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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Roll-out of county's new recycling containers begins next week

                                                  * The new-look recyling Trolibox. 

Denbighshire County Council last week announced a new recycling and waste service which will start on Monday, June 3.

As part of this new service, residents in the county who currently have wheelie bins will receive a new Trolibocs to recycle paper, glass, plastic, tins and food cartons and a weighted hessian bag to recycle cardboard. 

Those residents currently recycling with single use pink sacks will receive new weighted reusable hessian bags.

The council must deliver these containers to over 45,000 households throughout the county, while continuing to deliver the current recycling and waste collection service. Therefore, this process starts early with the first local containers being delivered from next week.

* In Llangollen delivery will take place from February 26-28 and from March 1-8. 

* In Llantysilio it will be on March 8 and in Corwen from February 23- 28.

Paul Jackson, Head of Highways and Environmental Services said: “We will be delivering containers to residents between 23 February and 17 May. We know that this is early and that some residents will have to store additional containers for considerable time before the new service starts. 

"However, this is the only way to ensure all residents have received their containers in good time before the service begins on June 3. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience, but we hope that residents understand that this is unavoidable.”

The delivery schedule for the new enquiries is on the council’s website on  All container delivery schedules are approximate, and dates are subject to change, says the council.

As well as new containers, residents will receive an information pack explaining the changes in detail, showing what type of household items should go in which container and how to present containers on collection day. These packs will be in the top box of the Trolibocs or in the reusable hessian bag for cardboard and should be kept safe.

Councillor Barry Mellor, Lead Member for the Environment and Transport. said: “This new recycling system has many benefits for residents and the county. 

"It is better for the environment as it will lead to increased recycling rates; it will be cheaper to run than the current service providing better value for money; it is also good for the local economy leading to the creation of 27 new jobs plus the economic benefits of expanding four local businesses on the Colomendy Industrial Estate in Denbigh.

“This is a collective effort between our Waste and Recycling Team and the people of Denbighshire and I would like to say thank you, as your recycling is making a big difference.”

What’s changing?

* Recycling and cardboard collected weekly.

* 250 litres of recycling collected weekly instead of 240 litres collected fortnightly.

* Non-recycling collected every four weeks in a larger 240 litre bin (weekly if waste is collected in reusable weighted bags).

* Weekly collection of small electrical items and household batteries

* Four weekly textiles collection

* Weekly collection of absorbent hygiene products (e.g., nappies, wipes, incontinence pads and disposable bed pans and liners). This is a free service, but residents will need to register by 1 March for this first round of registration. Another round will open in the autumn.

What’s staying the same?

* Weekly food waste collection.

* Garden waste collection every two weeks (chargeable service).

Friday, February 23, 2024

It's full steam ahead for Llangollen Railway in 2024 season

      * Steam locomotive 7754 which will star at the Branchline Gala in April. 

After its sold-out Santa Special season finished at Christmas, staff and volunteers at Llangollen Railway have been working flat-out behind the scenes to get the heritage attraction ready for a busy 2024. 

The Branchline Gala on April 12-14 will see four steam locomotives in use on the railway for the first time in many years.

This will be another significant achievement alongside the railway's two recent success in major industry awards - the Heritage Railway Infrastructure Award and Go North Wales Tourism Awards Attraction of the Year for 2023 title.

Press officer Terry Pickthall said: "Our track gang have also made incredible progress on relaying the line through the 689-yard long Berwyn tunnel, toiling away in the dark, damp and cold to get trains running back to Corwen. 

"Our Branchline Gala will see 1930-built Great Western pannier tank No 7754 formally rededicated to traffic after a restoration that has taken nearly 20 years and was largely completed using volunteer labour. 

"Great Western heavy freight locomotive No 3802 should also be back in steam for the first time in over two years following comprehensive overhaul work. 

"Harking back to the railway’s first trains in the early 1980’s, ex-Longbridge car factory tank engine Austin 1 is about to have a new axle bearing fitted in order to take part in the gala. This large, brass component has been lovingly made from scratch in-house by our machine shop volunteers and requires the locomotive to be lifted with a 50-tonne crane, twice. 

"The crane itself has been saved thanks to donations from our supporters and the kindness of a scrap merchant, who had originally purchased it at the auction of railway assets back in 2021. We were able to buy it back, a bit at a time. 

"Finally ex-Bold colliery Austerity loco No 68067  - one of the last steam engines to work in British industry - will be operating her last trains with us before heading off for hire to another railway."

He added : “A diesel locomotive and railcar will also take part, with Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Sulzer Type 2 (Class 26) diesel No 5310 helping work a Glyndyfrdwy-Corwen steam shuttle service. These trains help add to a real early 1960's feel for the event. 

"Austin No 1 will be hauling a short rake of passenger-carrying brake vans, which provide a unique travelling experience and hark back to the early days of railway preservation. 

"As well as our usual excellent catering facilities at Llangollen station, the volunteers who look after Glyndyfrdwy Station will be opening their station cafĂ© and Porters Bar, making this usually quiet wayside station a bustling hub to visit for a brew, pint, butty or cake whilst watching trains cross, come and go.”

Robin Crowley, volunteer coordinator, said: “Volunteers are our lifeblood and we’re always looking to grow our team, with a busy and ambitious programme of events planned for 2024. 

"We will be running a series of new volunteer open days through the year, which give folk the chance to visit the railway and get a taste of what is involved in being a volunteer. 

"Our first Open Day will run on Saturday 2nd March and details on how to attend are on both our website and Facebook pages."

Llangollen Railway continues to make a spectacular recovery from the collapse of its PLC operating company in 2021. 

As well as winning two national awards, the railway has also secured two substantial UK Government Levelling Up grants. 

One funded the construction of the spectacular Corwen station canopy in January 2023. The other, from the Shared Prosperity Fund. has fully financed four new staff posts at the railway to develop volunteer recruitment, retention and training, environmental and climate change strategy and the wider visitor experience. 

The railway also recently announced a partnership with nearby Wrexham University, with research staff and students from the University’s Engineering, Environmental Management and Business departments looking to support the railway’s ambitious development plans. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Llangollen patient's concerns about future of specialist cancer nurse


* Cancer nurse concerns: Sarah Marshall.

A Llangollen woman is one of five patients who have written to the region’s health boss outlining their concerns about the future of a specialist breast cancer nurse based at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. 

Sarah Marshall, who has incurable form of the disease, has joined with four others to write to Caroline Shillabeer, chief executive of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), telling her they believe the specialist metastatic breast cancer nurse post in Wrexham will not be funded beyond next month.

They say in the letter: “In order to provide equity across the health board and indeed Wales and the UK, funding needs to urgently be identified to continue this post.”

Sarah has been a breast cancer patient at Wrexham since 2017 and since 2019 has been treated for metastatic breast cancer, which is incurable.

But for most of that time she hasn’t been too unwell and has managed to do an MSc, run for county councillor, do the Llangollen Round Challenge and choreograph local Operatic shows.

She said: “In that whole time I've never had a named nurse contact until they appointed a specialist nurse post in 2022. However, that nurse went off sick fairly quickly, then left the post and it was then covered by an internal secondment which is not funded past March 2024.” 

In their joint letter to the heath board chief she and the other patients say: “We would be devastated if the nurse’s hard work was being undone by the role not continuing in North Wales. 

“We are also very concerned that the Trust’s decision to combine the role with support for stage four bowel cancer patients makes it an unachievable workload, which contributed to the original post-holder leaving the role after a few months.

“Given that the post has been filled for at least a year now we would expect there is data available now on the number of metastatic breast cancer patients who have been supported by the role. 

"To now leave these patients without specialist support is shocking to us. Some of us are at end of life or have very limited clinical treatment options available.”

Sarah added: “The Trust emphasised that the metastatic post was part of their efforts to provide a good service, even though they had decided to combine the workload with supporting stage four bowel cancer patients, which makes it a huge remit.

“It's hard enough dealing with the incurable cancer and the treatment effects without having an inefficient and substandard service.

“Currently I'm on a clinical trial at Christies Hospital in Manchester.

“Wrexham don't run any clinical trials so I had to find a supportive oncologist to refer me there. The difference in the service is astounding.

“When my time on the trial ends I will likely have to return to Wrexham, and I'm dreading it. I don't understand how it is fair to have such a different service just because of where you live.”

Angela Wood, Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery at BCUHB, said: “The views and experiences of our patients and service users play an important part in helping us to ensure we provide the services they need so we are grateful for this, and any feedback we receive.

“We recognise the benefits this important role has played in supporting patients across the Wrexham area and understand the concerns that have been raised.

“The NHS as a whole currently faces significant financial challenges, which means careful consideration must be given to all available resources across a range of services. This is one of a number of vacancies currently being reviewed and once a decision is made we will provide further information.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Sound baths bring wave of new attendances at St Collen's


* Last year Father Lee Taylor became known as the "Squid Vicar" after appearing in the TV game show.

In what he sees as a ground-breaking move towards spiritual well-being and inclusivity, Llangollen's Father Lee Taylor has introduced sound baths at St Collen’s. 

He says the innovative move has attracted widespread attention, drawn large numbers of spiritual seekers and created a "harmonious blend of tradition and modern spirituality".

Fr Lee explained: "The incorporation of sound baths involves the use of therapeutic sound frequencies to create an immersive and spiritually enriching atmosphere.

"Since implementing sound baths, St Collen’s has witnessed a significant increase in attendance, with spiritual seekers from diverse backgrounds drawn to the unique and inclusive nature of these mid-week events.

"They have also sparked conversations within the community, fostering a sense of unity and providing a safe space for individuals to explore their spirituality in a non-traditional yet deeply meaningful setting.

"The idea is to be enveloped by gentle sound waves promoting relaxation and tranquility. Let the harmonic frequencies wash away stress and tension, transporting you through the ages, creating a melodic bridge between ancient echoes and present serenity..

"A candlelit atmosphere allows you to bask in the warm glow of candlelight, casting ethereal shadows against time-worn stone walls. The ancient church provides a sacred canvas for the dance of light and shadow."

He added: "In embracing sound baths we are creating a sacred space that resonates with the spiritual seekers of today. 

"They have become a magnet for those yearning for a different kind of spiritual experience. Attendance at the sound baths reveal a remarkable surge in participation compared to our regular Sunday morning services. 

"I believe that the Church must adapt and evolve. Embracing change doesn't diminish our reverence, it enhances it. Change is not a threat, it's a catalyst for revitalization. 

"The response from our congregation and the community at large has been heartening, emphasising the need for inclusive and innovative spiritual practices. As we navigate the changing landscape of congregational dynamics, we are seeking to create a space where everyone feels welcomed and inspired.”

Fr Lee is recognized for his progressive outlook, forward thinking.

Last year he became dubbed as "The Squid Vicar" after appearing in the Netflix smash-hit reality TV show: Squid Game: The Challenge. 

In 2019, he revived an ancient prayer for blessing beer for the Real Ale Train at Llangollen Railway, bringing a touch of ancient tradition to the modern world.

During the pandemic he introduced a series of uplifting online singalongs that transcended borders and  his virtual congregation grew into a worldwide community seeking solace in the power of music.  

Fr Lee is currently studying for a part-time research degree in religious and mystical experience.

Fascinated by the profound mysteries of near-death experiences he took part in the Near-Death Experience Spectrum at the Monroe Institute in 2023. 

He says his forthcoming presentation at Emmanuel College, Cambridge promises to be a "captivating exploration of his experience at The Monroe Institute, intertwining spirituality, and the scientific pursuit of understanding the mysteries that await us all". 

* The next sound bath session is at St Collen's on Friday March 8, from 7-8pm. There is no booking or cost but donations are welcomed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Futuristic Toyota is a real bobby dazzler

Toyota C-HR drive by Steve Rogers

Meet the new Toyota C-HR, a bobby dazzler if ever I saw one.

This is the car that had everyone talking when it was launched in 2017, its futuristic, razor sharp styling catching the imagination. The biggest shock was that it was a Toyota who had gone from dull to dazzling.

Six years on and the second model in the family tree is in the showroom. There was no need for major surgery, the designers got it right from the start but there has been some cosmetic work to the front with a striking headlight signature, and Tesla-style pop-out door handles. A smart touch on the tailgate is the model name integrated into the full width light bar.

No changes under the bonnet, 1.8 or 2-litre petrol hybrid engines, although a major new addition is a plug-in hybrid which will join the range in a few weeks.

C-HR is a genuine crossover, part hatchback, part SUV, sitting between cars like the slightly smaller Ford Puma and larger Nissan Qashqai or Kia Sportage. What makes it stand out is the bold body styling and its coupe look roofline.

Inside is also a bit special with slashes and angles breaking up what is often basic interior design in many rivals. Fixtures and fittings are high quality nudging the Toyota towards the premium end of the market.

A variety of cabin ambient lighting strips offer a choice of 64 colours and has a useful safety feature changing to red if there is a risk of opening a door to passing traffic or a cyclist. First time I have come come across that on a car.

As expected there has been a tech upgrade with excellent graphics in the 12.3in central screen which houses a mass of information, most of which you will not need, although the clarity for the on board navigation is great. Thankfully Toyota has stuck with physical switches for the heating.

The driver's binnacle is also high tech and interchangeable and gets brownie points for a high quality head up display, something I would like to see on all cars.

An area where C-HR falls short of a five star rating is space. My son is nudging six feet and with him in the front legroom for the adult back seat passenger was tighter than some rivals.

The sharp styling I have been praising has one drawback. It is a bit claustrophobic in the back because there is not an awful lot of glass so we were glad of the full length glass roof, a £560 option lower down the range, which brought some much needed light into the car.

It is tinted and doesn't need a sun shade because of infrared reducing coatings. The idea is to keep heat inside in the winter and prevent overdheating in a sunny summer. It also saves weight and increases headroom so it is well worth the money.

My test car was the GR Sport but don't get too excited. This does not have the firecracker 257bhp engine from the rally bred GR Yaris, just some GR styling flourishes, although the sports front seats are very comfortable and supportive should you push the C-HR which has very tidy handling.

I did not manage to get close to the official combined economy figure but you can bank on 50+mpg most of the time.

Frankly 40 grand for the GR Sport is a bit too much to be paying for a car this size particularly when it does not have the engine to match the name. The entry 1.8 litre for £31,000 is a good buy if that is the top of your budget.

How good is C-HR? It looks fantastic, is great to drive, economical, with a full suite of safety features, and would make the shortlist in any car of the year award.

Fast facts

C-HR GR Sport

£40,645 (starts £31,290)

2-litre petrol hybrid; 193bhp

0-62mph 8.1secs; 112mph

57.6mpg combined

111g/km. 1st year tax £185

Insurance group 27

Boot: 364 litres

Dispute rages between MP and council over county's new recycling scheme

* Dr James Davies MP at Shotton Mills Ltd. 

An MP  who has been campaigning against Denbighshire's plan to scrap the blue wheelie bin, has branded it as one of the worst decisions the county council has ever made. 

But a council chief strongly has strongly defended its decision to go ahead with the scheme.

Last week, Denbighshire made public its plans to introduce a new recycling system on Monday June 3 when residents will be required to separate their ‘dry’ recycling using a new three-tier Trolleybox. This will be delivered to households before the end of May.

Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies, who has met and exchanged correspondence over this topic with senior council officers and county councillors on many occasions, says he is disappointed that his views, and those of others who oppose the changes, have been ignored. 

He said: “The council has followed this path under heavy pressure from the Labour/Plaid Welsh Government to adopt its preferred model, but did not have to do so.  

“The reason given for the change has been the need to increase recycling rates, yet the 2022-23 statistics demonstrate that Denbighshire is currently achieving an impressive 65.9% recycling rate.  

"It is already performing above average for Wales, and second best out of the six councils in north Wales. Importantly, it does better than some councils which already have the model it intends to implement.

“The actual reason for the change has always been about saving money, and receiving millions in the process for setup costs from the Welsh Government. Yet the projected annual savings were always small and based on variable factors.  

"As predicted, the upfront cost of the change will have more than wiped out any savings for many years to come. Plus the £12m "sweetener" from the Welsh Government is still taxpayers' money. 

* The blue bin which is currently used in Denbighshire for recycling. 

“I consider the council's decision to ignore opposition and plough ahead regardless to be one of the worst decisions it has ever made, and to be unforgivable in the context of this year's 9.34% council tax increase.

“Following many delays and cost increases, the council now plans to introduce the new system in June 2024.  It is doing so on the basis of support from its Cabinet only - Full Council has never been given a vote on the matter.”

He added: “There are other ways in which recycling rates could be boosted while retaining the blue wheelie bin. However, Denbighshire have shown an unwillingness to reconsider or explore a range of other options or compromises.

“Limited consultation carried out by the council has been dishonest - failing to spell out the fact that the blue bin has been under threat.  There has in general been a reluctance to communicate the proposed changes to the public, in the knowledge that they would be very unpopular."

Last November 2023, Dr Davies visited Shotton Mills Ltd (SML) with Gareth Davies MS and Denbighshire Conservative councillors. This facility is the current destination of Denbighshire's kerbside waste, which it processes via a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

He said: “SML will need to actively encourage councils to send it paper and cardboard waste so as to allow it to fulfil its future plans for the site.  It sells sorted glass and plastic 'downstream' and can continue to do this.  As a result of the Welsh Government's policy strategy, it is now having to bring most of the waste it processes from elsewhere in the UK.

“My assessment is that SML need DCC’s paper and card waste in particular and that the proposed collection of cardboard in a bag attached to a trolleybox will be a backward step, with the material being more liable to be wet, hampering the recycling process.”

Further views on this matter can be seen on Dr Davies's campaign page at

What the council says

Councillor Barry Mellor, the county council's Lead Member for the Environment and Transport, said: "We are disappointed that despite corresponding and meeting with Dr Davies on a number of occasions regarding the new waste model that he has failed to understand how important this change is for Denbighshire and the long-term benefits it will bring. 

"To be absolutely clear, our new waste service has three main benefits:

"It is better for the environment because it will increase recycling rates and the quality of recyclable materials to enable them to be made into new products;

"It will be cheaper to run that the current service, and therefore provides better value for money to Denbighshire residents; 

"It is better for the local economy because it will lead to the creation of 27 new jobs for local people. That is even without mentioning the economic benefits from the expansion of four important local businesses on the Colomendy Industrial Estate in Denbigh that this project has enabled via the project to build our new waste depot. 

“It is also disappointing that Dr Davies continues to suggest to Denbighshire residents that we can choose not to implement the new model, despite being told on many occasions that it is several years too late to change a decision that was made in December 2018 by the then Conservative/Independent coalition Cabinet. We have now almost completed a new, purpose -build depot for the new service, and we have also purchased all the new containers and vehicles."

He added: "We are 100% convinced that the new service is the right decision, and it therefore makes no sense whatsoever to change our minds now. It would also be a huge waste of taxpayers’ money if the council were to fail to proceed with the new system at this stage. This has all been explained to Dr Davies on many occasions, but he does not seem to hear that message.

"Along with other Welsh councils we are working to meet the Welsh Government’s ‘Beyond Recycling’ Strategy target of recycling 70% of all waste by 2025. Although we are currently at 66%, together with other local authority colleagues we know that we need to do more to improve this figure. Most councils in Wales already operate a system for recycling similar to the one we are introducing, including Conwy who have been using this system for several years.   

"Information about our new waste and recycling service model has been available in the public domain previously for people to view.  It is interesting that the Conservative MP is so against our new waste model when the decision to change it was made by the Conservative and Independent coalition Cabinet in 2018.  

"That decision was made following a consultation exercise where residents were asked to tell us what they liked and didn’t like about our current waste service.  The biggest message from residents was that they did not have enough room in their blue bin for all their recycling.  That is why our new weekly recycling collections will provide people with more capacity to recycle. 

"The new Trolibocs system and hessian bag for cardboard has a significantly increased capacity than the current blue bin, with space increasing from 240 litres every two weeks to 250 litres every week.  

"So not only are the new containers collectively bigger than the blue bin, but they will also be collected weekly instead of fortnightly. This expanded service will therefore enable people to recycle everything that needs to be recycled.

"Due to the way the council currently delivers the recycling collection service, i.e., all recycling in one container, it has to pay for this to be taken away and sorted. The cost of this is continuing to increase and shows no signs of stopping. As the recycling is all mixed together it isn’t possible for our staff to spot items that shouldn’t be recycled, this means that ‘contaminated’ recycling is more likely and results in the Council being fined.

"“The new ‘kerb side sort’ service will mean that the council can sort the recycling itself and remove any contamination. The benefit of the new service is that recycling levels will be higher and of a better quality, and the council can then choose to whom and where the materials are sold.

"Even with the additional collections and the increased number of staff, the new service will be cheaper to run than the existing model, and more importantly it will be better for the environment.

“The council has launched a campaign to inform residents of the go live date for the new service using available media channels, and information will continue to be provided to support communities over the coming months. 

"Delivery of the new containers will start from February 23 and a comprehensive information pack explaining how the new system works will be in the top box of the Trolibocs or in the hessian bag for cardboard for those residents on the bag service.”

Young 'Uns create a stylishly brilliant Oliver!

* Trouble in the workhouse: Oliver is taken in hand by Aled Morris as Mr Bumble and Leri Roberts as Widow Corney. 

llanblogger preview 

Llangollen Operatic Society’s Young ‘Uns have created a stylishly brilliant version of the musical Oliver! with its rich with gripping Dickensian drama and timeless Lionel Bart tunes bringing the Town Hall stage to rich, vivid life.

Production values are sky-high and include atmospheric sets and dazzling costumes.

And one of the best-ever casts from the Operatic’s formidable junior section transport the audience faultlessly along the road from a grim country workhouse to the dank crime dens of old London town, singing, dancing and acting their way with a competence and confidence that defies their tender years.

Bringing just the right level of vulnerability and mum appeal to the title role of the orphan who temporarily loses his way is Dylan Harrison, backed strongly by stand-out performances from Freya Mortimer as worldwise and swaggering crime pupil the Artful Dodger and Kelsey Thornton as wily old thief-master Fagin, who is at once scary and playfully deceitful.

* Oliver meets up with Freya Mortimer as the Artful Dodger.

Bringing a touch of real menace to his role as murderous robber Bill Sikes is Freddie Thornton and Sam Gonzalez Jones makes a marvellously caring Mr Brownlow, the old gentleman who rescues poor little Oliver from his misery.

The awful Mrs Sowerberry is played with a healthy level of obnoxiousness by Sophie Siddall and the undertaker himself, to whom Oliver is palmed off by wonderfully horrible Aled Morris as workhouse beadle Mr Bumble, is portrayed with a marvellously funereal touch by Sam Gonzales Jones.

A very spiteful Noah Claypole is turned in well by Edie Langford while Charlotte, the undertaker’s daughter, is brought nastily to life by Grug Bryan. Back at the workhouse Leri Roberts is a deliciously vile Widow Corney.

True plaudits must go to Heledd Edwards in her final Youg ‘Uns appearance before moving beyond its age-range. She plays the poor, put-upon robber’s moll Nancy with just the right balance of brassiness and big heart and, of course, that fine and poignant singing voice.

* Fagin (Kelsey Thornton) compares swag with Bill Sikes (Freddie Thornton).

Helping to move along the unforgettable songs, from Food Glorious Food through Consider Yourself and I’m Reviewing the Situation to Where Is Love and Oom Pah Pah, is an accomplished nine-piece orchestra.

Chorus members show true exuberance in the dance routines, strong musical ability when backing the songs and when acting out their parts as both the downtrodden workhouse children and Fagin’s motley gang.   

Also, it’s big applause for the production team of Robin Crowley (artistic director), Julian Cattley (musical director) Pamela Williams (producer), Deirdre Smith (assistant producer) and Sarah Marshal (choreographer).

Oliver! runs from this Thursday to Saturday, February 22-24, at 7.30pm, with a 2pm matinee on the last day.

* Tickets are available from or Llangollen Tourist Information, Jades Hair and Beauty, Llangollen Oggie Shop & Fine Foods.

* It's a Fine Life: Nancy kicks up her heels with the cast in the robber's den.