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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:


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

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.”