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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Horseshoe Pass closed after collision

Police have said the Horseshoe Pass is closed, according to
A collision has taken place on the Llangollen side, and the road is closed both ways.
North Wales Police have said the road ‘will be closed until further notice’.
Land based ambulances and the air ambulance have attended the incident.
Update: 8pm the air ambulance left the scene and has returned to base.

Community meeting for Pengwern tonight

Friends of Pengwern are to host a community meeting and green mapping session at the area's community centre tonight (Tuesday) from 5.30-7.30pm.

The group says: "This is your opportunity to come and talk to us about what you would like to see happening in the community and to get involved with volunteering.

"We will also be hosting a green mapping event with DCC and Countryside Services to discuss what the community would like to see happen with the green spaces around the estate. This is a drop in event so you can call in anytime between 5.30 and 7pm."

Mercedes' new pick-up with the X factor

* The new Mercedes with X Class.

Mercedes X-Class V6 road test by Steve Rogers

Meet the Mercedes X-Class, the poshest pick-up on the planet.

The planet? Okay, that's pushing it a bit but posh, pick-up and planet trip nicely off the tongue.

There are lots of custom pick-ups layered in gleaming chrome with outrageous paint jobs strutting their stuff at the classic car shows but as far as a working pick-up goes this is the best you will find in Europe.

Mercedes launched the X-Class early last year but with just a four-cylinder diesel which is a tad agricultural. Bring on the mighty 3-litre V6, an engine to help this pick-up stand out from the rest.

On the back of the surge in SUV popularity double cab pick-ups are almost the new fashion statement, and there are plenty to choose from. As well as the updated versions from diehards like Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Ford, Izuzu and SsangYong we have seen unlikely entries from Fiat and Mercedes-Benz.

But when it comes to a juicy V6 the choice is limited to Volkswagen Amorak or X-Class, and here the Merc streaks away with the dash to sixty taking just over seven seconds, a top speed approaching 130mph and a whopping lump of torque.

Does anyone really want to spend 40 grand on a pick-up? According to| Mercedes this is what their customers have been waiting for. No point in having the three-pointed star on the front grille if it can't beat the rest.

Is it really practical? Of course it is. This is a workhorse like any other pick up, able to haul three and a half tons, while getting muddy off road is just another day at the office. Like its four-cylinder sibling X-Class sits on a Nissan Navara chassis and shares the multi-link rear suspension.

This is key to the way X-Class behaves, particularly on public roads, and sets it apart from rivals that do not use this car like technology.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves and say this drives with the same comfort as a sports utility let alone a car but how X-Class manages poorer road surfaces is a couple of levels ahead of most rivals. Of course there are times when you are bobbling in the seat but the suspension makes a good fist of cushioning occupants against pot holes and such like.

This feeling of riding in something up market extends into the cabin where the layout and materials are pure Mercedes and move up a level from the four-cylinder X-Class.

The familiar high definition seven inch screen operated via a rotary controller and touch pad between the seats takes care of the majority of functions, apart from the heating which is good old fashioned switches. There are most of the creature comforts to be found in a top end SUV, the all round camera is brilliant, but one area X-Class is lacking is space for oddments. The cabin has been designed to look pretty but in reality it is pretty poor when looking for somewhere to store a mobile phone and such like. I put mine in the glasses holder in the roof lining.

Like a Mercedes car, the ride can be adjusted electronically and that extends to the full on four wheel drive and hill descent systems.

Enough. Let's get to the meaty end of our posh pick-up. The V6 has been round long enough to be honed and refined and delivers what is expected... performance. Best part is the mid range torque which is huge and gives a nice feeling of security when overtaking. Floor the accelerator and you are away.

Steering wheel paddle shifters for the eight speed auto can be handy for downshifts into bends if cracking along in the sport setting but it is as well to be aware of the slight delay in throttle response, particularly at roundabouts, when using the economy setting.

Expect anything between 25-30mpg but exploit that performance too often and you will be into the teens.

Whatever your take on a plush pick up there are points that need to be clear. It is not the answer to a big SUV but there are certainly tax benefits if chosen as a company car. The level of comfort is way above expectation as is the premium feel to the cabin but this is still a working pick up so don't expect miracles.

For this sort of money you could buy a seven seater SUV with all the bells and whistles and better economy but using this for family transport is not out of the question.

Key facts
X-Class 350d V6
3-litre; 258bhp
550Nm torque
Max payload 1067kg
0-62mph 7.6secs
31.4mpg combined

Monday, May 20, 2019

Eisteddfod to host fundraiser on the square

* Eisteddfod dancers on Centenary Square last summer.

Llangollen Eisteddfod is inviting people to help celebrate the launch of its #YourLlangollen fundraising campaign.

As part of National Fundraising Week (May 20-24) the festival will host a free event in the town’s Centenary Square this Saturday, from 11am-4pm.

#YourLlangollen aims to raise awareness of the International Eisteddfod’s charity status and how crucial donations are to maintain this unique festival for future generations.

Visitors can join in the free fun at Centenary Square, featuring entertainment from a variety of performers such as high-energy Chester-based Karamba Samba drumming troop and eclectic local soloist Leonie Ann Kirby. 

They can also purchase raffle tickets to win exclusive prizes kindly donated from local business such as glamping, spa and dining experiences will support the event’s aim to raise funds for the Eisteddfod.

Set up in 1947, the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod attracts some of the world’s leading artists and musicians to the Welsh scenic town for a week-long celebration. 

Firmly rooted in the local community, Llangollen Eisteddfod is a charity with a unique message to encourage global harmony and goodwill through creative arts.

Eisteddfod chairman Dr Rhys Davies said “We welcome the world to Wales every year and we know the entire Llangollen community is proud of our International Eisteddfod. 

"As with all charities, we rely heavily on charitable donations and are launching the #YourLlangollen fundraising campaign to raise important funds whilst also highlighting our amazing 2019 festival line-up.

“At the event in Centenary Square on Saturday visitors can enjoy free performances, buy festival tickets, and easily donate.”

The current Third Sector’s Fundraising Week aims to highlight the importance of fundraising for charities and not-for-profit organisations. 

In recent years, Llangollen Eisteddfod has increasingly required the support of volunteers, sponsorship and donations to deliver this world-class event.

People unable to attend the #YourLlangollen event on Saturday can still show their support by donating:

Text YourLlangollen5 to 70085 to donate £5
Text YourLlangollen10 to 70085 to donate £10 

Texts will cost the chosen donation amount plus one standard network rate message. This charge will be taken from your Pay as you Go credit or added to your monthly mobile bill.

* Tickets for this year’s festival can be purchased online at or via the box office on 01978 862001.

Business Improvement District plan makes progress

* The BID proposal centres of Llangollen town centre. 

Following representations from a group of Llangollen businesses, Denbighshire County Council successfully applied to Welsh Government for match funding to explore the possibility of a Business Improvement District (BID) for Llangollen.

A BID is an arrangement where businesses get together, decide what additional improvements they want to make, how they’re going to manage and deliver those improvements and understand what it will cost them.

This all is put in a comprehensive business plan which is then voted on by businesses.

If the majority vote yes then a BID is legally formed, providing sustainable and equitable funding to deliver that plan. 

It is a concept that has been successfully used to better manage and market over 300 places in the UK. The BID can last for a maximum of five years and must be able to demonstrate how it has benefited businesses that have funded it.

The Mosaic Partnership were appointed in October 2018 to explore the feasibility of a BID in the town and following engagement with more than 80 businesses, a financial analysis and presentations to business and public agency groups the assessment has concluded a BID is viable for Llangollen and to move forward with a ballot in early 2020.

The next phase will involve forming a BID Task Group with membership largely drawn from the local business community and The Mosaic Partnership  will work with the group to undertake extensive consultation and market research, develop the operating agreement, financial planning and the BID Business Plan.

Mo Aswat, Director of The Mosaic Partnership said: “It has been great to work in Llangollen which in many ways is a successful and attractive town. Businesses have realised that to keep it that way and develop it in the face of increasing competition needs a more professional and sustainable approach. BIDs are one such way as we have seen across the country,  and we look forward to moving on to the next stages here.”

Denbighshire County Council says it is supportive of this business-led process which will culminate in a democratic ballot in early 2020 to determine whether or not a BID is established in Llangollen.

First Minister speaks to party members in Llan

llanblogger exclusive

* First Minister Mark Drakeford addresses
Labour Party members in St Collen's Community Hall. 

Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford spoke about Tory austerity, the far right and his party’s proud record of standing up for Wales during a visit to Llangollen.

The First Minister was the special guest at an event at St Collen’s Community Hall organised by Clwyd South Labour Party and local AM Ken Skates on Thursday night.

The visit came on the same day it was announced that the town is to get £25,000 from the Welsh Labour Government towards the cost of a traffic improvement scheme as part of the Llangollen 2020 project, headed by local Labour county councillor Graham Timms.

Mr Skates said: “I was delighted to welcome Mark back to Llangollen and would like to thank him for giving up his time. This visit was arranged several months ago, but it is fitting that it should fall on the day it was announced that Llangollen is to benefit further from Welsh Labour Government support.

“Mark was the health minister who committed almost £5m of Welsh Government money to deliver our brand new surgery just a few years ago, which has been a fantastic addition to Llangollen.”

The announcement of funding for Llangollen 2020 comes after news that the Welsh Government is providing a grant of £75,000 to Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

Mr Drakeford told the audience that Clwyd South was lucky to have Mr Skates as its AM and described him as ‘one of the most likeable and decent people in the Assembly and an outstanding minister’. 

He added: “I couldn’t be more proud that we have him speaking up for North Wales.”

The First Minister also said that Labour are the only party that can defeat the far-right and ‘the only party that is fiercely devolutionist’.

“We are the party that has a record through devolution of leaving money in the pockets of the people who need it most and we are finding ways to carry on that tradition – free prescriptions, free school breakfasts, free hospital parking, council tax benefit to name just a few,” said Mr Drakeford.

“We are 10 years into austerity. Year after year after year the resources available to us here in Wales have gone down. It’s the longest and deepest period of austerity in 200 years.

“It’s impossible to think of a greater contrast between the first 10 years of devolution under a Labour Government at Westminster and the second 10 years under the Tories. In the first term under a Labour government our budget grew by 10% every year. In the second it grew by 5% every year and even in the third term we had real terms growth every year.

“In the second half of devolution our budget is now back to where it was in 2009 – a whole decade reversed. We’ve tried to prioritise the things that mean most to people in Wales, but you simply can’t patch everything. These are real challenges and they’re getting sharper and more real every day.”

The First Minister told the event that the current Brexit crisis being presided over by the Conservative Government at Westminster was ‘the greatest failure of political leadership I think we’ll ever see’.

He added: “The far right are the real danger in our politics. UKIP is desperate, disruptive and distasteful force and are prepared to do anything which gives them a fractional advantage. Their latest incarnation in the Brexit Party are some of the least pleasant hard-line right-wing views that have ever been presented. They don’t belong to the mainstream and it’s our job to expose them.”

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Picture special on new Vicarage Road development

* Signs warning of the closure of Hall Street and Willow Hill.

* A major excavation at the bottom of Willow Hill.

* The house at the corner of Willow Hill and Hall Street has given up a large part of its garden to the access road.  

* Land has been scooped out of the banking between Willow Hill and the youth centre.  

* Looking back down Willow Hill towards town.

* Part of the site for houses on the left-hand side of Vicarage Road is prepared.

* Earth-moving vehicles get to work to the left of Vicarage Road. 

* The housing site on the opposite side of Vicarage Road is cordoned off ready for construction. 

llanblogger brings you these pictures of works going ahead to prepare the access road to and site of the new £25 million Willow Fields development off Vicarage Road where SG Estates are building a range of  two, three, four and five bedroom homes.

SG purchased parcels of land along the left hand side of Willow Street heading up from the town from both private owners and the local authority to enable the widening operation to take place and no properties are affected.
The new road heads on past the youth centre where the company will upgrade the car park and put in four extra parking spaces.

The road then branches off left on a new section across the adjacent field. It follows the line of Vicarage Road into the housing development before joining up with the existing new section of road outside the homes built by Castlemead.
The original and narrower Vicarage Road will become a cycle path and pedestrian walkway.

SG managing director Steve Griffin recently told llanblogger that the new road and the diversion of services into the development site is costing £1.4 million.
He assured that construction work on the new homes would only start after the access road is finished which he estimated would take about 12 weeks.