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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Timetable extended at Lllangollen Railway

* The longitudinal beams are craned into place at the new Corwen station.

The re-born Llangollen Railway is now running trains from Tuesdays right through to Sundays.

They will be using their heritage railcar which gives a panoramic driver's-eye-view of the line and the Dee Valley. 

Services depart Llangollen every hour from 11am until 4pm, and from Berwyn every hour from 11.25am until 4.25pm. Return tickets cost £8 for adults, £7 for seniors and £4 for children. Tickets are available to purchase on the day. 

Currently the trains are running between Llangollen and Berwyn but the railway hopes to extend services further up the line in the next few weeks and more details will be posted soon.

The reintroduction of highly popular steam services is also proposed for later this month.

* The massive longitudinal beams for the canopy on the waiting room at the new Corwen station have been installed. 

These connect with the columns around the stairway and the steelwork for the waiting room. 

* Railway bosses have welcomed the introduction of a new bus service with connections to Corwen and Llangollen, two of its most important stops.

The Trawscymru T10 service links Corwen with Bangor via Betws y Coed and Bethesda.

It also connects with the T3 service at Corwen for connections to/from Llangollen and Wrexham.

The service operates seven days per week and all journeys are operated by modern comfortable coach style vehicles.

The T10 buses connect with the Snowdon Sherpa network at Betws y Coed and Capel Curig and link with train services at Bangor and Betws y Coed stations.

Mazda MX-5 still reigns supreme for open-air motoring

* The open-top Mazda MX-5 roadster.

* The MX-5's cabin.

* The electric Mazda CX-30.

Mazda charging for change by Steve Rogers

Whatever your views on air pollution and the switch to electric cars we are on a journey into the unknown.

The big switch to electric is scheduled for 2030 but some motoring industry insiders are sceptical that the UK will be ready, leaving us with more questions than answers.

Will there be enough charging stations, how will people living in terraced houses, let alone high rise flats, charge an electric car?

How are the tens of thousands running motability vehicles going to cope with the higher cost of electric cars? How will we get rid of the 40 million ICE (that is the buzz word for the internal combustion engine) vehicles on our roads and what about the batteries that will have to be binned?

Or is there a different route? Mazda's UK boss Jeremy Thomson revealed what is going on behind the scenes both in Europe and Japan to create carbon free synthetic petrol and diesel products without the cost of changing to electric.

At a driving day to showcase updates to the Mazda range Thomson told me that although committed to becoming carbon free, the company was not giving up on the internal combustion engine which will still power the majority of its cars through 2030.

He said: "We remain committed to creating the ideal internal combustion engine and are getting closer to that perfect engine in terms of emissions and efficiency. Synthetic or renewable carbon neutral light fuel that can replace carbon based fuel is the way forward."

Mazda has only one electric model, the MX-30, but that is set to change with three electric, five hybrid and five plug-in hybrids being rolled out over the next four years.

Like the rest of the car world Mazda is recovering from the catastrophic pandemic and is relieved at a 55 per cent rise in post Covid sales against an industry average of 39 per cent.

Updates to the model range this year centre around boosting the Skyactiv petrol engines, improving infotainment and connected services and pumping out special editions of old favourites to keep the kettle boiling.

The biggest name in Mazda is the ubiquitous MX-5 roadster but has this got a future in the brave new electrical world, or is it sitting on death row?

Jeremy Thomson was giving little away but said: "The car is central to the Mazda brand and remains one of our best known lines, so of course it will need to evolve but always retain that amazing fun to drive feeling."

Even after 30 odd years the MX-5 reigns supreme as far as wind in the hair motoring goes. The car is an out and out gem and to keep interest alive a Sport Venture special has been introduced with nappa leather interior, sliver door mirrors and silver roll hoops.

In terms of horse power 130 doesn't sound a lot but with its high revving engine in such a light body the roadster is plenty quick enough. Mazda has perfected the opening mechanism and the soft top can be opened or closed in around five seconds.

The car's infotainment unit, operated via a rotary controller between the seats, has always been easy to use but needs to be brought in line with the faster system on CX-30 and CX-5.

My top Mazda is CX-30 which is a bulked up Mazda3 but because of its sleek design looks nothing like the sports utilities cum crossovers it competes against. As the newest ICE model it gets the upgraded e-Skyactiv X engine that has lower engine emissions, a boost in horse power and economy along with the upgraded infotainment system with its larger screen, faster response, connected services, and it still has a rotary controller. Hooray!.

Unlike Toyota and Honda who have dropped diesel in favour of petrol hybrids for Rav4 and CR-V SUVs, Mazda is sticking with a diesel option for CX-5 which will please caravan owners who are wondering where to turn after 2030.

The model also gets the flagship 190bhp 2.5 litre Skyactiv-G engine until now only available in the Mazda6.

On the safety front Mazda will next year reveal an autonomous driving system that will monitor the driver and take control if the driver falls asleep or is incapacitated, park in a safe place and make an emergency call.

Fast Facts

MX-5 Sport

£26,355 (starts £24,055)

2-litre petrol; 130bhp

0-62mph 8.3secs; 127mph

44.8mpg combined

142g/km. 1st VED £215

Insurance group 27

Boot 130 litres 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Call for action to stop off-roaders using green lanes

* From left, Liz Hughes, Rheinallt Hughes, Mike Crawshaw, Llyr Gruffydd MS, Councillor Trevor Bates, Glyn Jones and Alan Gardner from Agrisgôp Leader.  

Farmers in the Ceiriog Valley have met with Plaid Cymru's North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd to make their case for action to prevent off-roaders, who they say often turn up in gangs with uninsured and untaxed vehicles, from using green lanes into the Berwyn range.  

Mr Gruffydd says the problem also affects a countryside area of Llangollen. 

The farmers met the MS on the Wayfarers track going from Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog over to Llandrillo near Corwen, an old drovers' track that has become impassable over the years due to neglect and damage caused by the off-roaders. 

Llyr Gruffydd said: "Farmers are at their wits' end in dealing with some off-roaders who are abusive, violent and confrontational. The farmers are trying to go about their work and earn a living while off-roaders damage property, frighten livestock and leave gates unclosed.  

"The green lanes that the off-roaders favour are becoming more damaged with overuse and a variety of agencies - including the Welsh Government - seem unable or unwilling to act. 

"I was glad to be listen to the situation first-hand, as I have with farmers on the other side of the Berwyn range in the Llandrillo and Cynwyd area. 

"There have also been problems in the Llangollen area, notably Allt y Badi. 

"This is not an isolated problem of course - it affects many parts of Wales and that's why I think we need a more joined-up approach to resolving it for the benefit of local residents and responsible users of these important pathways and lanes. 

"The police have a role here and I was glad to hear compliments about former Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones who had taken an interest in this matter. 

"The new PCC needs to follow up on that and the police have a part to play in stamping out criminality. Other agencies including the local council, Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales as well as landowners and those seeking to use these routes for their leisure also need to come together.

"The problem in the past is that no one organisation has taken responsibility or ownership of the issue. 

"Given the extent of the problem, that neglect from the various authorities can't continue." 

Also in attendance at the meeting was local councillor Trevor Bates and Alan Gardner, who has been supporting a group of local farmers to face the challenges and develop solutions through Farming Connect’s Agrisgôp programme, delivered by Menter a Busnes on behalf of the Welsh Government.

Volunteer drivers needed for community transport scheme

* South Denbighshire Community Partnership’s transport team, from left, Tom Taylor, Maggie Harding and volunteer driver Bob Jaques.

A successful Denbighshire community transport scheme is appealing for volunteer drivers as it continues its expansion into Llangollen.

South Denbighshire Community Partnerships not-for-profit scheme is travelling further afield as it helps elderly and vulnerable people to get out and about.

As part of a £500,000 three-year initiative SDCP have extended their services along the Dee Valley to Llangollen and its surrounding villages from its base in Corwen.

The partnerships social inclusion services include a dial-a-ride facility, luncheon club, meals-on-wheels, leisure excursions and shopping trips.

But a bigger area means more drivers are needed to keep the charity’s fleet of six grant-funded vehicles busy so it has launched an appeal for volunteers to join the loyal pool of 18 drivers who donate their time each week.

South Denbighshire Community Partnership transport co-ordinator for Corwen and Llangollen Maggie Harding said: All our drivers are volunteers and they are our lifeblood. Without them generously giving up their time we wouldn’t be able to run any services.

As of now we have 18 volunteers but five operate the daily meals on wheels and only six of our pool have the documentation to drive the mini-bus.

Now we’ve a larger area to cover we really need more volunteers to help us reach people in outlying villages with limited transport.

If anyone has a couple of hours to spare on a morning or afternoon any day of the week, wed love to hear from them.

The more drivers were able to call on, the more comprehensive services we can offer across our bigger area.

Anyone interested in being a volunteer driver can call Maggie on 01490 266004.

Maggie added: Many service users live in rural locations where public transport is not a viable option for them to attend local events, social gatherings or even get to clinic and hospital appointments.

“It’s our mission to get them where they need to be via as smooth-running an operation as possible.

It’s our aim to reduce social isolation among community members who struggle to get out and assist them to participate fully in community activities.

SDCP say there has never been a greater need for the service which has adapted to continue its service even at the height of lockdown.

Pre-pandemic, drivers ferried people to destinations in dedicated vehicles, but in lockdown they couldn’t take passengers so they delivered prescriptions, shopping and activity packs instead.

Bob Jaques became a driver just before the pandemic struck. He said: Many of our usual activities had to be stopped due to social distancing but we managed to adapt.

“I and several other drivers would pick up and deliver prescriptions for people using our own cars. We’d drop them off ensuring there was the required distance between us and each recipient.”

Now Bob is happy to be back driving people around in the community fleet and he said: I recently took out a lady in a wheelchair with her daughter carer. She’d been shielding for 16 months unable to go anywhere.

“It was quite emotional seeing their delight at finally getting out. Thats why we became volunteers – to bring people together, help them overcome mobility issues and let them know they’re all valued members or our community.

Maggie said take up of Meals on Wheels soared during lockdown as the Luncheon Club in Canolfan Ni, Corwen, had to close and they have delivered 4,000 meals in the Corwen area since the start of lockdown.

Services are returning as pandemic restrictions ease though some social distancing measures remain.

The Luncheon Club is back up and running but wider spacing of tables means it can only cater for 15 diners instead of the pre-pandemic 40 while the 14-seater mini-bus is only carrying a maximum of seven people.

Tom Taylor, SDCP Strategic Implementation Officer, said: Our entire organisation pulled together to inject flexibility into our usual operations. We continued to communicate with users and provide the most assistance possible even at the peak of lockdown.

The fact that we’re now extending our boundaries into Llangollen is another big achievement which we’re all very excited about.

They have adopted dial-a-ride from the Rotary Club in Dee Valley and he said: “This is a lifeline for many residents particularly in outlying villages so we absorbed it and are working hard to provide a comprehensive service for all those who need it in both areas.

“More volunteer drivers would help us meet every user’s needs but meantime its all hands to the pump to minimise social isolation and make sure the vulnerable know we’re here for them.

The Llangollen area merger means the community transport scheme acquired an extra vehicle, a smart wheelchair-accessible Vauxhall Caddy.

Maggie said: Its named Brian after Brian Evans, the Rotarian who inspired Rotary to establish the dial-a-ride service in Llangollen. We aim to get it made-over like our others into South Denbighshire Community Partnership livery.” 

They also transferred a Toyota Rav electric-petrol hybrid from Dee Valley, originally funded by the National Lottery and have christened her Tanya.

The others include Percy – a Peugeot Partner funded by the Morrisons Foundation, with an oven and fridge compartment for meals on wheels prepared in Canolfan Ni Community Centre kitchens by a catering team and delivered to registered customers five days a week.

For dial-a-ride requests the team use two electric vehicles Morgan the MG Excite, funded by the National Lottery, and Neli the Nissan Leaf, funded by Cadwyn Clwyd.

These ferry people into town for hospital or GP appointments, to hairdressers, group exercise sessions, meetings run by MIND, organised social events, or just to visit friends. Membership is £15 per person annually plus a token running costs charge for each journey.

Maggie said: We also have our marvellous Citroen Relay mini-bus, Bryn, administered by Denbighshire County Council, which can also take a wheelchair.

“We use it to bring residents from Edeyrnion to twice-weekly lunch clubs, a weekly shopping trip, picking up and dropping them off at people’s front doors to take them to local stores in Llangollen.

“The mini-bus is also used for excursions. Trips so far have included to Llandudno and Barmouth, with others planned later in the season if the pandemic rules allow.

The bus is a huge community asset. Ideally we could do with two or better still, three.

The Community Transport Schemes services are now well established in the Edeyrnion area covering Corwen and the villages of Cynwyd, Carrog, Llandrillo, Llidiart y Parc, Glyndyfrdwy, Betws Gwerfyl Goch, Melin y Wig, Gwyddelwern and Brynegwlys.

Now the scheme has pushed further into Dee Valley it also covers Llangollen and neighbouring villages of Pentredwr, Pengwern, Eglwyseg, Llantysilio and Rhewl.

* For more information about the scheme and South Denbighshire Community Partnership services call 01490 266 004, visit or email:

Monday, August 2, 2021

MP cuts the ribbon to open new Llan business

* At the ribbon-cutting ceremony are, from left, Gaynor Gee, Patricia Wooding, Rebekah Price and her husband Tom, Simon Baynes MP, Karen Johnstone, Madison Griffiths and Courtney Greenwood. 

Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes cut the ribbon to officially open the new Finley's Cafe and Sandwich Bar on Abbey Road this morning (Monday).

Owner Rebekah Price said the venture, which has created four jobs, had fulfilled a long-standing dream for her.

Rebekah took over the lease on the former ice cream parlour only a matter of weeks ago but has since put in a new floor and additional seating downstairs to create a total of 24 to 25 covers on two floors.

She originally moved into the old newsagents shop next door seven years ago and transformed it into a sandwich bar.

Another feature of her new, expanded enterprise is a small door which connects the two adjacent businesses so staff can move easily between the two sides.

Rebekah employed two staff in the sandwich bar but has taken on four more - all local people - for the twin businesses, which are open each day from 7.30am-4.30pm.

The new cafe will serve all-day breakfasts, sandwiches, a variety of home-made cakes and the usual teas and speciality coffees, using as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible.

Declaring the new venture open, Simon Baynes MP said: "It's good to see another new business opening in the town and I wish Rebekah and her team every success." 

Ambulance service urges public to use life-saving app

Welsh Ambulance Service is asking the public to download a life-saving app which helps it to find people in remote locations in an emergency.

The Trust has used what3words to locate more than 800 ill or injured people in hard-to-reach areas since it introduced the technology in February 2020.

what3words has divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares, and has given each square a unique combination of three words.

///validated.deeds.nature, for example, will take you to the Tommy Jones Obelisk in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Giving this unique three-word combination to 999 operators in an emergency means they can establish your precise location.

what3words is now used by more than 85% of UK emergency services.

Gill Pleming, Clinical Contact Centre Manager at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “what3words has proven to be such a hugely valuable tool since we launched it last year, helping us to locate 800 ill or injured people in remote locations who otherwise we would have struggled to find.

“With the popularity of ‘staycations’ on the rise, we’re anticipating more visitors to Wales than ever before, which is why we would urge the public to download this free app now in order to save precious time in an emergency.”

Downloading what3words is one of the simplest actions the public can take to support stretched emergency control rooms.

The app is free to download for both iOS and Android and works entirely offline making it ideal for use in areas of the UK with an unreliable data connection, like beaches, national parks and campsites.

what3words can also be used via the online map at

The app is available in over 45 languages, including Welsh, and can be used anywhere in the world.

Chris Sheldrick, co-founder and Chief Executive of what3words, said: “Being in need of urgent help and not being able to easily describe where help is needed can be very distressing for the caller, and a really difficult situation for emergency services.

“Today people nearly always have their phones on them.

“Ahead of a busy summer, with Brits holidaying at home, we need to use the tools at our disposal to improve public services, support emergency control centres and potentially save lives.”

The Welsh Ambulance Service is supporting the what3words #KnowExactlyWhere campaign (26 July-01 August) which calls on the public to download the app.

* Visit for more information.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Flats will offer respite and short breaks to unpaid carers

Two flats have been renovated by Denbighshire County Council to offer respite and short breaks to unpaid carers.

The properties are in Corwen and Ruthin and form part of the council’s Corporate Plan priority to support unpaid carers.

Both properties feature modern facilities and will allow carers and/or those they care for to have a break. 

Both flats have easy access and adaptations to make them disabled friendly and have sleep in facilities if overnight support is needed. 

This development builds on the successful pilot in Ruthin, where unpaid carers have been able to benefit from breaks within the Llys Awelon Extra Care Scheme in partnership with North East Wales Carers Information Service (NEWCIS).

Unpaid carers in the county can access a wealth of support from local and national organisations including short breaks, a sitting service and direct payments which allows them to balance a life alongside caring.

They are able to undertake a needs assessment carried out by NEWCIS, commissioned by Denbighshire County Council, to find out what support is available.

This assessment allows the unpaid carer to explain the impact caring has on them and their life and to explore a range of support options.

Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire’s Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said: “Unpaid carers play a pivotal role in our society and the Council values their contribution. We have renovated these two properties to offer the chance for respite and short breaks.

“It offers the opportunity to take time out and I would encourage all unpaid carers in the county to contact the Council for a carer’s assessment so they can see what support is available to them.”

As part of its Corporate Plan, the council has committed to supporting unpaid carers by improving the services that exist and ensuring young, young adult, parent and adult carers are aware of the support available.

Cllr Ann Davies, the Council’s Carers Champion, said: “I welcome the offer of these two properties in Denbighshire to give unpaid carers respite and short breaks.

“There is a huge burden of responsibility on their shoulders and this offer of support will help provide them with additional respite.”

* You can find out more by contacting the Council’s Single Point of Access on 0300 4561000 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm or email