* Andrew Mearns presents the mayor, Cllr Bob Lube, with the lead snail,
emblem of the Cittaslow movement of which Llangollen is now part.
The Mayor of Llangollen, Cllr Bob Lube, gave a round-up of
the work of the Town Council to an audience of around 30 residents who turned
up for the annual town meeting at the Town Hall yesterday (Thursday) evening.
Also present was the Town Clerk, Gareth Thomas, and town
Cllr Lube began by saying it had been a “varied and
One of the major changes to affect the council had been the
resignation of Cllr Tim Palmer ahead of his move abroad with his family. This
had created a vacancy which was advertised to the local community.
Cllr Lube described how only two residents had put
themselves forward to fill it but one of them, Lynda Slater, was eventually
elected to the position.
Another change to the operation of council business during
the year had been giving members of the public the chance to speak briefly on
topics of interest to them in a 15-minute period set aside at the start of
monthly council meetings. Local county councillors were also now invited to
meetings to brief town councillors on local matters of concern.
The mayor explained how the council had powers to make
comments and observations on planning matters going before the county council.
However, he added: “Our recommendations are not always accepted by the county
He went on to welcome a number of new businesses which had
opened in the town over the past year, mentioning specifically the Edinburgh
Woollen Mill in Castle Street and Fizzywigs sweet shop in Oak Street.
His next topic was the Town Hall, which he said “continues
to attract more people and revenue” for the Town Council which owns and runs
the building on behalf of the community. Minor changes were currently being
made to the gents’ toilets on the upper floor, he added.
Cllr Lube explained how the council was still committed to
the CCTV system sited in the town centre although he did describe this as “an
expensive hobby” which needs continual maintenance and upgrading.
“We intend to continue with it because we believe it has a
deterrent effect,” he pointed out.
The participatory budgeting scheme, in which local
organisations are awarded small amounts of cash towards their running costs and
development, had again been a success with all projects put forward this year
The mayor reported that Llangollen had been successful in
becoming designated as a Cittaslow town, an international movement which allows
a community to grow in a thoughtful and sustainable way.
This, he said, this would bring plenty of challenges and
opportunities for the town.
Cllr Lube said the council was still looking to refurbish
the Chain Bridge in partnership with Llantysilio Community Council.
During the year, he said, there had been a setback to the
scheme when all eight of the tenders put out by the council to specialist
companies to undertake the work had come back with estimates there were above
He explained the council was now going back out to tender to
Some good news with the project, he said, was that the Town
Clerk had managed to secure extra funding of £78,000 within the past couple of
On another subject, the mayor said that among the council’s
responsibilities was the maintenance of a number of gardens, hanging baskets
and planters in the town centre.
A partnership arrangement with Derwen College in Gobowen had
meant that students had planted a number of floral displays in the area last
summer and Cllr Lube said the council was looking forward to making further
arrangements of this type with the college.
Cllr Lube had praise for the volunteers of the Tidy Town
Team which maintains a number of grassed areas and open spaces in the area. He
described the work is does as “very impressive”.
The Town Council, he said, was continuing with its support
for the Shop Front Scheme, a countywide project to award grants to businesses
to upgrade the frontages of their premises.
The annual Remembrance Day ceremony, organised by the
council with the help of other local organisations, had once again reflected
well on the community, said Cllr Lube who added that the High Sherriff had been
very impressed with the area’s community spirit.
The Town Council, he explained, had continued with its
support for events such as the Food Festival, the Christmas Festival and the
Eisteddfod which all “add to the cultural tapestry” of the town as well as
contributing to its economic success.
Turning to council finances, the mayor said that financial
constraints meant that keeping to the budget over the next year would be a
For the year ahead it had been necessary to increase the
precept – the portion of the council tax bill which goes to pay for the Town
Council – by 3.65%.
The mayor said: “We accept that this is above inflation but
only marginally so.”
He added the town council was also well of the financial
cuts which the county council would be facing.
Turning to the controversial subject of the town’s Christmas
lights, he said that although these represented a “significant investment” for
the council, there had been an approach by a group of residents keen to see the
He explained: “We have therefore agreed to purchase our
existing lights from the company from which we have had the lights on lease and
add to these with those purchased from the group who contacted us.”
Summing up, the mayor said: “We have and will continue to
listen to the comments of local residents. There are a lot of opportunities for
groups to get involved.”
He said he had enjoyed his year in office and was very proud
to be the town’s mayor.
The floor was then thrown open to questions from residents
in the audience.
One person asked how far short the £78,000 recently acquired
by the Town Clerk left the council of the total amount needed to finance the
Chain Bridge facelift.
The mayor replied: “We have another chance to go back in
June for more money from the Lottery. However, this is a very difficult site.
It is a conservation area and a tightly regulated stretch of waterway, although
I’m hoping we’ll get there in the end and I’m sure we will.”
He added that the gap in the Chain Bridge budget was now
between £20,000 and £30,000 which, he said, could be bridged with the help of
Another resident said the road to the cemetery off Abbey
Road was a disgrace and asked what the Town Council could do about it.
The mayor replied that approaches had been made to people with
land nearby, including the church and the railway, and none had been revealed
as responsible for the road.
However, he said the county council would now be asked for
its assistance in tracking down whoever was responsible for making necessary repairs.
After a number of other questions were taken and answered, the
Cllr Sheena Burrell then gave a presentation on the benefits
of Cittaslow membership to the town. This was followed by a similar
presentation from Andrea Mearns, a member of the Cittaslow group in Mold and a
member of the national Cittaslow board.
In Mold’s case, she said, among the many benefits had been
the winning of grants totalling £73,000 towards various projects over the past
It was then explained by Cllr Phil Thane, who led Llangollen’s
successful Cittaslow bid group, that, with its work now done, the group had been
disbanded and a new committee was being set up to steer things forward from now
A call for at least 10 volunteers to become committee
members was only partially heeded when half that number of people in the
audience put their names forward.
The mayor said there would be further calls made for members
at a later date.
At the end of the evening Andrea Mearns presented the mayor with a lead snail, representing the "slow" emblem of Cittaslow.