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Monday, July 22, 2019

North Wales joins firearms surrender scheme

North Wales Police along with forces across the country are appealing for people to hand in unwanted guns with a two week surrender of firearms and ammunition, which started on Saturday.

Many firearms are held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality or are overlooked and forgotten in people’s homes. Others are acquired and distributed by criminal networks to harm, threaten and intimidate their local communities.
The surrender gives people the chance to dispose of firearms or ammunition by simply taking them to a designated local police station and handing them over.
The surrender will run until August 4. Surrendering unwanted, unlicensed weapons avoids the risk of them becoming involved in criminality and means that members of the community can dispose of firearms in a safe place.
During this period, those surrendering firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession upon surrender and can remain anonymous. However, the history of each live weapon will be checked for evidence of its use in crimes.
Detective Superintendent Steve Williams of North Wales Police said: “Given the large rural setting of our area, it may be that some people hold unlicensed firearms that have been handed down to them and may have concerns as to what to do with these weapons. There may also be people who, because of the change in legislation have a weapon they cannot legally hold. This surrender period allows them to dispose of these weapons in a manner that can allay such fears.
“Fortunately we do not have a significant gun crime problem in North Wales. However, we are not complacent about gun crime and we want as many guns surrendered as possible so I would encourage the public to come forward.”
This summer’s national campaign has a particular focus on firearms, stun gun type devices and pepper sprays. Police want to highlight the danger of these items and remind people they are illegal in this country and could lead to a prison sentence for anyone caught in possession.   
Assistant Chief Constable Helen McMillan, National Police Chief’s Council lead for Criminal Use of Firearms, said; “The last national firearms surrender in 2017 was a success and potentially helped save lives. With the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy underway, we feel it is the right time to ask police forces to run another two week campaign to collect unwanted guns and ammunition. Each firearm we retrieve has the potential to save a life, so do the right thing and surrender your weapon. 
“We also want to highlight that stun guns and similar devices are illegal in the UK and may not be brought in from abroad. They may be legal in some other countries, but if you are caught with one here you could be prosecuted with possession of a firearm and be put behind bars. This summer’s surrender is a good opportunity to hand in these types of devices.”
The surrender initiative is being co-ordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS). 
Detective Chief Superintendent Jo Clews, Head of NABIS, added: “This is an important national campaign co-ordinated by NABIS. During the last decade our experts have provided police forces with ground breaking ballistic forensic services and intelligence packages to prevent and detect gun crime. Even though UK firearm offences remain at relatively low levels compared to other countries, we cannot be complacent and this surrender will help remove further potential harm from our communities.”         
Weapons and ammunition can be surrendered at police stations including Wrexham.
If people are unable to visit any of these stations they are advised to contact North Wales Police on 101 to make alternative arrangements. For advice on how best to transport the weapon responsibly from home to their police station they are advised to phone 101 before travelling.
Wrexham Police Station, at the former Oriel Gallery, Rhosddu Road LL11 1AU, (01978) 834321. is open 8.30am/7pm – Monday to Saturday & 9am/6pm – Sundays.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

MP demands review of disabled welfare system

* Susan Elan Jones MP at the launch in Parliament of the Disability Benefits Consortium report Has Welfare Become Unfair?

Clwyd South Labour MP Susan Elan Jones has called for a compete review of how the welfare system treats disabled people.

Her demand came after she attended the parliamentary launch of the Disability Benefits Consortium report Has Welfare Become Unfair?

Ms Jones said: "Every year my staff team and I help around 800-1,000 constituents. Some of these will be local people with disabilities who are led down badly by an unfair system. 

"The Disability Benefits Consortium is a national group of more than 80 different charities and organisations.  

"I am pleased to support their excellent report and really hope the Government listens."

She added: "We urgently need a thorough review of the Personal Independence Payments assessment criteria and the inclusion of a disability element to Universal Credit."

The Disability Benefits Consortium report calls for the Government to act upon a series of 22 recommendations. 

These include suggestions that the Department for Work & Pensions produces simplified claim forms, increased resources so that charities and other advice agencies can better assist people in completing forms and a commitment to review of Personal Independence Payments assessments.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Valley Girls hang their Bra-skets in the town

* Sandra Smith of the Coppafeel campaign, left, with Gail Ellson
of Valley Girls WI with the Bra-skets display outside the Town Hall.

Valley Girls WI members are briefed on the Coppafeel
 campaign by Sandra Smith at their meeting.

Llangollen’s Valley Girls WI are showing how well they keep abreast of vital themes in health care with their latest project.

On Thursday evening a team of of members were out putting up hanging baskets outside the Town Hall in time for the annual Fringe Festival.

And what the girls have dubbed “Bra-skets” aim to remind people of the importance of self-examination when it comes to the crucial early detection of breast cancer.

Valley Girls spokeswoman Gail Ellson said: “It's mainly intended as a bit of fun to cheer up the town as we did with the Yarn Bomb back in 2016 when we hung knitted items around the town centre. It also ties in with the artistic nature of the Fringe Festival.

“We thought we should also use it for the good of the community and visitors to the town by linking with a Breast Cancer charity Coppafeel

She added: “There are several health care professionals amongst the Valley Girls whose job involves a lot of health promotion and health education.

A few of us have links with the Coppafeel charity through one of our colleagues Sandra Smith, who volunteers for Coppafeel.

“Sandra spoke to the Valley Girls back in May and we were all inspired to support the charity.

“The Braskets will have health education leaflets attached to them which onlookers are welcome to take away.

“The leaflets provide user friendly information on breast self examination, which is essential in aiding the early detection and subsequent treatment of breast cancer.”

Friday, July 19, 2019

Guide launched to support Denbighshire carers

A guide to all the information and support available to carers in Denbighshire has been launched.

North East Wales Carers Information Service (NEWCIS) was commissioned to develop the guide with local carers and partner organisations on behalf of Denbighshire County Council.

It helps carers find out how to get help with money and benefits, legal rights, time away from caring, practical support, training, learning and employment as well as NHS services.

Ian Whitehead, aged 53, from Rhyl, is a carer for his wife and also volunteers with NEWCIS supporting carers and helping with fundraising.

He said: “It is really important carers are aware of the support that is out there for them. They play a vital role, without them the person they care for would be more isolated and wouldn’t be able to get out as much.

“This guide collects everything in one place and helps make it clearer to carers. I would encourage them to pick up a copy.”

Supporting carers and creating resilient communities is a priority for the Council under its Corporate Plan and support includes helping carers access leisure services, providing financial support for short breaks, offering training to maintain caring roles as well as promoting life-long learning and support to continue working or re-enter the workforce.

Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire’s lead member for Well-being and Independence, said: “It is important carers know where and how to access support for themselves as well as the person they care for.  

“Carers look after family, partners or friends in need of help because they are ill, frail or have a disability. 

“Being a carer for another person covers a whole range of activities including personal care, emotional support, practical assistance, transport and social support. We have worked with carers and partner organisations on this guide which is full of helpful information about caring and the support available.”

* You can pick up the guide at One Stop Shops, libraries and doctors surgeries across Denbighshire.
Claire Sullivan of NEWCIS said: “We hope this leaflet can act as a fantastic resource for carers across Denbighshire. It illustrates the continued close working between the local authority and their third sector partners to ensure carers are supported well.”

Twenty Club's cunning plan to stage Blackadder

* Miranda Richardson and Rowan Atkinson in TV's Blackadder.

Fresh from their success with the gripping Dinner with Otto, Llangollen Twenty Club are lightening the mood by staging three episodes of smash TV comedy Blackadder.

Written by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, Blackadder was an iconic TV series which reached cult status. 

There were four periods in history covered on TV and Twenty Club have chosen to depict the Elizabethan era in their production which runs at Llangollen Town Hall from November 7-9 this year, each performance starting at 7.30pm.

Auditions for the piece are to be held in the council chamber at the Town Hall on Sunday July 28 at 2pm, and Tuesday July 30 at 7pm.

Director Chrissie Ashworth said: “We have chosen three episodes which we considered to be the best mix and most suited to perform at our home at the Town Hall.

“I’m looking for a close ‘copy’ of the original TV characters, as that is what people remember and the humour that goes with it. 

“Don’t think you have to be perfect, but I need to see a similarity.

“The three episodes that we will perform are all iconic, and hilarious, and should be a huge amount of fun both at rehearsal, and to perform.

“They are entitled respectively Head, Beer and Bells and they are all readily available on iPlayer at the moment and also to buy on Amazon.

“Blackadder is hilarious. It is farce, quick witted and when staged well is a gem. I want that gem.

“Let’s see a super turnout. Auditions will be open, so that everyone else are able to see each other and therefore eliminate any doubt as to allocation of roles. Plenty to do, this is a big show and we need you all!”

Thursday, July 18, 2019

People get an early look at county's new masterplan

* The 11 candidate development sites in Llangollen 
shown on a map on display at the drop-in session. 

* Part of the display in the Town Hall foyer. 

A drop-in session was held at the Town Hall yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon to allow people to comment on the county council’s approach to creating a new Local Development Plan.

The current Local Development Plan (LDP) provides local policy on development in the county and expires in December 2021 and  the council is working to have a new adopted LDP in place by this date. 

Over the past 12 months detailed work has taken place on developing a range of growth options which set out how much land would be required for different types of development and where that development should broadly be located.

Councillors have agreed a draft Preferred Strategy for consultation. This recommends the provision of land for 3,775 homes and 68 hectares of employment land. It is also proposed to focus new development in settlements with access to services, including a strategic ite at Bodelwyddan.

The consultation runs until the August 30, 2019. 

A series of drop-in sessions have been arranged for people to talk to officers, including the one on Wednesday in Llangollen, which was well attended.

People who went along were able to see displays about the LDP and a map pinpointing the 11 “candidate” sites which have been suggested in Llangollen.

They were also informed about how to make their views known about the plan.

Sites so far suggested locally are:

1. Mile End Mill (0.57 hectares) currentl use: watersport centre and vacant mill building. Proposed use: mixed use, residential and commercial.

2. Land adjacent to The Chestnuts, Berwyn Street (0.64 hectares) current use: vacant land. Porposed use: residential development.

3. Tyn Y Wern off the A5 (0.525 hectares) current use: hotel/tourism. Proposed use: residential development.

4. Maesmawr Road adjacent to Tyn Y Wern (1.1 hectares) current use: agricutural. Proposed use: residential development.

5. Land adjcaent Erw Las, Fron Bache (0.033 hecatares) current use: garden/amenity. Proposed use: residential or tourism accommodation.

6. Climedw, Corwen Road (1.6 hectares) current use: overgrown field. Proposed use: housing and/or leisure.

7. Climedw, Corwen Road, Site 2 (3.72 hectares) current use: greenfield land. Proposed use: housing and/or leisure.

8. Land off Maesmawr Road - Option 1 (2.05 hectares) current use: agricultural. Proposed use: residential.

9. Land off Maesmawr Road - Option 2 (5.4 hectares) current use: agricultural. Proposed use: residential.

10. Berwyn Works (0.49 hectares) current use: former employment use. Proposed use: residential development.

11. Llangollen Youth Club site (1.0 hectare) current use: youth club and pitches. Proposed use: residential development.

The above details can be found online at: 

The suggestion of residential development for the youth club site has already prompted critical comments on social media.

It was pointed out to people who attended the drop-in session that the council would like to hear their views on the draft strategy between now and August 30, which is the closing date for submissions.

All consultation documents are available on the council’s website at and copies are available for inspection during normal opening hours at Denbighshire council offices, libraries and one-stop shops.

Once completed, comments forms should be returned to: Strategic Planning & Housing Team, Denbighshire County Council, PO Box 62, Ruthin, LL15 9AZ.

The council says all comments received will be made publicly available and reported to the cabinet and council as part of the report back on the consultation.

Councillor Mark Young, Cabinet Lead Member for Planning, Public Protection and Sustainable Communities, said: “Agreeing and adopting a Local Development Plan is a lengthy process and we have now agreed to consult on our broad approach. The public are now being given a chance to have their say. 

"The responses to this consultation will be reported back to Members and the final Preferred Strategy will need to bediscussed by council in the autumn. This will allow the council to progress to the next stage of the LDP process, which is around creating detailed policies, proposals and specific land use allocations. This more detailed work will also be subject to further public consultation."

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Kids challenge businesses to get greener

* Ken Skates AM with children at Ysgol Acrefair.

Schoolchildren and their Assembly Member are challenging local businesses to be more environmentally friendly.

Ken Skates visited Ysgol Acrefair recently after receiving letters from pupils saying what they’d like to see done to reduce littering and single-use plastic locally.

The Welsh Government recently declared a climate emergency and outlined its plans for a greener Wales for future generations, and Mr Skates said he was inspired to see so many young people who shared his passion for protecting the environment.

The Clwyd South AM said ‘we all have a role to play’ – including local businesses.

“The children would like to see local shops and businesses stop selling and using plastic which can’t be recycled,” said Mr Skates. 

“They are very clued-up on this issue, which is fantastic to see, and are only too aware of the problems it causes for wildlife.

“It was amazing to meet so many children of such a young age who want to make a difference and I would like to sincerely thank the school for inviting me in – it was a genuinely inspiring morning and made me feel very proud.”

Headteacher Rebecca Turner said: “At Ysgol Acrefair, we have been very busy exploring and developing the four core purposes of the new curriculum for Wales. As part of the work on developing as ‘ethical, informed citizens’, the children have been finding out about sustainability. They were worried to see how much of our waste isn't recyclable, including the single-use plastic straws that come with their milk each day.

“The children were really inspired by Ken's visit. They thoroughly enjoyed finding out about Ken's job and how he himself tries to be sustainable. They can't wait to see Ken again to see if he has found the answers to some of their tricky questions!”

Mr Skates also talked about what is being done at a national level to protect the planet.
The Welsh Government has committed to achieving a carbon neutral public sector by 2030 and earlier this year published Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales, which sets out 100 policies and proposals to meet the 2020 carbon emissions targets.

Mr Skates added: “The Welsh Government’s decision to declare a climate emergency sends a clear message that we are determined to address climate change, which threatens our health, economy and infrastructure as well as our environment.

“It is important we all do what we can. We need collective action and government has a big role in making that happen, so we want to lead by example.”