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Monday, October 16, 2017

Do you qualify for supported childcare grant?

Do you live in Denbighshire and think you may be eligible for supported childcare grant?

The county council says it would like to hear from you if you:

* Have a child aged 5-plus

* Childcare during after-school or holidays a barrier to you

* Are looking for voluntary work or accessing training

* Your family is in receipt of one of Employment & Support Allowance, Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, DLA or PIP

The council says Supported Childcare Grant is available for families through its Out of School Grant funded by the Welsh Government to access childcare at any registered setting in Denbighshire for a maximum of 20 weeks for the value of up to £30 a week in total.

If you have a child that would qualify for this grant or for further information and application form, contact: Bethan E Roberts, Information Officer at Family Information Service, Smithfield Rd, Denbigh or 01745 815891,

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Thousands flock to Llan food festival

* NHS nurse Ann Gostage buys produce from Beatriz Albo, a local producer from Brymbo.

* Simon O'Rourke works on pumpkins with Gethin Jones and Charlotte Richards.

* Foodies crowd around the stalls at the festival.

* Jack Hatley, chef from Gales Wine Bar, gives a demonstration of food preparation.

A cancer nurse was among the health service staff given free entry to one of the UK's top food festivals as a way of celebrating the event's 20th anniversary.

Ann Gostage was one of the thousands of foodies who flocked to the popular Llangollen Food Festival which provides an annual showcase for the region's best producers.

The 58 year old, who works as a specialist lung cancer nurse at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, was delighted by the generosity of the organisers towards the staff of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

Ann, who lives in Llangollen, said: “I was actually at the first food festival here 20 years ago and have seen it just grow in popularity ever since.

“I’ve enjoyed being here again today and it was good to see the extra stalls. I like to come early and get the pick of the produce and I’ve bought some nice chorizos, onion bargees and a bottle of gin.”

Another woman who remembered attending the very first festival in 1997 was the current Mayor of Llangollen, Cllr Sheenah Burrell, who was working in the local Tourist Information Centre at the time.

She recalled: “It was brilliant and showed of lots of quality local and Welsh produce.

“Right here on our own doorstep we were able to taste the kind of food we didn’t even know existed and over the past 20 years it’s just got better and better.”

She added: “It’s amazing how the festival has grown with more stands and more diverse kinds of food and drink.

“It attracts the best of the best producers and is an amazing showcase for what’s available not just from this area but the whole of North Wales.”

Organising committee member Pip Gale, who runs Gales Wine Bar in the town, said: “Visitors numbers are once again high and people are appreciating that the festival is bigger and better than ever.

“This year, by way of celebrating our 20th anniversary, we’ve added about 20 per cent more stands making a total of 130.

“They are both outside in front of the Pavilion and inside, with a performance area just off the main hall and, for the first time, upstairs too.

“We’ve also tried to present a much more varied mix of stands and activities, such as giving people the chance to try bread making and take part in wine tastings.   

“As we mark our two decades we’re also celebrating being named as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK by the Independent and Daily Telegraph newspapers.”

It’s estimated that the two-day festival attracted around 8,000 food lovers from far and wide and pumped nearly £400,000 into the local economy, making a total of £8 million since it started.

Among the host of crowd-pullers this year were cooking displays from top chefs  Bryan Webb from the Michelin-starred Tyddyn Llan, former captain of the Wales Culinary team Graham Tinsley and the ever-popular Dai Chef who was there with his son, Daniel, the youngest head sommelier in the UK.

A special event to mark the festival’s closeness to Halloween was the staging of the inaugural Welsh Pumpkin Carving Championship masterminded by Simon O’Rourke who tours the world using a chainsaw to create stunning sculptures in wood.

Simon said: “It’s been going extremely well and we’ve attracted a large number of entrants all trying to come up with the most strikingly ghoulish face.

“The carvers, who have been bidding to win a £50 food hamper from the festival, have been enthusiastically cutting and scraping away and picking a winner is going to be so tough.”

Among those bidding for pumpkin perfection was six-year-old Gethin Jones from  Rhosllanerchrugog  near Wrexham who was there with his mum Gemma.

She said: “I’m a member of the forestry group at Ty Mawr so he’s used to doing things like whittling with wood but this is the first time he’s attempted carving a pumpkin. I think the championship is a fantastic idea.”

Taking a break from wielding his special cutting tool, Gethin said: “I’m having a great time and it’s good cutting into a pumpkin to make a face because it’s easier than working with wood.”

Rhian Owen from the Siwgr a Sbeis bakery – in English Sugar and Spice – in Llanrwst has taken a stall at the festival to show off her hand-made cakes and confectionery every year since 1997 and said she just had to be there to mark its 20th birthday.

She said: “The first one was quite a small affair and all the exhibitors were in just one area of the Pavilion but I’ve seen it go from strength to strength since then.

“It’s good for business and what I love about it is the lovely friendly atmosphere you always get.

“People come every year specially to buy my Christmas puddings and it’s been the same this time. I’m going to keep coming back because I just couldn’t miss it.”

Another Hamper regular is Roy Broadhurst who has been bringing his mobile coffee shop Caffeine Rush over from his base in Ysceifiog, Flintshire for the past 15 years.

He said: “I keep coming back because it’s good and local and I’ve got to know many of the other stallholders here. It’s never all that expensive to take space and my customers know I’ll be here and come looking for me.”

Also visiting from Flintshire where his company, Precious Chocolate Ltd, is based in Connahs Quay was Carl Gillard who said: “This is the first time I’m exhibited here but it’s fantastic and I’m really enjoying the atmosphere and the business I’m doing. I’ll definitely be coming back next year.”

One of the food experts appearing in the popular performance area at the festival was Jack Hatley, resident chef at Gales Wine Bar in the town. He was giving a deft demonstration of knife skills which went down well with audience member Jan Osborne from Wrexham.    

She said: “This is the second time I’ve been to Hamper Llangollen and I’m enjoying it very much. I’m an enthusiastic cook at home and it was very interesting to see some of the latest equipment like the knives and how a real professional uses them.”

In the new hands-on performance area to the side of the main hall, a team from Coleg Cambria in Wrexham was attracting lots of attention with its bread-making display.

Giving it a try themselves were 12-year-old Morgan Owen from Acrefair and his sister Carys, four.

Watching closely as they fashioned their own versions of bread rolls was college catering tutor Mark Robertson.

Praising Morgan’s creativity, he told him: “I think you and your sister are so good that you’re definitely future contestants on the Great British Bake Off.”

Also turning in some tasty-looking bread rolls was Barbara Bennett from Broughton in Flintshire and her friend Pat Buck from Wrexham.

Pat said: “We’ve had a lot of fun doing this and it’s been a great day out at the festival. There’s always so much to see here and it’s so easy to get to.”   

County issues reminder over benefit changes

Residents in Llangollen are being reminded about changes to the benefit system being introduced by the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP). 

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages by DWP across Great Britain by postcode area. 

Whether you can claim it and the way you manage your claim depends on where you live and your personal circumstances. 

The changes will only apply to new claimants and those who have had a change in circumstances.

Other claimants don’t need to do anything until they hear from the DWP about moving to Universal Credit.

For the majority of Denbighshire postcodes, Universal Credit Full Service comes into effect on February 28, 2018, but some postcodes in the Dee Valley and surrounding area  come under the Wrexham area, which moves to Universal Credit Full Service from this month.

These are the Post Codes LL11 3, LL20 7, LL20 8, LL20 9  and LL21 0, LL21 1, LL21 9.

Postcodes CH7 4 and CH8 8 are also on Universal Credit Full Service as part of the Flintshire roll out. 

As part of Universal Credit Full Service, claimants are expected to claim and manage their account with DWP online.

To support residents impacted the following services are available:

• Residents who need access to the internet or access to a computer to make their claim and manage their account online can visit their local library/One Stop Shops.

• For questions and advice on applying for Universal Credit and how the changes could impact you, contact Citizens Advice in Denbighshire on 01824 703483 or go to
• You can also visit

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Winner chosen for Tools of Trade competition

* Competition winner Janet Wakefield receives her £50 prize voucher from Sue Hargreaves, event organiser (right), and David Davies, chair of Llangollen Chamber of Trade & Tourism, the prize sponsors.

As part of CADW's Open Doors event, people were recently invited to take part in a competition called Tools of the Trade  in which they had to try and identify the trade linked to the tool displayed around 47 shops in Llangollen.

A spokesperson for the organisers said: "It was a real head-scratching challenge with some very creative interpretations of the trade of some of the tools.  

"It was a closely fought competition but the worthy winner with a brilliant score of 45 correct answers was Janet Wakefield.

"A big thank you to all who attempted the quiz, to all who supplied the tools and to all the shops who displayed them.  

"In due course we are planning to put most of the tools on display and to invite people to an event to bring a tool and share and tell for all interested in such items."

Friday, October 13, 2017

Food festival serves up a treat this weekend

* Nicola and James  Adedeji from Bim's Kitchen.

Llangollen will be transformed into the culinary capital of the UK - for one weekend only this Saturday and Sunday.

Thousands of foodies will be making a bee-line for the annual Llangollen Food Festival which has established itself as a major highlight in the gastronomic calendar.

This year's event will be even more special because the organisers are celebrating its 20th anniversary in style.

As ever, the venue will be the iconic pavilion which also stages the iconic Llangollen International Musical Festival which attracts singers and dancers from all over the world.

The festival was founded in 1997 and pioneered food tourism by creating a shop window for home grown producers.

Since then the event has gone from strength to strength, annually attracting around 8,000 food lovers from far and wide.

As a result, it's been named as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK by the Independent and Daily Telegraph newspapers.

It's estimated the festival pumps nearly £400,000 into the local economy every year, making a total of £8 million since it started two decades ago.

The top chefs revealing their recipes for success will include Bryan Webb from the Michelin-starred Tyddyn Llan, former captain of the Wales Culinary team Graham Tinsley and the ever-popular Dai Chef who will be there with his son, Daniel, the youngest head sommelier in the UK.

Among the stallholders will be an enterprising couple who are supplying one of the world's most famous stores and prestigious outlets in Singapore and Kuwait after reviving Britain's oldest biscuit.

Four years ago James Shepherd and his wife Natasha, from Llansannan, in Conwy, re-created the historic Aberffraw Biscuit which dates back to the 13th century.

They won plaudits from lovers of fine food when they officially launched it at Llangollen Food Festival in 2013.

Since then the premium shortbread, made from only the finest butter, flour and sugar, has become a firm favourite across the UK.

The places you can now buy the mouth-watering biscuit include the flagship Selfridges store in London’s Oxford Street.

To say a big thank you for helping to power the biscuit’s amazing rise to popularity the couple is returning to the festival which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Also there will be a husband and wife team whose African-inspired sauces made at their base in Afonwen have won a wealth of top food industry accolades.

Bim’s Kitchen, the brainchild of James and Nicola Adedeji, are preparing to unveil their latest culinary creations at this year’s event.

James said: “The festival offers a direct route to our customers. People are able to taste our products before they buy and you get great feedback from them and can gauge their reaction.”

Another big fan of the festival is artisan bread and pie maker Robert Didier from Wrexham-based Orchard Pigs.

He said: "Llangollen Food Festival is fantastic and it's not difficult to see why it has been named as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK by not just one but two national newspapers."

Among the celebrity chefs this year is 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.
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.”
Committee member Pip Gale said: "We have a wonderful array of fantastic food producers clustered in the area and this year the festival is going to be bigger and better than ever so we'll be celebrating our 20th anniversary in style.

"We're heading for a record number of around 130 stallholders with a fantastic choice of produce, along with demonstrations from the region's finest chefs so there will be plenty to tempt the taste buds.

"I'm glad to say we're also making a positive contribution the local economy with food lovers travelling from far and wide because the festival is now firmly and rightly established as a major highlight in the UK's culinary calendar."

Among the first to congratulate the festival on reaching the important milestone was Ken Skates, the Clwyd South AM who is also the Welsh Government's Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, whose portfolio includes tourism.

He said: “Llangollen Food Festival is an incredible success and a great annual occasion for the Dee Valley.

"The economic benefits that the festival brings to the area are considerable and underline the region's growing reputation as a go-to destination for food lovers.

"Food tourism is something I believe has huge potential for future growth and it is no wonder that North Wales has been hailed as one of the world's top four must see places to go by The Lonely Planet travel guide."

It was a sentiment echoed by Jim Jones, the managing director of North Wales Tourism, which represents around 1.500 tourism businesses in the region.

He said: "We are entering a golden age for the visitor economy in North Wales and the increasing importance of food tourism is playing its part in our overall success.

"As one of the first and most successful food festivals in Wales, the Llangollen Food Festival has been a trailblazer for culinary excellence and I would like to congratulate them on reaching their 20th anniversary."

* To find out more about Llangollen Food Festival go to:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

County says government settlement 'not great'

Denbighshire County Council has responded to the draft budget settlement announced by the Welsh Government, stating that the settlement is ‘not great but not completely unexpected’.

The government has announced a proposed 0.9% reduction in the council’s budget for 2018/19.

The announcement also includes an indication of the settlement for 2019/20- an average 1.5% reduction across Wales.

Leader, Councillor Hugh Evans, OBE, said: “We are naturally disappointed in the draft settlement but recognise that reductions in funding are inevitable in the current economic climate and that every local authority has seen a reduction in one shape or form.  

“For us in Denbighshire, it means that the budget does not cover the costs of additional financial pressures in areas such as social services,  and this is something that the council will need to consider carefully in the way it plans and sets the budget for next year and future years.
“We have worked tirelessly over recent years to prepare and respond to the financial challenges, whilst minimising the impact of cuts and that hard work has paid dividends in protecting key frontline services as far as possible.
“We have also made every effort to be more efficient as a council, streamlining our services to be as effective as possible, whilst continuing to provide value for money services and maintaining our position as being one of the highest performing councils in Wales.

"That approach to using public funds wisely continues, as does our commitment to maintaining the best possible services for Denbighshire residents.”

Restart party planned for Llan

A Restart Party will be held in Llangollen on Wednesday October 18. 

Local people are invited to bring along their broken gadgets to m’Eating Point from 6pm, where skilled volunteers will attempt to repair the gadgets for free.

The event is being organised by Llangollen Friends of the Earth and others, who hope that the evening will stop objects being thrown away unnecessarily, and save people money by not having to buy replacements. 

Group member Kay Polley said: “Today we’re quite used to just throwing away gadgets after a short space of time, and cheaply buying a replacement.  If you bring your broken items along to the Restart Party we’ll hopefully try and fix it so it doesn’t just get sent to landfill.

“The idea is that anyone who comes along can work with our volunteers to learn some new skills in repair, so that in the future they might be able to fix more of their own things.  It’s called a party because it will be a relaxed event where you can have fun and meet new people too – everyone is welcome to come along.  m'Eating point have kindly agreed to host us; the bar will be open and food will be available to order.”

The group are also looking for more volunteers who can help out with repairing gadgets on the night.  If you have skills which could be used, please contact 07745692104, or search for ‘Restart Party Llangollen’ on Facebook. 

There’s already a second party planned for November 22 at the same time, and if successful it will become a monthly event for Llangollen. 
  • For more information please contact Kay Polley: 07745692104 /
  • The ‘Restart Project’ is a charity based in London which supports groups to hold Restart Parties across the country.  For more information and resources visit
  • Link to the Facebook event page:
  • m’Eating Point is in the location of the old Smithfield pub, Berwyn Street, Llangollen. LL20 8NF. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Autumn gala steams into the railway this weekend

Llangollen Railway will host its annual autumn steam gala this weekend.

The Along South Western Lines Gala will be taking place over three days from Friday-Sunday October 13-15.

Featuring an intensive timetable, visiting locomotives and special attractions along the line, the railway says it has something for all railway enthusiasts and families alike.

With 2017 marking the 50th anniversary since the end of Steam on the Southern Region, this year’s event includes visiting historic steam locomotives from the old Southern Railway as well as the Great Western Railway.They are:

* No. 34053 “Sir Keith Park” – Southern Railways ‘Battle of Britain’, with thanks to Southern Locomotives Ltd and the Severn Valley Railway.

* No.2807 – Great Western Railway ‘Heavy Freight 2800 Class’, with thanks to Cotswold Steam Preservation Ltd.

A selection of our home fleet will help deliver an intensive service for the gala.

Main highlights are due to include autotrains with GWR Pannier No.6430 and a demonstration of parcel loading at Berwyn.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tourism forum planned for October

* Adventure sports are a major part of the county's tourism offering.

Tourism businesses from the Llangollen area are being invited to a forum outlining the latest developments in their industry this October.

A strong line-up of guest speakers includes Cabinet Secretary for Economy & Infrastructure Ken Skates AM, Pro Kitesurfing, and Ride North Wales.

The Denbighshire Tourism Forum takes place on Thursday, October 26 at the Oriel House, St Asaph at 10.30am.

The event offers a great opportunity for delegates to network and share experiences, knowledge and ideas.

A variety of information stands will also be present including Business Wales, Clwydian Range Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty, North Wales Tourism, Menter Iaith Sir Ddinbych, Denbighshire Heritage Team, Llangollen and Dee Valley Good Grub Club and many more.

Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of Denbighshire and who is also the Cabinet Lead Member for the Economy, said: “The forum is a great way to meet like-minded people and find out about the latest tourism developments. It’s not only for tourism businesses, it’s a good opportunity for students and anyone with an interest in tourism to hear from those working in the industry sharing their experiences first hand.”

Ken Skates AM, Cabinet Secretary for Economy & Infrastructure said: “Recent figures show that 2017 is really proving to be another successful year for tourism in Wales.

"Forums like the one in Denbighshire are really important as it gives everyone a platform to come together, share best practice, learn about key projects, and the chance to reflect and contribute to the wider tourism agenda.

"I’m delighted to be invited to meet local businesses and share with you some of the exciting new projects that are happening in the County and the wider North East Wales region as well as across Wales.”

The new Denbighshire Destination Management Plan 2017-20, which co-ordinates all aspects of a destination that contribute to a visitor’s experience will also be launched at the Forum.

The plan has been produced by the Denbighshire Destination Partnership with support from Denbighshire County Council, Visit Wales, private sector businesses and the wider public sector.

* To book a place at the forum please e-mail:, telephone: 01824 706223 or

Monday, October 9, 2017

County helps youngsters prepare for world of work

Denbighshire pupils are to get an extra helping hand to prepare for the world of work.

Denbighshire County Council is gearing up for the start of Ready for Work, which is being delivered with the support of Careers Wales, to provide students with enhanced mentoring support, extra careers advice as well as working with employers to develop workplace skills.

It follows on from the Pathways+ project which saw more than 1,300 students attend careers events as well as mock interview sessions with employers.

Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of Denbighshire, said: “Getting pupils ready for the world of work is vitally important. Ready for Work will help students understand the expectations and requirements of employers.

“It will also enable pupils and their parents to gain awareness of the huge variety of jobs and career opportunities within Denbighshire.

“As part of our work developing the economy under our Economic and Community Ambition Strategy, we want to make sure the county has a skilled workforce equipped to benefit from jobs and opportunities that arise.”

Ready for Work will aim to embed careers advice activity within the core curriculum delivered by schools and will include partnering businesses with schools so they can provide practical advice.
It will also include the creation of an alumni community scheme to take advantage of the skills and knowledge of former pupils as well as the delivery of bilingual careers events. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

First Welsh pumpkin carving contest to be staged in Llan

* Simon O’Rourke works on a replica of John Lennon at Liverpool’s Pier Head as part of his Beatles tableau in wood.

A man who tours the world using a chainsaw to create stunning sculptures is masterminding the first ever Welsh pumpkin championship.

Simon O’Rourke has carved out an international reputation for himself by turning out a series of wooden masterpieces depicting everything from a life-sized horse to an awe-inspiring tableau of The Beatles.

At Llangollen Food Festival, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Saturday and Sunday October 14 and 15, he’ll be presiding over the inaugural Wales-wide competition to fashion spooky Halloween faces from a pumpkin.

After gaining his honours degree, 39-year-old Simon became a tree surgeon simply because he needed a full-time job while establishing his career as an illustrator of children’s books.

He eventually switched to wood carving when he realised how creative he could be with a chainsaw. 

He produces fine pieces of artwork using waste timber or standing stumps using a variety of power and hand tools. These range from classical sculpture of human and animal forms to abstract work and re-creating logos in wood.

Simon’s carving exploits have taken him across the globe to compete in competitions in the USA, Japan, Canada, Holland, Germany, Denmark and the UK.

His recent triumphs in timber have included a life-size replica of a horse which later galloped off on a countrywide tour and a full-sized tableau of The Beatles which he sculpted within 24 hours for a display at Liverpool’s Pier Head over the August bank holiday weekend.

One of his personal favourites of the past few years is the Alice in Wonderland scene he created for a restaurant in Bristol, featuring Alice herself, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare.

Simon, from Rossett, near Wrexham, said: “I’ll be appearing at Llangollen Food Festival in the run-up to Halloween so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to stage the first ever Welsh Pumpkin Carving Championships.

“Wielding a chainsaw to fashion their traditional jack-o-lanterns or skulls might be asking a little too much of competitors so the tools they’ll be using tools are going to be a bit less demanding.

“Before the championships take place I’ll be giving competitors plenty of hints and tips at my pumpkin carving workshops and showing them how to work with the three or four types of tools I’ll be lending them.

“They’ll be ribbon loop tools which are normally used in clay sculpting. They’re very effective but also safe to handle.

“The competitors can work in whatever way they choose but I’ll be showing them how to sculpt the flesh of the pumpkin rather than simply plunging through the surface with a knife.

“They can do the very traditional jack-o-lantern design but I’ll demonstrate a couple more ways to do it.

“Pumpkins are nice and soft to cut and are readily available at this time of year. I’m hoping to see some really fantastic creations.

“We’re now on the lookout for suitable competitors to start gashing away at those gourds. It’s their big chance to carve out their own artistic reputation using a different type of medium.

“Entrants will pay £5 to take part and they get to take their carved creations home for Halloween. The star prize for the best piece of work will be a Halloween Hamper filled with all kinds of goodies to the value of £25.”

Simon added: “It’ll be great to be back at Llangollen Food Festival, especially as this is the festival’s 20th anniversary and the inaugural pumpkin carving competition will help make it a landmark occasion in more ways than one.

“Last year I brought along a big wooden dragon called Hemlock I’d carved which has a moving neck and he’ll be coming along with me again this year for people to have their pictures taken alongside.

“Llangollen Food Festival is now one of the UK’s most top food festivals and I’m very much looking forward to going back there.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to sample local produce they wouldn’t normally get to try.
“North Wales has such a rich variety of locally-sourced food and drink and the festival does a fantastic job showcasing it.”   

Phil Davies, a member of the committee at Llangollen Food Festival, said: “Llangollen is now recognised as one of the country’s foremost food festivals and we can’t think of a better way to mark our 20th anniversary than hosting the very first Welsh Pumpkin Carving Championships.

“Simon, who we are delighted to welcome back to Llangollen, came up with the idea and we were delighted to help him make all the arrangements for what promises to be a challenging and very entertaining feature of the weekend.

"This year is going to be a very special as the festival is celebrating its 20the anniversary and with a record number of around 120 stall-holders promises to be the biggest and best yet. I can't wait."

* To find out more about Llangollen Food Festival and the Welsh Pumpkin Carving Championships go to

Friday, October 6, 2017

Bid to turn old surgery into dwelling house

* The former health centre in Regent Street is the subject of a planning application.

A planning application has been submitted to the county council to turn the former health centre in Regent Street, Llangollen, into a home.

The application, submitted by an agent in Caernarfon, seeks the proposed change of use of the building to form a single residential dwelling with on-site parking for three cars.

The building has been empty for almost two years since the GP practice moved to the new purpose-built health centre in Mill Street and it became surplus to the requirements of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.  

At the instruction of the health board it was put up for sale with Wingetts estate agents last spring with a guide price of £150,000 and was subsequently described as being sold subject to contract. 

* Details of the application can be seen at:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Petition for better station access goes to Parliament

* Ken Skates AM and Susan Elan Jones MP with Ysgol Rhiwabon Year 10 pupils (l-r) Kezia Summers, Samuel Brown and Jacob Rutter and Friends of Ruabon volunteer Jo Smith.

Campaigners calling for improved access at Ruabon Station turned out in force ahead of a petition being presented to Parliament. 

Clwyd South AM and MP Ken Skates and Susan Elan Jones joined volunteers from the Friends of Ruabon to show their support last Friday. 

Pupils of Ysgol Rhiwabon also went along to help plant new floral donations from Arriva Trains Wales to help spruce up the station’s appearance. 

Ms Jones said: “The campaign for better access at Ruabon continues and the excellent turn-out today shows the strength of feeling locally.  

“This is an important station connecting people to our wonderful World Heritage Sites and key local destinations such as Wrexham and Chester, so it needs be more accessible. At present, it’s almost impossible for disabled people and those with restricted mobility.” 

Mr Skates said the lack of disabled access was ‘insufficient in the 21st century for such an important station’.

He and local councillor Dana Davies have previously called for money from parking charges to be invested in improving the station’s facilities, but their plea was rejected by Wrexham Council leaders. 

The residents’ petition states that the station ‘is currently inaccessible to a number of potential users’ because the footbridge is the only way of getting between the platforms – and calls on the UK Government to act. 

Mr Skates added: “The many, many people who have signed the petition want and need to be better connected – and that means access for all. I’m delighted Susan is going to present it at Parliament in the coming weeks and will continue to support the campaign however I can on behalf of my constituents and station users.” 

The Labour politicians welcomed the donation of new planters from Arriva Trains Wales and praised the ‘dedicated and tireless’ Friends of Ruabon.