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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Llan folk invited to National Play Day

* The big sand pit that was a huge success in 2012.

Wrexham town centre will once again be host to National Play Day on Wednesday, August 7, between 12 noon and 4 pm. 

People of all ages are invited to join in this free and fun event.

Amongst the attractions for this year's event are a giant sand pit that proved a big hit last year, a water slide and lots of water fights, making and inventing things from loose parts and junk, a big volleyball, a maze and an early years area.

Cllr Mike Williams, Lead Member for Children's Services and Education, said:
"This a fantastic national event that has become part of the town centre calendar and is a firm favourite with children, their parents, grandparents and carers. 

"There's plenty on offer to entertain our young people and I hope they all take very happy memories home with them."

This year's Play Day Campaign is "Playful Places" and calls on all adults, from those in national and local government to parents and other community residents, to work together in removing barriers to play in the wider public realm. 

They are asked to foster playful attitudes that support rather than restrict children's play. 

The campaign recognises that children can and will play in all sorts of public places when given enough free time, space and permission to do so.  Play isn't just important for children as everyone can benefit from being a bit more playful because play brings people together and can help people feel better.

Last year over 2500 people visited the town centre for Play Day and this year's organisers hope to make it even bigger and better. 

All you have to bring with you is a playful mood and some clothes you don't mind getting wet and messy. 

Visitors are also invited to bring along a picnic and stay all afternoon.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New law on Welsh democracy comes into force

A new law to improve the democratic processes and transparency of Local Government in Wales has been granted Royal Assent by Her Majesty the Queen.
The Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013 will:
  • improve the public’s access to information about town and community Councils, 
  • reform the structure and functions of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales, 
  • amend the responsibilities of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales and the structure of local authority audit committees within the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011, 
  • require principal councils and fire and rescue authorities to consult the Independent Remuneration Panel before varying the salary of their chief executive, 
  • facilitate the creation of joint standards committees by local authorities; and 
  • enable councils to separate the ceremonial and civic functions from the role of presiding over meetings of the council if they so wish.
A Bill receives Royal Assent when Letters Patent under the Welsh Seal signed with Her Majesty’s own hand signifying Her Assent are notified to the Clerk of the Assembly. The Bill then becomes an Act of the Assembly.
The First Minister, as Keeper of the Welsh Seal, applied the Seal to the Letters Patent in a ceremony in Cardiff earlier today (Tuesday).
First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “Through our ambitious five year legislative programme, we are introducing ‘made in Wales’ solutions to the issues affecting us a nation.

“This Act represents a further step in our drive to ensure local democracy in Wales operates as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
 Minister for Local Government & Government Business, Lesley Griffiths said: “The Act will provide a platform for the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales, to carry out its important work more effectively by better aligning community and electoral reviews. 

“It also includes a number of measures which I believe will assist and strengthen democratic processes in relation to Local Government.

“These reforms form an essential part of ensuring our Councils are democratically elected, representative of their communities and organised in the most effective way."

Police investigate two thefts from Llan

Police in Llangollen are appealing for information following the theft of a bike from Chapel Street.
Sometime between 10.30pm yesterday, Sunday, July 28, and 6.45 am the morning of Monday, July 29, an offender or offenders took an Apollo highway bicycle from the back garden of a property on Chapel Street.
The bike is described as a hybrid, is black and grey in colour, has a 21inch frame and 18 speed. It is also described as having black coloured mudguards, a gel seat with adjustable handlebars and has the serial number 203815.
Nothing else was taken from the garden and police are appealing to anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously in the vicinity or has information to contact members of the Investigation Support Team on 101.
Alternatively, individuals can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously with information on 0800 555 111.

* Neighbourhood Watch have also sent out the following warning about another incident in Llangollen, which says:

"Please be aware that copper piping was taken from a building under renovation in Llangollen last night, 28th of July.

"If you are undergoing any work at your address please consider your security and keep valuable items out of sight.

"If you overlook a building under renovation or know of a building that is empty undergoing works please report any suspicious activity to the police.

"If you have any information regarding the theft please call 101 quoting incident number P122825.

"If you need to reply regarding this message, click on this email address:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Town Council hears of workplace training scheme

* Some of the staff from Calon Lan who took part in the Essential Skills scheme.

Research by Welsh Government in 2010 revealed that 12% of the adult population of Wales don’t have the necessary reading and writing skills to fulfil their potential, and half of them have trouble with numbers. 

To tackle the problem, the government has come up with a scheme, supported by the European Social Fund, to offer all employers the opportunity to access fully funded training to raise these essential skills levels.

Known as Essential Skills in the Workplace, the scheme was outlined to members at the recent meeting of Llangollen Town Council.

Haf Wyn Hughes, workplace skills officer for North East Wales, who addressed councillors, explained that the definition of essential skills is the ability to read, write or speak in English or Welsh, and to use numbers, at a level necessary to function and progress in both work and society.

With the ever increasing use of technology in both the workplace and at home the ability to use this technology is also seen as an essential skill.

It is estimated that poor essential skills cost the UK economy £10 billion per year and the Welsh economy £300 -£500 million each year.

She told councillors that the training scheme enables employees to progress from entry level through to level 2 in Communication (literacy), Application of Number (numeracy) and Information  Communication Technology (IT).

It can also offer English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and qualifications for supporting learners with their Essential Skills training.

Case study

One of the local organisations to benefit from the essential skills training is Calon Lan Community Care, of Conwy, an independent health and social care and support service in clients’ own home.

The training was provided by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai

Staff taking part were required to complete log sheets recording all the tasks carried out as part of their role.

It was identified that some members of staff would benefit from further training to improve their writing skills in order to complete the log sheets effectively.
Training was specially arranged to fit in with the staff members busy schedule. 
Staff completed tasks relating to report writing, which they found to be very beneficial.  Eleven members of staff have completed the training, whilst six have recently started the programme. One of the carers, Ann Jones, commented that the training has been very helpful and that she feels that her English grammar skills have improved as a result of the course.

She has seen a difference in the way she fills in the log sheets at service users’ homes.

All of those who have taken part in the project have or will be starting to study for their NVQ in Social Care.

A Calon Lan spokesperson said: "The training has proved to be a great way to help boost confidence in the individuals who have taken part. It lets the individual feel valued by the company, as we have invested our time to develop their skills.

"Staff who feel they are invested in and developed by a company, stay loyal to the company, and this is great for staff retention/low staff turnover."

* To find out more re about Essential Skills in the Workplace, contact Haf Hughes by phoning 01745 770278, or e-mail:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fringe organisers confirm tonight's concert will go ahead

llanblogger has just received an update from the Fringe organisers to say tonight's finale concert at Valle Crucis Abbey WILL be going ahead.

They say:

There is ample car parking nearby (follow the signs).
There will also be a hog roast and a bar outside.
Don’t forget to bring something to sit on, suitable clothing (and possibly a brolly, just in case the weather isn't kind to us!).

Tel: 0800 1455 779 or visit:

Fringe has grand finale tonight

Fringe Finale Concert at Valle Crucis Abbey


Cyngerdd Glyn y Groes

Sunday, July 28, 7.30pm   £7 admission
Join us for a magical evening at Valle Crucis and enjoy the concert in the nave of the ruins of the abbey. The setting is truly stunning and the atmosphere will be electric.
Fringe Finale Concert at Valle Crucis Abbey
Don’t miss a performance at the spectacular Abbey with Golden Fable. Golden Fable are Rebecca Palin and Tim McIver, she the possessor of the angelic voice that shines through, he the producer and writer of the songs. Both play a seemingly inexhaustible list of instruments. Recorded at their home in the foothills of the Welsh mountains, the debut album ‘StarMap’ is unashamedly linked to the natural world around it, inspired by the glowering mountains that overlook their cottage and the forests and fields that skirt it.
Golden Fable
Plus a performance of ‘Shape Note Singing’ by Wrexham Community Choir.
Sentimental Journey are also a welcome late addition to the programme.
There is ample car parking nearby (follow the signs).
There will also be a hog roast and a bar outside.
This is an outdoor event and so don’t forget to bring something to sit on and suitable clothing. You are also welcome to bring your own refreshments along.
Choir Workshop / Gweithdy Côr
Town Hall / Neuadd Y Dref
2pm - 4.30pm £10
With Wrexham Community Choir
Workshop on the awe inspiring and super easy to join in sound of ‘Sacred Harp’ or ‘Shape Note Singing’.
A community singing tradition, with its roots in the pioneer era of the U.S.A. currently taking the world by storm.

Participants will also have the chance to sing with the choir in Valle Crucis Abbey in the final concert (see details above).
Workshop includes free admission to the concert.

Childrens Performance / Perfformiad y Plant
Valle Crucis Abbey / Abaty Glyn-y-Groes
Come and celebrate the work of local school children performed within the walls of the ancient monument. Through dramatic performance inspired by their visits to Valle Crucis Abbey and Rug Chapel.
Normal admission charges apply Adults £3.50, Family £10.50, Concessions £2.65.

Tel: 0800 1455 779 or visit:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Caryl gets keys to National Trust property

* Caryl Hughes now has the keys of Llyndy Isaf.

Life changed completely for one young woman from near Llangollen at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show earlier this week.

Caryl Hughes, aged 23, a young farmer from Dyffryn Ceiriog, became the first winner of the National Trust Llyndy Isaf scholarship.

Winning the scholarship means Caryl will be given the keys to Llyndy Isaf - the iconic 614-acre upland farm in Snowdonia saved for the nation through the Snowdonia Appeal in 2012 – and take control of the farm for a year starting in September.

Caryl told us she was both on top of the world and nervous about the challenges ahead of her with this unique opportunity, which she believed would be life changing for her and her dog Mist – who will be moving with her to Llyndy Isaf.

Caryl said: 'This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I intend to take full advantage of. It’s not every day you get the chance to farm a 614-acre farm, especially not at the age of 23 and especially if you are female.

"I’m a bit nervous of taking on Llyndy, it is a daunting challenge, especially because it hasn’t been farmed for a number of years, but I’m really excited about it and all the new experiences and opportunities I’m going to get in the next 12 months. I’m really looking forward to working with the National Trust and getting to know the whole team and all of their work – especially in agriculture.

"I don’t see it why we can’t do it as well as the ‘boys’, if not better. Women are renowned for being better at multi-tasking, but I’m confident I’ll rise to this challenge as well as anyone else. My priorities will be to re-establish a flock here with good grazing management to retain this natural environment around us. That’s Llyndy’s unique quality and challenge all in one.

"The views in Snowdonia are spectacular and I feel honoured to be allowed to live and work there - but also it’s not too dissimilar to home-so maybe that’s why it appeals to me.

"I hope to use the skills and ideas I gain in Snowdonia and adapt them to use at home in the Berwyn when the scholarship is over. I’m sure I will look back on the scholarship with pride, and the skills and experience I gain will live with me forever."

Appeal saves Llyndy for the nation

Llyndy Isaf farm drew international attention when it was saved for the nation in the National Trust's successful one million pound fund-raising appeal last year.

The campaign to acquire Llyndy Isaf was spearheaded by Welsh Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys in his role as Snowdonia Appeal Ambassador.

The Americans series star said: "When I visited Llyndy Isaf, I could see that such a beautiful and special part of Snowdonia demanded our support. I am delighted that Caryl now has the opportunity to learn a vocation and time-honoured way of life, where she can contribute to the survival, preservation and future of this incredibly important place."

This 'once in a lifetime' offer is the result of an innovative partnership between the National Trust and Wales YFC.

Applications were invited from all Wales YFC members. The scholarship was designed to encourage the successful candidate to develop key skills and broaden their knowledge of the industry. The winning scholar will have the opportunity and responsibility of managing all aspects of running the farm including form filling, stock management and practical work.

Caryl is 23 on 28 July, and lives on an upland farm with her parents and brother in Dyffryn Ceiriog.

She went to Aberystwyth University where she studied agriculture and animal science. As part of the course, Caryl went to live and work in New Zealand in her third year - on a milking farm for eight months and a sheep farm for 2 ½ months.

Caryl is interested in training and working sheepdogs (she has a sheepdog called Mist who’s eight-years-old, and who will be joining her at Llyndy).

Friday, July 26, 2013

Betsi board accepts critical report on its management

The BBC is reporting that the board of the Betsi Cadwaladr Univerity Health Board has fully accepted a highly critical report into its mismanagement.

See full report at:

How to reach the eisteddfodf maes

The maes at the Denbighshire and District National Eisteddfod, being held on the outskirts of Denbigh from August 2-10, is easy to reach and accessible from all directions, say organisers.  

Discussing the traffic management plan put in place with the local council and emergency services, chief organiser Hywel Wyn Edwards said: "I'm sure you've all started spotting the distinctive yellow signs on roads around north east Wales, guiding people to the eisteddfod.

"We urge all visitors travelling by car to the area to ensure they follow the signs as they are there to help to guide you to and from the Maes as safely and as easily as possible.

"It's our aim to run the traffic as smoothly as possible and without affecting local non-eisteddfod traffic, during the week, and once again this year, we are encouraging people to use public transport, the shuttle buses and of course to walk or cycle to the maes.  

"It is well located close to Denbigh, and we hope many people will take advantage of this."

Service buses will run from the train station at Wrexham for anyone wishing to reach the maes by train, and a regular shuttle bus will run between Denbigh and the maes throughout the week.

Details can be downloaded from the Eisteddfod website,

Below are the details of this year’s traffic management system, to help you to reach the maes safely from all directions. If you are travelling from Wrexham, the Marches or mid Wales, follow the A541 to Denbigh through Mold after leaving the A483, or travel to Ruthin on the A525, and follow the road to Denbigh. Then, turn right on the Myddleton Park roundabout to join Whitchurch Road before turning left into the car park opposite Kilford Farm.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

109 test positive for drink driving in North Wales

Over 8,000 breath tests were administered throughout North Wales during the month-long Anti Drink and Drug Driving Summer Campaign.
Led by Gwent Police, officers stepped up the pressure in a concerted effort to deter people from driving motor vehicles whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
During the June campaign a total of 19,906 breath tests were administered throughout Wales with 436 being arrested.
North Wales Police administered 8,281 breath tests with 109 testing positive, which equates to 1.3%.
Chief Inspector Darren Wareing from North Wales Police said: “We want to get the message across that drinking alcohol and driving or driving under the influence of drugs is unacceptable and that it puts other roads users’ lives at risk.
“Through our annual Christmas and summer campaigns we have consistently warned the public that drink and drug driving can kill. It can also lead to a lengthy driving ban and possible loss of jobs and livelihoods with some even facing imprisonment. 
“We are disappointed that there is still a group of people who are not listening or ignoring the consequences and continuing to drink or take drugs and drive.
“With the current warm weather, more people may be tempted to have a few drinks, at barbecues or whilst drinking in beer gardens during the afternoons, and may drive without thinking of the consequences.
He added: “Think before you go out, watch what you drink and plan how you will get home.”
North Wales Police has a robust strategy around enforcing the ‘Fatal 5’ offences which are drink and drug driving, dangerous driving including unnecessary risk taking, speeding, failing to wear a seatbelt and using a mobile phone whilst driving.
Chief Inspector Wareing added: “We are committed to assisting in reducing casualties on the road through the use of targeted operations around high risk groups of people and locations while enforcing the ‘Fatal 5’ offences.”
“It is important to stress that the work does not stop here – any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive, campaigns such as this raise awareness and we will continue to target those breaking the law as part of daily policing.”
Anyone with information regarding individuals who are believed to drive whilst over the legal limit or under the influence of drugs, can contact North Wales Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
  • Some of the highest readings recorded during the campaign were 134mg, 115mg and 98mg. The legal limit is 35mg.
  • Gwent Police carried out 2,058 breath tests with 64 testing positive, refusing or failing to provide.
  • Dyfed Powys Police administered 7,544 tests of which 142 tests were positive, refused or failed to provide.
  • In the South Wales Police area 2,023 tests were conducted with 105 testing positive, refusing or failing to provide.
  • During the 2012 campaign a total of 19,277 were stopped and breath tested by police in Wales and 360 of these tested positive, refused or failed to provide. In North Wales, 10,517 drivers were tested with 101 testing positive, refusing or failing to provide.

Llan now has Buy Local page on Facebook

Community group Keep Llangollen Special has just set up a Facebook page to promote its Buy Local initiative, which encourages people to support their local shops rather then spending their money outside the town.

The new page can be seen at:

People are being encouraged to visit the site and "like" it to show their support for the campaign.

Keep Llangollen Special reviews its first year

Community group Keep Llangollen Special (KLS) held its first annual general meeting at the Hand Hotel on Tuesday night.

New officers were elected for the forthcoming year and retiring chair, Mike Edwards (pictured below), gave the following appraisal of the group's first year:

"Behind scenes the Management Committee have been working hard meeting at least once a month and discussing a number of issues and initiatives.

* I can understand the frustration in certain quarters that little seems to have been achieved, but major projects such as the Business & Community Hub proposal have long lead times particularly when you are trying to attract Grant Aid funding.

* Our main achievement to date is our Buy Local (BL) initiative which has gathered pace as we have established it as a regular monthly event. Even with such a small group of people it has sometimes been difficult to find members to deliver posters and get them printed.

* We have spent some time investigating a loyalty card scheme following a presentation from a company who provide the infrastructure. The result of these investigations has established that Llangollen has too small a population to support a "commercially" viable scheme. We have been offered a template to establish and run our own scheme, but the Committee decided against this at the present time due to a lack of resources.

*One scheme which is making progress towards launch is the Smartphone App.

* Going back to our Business & Community Hub (BACH) initiative, I have visited Glyn Wylfa in Chirk on a number of occasions and I would recommend everyone to visit because it is extremely impressive what they have been able to achieve. However, it has taken them several years to reach the stage they are at having secured Big Lottery Funding, planning consent and a property which generates income to support the community based activities

* My view has always been that we need to move from a campaigning, lobbying protest group and it is proving difficult to lose this image. In order to move forward we need to redouble our efforts to be seen as a constructive, progressive community organisation working with all interest parties in Llangollen to project the image, identity and already internationally known brand of Llangollen. 

* The independent businesses in Llangollen seem not to have fully appreciated the impact that Sainsbury's will have on their business, but they really need to get their acts together to meet this challenge or else we are going to see shops shutting up and we will be left with a high level of vacant properties as there are in many towns and cities throughout the UK. We need business owners to come on board and fight this corner with us.

* Finally, I have done my twelve months as chair so it's time for someone else to takeover and move us forward. I would like to thank Phil Jones and the Committee for their immense support throughout my year."

Rachel Morris was elected chair, Phil Jones as vice-chair, Di Slater as treasurer, Phil Thane as web master, Annie Powell as membership secretary and Mike Edwards stays on the committee as an ordinary member.

Information on minor injuries in Llan

The following message has been sent by Llangollen Health Centre:
From August 1, the minor injuries service in Llangollen will be provided by Dr JRA Davies & Partners – the GP practice. 
The service will continue to be run from the Health Centre on Regent Street and will be available from 8.30am until 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.
The service is open to patients of Dr JRA Davies & Partners and to those not registered in the local area, such as day trippers and visitors to the area.
In the event of a minor injury the health centre advises you to phone the surgery in the first instance so that your injury can be triaged. 
The telephone number to call is 01978 860625.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Warning of theft in neighbouring area

Neighbourhood Watch has given details of a theft from Corwen which may be of interest to people in Llangollen:

Between 17:00 hours yesterday and 08:00 this morning (Wednesday) a Quad bike from a remote location in the Corwen area.

The make and model of the quad bike is a Polaris 500 EFI.

It is Royal Blue in colour, has alloy wheels and has a big white spinner on the back.

Please contact NWP on 101 with information quoting reference P119417.

From the Beatles to Beeching at Llangollen

* Foxcote Manor leaving Llangollen in an evocative black and
white image from last year's 60s event.

* One of the locomotives that will be used at the event subject to repairs.

* A young lady in a classic 60's dress posing with a classic 60's Bubble car at Glyndyfrdwy.


* Sophie Francis performing at last year's event,
looking and sounding the 60s part.

The clocks are all set to be turned back to the swinging 60's in Llangollen this Saturday and Sunday when Llangollen Railway hosts its fourth annual 1960's Weekend.

This year sees the 50th anniversary of the publication of Dr Beeching's infamous report that led to the closure of thousands of miles of railway and 45 years since the anniversary of the "15 Guinea Special", the last official steam-hauled passenger train on British Railways.
Organisers say they are determined not to allow the recent incident of suspected vandalism on the track to spoil the event. 
Black 5 locomotive number 44806, one of those due to take part in this weekend's event, was damaged when it hit an object placed on the track on the July 13.
Llangollen Railway press officer George Jones said: "Black 5 cannot be repaired in time for our 60's weekend, which is a real shame.
"We are, however, hopeful that a second Black 5 currently visiting us for repairs can star in the event. 
"It's a race against time but we are hopeful that our engineering team can get our visitor back in steam by this weekend.  
"We are determined not to let this unfortunate and mindless act spoil our weekend. All other plans for the weekend remain unchanged - it's business as usual."
Event co-organiser Tez Pickthall said: "Our latest event is going to be our biggest yet. The railway will be running a busy timetable of steam, diesel and railcar trains - just like you would have been seen on Britain's railways in the 60's.
"It was a time of great change with steam locomotives disappearing altogether in 1969 along with many stations and lines thanks to Dr Beeching's "Reshaping of Britain's Railways" report - including the line that is now the Llangollen Railway. 
"There is lots to do. We have great live music, which is all being provided by volunteers who work on the railway. 
"We have a range of trade stands and Dr Beeching's Bar at Llangollen, with seven local real ales to try.
"You can enjoy a vintage open-top bus ride between Llangollen and Carrog and at Glyndyfrdwy station you will find a staggering array of vintage vehicles on display, from the ubiquitous VW Beetle to the legendary E-Type Jaguar.
"We will also be applying special temporary rust-coloured paint to one of our usually immaculate steam locomotives to show visitors how run-down and unloved these engines were at the end of their careers in the late 60's.
"Whether you're a railway fan or just looking for a fun day out, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Lots of folk dress up in 60's clothes which make the event a lot of fun and add to the fantastic retro atmosphere."
Musical performances will be given at Llangollen station by 19-year old A-level student Sophie Francis, who can usually be found hard at work in Victoria's tea rooms on the station, and Matthew Grindley, a locomotive fireman, on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 4pm.
Saturday evening sees Harry Barber, a Llangollen engine driver, perform a concert with his band. The concert starts at 7pm on Llangollen station.Anyone interested in bringing a vintage vehicle to the rally or purchasing a discounted advanced ticket is encouraged to contact the railway on 01978 860979 or visit its website

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Town Council vacancy is filled

The vacancy left on Llangollen Town Council by a recent resignation will soon be filled.

Tim Palmer, who had served on the council for a short while, recently announced he was leaving as he and his family were moving to live in the United States
The process of finding a replacement then started.
After first establishing that there was no official demand for a bye-election, town clerk Gareth Thomas then sought applications from anyone interested in becoming a councillor
At last week's council meeting, he reported to members that two people had initially sent in applications but that one had withdrawn on the basis they couldn’t afford the time the role required.
This left just one applicant of whose application former mayor, Cllr Jon Haddy, said: “I can see from her CV that we couldn’t have had a better applicant.”

He proposed that she be co-opted on to the council and this was unanimously agreed by members.
The new councillor will be formally co-opted at the next council meeting.      

Monday, July 22, 2013

Royal baby is a boy, says palace

The BBC reported just after 8.30pm tonight that the Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a baby boy, according to Kensington Palace.

The baby weighed in at 8lbs 6ozs at 4.24pm.

Alexei Sayle guns up the Fringe audience

Why is it that Roy Chubby Brown has performed in Wrexham when Alexei Sayle has not?

According to Mr Sayle himself, that's because no-one bothered to shoot "the ****" with a Heckler & Koch rifle before he took to the stage at Glyndwr University last November.
This was one of Sayle's characteristically blunt answers to a question from a member of the audience during his own appearance at the Llangollen Fringe last night (Sunday).

* Alexei Sayle copies of his books for fans
after the show. 
Of course it got a big laugh, as did his expletive-seasoned references to some other big names of showbiz, including former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion who is due to make his own appearance at the Fringe on Thursday.
In fact, his verbal attacks on the great man became sort of a running gag threading its way through Sayle’s two-hour some show in a packed Town Hall.
The gig revolved around the 80s comedy legend’s readings from his two books, Stalin Ate My Hamster and, the latest, Overtaken – copies of which he signed for delighted fans at the end of the evening.
These were amusing enough, as Sayle recounted his unusual Liverpool upbringing by parents who were both committed Communists.
His recollections sound funnier coming from the foul mouth of the Scouser himself rather than being paraphrased here.
But one that doesn’t lose too much in the re-telling was the story about how, in his early teens, he used a couple of heavy duty swear words to shock his mother only to discover to his horror that his own outburst brought forth a torrent of  language from her foul enough to shock a Liverpool docker.
The second half of the show was taken up with the question and answer session that prompted his attacks on old-style comics such as Roy Chubby Brown and Jim Davidson.

There were also some vicious side-swipes at the likes of Eddie Izzard and Alan Davies which again seemed to go down very well with the audience.   
He got a similar reaction when he had a pop at the late Lady Thatcher, saying he considered himself lucky to have been on a stage the day she died.
But one suspects it was nothing like the acclaim the same attack would have won him in the halcyon days when he was known as the abusive fat bloke in a too-tight suit.
Sayle’s now heading for the Edinburgh Fringe where, he admitted, he’d be louder and jump about quite a bit more on stage.
But judging by his warm reception in Llangollen, he can afford to dump that hackneyed old routine – now every bit as clichéd as the Roy Chubby Brown’s jokes he so obviously despises – and be just as funny by being gentler with his audiences.   
He also promised his Fringe audience that one day he will appear in Wrexham.
That’s presumably just as long as he’s not picked off first by a Chubby Brown fan with a high powered rifle.

AM re-opens hospital closure argument

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood is concerned that the Health Minister has overlooked “very serious reservations”  expressed by the North Wales Community Health Council regarding community hospital closures.  
The Labour Health Minister Mark Drakeford’s Written Statement to Assembly Members ‘Changes to Health Services in North Wales’ on 17 July failed to refer to the “very serious reservations” expressed by the North Wales Community Health Council about the transition and implementation plans in the communities affected by hospital closures and related service withdrawal - Flint, Llangollen, Prestatyn and Blaenau Ffestiniog.   
Concerned by the omission, Mr Isherwood has written to the Minister asking him to “detail the agreed transition and implementation plans in the communities affected by hospital closures and related service withdrawal.”
His letter states:  “In your Statement, you state that you are ‘very pleased to report that I have now received a joint letter from the CHC and Health Board which confirms agreement has been reached on the outstanding issues’. 
“You further state that the elements of the Health Board’s proposals which the CHC referred to the former Minister for Health and Social Services for determination on 4 March related to:  minor injury services in South Gwynedd;  the removal of X-Ray services from Tywyn Hospital and older people’s mental health service for people living in Gwynedd.
“However, specific reference is not made to other elements of the Health Board’s proposals referred to by the North Wales Community Health Council in their letter to the former Minister for Health and Social Services.
“This includes the statement that “The CHC has already confirmed that it will not be referring the changes to four of the nineteen community hospitals in North Wales to the Minister. However, the CHC’s letter also says that it has ‘very serious reservations’ about the transition and implementation plans for these community hospitals…….”.
“Serious concern about this remains in the communities affected by withdrawal of local services. If these are not addressed, it is of little comfort to them if “the CHC is now content, subject to the outcome of the agreed monitoring and review."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Local directory "is a good idea"

A reply to the story below from Gill Thomas ...

The local directory suggested by the Town Council is a very good idea.

Just to let you know the Llangollen Chamber of Trade & Tourism is in the process of listing Professional & Emergency Services on the website in the Information section.

We are also undertaking a disabled access survey and the results will also appear on the website.

We would be grateful for any information on access and facilities for people with disabilities, provided by local businesses. Details can be sent to Gill Thomas, email:

At-a-glance local directory idea wins approval

Llangollen Town Council is to look into the possibility of financing the production of a quick guide to local services.

The idea was put forward at Tuesday night’s council meeting by Cllr Sheena Burrell (pictured left) who said it would be handy if there was a single sheet containing the contact details for local services such as doctors, hospitals, council offices and the opening times for public toilets.
“I think something like that could be very useful for people who are staying here for a week or so on holiday and want to use local services. It might also be of use to local people,” she said.
“I think we should take this on board because it could raise the profile of the town council.”
Members voted to have the town clerk look further into the idea.

Police urge us to keep an eye on schools during holidays

As the school holidays begin a scheme which encourages everyone to keep an eagle eye on schools across North Wales and safe from crime over the summer break has been launched.
School Watch aims to get parents, residents, and teachers as well as the emergency services and the local authorities working together to keep schools and their immediate surrounding areas safe and free from crime and anti-social behaviour.
The latest launch happened in Conwy at Ysgol Bro Gwydir in Llanrwst on Monday, July 15 following launches last week in Denbighshire, as well as in Gwynedd and Flintshire.  
At the latest launch pupils in Llanrwst got to opportunity to learn a little more about the initiative and keeping safe over the summer holidays by Community Safety Officer Ifan Hughes and School Community Liaison Officer PC Meirion Williams. The youngsters then got to explore the police and fire cars present and speak with members of the Arson Reduction Team, the Fire and Rescue Service and Conwy County Borough Council.
“School buildings can become a target for graffiti and vandalism during the summer break and along with encouraging pupils and their parents to keep an eye on their school, members of the local community living nearby are also urged to do the same,” said Ifan Hughes.
“It is important that people continue to support the initiative by being vigilant and contacting us should they see any suspicious or criminal activity in and around the schools.”
Head of Ysgol Bro Gwydir, Meinir Jones said: “School Watch is a good initiative that raises awareness and encourages children to take responsibility for looking after their school.”
Inspector Julie Sheard, who is responsible for the North Wales Police Community Safety Department said: “Schools have a limited budget and valuable resources which should be used to educate children are being diverted to combat theft and criminal damage. School buildings can also become a target for graffiti and vandalism during the long summer break.
“We rely on members of the public for their support and encourage all to report incidents to the police or anonymously via Crimestoppers.”
Leaflets and posters have been distributed throughout North Wales, reminding the public of the scheme which also aims to help stamp out mindless acts which not only affects the school, but the whole community.
Anyone who witnesses suspicious behaviour in or around schools or at school buildings is urged to contact North Wales Police. If you witness a crime in progress always dial 999. Non-emergency calls should be made to 101 or via Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Town's CCTV system undergoes an upgrade

Repairs to part of Llangollen’s inefficient CCTV had to be speeded up when police needed to look at it for evidence.

This was revealed at Tuesday’s town council meeting as town clerk Gareth Thomas was giving an update on repairs to the system.
At the June meeting, town councillors agreed to spend around £5,000 on upgrading the eye in the sky camera network, which helps keep a watchful eye on the streets around the town centre.
They heard how the ageing system has become increasingly unreliable and badly in need of an upgrade. 

Two of the cameras had completely broken down while others were faulty – one due to interference from a third party wi-fi system – and another was verging on a breakdown, they were told. 

At Tuesday’s meeting, Mr Thomas said two new cameras had now been fitted but that the one overseeing Riverside was “beyond its sell-by date." 

However, he added: “We have done all we can this year.”

He then revealed how the system’s hard disk, which had also been giving problems, had needed to be repaired as speedily as possible recently when West Mercia Police asked to look at it for possible evidence in a case they were working on.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fringe gets under way

An evening of stand-up comedy headlined by Alun Cochrane launched the 15th Llangollen Fringe Festival last night (Thursday). 
With ten full nights of entertainment to come and 17 workshops during the day, there is a lot to look forward to.

A ten piece band from Ghana and London will really thrill you on Saturday night.  Yaaba Funk is a well-known band with an ever growing reputation who can’t fail to have the whole audience asking for more.
(£10, 20th July).
Yaaba Funk

If you fancy something more thought provoking, then on Sunday night there's an audience with Alexei Sayle, well known comedian, broadcaster and writer.  He will entertain with readings from his autobiography ‘Stalin Ate my Homework’ and other as yet unpublished work. (£15, 21st July)

The Jazz Train on Sunday 21st July has three separate bands providing live music.  The first band will play on the platform before departure.
The second band will entertain you on your journey to and from Carrog whilst you sip a complimentary glass of wine as the train is pulled through the Dee Valley being hauled by a steam locomotive.
A third band will entertain you on Carrog station. A great night for jazz music and the nostalgia evoked by the era of the steam train. £18, 5pm.
Jazz Steam Train

Look at the website and the programme to see the extensive range of workshops happening over the weekend.

Tickets are still available for Abba Solution and The Blockheads next week, but if you want to guarantee your place then book online now.

Sir Andrew Motion is one of the UK’s literary giants and appears on Thursday 25th July, £10.
He will talk about his latest book, The Customs House, and his work with the spoken and written word.

Tickets are available to buy at our website:
Tel: 0800 1455 779 or visit:

Sun turns up heat for emergency services

Emergency Services in North Wales are hoping local communities and visitors alike can make the most of the recent spell of hot weather but to do so safely and responsibly and consider the extra burden placed on emergency responders in the region.

Chief Superintendent Jeremy Vaughan North Wales Police said: “Whilst it’s great to see the sun we must remember that with the hot weather comes increase visitors to our towns, beaches and parks, more traffic on our roads, increases risk of weather related medical incidents as well more alcohol related incidents.  

"Together with our colleagues in the Welsh Ambulance and North Wales Fire and Rescue Service we are all experiencing increased demands upon our service and whilst we want everyone to enjoy the sun and have fun please do so responsibly and consider the 999 system is for emergencies only.”

Andrew Jenkins, Deputy Director of Medical and Clinical Services at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “It is fair to say that the weather has affected all the demand across Wales. We would really appreciate if people would be considerate when dialling 999, and only do so in life-threatening situations. NHS Direct Wales, GP out-of-hours and pharmacies are all available for help and support with less serious injuries and illnesses.”

NHS Direct Wales, which is part of the Welsh Ambulance Service, has issued some simple advice to help people cope in the heat.   For further information contact

Gary Brandrick, Senior Fire Safety Manager at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Have fun but stay safe in the summer heat – that is our message to the people of North Wales as the sun continues to shine across our region. 

"We want people to take on board the safety advice we are issuing – it could mean the difference between life and death.   It is important to be extra safety conscious and take more responsibility for your own actions.”

For more safety tips during the summer please click

Church Street parking goes under microscope

The issue of parking in Church Street was highlighted at Tuesday night’s meeting of Llangollen Town Council.

And Cllr Melvyn Miles (pictured right) who placed it on the agenda, described it as a “nightmare”.

He said: “There are only 20 spaces reserved for residents and there are also a couple of holiday lets down there. All of these are full all the time.
“There is no easy solution but is there any way we could ask the county council if the residents’ parking could be extended into Bridge Street or Chapel Street?”
Cllr Sheena Burrell asked whether residents’ parking passes, which are held by a number of people in the town, could be used by people from Church Street to leave their vehicles in local public car parks elsewhere in the town.
It was suggested this might be possible but members agreed to have the town clerk refer the issue to the county council and also to seek clarification on parking permits.

Keep Llangollen Special's AGM set for next Tuesday

The Keep Llangollen Special group has sent in this reminder about is annual general meeting next Tuesday, July 23:

Shoulder To Shoulder For Llangollen
·        What can you do when the consultation you’ve been invited to is a biased, pre-determined sham?
·        What can you do when the heritage of Llangollen is bartered for things that look good on paper but turn out to be deeply flawed and second-rate in practice?
·        What can you do when you report a potentially hazardous crossing but find out there has to be a certain number of casualties before anything is done?,
·        What can you do when people who don’t live in Llangollen decide its future without asking us?
Lock and load - using our rights and freedoms, combining the new technologies of social media and digital communication, and plain, old-fashioned meetings, to elect people just like you to be your spearhead. We come together to take our lives and livelihoods back into our own hands against those who would exploit us, who think we’re a soft touch.
Keep Llangollen Special, a strictly not-for-profit Community Group – the people behind the popular Buy Local days – was designed to be that spearhead.
It’s holding its first Annual General Meeting on July the 23rd, in the lounge of the Hand Hotel (pictured left) at 7:30 pm, where all the Committee positions are up for election by members of KLS.
You can become a member by going to www.keepllanollenspecial and there are no fees or obligations placed on you. You can attend even if you’re not a member, so you can speak but not vote or stand for Committee.
Over the last twelve months, we’ve realised we don’t have enough people to take lead roles in projects that will bring prosperity and well-being to Llangollen. That’s where you come in; that’s why we need you, the huge number of people who volunteer and do great work: The people who are the heart of Llangollen and make it such an extraordinary place to live – and we’ll work co-operatively with any groups, societies or like-minded individuals for our mutual benefit.
Can you influence what KLS does? Yes – that’s why KLS exists. Can you raise issues affecting Town or inspire projects to attract more business, jobs or facilities we sorely need? Yes again – every project idea will be discussed and voted upon, so make sure you’re a member.
Whether you’re a resident or running a business in Llangollen, it’s worth your while coming along. Together we’ll get more done, and it’ll only take a small amount of your time to be active in KLS.
Keep Llangollen Special

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Outgoing health board chair denies `clash of personalities'

The outgoing chair of Wales' largest NHS body has denied that "a clash of personalities" was at the root of management failings in north Wales.

Prof Merfyn Jones was giving evidence to AMs on how the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) operated.

See the full story on the BBC Wales website at:

Latest figures show crime down in North Wales

This morning (Thursday) saw the release of the Crime Survey for England and Wales Data to year ending March 2013.
Latest figures show recorded crime in North Wales went down by 12.4% during the 12 months under review.
The figures also show that a low proportion of people experienced or witnessed anti-social behaviour in the force area.
In North Wales 19.9% had experienced or witnessed anti-social behaviour, which is significantly lower than the England and Wales average of 28.9% and the Wales average of 28.3%.
During the year there has been a significant increase in the reporting of rape and sexual offences, the number being up 30.8% the majority now being managed by the newly established multi-agency dedicated rape investigators on ‘Team Amethyst’.
The Operation Pallial investigation into recent allegations of historic child abuse, commenced during the same period,  has also contributed towards an increase in reported offences which we hope suggests greater public confidence in how we manage the victims and investigation of such offences.
Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said: “North Wales Police is maintaining a reduction in crime. We are aware of the increase in the reporting rape and sexual offences and in June this year we set up Amethyst, a dedicated rape team.  We are continuing to work hard to drive crime down further and make North Wales safer.
“The Force is working closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner and focusing on the objectives in the Police and Crime Plan. Rural crime officers will be launched  later this summer, which is one of the significant targets in the plan.”

Eisteddfod brings quiet Saturday night in town

The evening of eisteddfod Saturday was quieter than a usual Saturday night in the town.

* Cllr Bob Lube.
That was the good news delivered to members of the town council at their meeting on Tuesday.
The mayor, Cllr Bob Lube , said he wished to commend the police for maintaining a high-level presence in the town throughout eisteddfod week, adding: “There appears to have been very few actual bookings for anti-social behaviour over last weekend.

“In fact, the police tell me that it was quieter than a normal Saturday night here
“Well done to them for that.”  

Chain Bridge facelift can go ahead thanks to £350,000 grant

* The historic Chain Bridge is to be brought back to life after 30 years of dereliction.

A VISIONARY scheme to bring Llangollen’s world famous Chain Bridge back to life is set to go ahead after receiving a £350,000 cash boost.

At their meeting last night (Tuesday) members of the town council were given the good news that their grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) – made jointly with neighbouring Llantysilio Community Council – has just been approved.
And Llangollen’s mayor said he was hopeful the historic bridge spanning the River Dee, which has been closed for safety reasons for 30 years, will be re-opened to the public early next year.
The two councils bought the bridge from its previous owner, businesswoman Stephanie Booth who also ran the adjacent Chain Bridge Hotel, in 2007 and have since been working to secure the funding necessary to see it repaired and returned to its former glory as a major tourist attraction.
First injection of cash came a few years later when the HLF made a grant of £28,900 to pay for the preparation of a detailed report on how the bridge could be restored.
The project took another step forward last month when it landed a grant of £50,000 from WREN, a not-for-profit business which awards cash to community, environmental and heritage projects.
The bridge crosses the river, which itself runs parallel to the Llangollen heritage railway line on one side and Llangollen Canal on the other near its source, the Horseshoe Falls.
The plan is to fix the bridge and create disabled access via nearby Berwyn Station along with an exhibition and other community events.
The HLF grant bid included working with community groups such as local schools and history groups, including Llangollen Museum.
One of the aims is to see tourists travelling along Llangollen Canal via horse-drawn boats and then crossing the bridge to take a steam train ride back into Llangollen.
The original bridge was built around 1817 by Exuperius Pickering, a local entrepreneur dealing in coal, limestone, slate and iron bar, who is reputed to have called on engineer Thomas Telford to help with the design and construction.
The new bridge allowed Pickering to monopolise the local coal trade as it gave him access to the adjacent London to Holyhead road - the A5.
It also meant he avoided paying tolls to cross the main bridge over the river in Llangollen.
In 1876 the bridge was replaced by Sir Henry Robertson, a part owner of Wrexham's former Brymbo Ironworks.
In 1928, freak flooding washed away most of the bridge and it rebuilt in a style similar to Anglesey's Menai Suspension Bridge.
It was closed in the mid-1980s due to concerns over its safety.
At the Llangollen Town Council meeting, town clerk Gareth Thomas told members: “Our Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £350,000 has now been confirmed.
“All things being equal we should now be able to proceed in August.”
The mayor of Llangollen, Cllr Bob Lube, said later: “This is fantastic news.
“We now look forward to creating a circular route for tourists between the canal and the railway via the bridge, which I am sure will add to the visitor experience we already have.
“It is great that the council has been able to do this. Work can now go ahead and we are hopeful the bridge will open again early next year.”