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Monday, September 30, 2013

Work of specialist ambulance team revealed

* Members of the Welsh Ambulance Service’s HART team on a training exercise.

A SPECIALIST team of ambulance staff trained to provide life-saving care at major incidents has dealt with more than 2,300 emergency calls since its creation last year.

The Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) - which is part of the Welsh Ambulance Service - provides clinical care in hostile environments like industrial accidents and natural disasters, as well as chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear and terrorist incidents.

Of the calls dealt with since its launch, more than 40 involved flooding, a further 40 involved a firearm or other weapon, and more than 140 meant working at height, in a confined space or on tricky terrain.

Staff are deployed to major road traffic collisions, like the one outside Rhws Primary School in June, in which nine people were injured, and large-scale fires, like the one in Clydach Vale in March, which left a former workingmen’s club destroyed.

The team was also involved in the multi-agency search for missing schoolgirl April Jones in Machynlleth last October.

Chris Sims, Welsh Ambulance Service HART manager in Wales, has been reflecting on a challenge-filled first year. He said: “The introduction of HART in Wales is a huge step forward for the Welsh Ambulance Service, and now means we can provide clinical care to patients in difficult environments.

"HART in Wales is part of a UK network of HART teams, whose members are skilled ambulance professionals with additional training.

"Throughout the year we’ve attended a number of challenging incidents where, in partnership with other agencies, our training and equipment has helped to get access to a patient and support our operational crews.”

The Bridgend-based HART complements the existing Special Operations Response Team (SORT), whose members are trained to provide decontamination and mass oxygenation at such incidents.

The specially trained personnel work 24/7 across Wales, and can also called upon to give clinical care to patients outside of a major incident.

Elwyn Price-Morris, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, added: “The creation of HART marked a significant development in the history of the Welsh Ambulance Service.

“We hope that HART is not in serious action too often, but knowing that they exist here in Wales gives us all some peace of mind that their expertise is available if and when they are needed.”

Concerns raised over Corwen Health Centre

CLWYD South AM Ken Skates and MP Susan Elan Jones have called for assurances from the health board over GP services at Corwen Health Centre.

The Labour politicians say they contacted Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board on behalf of their constituents after one GP left the surgery and the other partner tendered her resignation – leaving the practice without a permanent doctor.
BCUHB says the vacancy has been advertised nationally, but a replacement is unlikely to be found before the remaining GP, Dr Sue Hesketh, leaves on November 29.
The board will manage the surgery from December 1 and use locums in the interim.
Assembly Member Mr Skates said: “We know some of our constituents in Corwen are worried about the current situation, and we have contacted the health board on their behalf to relay their concerns.
“Betsi Cadwaladr has assured us it will do all it can to minimise disruption during the next few months, and myself and Susan will continue to monitor the situation.”
MP Ms Jones added: “As soon as we were made aware of the situation at Corwen Health Centre, Ken and I contacted Betsi Cadwaladr to seek immediate assurances that patient services will not be adversely affected.
“We know this upheaval will concern our constituents. We will be in regular contact with the health board until the situation is resolved and will do our best to keep them abreast of developments.”

Appeal for ambulance first responders

THE Welsh Ambulance Service is appealing to the people of Denbighshire and Conwy to make a difference to family, friends or neighbours in distress by becoming a Community First Responder.

The Trust is appealing for volunteers in Denbigh, Llangollen, Abergele and Llanrwst and to give something back to the people in their communities - a fighting chance of survival.

First responders are volunteers who give up their spare time to attend appropriate 999 calls and give first hand emergency care to people in their own community.

All volunteers will be trained by the Welsh Ambulance Service to administer basic first aid, oxygen therapy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of a defibrillator.

First responders do not replace the normal response of a paramedic in a rapid response vehicle or an emergency ambulance, but support the patient until it arrives.

First responder team manager and trainer, Claire Hurford, said: “Every second counts when you are trying to save someone’s life, and Community First Responder schemes are hugely beneficial in helping the ambulance service provide the best possible pre-hospital care for patients.

“Many of our volunteers have taken experiences that life has thrown at them, such as seeing a loved one suffer a heart attack, and have moulded them into a positive outlook to help family, friends and neighbours.

“You can make a big difference by just carrying out a few simple skills that we can teach you. If you are proud of the community in which you live, becoming a first responder can really help the heart of your village or town keeping beating long into the future.”

Community First Responders play an important role alongside frontline ambulance staff in making sure patients get appropriate help quickly and efficiently, explained Chief Executive at the Welsh Ambulance Service, Elwyn Price-Morris.

“Community First Responders are a key partner in the chain of survival and very much part of the whole Welsh Ambulance Service family,” he added.

Call Claire Hurford on 01248 682028 or visit
for more information on becoming a Community First Responder.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

AM raises issue of low wages in area

Concerned by reports of staff in Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire Councils earning below the living wage, North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has questioned the Welsh Government over its action to address the problem.
Speaking in the Assembly, Mr Isherwood asked the Minister for Local Government and Government Business what is being done to encourage local authorities to become living wage employers.   
He said: “Questioning you on the same subject in the Chamber in May, I asked what action you could take to encourage local authorities to consider how a living wage might be introduced. I referred to evidence at the Trefnu Cymunedol Cymru/Together Creating Communities Public Assembly in Wrexham of staff earning below the minimum wage in Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire.
"You replied that the Welsh Government is very happy to encourage employers to become living wage employers, although, as you say, on a voluntary basis. Therefore, Minister, since I asked that question in May, what action have you taken to encourage local authorities to become living wage employers?”
The Minister replied: “We can encourage local authorities to do so, but it is up to them. I am sure that you would want to join me in welcoming the proposal to bring the living wage in the public sector under the remit of the workforce partnership council. I think that we can have a much more strategic look at the broader issues with trade unions and public sector employers. It is something that I have put on the agenda for the next council, which will be held on Monday.”

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sarah gets Brussels work experience

* Sarah Tipuric of Ysgol Dinas Bran with Wales MEP Jill Evans.

Sarah Tipuric, a student as Ysgol Dinas Bran, Llangollen, spent a week on work experience at Wales MEP Jill Evans’ office in Brussels.  

Sarah is currently studying for her A-levels and hopes to go on to study German at University.

The work experience was awarded as the first place prize for a Euroscola essay competition.

The essay, entitled ‘If David Cameron holds a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, will you vote for or against and why?’ inspired many students from schools in the counties of Denbighshire and Flintshire to enter.
Following the Brussels visit, Sarah said: “The work experience gave me a fascinating insight into the workings of the E.U and the role of Wales within the European parliament. During the week I had the opportunity to attend debates and committees on a vast range of issues which I found incredibly interesting and informative.

“The multi-cultural environment of the parliament has further encouraged me to pursue a degree in languages as it has demonstrated the importance and usefulness of multilingualism.”

Jill Evans MEP said: "It was great to have Sarah over in Brussels this week, and I really hope she enjoyed the experience. As she is interested in languages, it was extremely beneficial for her to be in the European Parliament and hear all of the European languages being used.

 “I always encourage young people to take an interest in politics and welcome them to the European Parliament. We need Wales to have a strong voice and they are the voice of the future, our future in Europe.

"I hope Sarah’s interest in European issues continues, and I wish her all the best as she starts her university studies next year.”

Friday, September 27, 2013

AM questions rising health board complaints

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has called on the Welsh Government to take action to address the rising levels of complaints against Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) and the subsequent cost implications.
A recent report revealed that the North Wales Health Board is currently facing legal claims with a potential value of more than £58m.
Raising the matter in the Assembly Chamber during this week’s Business Statement, Mr Isherwood asked what the Welsh Government proposes to do to address the increasing number of complaints against health boards in Wales.
He said: “I call for a statement in relation to complaints and the charges and rising financial implications of those complaints against health boards in Wales, given the news that Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board could be facing claims costing, potentially, £58 million - a 32% rise - the majority of which relate to clinical negligence.
"We understand that this follows Welsh Government regulations for the handling of complaints by NHS bodies introduced in 2011, which followed the abolition by the former Welsh Government of the independent review forming the second stage of the complaints procedure.
“We know that there has been a damning in-patient survey at Betsi Cadwaladr, produced by the Picker Institute,  which showed that BCUHB had scores significantly worse than average in areas including patients not receiving any information explaining how to complain, not receiving copies of letters sent between hospital doctors and their GP and not being asked to give their views on quality of case.
"And we know that all three hospitals in north Wales, and all three hospitals in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board, Neath Port Talbot, Princess of Wales and Singleton, where the Chief Executive, Paul Roberts, is leading the response to the critical governance report in Betsi, have mortality rates at levels that, in England, would have put them into special measures.
"In this context, could we have a statement advising us how the Welsh Government proposes to deal with these rising levels of complaints and the cost implications?”
In her reply, the Minister failed to answer Mr Isherwood’s question. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Local MP welcomes Labour power price freeze plan

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones has given her full support to a Labour Party commitment to freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017.
The policy will become law if Labour wins the next general election. 
At the Labour Party Conference by Labour leader Ed Miliband unveiled wide-ranging plans to overhaul the energy market and scrap regulatory body Ofgem, replacing it with a watchdog that compels companies to pass on wholesale price reductions to homes and businesses.
Ms Jones said: "This is such a sensible proposal that will really help ordinary people.
"We all know how much gas and electricity bills have gone up. This has been especially true in the last year after our  so-called 'spring', which saw the worst snow in our area since the 1960s.
"The cost of gas and electricity in our country is a scandal. Since David Cameron become Prime Minister, gas and electricity bills have shot up by £300. This just isn't right at a time the energy companies are making such huge profits.  
"Gas and electricity are not luxury items. It is high time we had a government who was prepared to tackle how the energy companies treat their customers. If Britain elects a Labour Government in 2015, we will have a government that is committed to doing so."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Woman rescued from Chirk house fire

Firefighters were called to reports of a fire at a property in Chirk at 01.35hrs in the early hours of this morning (Wednesday).

Three fire appliances from Chirk, Llangollen and Wrexham were mobilised to the bungalow on LodgeValleyPark.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus rescued a 65-year-old woman from the property.

She was transferred to hospital by ambulance following preliminary treatment at the scene by paramedics for severe smoke inhalation. Her condition is described as serious.

Firefighters used six sets of breathing apparatus and two hose reel jets in extinguishing the fire.

A dog, also rescued from the property, is in a serious condition and the RSPCA is being consulted.

The damage to the property is currently being assessed and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Firefighters strike today

Firefighters will strike over pensions for four hours today (Wednesday).

The Fire Brigades Union says almost 80% of its members voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot that ended earlier this month.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, said: “This initial strike is a warning shot to government.

"Firefighters could not be more serious about protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions. Governments in Westminster and Cardiff have simply refused to see sense on these issues.

“It is ludicrous to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late-50s: the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.

“None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety.”

The strike will take place for four hours, between noon and 4pm.

The FBU says that the government’s own figures have shown that thousands of firefighters could face the sack without access to a proper pension simply because they are getting older.

In a statement the union says: "A recent government review found that over half of current firefighters between the ages of 50 and 54 are no longer able to meet fire and rescue service fitness standards for fighting fires. Beyond the age of 55, two thirds fail to meet the standards.

"Although the government has previously claimed that older firefighters could be moved to less physically demanding roles, FBU research found only a handful of ‘redeployment’ opportunities in fire and rescue services, meaning mass sackings would be inevitable."

Chief Fire Officer Simon Smith reassured the public: "North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has arrangements in place to continue to provide a service during strike action" but warned that, "because of the circumstances, services may be limited.

"The Service's business continuity arrangements will ensure a speedy and safe return to normal services on conclusion of any period of industrial action."

Pip joins elite bubbly club

* Pip Gale (left) and Colin Loughlin.

A wine expert will be adding sparkle to a food festival after being honoured by an elite club of the finest champagne makers.
Pip Gale, a director of Gale's Wine Bar in Llangollen, has become one of just 250 members of the prestigious L'Academie du Champagne (Champagne Academy).
He was enrolled after successfully completing a week-long course in France's Champagne region.
It involved sampling more than 130 different champagnes - including one that costs £500 a bottle - and eating in Michelin starred restaurants.
According to Pip, he was honoured to be invited by the Academie to take part in the prestigious course.
He plans to use his expertise to bring some of the fine champagnes he discovered to the Hamper Llangollen food festival on Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20.
Hamper Llangollen was recently recognised as one of the top 10 food festivals in the UK.
Pip was one of a 16-strong hand-picked group selected by the leading Grand Marque Houses to attend the course.
The academy was founded in 1956 to promote the premium product in Britain and Ireland – the second biggest market for champagne after France.
Pip said: "It was a huge honour to be accepted by the Academie because there are only around 250 members worldwide.
“You won't be surprised to learn that I enjoyed the experience immensely. We had amazing meals in family homes, and went to two star Michelin restaurants.
“They’ve got some eye-wateringly priced bottles - £50,000 a case for one of them.
“It was just fabulous fun, and the people that were on it were really lovely people.
“The people who run the champagne houses are clearly very passionate about their product and what it means. It was lovely.
“I always have been a pretty good advocate of champagne but what I've learned will help me be an even more effective ambassador.
“I had this straight view of this is how champagne was made, and I didn’t quite see the styles. I thought they were all pretty much the same, and it’s not true at all.
“We had to blind tasting exams, where you had to go and pick out the grapes and so on.
“They break the course down. So on the first day you learn about the history of champagne. The next day it was the vines and then you go on to the picking of grapes and then the wine making.
“After that you go on to the packaging and marketing aspects of the champagne business.
"It was a really hectic schedule which involved about two and a half hours on each of the subjects and then followed by an exam on each of the different aspects.
Pip can’t wait for the Hamper Llangollen where once again Gale's will have a stand.
This year he will be showcasing some of the champagnes he discovered on his travels.
He said: “The festival is certainly a very big deal for us. Obviously we’re local to Llangollen. It is an excellent way to talk to customers and show them something really interesting.
“Llangollen is very lucky to have such wonderful events like the food festival and the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. They really put the town on the map.”
This year's festival is being supported by the rural development agency, Cadwyn Clwyd.
Cadwyn Clwyd’s contribution came via the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government.
Hamper Llangollen Chairman Colin Loughlin is mightily impressed by Pip's achievement.
He said: “It’s a great honour for Pip and for the food festival. Pip’s is extremely knowledgeable on the subject of wine in general and champagne in particular.
“And the poor man must have suffered. But as I say, somebody’s got to do it.” added Colin with a wry smile.
Gales, thought to be the first wine bar in Wales, was opened by Pip’s parents, Richard and Gillie Gale, in 1977 after narrowly obtaining planning permission following much public protest. It has since become a part of the town’s fabric.
Pip said:  “It was a revolutionary idea in those days. We had people protesting, and we only got through by the slimmest of margins on the planning because people didn’t understand wine.
“It was a really quite tricky concept back then. All of the pubs complained and everybody gave us a month before we called time on the new venture - and now we’re the oldest licence in town.”
Colin Loughlin added this year's festival was shaping up to be one of the best ever.
He said: "This year Graham Tinsley, the star of ITV's Taste the Nation and a former captain of the Welsh Culinary Team, will be joined in the show kitchen at the festival by the ever popular Dai Chef.
"We have a wonderful array of fantastic food producers clustered in the area and the festival is the perfect shop window for them.
"Hamper Llangollen is celebrating its 16th anniversary this year and is firmly and rightly established as a major highlight in the UK's culinary calendar."
Robert Price, Cadwyn Clwyd's agri-food project officer, said: "In addition to many favourites, we have lots of new food producers wanting to come this year.
"The location of the Pavilion is absolutely  spectacular - I can't imagine that any other food festival in the UK has a more beautiful setting.
"It's also brilliant news for the local economy. If you buy from a local producer, all that money is recycled through the local economy and that sustains employment in our rural areas."
For more information about Hamper Llangollen 2013 go to:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Methodists stage their annual harvest auction

Members of Llangollen Methodist Church held their annual Harvest Festival auction on Monday evening.
After enjoying a harvest supper prepared and served by people in the congregation, bids were invited for produce and flowers donated in church the previous Sunday.
The healthy proceeds of the auction were donated to the local Leonard Cheshire Home.  
* A table groaning with produce.
* An array of flowers ready for bids.

* A giant marrow is offered up for auction.

Dragon plan still ready to take flight says creator

* An artist's impression of the dragon scheme.

The man behind the £4 million plan to build an 80ft tall bronze Welsh dragon and cultural centre near Chirk is offering people a chance to buy into the scheme. 

Simon Wingett is launching a loyalty card scheme giving investors a lifetime of discounts for a one-off fee of £95. 

Mr Wingett says he has had to scale down the ambitious project, earmarked for land off the Halton roundabout, to fit in with the “risk adverse” nature of financing during the the credit crunch. 

The Erbistock-based art dealer officially unveiled his Waking the Dragon project on St David’s Day in 2011. 

His aim has been to create a Welsh cultural icon on one of the main gateways to the country close to the A5. 

Mr Wingett believes his brainchild will create up to 80 jobs and attract visitors from across the globe.

It is also planned as a lasting tribute to his late father, well-known local businessman Frank Wingett, who died from throat cancer in 1988, and raise £1 million a year, with all entrance fees going to the Frank Wingett Cancer Appeal. 

Soon after its launch the project took a major leap forward when Wrexham Council agreed to grant an option on the land at Chirk Park to the Frank Wingett Cancer Appeal. 

Mr Wingett had envisaged the entire cost of the project would be raised from commercial sponsorship and charging people £2,000 for a personal dedication on each of 416 steps inside the structure.

But he now reveals the tough financial climate hoas forced him to scale back the scheme.

Mr Wingett said: “I am launching a loyalty card scheme based on Brewdog of Scotland’s highly successful Venture (Equity for Punks). 

“This will offer for £95 a lifetime of discounts across the food, drink, event, merchandising and more.

“Based on crowd funding, this innovate scheme will help raise the minimum of 50 per cent private equity and investment needed to unlock Visit Wales finance (SME Fund) and high street bank funding to realise the scheme.”

Mr Wingett says that integral to the plans are a Welsh centre of excellence, farm shop, cosmopolitan cafĂ© bar, art gallery and tourism and business hub. 

He added: “This one-time donation will not only help us secure this astonishing landmark but create a most exciting and significant UK tourist destination and signpost.   

“By helping the project people will also help cancer sufferers across Wales. 

“A small car park charge will in perpetuity go to Marie Curie giving every person help towards the right and dignity to die at home. 

“The colossal statue will stand majestically astride a 50ft hill looking across England and beyond. 

“Accessible by a double helix pathway up to a viewing platform and the dragon’s talons,  the dragon will be surrounded at the base by 11 stone monoliths creating one of the first standing stones in Wales for thousands of years. 

“Each monolith will represent one of the 11 stories in one of the world’s most famous fairytale collections, The Mabinogion.   

The landscaped gardens will also be home to a large covered amphitheatre to stage education, theatre and other workshops. 

“They will be home to a sculpture park showcasing national and international works  unseen in Wales before.  

“When the project is underway 80 full-time jobs will be created.  There will be many more construction jobs utilising some of the most skilled labour force in Britain. 

“Two hundred thousand visitors will pump much-needed revenues into the local economy. 

“Waking the Dragon will complement the area’s rich and diverse culture and heritage, including the World Heritage site at Poncysllte Aqueduct, Chirk Castle and Erddig, acting as a beacon to strengthen its national identity based on its roots. “  

For more information on the scheme, go to, contact Moneypenny on 0845 371 2422, or email: 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Appeal follows fatal collision on A5 past Corwen

An appeal for information and witnesses is being made following a fatal collision on the A5 Maerdy, Corwen today (Monday, September 23).
The Ambulance Service alerted officers to the incident involving a motorbike and an Iveco Tipper lorry at 1.56pm.
Police attended and the rider of the motorbike, who is believed to be a man in his 60s, was taken by helimed to the Maelor Hospital in Wrexham with serious injuries.
The motorcyclist later died at the hospital.
Anyone who witnessed the collision or has information is urged to contact Sgt 1043 Thomas at Deeside Roads Policing Unit or officers on 101.
Diversions are currently still in place and a section of the A5 road is expected to remain closed until around 6pm today.

Police tips on how to protect your sheds as nights draw in

Latest figures reveal a 23% drop in burglaries of sheds and outbuildings across Conwy and Denbighshire Rural District - but as the nights draw in police are warning that there is no room for complacency. 
Urging residents to ensure these buildings are kept secure and that they are checked regularly, Sgt Aled Eynon of the local policing team said: “We have had some notable reductions in crime. Figures so far show that we have 26 less victims of crime for this type of offence.
"At this time of year however many people tend not to use their garages, sheds and outbuildings as often as the need to cut the lawns and tend gardens eases. And, while we all use these buildings to store equipment the collective value of items within them is often considerable- so it’s essential that people have adequate security.
“Periodically, we still have instances where opportunist thieves target an outbuilding, garage or shed. Once inside they take anything of value but it is often bikes, quad bikes or power tools. Furthermore, because the need to use these buildings usually lessens in the autumn and winter, some crimes are not reported for days on end as the householder is unaware that they have been a victim of crime. Please check your shed or outbuildings regularly to ensure they remain secure."
He added: "Everyone can take steps to ensure their property and outbuildings are kept secure. Neighbours can also play a part in the fight against such burglaries by keeping an eye on nearby buildings and reporting anything suspicious to police immediately. 
“We don’t want residents to get complacent or lax with their home security.
“It’s surprising how many burglaries we still deal with where thieves have found that a door has been left open or insecure and then helped themselves to property. Since May 1st to the beginning of September ’13 we believe that around 50% of burglaries / burglaries other than dwellings in the area relate to insecure buildings – so please help stamp this out by locking doors and windows.”
“Opportunist thieves operate throughout the year and will try to get their hands on expensive goods. Extra patrols are carried out in relevant areas but the support of the public to deter opportunist thieves by making it as difficult as possible for them to commit crime can’t be underestimated.”
If you store valuable items in your shed, outbuilding or garage, ensure you have a good locking system on the door and if you haven’t already got one consider installing a shed alarm.
Local police remain committed to doing all they can to help prevent such crimes and the following are some ‘top tips’ which can help you to further protect your property:
•             If you store expensive items in your garage or shed ensure you have adequate security. Look at the security around your garden and ensure you have good fencing and a lockable gate. Keep it locked at all times.
•             Consider using plant protection as another means of protection. Plants such as thorny shrubs can help deter would-be thieves from entering your garden.
•             Don’t leave any tools or equipment in your garden, store them away safely in sheds, garages or outbuildings that are securely locked when not in use. If you do not have a garden shed or outbuilding bring the tools inside.
•             Never leave valuable items on display or so that they can be seen through shed windows. Use nets, blinds or other material to block windows.
•             Install outside security lighting which comes on automatically if there is any movement in your garden or around your property.
•             Consider installing a shed alarm which are inexpensive and can be effective.
•             If you have more than one bike, chain them together within your shed or garage as this will make it more difficult for a thief. Some sheds have concrete anchors attached to the floor – these are ideal to latch and lock your items to such as lawnmowers and bikes.  
•             Always remember to property mark your valuable items with your postcode in a prominent position. If you do unfortunately become a victim of crime at least you may stand a good chance of having your property returned to you if you have postcoded or property marked it.
•             If you haven’t a garden shed or garage, consider keeping expensive cycles inside your home.
More information regarding keeping your property secure individuals can contact officers at the Community Safety Department on 101.

Llan young farmers are netball champions

* Llangollen Young Farmers Club were the winners of the U26 netball competition
staged as part of the annual Young Farmers sports day at Ruthin Leisure Centre. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tips to stay safe during firefighters' strike

The Chief Fire Officer of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is urging the public across the region to take extra care in terms of fire safety in the home and road safety during strike action planned by firefighters.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced that firefighters in England and Wales intend to take industrial action on Wednesday 25th September between midday and 4.00pm.

The number of firefighters from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service who are expected to make a protest by striking is high.

This will mean a reduction in the resources that the fire and rescue service has at its disposal and, as a consequence, the Service will not be able to provide the same high level of response to fires and other emergencies that it normally would. The priority will be to respond to life critical incidents.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Smith reassured the public: "North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has arrangements in place to continue to provide a service during strike action" but warned that, "because of the circumstances, services may be limited.

"The Service's business continuity arrangements will ensure a speedy and safe return to normal services on conclusion of any period of industrial action."

He added: "Unlike the dispute in 2002/3 support from the military in the form of Green Goddesses is no longer available to North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and our ability to provide a service to the public will be challenging.

"However, we will continue to respond to emergency calls by prioritising the deployment of the available resources at our disposal and focussing on the protection of life."

What you can do to keep safe from fire?

Here are some useful fire safety tips:

Smoke Alarms - Install a smoke alarm on every floor of your home and test them regularly. Batteries should be checked once a week and changed at least once a year.

Cooking -Take special care when cooking. Never leave cooking unattended. Do not fill a chip pan more than one-third full. Never put food in a chip pan if the oil begins to smoke - turn off the heat and leave to cool. Never cook under the influence of alcohol.

Candles - Do not use candles too close to curtains. Never leave candles unattended. Always ensure that candles are extinguished properly.

Matches - Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.

Smoking Materials - Always use a proper ashtray. Extinguish smoking materials properly. Never smoke in bed.

Escape Plan - Plan your escape route with everyone, always include children and the elderly. Close all doors at night and switch off at the plug any electrical appliances not in use.

Open Fires -Guard all open fires. Do not dry clothes too close to an open fire.

Electrical - Replace worn or damaged leads. Use correct fuses for household appliances.
Test electric blankets annually. Do not overload sockets.

Business fire safety during industrial action:

Business owners should firstly undertake a review of their Fire Risk Assessment and if any changes are needed, implement those as a matter of importance. 

Precautions should also be made to prevent the occurrence of a fire.  This might be as simple as walking around the building at the end of the working day to ensure that there are no combustible materials in the vicinity of the property.

Owners will also need to ensure that procedures for reducing the chances of a fire starting are well understood by all members of staff and that everybody remains alert to the dangers from fire. What each owner will need to do is dependant on their own Fire Risk Assessment.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Local MP welcomes Bedroom Tax scrap pledge

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones has warmly welcomed Labour leader Ed Miliband's pledge that an incoming Labour Government would scrap the Bedroom Tax.

"David Cameron's Bedroom Tax is both unfair and unworkable, and it is costing many local families dearly," said Ms Jones.

"This tax affects disabled people and their carers; people who would have gladly down-graded to one bedroom properties but no such properties existed; families with children serving in the armed forces and many more.

"The Bedroom Tax is a policy that could only have been dreamt up by a Government stuffed full of millionaires.   

"A Labour Government would have very different values. If Labour is elected at the next general election, I am pleased to say that the Bedroom Tax will be scrapped." 

Ed Miliband yesterday (Friday) said the policy would be funded by scrapping a tax break for hedge funds and the Treasury's new shares-for-rights scheme.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Warning over charity shop rate relief

The Welsh Economy Minister would face an uphill battle over possible changes to business rate relief for charity shops, according to Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Business Minister, Eluned Parrott AM,.
The warning follows legal advice that Welsh Ministers do not have the power to impose such changes without new primary legislation.
The Minister is consulting over proposals following an independent review of business rates for charities, chaired by Prof Brian Morgan of Cardiff Metropolitan University, which published recommendations in April.  These included:
* Cutting rate relief for all charity shops from 80% to 50%
·       *  Cutting rate relief for larger charity shops even further; 0% in some cases
·        *  Zoning or limiting the number of charity shops in a given area
The formula for the mandatory funding of charity business rate relief is fixed in Section 43(5) of the Local Government Finance Act 1 988.
According to independent legal advice given to the Welsh Liberal Democrats, as neither the Welsh Ministers nor the Secretary of State has the power to change that formula, implementing the rate relief recommendations would require primary legislation either by way of an Act of the Assembly or an Act of Parliament.
Eluned Parrott said: “This is welcome news as it means that any change to the rate relief given to charity shops would be subject to a high level of scrutiny and could not be slipped through under the radar. 
“The proposals in the report would be a clear attack on charity shops, which play such a valuable role in creating a vibrant and diverse high street.  They fundraise for vital services, support volunteer opportunities which help people back on the route to employment, and divert thousands of tonnes of textiles from landfill.
“The report states that the business rate relief to charity shops can crowd out other retailers, but this is absurd given that the charity sector accounts for only 0.3% of retail sales by turnover, while nearly one in five shop premises on the Welsh high street lie vacant.
“According to the Charity Retail Association, nearly a fifth of Wales’ charity shops could close if the Minister pushes ahead with these proposals.  I think the Minister would face an uphill battle in justifying legislation on this issue, which would threaten the future of so many charities on our high street. 
“This has been a worrying time for many charities across Wales and I hope that the Minister will clarify her intentions as soon as possible.”

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Read plays a blinder with football play

The football-themed comedy play Dixie Or Me currently running at Llangollen Town Hall sees a theatrical hat-trick by Peter Read.

Not only as he penned this highly amusing two-acter, staged by Wrexham-based Limelight Productions, but he also directs it and takes one of the leading roles.
Peter explains in the programme notes - nicely headed Terrace Talk - that he wrote the play back in 2004 as part of a football festival organised by Wrexham Council but, as he constructed it, was mindful of the fact that too much football content could turn off people in the audience with no liking for the beautiful game. While it’s still very much about football he manages to keep it out of the penalty box as far as the uninitiated are concerned.

Action revolves around a simple fellow called Dave, played very effectively by Mark Andrew Rodgers, who has developed an absolute obsession with Wrexham FC as a way of escaping his humdrum production line job.
The author has set the play in 1978 as he believes that what the club was doing on the pitch in the 77-78 season was one of the best times to watch the Reds, when the famous Dixie McNeil figured large in their fortunes, and there are plenty of references to “going up, going up” in the dialogue.
Dave’s pre-occupation with Wrexham doesn’t go down at all well with his wife Holly who has her mind on higher things, such as the world political situation of the late 1970s, which was basically dominated by the actions of the United States.

These vastly conflicting interests lead inevitably to marital disharmony, with an angry Holly demanding to know at one stage whether it’s “Dixie or me?”
However, both have their allies: Holly in the shape of lefty NEWI lecturer Sarah, nicely caricatured by Lyn Aston, and Dave in the form of Vicar Joe, a man similarly obsessed with Wrexham FC.
The clergyman, brought vividly to life by the author, is himself in conflict with his Bishop for the way his own obsession with the Reds colours his work in the parish. Keith Pemberton is Joe’s suitably stern episcopal boss.  

Holly reckons one way to cure Dave of being hooked on football is to sign him up for a session with a rather dotty counsellor called Natalie, portrayed to perfection by Christine Dukes.
Of course, that doesn’t go down too well with the plain-talking footie fan who hardly appreciates that kind of brain meddling and storms out of her consulting rooms only to charge into more trouble with the missus.
The play goes along at a cracking pace and, even for non-football aficionados, the gags, which come thick and fast, are very effective.
It’s safe to say that Peter Read has played a blinder with this one and there’s no way he’ll be left sick as a parrot with the audience reaction.
It’s a pity there weren’t more people there to watch but there’s still a chance to catch the play tonight (Thursday) at 7.30pm.  

Councillor flashes up need for more warning signs

A town councillor wants to know why there aren’t more flashing 30mph warnings signs on busy roads in Llangollen.

Cllr James Tobin posed the question at Tuesday’s night’s town council meeting as highways issues were being discussed.
He said: “I’d like to know why there aren’t more of the flashing 30mph signs locally.
“There’s the one near the Woodlands but in no other areas of Llangollen. Why can’t there be one near the Pengwern play area?”
Town clerk Gareth Thomas said: “We raised this with Denbighshire County Council last year and were told there was no chance of having flashing signs because of the cost.”
Mr Thomas then suggested that in other areas there had been community campaigns in which local residents had donned high-visibility jackets to monitor speeding cars, passing on the details to the police.
He added: “Maybe that is something we could do and involve the local schoolchildren.”
The mayor, Cllr Bob Lube, said he believed one of the residents’ campaigns the town clerk was referring to had taken place at Petrefeolas.
But he said: “I suspect that somebody going past a 30mph sign isn’t going to be put off by a flashing 30mph sign.”
The town clerk agreed to check out the possibility of more flashing signs with the county council.  

Tour hailed as huge success

Councils across North Wales have hailed the North Wales stage of the Tour of Britain a huge success.

The fourth stage on Wednesday, 18 September  started at Stoke on Trent, before entering Wrexham, Flintshire, Denbighshire, Conwy and Gwynedd, finishing in Llanberis.

The event was supported by all six North Wales authorities, as well as the Welsh Government.

Now council officials say the Tour's success shows North Wales is geared up for major events and is ready to do business.

Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, Chair of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board,  said: “This has been a great opportunity to showcase North Wales as a destination for cyclists, but has also been a tremendous boost to the local economy.

“North Wales has had a lot of positive and widespread coverage as a result of this race coming into our region and it has been a great platform to show the cycling industry and tourists that North Wales is capable of handling such a major prestigious event.

"We now need to capitalise on this success and make sure that we work together as a region  and look at what other events can be hosted in our region. We have the capacity and skills to look bigger, think bigger. Today should act as a catalyst for promoting North Wales as a great place for tourists and for the local economy,

“We were also delighted with the tremendous support shown by communities across the whole of North Wales. Thousands of people came out to show their support – that is typical of the warm Welsh welcome we have come to expect from our communities.

“We can now look forward to next year’s vent with confidence that North Wales really is ready to do business.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Police highlight realities of alcohol-related crime

North Wale Police have joined with forces around the country in a week-long campaign highlighting the realities of dealing with drunkenness and alcohol-related incidents.
Over the five days of the In Focus: Alcohol Harm initiative North Wales Police highlight the effect inappropriate alcohol consumption can have on our communities and the individual while also increasing our activities to tackle these issues.
Local councils are also working closely with us to undertake various operations across North Wales. 
Superintendent Nigel Harrison said: “We are supporting this initiative with a wide range of activities across the region.
Drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour in pubs, clubs and on our streets is just part of the problem.
Nationally nearly 50 per cent of all violent crime is alcohol related. 
Across the UK offenders are thought to be under the influence of alcohol in nearly half of all incidents of domestic abuse.
The national policing lead on alcohol harm, Chief Constable Adrian Lee, said: “Police are all too often having to care for people who have clearly failed to take care of themselves.  They need to grow up and take responsibility.  Drinking so much that you can’t think clearly makes you vulnerable and more likely to become a victim of crime, be injured or be involved in violence. 
“We’re not here to clean you up and drop you home or mediate drunken arguments. We’d prefer our officers to be in their communities rather than being pulled off their beats into town centres every weekend.”
Alcohol Facts:
  • Nearly 50 per cent of all violent crime is alcohol related. 
  • Drink-related anti-social behaviour is the most common form that people experience. 
  • Offenders are thought to be under the influence of alcohol in nearly half of all incidents of domestic abuse
  • Excessive drinking clearly increases your likelihood of committing a crime or becoming a victim.
  • People that ‘pre-load’ (heavy drinking before you leave your home for a night out) are two and a half  times more likely to be involved in violence as a victim or an offender.
  • Pre-loaders are four times more likely to consume over 20 units in a single night
  • 50 per cent of 18 – 35 years pre-load on a Friday or Saturday night
  • 72 per cent of assaults requiring treatment are alcohol related.

Major cycling event pedals into Denbighshire

The Tour of Britain's cycling event is visit to Denbighshire and the rest of North Wales today (Wednesday).

The event will see Team Sky, which includes well known names such as Sir Bradley Wiggins an Mark Cavendish, pass through the area on Stage 4 of the Tour.

The tour enters Denbighshire from the county boundary near Loggerheads and leaves via the county boundary into Conwy near Bylchau.

The race is expected to arrive at the following locations (estimate times).  These times are for elite cyclists and the main group of cyclists are expected to follow close behind.  

A494        Loggerheads : 1.20pm

A494        Llanferres: 1.25pm

A525        Ruthin: 1.35pm

A525        Llanrhaeadr: 1.50pm

A525        Denbigh: 1.55pm

The roads are expected to be closed approximately 20 minutes before the race arrives and will re-open as soon as the cyclists have gone through.  These timings are estimates and spectators are urged to get to the route in plenty of time.

For further information, please visit:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Skates welcomes cash boost for Dinas Bran

Clwyd South Assembly member Ken Skates has welcomed the news that Ysgol Dinas Bran in Llangollen has won a £5,000 Big Lottery Fund grant.

The high school - which recorded its best ever set of GCSE results in August - was awarded the cash boost to purchase IT equipment for 'supported fitness sessions' to improve pupils' health and fitness.

Mr Skates, whose constituency office is based in Llangollen, said: "Ysgol Dinas Bran is an excellent school which has always encouraged students to take part in physical activities and promoted a healthy lifestyle.

"The bid for Big Lottery funding was submitted by the school's PE department, which will now be able to use the new technology to help deliver enhanced lessons for pupils."

The school said the money will be used to buy 14 iPads and an Apple TV. Last year both Ysgol Dinas Bran's current performance and prospects for improvement were rated 'good' by Estyn inspectors. Last month every GCSE student achieved at least 5 grades at A* to C.

County's warden team are top dogs for second year

Denbighshire County Council’s Dog Warden Team has been awarded the RSPCA’s gold footprint award for its work with stray dogs - for the second year running.

Denbighshire is the only local authority in Wales to achieve the gold standard for stray dogs and it was achieved through working in partnership with North Clwyd Animal Rescue.

The RSPCA introduced the Community Animal Welfare Footprint Awards in 2008 and the aim of the scheme is to recognise and promote those that have made an extra effort and gone beyond basic service requirements to ensure higher welfare standards in some of the service they provide.

This is the second time that the council has applied for the award and as a result of the award, Denbighshire County Council is now entitled for the next 12 months to use an accredited  logo on its website and publications.

The RSPCA CAWF scheme is split into four main categories – animal welfare principles, contingency planning, housing and stray dogs. Depending on the standards of the level of service, either: gold, silver or bronze footprints are awarded.

Since the schemes inception in 2008, the Stray Dog Footprint award has been the most popular, with achievers inspiring others to develop and improve their service.  The main aim of the Stray Dogs Footprint is to encourage local authorities to look at this important and often under-valued service and address any resource and issues that might help them to meet the footprint criteria in the future.

The scheme has been officially supported by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Trading Standards Institute.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Alert over two vehicles stolen from the area

The local Neighbourhood Watch has sent out alerts about the theft of two vehicles from the Llangollen area in the past week.

In the first case a Land Rover Discovery, registration number L369 PMB, was stolen from the driveway of a property on the Horseshoe Pass between 5pm on Thursday 12 September and 8.30am on Saturday 14 September.

If you have any information relating to this crime, contact North Wales Police on 101 quoting the reference RM13019174

The second theft involved an unroadworthy Mitsubishi Sigma estate, registration number M759 CEY, being stolen from a yard in the Llangollen area sometime between Wednesday 11 September and 8.20am on Thursday 12 September.

If you have any information relating to this crime, contact North Wales Police on 101 quoting reference RC13152417.


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