in e-mails which suggest you have won a competition you did not enter and never clink on links in e-mails that you do not recognise as these might install malicious software on your computer or take you to bogus websites.”

If you think you may have been the victim of cyber crime, require further information or have any information about suspected offenders contact the police on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Alternatively you can report suspected online crime to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk

For further information about staying safe online visit www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself/

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

AM welcomes health plans deferment

Description: Description: Primary Welsh Logo-01North Wales’ Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, Aled Roberts, has welcomed the decision to defer the plan to downgrade maternity services at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and remove breast cancer surgery from the Wrexham Maelor and Gwynedd hospitals.
 
He is now demanding that the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board undertake a proper consultation on the provision of services at all three sites.
 
“Common sense has prevailed over the botched decisions on maternity and breast cancer surgery,” commented Mr Roberts.
 
"They were taken under the urgency procedure but, as the Community Health Council pointed out to the Health Minister, problems within the maternity services had been in evidence months before.
 
“Senior officials within the Health Board have raised the idea of concentrating different health services on one site so that the three hospitals in North Wales operate as one. But there has been no proper discussion of this proposal. Such a radical rethink of our health services needs to be the subject of widespread consultation.
 
“My own view is that the concept of one hospital on three sites will not work in North Wales given the geography and long distances that make travelling across our region very difficult.
 
"Many patients would be left isolated from their families unless specialist medical teams become more mobile or there is major investment in public transport.”

Landmarks aim to beef up catering operations


* Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Canal & River Trust has invited expressions of interest for the provision of a mobile catering service for Trevor Basin and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Trevor Basin and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct are parts of an 11-mile World Heritage site along the Llangollen Canal.

The stunning Telford-designed Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is world famous.

The site has a small visitor centre with many attractions nearby for those who come.

There are boat trips across the aqueduct, boats for day or longer hire, opportunities to explore the tunnels and towpaths or to visit the nearby National Trust properties or country parks.

As a World Heritage site, visitor numbers have increased from 2009 to 2014, and now are in excess of 200,000 each year.

Canal & River Trust says it has ambitious plans for Trevor Basin and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, focusing strongly on the visitor experience.

It is seeking a skilled and experienced catering service provider to open a mobile catering operation at Trevor Basin.

A contract period of 6 to 18 months will be offered to start with, with the possibility of working with Canal & River Trust for a longer term as they develop the site.

The trust says the successful contractor must provide a high quality daily catering service for the Trevor Basin and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

It adds: "To be considered, contractors will need to demonstrate clearly that they have the necessary acumen, technical skills and experience of managing every aspect of a successful catering operation."

Organisations wishing to express an interest should contact Mr Radford Chancellor FCSI (Catering Consultant) on 0844 500 8350 or email radford@radfordchancellor.co.uk to request an application questionnaire.

Closing date for expressions of interest and return of the completed application questionnaire is 1pm on April 13 2015.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Appeal over boy missing from Wrexham

North Wales Police are appealing for help in tracing a 15 year old boy missing from the Wrexham area. 

Larry Berry (pictured below) has not been seen since Friday February 6. 

All enquiries to locate him have proved fruitless.

He is described as having short brown straight hair, slim build and approximately 5’6”tall.

T/Sergeant Gavin Gilmore who is managing the search said: “I am appealing for anyone who has sighted Larry, or knows of his whereabouts, to contact the police.  

"His family have had no contact with him for some 3 weeks or so and we are concerned for his welfare.  Larry has family in the Ellesmere Port, Rochdale and Wrexham areas and part of our enquiries are focused in this area.

“I’d also appeal to Larry himself to contact police to let them know that he is safe and well.”



* Anyone with any information should contact North Wales police on 101 or alternatively Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and quote S032118.

St John's facelift explained at open events


* St John's Church in Abbey Road.

A NUMBER of Llangollen people have been invited to one of three open events at which they can learn more about the £50,000 project to facelift the town’s St John’s Church.

Those connected with clubs or societies in the area and residents of Abbey Road, where St John’s is located, can go along to the church on either Thursday April 9 at 7pm, Wednesday April 15 at 7pm or Saturday April 18 at 1pm to be briefed by the vicar, the Rev Andrew Sully.  

He said: “We are holding the sessions because the major funder for this £50,000 project, WREN , a non-profit-making business  that helps benefit the lives of people who live close to landfill sites by awarding grants for community  projects, needs evidence that other town groups would benefit from the proposed improvements and potentially use our facilities themselves once the changes  are made.

“These facilities are basically a disabled toilet and improved kitchen area.

“At the moment St John’s offers a flexible, carpeted space for meetings but without a toilet and refreshment-making facilities we’re rather hamstrung. 

“We have therefore found the building a difficult venue to ‘market’ to potential user groups and its use by non-church groups has been limited.

“Yet it does have real potential and we know from the  number of people who approach us for meeting-space in St Collen’s Community Hall that these improvements will make St John’s a place that might be in use a couple of times in the week as well as on a Sunday.”

In his invitation to the open events, Mr Sully says: “You might not have the time to come to one of these open events. If this is the case but you’d like to support us nonetheless, could I ask you to write me an email or note of recommendation to our funders saying simply how your group might benefit from our venue and facilities if they were improved, or else saying more generally that you support our proposals and think they are a good idea and that we are moving in the right direction.”

Wine and nibbles will also be served at each open event.

* Mr Sully can be contacted at: The Vicarage Abbey Road Llangollen  LL20 8SN, by phone on 01978  860231 and 07779 418036, or by email at:

 

 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Isherwood backs extended airport rail link

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood is supporting proposals to extend rails services between North Wales and Manchester International Airport.
 
Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) has made an application to Network Rail to extend nine weekday and 11 Saturday North Wales – Manchester Piccadilly services to Manchester International Airport (MIA) but this has been declined.
 
ATW intend to now make the case to Office of Rail Regulation, who will ultimately make the decision.
.
Mr Isherwood, who has long been calling for improved transport links in the region, has written to ATW to confirm his support for these additional services and their negotiations with the Office of Rail Regulation.
 
He said: “At the moment there are very few direct services from North Wales to Manchester Airport so these ATW proposed services are a major enhancement.
 
“As the North Wales Economic Ambition Board (NWEAB) have stated in their response to the proposals ‘Current rail services from North Wales to MIA are inadequate and not an effective alternative to road transport,  yet the large majority of the population and concentration of business is within easy access  of the railway. There is a significant opportunity for modal shift from road to rail if  more frequent services to MIA were available and this is consistent with the environmental agenda.’
 
"Having extended services from Manchester Airport to North Wales would not only be a huge benefit to the people of North Wales, but it could also help attract more visitors to this part of the world, boosting the local economy."

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Details of Holy Week at St Collen's given



St Collen’s Church has given details of its special events during Holy Week 2015:

Palm Sunday:
9.30am – Communion at Trevor Chapelry

11.00am –meet at St John’s, Abbey Road at 10.45 for procession with donkey through Llangollen to the Parish Church
6pm – TaizĂ© Prayer around the Cross in the Upper Room

Wednesday:
10.30am – St Collen’s  Church- Holy Communion followed by film at 11.30am in the Upper Room:  The Passion-part One

6.00pm – Llantysilio Church - At the House of Simon the Leper –Service of Anointing,  followed by BOOK CLUB in the Upper Room at 7.30pm
Maundy Thursday:

5.00pm – St John’s Church - Solemn Eucharist and Stripping of the Altar followed by PASSOVER SUPPER in the Community Hall at 6pm
Good Friday: 

9.30am – Trevor Chapelry
12noon –St Collen’s – The Passion – Part 2

2-3pm: Last Hour of the Cross in St Collen’s Church
Holy Saturday:  

7 pm –St Collen’s - The Easter Ceremonies – service of light and reaffirmation of baptismal vows
Easter Day Holy Communions:

St Collen’s: 8am, 11 am and 6pm
Llantysilio and Trevor Chapelry 9.30am

St John’s, Abbey Road: 6pm.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Renowned American choir heads for Llangollen

 
* The Azusa Pacific University Chamber Singers.
 

An internationally renowned American choir are looking forward to having a true taste of Welsh hospitality.
 
The Azusa Pacific University Chamber Singers from California are heading to Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in July and will be staying with local families rather than booking hotel and guest house accommodation.
 
The 37-strong choir are among the world's choral elite and their track record includes winning the International Competition for Choirs in Austria in 2013 as well as singing at a host of iconic venues including Sydney Opera House and the Vatican.
 
In the early days of the Eisteddfod’s near-70 year history with very limited local commercial accommodation this was commonplace but in recent years it has become increasingly rare.
But the talented Californians were determined they wanted the full traditional Eisteddfod experience and have asked if the choristers can stay with local families.
 
Michelle Jensen, the Azusa Pacific University Chamber Singers’ conductor, said: “We thought it would be fabulous if we could find families willing to host our students during their stay in Llangollen.
 
“We felt it would give students an additional opportunity to immerse themselves in a different culture and experience life in North Wales.
 
“I realise it might be difficult to find 37 host families for our six graduate and 31 undergraduate students who will be in Llangollen but we would be delighted to hear from anyone willing to host any of our students or help with meals.”
 
And there was good news this week for the choir as Alwenna Hughes, from Wrexham, the Eisteddfod’s accommodation organiser, confirmed that she would be able to find them places in the Wrexham area and conveniently near each other.
 
She said: “We don’t put as many up in homestay as we once did. At one time about two and a half thousand would stay with families but we still have plenty of loyal providers and it’s nice to keep the tradition going.
 
“They will be sure of a warm welcome and I’m sure that both they and the families they stay with will enjoy the special experience of the Eisteddfod week.”
 
Michelle added: “After our success at the International Competition for Choirs, we were invited to several exciting competition and performance opportunities for our next tour.
 
“I decided that in order to make the best decision for the ensemble, I needed to do extensive research which included travelling to Ireland and Wales, specifically to experience the Llangollen International Eisteddfod first hand.
 
 “And as the competition developed the combination of international cooperation and the high level of artistic excellence was compelling. By the time we left North Wales, we knew that participating in the Llangollen Eisteddfod was our goal for our 2015 tour.
 
“We have been accepted to compete in six categories: Mixed Choir, Youth Choir, and Open Division, which are all Choir of the World categories, as well as Adult Folk, Cultural Showcase and a small group of 12 from the ensemble will compete in the Vocal Ensemble category.
 
“We are so looking forward to competing at Llangollen and savouring that special Welsh hospitality.”
 
The choir have previously toured Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Italy and have performed at iconic venues including Sydney Opera House and the Vatican.
 
Gethin Davies, Chairman of the Eisteddfod, said: “I met Michelle when she came over last year to ‘test the water’. At the beginning of the week she had an open mind about Llangollen and other possible festivals but by Saturday she was totally convinced that this was the place to come.
 
“We’re always delighted to have high quality choirs taking part in our choral events and so the Azusa Pacific University singers would always be welcome.
 
“It is lovely though that they want to go back to the traditions of the Eisteddfod from its early, post-war days and stay with local families, just as choirs like the Modena Choir with the young Luciano Pavarotti, the Obernkirchen Choir and so many others did over the years.
 
“I’m sure they will find that the welcome here is as warm as ever and that they will thoroughly enjoy their time in Llangollen.”
 
The Aszuza singers won’t be the only Americans performing at this year’s event with this year’s Monday night concert curtain-raiser featuring legendary singer-songwriter Burt Bacharach.
 
Other stars this year include the UK’s top tenor, Alfie Boe, who will sing songs from the Musicals at the Thursday evening concert, one of the highlights of another packed week which will begin on Tuesday with Children’s Day and the Parade of Nations, led by Eisteddfod President Terry Waite before the evening Heart of Llangollen concert featuring a galaxy of international talent.
 
Wednesday’s programme will include a new competition for the International Young Musician of the Year as well as the Children’s Choir of the World while Thursday’s competitions will see another first, the International Voice of Musical Theatre Trophy.
 
Friday’s Open Category for choirs will showcase styles like gospel, barbershop, jazz, pop and glee styles and will also see the International Voice of the Future decided with the prize including the chance to sing at one of the evening concerts the following year.
 
The Blue Riband event, the Choir of the World for the Pavarotti Trophy, is decided on Saturday night as well as the Open Dance competition and Sunday sees the Eisteddfod let its hair down for Llanfest before the climactic final concert by reggae stars UB40.
 
* To book tickets and for more details on the 2015 festival go to the website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Operatic's Nun Run planned for this Sunday

Llangollen Operatic Society's charity "Nun Run" is this coming Sunday, starting at 10.30am from Llangollen Sports Club.

Organiser Lousa Jones said: "We have had a hugely positive response to this event from the local community so far and I am confident we are on track to raise a good sum to split between Leonard Cheshire Disability and the Society, which will be greatly appreciated on both sides.

"There are about 25 society members and friends taking part, the majority of whom will be in costume.

"So anyone out for a walk on Sunday morning might well catch a glimpse of the Pope on the Panorama, a Deacon on Dinbren Road or even a few Sisters on Sun Bank.

"Needless to say, we are all praying hard for clement weather."

* If anyone would still like to support the event by making a donation, they can email  louisa.jones@live.com or get in touch with any member of the society.

Councillor blasts government over A5 lane closure


* The long-running lane closure on the A5.

THE Welsh Government should “get its act together” and let people know what is happening with roadworks in the area, says Llangollen county councillor Stuart Davies.

His plea comes after it was revealed that the neither the government nor the North Wales Trunk Road Agency (NMWTRA) have kept residents of the town informed about the long-running lane closure on the A5 approach the town in connection with a drop in the roadway.
Cllr Davies recently called for more information on the closure, which is controlled by traffic lights, and action on vehicles “rat running” along nearby Birch Hill to avoid the lights.  

He has now received a reply from Mike Hitchings, strategic highways manager for Denbishire County Council, which says: “The lane has been closed by Conwy Structures on behalf of NMWTRA/Welsh Government on safety grounds.
“The road has been substandard for some time and recent routine monitoring has identified a drop of approximately 100 mms over the last 10 years.

“This has triggered the closure which is needed to reduce the loading on the highway and the retaining wall.
“Several different monitoring arrangements are now in place to understand the failing which is thought to be carriageway rather than the 200-year-old Thomas Telford built dry stone wall.

“The road will remain under traffic management until repairs can be undertaken and this is very likely to be several months if not longer.

“I have raised the issue of the signs indicating long delays that are missing from the Llangollen side with NMWTRA and that will be rectified.

“NMWTRA and Welsh Government have not communicated with local residents. They have recognised that this is long overdue and a letter has been drafted and will be sent in the next few days.

“A meeting of officers from Welsh Government, NMWTRA, and Denbighshire is being arranged during the next few days to review the traffic management.


“I have asked the NMWTRA asset manager to ensure that they include a review of the Birch Hill, Maesmawr Road area.

Cllr Davies said: “Apart from the closure on the A5, I am also concerned that Welsh Water are closing lanes on the A539 to Wrexham to do mains water repairs.
“This will mean that visitors to Llangollen and North Wales will encounter delays and this will have a negative effect on the tourism trade.

“The Welsh Government needs to get its act together and let people know what is going on and who to contact in case of problems in a timely manner.

"DCC officers and councillors are getting stick from members of the public when this issue is not down to us."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hospital housing plan approved


* Llangollen's former Cottage Hospital is to be bulldozed to make way for new homes.

* SEE REPLY FROM CLLR STUART DAVIES AT FOOT OF STORY


DESPITE a strong plea for it to be retained to provide extra NHS beds for the area, county councillors have voted in favour of bulldozing Llangollen’s empty Cottage Hospital and using the site for new homes.
 
Martin Crumpton, who led the campaign to keep the Victorian hospital open two years ago for the building to be mothballed for possible future use by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, was made through an officer to the Denbighshire planning committee at its meeting earlier today (Wednesday).
 
But members voted 19-5 to approve a plan to see it redeveloped by a housing association with six social housing units plus associated access and parking provision.
 
Also involved in the scheme is the development of an ancillary car park opposite the hospital and the erection of a further six social housing units with associated access and parking provision.

Mr Crumpton said later: “My speech to the committee was read out for me by the monitoring officer as a special arrangement owing to me being given less than 48-hours notice to attend the meeting.
“My concerns were basically brushed aside as a matter between me and Betsi Cadwaladr.

“I deeply regret this myopic view as Llangollen creeps towards becoming a dormitory town.

“Certainly, the case for additional dwellings was feeble and no account was made of additional resources which will be expected by a growing population.

“Councillor Rhys Hughes at least touched on it but the case officer, in calling it a matter of judgment, confirmed the department’s judgment that it was outside the scope of the committee.

“I hope the Llangollen Museum does its utmost to record a significant part of Llangollen’s make-up and history which was lost today without so much as a murmur.”

Councillor Stuart Davies replies:

"I see the Berwyn Resident is showing a lack of comprehension of the planning process and blaming DCC for something beyond its control.

As a member of the Planning Committee I have to make decisions based solely on planning grounds.

I was instrumental in forcing a meeting with the then CEO of the Betsi, her senior officers and various concerned DCC members and officers. The case for keeping the hospital open was forcibly put. A full and frank conversation took place. The Betsi ignored my wishes and the process of closure started. The rest is history.

The Betsi then had an empty building on its hands. What they do with it is not in DCCs control.

Mr Crumpton says: “My concerns were basically brushed aside as a matter between me and Betsi Cadwaladr."

In actuality they were not planning concerns and so have no weight at planning committee.

He says: “Certainly, the case for additional dwellings was feeble"

I beg to differ, and judging by the calls I get, so would the young people wanting a house in Llangollen to bring up their familiesI.

I will continue to fight for more affordable housing for the youngsters here in Llangollen. That's what I promised when I was elected and what I am doing!"

Fringe offers new early bird ticket

Llangollen Fringe is offering early bird tickets for this year's event for £60. 

The 2015 Fringe runs from July 16-26, and organisers say that for £60 you can get into all the evening concerts.

However, that add that the offer only runs until the end of March.



A spokesman said: "As the Fringe continues to grow, so does our spending on great acts.

"We can’t let you in on the details yet, but quality comes at a price and this year’s programme looks set to be much more expensive than ever before.

"The fun begins on Thursday July 16 with stand-up comedy and continues for 11 nights until the final concert at Valle Crucis Abbey on July 26."

The spokesman explained that the Festival Ticket allows its owner into over £140 worth of Fringe events including:
  • Every evening concert (July 16-25)
  • Final Closing Event at Valle Crucis Abbey (July 26)
  • Return journey to Carrog on the Rock and Roll Train (July 19) - a specially chartered steam train on Llangollen’s Steam Railway.
  • A full day of great acoustic music at Fringe Acoustica (July 18)


The spokesman added: "Although we are not announcing the line-up until nearer the time we can guarantee that if you enjoyed last year, you’ll love what we have in store this time.

"Have faith and buy your ticket now for a guaranteed saving. Regulars will know that the programme always has wide ranging appeal and almost everyone’s taste will be satisfied somewhere in the programme."

Get your ticket now at www.llangollenfringe.co.uk