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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Eisteddfod's December update

It has been a busy month in the Eisteddfod office not least because we have been able to launch the main 2018 concert strand and tickets go on sale at 9.30 am today, Thursday December 14.
I am delighted that our new Music Director Vicky Yannoula has been able to secure a star-studded concert line-up, featuring performances from best-selling artist, Alfie Boe, prolific recording artist, Van Morrison, renowned baroque instrumental group, Red Priest, and award winning Welsh folk band, Calan.

The concert series offers something for everyone and reflects the musical excellence and diversity that is at the heart of the Eisteddfod. 

Tickets will be available online at or via the box office on 01978 862 001 and we would recommend that you buy early to get the best seats. 

Full details of the line-up are: 

Alfie Boe in Concert – Tuesday July 3

The 2018 event will open with one of Britain’s biggest selling, most popular and best loved vocalists of a generation, Alfie Boe. The hugely successful recording artist and West End, Broadway sensation will be joined by his ensemble of stellar musicians, and will performs songs from his iconic, chart-topping albums.

The Classical Collection  - Wednesday July 4

This evening will encapsulate the magic of two of our favourite instruments – the piano and the human voice, featuring our new Music Director, and the International Voice of the Future final.

International Celebration with special guests Calan – Thursday July 5

Celebrate the colour, sound and diversity of our international competitors, along with award winning band, Calan who will set feet tapping with their quirky interpretation of Welsh folk music. 

An Evening with Van Morrison – Friday July 6

What a thrill and an honour to be welcoming Sir Van Morrison, one of the most prolific recording artists and live performers in music history - it will be an evening not to be missed.

Choir of the World with special guests Red Priest – Saturday July 7

The Eisteddfod’s competitions will reach their exciting climax as the very best performers compete for the titles of Choir of the World 2018 and the Dance Champions of the World 2018. Our special guests Baroque instrumental group, Red Priest, will captivate the audience with their technical wizardry and showmanship. 

Watch out for further announcements in the new year about the line-up for Llanfest 2018. 
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Dr Rhys Davies,
Eisteddfod Chairman

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Horseshoe Pass re-opens

Denbighshire County Council says the Horseshoe Pass is now open again, although ice warnings are still in place.

Honour for local radio presenter

Calon FM presenter Jan Rawlinson has been recognised for her support for classical music.

Jan fronts Calon FM's Sunday early afternoon show Classical Crossover, which is a favourite with people in Llangollen and where she plays and promotes tracks from the classical world of music covering both national and local talent.

In recognition of encouraging the interest of classical crossover music, Jan was recently given a huge pictorial montage from classical music stalwarts, Kevin Wrapson and Nicola Heales.

The montage included photos and handwritten words of gratitude from many of artists she has played and also interviewed on her 12-2pm Sunday show.

Jan said on being presented the honour: "I'm extremely touched to receive this montage with these words of thanks from Kevin, Nicola & the artists. I'm proud to have played and interviewed so many talented artists.

"I'll be looking forward to playing all the great classical crossover music new and old throughout next year, every Sunday 12-2pm."

New Dot's 2018 screening programme

Llangollen's NEW Dot community cinema has released details of its 2018 programme ...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Big community effort saves dog on freezing night

A massive community search effort helped save the life of a dog who went missing in sub-zero temperatures near Dinas Bran Castle in Llangollen last night (Monday).

Grateful owner Matthew Pritchard says the dog, named Andy (pictured), probably wouldn’t have survived the night as the thermometer plummeted to – 10 if he hadn’t have been found after 600 people shared a Facebook message to say he was missing and a number joined the hunt to find him.   

Matthew said: “We acquired Andy just after Christmas last year. He was already named and believed to be 12-15 months old.

“He was being trained to sniff explosive and was destined to spend his life abroad in war zones, but luckily for him he failed to make the grade.

“Although his health and sniff were excellent he had a short attention span, possibly due to his trainers believing he was a lot older than he was. We believe he was about eight months old when he came to live with us in Llangollen.

“Andy fitted in well with our family and soon we started to run canicross with him as both myself and my partner Heather like to run.

“Andy comes out running with us at every available opportunity and we’ve even entered into canicross events where he’s come home with his own medal.

“We regularly train with our local club, Run Free Fell Runners, of which Andy could be classed as the club mascot, and it was on one of these training sessions last night that he disappeared. He runs both on the lead and sometimes off the lead and has never disappeared before.”

Describing how last night’s drama unfolded, Matthew said: “Heather and the run club were half way up Dinas Bran Castle when Andy disappeared.

“After spending what seemed like ages shouting and looking for him Heather ran back home to get another head torch, a power bank for her phone and to inform me about Andy disappearance before returning back up the castle to continue the search.
"While she did this the remaining members of the Run Free Fell Runners club continued looking.
“It was at this point that I placed two posts on Facebook, one on Llangollen Notice Board and one on my personal page.
“Within an hour both posts had had over 600 shares each with over 500 comments combined. People were messaging me from all over with offers of help in searching for him.
“I even had a message from a professional drone company offering assistance. Many members of the Llan community and surrounding areas left the warmth of their own homes and gave up their valuable time to help find him.
“With the temperatures due to drop to -10 I didn’t think he’d of survived the night stuck up the castle. After just over an hour of searching he was found safe and well.”
“He’s run this route many of times with the club but we believe the deep snow must have disorientated him.
“I was overwhelmed by the amount of people concerned for Andy and the amount who helped in the search and I just can’t thank them enough.
“Andy returned home, had his tea and snuggled down in his warm bed for the evening, probably oblivious to just how many people were out looking for him.”

* Andy with the Run Free Fell Runners.

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Blue badge holders get new concession

Blue Badge holders in Denbighshire will now be allowed to park for an extra hour in council car parks.

The announcement has been hailed by Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales on the County Council, who maintained that blue badge holders were discriminated against.

Previously Denbighshire County Council gave no concessions for people with blue badges at council run car parks.

Plaid Cymru warned that this went against the Equalities Act 2010 and argued that people with mobility issues needed more time to compensate for their disability.

Plaid Cymru Councillor Glenn Swingler, said: “This is excellent news and I thank Denbighshire County Council for listening to our arguments.

"As things stood the council were discriminating against people with mobility issues. Those with Blue Badges have them for a reason. If someone has mobility issues it takes longer for them to do their shopping, for instance, than others who do not have any mobility issues. This is why we argued that it was only fair and right that the Council gives people with Blue Badges an extra hour."

In July Cllr Swingler said, “The Equalities Act 2010 makes clear that public bodies must provide ‘reasonable adjustment’ for blue badge holders. The current policy doesn’t give that reasonable adjustment, and I’m afraid that we could therefore be in breach of the Equalities Act.

"By giving an extra hour or so on top of the parking ticket then this could be deemed as ‘reasonable adjustment’, and I would be happy to support such a change in policy."

Denbighshire County Council’s report states: “It is proposed to give Blue Badge holders an extra hour of parking in all Denbighshire pay and display car parks as a "reasonable adjustment" in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

"This will work by the Civil Enforcement Officers allowing an additional hour on top of the time printed on the pay and display ticket.”

Monday, December 11, 2017

BBC's snow coverage comes from Llan again

For the second day in a row reports about the disruption caused by heavy snow across the country have come from Llangollen.

Once again BBC reporter Matt Richards and his crew set up their camera on the Horseshoe Pass, which was closed to traffic when snowfalls were at their height.

He described Llangollen as one of the areas of Wales worst hit by what's been dubbed the "snow bomb" of the weekend before going on to describe how the rest of Britain had been affected by the wintry weather.

Here, all three local schools remain closed today.


Latest from D.Jones & Son Bus and Coaches SERVICE UPDATE The following services are due to operate only serving main roads 05 Wrexham - Llangollen 41/ 42 Wrexham - Wrexham Industrial Estate

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Latest county snow update - Sunday evening

Snow in Denbighshire -  Update at 7.30pm

Round –up of the snow position in Denbighshire today:

The Horseshoe Pass has remained closed all day. All A routes are open. B routes in the South of the County remain a challenge. Agricultural contractors are helping with snow clearance.  Bus services have operated in the main today with a few exceptions.  North East Wales councils have been in communication all weekend about highways, streetscene and social care to ensure a coordinated response.

Gritters have been working on shifts all weekend and will continue throughout the night.  Temperatures are predicted to drop as low as minus eight degrees overnight, at which point the grit is less effective, so drivers are warned to take extra special precautions. 

The advice to Denbighshire residents is not to travel unless absolutely necessary, particularly in the south of the county. 

Update on services for Monday:

School transport: There will be no school transport operating south of the A55 tomorrow. This is likely to impact on the number of schools opening.

Schools: To date,  the majority of the schools to the south of the A55 will be closed on Monday:

St Asaph Infants
Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn
Ysgol Caer Drewyn
Ysgol Carrog
Ysgol Bro Cinmeirch, Llanrhaeadr
Ysgol Pant Pastynog, Prion.
Ysgol Tremeirchion
Ysgol Esgob Morgan, St Asaph
Rhos Street School, Ruthin.
St Brigid’s Secondary School
Ysgol Twm o’r Nant, Denbigh
Ysgol Llanbedr Dyffryn  Clwyd
Ysgol Glan Clwyd, St Asaph
Ysgol y Parc, Denbigh
Ysgol Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd
Denbigh High School
Ysgol Trefnant
Ysgol Gellifor
Ysgol Bryn Clwyd, Llandyrnog
Ysgol Betws Gwerfil Goch
Ysgol Bro Elwern, Gwyddelwern
Ysgol  Borthyn, Rhuthun
Ysgol Bryn Collen, Llangollen
Ysgol Dinas Bran, Llangollen
Ysgol Carreg Emlyn
Ysgol Pendref, Denbigh
Ysgol Pentrecelyn
Ysgol Cefn Meiriadog
Ysgol Bodfari
Ysgol Gymraeg y Gwernant, Llangollen
Ysgol Frongoch, Denbigh
Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Ruthin
Ysgol Rhewl
Ysgol Plas Cefndy (Mr Seamark’s Class – the school will re-open for remaining pupils who live north of the A55)
Ysgol Pen Barras, Ruthin
Ysgol Henllan

Libraries: We are expecting to open all our libraries tomorrow to allow Council staff to work locally to their homes if they have the ability to do so.  Any limit to the public services available from the libraries will be communicated tomorrow.

Waste services:  They are likely to be restricted in the South of the County as we try to catch up after the disruption on Friday.Collections were due in Rhyl and Denbigh – they will take place in Rhyl but not Denbigh.  The recycling centres at Denbigh and Ruthin will be closed. Rhyl’s will remain open.

Leisure facilities: A decision will be made about these tomorrow morning and will be communicated.

Customer Contact Centre: The customer contact centre will be manned from alternative locations to cope with the inevitably high demand.

Another whiteout for Llan

See updates at foot of story ... 

* The wintry scene in Regent Street at around 8.15am.

* BBC reporter Matt Richards broadcasts a snow report from Llangollen.

Llangollen has seen its second significant fall of snow in a few days.

It began snowing at around 4.30am and forecasters say it will continue for a few hours yet.

The BBC chose Llangollen as the spot from which to broadcast a report on the extreme weather conditions at 8am.

North Wales Police tweeted ...

is now affecting eastern areas of the region. Please do not travel unless it is absolutely necessary. If you have to venture out allow plenty of time for your journey and drive according to the conditions

The Met office tweeted ...

Snow in Denbighshire – Update at 10am on Sunday

The heavy snow predicted for Denbighshire has arrived in earnest and gritting teams have been out throughout the night and are out in force across the county.

They are focussing mainly on the trunk routes and principal county roads.  The weather position is at its worst in south Denbighshire and  teams are doing all they can to keep the main routes open.

The Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen remains closed, but all other routes are passable with extreme care. However, we are re-iterating the advice by police for people to only travel if absolutely necessary.

Leisure facilities:
Llangollen Leisure Centre - Closed
Corwen Leisure Centre – Closed
Ruthin Leisure Centre – Closed
Ruthin Craft Centre – Closed
Denbigh Leisure Centre – Open, Astro Turf Pitch Closed
St Asaph Leisure Centre – Closed,
Rhyl Leisure Centre – Open, Astro Turf Pitch Closed
Nova Prestatyn – Open
Prestatyn Leisure Centre – Open, Astro Turf Pitch Closed
North Wales Bowls Centre – Open
Rhyl Harbour - Open

Bus services:
Other than Wrexham to Barmouth,  all Denbighshire  Sunday services currently operating including to Denbigh, Llandyrnog and Llangwyfan with the exception of Well Hill Holywell and through Mancot (both on the Rhyl - Chester service); No details from Arriva regarding their Wrexham - Llangollen service.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Council snow update issued

Gritting teams have been working overnight and are continuing to work this morning to treat the county’s roads, with the priority given to main A and B routes. Agricultural contractors are also being used to assist the Council.

Roads: The Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen remains closed – but most other major routes across the county are open.  Drivers being warned to take care and to allow extra time for any journeys today.

Buses: Buses in the Ruthin area are running broadly to time. All Arriva routes are operating from Ruthin towards the coast today. The service between Ruthin and Wrexham is being assessed.  The service between Ruthin and Mold is also operating.

Libraries:  All libraries are open this morning (except Corwen which does not open normally on Saturdays)


Llangollen Leisure Centre - Closed
Corwen Leisure Centre – Open, Swimming Lessons Cancelled
Ruthin Leisure Centre – Closed
Ruthin Craft Centre – Open until 4pm
Denbigh Leisure Centre – Open, Astro Turf Pitch Closed
St Asaph Leisure Centre – Closed
Rhyl Leisure Centre – Open
Nova Prestatyn – Open
Prestatyn Leisure Centre – Open, Astro Turf Pitch Closed
North Wales Bowls Centre – Open
Rhyl Harbour - Open

The forecast is for a band of heavy snow to affect North Wales on Sunday and we are continuing to monitor the forecast and will have teams of staff ready to deal with any snow issues.

We are advising people to continue to monitor the weather forecasts on television, radio, online and in the press. Information can also be found on the Met Office’s website:  Any updates will also be placed on the Council’s website and social media accounts.

Railway's Santa Special gets underway

Llangollen Railway's Santa Special season has begun and on Sunday 3 December one of the Santa trains was seen passing Berwyn with engine No.5199 working hard on the climb past the Dee Gorge.

Trains operate at weekends through to Christmas Eve and from Boxing Day the Mince Pie Specials will run.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Live weather updates from Llan area

 ... see live updates below

* Regent Street at 10.20am. 

* The snowy scene this morning looking towards Castell Dinas Bran. 

11.04 UPDATE: Llan Leisure Centre closed for the day due to snow.

More from ...

10.55 UPDATE: Tweet from Arriva Bus Wales ... SERVICE UPDATE: Due to bad weather in the Wrexham Area (Snow) the following services are currently affected: Service 3/4 – 7/8 - 10/11/11A - 12/12A - 26/27 - 5 - For further details click on the following link...

10.50 UPDATE: From ...

* Just had official note from "We are closing our Yale, Bersham Road and Llysfasi sites at 11am today because of the weather”

There are now over 40 schools closed or partially closed in Wrexham due to the snow.

10.40 UPDATE: 23 of the county schools are closed for the day. • 3 of the county libraries – Denbigh, Llangollen and Corwen are closed for the day. •The Horseshoe Pass is closed but most other routes are passable with extreme care.

* Horseshoe Pass.
Posted on Facebook by Ponderosa Café about 9.50am Friday.

10.30am UPDATE: Ysgol Bryn Collen now closed.

10.10am UPDATE:

Ysgol Gymraeg y Gwernantand Ysgol Dinas VBran are both now closed.

Llangollen awoke to a thin covering of snow this morning (Friday).

Further showers are forecast throughout the day and perhaps into tomorrow.

Traffic through town appears to be flowing freely and no local school closures are being reported so far on the county council website, although schools are shut for the day due to the weather in other parts of the county including Llandegla.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

We're ready for the snow, says council

Denbighshire County Council is reassuring residents that it is prepared for the wintry weather predicted for later this week.

A yellow warning for snow and ice is in place from 12.05am on Friday through until 6pm on Saturday. The Met Office is warning that heavy snow showers may cause some disruption to some services.

The council says its highways team is geared up and will be gritting the county’s roads when freezing temperatures are predicted. 

The council has salt stocks at its three depots and teams will be working around the clock to keep the main A and B roads open, as well as roads connecting villages.  

The team is also receiving regular, detailed weather forecasts and will respond if there are any unexpected changes to weather forecasts or any significant snowfall.

In the event of any school closures, the latest information can be found on the council’s website:

The council is advising people to continue monitoring weather forecasts on television, radio and online, as well as in the local press and social media. 

Any specific information relating to Denbighshire will be placed on the council’s website and through its social media channels.

Our community cinema in the frame

A volunteer from New Dot Cinema Llangollen shares some insights into the role of programmer with the popular community organisation ...

* New Dot volunteers Keiron Preston or James Rush in the frame.

Programming is one of the most critical roles at New Dot Cinema Llangollen.

Any of the volunteers who want to can pitch a film for screening.

Much as we'd love to just put forward our favourites, we have to think about what our customers might want to see.

It's all trial and error - as we've found out from month to month - and in 2018 we're developing a programme of the best new independent films and some old classics.

Our programming committee of seven meets twice a year to plan the next season.

Everyone brings three or four suggestions that can be films that are British, independent, archive, foreign language, classic, documentary or fine art.

Then we go through each one, look at trailers, listen to the pitches (which can be quite impassioned) and try and draw up a shortlist.

Everyone is then encouraged to go watch the shortlisted films in the hope that we can whittle down the list!

We'd love to show more Welsh films so if anyone has any suggestions, please let us know via our Facebook page.

Although we're a not-for-profit run solely by volunteers, it's important for us to stay in the black.

To give some idea of costs, licences for most feature length films have a minimum cost of around £100 per screening with a maximum of 35% of ticket sales.

Our programmers also need to consider if licences are available and if they're affordable. This can lead to some serious detective work.

For new films, we have a lot of help from the Independent Cinema Office (ICO), an organisation that hosts Screening Days a couple of times a year.

They offer film societies and community cinemas, previews of a curated selection of unreleased films.

New Dot tries to send at least one representative to each event. It's an intensive experience, but we've found it important to never programme a film we've not watched.

We have to remember not to shout about all the great new films before the release date though, as there's a press embargo on them.

New Dot Cinema Llangollen's next programme is out soon, covering January - July 2018. We screen films once a month at Llangollen Town Hall on Castle Street LL20 8NE (next to the library / tourist information centre.) New volunteers are always welcome. More information at or Facebook/Twitter @newdotcinema

* New Dot's next screening comes tomorrow (Friday) night with Tangerine (15)

The Christmas film is a riotous, huge-hearted tale of a working girl who tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart. It shatters casting conventions and its filmmaking techniques are up-to-the-minute, but it’s an old-fashioned comedy at heart — and a pretty wonderful one at that.

Doors open at 7.30pm, film starts at 8pm. Tickets: £8, £6 conc. Buy them from Baileys, online (with no booking fee) or via the Facebook page or on the door.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Operatic present cracker of a Christmas show

* A scene from Christmas Eve in the Parlour from the second half of the show.

* A duet from Simon Orton-Jones and Helen Belton.

* Members of the chorus belt out a seasonal number.

* A powerful solo performance from the Young 'Uns' Cassius Hackforth.

* The Young 'Uns on stage together in the first half of the show. 

Llangollen Operatic Society delivered an early Christmas present at the Town Hall last night, lovingly wrapped in enthusiasm and talent.

First on stage for their seasonal show, Mistletoe and Merriment, were over 30 members of  the society’s junior section, the Young ‘Uns, who served up a delicious taster for their forthcoming show, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which runs from February 8-10 next year.

They set the perfect pace and style for the whole evening with a selection of songs from the production, including Any Dream Will Do, Jacob and Sons and Close Every Door.
Star atop the Christmas tree was young Cassius Hackworth as Joseph but, as always with this group, there was strength in depth as strong and thoughtful backing came from the entire ensemble.

Cassius stayed on stage – and did a quick change of character and pace – to present the World’s Greatest Dad from another hit show, Elf. He was followed by another Young’Uns gem, Shea Ferron, with a moving delivery of Walking in the Air from The Snowman.
It was then time for the society’s very useful chorus to let loose with songs from Home Alone 2, White Christmas, Polar Express and Meet Me in St Louis.

There were some strong duet and solo numbers, such as O Holy Night (Cantique de Noel),  Prayer from Quest for Camelot and When a Child is Born, by Helen Belton – also the show’s musical director – Jo Lloyd, Simon Orton-Jones and Daniel May.  
As last year, links between the pieces were hilariously provided by Louise Cielecki and Nathan Lloyd – both former Young ‘Uns members – who doubled up with their own interpretation of Baby It’s Cold Outside.

Spotlight next fell on keyboard wizards David Evans and Jayne Belton who set toes tapping within the large and appreciative audience with Jingle Bells and Sleigh Ride.
The chorus was back to end the first half with a poignant Happy Christmas (War is Over) and rousing Jingle Bell Rock.

Second half of the show was given over to a play written and directed by Lyn Aston entitled Christmas Eve in the Parlour, a seamless selection of comedy sketches on a seasonal theme.
At various points this featured the Cielecki/Lloyd double-act, Marcus Ansloos, Clare Wall, Sue Griffiths, Lizzie and John Clifford, James Reardon, Katie Clark, Joanne Lloyd, Tony Jones, Jan Bellis plus other society members who had already appeared in the first half – all neatly accompanied on electric keyboard by Chris Sims.

The evening was suitably rounded off with the audience joining in enthusiastically with A Partridge in a Pear Tree and a selection of carols. 

If this colourful and brilliantly performed show didn’t get you in the Christmas spirit it’s hard to know what will.      

Concern over proposal to develop community garden plot

* Community gardeners on their plot. 

Concerned volunteers running Llangollen Community Garden claim Denbighshire County Council has agreed to gift its vegetable plot to a private developer in return for unspecified improvements to Plas Newydd.

Last month the council's Asset Management Group decided to gift the 0.5-acre plot for housing on the basis that the developer will carry out works to nearby Plas Newydd.

Founders of the garden, which was established in 2012, say they received just four days’ notice ahead of the decision, which is due to be ratified on  January 11.

They claim that although they have requested to buy the land themselves, the council has said it is not prepared to commission an independent valuation of the site.

One of the gardeners, Warren Davies, said: "There was no consultation and we have put so much work into this project, an investment of thousands of hours of volunteer work.

“It is hard not to feel disillusioned. The council is an elected public body and we feel passionately that it needs to be accountable to that community. We do not believe they have met their responsibilities under the Well-being of Future Generations Act.”

The community garden is attended by local volunteers every Saturday morning throughout the year. It has attracted more than 75 gardeners since it began and welcomed 120 local children.

Labour, Conservative and Plaid politicians have all spoken out on the issue. 
Graham Timms, the Welsh Labour county councillor for Llangollen, said:  “There has been a huge reaction to the possibility of the community garden losing their current site adjacent to Plas Newydd and I have received lots of emails urging me to take action.  

“The community garden has made a substantial contribution to the wellbeing of the town over the last five years. They should be proud of their achievements in providing a wide range of opportunities for lots of adults and children in Llangollen. 
“Over the last few years Denbighshire, in common with councils across the country, has suffered from a huge loss in funding due to the austerity programme of the Government. This means that It has had to explore ways of using its assets that would never have been considered in more normal times.

“Whilst I understand the duty of the council to maximise the value of its assets, I fully understand the valuable contribution that organisations such as the community garden play.  

“Local residents can be assured that I will do everything I can to ensure that the community garden has a long term future.  I will be presenting the views of all those who have contacted me about the community garden at the meeting in January when it meets to reconsider the issue.” 

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones said: “I urge Denbighshire Council to liaise to take into consideration the community wellbeing of both current and future generations. Community wellbeing needs to be protected wherever possible.”

Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said: "I completely support Susan’s call for Denbighshire County Council to work closely with the community garden group towards the overall wellbeing of the community with a view to bringing this matter to a satisfactory conclusion.”

Mark Isherwood, Conservative AM for North Wales, said: “All councils should acknowledge that meaningful dialogue between public services, communities and individuals – and consideration together of all options – is crucial before decisions are made affecting community assets and local services, not only because Welsh law requires this, but also because it produces better outcomes for all."

Plaid's North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd said "The community garden in Llangollen was a piece of wasteland before the community garden got their hands dirty and turned it into a fantastic community resource, which educates children and adults alike.”

"There are plenty of other parcels of land in the area that are more appropriate sites for development and there's no reason for a committee of unelected people to decide the future of such an important community resource."
The group is appealing to Denbighshire Council to save the Community Garden, and has set up a petition which can be found on their Facebook page and website.

A spokesman for Denbighshire County Council said: “The developer has offered an alternative location for the community garden, but this offer has been rejected.

“The council has continued to engage with the Community Garden and are trying to be open and transparent with them. To this end the Community Garden have been provided with all the reports associated with the proposal.

“The council has also committed to providing a revised report for the next meeting of the Asset Management Group in January, when this group will review the decision made at the November meeting, reflecting on the additional information and supporting documentation provided by the Community Garden.

“The Group will then decide whether to progress with the proposed exchange or follow a different course of action."

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ysgol Dinas Bran tops school meals picture contest

The catering team at Ysgol Dinas Bran have come out top of the class in a national competition for the most mouth watering pictures of school food.  
As part of activities for this year's 25th National School Meals Week Dinas Bran entered a competition for school caterers across England and Wales called #cookeditmyselfie which encouraged them to send in pictures of the food they prepare and serve daily.
The online competition took place on Twitter @NSMW and hundreds of photos were sent in showing what modern day school food looks like.
A judging panel, including last year’s winner, looked at every picture and Ysgol Dinas Bran was named as the winner and took the prize of £500 worth of equipment or marketing support.

Emma Williams, catering manager at the school, said:  “We have been heavily involved with #cookeditmyselfie this year.

"Not many days have gone by in the past few months where we haven’t posted a meal. The pictures show what we do every day, the food is great and the pupils love it. We use lots of local ingredients and prepare the food with love and passion."

Councillor Julian Thompson Hill, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance Performance and Strategic Assets at the county council, said: “This competition gave school catering teams across the country the opportunity to showcase their service and the pictures submitted by Emma and her team at Dinas Bran were not of food or dishes devised specially for the competition – they were of food and dishes served on a daily basis.

"Emma has a highly motivated and dedicated catering team and the Denbighshire School Meals Service and Denbighshire County Council are rightly proud of their achievements."  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Venerable steam loco heads off to new owners

* No.2859 on Abbey Road as it heads off for its new owner's base where it will celebrate its centenary next year, having been built at Swindon in 1918.

A steam locomotive which has stood sentinel at the railway yard in Llangollen for the past 30 years has left for pastures new.

Great Western Heavy Freight loco No.2859 came to Llangollen from a scrapyard in October 1987 as an intended restoration project.

However, the cost of the task proved too much for the owners, the Llangollen railway GWR Loco group, who already had a project underway to restore a GWR tank engine.

After much heart searching, the owners agreed to find someone else to buy the No.2859 and the successful bidder brought an articulated lorry along to take the engine away to a restoration base at Congleton in Cheshire.

One day, when No.2859 has been restored to steaming condition, it may come back to Llangollen to operate on the line.

In the meantime, the proceeds from the sale are being put into speeding up the completion of Prairie tank No.5532 which the group now hopes to have in action once the boiler has been overhauled.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Operatic's Christmas event is next Tuesday

Llangollen express back to boost Ruthin

* Putting their shirts on Ruthin, Waterco are sponsoring Ruthin Rugby Club for the sixth season and pictured with top try scorer Josh Wilson, left, and 1st XV captain Jordan Jones is Waterco Managing Director Peter Jones.

Flying winger Josh Wilson is back to boost one of North Wales’s top rugby clubs and is in hot pursuit of its try-scoring record.
The Llangollen express, who rejoined Ruthin this season after two years away at Chester, has run in nine tries in his first eight games back.
It is his second spell with the Blue and Whites and he is now past the 50-try mark for them and closing fast on the club record of 81 held by team-mate Gethin Hughes.
Things are looking up for Ruthin, who have just celebrated a short sponsorship deal with flood prevention and water management experts Waterco who are based in Ruthin and have offices in Chester and Manchester.
They have put their shirts on the Cae Ddol club, the only one of the original members of the old North Wales League never to have been relegated, and are also kitting out the 2nd XV.
And Waterco’s faith is being repaid as the club, which narrowly survived the drop on the final day of last season, are up to fifth in Division One North of the Welsh National League and have already claimed the scalp of leaders Nant Conwy.
Their young side, coached by former Wales and Sale prop Eifion Roberts and Andy Williams, are fresh from two thumping home bonus point wins, 33-22 over Bethesda with including two tries from Wilson, followed up by a 31-0 thumping of Caernarfon.
Wilson missed that game but is likely to be back for the trip to Croesyceiliog this Saturday in the Welsh Rugby Union Cup.
The 25-year-old, who lives in Cefn Mawr, said: “It’s great to be back at Ruthin. I had a successful time here before when we won the North Wales Cup and that season I had 26 tries in 23 games.
“This season has started well too so I hope to score a few more tries.
“It would be brilliant to get Gethin’s record but I just love playing for Ruthin. They’ve done a lot for me and the expansive way they like to play means I’m going to get plenty of ball.
“I know they struggled last season and I hated to see that because they’re a top five club and a great club to play for but we’ve got a good young side and a good squad and we’re headed in the right direction.”
Pedr Jones, Director of Waterco whose clients include major construction and civil engineering companies across the UK as well as local authorities and utilities businesses, used to wear the blue and white hoops of Ruthin himself.
The prop played alongside Eifion Roberts in a very successful Ruthin Youth side which also included Bristol and Scarlets centre Rob Higgitt, the last man to score a try at historic Stradey Park.
He said: “Ruthin has always been a fantastic club with flourishing mini, junior and youth sections and almost all their first team began as little kids playing mini rugby on Sunday mornings.
“Their roots are in the local community and so are our own and we’re delighted to be involved with Ruthin Rugby Club for a sixth season.
“It’s great to see them on their way back again and the current side is young enough and good enough to make a big impression on North Wales rugby in the coming years.”
To keep up with Ruthin Rugby Club go to and to see what Waterco are doing go to

Saturday, December 2, 2017

TT ace McGuinness to guest again at LlanBikeFest

* One of the stunts performed at a previous LlanBikeFest.

Legendary 23-times Isle of Man TT winner  John McGuinness will be guest of honour for a second year at LlanBikeFest 2018 –  the Llangollen Motorcycle Festival – at the town’s Royal International Pavilion on August 4 and 5. 

Despite being chair-bound and battling pain from horrific injuries he sustained when he crashed at the North West 200 in Northern Ireland in May, John (pictured below) reckons he had such a good time at LlanBikeFest in 2017 that he is raring to return.

“I will definitely be at LlanBikeFest in August,” he said.

“It’s a weekend of fun and a great family affair. I feel completely re-charged. Everything feels good – but it’s been a long journey.

"Hopefully I will be in better shape next year and there is no reason I can’t bring a few more of my bike collection with me and just enjoy it.”

LlanBikeFest co-founder John Hutchinson said: “John’s courage at this year’s festival was amazing. He worked so hard to talk with fans and well-wishers that we virtually had to drag him away to take breaks occasionally. We are absolutely delighted he will be fit enough to enjoy even more of the event this year.

“As John said, LlanBikeFest is a great weekend for families as well as bike enthusiasts, with free entry for accompanied children aged 16 and under,  and lots to see and do -  hundreds of motorcycles of every type on show, spectacular riding displays, birds of prey, rides and children’s’ entertainments, plus a great line-up of bands both days.”

Star entertainments will include jaw-dropping stunts by champion trails rider Steve Colley and Savage Skills, the UK’s leading freestyle mountain bike team, plus beautiful birds from the Talonted Feathers falconry.

Monday, November 27, 2017

llanblogger takes a short break

llanblogger is taking a short break and will be back in a few days' time

Magazine highlights opportunities of Llan Railway

* Llangollen Railway volunteers at the end of the station site in Corwen.

A national railway magazine has highlighted the opportunities arising from the expansion of two heritage railways in the Dee Valley area.

Writing in the November 2017 edition of Heritage Railway magazine, a monthly journal reporting on the UK steam railway scene, the editor, Robin Jones, says that extensions to the Bala Lake Railway and the Llangollen Railway will offer a myriad of opportunities at Bala and Corwen, highlighting to local councils the multiple benefits to their economies that heritage railways can guarantee.

Reviewing the development of the heritage railway scene since the first volunteer-led preservation of the Talyllyn Railway in 1951, Robin Jones puts the spotlight on the former rail route between Ruabon and Barmouth, closed by Dr Beeching in 1965.

He says, the two heritage railways on the former track bed in the corridor of the Dee Valley are now adding themselves to the list of lines that go somewhere to somewhere, offering so much more than a steam ride for its own sake in the middle of nowhere. And both of them richly deserve your support at this stage.

Llangollen Railway’s big push into Corwen Central is making rapid strides each month.

It will not only be railway passengers who will benefit, being able to alight and visit the town centre’s shops and pubs, but coach operators who will see the line as a way of getting their customers into Llangollen.

Indeed, coach tour operations will have a big part to play at both of these lines, being able to offer their passengers rides on two heritage railways which pass through some of the most beautiful scenery Britain has to offer, simply by turning off the main road into a car park.

Then there is Bala Lake Railway whch is now just 80 yards short of the land it needs to complete its extension on ‘virgin’ land into Bala town centre, and give passing tourists a big reason to stop off there and spend their money in local establishments.

The scheme will benefit everyone – not least of all the railway, whose current out-of-the-way Bala terminus is by comparison ’finicky’ to find and misses out on much potential custom.

Both lines, says Robin Jones, need further public support in terms of donations or share purchase, and this is the time and place to jump on board.

Commenting on the editorial, Liz McGuinness, Interim General Manager at Llangollen Railway said: “We entirely agree with Robin Jones’s comments as to the prospects for Corwen when our new terminus opens in 2019. 

“Whilst the current temporary platform at Dwyrain Corwen East has become established as our western terminus over the past three years, it is not operationally convenient and lacks the immediacy of access to and from the town centre and car park.

"Terminating trains at a station central to the town, the bus interchange and the car park will open up a new market segment to attract passengers from North West Wales.

"With the Bala Lake Railway just ten miles away, visitors will be able to sample two contrasting lines using the Traws Cymru T3 bus as a connection.

“There are not many places in Britain where a ride on a big standard gauge steam train can be readily contrasted with the smaller train of the narrow gauge in the midst of countryside that can boast an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or a National Park.

“We are grateful to Robin Jones for promoting the need for support to assist the completion of our major development project. Businesses in the Corwen and Bala townships would do well to support the ambitions of either line in the expectation of increased economic activities arising from visitors to the railways at their new terminus stations.”

Heritage Railway, edition 235, is now on the shelves and includes progress reports for both the Bala Town station project and the Corwen Central development.

* See: