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Friday, August 18, 2017

County highlights dangers of cybercrime


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dinas Bran pupils celebrate A Level success



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



* Carys Stallard (left) and Jessica Brown.




* Declan Clifford (left) and Bethany Carol.

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

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

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

Declan Clifford – one A* grade, two A grades

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

Elliot Howatson - three A grades

Amy Jones – three A grades

*Bethany Carol - three A grades

(*- students taking exams a year early)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funding row could hit Welsh policing warns PCC


* North Wales PCC Arfon Jones.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to Mr Jones, recruitment was being seriously hampered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Success for rural surgery campaigners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skates praises schools' summer clubs scheme

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Celebrity chef Graham heads for Hamper Llangollen


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Call to step up road safety on Horseshoe Pass



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

County offers work opportunities to designers

Denbighshire print and graphic designers are being offered the chance to be considered for future opportunities offered by Denbighshire County Council.

The Print and Graphic Design Framework tender, created in conjunction with Flintshire County Council, will offer local print and graphic designers the chance to be included on the framework.

Suppliers not on the framework will not be eligible to bid for forthcoming opportunities for the length of the framework.

Although local suppliers cannot be guaranteed a place on the framework due to European Procurement Regulations, local suppliers and newly formed businesses are being encouraged to access the tender and submit their bids for inclusion on the framework.

The Framework Agreement will be awarded to successful tenderers for an initial period of two years with the option of a further two, one-year extensions.

The tender will be separated into 3 lots, for print, graphic design and banners and signage.
Suppliers will have the opportunity, and may wish to apply for inclusion on either one, two or all three lots.

Each section will be evaluated by ‘price and quality’ criteria and the highest scoring suppliers will be awarded to those lots.

The estimated combined annual spend for the three lots is £560,000.

Increasing opportunities for local businesses to secure contracts with Denbighshire County Council is part of the Council’s work on developing the local economy by creating employment opportunities and job creation, as well as sustaining existing jobs.

* Full details of the requirements, including specifications, evaluation methods and questions will be available at Sell2 Wales website - www.Sell2Wales.com and Proactis.com at https://supplierlive.proactisp2p.com/Account/Login#

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Action plan to halt rise in women's jail sentences

An action plan has been launched to reverse the shock rise in short jail sentences dished out to women in North Wales
The "worrying trend", which saw an 88 per cent increase from 40 in 2010 to 75 in 2015, was highlighted at a special summit hosted by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones (pictured)
As a result Mr Jones, the Prison Reform Trust and around 20 other agencies, have proposed a series of urgent recommendations after hearing that that proportionately more jail sentences of six months or less were handed out to women in North Wales than almost anywhere else in the UK.
All of the report's recommendations have now been accepted by the North Wales Criminal Justice Board and have been included in their delivery plan for the next year.
One of the main priorities is that there should be more out-of-court solutions like cautions, community sentences and referrals for specialist support from organisations like the North Wales Women's Centre in Rhyl.
According to Arfon Jones, there was often a link between women's offending and the fact that they had been victims of domestic violence or trafficking which could lead to a series of other issues like mental health problems, drug-taking or prostitution.

Mr Jones said: "The paucity of mental health services, long waiting times and prohibitive need thresholds are a real challenge with implications for police time.

"Many women who come into contact with criminal justice system have mental health needs and learning disabilities, and psychiatric services are currently the biggest referrer to North Wales Women’s Centre in Rhyl.

"There is good evidence to show that women’s centres are more effective than prison in reducing women’s offending.
"Recent experience from Manchester and the North Wales Women’s Centre demonstrates that these services can help turn around the lives of women and enhance existing public service provision.
"Such services are cost effective and can leverage in additional funding but in order to do so they require long-term stable funding from key statutory partners.  
"Everybody was agreed about the need to make the needs of children a real priority because women are more often than not the primary carer.
"The urgency of the situation has been underlined by new figures from the Ministry of Justice.
"They show the total number of women sentenced to custody in North Wales has continued to rise and has now reached 116 - the highest it has been since at least 2011 and a rise of almost 60 per cent over five years."
Mr Jones also paid tribute to the tireless campaigning on the issue by Howard Thomas, the former chief probation officer of North Wales.
He added: "Howard Thomas deserves a huge amount of credit for all the hard work and lobbying he has done to shine a light on this important issue."
For his part, Mr Thomas welcomed the action plan as a major step forward.
He pointed to the fact that national statistics showed one third of women prisoners lost their homes, and often their possessions, while serving their sentence and that 38 per cent of them did not have accommodation organised when they were released.
Mr Thomas said: “Being sent to prison, even if it’s only for a short period of time, has a major impact on the lives of the women affected and also on their families.

"It also makes their rehabilitation, which is of paramount importance, more difficult as evidenced by the 61 per cent reconviction rate for those serving short sentences.

"A former governor of Styal Prison commented he had never come across such a concentration of damaged, fragile and complex needs individuals. He rightly called for the immediate end to short sentences and suggested that half the women in his former prison should never have been sent there."

The Prison Reform Trust, were given a grant by the Big Lottery to carry out a programme of work across the UK called Transforming Lives aimed at reducing the unnecessary use of custody for women, particularly short sentences.
       
Senior programme officer Dr Thomas Guiney said: “Many women serve extremely short custodial sentences. The average stay at HMP Styal is seven to eight weeks and this provides little opportunity for effective rehabilitation and resettlement planning. 

"Many of those attending highlighted the role of women as primary carers. There is a clear and well evidenced link between a mother’s imprisonment and adverse childhood experiences. There is scope for greater use of out of court disposals at the point of arrest and prosecution. "

Friday, August 11, 2017

National Eisteddfod success for Silver Band youngster


* National Eisteddfod success for Gabriel Tranmer.

A 16-year-old member of Llangollen Silver Band has played his way to success at the National Eisteddfod in Anglesey.

Gabriel Tranmer competed in the Brass Solo under-19 section playing the 2nd and 3rd movements of the Edward Gregson Tuba Concerto. He took first place along with a £75 bursary.

Next month Gabriel will be leaving St Brigid's school in Denbigh to attend Chethams School of Music in Manchester where he will be studying for his A Levels and focusing on the tuba, voice and piano.

He says he is excited about going ahead with his music and would like to thank his current tuba teacher Colin Sneade of Wexham, his music teacher who is also his grandmother, Eirwen Jones of Llangollen, as well as Trevor Williams and everyone at Llangollen Silver Band for their help and support.
 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Scheme for houses on Tyn Y Wern site revealed



* The Tyn Y Wern site off the A5.

Details of a plan to build 12 detached homes on the site of Tyn Y Wern Hotel on Holyhead Road, Llangollen have been revealed.

The new planning regulations require a consultation to take place ahead of the submission of a planning application. Applicants Mr and Mrs Tomlinson have asked county council planning officers to arrange this.

A planning brief prepared on their behalf says the proposed development would require the demolition of the existing hotel which has been closed for some time.

Both access points to the site, from Maesmawr Road and the A5, would remain.

The brief adds that 3-4 bedroom properties are proposed which would have amenity space and parking facilities.

The planning department says it will be delivering letters to the immediate neighbours shortly. A paper copy of the plans will be deposited in Llangollen library.

Anyone who wishes to make representations about this proposed development must write to the applicant’s agent at Bob Dewey Planning, The Gables, Llanfynydd, Wrexham LL11 5HG by  August 16.

* You may inspect the proposed application at https://1drv.ms/f/s!Ai4_2Lc_R3KMcOcO4vqPwAc78Ew

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

AM praises Welsh Government's support for low-income families

An Assembly Member has praised the Welsh Government for its support of low-income households through an extended council tax reduction scheme.

Clwyd South AM Ken Skates (pictured) said he was proud that the Welsh Labour Government was helping thousands of people in his constituency, while vulnerable families in England continue to pay an average of £169 a year more.

Mr Skates, whose constituency includes Llangollen, said: “Last September, Local Government Secretary Mark Drakeford confirmed that the Welsh Labour Government would continue to protect vulnerable and low-income households by maintaining full entitlement to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme until at least the end of April 2018. I’m pleased that so many families in Clwyd South will continue to receive this financial support.

“Figures show 12,097 households in Wrexham benefited last year and 10,098 Denbighshire – plus another 11,496 in Flintshire. I’m proud that the Welsh Labour Government continues to stand up for families in North East Wales.”

Almost 300,000 homes in Wales received a reduction in their council tax in 2016-17, around 220,000 of which pay nothing.  The Council Tax Reduction Scheme was supported by funding of £244m to councils in the local government settlement.

Mr Skates added: “This is despite huge cuts to the Welsh budget imposed by the Tory UK Government at Westminster and is in stark contrast with the situation in England, where local authorities have been left to design their own schemes and manage the associated funding shortfall. This has resulted in more than two million low-income households in England having to pay more of their council tax bills.”
 
He said low-income families in England are now paying an average of £169 a year more than they would have if the UK Government had a similar scheme in place.

Missing Harry returns home

llanblogger's pet cat, Harry, returned home in the early hours of this morning (Wednesday) after being missing for about 24 hours.

Although wet, dirty and hungry, he appears none of the worse for his time away from home.

I'd like to thank all those who showed concern for his safety while he was missing.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

llanblogger's cat is missing: can you help?


* Missing: Harry the cat.
llanblogger's much-loved pet cat, Harry, has gone missing and if anyone knows where he might be I'd be very grateful to hear from them.

He's a neutered ginger cat of about a year old and is wearing a shiny silver and red collar with four small bells attached at the front.

He does actually answer to the name of 'Harry' if called.

I believe he went missing from Regent Street in Llan overnight Monday/Tuesday and may have wandered across the A5 towards the Abba Adda/Plas Newydd area where he's never been before, which means he may well be lost.

If anyone has seen him, please get in touch via this email address: llanblogger@gmail.com

Have your say on walking and cycling plans


Denbighshire County Council is inviting people to have their say on draft plans to improve walking and cycling routes in the county. 


The Integrated Network Map is a 15-year plan for improving walking and cycling routes within Denbighshire and is a requirement of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, which asks local authorities to map, plan for, improve and promote opportunities for active travel.
Active Travel means walking and cycling (including electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters) for everyday short-distance journeys, such as journeys to school, work, or for access to shops, services and bus/rail stations. Active travel does not include journeys made purely for recreation or social reasons.
Councillor Brian Jones, Lead Member for Highways, Planning and Sustainable Travel said:  “The Council has produced Existing Routes Maps (ERMs) to show existing routes in Denbighshire considered suitable for active travel.
“The second stage of the Act now requires the Council to produce maps which is where we are now asking for people’s views on the walking and cycling proposals that have been developed.
“Active transport has such a health benefit by choosing to walk or cycle as your way of getting from one place to another, so I urge everyone to take part in this consultation.”
To have your say, please complete the Active Travel online survey at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GV5NTTM or you can attend one of the drop-in sessions that have been arranged (10am-3pm):

·         16 August – Llangollen Library
·         25 August – Rhyl Harbour
·         30 August – County Hall, Ruthin
·         6 September – Caledfryn, Denbigh

The closing date for this consultation is 20 October 2017.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Skates welcomes leisure centre refurbishment.

Clwyd South AM Ken Skates was invited to the official reopening of Chirk Leisure Centre following an extensive revamp made possible by an interest-free loan by the Welsh Labour Government to Wrexham Council.

Mr Skates (pictured) said: “I’m delighted that this major refurbishment of Chirk Leisure Centre has gone ahead thanks to Welsh Labour Government support in the form of a £1m interest-free capital loan, which also enabled a huge revamp at Waterworld in Wrexham.”

The Welsh Government loan funded a new studio and improved facilities at Chirk as well as a new reception area, café and an expanded, state-of-the-art fitness area at Waterworld.

Mr Skates continued: “The interest-free loan is part of the Welsh Labour Government’s Sports Facilities Capital Loan Scheme, which was launched to help break down barriers so that people of all abilities, ages and backgrounds can enjoy the wide-ranging benefits of exercise.”

The Welsh Government has also invested in Plas Madoc Leisure Centre. Last year, Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant awarded the community-run facility a £500,000 grant to fund a series of urgent repairs including a replacement roof, new wiring and insulation, upgrading pool plant equipment and improved CCTV and fire alarm systems.

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones added: “This is a challenging financial time for public services because of cuts of £1.4bn to Wales from the Tory Government at Westminster, so I’m pleased and proud that Welsh Labour is delivering for communities in Clwyd South.”

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Open-air theatre group play it for laughs at Plas Newydd


* A scene from last night's production of Around the World in 80 Days at Plas Newydd.

Stuffed shirt Phileas Fogg ran into some ripping adventures as he made his way around the world in just 80 days. He also had lots of laughs.
And, despite the squadrons of kamikaze midges, so did the audience last night (Friday) at Plas Newydd where the Off the Ground theatre group presented their hilarious open-air interpretation of the Jules Verne classic.

It tells the tale of how a buttoned-up Victorian Englishman takes on the intrepid circumnavigation as the result of a bet with mates at his London club.
It’s probably true to say that this talented 16-strong group of strolling players from the Wirral didn’t stick too closely to the original. But we can forgive them that because the production was peppered with as much comedy as they could possibly pack in.

Fogg believes the globe can be circled in record time, but the old duffers at the Reform Club disagree.
So after a snap decision and a bet of £20,000, he is on his way, travelling on ships, steamers and railways, tackling elephants, angry savages, human sacrifices and American elections en route, all while being chased by the finest officers of Scotland Yard.

Nothing fazes Fogg, played perfectly by Nick Crosbie employing the stiffest of British upper lips. He has accounted for everything - except what he might learn about himself on the way.
Connor Wray adopted a French accent as fruity as a ripe camembert to portray Fogg’s trusty manservant Passepartout who makes his way to join his master despite tougher post-Brexit immigration controls. From him it’s chuckles every step of ze way, oui oui!

Love interest was neatly provided by Grace Goulding as the “stunner” of an Indian princess whom the duo rescue from being thrown onto her late husband’s funeral pyre as they head across India.   
Lots of laughs came courtesy of Off the Ground old hand Chris Tomlinson as he played things up deliciously in a couple of roles such as a sweary American politician and an insane visually challenged old sea dog who pilots Fogg and his party across the Pacific in a couple of blow-up ducks.

Naturally, everything turns out fine in the end. Fogg hits his 80-day deadline, gets the girl and thanks to what he’s learned about life along the way even unstiffens a little to concede that people can now call him Phil.  
Off the Gound’s summer touring productions have become increasingly ambitious and spectacular.

Last year they brought a rapier-sharp version of the adventure tale Zorro to Plas Newydd. That went down a storm but I reckon this one was even funnier.

... and more action from the show ...





Friday, August 4, 2017

Llan Bowling Club notches up a score of 150


* A game in progress on the club's green at Plas Newydd.

Phil Jones has prepared this short but fascinating history of one of the town's oldest and best-loved organisations

This year Llangollen Bowling Club celebrates 150 years of continuous operation making it probably the oldest non-religious organization still active in the town.

Presently based in the beautiful grounds of Plas Newydd, the club’s original home was at the Ponsonby Arms Hotel.

The origins of crown green bowling in the town appear to have been closely linked with the Ponsonby which was opened in the early 1850s and it had a bowling green located to the rear of the hotel between the railway and the river.

The green, the outline of which can still be made out, was the site of the tent for the Eisteddfod of 1858.

The Ponsonby was the headquarters of the bowling club from its formation in 1867 until 1922 when it relocated to the new greens and gardens constructed on the canalside, on the site of the present RAFA Club, by the owner of the Bridge End Hotel.


* Some members outside the clubhouse.

Llangollen Bowling Club should not be confused with its good friends the Llangollen RAFA Bowling Club who now play on a new green alongside.
  
In 1925 a disagreement over proposed rent increases with new owners of the canalside facilities resulted in the club moving to its present location at Plas Newydd using the former lawn tennis court as a bowling green and a building known as “the old picture house” as the clubhouse.

The club’s first season at Plas Newydd opened on April 17, 1926 and after 91 years at this wonderful location the club is still thriving.

The green and clubhouse are leased from Denbighshire County Council and the club enjoys a close working partnership with the council.

In the past decade the club has made a significant investment in the maintenance of the clubhouse and for the first time in many years the green underwent a major programme of renovation together with the erection of new boundary fencing, picnic tables were provided for general use again all funded by the club.

The regular cutting of the green and the spring and autumn maintenance operations are facilitated and funded by the club, however throughout the bowling season the green is open to the public until 6pm after which the club has exclusive use.

Bowling activities are mainly of a social nature as the club is not in a bowling league, but during the course of the season members can play in three individual cup competitions and pairs competitions on the opening and closing days.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Your last chance to see historic hillfort site


* Work taking place at the site.

Liverpool University Archaeology Department, led by Dr Rachel Pope, has been running an archaeological student training school at the Iron Age Penycloddiau Hillfort in the Clwydian Range each summer for the past six years.

This season is the final year and this Saturday (August 5) there's the last guided walk to the site, and your final chance to see what has been happening before it is all covered back up.

If you are interested in coming along to see the remains of the house and find out about the construction of the ramparts, this is your last chance.

Meeting: Llangwyfan car park at 10am (on the road between Nannerch and Llandyrnog) 
When: Saturday, August 5.

Fiona Gale, County Archaeologist, explained: “It has been such an opportunity for the area to have this focus on Penycloddiau, a massive Hillfort in the Clwydian Range. 

“The work here links to work which has been taking place at Moel y Gaer Bodfari and feeds into the recently launched online Hillfort Atlas. Join me for the last ever guided walk to these fascinating excavations, It may be years before there is any further archaeological work at the site!”

* For more information please contact Fiona Gale at Fiona.gale@denbighshire.gov.uk

A video of the project can be seen at: https://youtu.be/9u9Qsrn9j54