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Friday, May 31, 2019

Have your say on the town at Centenary Square tomorrow


* The Shape My Llangollen team outside Home Bargains last week. 

The last in a series of public consultation exercises by the team of volunteers putting together Llangollen’s contribution to the county council’s next Local Development Plan will be held tomorrow (Saturday).

Shape My Llangollen (SML) was formed last year at the behest of the Town Council to produce a 'place plan' for Llangollen.

The idea is that this plan, when approved and endorsed by the Town Council, will feed into the new emerging Local Development Plan being produced by Denbighshire County Council.

The plan will cover topics such as the natural environment, built environment, economy, and community and is a genuine opportunity for some grassroots democracy.

SML is therefore engaged upon a far-ranging consultation exercise contacting groups and individuals to seek their views on any issues which affect or concern them so that they can have an input into the plan.

During May the team has been hosting a series of consultation events to introduce themselves to the public and to get their views.

The first of these was held on May 7 at Llangollen Health Centre when throughout the day team members spoke to scores of people to gain their feedback.

The second successful session was held outside the Co-op store in Regent Street on May 13 when, again, SML gained lots of useful responses from shoppers.

The third question-and-answer session was held outside the Home Bargains store, next to Aldi, on May 23 and it was once again a huge hit with those who took part.

To round off the process in style, the final session will be held in Centenary Square tomorrow from 10am-5pm.

Just to give the event a party atmosphere, there will be live music from local performers Chris Burton and SML member Charlie Jones throughout the day. 

SML chair Phil Robinson said: "We'd be delighted if as many people as possible could come and see us on the square.

"The three consultation sessions we've held so far have produced some fantastic answers from the people who were kind enough to spare us a few minutes of their time.

"This feedback will be invaluable in preparing our final report by the autumn. 

"The whole consultation process is a fantastic example of the people of this town having their say on some vital issues and I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed so far.

"I can give a hint that the top three hot topics to date have been parking and traffic problems but people might have other things they'd like to mention to us."

The questions SML is asking are:

1. What makes you happy about Llangollen?

2. What makes you sad about Llangollen?

3. What makes you mad about Llangollen?

4. How would you make Llangollen better?

5. How would you spend £10,000 for Llangollen’s future?

People unable to make it to the meet-the-public sessions can fill in one of the question sheets which are available in the Town Hall office.

They can also jot down the answers in a reply to the posting about the health centre session on the Shape My Llangollen Facebook page.

Lean and mean Mazda3 hits the road



* The new Mazda3, front and profile.



Mazda3 launch report by Steve Rogers

It has baffled car makers for decades but Mazda reckons it cracked the age old problem of building a petrol engine with the power and economy of a diesel.

The 2-litre SkyActive-X is being hailed as ground breaking and has the backing of Bath University Professor Jamie Turner, one of the foremost authorities on the combustion engine, who believes Mazda has achieved something he thought impossible.

The key is the use of a highly lean mixture of fuel and air fired by compression rather than a spark plug which is the norm in modern diesel engines. That should improve economy by 20 per cent and give up to 30 per cent more torque which significantly closes the gap on a diesel.

This was the headline news at the launch of the new Mazda3 hatchback, but turned into a bit of a damp squid because the new engine won't arrive until October when the saloon is launched.

That's a blow because the new model's engine range is limited to a revamped 2-litre petrol and 1.8 litre diesel neither of which is good enough to worry the top contenders in the C-sector which is still ruled by Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

That aside this fourth generation Mazda3 can ruffle the feathers of the big two if this new engine lives up to its promise. Jeremy Thomson, the company's UK boss described the new hatchback as a substantial step up so it is clear he also has an eye on the premium sector where Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3 have a strong following.

The 3 is heading in the right direction with its eye catching styling and up market interior where soft leathers and tactile switches give it that quality feel.

A closer look at the cabin shows it is well laid out with the majority of functions like navigation, phone and radio are housed in an 8.8 inch central display controlled from a decent sized rotary switch behind the gear stick. 

I've always found the Mazda system easy to follow and the same applies here, but it is also good that the heating functions are separate with their own switches. One minor flaw is the lack of lighting for the switches which are set flat in the centre console and difficult to pick out in daylight.

The three dial binnacle could not be more clearly laid out with the larger central speedo computer generated. A head up display for speed, traffic sign recognition, navigation instructions and cruise control completes the picture.

In the back rear legroom is just on par and I can see some passengers finding it a bit dark given the shallow rear windows but that is a penalty of sharp styling. Drivers will find rear vision poor for the same reason but all bar the entry model has a camera so there will be no concerns when reversing.

As with all Mazdas the suspension favours enthusiastic driving; if you want super soft look elsewhere, but for me this is a good compromise.

To the engines. Mazda predicts 85 per cent of sales going to petrol, a monumental turnaround compared to five years ago, but it is a similar story whichever company you look at.

For now the starting point is the familiar 120bhp 2-litre but it has been modified with cylinder deactivation and a mild hybrid electric motor to improve economy. 

Even driven hard on some deserted Scottish roads we still topped 40mpg which proves there is more to come, but it lacks power, mainly in the mid range, so the new engine with 177bhp is needed to satisfy drivers craving performance.

Normally I would be directing readers to the diesel but not this time. I still don't understand why diesel is getting such a bad press but there are a couple of reasons why the current petrol is the better option. 

The difference in economy is only 11mpg in favour of the diesel and given the price at the pumps and a whopping £1,800 premium over the 2-litre petrol it has become a no brainer.

That said there will be a pirce premium for the SkyActiv-X engine so hard decisions will have to be made.

Launching with the new engine would have given extra impetus but this is still a very good car with great looks, quality materials and a full suite of safety features. Prices: Petrol £20,595-£26,795. Diesel £22,395-£27,795.

Key facts

Mazda3 Sport Lux
£22,795
2-litre; 120bhp
0-62mph 10.4secs; 122mph
44.8mpg combined
119g/km. First year road tax £170

World renowned tenor heads for Eisteddfod


* Rolando Villazón will appear in the festival's classical gala. 

One of the world’s greatest tenors is looking forward to his debut at an international festival in North Wales after being told by his friend Sir Bryn Terfel what a great event it is.

The acclaimed Rolando Villazón will be one of the star attractions at this year’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod when he will also be following in the footsteps of one of his heroes, the legendary Luciano Pavarotti.

The Classical Gala evening on Tuesday, July 2, is being made possible thanks to sponsorship by the Pendine Arts and Community Trust (PACT).

PACT was set up by Mario Kreft MBE and his wife, Gill, the proprietors of the Pendine Park Care Organisation and it supports dozens of arts and community-based activities across Wales.

The following evening PACT will be sponsoring the competition for the world’s finest young singers when they will be vying for the title of Pendine International Voice of the Future during a concert also featuring popular soprano Shan Cothi and Welsh National Opera tenor Rhodri Prys Jones.

Meanwhile, last year’s winner, soprano Charlotte Hoather, will be taking to the stage with Rolando Villazón as part of her prize. Welsh lyric soprano Rhian Lois will also be performing.

Mexican-born Villazón, who lives in France and holds dual Mexican-French citizenship, can’t wait to return to “the beautiful land that is Wales” for what will be his first UK appearance of 2019.

He said: “I did not know a great deal about Llangollen and the festival but my great friend Bryn Terfel has told me what to expect and that makes me very excited.

“I have performed in Wales before, twice at the Bryn Terfel festival. I remember how the Welsh audience completely connects to what we, as performers, sing on the stage and that is so important.”

According to Villazón, he was honoured to have the chance to perform on the stage where Pavarotti first sang with his father’s choir from Modena in Italy in 1955 before returning in triumph 40 years later as an international superstar.

He said: “Pavarotti was unique and his voice was magical. And his appeal went beyond the classical world. But I can’t say he was the best, that’s not for me to say. I can’t say Plácido Domingo, for example, is not as good nor the great Caruso.

“Luckily, there is no need to decide for any single performer, we can celebrate all the great artists and what they bring to the art form. 

“ I see my role as a performer to give my audience the best interpretation I can of the music and words that I sing, and to establish a unique bond with the audience every single time. I treasure this very much.”

Pendine Park’s Mario Kreft said: “It promises to be a wonderful evening of music and Gill and I are so looking forward to hearing Rolando Villazón perform. He is unquestionably a major talent and one of the very best tenors in the world right now.

“Gill and I want to support the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod as its ethos of peace and harmony through music and the arts is very important to all we do within the Pendine Park.

“The arts in general and music in particular provide the golden thread running through everything we do to enrich the lives of our clients and our staff.

“We are also very much looking forward to hearing Rhian Lois and Charlotte Hoather perform. Rhian has performed on stage at some of the world’s top opera houses, including Covent Garden. She is a real star in her own right and will undoubtedly perfectly complement Rolando Villazón.

“And as a previous winner of the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition, it will be wonderful to see and hear how Charlotte Hoather is progressing. Having an opportunity to perform on stage alongside a star such as Rolando Villazón is huge and can only be a boost to Charlotte’s burgeoning career.”

The festival’s musical director, Edward-Rhys Harry, added: “It promises to be a classical spectacular. We are so grateful to Mario and Gill Kreft and their Pendine Arts and Community Trust sponsorship. Without the support of sponsors such as Mario and Gill Kreft we simply could not dream of spectacular concerts of the highest standard such as we are going to enjoy.

“Rolando Villazón is a wonderful vocal talent who is undoubtedly one of the world’s best tenor voices and, with sopranos Rhian Lois and Charlotte Hoather and the wonderful musicians from the British Sinfonietta performing emotionally charged music, we are in for an evening and a concert to remember.”  
     
* To find out more about the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and for tickets please visit www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk

Thursday, May 30, 2019

County to vote on new leisure service delivery model



* Llangollen International Pavilion could form part of the new delivery model.

Various leisure facilities and functions provided by Denbighshire County Council could soon be delivered via an alternative delivery model.

The proposals for a council-owned not-for-profit trading company are to be discussed by the full council today (Thursday) after they were previously approved by the authority's cabinet.

The council-owned trading company would enable the service to trade more commercially, to help sustain the facilities, as well as making savings for the council of £800,000 in the first year.

The facilities proposed to be included are the county’s seven leisure centres as well as the Prestatyn Nova, SC2, Rhyl Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl Events Arena and events function, North Wales Bowls Centre, Rhyl Town Hall, Ruthin Craft Centre, Llangollen Pavilion, 1891, Café R (Ruthin) and Strategic Leisure.

The Pavilion is not owned by the council but is leased to it by the International Eisteddfod.

Whilst the consideration of an alternative delivery model (ADM) is new to the council, many other councils across the UK are already using similar ADMs to deliver a range of functions and the council has engaged extensively with these as the Denbighshire model has been drawn up.

Graham Boase, Denbighshire’s Corporate Director for the Economy and Public Realm, said:  “We are very proud of our leisure services in Denbighshire. Investment by the council over the past 10 years has seen visitor numbers increase and our facilities are now first class and up-to-date, comparing favourably with the best leisure facilities in the industry.

“We have recognised the need for on-going investment at times of significant financial challenge, as we can clearly see the benefits to people’s health and well-being. We have also listened to the public as the demand for leisure sessions grew and continues to grow across the council.

“This model will allow a more flexible, innovative and entrepreneurial approach to commercial leisure, whilst allowing the Council to retain complete control through the creation of a brand new board that will be responsible for running the company.

“This will ensure the company continues to deliver a high quality leisure provision long into the future, but as the company would be solely owned by the council it will be the council that sets the priorities for the company and the level of service expected to be delivered.

“As such the public should see very little difference in terms of the quality of the services provided or the ‘look and feel’ of the facilities themselves.”

No decision has yet been made and if the business case for the plan is supported by full council a number of further decisions will be required over the summer and autumn to ensure the company is set up in a way that provides the council with the necessary controls.

Chairman of the Eisteddfod Dr Rhys Davies said: "The Eisteddfod owns the freehold of the Pavilion and there is a long lease in favour of the county council. Any change to arrangements at the Pavilion would need the Eisteddfod’s permission."

This position was confirmed by the council whose spokesperson said: “If the proposal is agreed we will enter in negotiations with the owners to negotiate new arrangements that will involve the new company.”

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Llan landmarks feature in new marketing campaign



* The Chain Bridge in Llangollen features in the new campaign.

A new film, photographs and a suite of brand-new digital maps showcasing the North East Wales region have been released as part of Visit Wales’ Year of Discovery campaign. 

Denbighshire, Wrexham and Flintshire have joined forces to produce the marketing resources to inspire local people and visitors to experience the region.

The film, which premiered at the recent North Wales Tourism Annual Trade Meeting, explores the region’s tourism offer including key attractions like Greenfield Valley, Chirk Castle and SC2 in Rhyl as well as the rural and coastal landscapes of Moel Famau and Talacre Beach. 

For outdoor adventure enthusiasts, it showcases mountain biking in Nercwys Forest and OnePlanet Adventure, Llandegla and kayaking on the River Dee in Llangollen. 

The film kicks off with the impressive Pontcysyllte Aqueduct & Canal, which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary since the inscription of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This film is the start of a series of new mini films which will be released throughout the year, featuring different themes including coast, castles, landscape, culture, adventure and the World Heritage Site. 

A gallery of professional images have also been released to help draw new and repeat visits to the region all year round.

Tourism plays a vital part in the regions’ economy, with a total economic impact in 2017 of £867m and over 11 million visits made.

Ian Lebbon, Chair of Denbighshire Destination Management Partnership, said: “With the main tourism season upon us; it’s great to see Denbighshire, Flintshire & Wrexham working together to launch a variety of professional marketing materials to showcase the region during the Year of Discovery. We would encourage businesses to use the resources available to them to create greater awareness of the region and boost the local economy throughout the year.”

Seven new digital maps exploring a variety of locations across both North East Wales have also been produced. The maps interlink with the 75-mile North Wales Way – one of three national tourism routes launched by Visit Wales under The Wales Way brand. The new maps have been a community-effort, as businesses were invited to workshops across North Wales to discuss their ideas for new tourist routes to help promote the region and provide loops and detours off The North Wales Way.

* To view the film please visit North East Wales on Facebook or YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eovLG6cIIAY

* To view the maps and photographs and for further information on the region, please visit www.northeastwales.wales

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

llanblogger preview of Twenty Club's stunning WW1 drama



* A scene from Dinner With Otto.

Special llanblogger preview

While their young men fought and died in the appalling conditions of the Western Front during World War One few back home had the remotest idea of what they were enduring.

And when they returned from this living hell of mud and blood just the other side of the Channel it was rare for them to talk about what they had seen and done.

It is this painful reality which is at the heart of Dinner With Otto, the new play being premiered by Llangollen Twenty Club at the Town Hall with a three-night run starting this Thursday evening and running on Friday and Saturday too.

llanblogger has been given a preview of the production which is surely one of the most absorbing and evocative representations of the “war to end wars” ever to take to the stage.

Written by Tom George, who clearly has a deep understanding of the period, it is surely the most powerful and challenging production ever undertaken by the club, which has had to completely switch focus away from its usual easy-to-watch material to do it full justice.

And this they have certainly achieved to produce an outstanding piece of heavy drama which wouldn’t look out of place on a professional stage.

The action opens in March 1919, just months after the Armistice, when hosts of young men, deeply troubled by what they had been forced to experience, returned to what they had been cynically promised would be a “land fit for heroes”.

But it was a land totally unprepared to handle what would now be termed as PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. These days there is sympathetic treatment available but back then it was a case of just put it behind you and get on with it.

One man who can’t do that is 23-year-old Ben Davies who comes back to his small Welsh village deeply damaged and with a head full of horror, the nature and depth of which is slowly bled out of him during the course of the play.

This is a mammoth part in terms of the complexity and depth required. But it is handled impeccably by Si Kneale who rings every ounce of emotion out of it, even the totally contextual swearing.

The rest of the cast aren’t just there to sympathise with what the war has done to him because they must be exposed and put through the ringer for the part they have played in creating the hell which Ben and thousands of other returning soldiers like him have been put through over four years - the war profiteer, the religious hypocrite, the patriotic fool.

Chief culprit in the town mayor, Cllr Thomas, portrayed with all due pomposity and bigotry by Twenty Club favourite Arwel Jarvis.

His fellow councillor, Helen Elliot Jones, who on the face of it is a mother grieving for the loss of her only son Aled in the blood-filled trenches but is actually something infinitely more repugnant, is stylishly brought to life by Jo Lloyd.

Ianto Morris, much more sinister a figure than the hapless local street sweeper, is extremely well presented by Neil Evans.

Similar helpings of talent are brought to bear by Paula Hardy as Ben’s loving mum Sarah, Hannah Edwards as his would-be girlfriend Megan, David Connolly as village bobby Sergeant Jenkins and Twenty Club debutante Mike Connolly in the role of local vicar, the Rev Ivor Williams, doing a very passable Welsh accent for a chap actually from the south of England.

This is a poignant tale delving deep into a facet of this dreadful war not told often enough and the cast, directed tightly and wisely by Lyn Aston, have interpreted it with a degree of sheer professionalism that is simply superb.


* Tickets are available from Courtyard Books, Gwyn Davies Butchers and Jenni's Llangollen, or
online: www.skiddle.com

Isherwood calls for action on prostate cancer




North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood (pictured) has called on the Welsh Government to ensure that health boards in Wales act on its updated guideline that men with suspected prostate cancer should be offered a Multiparametric MRI scan before biopsy.

His call follows the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) having published its updated guidelines for prostate cancer diagnosis and management, 

Mr Isherwood, who has made repeated calls for pre and post-biopsy Multiparametric MRI scans to be made available to suspected prostate cancer patients, has welcomed the announcement.

However, speaking in the Chamber, he said it now up to the Welsh Government to ensure that health boards amend their pathways accordingly.

Calling for a Welsh Government Statement on the matter during the Business Statement, he said:
“Twelve days ago, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, or NICE, updated their guidelines for prostate cancer diagnosis and management in England and Wales, recommending, amongst other things, that active surveillance should be offered as a primary option for men with low-risk localised prostate cancer. 

"And the changes in the updated guidelines included the statement that men should be offered multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging, or mpMRI scans, before biopsy if they're suspected to have localised prostate cancer.

“Prostate Cancer UK stated ‘this breakthrough diagnostic technique should now be made available in all parts of Wales in the near future, ending the current variation in access that has resulted in some men paying privately for scans’. 

"In March last year, NHS England announced that it was launching a one-stop service using MRI techniques for timely diagnosis in England. Last December, NICE issued new draft guidance recommending pre-biopsy mpMRI for suspected Prostate Cancer.

“In January, the Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services (Vaughan Gething AM) wrote to Assembly Members stating that he'd asked all Health Boards to work with the Welsh Urology Board to ensure they have full implementation plans. In the same letter, he said that ‘Health Boards have confirmed that, at present, they deliver care in line with current NICE Guidance’. 

"However, when I had a meeting with Betsi Cadwaladr (Health Board) last December with a patient, they formally apologised for not having delivered care in accordance with NICE guidance for post-biopsy mpMRI and confirmed that they would be recompensing the men who had paid accordingly."

He added: "As Prostate Cancer UK states, ‘mpMRI revolutionizes Prostate Cancer diagnosis’. The Welsh Government should therefore respond to their calls and those of others, including Tenovus Cancer Care, for the Welsh Government to ensure that mpMRI is now available across Wales. 

"Although Mr Gething told the Assembly in March that when NICE recommends pre-biopsy mpMRI, he will expect all Health Boards in Wales to amend their pathways accordingly, he must therefore now go further and ensure that they do. I call for a Statement accordingly on a matter that has occupied much time in this Chamber and generated a number of issues.”

Responding the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd, Rebecca Evans AM, said: “Of course, patients should have access to investigations for cancer in line with national guidance, and this should be delivered consistently across Wales. 

"Mark Isherwood outlined that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published updated guidance on the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer on 9 May. Health Boards that do not currently provide care in line with this guidance are due to submit their implementation plans to the Welsh Government by 3 June, and then the Welsh Government will be meeting with Health Boards on 19 June to review these plans, and implementation timescales will depend on the content of those plans.”

Monday, May 27, 2019

Nominations open for county's sport awards



* Previous sport award winners.

Nominations are open for the Denbighshire Community Sport  Awards 2019.

Over the last seven years Denbighshire has recognised over 80 individuals, teams, schools and clubs for their dedication to local community grass root sport in the county. 

There are also elite level athletes representing Wales and Team GB in their chosen sport from the local area, which will continue to be rewarded.

All of the award finalists in the 2019 sport awards will be forwarded to the Sport Wales and BBC Wales sport personality awards held nationally in Cardiff, where Denbighshire will be looking to add to the success of 8 finalists and 6 national winners over the last few years.

Nominees must reside in Denbighshire, or be affiliated to a Denbighshire club relevant to their nomination and achieved their success in the last 12 months up to the application closing date which is Thursday 1st August 2019.

This year’s categories include sports performer, junior sports performer, coach of the year, team of the year, volunteer of the year, disability sport award, young inspiration award, lifetime achievement award and the ‘Sport in School’ award.

Nominations can be made on-line: www.denbighshire.gov.uk/sportsawards
Jamie Groves, Head of Facilities, Assets and Housing said: “The Denbighshire community sport awards has helped recognise and share some amazing stories over the last few years.

“This proves to us that the quality of sport in Denbighshire is very high and that there are plenty of opportunities for people to return to playing sport or to try a new sport as a beginner.

“As a service through our partnership with Alliance Leisure we have continued to invest in our leisure facilities, offering residents a high quality service, and an environment for them to thrive.

Denbighshire Leisure services are also looking for organisations that would like to link their brand to the Community Sport awards as a category sponsor and a ‘sponsorship package’ can be sent for more information.

* For more information on the awards please visit www.denbighshire.gov.uk/sportsawards or contact Sian Bennett, Health and Wellbeing Manager, sian.bennett@denbighshire.gov.uk 01824 712710

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Brexit Party tops Denbighshire Euro poll

The Brexit Party has topped the poll in the Euro elections in Denbighshire.

See the results at:

https://www.facebook.com/100000240903810/posts/2929977427020259/

The Brexit Party was also top in the poll in Wrexham county.

Denbighshire, Wales

  • The Brexit Party
  • Plaid Cymru
  • Labour
  • Liberal Democrats
  • Conservative
  • Green
  • UKIP
  • Change UK


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Special event launches eisteddfod fundraising campaign



* Karamba Samba drumming band in action on the square.


* Guitar vocalist Tim Lennon performs a number. 

A red-hot samba band helped pull in the bank holiday weekend crowds when the International Eisteddfod launched its new fundraising campaign with a fun event on Centenary Square this afternoon (Saturday).


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

Visitors enjoyed a programme of free entertainment from a variety of performers such as the high-energy Chester-based Karamba Samba drumming troop and mellow guitar vocalist Tim Lennon. 


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

The event continues until 4pm today. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Event in aid of Nightingale House Hospice




Friday, May 24, 2019

Shape My Llangollen stages another successful public event


* Shape My Llangollen volunteers busy during the 
public consultation exercise outside Home Bargains yesterday.

The latest in a series of public consultation exercises by the team of volunteers putting together Llangollen’s contribution to the county council’s next Local Development Plan was a big success.

Shape My Llangollen (SML) was formed last year at the behest of the Town Council to produce a 'place plan' for Llangollen.

The idea is that this plan, when approved and endorsed by the Town Council, will feed into the new emerging Local Development Plan being produced by Denbighshire County Council.

The plan will cover topics such as the natural environment, built environment, economy, and community and is a genuine opportunity for some grassroots democracy.

SML is therefore engaged upon a far-ranging consultation exercise contacting groups and individuals to seek their views on any issues which affect or concern them so that they can have an input into the plan.

Over the summer the team is hosting a series of consultation events to introduce themselves to the public and to get their views.

The first of these was held on May 7 at Llangollen Health Centre when throughout the day team members spoke to scores of people to gain their feedback.

The second successful session was held outside the Co-op store in Regent Street on May 13 when, again, SML gained lots of useful feedback from shoppers.

The third question-and-answer session was held outside the Home Bargains store, next to Aldi, yesterday, from 10am-1pm and 2-5pm.

During the course of the day the volunteers recorded answers to questions about what they love or dislike about the town from more 130 people, both young and not-so-young.

SML chair Phil Robinson said: "It was out busiest consultation session yet and we got some fantastic answers from the people who were kind enough to spare us a few minutes of their time.

"This feedback will be invaluable in preparing out final report by the autumn. 

"This was really an example of the people of this town having their say on some vital issues and I'd like to thank everyone who contributed." 

And for those people who haven’t been able to attend the week-day sessions SML will be holding a major meet-the-public event in Centenary Square on Saturday June 1, starting at 10am and continuing until at least lunchtime or possibly longer.

“I’d urge as many people as possible to come along and speak to our team members during the Centenary Square session because it's great to hear people having their say,” added Phil Robinson.

The questions SML is asking are:

1. What makes you happy about Llangollen?

2. What makes you sad about Llangollen?

3. What makes you mad about Llangollen?

4. How would you make Llangollen better?

5. How would you spend £10,000 for Llangollen’s future?

People unable to make it to SML’s meet-the-public sessions can fill in one of the question sheets which are available in the Town Hall office.

They can also jot down the answers in a reply to the posting about the health centre session on the Shape My Llangollen Facebook page.

AM questions prosecution of armed forces veterans

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood called for a statement on the Welsh Government’s approach to justice for armed forces veterans who face prosecution and on its engagement, if any, with the UK Government over this.

Mr Isherwood raised the matter in the Business Statement after being asked to do so by Veterans from Flintshire to Anglesey, but was left disappointed by the Minister’s reply.

Speaking in the Chamber, he said: “This weekend, hundreds of protesters marched through Cardiff in support of veterans being prosecuted for historic offences in Northern Ireland, coinciding with protests by veterans across the UK. 

"In 2014, it was discovered that Mr Blair's Government had done a secret deal as part of the Good Friday negotiations, in which letters were sent to known IRA members involved in terrorism, assuring them they would not face prosecution in the future.

“Last week, the Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, announced plans for legislation to provide stronger protection from repeated investigations into historical allegations for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, but she also said, although this wouldn't apply to (those who served in) Northern Ireland, she intended to find a way they could be afforded similar protection, and dealing with the treatment of Northern Ireland veterans was a ‘personal priority’ for her.

“Has the Welsh Government taken a position on this, will it do so, given the protests in Cardiff and the impact on many people living in Wales, and what dialogue has it had, if any, with the UK Government?" 

Responding the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd, Rebecca Evans AM, said: “The issue relating to armed forces veterans is not an issue that is devolved to the Welsh Government, so I suggest that the Member takes it up with the relevant UK Government Minister.”

Speaking outside the Chamber, Mr Isherwood said: “Armed Forces Veterans from Flintshire to Anglesey asked me to raise this in the Assembly. They will find the Welsh Government response more than disappointing.”

Armed forces charity plans fundraising spectacular



* The REME parachute display team will drop into the SSAFA fundraiser on June 23.






Armed Forces charity SSAFA is holding a fundraising event at Brickfield Rangers Football Club in Wrexham on Sunday June 23. 

It begins at 11am and finishes at 3pm. The REME parachute display team will be dropping in from the sky at 1pm.

There will also be stalls, dancers, bands and animals.

Organisers say there is still room for more stalls, so anyone interested can go to: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tracey-smith106

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Curtain goes up on Twenty Club's powerful new play



Llangollen Twenty Club Players are to stage the world premiere of a poignant new play about the trauma inflicted by the First World War.

Dinner with Otto, written by Tom George and directed by Lyn Aston, was due to open in mid-March but due to an unfortunate illness had to be postponed. 

The play will now take to the Town Hall stage on May 30th, 31st and June 1st.

The action is set in March 1919 after the conclusion of the bloodiest conflict in history. 

It tells the story of a young soldier, Ben, returning home to his mother and friends after witnessing the atrocities of war, and now having to live with a deep sense of guilt, and hopelessness for his future. 

Ben had promised to protect his friend, Aled, who went to war with him, but Aled was killed, further adding to Ben’s sense of guilt. 

Aled’s mother forgives him, which leaves Ben feeling even more wretched.  

On his return Ben’s mother sadly realises that he is not the same boy she waved goodbye to. 

Ben shares some of what he witnesssed but his mother realises he has many other secrets that may affect the future course of his life.

With real footage of  World War One transporting the audience into a very dramatic, and to some, surprising end, it is sure to  keep you on the edge of your seat.  

This is Ben’s story, a sad and haunted young man trying to come to terms and live with the trauma that impact of any war has on the returning soldier. 

* Tickets are available from Courtyard Books, Gwyn Davies Butchers and Jenni's Llangollen, or
online: www.skiddle.com

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Reader captures wind turbines going through Glyndyfrdwy.




llanblogger reader George Jones was travelling on the 11am T3 bus from Wrexham to Corwen on Tuesday when the regular abnormal load of wind turbines was encountered on the A5 west of the tollgate on the section through Glyndyfrdwy.


He took these pictures and said: "Following in the resultant tailback at Llidiart y Parc the load was seen to be two blades as the lorries were held by the police to allow traffic west and east bound to pass via the layby.

"Blog readers might be interested that the pictures, taken from the top deck of the bus, show the remarkable size of the windmill blades which arrive by sea at Ellesmere Port as the nearest port to reduce the road transport journey to the windmill farm site."

Corwen railway extension another step closer


* Work proceeds on bridging the Gap on the line to Corwen.

As of yesterday (Tuesday) morning the infamous Gap along the Llangollen Railway line to Corwen has disappeared with a final session of dumping, layering and rolling in front of the gate.

Work has continued with infilling of the space between the platform walls now making progress and perhaps 80% complete.

The eastern end needs finalisation of the platform wall with blocks and overhang to achieve completion.

Meeting this challenge has been possible because of the many donations received towards the Tenner for a Tonne and the Infill the Gap appeals which, combined, have raised £23,000.

Railway spokesman George Jones said: "Thanks are due to all those who responded to the appeals for help from the project's fundraiser which has boosted the efforts of the volunteers engaged in the task and helped finance the assistance of a local contractor with his equipment and expertise.

"If you didn't quite get round to it, you can still make a donation as there are on going expenses to meet before the platform is complete and the track installed.

"Donations by CCRD can be made c/o Paul Bailey, 'Dolwen', Bryn Eglwys, Corwen LL21 9LY and will be gratefully received towards the work needed to finalise the station project.

"We are getting there and continued support will see the train arrive in Corwen - maybe within a few months time."