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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

BBC says teenager dies after aqueduct fall

The BBC is reporting this morning that a teenager has died after falling from the Pontcysyllte aqueduct.

For the full story, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-36415232

Choir become Eisteddfod ambassadors


* The Cheshire Chord Company.

A top women’s barbershop choir from Warrington have been appointed Ambassadors to sing the praises of an iconic music festival.
The Cheshire Chords Company has been cutting a dash in the world of acapella singing for more than 20 years and now it has signed up to a scheme to bring the historic Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod to a wider audience.
The event will be held for the 70th time this July and the Chords will be there hoping to replicate their success of 2014 when they were crowned barbershop champions after finishing third and second in the previous two years.
And now the Cheshire Chords Company has become official Llangollen Ambassadors as part of an exciting new venture in which long-time Eisteddfod supporters and regular competitors are being recruited to become honorary representatives for the event.
Anyone from their area interested in competing at the festival, or simply enjoying the legendary atmosphere as a visitor, can get in touch with the Ambassadors by e-mail to get all the inside information they need.
Cheshire Chord Company spokeswoman Janine Gilbert said: “Coming to Llangollen is a real highpoint for the choir as it’s so friendly and we get to perform on a world stage.”
The choir was formed in 1993 by a group of friends from the Warrington and Lymm areas with a passion for singing and has steadily grown in size and stature.
Most members live in and around Warrington but others travel from Liverpool, the Wirral, Preston, Blackpool, Stafford and North Wales for the choir’s regular Thursday evening rehearsal sessions at the Beaumont Academy in Warrington.
“Our musical director Jo Braham, (CORRECT) who has been with us since 2011, comes over every week from her home in Leeds,” added Janine.
“Choir members range in age from just 10 to 60-plus and we work hard to achieve very high standards while having a great deal of fun along the way, enjoying the great friendships that we share.
“As members of the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers (LABBS) we sing in the barbershop style and have competed very successfully in UK and European barbershop competitions over many years.
“Our last major international event was in Holland in 2013 and we’ve been national barbershop choir competition winners for seven years, the last time in 2014. 
“We pride ourselves on the quality of our singing as well as our performance skills, telling the story of the song and, where the number calls for it, adding slick choreographed moves worked out by two of our members.
“We sing songs by artists from Elbow to Barbra Streisand, the Beatles and many others, as well as well-known show and traditional barbershop songs arranged for today’s audiences with a modern twist.
“Jo has brought with her a wealth of experience, boundless energy and enthusiasm as well as a real passion for close harmony barbershop.
“We find ourselves singing to a wide range of audiences in a variety of settings, anything from the London Palladium to Golden Square Shopping Centre in Warrington.
“The types of events we sing at include competitions, private bookings, corporate, charity fundraising events and even Warrington Hospital wards to sing to the patients.
“Wherever we sing and whoever we are singing to we aim to delight our audiences and let our music and performance take them on a special journey.”
Janine explained that Cheshire Chord Company’s trio of successes at Llangollen came on their first competition appearance in 2011 when they took third place in barbershop, 2012 when they finished second and 2014 when they eventually sang their way to first place.
She said: “We’re delighted to become official Llangollen Ambassadors because we really enjoy competing at the festival and want to share it with others – competitors, performers or visitors.
“It’s always very friendly and we love to sing on such a big stage with its audience coming from around the world.
“Last time we were there in 2014 it was quite a poignant occasion for us because we had 15 new members – including myself – who had never sung in public before but it was a great place to make your performance debut – and it helped that we won.
“We’re all looking forward to coming back to Llangollen this year, especially as it’s the 70th Eisteddfod.”
Llangollen 2016 Chairman Rhys Davies said: “We’re thrilled that Cheshire Chords have agreed to be Ambassadors for the festival to spread the word about what a wonderful event it is.
“They will be able to give people in the Warrington area an inside track on what it means to attend, where to go and what to see and even how to enter any of our competitions.
“Most of all they can tell them how friendly Llangollen is and about the fantastic carnival atmosphere as this little town welcomes the world each July.”
Ticket sales for the concerts at this year’s Eisteddfod are already going well, especially for the opening night when superstar Katherine Jenkins gets the programme off to a sensational start as she sings Bizet’s Carmen opposite acclaimed New York tenor Noah Stewart.
Wednesday will be International Children’s Day and will include choral and dance competitions and also a new Under 16s solo competition while the evening will feature the Voices of Musical Theatre with West End star Kerry Ellis and classical boy band Collabro.
The great Bryn Terfel will headline the 70th Classical Gala Concert on Thursday evening with top tenor Joseph Calleja while the day will see the crowning of the Children’s Choir of the World.
Friday will celebrate Rhythms of the World and will be a feast of music and dance from the best of the Eisteddfod’s international competitors with the Dance Champions of the World competition climax at the evening concert. 
It will open with a Caribbean Carnival Extravaganza, followed by the International Peace message delivered by Theatr yr Ifanc, Rhosllannerchrugog. 
In a change of the scheduling Friday will also see the Parade of Nations, led by Eisteddfod President Terry Waite, switched from Tuesday in anticipation of bigger crowds and more competitors being present. 
Saturday is dedicated to the top choirs and concludes with the Choir of the World competition for the Pavarotti Trophy while Sunday sees the Eisteddfod let its hair down for Llanfest before the climactic final concert by Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra.
To book tickets and for more details on the 2016 festival go to the website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk
For all the inside information about Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, contact official Ambassadors, Cheshire Chord Company, by emailing: press@cheshirechord.co.uk

Monday, May 30, 2016

Male voice choir's free concert


Llangollen Male Voice Choir (pictured) are putting on a lunchtime concert  at St Collens from 1-2pm on Saturday June 11.

There will also be a guest soloist from RNCM at the concert which is free with a retiring collection.

A choir spokesman said: "Start your entertainment there and go on to the Llangollen Annual Fete at Plas Newydd, a short walk away.

"On the same day don't forget to look in at the Town Hall to celebrate 70 years of the wonderful Llangollen International Eisteddfod." 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

AM welcomes village anti-speeding measures

Residents in a rural village near Llangollen blighted by speeding will finally see some permanent action, says their MP.


Campaigners in Pontfadog have long called for measures to reduce irresponsible driving on the B4500, and have been supported by their Assembly Member Ken Skates.

The Clwyd South AM (pictured) contacted Wrexham Council and North Wales Police last summer and urged them to do anything they could to improve road safety outside Pontfadog school and throughout the wider community, including Dolywern.

Safety vans were immediately deployed in the area, and have since been seen regularly.

Mr Skates has repeatedly pushed for further action, and this week received a response from Wrexham Council containing some welcome news.

He said: “I’m delighted that the council has now confirmed that the village of Pontfadog will be made a 20mph zone – it’s been a long time coming. I’m also pleased that the Welsh Government will fund interactive signs along the main road warning drivers about their speed.

“Residents have had to put up with these problems for far too long, so I sincerely hope this is a turning point. I would urge people to continue reporting speeding, however, as I will be more than happy to write to North Wales Police to ask that safety vans are deployed again.”

In an email to Mr Skates, Lawrence Isted, head of environment and planning at Wrexham Council, said: “I refer to your recent enquiry and previous correspondence in relation to the concerns you raise regarding the speed of traffic along B4500 as it passes through Pontfadog.

“The authority promoted the introduction of a 20mph speed limit through Pontfadog, as part of our speed limit review on all A and B roads within the county borough. I’m now able to inform you that the consultation in relation to this proposal was successful an d an order will now be placed to implement that 20mph limit within Pontfadog.

“In addition, the authority successfully bid for funding from the Welsh Government to introduce interactive signs in Pontfadog, in conjunction with our 20mph zones outside schools programme. These signs, when installed, will raise drivers’ awareness within the 20mph zone and ensure speeds are kept to a suitable level at this location.”

Saturday, May 28, 2016

MP battles for Legion campaign


* Susan Elan Jones MP in Parliament with Angela Ham
of the National Arboretum Museum/Royal British Legion.

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones has given her backing to the Royal British Legion's 'Count Me In' campaign calling on the Government to include questions about the Armed Forces community in the next national census.

She said: "I have worked closely with the Legion before and brought up a number of issues in Parliament relating to veterans.

"This is because I think we should do more as a country to support those people who serve or have served in our armed forces; and also their families.

"Most members of the  Armed Forces community are in employment, and healthy and happy. However it is vital that we provide extra support for those people, particularly the injured and bereaved, who need it.

 "To do this, Government, councils, charities and other organisations need accurate information to fully meet the needs of our Armed Forces community.

"At the moment, we don't know exactly how many veterans, reservists and dependents there are in the country, let alone where they are and basic information about them."

Ms Jones has put down a question in Parliament calling on the Secretary of State for Defence to support the Royal British Legion's campaign by including questions about the Armed Forces community in the next census.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Young teachers will open for Katherine Jenkins


* Opera voice coach Anne Williams-King with some of her opera singing students.
Two young school teachers from Wrexham are among budding opera singers from across the UK who will be a warm-up act for superstar soprano Katherine Jenkins at this summer’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod
Rachael Marsh and Karen Davies, from Wrexham are among a group of opera singing students in for the experience of a lifetime after being invited to appear on the outdoor stage at July’s 70th Eisteddfod opening day.
They have been raising the roof at a Llangollen church while being put through their paces by husband and wife opera voice coaches Anne Williams-King and David Bartleet, an operatic tenor himself.
Anne, from Pen-y-Cae, has spent most of the past 20 years living and working in London and has now just finished her third sell-out course for aspiring opera singers at the Methodist Church in Princess Street and is thrilled her students will be at the iconic festival.
The top soprano, who has performed at opera houses around the world, said: “I moved back from London to be closer to my mum some six years ago now. However, she passed away three years ago.
“There isn’t anything in the area for aspiring opera singers so David and I decided, to run these courses. It isn’t just about teaching voice it’s about working on characters too.
“We want to give aspiring opera singers an idea of what it’s like in the business. I want students to learn the skills they need in the correct way.”
Williams-King, who successfully battled ovarian cancer a decade ago, added: “We put on a concert in the Methodist Church in Llangollen at the end of each course we run.
“Rhys Davies, the Eisteddfod’s new chairman, was in the audience after our second course and told me how impressed he was and he has invited us to showcase some of the new operatic talent at the festival.
“The Musical Director, Eilir Owen Griffiths, has invited my students to perform on the outside stage ahead of the opening concert by Katherine Jenkins on Tuesday, July 5. What an amazing honour for them.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to showcase their voices and acting talent and believe me, we have some wonderful singers who deserve to be heard and who will grab this amazing opportunity with both hands.”
Primary school supply teacher, Rachael Marsh, 23, a soprano from Minera, said: “It’s a great experience and to have the chance to sing on stage at Llangollen is amazing, especially on the day Katherine Jenkins is performing her Carmen concert.
“I have been having lessons with Anne on and off for a while as most of my singing has been with choirs. I have just enjoyed the course so much and learnt a great deal.
“To have the chance to perform at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod will be a dream come true. The atmosphere will be something else and I really can’t wait.”
Fellow soprano, Karen Davies, 28, a trainee teacher at Chester University and currently working at Kingsley Primary School in Frodsham, said: “I graduated from Bangor University with a degree in music and really wanted to be a composer.
“However, that changed and now I just want to sing opera but haven’t had any formal lessons or tuition. Joining Anne’s course has been fantastic and I have learnt so much.
“I was accepted to do a post grad Master’s degree in operatic performance in London but I simply couldn’t afford to do it. Music and singing courses are so expensive which is why Anne’s course is a godsend.
“I’m keeping my options open and teaching will be a good career choice but if the chance came along I’d choose opera. I still have ambitions to be on stage.”
Karen, who lives in Wrexham with her engineer partner, Gareth Samuel, added: “It’s going to be an amazing event and a fantastic opportunity for me and the other singers on Anne’s course.”
Rhys Davies, the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod’s chairman, is delighted Anne’s opera students are on the outside stage at the festival and he said: “I went along to the concert Anne and her husband David put together in Llangollen Methodist Church at the conclusion of each of their opera courses.
“The standard of performance was exceptionally high and I believe these potential opera stars deserve to have their voices heard.
“It’s a big opportunity for these talented young singers and a chance to let a critical audience see them perform. I’m sure it will be an exciting evening and one they will never forget.”
Tickets sales for the concerts at this year’s Eisteddfod, which begins on Tuesday, July 5, are already going well, especially for the opening night when superstar Katherine Jenkins gets the programme off to a sensational start as she sings Bizet’s Carmen.
Wednesday will be International Children’s Day and will include choral and dance competitions and also a new Under 16s solo competition while the evening will feature the Voices of Musical Theatre.
The great Bryn Terfel will headline the 70th Classical Gala Concert on Thursday evening while the day will see the crowning of the Children’s Choir of the World.
Friday will celebrate Rhythms of the World and will be a feast of music and dance from the best of the Eisteddfod’s international competitors with the Dance Champions of the World competition climax at the evening concert.
It will open with a Caribbean Carnival Extravaganza, followed by the International Peace message delivered by Theatr yr Ifanc, Rhosllannerchrugog.
In a change of the scheduling Friday will also see the Parade of Nations, led by Eisteddfod President Terry Waite, switched from Tuesday in anticipation of bigger crowds and more competitors being present.
Saturday is dedicated to the top choirs and concludes with the Choir of the World competition for the Pavarotti Trophy while Sunday sees the Eisteddfod let its hair down for Llanfest before the climactic final concert.
To book tickets and for more details on the 2016 festival go to the website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk

Nant y Garth Pass to re-open tonight

Denbighshire County Council says the A525 Nant y Garth Pass is scheduled to re-open at around 7pm this evening (Friday) – over a week ahead of schedule.

The road has been closed since Monday morning to allow contractors Tilhill to carry out essential safety and maintenance work in forests next to the A525.

The road was initially scheduled to close for two weeks, with a view to re-opening sooner if at all possible.

The work has progressed quickly by Tilhill, and the council, together with some local landowners, decided to carry out their own works during this closure period, to avoid needing to close the road at a later date.

As the work by Tilhill has progressed quicker than expected, the road can now re-open to traffic on Friday evening, with diversions lifted.

Traffic lights will remain in place for other necessary works along the route, with only slight delays expected.

The council says it would like to thank local residents for their patience and understanding while this vital work has taken place and to road users for their co-operation while the road was closed.
 

Double helping of events planned for the town


* Bridge of friendship: Members of Llangollen Rotary Club
and Inner wheel with representatives of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

A DOUBLE helping of events highlighting Llangollen's rich volunteering tradition is planned for the same day week in the iconic tourist hotspot.

While the town's Rotary and Inner Wheel clubs are hosting their annual Summer Fete in the picturesque setting of Plas Newydd on the afternoon of Saturday, June 11, the Town Hall will stage an event marking this year's landmark 70th Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

Mike Law of the Rotary said that what the fete and the Eisteddfod have in common is that they both rely heavily on volunteers for their continuing success.

He explained: "Many people from the area, like myself, help out with both of these big annual occasions, which shows the fantastic volunteering spirit which exists in the town, so having these two events on the same day is incredible."

The Fete can almost match the Eisteddfod when it comes to longevity as it's been a regular feature of the town's entertainment calendar for at least the past 50 years.

Once again the Rotary Club has joined forces with the ladies of the Inner Wheel to hold the event at Plas Newydd by arrangement with the historic estate's owner, Denbighshire County Council, whose chair, Councillor Ann Davies, heads the VIP guest list along with the Mayor of Llangollen,
Councillor Mike Adams.

This year, the newly formed Rotary Club of Dee Valley will be assisting in organisation and fundraising.

The Fete is run as part of the community service programme of the three clubs as an event for the town, as well as being one of their most important fundraisers.  Preparation takes much of the year.

This year's Fete, which starts at 2pm, offers all the attractions of a traditional town fete, with the emphasis on local contribution and involvement.

Music will be provided throughout the afternoon by Llangollen Silver Band and there will also be entertainment from Punch and Judy and a magician plus a guest appearance by Wrex, the Wrexham FC mascot.

A children's art competition will be staged for local schools and there will be a host of side-shows and games to win prizes.

Other attractions include a bouncy slide, a grand raffle with a £100 first prize, society and organisation stalls, sweet and ice-cream stalls, a flower stall and home-made refreshments, teas and cakes.

Entrance to Plas Newydd grounds is free, but there is no parking on the field, apart from selected cars. 

Mike Law of the Rotary team which has helped organise the fete said:  "Given a fine afternoon we would hope to have getting up to 700 people coming along over the course of the afternoon.

"They'll also have plenty of time to also look in at the Town Hall for the special event being held by the Eisteddfod volunteering team of which my wife Enid and I have also been part for many years.

"We started off hosting overseas competitors when we lived in Ruabon before moving to Llangollen.

"Over the years I've helped behind the scenes and Enid has been a member of the music and staging committee and was its chairman until two years ago."

The event at the Town Hall on June 11 is entitled Llangollen 1947 and is being held on the same day which exactly 70 years ago saw the very first Eisteddfod - then held around a month earlier than currently.

In the early years the Eisteddfod was staged on the recreation ground near Ysgol Dinas Bran but the Official Opening Ceremony and concert took place on June 11, 1947, in the Town Hall.

The festival's new Operations Manager, Sian Eagar, said: "It's a drop-in event from 10.30am until around 4pm when people can come in, have a coffee and meet the Eisteddfod team, including many of the volunteers without whom it could not survive.

"We'll be showing rare films from our archives featuring footage from the Eisteddfod's earliest years and our volunteers have brought in some fascinating items of memorabilia and souvenir programmes from the festival over the years from the different countries which have been involved.

"There will also be details available about the programme for this year's Eisteddfod and an opportunity to win evening concert tickets in our free prize draw and we'll be providing information about volunteering with us.

"It's significant that another of Llangollen's major annual highlights, the Summer Fete, is being held just around the corner on the same day because there's a big cross-over of volunteers between us and we hope as many people as possible will be coming along to enjoy both these great events."

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Loss of EE signal in Llan's LL20 area

EE mobile phone users in the LL20 postcode area of Llangollen are currently without a signal.

EE says that this is due to an upgrade and maintenance work to the local mast, which began yesterday (Wednesday).

They estimate that the loss of signal could last for between 48 and 72 hours.


Divers search Llan canal in historic murder probe

The Daily Post has a story to say that police looking for a man's body as part of an historic Wrexham murder probe have been searching Llangollen Canal.

For the full story, see:
http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/llangollen-canal-searched-wrexham-murder-11384815

Budding opera star from Antrim to open for superstar soprano


* Helenna Howie at Llangollen Railway Station with, seated from left,
vocal coach Janet Haney, Anne Williams-King,
vocal coach Deborah Lea and David Bartleet.

A budding opera star from Northern Ireland will join singers from across the UK as a warm-up act for superstar soprano Katherine Jenkins at this summer’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod
Helenna Howie, from Whitehead, near Carrickfergus, will be among opera singing students who are in for the experience of a lifetime after being invited to appear on the outdoor stage at July’s 70th Eisteddfod opening day ahead of Katherine Jenkins’s Carmen concert.
They have been raising the roof at a Llangollen church while being put through their paces by husband and wife opera voice coaches Anne Williams-King and David Bartleet.
Anne has returned to her Pen-y-Cae home after spending most of the past 20 years living and working in London with her husband David.
She’s now just finished her third sell-out course for aspiring opera singers at Llangollen’s Methodist church in Princess Street and is thrilled her students will be at the iconic festival.
The top soprano, who has performed at opera houses around the world, said: “I moved back from London to be closer to my mum some six years ago now. However, she passed away three years ago.
“There isn’t anything in the area for aspiring opera singers so I decided to run these courses. It isn’t just about teaching voice it’s about working on characters too.
“We want to give aspiring opera singers an idea of what it’s like in the business. I want students to learn the skills they need in the correct way.”
Williams-King, who successfully battled ovarian cancer a decade ago, added: “The Eisteddfod Musical Director, Eilir Owen Griffiths, has invited my students to perform on the outside stage ahead of the opening concert by Katherine Jenkins on Tuesday, July 5. What an amazing honour for them!
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to showcase their voices and acting talent and believe me, we have some wonderful singers who deserve to be heard and who will grab this amazing opportunity with both hands.”
Anne Williams-King’s husband David Bartleet, who won the Opera Scholarship at the Royal College of Music, said: “Anne and I decided to run opera courses in Llangollen as there are very few opera companies in the UK and conservatoires are so expensive.
“We have students coming from all over the UK and beyond and the standard on our courses is remarkable.”
Mezzo soprano, Helenna, says she suffers from nerves so having the chance to appear on a stage at Llangollen International Music Festival would be invaluable experience for her.
The 23-year-old, who will be performing in the chorus for the premiere of The Belfast Opera in June and with Northern Ireland Opera later in the year, said: “Singing and being on stage at the International Music Festival is great exposure to a wider audience. The whole event will be wonderful and such a fantastic experience.
“I attended Bangor University in North Wales and graduated in 2014 with a degree in music.
“I want to make as a many contacts as possible and progress to the next level. I heard about Anne’s opera course through the university and it’s been absolutely amazing. I’ve really enjoyed it
“I just can’t wait for July and the chance to impress on the Llangollen International Music Festival stage. The fact Katherine Jenkins is appearing at the festival the same day is both amazing and wonderful.”
Eilir Owen Griffiths said: “We are always looking to showcase new talent especially those who have had instruction from a renowned soprano like Anne Williams-King and a tenor like David Bartleet.
“This will be the 70th Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod and I’m incredibly proud to be associated with it.
“I’m sure these young opera stars of the future will enjoy the experience and I’m sure the festival audience will welcome them with open arms.
“It is important the eisteddfod continues to showcase the very best music and voices and I know festival goers are going to thoroughly enjoy seeing Anne and David’s students perform.”
Tickets sales for the concerts at this year’s Eisteddfod, which begins on Tuesday, July 5, are already going well, especially for the opening night when superstar Katherine Jenkins gets the programme off to a sensational start as she sings Bizet’s Carmen.
Wednesday will be International Children’s Day and will include choral and dance competitions and also a new Under 16s solo competition while the evening will feature the Voices of Musical Theatre.
The great Bryn Terfel will headline the 70th Classical Gala Concert on Thursday evening while the day will see the crowning of the Children’s Choir of the World.
Friday will celebrate Rhythms of the World and will be a feast of music and dance from the best of the Eisteddfod’s international competitors with the Dance Champions of the World competition climax at the evening concert.
It will open with a Caribbean Carnival Extravaganza, followed by the International Peace message delivered by Theatr yr Ifanc, Rhosllannerchrugog.
In a change of the scheduling Friday will also see the Parade of Nations, led by Eisteddfod President Terry Waite, switched from Tuesday in anticipation of bigger crowds and more competitors being present.
Saturday is dedicated to the top choirs and concludes with the Choir of the World competition for the Pavarotti Trophy while Sunday sees the Eisteddfod let its hair down for Llanfest before the climactic final concert.
To book tickets and for more details on the 2016 festival go to the website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

County throws spotlight on noise problems

Denbighshire County Council is aiming to raise awareness of noise problems and solutions during the current Noise Action Week.


In the last year the council received over 500 complaints about noise – everything from loud music, barking dogs, shouting, banging and DIY to early morning deliveries, construction work and wind turbines.

It’s estimated that investigating noise complaints cost councils £130 - £7k per complaint. 

Housing providers, mediation services and the police are also frequently involved in resolving noise disputes, representing a huge amount of time and money. 

Denbighshire says it is asking all residents to show some consideration to their neighbours when considering any noisy activities.

* For further information and advice contact Denbighshire County Council Public Protection Team on 01824 706080.


Town Council objects to Vicarage Road homes plan


* The site of the proposed new homes off Vicarage Road.

LLANGOLLEN Town Council has formally objected to a plan to build 99 homes on land at Vicarage Road in the town.

Castlemead Homes recently submitted an application to Denbighshire County Council for the development, which includes a mixture of two, three and four bedroom detached and semi-detached properties.

But the scheme has sparked fears amongst people in the area that local roads will not be able to cope with the extra traffic it will generate both during construction and when the new homes are occupied.

As part of the formal consultation process, the town council has been able to give its official response to the application although a decision on it rests with the county council.   

And all seven members of the town’s planning committee present for last night’s meeting at the Town Hall voted to object to the proposal.

Planning permission to build 54 houses on land adjacent to Vicarage Road was granted to Castlemead on appeal by Denbighshire back in 2001.

Attached to the original application was a Section 106 agreement under which the developer was legally bound to build a new access road to the site before the scheme was started.

The field above the main site has since been included in the Local Development Plan at the request of the Planning Inspectorate to encourage the building of more houses to meet local demand.

And Castlemead  recently submitted a new application to build a further 45 homes, making a total of 99 houses on four parcels of land.

A statement issued on behalf of the company by planning consultants in support of the application says it would not be economic to build the access road before construction work starts on the houses and suggests it should be put in place by the time the 31st dwelling has been occupied.

Planning committee chairman, Cllr Sheenah Burrell, said the town council had received 57 separate representations about the scheme from people in the area, which would all be passed to the county.
Opposition to the scheme was led by the Mayor, Cllr Mike Adams, who said that while there was a desperate need for modern, cost-efficient housing in the area, there were a number of points on which objection could be made to the scheme.

These, he said, included the “loss of visual amenity” across the valley which the development would lead to, an inadequate number of parking spaces in the proposal and highway safety.

“There are very narrow access roads to the site and the planned increase in traffic is bound to present an additional hazard,” he argued.

He added: “The traffic generation of these additional homes should be taken into consideration.

“I believe we have genuine grounds for concern and I therefore propose we object to the current application.”
Former town Mayor, Cllr Bob Lube, also spoke against the application, saying: “I don’t think we can possibly agree with this until the road is done.”

Fellow members of the committee voted unanimously to object.
Cllr Burrell said: “I think we have been prudent and taken the emotion out of it and I thank everyone for their interest and information.”

Just over a dozen members of the public were at the meeting to hear the discussion.
The Welsh Government recently told the county council not to decide on the application until major road issues are clarified.

As part of the usual consultation process, the council asked the Welsh Government for its views on the application.

In a letter to the county’s planning chief an official from the government’s Department for Economy, Science and Transport writes: “I refer to your consultation of 14 April 2016 regarding the above application and advise that the Welsh Government as highway authority for the A5 trunk road directs that permission be withheld until further notice while additional information is sought from the applicant and/or information provided by the applicant is analysed to enable appropriate highway observations to be made.”

The letter adds: “The applicant must provide previous and proposed Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) values for Hall Street/A5 junction.

“The applicant must increase the future year assessment from 2020 to 20 years from year of opening.” 



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Warning from police boss over Brexit consequences


* North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.

A police boss has warned North Wales will be a more dangerous place if Britain votes to leave the European Union.

According to the newly-elected North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, a former police inspector, the terrorist threat was a key reason to stay in Europe.

He believes the Paris and Brussels atrocities were stark reminders of what is at stake.

Mr Jones feared the European Police Office, known as Europol which contributes to more than 13,500 cross-border investigations every year, would be weakened if Britain withdrew from the EU.

In addition, life would also be made more difficult for other joint investigation teams tackling a range of crimes from terror to child abuse.

Mr Jones said: "We in North Wales are particularly vulnerable as we have in Holyhead one of the UK's major ports for entry from another EU member state.

"North Wales Police have always worked closely with the Republic of Ireland's Garda to safeguard traffic between our two countries but achieving the same levels of co-operation would be much more difficult in the event of the UK voting to leaving Europe.

"We know that the current UK terror threat remains severe, meaning that a terrorist attack in the UK is 'highly likely'.

"That means that those involved in law enforcement and safeguarding the public need to focus on doing just that and making use of the methods that we and our counterparts in Europe know work best.

"We are not part of the Schengen agreement so we already have border controls that other EU nations don't have and we have that vital sea barrier as well but we still need to work with governments and law enforcement and other agencies in the EU to keep our people safe.

"You only have to be on the A55 at 2am to appreciate the volume of road traffic that is heading to and from Ireland and that makes it vital that we liaise closely with our Irish counterparts.

"We would hope to use these measures to prevent terrorists getting into the country but if suspects are identified we need to be able to rely on our EU colleagues to apprehend them and we need to be able to rely on the evidence they gather to be presented in our courts.

"All that is currently available to us using current EU criminal justice and security measures and we would be unwise to jeopardise that by voting to leave the EU.

"The Brussels and Paris atrocities are a stark warning that we need even greater sharing of intelligence, pooling of resources and joint working across Europe.

"Outside the EU we would find it more difficult to respond quickly and forcefully to those who would threaten our communities and our values, and that's why there is a clear security case for us to stay in the EU."

Mr Jones was also concerned that a vote to leave Europe could trigger a further recession, particularly in rural communities in areas such as North Wales.

He added: "That could lead to a loss of income for farmers and increasing unemployment and rural depopulation and those factors could also make our countryside and its towns more prey to crime.

"I have the same commitment to our rural areas as my predecessor did and they deserve the same care and attention when it comes to ensuring the safety of the public."

Monday, May 23, 2016

Police mount extra mountainside patrols

Wrexham.com is reporting that police mounted extra patrols across Llangollen and Wrexham over the weekend following reports of illegal off-roaders causing damage to several mountainside areas. 

* For the full story, see:
http://www.wrexham.com/news/illegal-off-roaders-cause-damage-to-mountainside-113722.html

Eisteddfod fundraiser is a big hit


* Stage 2 Stage's performance prompted a standing ovation. 

A fundraiser for Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod at the Town Hall last night (Saturday) brought a packed audience to their feet at the end of a choral concert and then had them putting their hands in their pockets to the tune of over £1,700 as they bid for lots in a fun auction.

The concert, compered by Eisteddfod stalwart Christine Dukes and musically directed by Elen Mair Roberts, featured a two-set programme by locally-based choir Stage 2 Stage in which they showcased songs from a host of shows and films, from Guys & Dolls and Chicago to Evita and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

At the end of the performance the packed audience gave them a rousing standing ovation.

In the auction which followed, conducted by Ian Lebbon, Chairman of the Eisteddfod’s Marketing Committee, 19 lots went under the hammer, including pieces of art connected with the festival and items signed by recent star performers such as Rufus Wainwright and Jonathan Antoine.

Lots which created most interest were a Wales rugby shirt signed by all members of the rock band Status Quo, which went for £350 after some hot bidding, and a signed cartoon by legendary singer-songwriter Burt Bacharach of his hit song Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head which realised £210.

Total amount raised by the auction was over £1,700.

Historic garden's new lease of life


* The renovated garden at Nantclwyd y Dre. 

A historic garden at a popular townhouse in Ruthin has been opened to the public after a three-year restoration.
                
The project to rejuvenate the Lord’s Garden at Nantclwyd y Dre cost £220,000 and has been funded by Denbighshire County Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Ruthin Town Council and the Friends of Nantclwyd y Dre.

The work of renovating the garden was assisted by over 100 volunteers who learned traditional skills such as hazel hurdling and meadow scything along the way.

The garden is a listed landscape, originating from medieval times and has been lovingly restored to reflect several ages of its history.  The gardens are open at the same time as the main house, as part of the Nantclwyd y Dre visitor experience.

Nantclwyd y Dre is Wales’ oldest dated timbered town house. The house was first built in 1435 and has been added to, updated and upgraded throughout the centuries..

Nantclwyd y Dre has been beautifully restored to demonstrate the changing fashions and the lives of its residents.

Visitors can observe a colony of Lesser Horseshoe bats in the attic rooms via ‘bat cam’, participate in a quiz and use interactive media screens to learn more about the house and its inhabitants.

Nantclwyd y Dre is open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays during May and September; Open on Saturday – Wednesday from June until end of August.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

County comes up with new anti-fouling signs

New signs are being placed on lamp-posts across Denbighshire as part of the county council’s latest initiative to tackle dog fouling.

The warning signs have been designed using images of ‘reflective eyes’ which bounce back light in the hours of darkness and warn the public that the area is being monitored.

* Watching you: the new anti-fouling signs.
Small cameras will also be used in areas that are deemed to be fouling hot-spots and signs will be placed to warn people they may be filmed. 

The council says the cameras used are not covert, are easy to set up and have the flexibility to be moved to another location quickly. Officers from Kingdom Security, working on behalf of the council are focussing their efforts on patrols specifically to identify offenders over the coming two weeks. 

They will be out and about working two shifts, 6am-2pm and 12pm until 8pm. They will also engage with dog owners about the need to clean up after their animals.

Other activities will see the council providing free bags to do owners; dog mess found on pavements will be painted using chalk, in order to highlight the problem and officers will also be gathering intelligence to enable further enforcement.

Dog owners found to be cleaning up after their animals will be  offered the chance to enter into a prize draw as part of the Bin it to Win It scheme.

Councillor David Smith, Cabinet Lead Member for Public Realm, said: “This is the latest in a range of initiatives undertaken by the Council to tackle dog fouling in the county.

“Residents tell us that it is one of the biggest issues of concern to them. The majority of individuals want to live in, work in and visit an area that is free of dog mess. It is a blight on the landscape and can be detrimental to people’s health and well-being.

“This campaign is about educating people to be considerate and not allow their dogs to foul in public.  The majority of people do act responsibly and we thank them for that. It’s the small group of individuals that we are trying to reach with our message.

“Dog fouling will simply not be tolerated in our county and we hope that our high profile and visible approach will make a real difference."

Responsible owners or any member of the public can contact the Council with information and remain anonymous if they wish. They can report issues through the website: www.denbighshire.gov.uk or through the Customer Service Centre, on 01824 706101.