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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Warning over bogus tax refund texts

Denbighshire Trading Standards are urging residents to be aware of spam text messages purporting to be from HM Revenues and Customs.

Some residents in the county have received a text message stating that a tax refund is due and asking people to click on the link to complete a tax form.

The council says HMRC will never send notifications of a tax rebate by text message, or ask you to disclose personal or payment information.

It says people should never disclose personal and/or payment information in reply to a text message that may look like it’s from HMRC, as they might well be revealing their details to a fraudulent website.

Trading Standards officers are urging people never to give out private information (such as bank details or passwords), reply to text messages, download attachments or click on any links in emails or texts if they are not completely sure they’re genuine.

* Anybody receiving an email they suspect to be fraudulent and appearing to be from the HMRC should forward it HMRC direct: phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk or send any suspicious text messages to 60599. Text messages will be charged at your network rate.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

County tourism thriving research shows


* Tourist attraction: Offa's Dyke Path.

Denbighshire’s tourism industry is thriving according to recent research.

Figures have been released as part of the STEAM programme – Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor, which aims to measure the impact of tourism from both staying and day visitors.

Tourism plays a vital part in Denbighshire’s economy, with a total economic impact in 2016 of over £479 million, an increase of 3.2% compared to the previous year and nearly 50% increase compared to 10 years ago.

In 2016, the total number of visits to Denbighshire – taking into account tourism day visits and staying visitors was nearly 6 million, increasing by 1.7% from 2015 and 23% compared to 10 years ago.

Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of Denbighshire and who is also the Cabinet Lead Member for the Economy, said: “This is great news for Denbighshire and I’m delighted that our tourism industry is growing. Staying visitors accounted for 67% of the total economic impact last year; which highlights the importance of attracting high quality accommodation to the region.

“The latest figures reveal that Denbighshire continues to be a popular choice for day trippers and over 6,000 full time jobs were supported by tourism spend in 2016, which demonstrates the contribution the sector makes to our local economy by providing services to the community and employment opportunities for our residents.

“Capitalising on Visit Wales marketing campaigns, working with partners to deliver our Destination Management Plan and the increased popularity of North Wales as a holiday destination all play an important role in increasing awareness of the wealth of attractions, facilities and services available in the county.”

Ian Lebbon, Chair of the Denbighshire Destination Partnership, said: “It’s great to see the increase in visitor numbers to the County for both day and staying visitors. We will continue to look at innovative ways to attract more visitors especially highlighting our hidden gems and hands-on experiences that many people are seeking when choosing their breaks.

"We are currently finalising our Destination Management Plan for 2017-20 in partnership with local businesses and groups to ensure long-term sustainability for the development of tourism in the county.”

North East Wales also reported further growth in 2016 with the overall volume of visits increasing by 1.1% compared to 2015, while the amount spent has increased by 3.4%. There were 11.40 million visits made to North East Wales, with an associated spend of nearly £850 million.

STEAM reports give a month by month account of the performance of the tourism industry within an area, from which, trends can be identified and acted upon. Such research is vital to ensure the future development and success of the industry.

* For more information on Denbighshire and North East Wales please visit www.discoverdenbighshire.wales and www.northeastwales.wales

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Plas Newyd events for September



Plas Newydd’s events/news for September

Saturday 2nd September   -  Friday 29th September

Art  Exhibition  in Y Caban-   Helfa Gelf,  Wrexham Open Studios

As part of the North Wales Art Trail/Helfa Gelf a group of 8 artists from Wrexham are exhibiting at Plas Newydd for the month of September. 

These artists include Ceri Wright, Sara Jane Harper, Emma-Jayne Holmes, Rachel Harris, Rosie Davies, Rob Davies, Penny Price and Pauline Jordan.

They use a range of media and techniques including Painting, Ceramics, Mixed Media and Photography.  Every weekend there will be an artist available for you to meet.  

Sunday 24th September

Make mythical Creatures   1.00  -  3.00pm

Cost :  £4.00

Make your own mythical creature and shrink yourself for a photograph with it.


MYSTERY OF THE LITTLE GIRL IN WELSH COSTUME SOLVED

If you remember last month we printed a picture of a little girl of about 5 yrs old in welsh costume outside Plas Newydd house. 

We now think we have solved the puzzle.  One of the readers of Dee Valley News Alison Corley-Rhodes saw a copy and thought she recognised the little girl. 

Alison actually lives in Mynydd Bodafon on Anglesey having moved from Llangollen 14 yrs ago and  neighbours of her mother’s, who moved a year later, have sent her Llangollen News/ Dee Valley News  ever since. 

Alison wrote to Lisa at Dee Valley News who forwarded it on to me at Plas Newydd.  She offered to investigate further and confirmed it was the lady she had thought of.  It can now be revealed that the little girl is:

LLINOS ROBERTS NOW JENKINS

Llinos’s parents were friends of Alison’s parents and they also lived near Llinos and her husband in Northwood in the early 80’s.  We are now waiting for Llinos to be in touch to claim her free tour and meal.   

Sue Hall

Monday, August 28, 2017

County seeks Shared Lives carers

Denbighshire’s Shared Lives Scheme is currently looking for local people who would like to become carers.

The scheme provides extra support in the daily lives of people in need – they may have a complex disability, mental health problems, physical disabilities, or sensory impairment which affects their lives.

The council is looking for enthusiastic and caring individuals, couples or families who live in Denbighshire and have a spare room in their home to be a Shared Lives Carer.  

Denbighshire’s Shared Lives Scheme has dedicated staff who provide practical support, advice and guidance to Shared Lives Carers. We will also provide them with appropriate training and arrange for them to be paid a fee.

Councillor Bobby Feeley, Cabinet  Lead Member for Well-being and Independence,  said: "Denbighshire’s Shared Lives Scheme aims to play a crucial link in supporting those in our community who need help the most. Experience of working in the care sector would be useful but isn’t a requirement – enthusiasm is just as important.”

Anyone interested in becoming a Shared Lives Carer or those who would like to find out more should contact Denbighshire’s Single Point of Access and ask to speak to the Shared Lives Scheme Coordinator.

* You can write to them or see them at: Single Point of Access , Denbighshire Social Services, Russell House, Churton Road, Rhyl, LL18 3DP; telephone: 0300 456 1000.  Email: spoa@denbighshire.gov.uk

Saturday, August 26, 2017

AM joins fight against criminal scammers

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has joined the Friends Against Scams campaign, an initiative that aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities to ‘Take a Stand Against Scams’.

Having accepted an invitation to become a ‘SCAMbassador’, Mr Isherwood (pictured) has joined the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team (Wales), the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) and others in WASP (Wales Against Scams Partnership) as part of a cross-party network to protect everyone from scams and the damage they cause, working locally and nationally to educate and support those who may be vulnerable to scams.
Each year scams cause between £5bn and £10bn worth of detriment to UK consumers. In addition to the financial impact, scams can have a severe emotional and psychological impact on victims.

Mr Isherwood said: “Scams often target the most vulnerable people in society but the reality is that anyone can become a victim of scams.

“Scams damage lives and can affect people financially and emotionally so it is with great pride that I have joined the work of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and others who are working together to prevent people from being victims of scams. By signing up as a ‘SCAMbassador’ I will seek to influence and drive forward changes in policy to reduce the effect of scams on people in North Wales and beyond.”

Louise Baxter, Team Manager, National Trading Standards Scams Team said: “The tactics used by scammers leave victims socially isolated and ashamed of telling their friends and families what’s really going on behind closed doors.

“It is fantastic to have such an influential figure in the community to help us tackle this problem on a local, regional and national level and I would encourage all those who are interested in showing their support to join the campaign and be part of our growing network.”
* To find out more visit https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk

Friday, August 25, 2017

Keep your dog on lead, owners advised

Don’t forget to take your lead – that is the message to dog owners intending on taking their animals out to the open Denbighshire countryside.

With a settled spell of weather and the bank holiday weekend fast approaching, more and more people are expected to venture out into the stunning Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but they are asked to be responsible and follow the Countryside Code.

The appeal follows a spate of incidents on Moel Famau over recent weeks where dogs off their lead have worried grazing sheep livestock, injuring some of them.

Councillor Tony Thomas, Denbighshire’s Cabinet Lead Member with responsibility for the Countryside, said: “We have become increasingly concerned at the number of incidents experienced lately.

“We have been running a campaign, Take the Lead,  encouraging people to make sure they keep their dogs on leads when they are out in the open countryside. Whilst the majority of people have listened to the message and act responsibly, there are some who simply allow their dogs to roam free without thinking of the consequences. It is to those individuals that we are targeting this message.

“They really must be mindful that they are crossing valuable grazing land where there are sheep roaming. The effects of attacks on animals can be devastating, to the animal and to the landowner.

David Shiel of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, said: “Over 300,000 visitors come to Moel Famau every year to enjoy the stunning scenery on offer. We want that to continue and for all visitors and landowners to be able to work side by side.

“Warning signs have been placed along the route to Moel Famau and we will continue publicising the Take the Lead campaign through the media and social media to encourage the minority of dog owners to change their behaviour and keep their dogs under control at all times."

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ysgol Dinas Bran students score well in GCSEs


* Jumping for joy: Sephorah Evans, Cassius Hackforth,
Olivia Eggington, Eve McSpadden, Jenna Leon, Laura McAndrew, Robyn Bourne, Sarah Gibbs, Ryan Verscheuren and Laura Gibbs.


* Twins peak: Two sets of very successful  twins - Lucy Brown, Emma Brown, Laura Gibbs and Sarah Gibbs.

Delighted Year 11 students at Ysgol Dinas Bran are celebrating their GCSE results today. 
There were particularly strong performances in Art, Biology, Chemistry and Physics where the pass-rate was 100%. 
Over 50% of grades awarded in the Separate Sciences were A* or A.
There were some fantastic individual performances including a host of students who achieved the very top grades. 
Twins Lucy and Emma Brown from Llangollen each gained an incredible ten A* grades, four grades and distinctions in Additional Maths. 
Laura and Sarah Gibbs, from Llangollen and who are also twins, performed well, Laura achieving eight A* grades, four A grades, two B grades and a Distinction in Additional Maths, while Sarah achieved four A* grades, eight A grades, two B grades and a Distinction in Additional Maths. 
There were tremendous results, too, for Zoe Nicholas (Llangollen), Laura McAndrew (Glyndyfrdwy) and  Sephorah Evans (Corwen) who all achieved nine A* grades and three A grades, together with Distinctions in Additional Maths. 
Megan Jones (Corwen) achieved six A* grades, four A grades, and a Distinction in Additional Maths and Eve Barrett (Llangollen) was awarded six A* grades, two A grades and a Distinction in Additional Maths. 
Headteacher Martyn Froggett said: "We are really pleased for all our students. 
"They have worked really hard and deserve their success.
We are looking forward to seeing many of the students back in our Sixth Form in September. 
"Great praise and thanks to the staff who have supported them and helped them achieve so well."

In a statement, the county council said: "Pupils across Denbighshire are celebrating excellent examination results this year. Early indications show that approximately 62.8% of students have achieved A* - C grades which is in line with the national average for Wales.

"Results in Welsh and English are particularly pleasing and are above the Welsh average.

"The pass rate grades A*-G was 97.1% is above the Welsh average of 96.9%.  There have been some outstanding individual results."

Police boss tackles BBC over language issue

A police boss urged the BBC's Newsnight programme not to insult the Welsh language again - and to seek the opinions of real experts if they discuss the subject in future.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones (pictured) hit out after the late night programme provoked outrage when it asked whether the Welsh language was a "help or hindrance to the nation".

The BBC has since expressed its regret and conceded the programme would have "benefited from more thorough analysis and debate".

Mr Jones has written in Welsh to the programme's editor, Ian Katz, seeking an assurance the same mistake will not be repeated.

The discussion on August 9 did not have anybody who could speak the language involved, with contributions from author Julian Ruck and Ruth Dawson, Wales Editor for the independent news and analysis website The Conversation.
At the start of the programme presenter Evan Davis asked of the language: “Is it the government’s job to promote it and is it a help or a hindrance to the nation.”
He later went on to say: “We will see how people will choose to speak it and how many will have it as a hobby, and how many speak it as their main language.”
In his letter Mr Jones accused Newsnight of discussing the language in "a childish, derogatory and irresponsible way" adding they had managed to raise the hackles of a whole nation.

He went on: "There was a weak, unconvincing apology the following night that did not persuade anybody that there was any real regret on your part.

"Asking whether the language is a hindrance is totally unacceptable, and it's irrelevant in any context. The Welsh language exists. People speak it as their first language every day.

"Should we make those who speak the language feel irrelevant and a hindrance or should we do our best to safeguard the language as an integral part of the tapestry of life in our little corner of the world?

"The BBC would not dare question whether a person's religion or ethnicity was a hindrance. Think of the justifiable outrage there would be to such an insult! How therefore can a public body that we pay dearly for justify questioning whether a language, especially one that is native to these islands and has existed well before English, is a hindrance?

"You could argue that slighting someone's language is more of an insult than questioning their religion because language is an inextricable part of who each one of us is as an individual.

"I would like to convince you that the Welsh language is integral in my work and a bit more important than the "hobby" Evan Davies referred to on the programme.

“As a fluent Welsh speaker in an elected position with responsibility for £143 million in spending, I believe passionately that I need to uphold my responsibilities to those who want to receive services in Welsh or English; neither language is treated less favourably than the other.

"Every other public body in Wales has a statutory duty to ensure that the Welsh language is not treated less favourably than English. Even though the majority of people in North Wales are able to speak English, dealing with a public body in your second language is different to communicating in your first language.

"In future I therefore call on you, as somebody who works for a public body, to carry out your moral responsibilities in relation to equality and to do your homework before any such programme is broadcast.

"If you deal with Welsh again it would be good if you could show some respect to the language, and the people who speak it, by making sure it is discussed by experts and not by contributors who can't speak the language and have very little knowledge about the subject."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Plas Newydd art exhibition comes to an end soon

Plas Newydd is reminding art lovers there are only eight days left to see Maria Hayes exhibition in Y Caban.  It is open until Wednesday August 30 at 4.45pm.




Walking and cycling meeting to be held

On Wednesday August 30 Denbighshire County Council will be holding a drop-in public consultation event at County Hall between 10am and 3pm.

This is one of four events being staged across Denbighshire with the purpose of having face to face discussions with Denbighshire residents about walking and cycling issues in their communities.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Regiment to parade in Denbighshire


* A previous freedom parade in the county.
Shenkin the Regimental Goat will lead a parade of over 130 soldiers through Ruthin next month, as part of the reaffirmation of the Freedom of the County to The Royal Welsh.

This momentous occasion will mark the reaffirmation of The Freedom of the County to the Royal Welsh and will give the people of Denbighshire and visitors to the area, a chance to show support and thank our armed forces for their courage and bravery in the execution of their duty, both at home and overseas.

The Reaffirmation event will take place in Ruthin on Saturday September 2 where the march will be led by L/Cpl Shenkin the Regimental goat and The Goat Major will be: Sgt ‘Jacko’ Jackson, followed by the Regimental Band of the Royal Welsh and with soldiers of the Royal Welsh parading with colours flying, bayonets fixed and drums beating.

Joining the Royal Welsh on the march and parade will be members of Denbighshire’s Cadet Forces.

The Royal Welsh will form up on Wynnstay Road at 1.45pm and will march up Market Street to St Peter’s Square where there will be a parade inspection by a number of civic and military dignitaries. 

Following a public address and National Anthems, L/Cpl Shenkin will then lead the Royal Welsh, the Regimental Band and the Cadets around St Peter’s Square, down Well Street and into Wynnstay Road where the march will end at the cenotaph.

The Freedom of the County was first awarded by Denbighshire County Council to The Royal Welsh in June 2011, when hundreds of people lined the streets of Denbigh to support and witness the event. 

Denbighshire County Council is encouraging Denbighshire residents and visitors to come along on the day and line the streets to show their support for their armed forces, in what promises to be a truly memorable, colourful and dramatic event.

There will be a number of parking restrictions, road closures and bus stop restrictions in force prior to and during the event, please see the Denbighshire County Council website for more information.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Llan packed with mountain bike action


* The busy scene over the weekend at One Giant Leap near Tan Y Graig Farm.

Top flight mountain bikers from across the came flocking to Llangollen over the weekend to take part in the British Downhill Series: Round 4.
They competed on a new track at One Giant Leap near Tan Y Graig Farm.

It has been carefully hand crafted out of the hillside by Brian Mundy of Ride Portugal as showcase for his course building skills.
The track itself is almost two kilometers long and features multiple line choices, solid berms and large man-made jumps, doubles, tabletops, step-downs, triples and hip jumps.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Top mountain bikers are competing in Llan



Top flight mountain bikers will be heading for Llangollen this weekend to take part in the British Downhill Series: Round 4.
There is a brand new track for the event, which is the latest round of the HSBC UK National Downhill Series, at One Giant Leap near Tan Y Graig Farm.

It has been carefully hand crafted out of the hillside by Brian Mundy of Ride Portugal as showcase for his course building skills.
The track itself is almost two kilometers long and features multiple line choices, solid berms and large man-made jumps, doubles, tabletops, step-downs, triples and hip jumps.

Strider Racing is back by popular demand for riders from two years of age onwards and FMD Racing's Tahnee Seagrave will be handing out the medals at their award ceremony.
Charlie Hatton leads the way in the series standings for elite men, with 467 he has a 45-point lead over Danny Hart in second and 51 points ahead of Matt Simmonds in third.

In elite women, it looks like Tahnee Seagrave may come away with the overall as she's currently 120 points ahead of Manon Carpenter in second and 235 points ahead of Veronique Sandler in third. Best four out of five rounds count for the season.

There is a spectator charge of £5 per day payable cash on the day for each adult aged 16 or over.

* For more details, go to: https://www.pinkbike.com/news/bds-round-4-race-preview-llangollen-2017.html

Schedule

Saturday: 09:30 to 18:00 - Practice.

Sunday: - 08:30 to 10:45 – Practice, 11:15 to 14:00 - Seeding Runs, 14:30 to 17:00 - Race Runs.

Friday, August 18, 2017

County highlights dangers of cybercrime


Small firms not taking cybersecurity seriously could end up out of business if they don’t take steps to protect themselves.

That was the stark warning from experts at a recent free training session provided to small businesses by Denbighshire County Council at its office in Denbigh.

Firms in the county were given a session on Cyber Essentials, a UK Government backed, industry-supported, scheme for basic cybersecurity.

Jason Davies, director of Ruthin-based Safonda, a Cyber Essentials accreditation company which trains businesses to protect themselves from attacks, led the session.

He said: “Cybersecurity is vital for small businesses. Larger businesses can absorb a cyberattack, for small businesses, if you lose access to your data, even for a day, it can have a massive impact on your company or even shut you down.

“If you are in-line with Cyber Essentials, ransomware can’t hit you to start with. As long as you are up-to-date and doing all the things you should be, it shouldn’t get you.

“If you are the victim of a cyberattack, the first thing you should do is speak to your internet provider. Then look at what the impact is and what has been affected.

“We can’t tell people whether to pay for their data or not after they have been hit by a ransomware attack. If you pay a ransom for your data then you are funding those criminals but at the end of the day you are a business and if the data is vital to you, we can’t say don’t pay it.”

In 2016 cybercrime cost UK businesses £29 billion and Mr Davies said the best defence is to back up your data.

He said: “There is very little someone can do to you or your network that can’t be repaired with a good back up system.

“If you want a good all-round solution, the answer is to go and look at the Cyber Essentials scheme. It gives you the guidance on the five most important actions.

“Denbighshire County Council has been vital in raising the awareness of cybersecurity within the North Wales region.

“By putting courses like these on, it is showing they are helping small businesses that wouldn’t otherwise have access to the information they need to help protect themselves and their customers.”

As part of its work on developing the local economy, Denbighshire has been helping local businesses understand what they can do to make themselves resilient to the growing threat from online crime.

Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, leader of Denbighshire, said: “Denbighshire is being pro-active in providing training to businesses and is leading the way among North Wales authorities on cybersecurity.

“Our business survey last year suggested a low level of local awareness of cybersecurity threats and this is one of the steps we are taking to address that.

“In 2015 the UK Government introduced Cyber Essentials certification as mandatory for certain contracts involving personal or sensitive data, not just for the principle contractors but also the wider supply chains.

“The Council therefore wants to help make local businesses aware of this so they can improve their chances of winning tender opportunities.”

Cyber Essentials encourages businesses to set up firewalls and other software to prevent unauthorised access and to make sure malware and anti-virus software is installed and up-to-date.

Maureen Young, co-owner of Ruthin Decor, was a victim of a cyberattack last year and she described it as ‘devastating’.

She said: “Cybersecurity is a big issue for our business. We had a malware attack and whilst it didn’t affect our main accounting systems, it did affect some of the documents I held.

“It is now a real concern for us to make sure we are up-to-date on protecting the business against those risks.

“I would urge other businesses to take this threat very seriously. I thought of myself as someone who was very much aware when an e-mail comes in, to know if I should open it or not, but I still opened something I shouldn’t have.

“The session was very useful. I have a list of things to check on. It is nice to see the Council help small businesses in this way. This is exactly the type of help that we need. It is the sort of thing that if you have to pay for, people put it as a low priority but if you are the victim of a cyberattack it can be absolutely devastating.”

Stuart Baldwin, owner of Rhyl-based Quest Consultancy, which provides training and project management services to businesses, said: “This course makes perfect sense for us. Cybersecurity is something we are very concerned about.

“It is something that could be detrimental to a business. You hear of major attacks happening on multi-national companies and public services. We feel much more informed after this course. It has reduced the fear, they have let us know that there are some simple steps we can take and make sure we are compliant.”

* Denbighshire County Council is looking to host another free course for businesses in October and to register your interest e-mail econ.dev@denbighshire.gov.uk

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dinas Bran pupils celebrate A Level success



* Dinas Bran students jump for joy at their A Level success.



* Carys Stallard (left) and Jessica Brown.




* Declan Clifford (left) and Bethany Carol.

Delighted sixth form students have been celebrating their A Level results at Ysgol Dinas Bran today.
Overall the pass rate at A level was an excellent 99% with over half the grades being awarded at A*-B.
100% of students achieved the national benchmark level 3 measure. 
BTEC results were also very good with a 100% success rate. 
There were good performances in subject areas more than 50% of grades awarded in Maths, Physics and History being A* or A.
A large number of students enjoyed great success, achieving places at high level universities in the face of stiff competition across the land. 

Elinor Barnett achieved three A* grades and an A grade in her subjects (Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Design and Technology).  Elinor will now study Mechanical Engineering at Bath University. 
Jessica Brown (Llangollen) was awarded an outstanding three A* grades in her subjects:  Maths, Further Maths and Physics.  Jess will now go on to study Mathematics at Somerville College, Oxford University. 
Carys Stallard – taking her A levels one year early – achieved a fantastic three A* grades in History, Art, English Literature and and an A in English Language.  Carys will now read English Literature at Durham University. 
Adam York achieved a clean sweep of three A* in all his subjects -  Maths, Further Maths and Physics- and will now study Mechanical Engineering at Bristol University. 
Elinor McSorley will study Biomedical Sciences at Magdelen College, Oxford University, after adding an A* grade in Further Maths to the grades she achieved last year. 
A particular mention too for Julian Gonzalez.  Julian, taking A levels a year early, achieved three A* grades (including, incredibly, full marks in the demanding Further Maths papers) He will now apply for university next year.

Other students who achieved at least three A grades at A level were:

Declan Clifford – one A* grade, two A grades

*Barra Liddy – one A* grade, two A grades

Elliot Howatson - three A grades

Amy Jones – three A grades

*Bethany Carol - three A grades

(*- students taking exams a year early)

Headteacher Martyn Froggett said: “We are delighted with the success of all our students.  They have worked very hard and their results are a credit to themselves.  I thank all the staff for the support they have given the students over the course and all parents for their help too.  We wish everyone the best for their futures.”

Denbighshire County Council said: "Early indications show approximately 98.5% of students have been successful in achieving the Level 3 threshold, which is an improvement on the previous year. There has also been an increase in the number of students gaining A*-C grades this year.

"There have been some excellent individual achievements across all schools. In addition, nearly all schools have shown an increase in the number of students gaining A* and A grades."

Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Denbighshire's Cabinet Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People, said: “We would like to congratulate all students on their individual results and we wish them every success in their chosen pathway.

“The results reflect the months of hard work and dedication of students and their teachers, in preparation for the examinations.

"Education remains a top priority in the County and I am extremely pleased to see the majority of schools in Denbighshire continue to improve performance.”

Funding row could hit Welsh policing warns PCC


* North Wales PCC Arfon Jones.

A row over how police training is funded could result in 200 fewer officers in Wales - and potential recruits choosing to sign up to work for English forces instead.

That's the warning from the four police and crime commissioners and the chief constables in Wales who are calling for urgent action over the controversial Apprenticeship Levy that's putting Welsh forces at a "huge disadvantage".

The All-Wales Policing Group has voiced its concerns in a letter to Professor Mark Drakeford, the Welsh Government's Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government.

The group's chair, Arfon Jones, who is also the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, says the four Welsh forces are paying a total of £2 million and he fears they'll get nothing back in return.

The UK Government has agreed a funding deal for the levy for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland under which each of the devolved governments will receive a share of the money paid in based on their population.

In England the money forces pay into the levy go the English police college but in Wales it goes to the Welsh Government which is due to get back a total of almost £400,000,000 over the next three years.

But Mr Jones says that because the Welsh Government is not responsible for policing there’s a big question mark over whether any of the money paid in by Welsh police forces, including North Wales, can be spent on officer training.

According to Mr Jones, recruitment was being seriously hampered.

He said: "We are most concerned that the uncertainty that exists in Wales will create a situation where English forces are more attractive to potential recruits than Welsh forces.
Ultimately, this will be to the detriment of Welsh communities.

"Welsh police forces are now at a serious financial disadvantage and in future will be disadvantage in terms of training compared to our English counterparts.

"Under the English funding model, 92 per cent of the costs of training would be met through the Apprenticeship Levy, with only eight per cent being borne directly by the forces.

"In contrast, the funding arrangements in Wales mean that forces here would have to bear between 95 and 100 per cent of the costs themselves.

"Under such pressures, Welsh forces might have to lower the standard of training and it would be regrettable to break away from the uniform standards that are currently in place.

"Being force to fund the training from existing resources would inevitably have an impact on front-line policing.

"We believe the problem is an unintended consequence of how funding from Whitehall to the devolved government in Wales is calculated via the Barnett Formula.

"We are seeking an urgent resolution to this issue because an unfunded cost of nearly £10 million of the Police Education Qualifications Framework is equivalent to 200 fewer officers in Wales - this equates to 86 officers in South Wales, 45 in North Wales, 35 in Dyfed Powys and 34 in Gwent.

"This will be in addition to the reductions that Welsh forces have already suffered since 2010, which has seen a reduction of over 2,500 police officers and staff, equivalent to the entire resources of North Wales Police.

"We appreciate that Cabinet Secretaries and Welsh civil servants have been extremely constructive in the support that has been offered to date.

"However, we request the Welsh Government's support in urgently escalating this matter with the UK Government.

"We cannot have a situation where Welsh forces either fall behind England in the quality of education for officers or having to make further significant reductions in our numbers. Operationally, either choice is intolerable.

"We cannot resolve these two very unattractive alternatives in a way that safeguards the interests of our communities without the active and constructive intervention of both Cardiff and Whitehall Governments."

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Success for rural surgery campaigners

Funding for a rural surgery will be partially reinstated by the Health Board following a campaign by local representatives and patients.

Corwen Family Practice were informed earlier this year that their £52,000 Rural Support Payment was to be phased out.

But the surgery gathered the support of the community it serves and appealed the decision.

Supporters collected over 600 signatures on a petition, and community leaders sent representations to the Health Board calling on them to maintain their financial support.

One of the coordinators of the campaign to ensure that the surgery retained their funds, Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Mabon ap Gwynfor, this week received a letter from the Health Board saying that they had now agreed a ‘revised transitional support package’ for the practice instead of the original proposal to cut their support.

The letter from the Board Secretary states, “The Panel agreed a revised transitional support package with a requirement that the Practice works towards achieving financial stability over a period of the next two years, with progress to be reviewed in a year’s time. The final detail is currently in the process of being confirmed between the Practice and the Health Board."

Cllr. ap Gwynfor (pictured), who represents the Llandrillo Ward, said: “This is good news. The team at the Corwen Surgery serve many thousands of people across a wide geographic area, and they go over and above what is expected of them to ensure the wellbeing of their patients.

"Losing such a significant amount of money would have been a hammer-blow to the practice, and we welcome the fact that the Health Board will instead offer a new support package.

"It’s understood that the new package won’t be as generous as the previous deal, but it won’t be far short of their original funding and will mean that the Health Practitioners there can concentrate on what they do best, which is look after the health of the people of this area, instead of having to spend their time on developing business plans to generate more income.

“Corwen Surgery has received a funding package from the Health Board for well over a decade. It’s recognised that rural areas have greater needs especially following the closure of several community Hospitals.

"This package allows Corwen to provide a broad range of services, which patients might otherwise have to travel great distances to receive.

"We sincerely hope that the Health Board will have recognised that their original proposals to cut their funding was a mistake, and that at the end of this two year period they will agree to continue with this essential funding to ensure that people in this part of Wales receive the best possible health care.”

Skates praises schools' summer clubs scheme

Assembly Member Ken Skates has praised a Welsh Government-funded summer club for schoolchildren.

Bryn Collen and Ysgol Gymraeg Y Gwernant both in Llangollen are two of 39 schools in 12 areas of Wales taking part in the first year of the Food and Fun School Holiday Enrichment Programme.

Mr Skates (pictured) said: “£500,000 of Welsh Government funding has gone towards clubs in schools during August, including four in Clwyd South. The money is helping to provide breakfast, lunch, education about healthy eating and a programme of activities.”

Mr Skates said the school summer holidays can be difficult for low-income families as children no longer get the free school meals they do during term-time. A lack of free play schemes and activities also impacts most on disadvantaged children.

He added: “It’s important that every child in Clwyd South has the opportunity to thrive and achieve their best. That is what these lunch clubs are about and I’m pleased that the Welsh Labour Government has recognised the need for it and put funding in place.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Celebrity chef Graham heads for Hamper Llangollen


* Graham Tinsley is heading for Hamper Llangollen.
A celebrity chef who has cooked regularly for royalty and government leaders says North Wales produces some of the best food in the world.
Graham Tinsley MBE, who has prepared dishes for the Queen and Prince Charles on at least a dozen occasions and also created St David’s Day feasts at 10 Downing Street, can’t wait to showcase it at this year’s Llangollen Food Festival.
He will be leading the trio of top culinary maestros laying on a series of crowd-pulling cookery demonstrations on the second day of the festival, which will be staged at Llangollen Pavilion on October 14 and 15.
The event, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and has been named as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK by the Daily Telegraph and Independent newspapers.
Currently executive head chef at the prestigious Carden Park in Cheshire, Graham said: “Myself and two other big-name chefs from the North Wales Culinary Guild, which I head up, will be doing six demonstrations on the Sunday of Llangollen Food Festival, featuring starters, mains and puddings.
“What they’ll all have in common is excellent local ingredients. Without doubt, North Wales produces some of the best produce in the world which I champion at every opportunity.
“I love to use things from the smaller bespoke producers, so in the demonstrations we’ll be including such things as locally sourced meat as well as ice cream, rape seed oil, honey and beer which all come from producers based just a few miles away from Llangollen and are regular exhibitors at the festival.
“And as I use them I’ll be pointing out to the people watching exactly how good they are and which stalls they can buy them from. That’s what shows like this are all about.”
Graham, who was awarded the MBE by the Queen for his services to the food industry in 2006, added: “Wherever I travel in the world I try to tell people just how good food from North Wales is.
“For instance, I was recently in holiday in Greece and took with me some of the famous Halen Mon sea salt from Anglesey. I let local chefs try it and they were very impressed as it’s quite delicate compared to the rougher kinds they have over there.
“It’s also a lovely salt to eat and I often get people just to try some when I’m doing my demonstrations.”
Graham began his career in catering at the Midland Hotel in Manchester under the guidance of renowned chef Gilbert Lefevre.
After a five-year apprenticeship and winning a collection of culinary competition medals, he extended his knowledge of international cuisine at the five-star Atlantis Sheraton in Zurich, Switzerland before returning to England to work under the influential Anton Mosimann at the Dorchester Hotel in London.
He then spent nine years with De Vere Hotels, firstly as sous chef and then as head chef at the flagship Lord Daresbury Hotel in Warrington, Cheshire.
In 1991, Graham was head hunted to help develop and open the first four star hotel in North Wales - St David's Park Hotel in Ewloe.
The hotel was such an overwhelming success that, in 1997, he was appointed to the team that developed and opened the Carden Park Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort in Cheshire, which is where he returned to take executive charge of the kitchens six years ago.
Over the course of 25 years he was in turn vice-captain, captain and then manager of the Welsh Culinary Team, which won a host of international competitions.
With the team he cooked for the Queen, Prince Charles and other members of the Royal Family on numerous occasions, as well as the Emperor of Japan and European heads of state at Cardiff Castle.
Following the opening of the Welsh Assembly’s Senedd in Cardiff, Graham supervised the celebratory luncheon for the Queen
For a number of years he was invited to 10 Downing Street by David Cameron to prepare memorable St David’s Day meals.

Graham said: “One of the highlights of my year for the past seven or eight years has been to do the cookery demonstrations at Llangollen Food.

“I think they keep inviting me back because I have the gift of the gab. I love talking to people as I’m cooking.

“I’m always a little nervous beforehand but once I get up on stage and start inter-acting with the public I feel great. It’s fantastic to get their feedback on what I’m preparing, to answer their questions and to give them some handy cookery tips."

According to Phil Davies, a member of the committee at Llangollen Food Festival, Graham is a firm favourite with the festival goers.

He said: "With his royal credentials, we can be assured that Graham and his team of culinary maestros will be demonstrating some wonderful dishes featuring some fantastic local produce.

"His message that North Wales produces some of the best food in the world and chimes perfectly with our ethos of providing a showcase for our brilliant indigenous producers.

"This year's 20th anniversary festival promises to be one of the best ever with a record number of around 130 stall-holders."

* To find out more about Llangollen Food Festival go to: www.llangollenfoodfestival.com
 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Call to step up road safety on Horseshoe Pass



* Safety concerns: From left, County Councillors Graham Timms, Martyn Holland and Melvyn Mile at the Horseshoe Pass summit. 

A spate of serious accidents has prompted a group of county councillors to make an urgent call for extra road safety measures of the Horseshoe Pass above Llangollen.

Cllrs Graham Timms and Melvyn Mile representing Llangollen along with Llandegla member Martyn Holland recently met at the Ponderosa Café at the summit of the pass to thrash out a solution to the situation which has seen three accidents in the past year.   


Cllr Timms said: “We can’t just sit back any longer whilst road users continue to get injured or killed. Something has to be done to make the area much safer for everyone.

“Over the last two months the air ambulance has visited the pass on two occasions to support seriously injured casualties in accidents on the bends on each side of the summit.” 

A road safety expert working for Denbighshire County Council met with the councillors at the café  to examine what could be done to reduce the casualty toll.

Statistics show that in almost half of the accidents over the last 10 years drivers losing control of the vehicle had been a contributory factor.

Cllr Mile said: “The road is difficult to navigate and many road users are unused to the bends and gradients on the pass, resulting in them losing control. We need to ensure that vehicles travel at sensible speeds for their own safety and the safety of others.”

The trio of councillors believes that one section of the road poses a particular hazard for pedestrians.

They say visitors who park opposite the café and have to cross the main road are in danger from fast-moving vehicles on the straight section of road as it passes the Ponderosa. 

Cllr Holland said he would support a reduction in the speed limit in his ward on the A542 from the top of the pass past the Ponderosa and through the bends down towards Llandegla.

“Large numbers of walkers and visitors cross this section of road to enjoy the paths across the moors, the spectacular views and to visit the Ponderosa,” he said.

“There have also been a number of accidents involving motorbikes on the bends between the Ponderosa and the Horseshoe Pass roundabout on the A542 and A5104 and North Wales Police have indicated that these have often involved speed.”

Cllr Holland also has concerns about the speed of traffic on the nearby Old Horseshoe Pass which is very narrow and again crossed by walkers and visitors.

Cllr Timms said that as a result of the meeting the county council will be deciding on ways to make the road safer for everyone and proposals will go out for consultation in the next few months.
 
The Horseshoe Pass is a popular destination for coach tours and cars. It is also a favourite with large numbers of motorcyclists who visit the area on Sundays.