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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Warning goes out over cold callers

Local members of Neighbourhood Watch have been sent the following message:

"Following reports of cold callers in the area, we would like to remind you of some safety advice to help you when confronted with an unexpected visit.

Although there are callers who a genuine, it is not easy to establish who is genuine and who might be a rogue trader or bogus caller.

Bogus Callers are conmen (or women) who use a variety of stories to gain access to your home in order to steal. They may pretend to be someone from your local council, gas, water or Electricity Company and give you a good excuse to enter your home.

Rogue Traders are people who pretend to be builders needing to do ‘urgent’ repairs to your property or sales people offering bargain products. They often try to confuse or pressurise you to pay in advance for materials or carry out poor work at highly inflated prices.

The aim of this information is to help you deal more confidently with people who call at your door and provide you with information to enable you to obtain hel p and advice if you need it.

REMEMBER genuine callers will not mind waiting. It’s your home. You don’t have to let anyone in!
  • If in doubt, keep them out. It sounds simple, but if you don’t let someone in - they will go away. Don’t let them pressure you into opening the door.
  • Be prepared. Be in control. Think about what to say to doorstep cold callers in advance and keep a list of key contact numbers near your phone so you can check out legitimate callers. Ask all other unwanted callers to go away.
  • If you think someone is a rogue trader call us on 101. To report a distraction burglar or rogue trader who has taken your money and is still in the area - call 999. 
Please look out for your community and report any suspicious persons or vehicles to us on 101."

Friday, May 29, 2015

World War two plane flies over Llan

* The RAF Dakota which overflew Llangollen yesterday.

A number of local people yesterday (Thursday) reported seeing an RAF Dakota - the famous World War Two transport aircraft - overflying Llangollen on two occasions in the afternoon.

llanblogger asked the press office for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, for more details about the plane painted with D-Day recognition white stripes on both wings.

This morning they have replied: "The Dakota was heading to RAF Valley to do a display for Valleys families’ day.

“Families’ days are when the station opens up to the families of service personnel so they can look around and see what their spouses/parents actually do.

“They also have various stalls and entertainments and it’s very much a social event as a thank you to them for putting up with the more unsociable aspects of the job.”

Dementia is society's biggest crisis, warns advisor

* Steve Ford, Dementia Care Lead  for Care Forum Wales.

A dementia expert from North Wales has warned the condition is the biggest crisis facing society today.
The stark message came from Steve Ford, the dementia advisor of Care Forum Wales (CFW) which represents more than 500 independent care providers in Wales.
There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, a number that’s forecast to double within a generation, a fact that Steve Ford describes as the “dementia time-bomb”.
By 2021, the number of people with dementia across Wales is projected to increase by 31 per cent and by as much as 44 per cent in some rural areas
Mr Ford, managing director Pembroke Nursing Homes in Colwyn Bay, was speaking at a free training event organised by Care Forum Wales at Conwy Business Centre.
He said: “Dementia really is a ticking time-bomb as the baby boomer generation reach old age there is a logistical challenge that we urgently need to address. We need to plan now to meet these huge challenges.
“Nursing homes and care providers need to work together now to create solutions. We will all be affected in one way or another.
"We need to incorporate positive change into our working practices at the care and nursing homes in which we work. We need to be bold, creative and above all emphatic.
“There is a perception that old age is a burden when we really should be celebrating longevity.
“We really are facing this demographic time-bomb with an increased expectation of higher quality services versus ever decreasing accommodation resources and funding.
“That means we can expect the number of people with dementia to double by the year 2040. It is essential, therefore, that care home staff are given the skills, expertise and knowledge to deliver safe and effective quality care with compassion.”
According to Ceri Roberts, managing director of Cariad Care Homes, which operates homes at Criccieth and Porthmadog, the seminar was excellent.
She said: “There is a great deal I and members of staff that have been able to attend can take back and cascade down to other staff and all our care assistants.
“There is so much we can do to and it’s about thinking outside the box when we go about our everyday nursing roles. Dementia is a huge issue for us and ensuring we provide the very best care is of paramount importance to us all.
“Being made aware of best practice and being able to learn from Steve Ford’s knowledge and years of practical experience is really important.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Maggie Hawley, deputy matron of Cerrig Yr Afon, Nursing and Residential Care Home, at Y Felinheli.
She said “It’s important we work together to ensure best practice and that we are all delivering the very best care we can. Everything we have learnt today I will be endeavouring to pass on to our carers and staff.
“I’m delighted Care Forum Wales, through Steve Ford, has organised these free to attend training seminars.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, described Steve Ford as a "first class practitioner".
He said: "The fact that people are living longer is a great thing, but with that comes this significant increase of those people who will have a form of dementia and, of course, some of those need a great deal of care.
"The benefit of having a training session conducted by somebody of Steve's calibre as opposed to somebody who’s maybe just an academic is that he actually understands day in, day out, how you get the very best out of people, how you are able to develop your staff team to ensure the very best quality of care, best quality of life and that that care is delivered with respect and dignity in a very person centred way."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Chain Bridge re-opens after over 30 years

llanblogger special report ...

* Eddie Butler performs the official opening of the Chain Bridge.
* The first 10 VIPs walk across the re-opened bridge.
* Llangollen Town Clerk Gareth Thomas with Sandra Baker, clerk to Llantysilio Community Council, who were both closely
involved with the project, make the crossing.

* VIPs disembark at Llangollen Wharf after their return boat trip along the canal. 

LLANGOLLEN’S world famous Chain Bridge re-opened to the public today (Thursday) for the first time in over 30 years.

Eddie Butler, rugby commentator and presenter of the former BBC Wales series Hidden Histories, officially unveiled the iconic structure - thought to be the oldest chain link bridge in the world - following its recent £350,000 facelift, which took just over a year to complete.

VIPs arrived by steam train at Berwyn Station for the official opening ceremony at lunchtime and, after walking across the newly-opened bridge, travelled back to Llangollen Station by canal boat.

Among invited guests were John Pickering, a direct descendent of Exuperius Pickering who built the first bridge, and Sarah and Jamie Robertson, descendents of Henry and Sir Henry Robertson who built the second and third bridge.  

Llangollen Town and Llantysilio Community Councils embarked on a painstaking project to restore the historic Chain Bridge about four years ago after buying it for just £1 after it had fallen into disrepair after years of neglect.

The project received a large grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund plus funding from WREN, which distributes funds donated by FCC to the Landfill Communities Fund, Denbighshire County Council, Cadwyn Clwyd and the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Acknowledged as a gem of the Dee Valley, the Chain Bridge was originally built in 1817 by local coal merchant Exuperius Pickering to open up a cheap transport route across the River Dee enabling him to transport coal to the A5.

It was later rebuilt by Henry Robertson in the 1870s and again by his son. Sir Henry Beyer Robertson, in 1928.

He rebuilt the suspension bridge which can be seen today, re-using the old chain links as suspension cables.

The bridge will now re-establish the strong link between Llangollen heritage railway and the canal, part of the Pontcysyllte World Heritage site.

Descendants of both Exuperius Pickering and Henry Robertson will attend the official re-opening along with the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates AM, and Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones. 

Ken Skates said: “The re-opened Chain Bridge will act as the perfect addition to the wide heritage offer in this beautiful part of Wales.

“It sits at the heart of a World Heritage Site and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, making it a key part of the thriving tourism industry in the region.” 

* The first Chain Bridge (courtesy of Llangollen Museum). 
A distinctive engineering landmark, the bridge is of vital importance to the area’s industrial heritage and the re-opening has been welcomed by Nigel Clubb, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund Committee for Wales, who said: “We’re thrilled to see this prominent feature from Llangollen’s past restored to its former glory and that National Lottery player’s money has played a part in this.

“I would like to congratulate the project team on their hard work on bringing the bridge back to life and look forward to seeing it thrive as an important local attraction once more.”

Samantha Jones, Chain Bridge heritage officer, said: “This has really been a labour of love for all involved and it’s so exciting to see all that hard work finally come to fruition. Communities in both Llangollen and Llantysilio have really come together to ensure that the bridge becomes an important transport link once more. We can’t wait for descendants of those who built the original bridges to mark the next chapter in the bridge’s history with us.”

Meleri Jones, WREN grant manager said: “WREN is committed to funding projects that make a real difference to local communities, children and families.

“We’re delighted to have been able to support the restoration of the Chain Bridge and look forward to seeing the new bridge in use once more.”

* Stewarding duties for the occasion were performed by members of Llangollen's Tidy Town Team.

* The third bridge (courtesy of Llangollen Museum).

Valley Girls take high level canal paddle

* Valley Girls before embarking on their canal adventure.

INTREPID members of Valley Girls WI proved their organisation isn’t all “Jam and Jerusalem” by taking the water – 38 metres above the ground.

Joined by members of Chirk and Trevor WIs, the Llangollen adventurers took an exhilarating paddle along the canal where it flows high in the sky over Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. 
A spokeswoman for Valley Girls said: “We made the trip under the watchful eye of ProAdventure from Llangollen who were excellent.

“They are keen to encourage more local groups to try out activities with them. They have clients from all over the UK and beyond but say rarely do local groups have a go. But the Valley Girls can highly recommend them.” 


* Paddling along 38 metres in the air.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Expert airs views on easing Castle Street traffic

* Traffic expert Ben Hamilton-Baillie addresses the Town Hall audience.

THE scrapping of traffic lights at the A5 junction, the creation of special zones to help slow down vehicles as they enter the town and flattening of kerbs on the bridge.

These were amongst the suggestions put forward by a visiting expert to ease traffic problems on Llangollen’s busy Castle Street at a public meeting last night (Tuesday).

Earlier this year the Cittaslow Llangollen group, which aims to improve local quality of life, ran a crowd funding scheme to collect enough money to get renowned traffic engineer Ben Hamilton-Baillie to take a look at the town’s main street and suggest solutions to deal with snarl-ups.

After spending the day analysing conditions in and around Castle Street he presented his findings to a meeting in the Town Hall.   

Mr Hamilton-Baillie has an impressive track record of producing schemes to cure traffic headaches in towns across the UK and abroad, all based on balancing out the competing requirements of drivers and pedestrians.
He told an audience of about 60 people, including representatives of the town and county councils, that while he did not have any solutions he would offer a number of ideas to improve Castle Street which could form the basis of future discussion.

Explaining that many towns were now filled with “expensive kit” such as signs, signals and lights, to control traffic, Llangollen was “nowhere near as bad” as some other places.
He went on to give examples of schemes he had worked on, including London’s Exhibition Road and Poynton in Cheshire, where measures put in place to slow down traffic and create pedestrian areas even at once-busy junctions had been highly successful.

These had been based on introducing features such as paved areas which could be shared by vehicles and pedestrians.
Stressing that it was a “great mistake to treat drivers as idiots,” Mr Hamilton-Baillie that determining the safe speed at which vehicles could pass through a town centre was crucial to success and provided the basis for all other aspects of a scheme.

He also said that while red lights could be useful to stop traffic in some cases, he did not like to give motorists a green light, which suggested they were free to speed ahead when traffic lights change.
Giving instances of where lights had been removed completely making no difference to safety, he said: “I’m not sure the signals at the junction of the A5 and Castle Street are necessary. I would do something else.”

He also explained the importance of clearly defining the places where vehicles should change from highway driving to a much slower style.
In Llangollen, with its two main roads, he suggested the creation of paved areas in the road to highlight these spots – around the Sarah Ponsonby pub in Mill Street and in front of St John’s Church in Abbey Road on the A539/A542 and near the end of Brook Street and the junction of  Market Street on the A5.

Mr Hamilton-Baillie also suggested the creation of pedestrian areas in Queen Square and around Royal Gardens, site of the town’s war memorial, to help slow down traffic passing along Castle Street.
Another of his ideas to achieve the same aim was to flatten the kerbs on the bridge.

Other possibilities were the re-siting of pedestrian crossings in front of the Bridge End Hotel and close to Stan’s supermarket to more practical areas for pedestrians.
On the often thorny issue of parking along a stretch of Castle Street, he said it was “no bad thing” for traffic to have to pause as it passed the row of cars.

However, he said it would be more practical to have short blocks of parking rather than one long line as at present.
At the end of his hour-long presentation, which was followed by a question and answer session, Mr Hamilton-Baillie told the audience: “Llangollen is not in crisis but you need to have a clear vision of which way you want to go.”

Town councillor Phil Thane, who arranged the exercise, said Mr Hamilton-Baillie’s ideas would be discussed by the town council at its meeting this week and there could then be discussions between the authority and Denbighshire County Council.

UB40 will be together on eisteddfod stage

* UB40 will close Llangollen 2015 on Sunday July 12.

The music legend who formed one of the world’s top reggae bands has spoken about the bitter feud with his brother who's in a rival version of their original group.

Ali Campbell, the legendary voice of UB40, will be one of the star attractions at the Llangollen International Music Festival this year.

He will be reunited on the eisteddfod stage with percussionist, trumpet player and vocalist, Astro and keyboard player, Mickey, all three being founding members of the original UB40.

Campbell and Mickey left the original UB40 in 2008 but the vocalist admits things just weren’t the same until Astro joined them in 2013 after he walked away from the remaining UB40 band members.

He said: “It was, and remains, a very acrimonious and bitter split. My brother, Duncan, betrayed me. I used to go to him for advice and told him I wasn’t happy with the way the band was being managed.

“He agreed with me that the band was being badly represented and business decisions were being wrongly taken and told me the best thing to do was walk away and refuse to sing any longer which is what I did.

“The next thing I know Duncan has taken over as lead vocalist and has been murdering my songs ever since.”

He added: “But once Astro decided he had to walk away - the original UB40 doing a country album being the final straw - and join Mickey and myself it’s being like going back to our early UB40 days.

“High energy, packed sell-out audiences and we are back on our mission taking reggae music to the world.

“Llangollen, I can promise, won’t have ever seen a concert like the one we intend to put on. I know Status Quo were there last year, well I can promise you this, we’ll smash them."

The gig on Sunday, July 12, will be the final concert of Eisteddfod week and is being sponsored by the Village Bakery.

Managing Director Robin Jones said: "We're very proud to have supported the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod for a number of years because it is such a fantastic festival that puts Wales on the world map.
"We can't wait to be in the audience when Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey bring the curtain down on this year's. I'm sure it's going to a brilliant concert."
Other big draws during Eisteddfod week include Oscar-winning music legend Burt Bacharach, the immensely popular Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, heart-throb tenor Alfie Boe and TV choirmaster Gareth Malone.
There will also be the world premiere of a new work to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Welsh colony in Patagonia in a concert that will also star former royal harpist Catrin Finch.
According to Campbell, now 56, who was born and raised in Birmingham, he can't wait to experience the magic of the Llangollen Eisteddfod.

He said: “We are promoting reggae to packed audiences right around the world and are really looking forward to Llangollen.”

“Reggae just gives you something different, a freedom I suppose. It’s probably the youngest genre around but I listen to music from all around the world and the reggae influence is massive. It’s so influential."

Campbell, who now lives in Christchurch on the south coast, added: "We are in the middle of world tour which is going brilliantly. The simple truth is we are the hottest reggae band around. If you want real reggae and the real UB40 then it has to be us.

“In the last year we have performed in Australia and New Zealand, where I was one of the three judges on New Zealand’s Got talent, and Papua New Guinea.

Father-of-eight Campbell added: “I just want to put on the best show possible and that’s what I promise UB40 fans who come to see our shows. Llangollen won’t have seen anything like it, it’s that simple.”

The Llangollen International Music Festival's musical director, Eilir Owen Griffiths, said: “We try to ensure as many genres as possible are represented at the Eisteddfod and I’m sure the audience will be thrilled to hear Ali Campbell, the legendary voice of UB40, with Astro and Mickey performing all those top UB40 hits.

“It promises to be a wonderful final concert and it will be a great way to bring the curtain down on what promises to be another fantastic week-long festival.   

He added: “The unique atmosphere will be evident on the Eisteddfod field throughout the week as hundreds of competitors and thousands of visitors mingle with spontaneous performances breaking out.

“It’s a fantastic event and, like many of our volunteers, staff and supporters, I absolutely love it.”

* To book tickets and for more details on the 2014 festival go to the website at

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Castle Street traffic meeting tonight

This meeting is tonight ...

Councillor's business tip for Llan firms

Llangollen county councillor Stuart Davies is urging local businesses to contact a big construction firm if they wish to gain work from the construction going on in the county.

He said: "Read Construction is holding a 'Meet the Buyer' event on Thursday, May 28.

"The event will take place from 9.30am to 12.30pm in the site compound at Bodnant Community School in Prestatyn.

"Read wants to meet local businesses with a view to their potentially working on the construction of the Bodnant Community School extension and other projects.

"Read operates all across North Wales, so the opportunities for suppliers to engage with the company are not limited to the Bodnant project.

"The extension and refurbishment of the school is set to be completed in summer 2016 and will allow 420 full time pupils and up to 60 part time nursery pupils to attend the school."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Isherwood's challenge over homelessness

Shadow Housing Minister Mark Isherwood has challenged the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty over her statement on  Homelessness Legislation, stressing that homelessness figures will only fall once the housing supply crisis facing Wales has been addressed.
Mr Isherwood (pictured below) referred to the fact that in England, housing waiting lists have fallen by over 300,000, from 1.7 million, since 2010, yet a report commissioned by the Welsh Government reported four years ago that housing waiting lists in Wales stood at 90,000 and the October 2014 Homes for All Cymru Manifesto starts: “‘There is a housing crisis with more than 90,000 households on waiting lists’.
He therefore asked the Minister: “Do you therefore have figures for waiting lists in Wales, and if these figures are correct, why do you believe they have fallen by 300,000 in England and are still stuck at 90,000 in Wales?
“You state in your statement that you expect the duties on local authorities ‘to prevent homelessness in at least three out of four cases initially and, in due course, even more.’ Clearly, that can be the case, working particularly with third sector providers on things like tackling substance misuse, supporting former veterans, perpetrator programmes, domestic abuse, and so on, to keep households together. But, of course, that doesn’t tackle the housing supply shortage.
“How will you ensure that, therefore, we don’t get a repeat of the situation in 2004, when the Welsh Government intervened after housing waiting lists had grown by more than 120 per cent, and the housing charities subsequently announced that though homelessness fell, hidden homelessness - sometimes called ‘sofa surfing’ - had more than doubled?”
Mr Isherwood, who on Tuesday attended the Let’s Keep On Supporting People in Wales campaign event where he spoke of his support for Supporting People Services and called for the budget to be protected, reiterated this call in the chamber.  
Speaking outside the chamber, he added: “Labour’s massive social and affordable housing cuts from devolution in 1999 caused the housing crisis in Wales that is condemning tens of thousands to waiting lists, overcrowding and homelessness. It also cannot be emphasised strongly enough that services funded by the Supporting People Programme grant deliver better lives whilst saving NHS Wales and Local Authorities money.”   

Sunday, May 24, 2015

New town trails leaflets from county council

* Councillor Huw Jones with Fiona Dolben from the Destination,
Marketing and Communications team launch the new town trails. 
A NEW set of leaflets promoting town trails across Denbighshire is hot off the press.

The county council’s Destination, Marketing and Communication Unit has redesigned its suite of Town Trails in Llangollen, Corwen, Ruthin, Denbigh, St Asaph, Prestatyn and Rhuddlan, including a brand new one produced for Rhyl.

Councillor Huw Jones, Cabinet Lead Member for Promoting Denbighshire said: “We are delighted to launch these new look town trails they will be extremely useful for local tourism businesses to promote the area and to inform visitors who are interested in local history wishing to explore the interesting architecture in Denbighshire as well as delving into its fascinating stories and past.

"These free leaflets will be available from the Tourist Information Centres Tourist Information Centres and libraries in Denbighshire."

* For further information or a free copy of any of the towns, contact Denbighshire’s Destination, Marketing and Communications Unit on 01824 706072.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Health centre to be sold on open market

* The existing health centre in Berwyn Street.

LLANGOLLEN Health Centre is to be put up for sale on the open market, according NHS chiefs.

The move comes after the building in Berwyn Street, which is due to be replaced this summer by the new £5 million primary care resource centre currently being built in Mill Street, was offered for possible redevelopment as affordable housing and there were no takers.

The fate of the current health centre, which houses the area’s GP practice, was the subject of a Freedom of Information request to its owners, the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), by Llangollen resident Mike Edwards who says he is “extremely disappointed” with the response.

Mr Edwards asked a number of questions, including whether the board has the building on a freehold basis, exactly how it was declared surplus to requirements, if the property is listed and if the board intends consulting the community about its disposal.          

In its reply the board confirms it owns the freehold and says: “The decision to transfer the GP practice to a new primary care resource centre was made at the BCUHB meeting in January 2013, following formal public consultation. 

“The papers from that board meeting outlined clearly how services would be changed, as a result of which the premises are no longer required.

“These changes included the development of a Primary Care Resource Centre (PCRC) in Llangollen.  This is currently under construction and is due to open in the summer of 2015.

“The site option appraisal undertaken for the replacement PCRC development discounted the use of the current health centre and the site was declared surplus to use. 

“There are statutory obligations with regards to listed buildings, and buildings in conservation areas, therefore if it was applicable these requirements would be taken into consideration.

“The health board has considered community benefit in the sense that the property has been offered for affordable housing and advertised on the e-PIMS website. There are no further plans to consider community benefit.”

The board’s reply adds that health boards in Wales are obliged to offer any surplus land or buildings considered to have potential for residential development for the development of affordable housing in the first instance.

And it adds: “The availability of Llangollen Health Centre was offered, however this did not produce a result.

“The health board now intends to offer the property for open market sale.”

Mr Edwards said of the response: I am extremely disappointed at the length of time it has taken to answer my request which was made originally back on April 8.
“The board's initial reply referred to the wrong property although I clearly identified the subject property with its postcode. I can only conclude that the health board is being deliberately obtuse and employed delaying tactics.

“It is alarming to find that that the board has no intention of consulting the local community about the future of a building which was originally constructed as a school with the support of public contributions. 

“The property is in a conservation area so any future schemes need to be tastefully designed in sympathy with the buildings in the immediate area, particularly St Collen's Parish Church and Llangollen residents need to be consulted.”

He added: “The board are clearly proposing to sell the property on the open market to the highest bidder when in fact they came by the property through a transfer from the former Secretary of State for Wales (pre-devolution) and are now endeavour to profit from its disposal whilst totally ignoring the views of the residents of Llangollen. 

“They appear to have learnt nothing from the recent proposals in relation to maternity services at Glan Clwyd which we all know is subject to Judicial Review because of the inadequacies in the way they imposed their decision on the public.”

Friday, May 22, 2015

Chain Bridge walk cancelled

llanblogger is publishing the following emergency notice on behalf of The Rotary Club of Llangollen.  
Chain-Bridge pre-opening walk to raise funds for charity
Sunday 24th May 2015 has been cancelled
Please accept our apologies that the pre-opening crossing of the Chain Bridge planned by The Rotary Club of Llangollen for this coming Sunday, 24th May 2015 will not be going ahead due to reasons beyond our control.   Thank you for your ongoing support of the community via Rotary and we are sorry if this has caused you any inconvenience.   For any further information about the activities of Rotary in and around Llangollen please contact Club President Mr. Nigel Rainsbury on:  

Libraries put out call for young volunteers

Libraries in Denbighshire are offering volunteering opportunities for young people this summer to support children who are taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge.

By getting involved, says the council, young people can gain valuable work experience and volunteer hours, an opportunity to develop confidence, social skills, employability and literacy skills, and an opportunity to make a positive contribution to their communities and make new friends.

“If you’re looking for something to do this summer, want to develop skills and confidence that could help with college or job applications, or need to be involved with volunteering for the Welsh Bacc or DofE this could be ideal for you,” said Bethan M Hughes of Denbighshire Libraries.

“We’re looking for young people aged 14-24 who can offer us a minimum of 3 hours a week over at least four weeks between July and September.

"You’ll need to have good communication skills and preferably a willingness to engage with children and families in both Welsh and English, an interest in supporting and working with children, and in books and reading, and you’ll need to be flexible, friendly, and reliable.

“You will help children to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge, which this year is called Record Breakers. You will chat with children about what they’re reading, help them choose books to read and use the Challenge website, and encourage them to complete the challenge.

“This year, the volunteering opportunities are on offer in Prestatyn, Ruthin and Denbigh libraries.

"There will be an open information evening at each library when you can find out more about the volunteering opportunities: Prestatyn Library on June 1, Ruthin Library on June 2 and Denbigh Library on June 8, all between 5.30-7pm.

“If you think you’d like to join our team of Young Volunteers, just contact one of these libraries to pick up an application pack or go to”

In 2014, 4692 children in Denbighshire took part in the Mythical Maze Summer Reading Challenge in their local library. This year’s challenge will be called Record Breakers and follow the theme of Guinness World Records.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sainsbury's pulls out of Llan store development

llanblogger exclusive ...

* Contractors started work only recently on the steel frame of the new store.

* Now with comment by Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates at the foot of story

SAINSBURY’S have pulled out of plans to take over the supermarket now being built for them in Llangollen.
And the shock move leaves a question mark hanging over the 130 jobs promised by the development.
The store giant says it is now looking for another business to take over the 34,000 square foot building currently being built on the former Dobson & Crowther printworks site off the A5.

It was known as that as a result of tough trading conditions the store giant embarked on a review of planned new stores across the UK at the end of last year.
And this morning (Thursday) a Sainsbury’s spokesman confirmed they would be pulling out of the Llangollen development.

The spokesman said: “Following a review we have decided we will not be going ahead with the store on the site in Llangollen.
“We have not taken this decision lightly and are very disappointed we are not able to open a new shop in Llangollen.

“Since the proposals were first announced, shopping patterns have changed considerably and following a review, the scheme is no longer viable for us.

“There has been a fundamental shift in the retail market and in ways of shopping, such as convenience and online which means the scheme is no longer viable.
“It was a tough decision because we had worked really hard to get the support of the local community and to get their backing for the plan.”

The spokesman added: “J-Ross are developers on the scheme and we will be taking the building in August.
“We are now speaking to a range of different businesses to gauge interest and looking for someone to occupy the building.

“We want to make sure we get someone in there as quickly as possible and do it in a way that is complementary to the town.
“We are open to ideas.”   

Stuart Davies, one of the town’s county councillors, said he had been given the bombshell news by Sainsbury’s official by telephone just before he headed off on holiday abroad early this morning.
Cllr Davies, who has been a keen supporter of the controversial development, said he was “saddened” by the announcement and hoped the new store, currently in the early stages of construction on the former Dobson & Crowther site off the A5, could still be taken over by another supermarket company such as Aldi or Lidl.

He added: “The news that Sainsbury’s won’t be coming after all is a real shock.
“The company did say recently that it would be reviewing its programme of store openings, including the one in Llangollen, due to difficult trading conditions.

“I was hopeful that this review would bear out the case for them coming here but now they have finally decided to pull out it is very saddening.
“Much will now have to be decided about the future of the building now going up on the old printworks site but I trust that it can still be used as supermarket, bringing much-needed jobs into the area.

“I will be asking our county economic development team to provide what assistance it can in ensuring Llangollen gets a new supermarket of some form.
“I don’t mind whether it ends up being Aldi or Lidl if they bring some jobs with them.”

The Sainsbury’s development on the old Dobson & Crowther site was part of a deal in which the print company was assisted to move to a new purpose-built factory just further along the A5 on former farmland at Cilmedw.
The firm took up occupation of its new headquarters last year and contractors moved in to clear its former site.

Work on the steel structure of the new supermarket has started in the past few weeks and the store was due to be trading by the end of the year.
The Sainsbury’s plan caused a welter of opposition from its announcement in 2012, which continued through its approval by the county council later that year and beyond.

Opponents, led by campaign group Keep Llangollen Special, argued that the town did not need such a large new food store and that it would badly damage the trade of small shops in the town.
They were particularly against the inclusion of a cafĂ© in the development, which they claimed would have a ruinous effect on local food outlets. 

Doubt was cast over the future of the development late last year after Sainsbury’s announced a half-year loss before tax of £290 million.
Like other large supermarkets they have been under pressure from the rise of discount chains like Aldi and Lidl.

Martin Crumpton, chair of Keep Llangollen Special, said: “This is a victory for common sense and persistence.

“KLS is thrilled an delighted and it’s cause for celebration from one end of the town to another.

“In terms of the site, we see this as a golden opportunity to bring in something like a technical park or warehousing that will bring in employment – skilled and semi-skilled jobs.”  

Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said: “While I am disappointed that Sainsbury's has decided not to occupy the building, it will be completed and it will be occupied.
"This latest development offers us an opportunity to see an alternative retailer such as Aldi or Lidl come to Llangollen if that is what people want.
“We also have an opportunity to say what business use or type of retailer we’d like to see here, so I will be relaying the views of residents to Sainsbury’s as they look to sub-let this brand new building. I would ask my constituents to get in touch and tell me what they want.
“The key demand is that we continue to safeguard and create jobs in Llangollen, as well as build on the town's fantastic reputation.”
* An artist's impression of the completed Sainsbury's store.

Nepalese dancers still aiming to be at Eisteddfod

* Sue McEvoy and Ben Sawin from Llangollen Eisteddfod
with  Todd Lochhead who is co-ordinating efforts to
bring over a dancing troupe from Nepal called
The Rising Culture Group to next year's Llangollen
International Eisteddfod and Lisa Lochhead.

Members of a Nepalese dance troupe  still hope to be at this summer’s Llangollen Musical Eisteddfod - despite the devastation caused by two earthquakes.

More than 30 dancers from the Rising Culture Group from the World Heritage site of Bhaktapur, about 10 miles from the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu and around 100 miles from Mount Everest, had hoped to  attend this year's festival.

A major fund-raising campaign had been launched to  enable them to travel 5,000 miles from their country on the roof of the world to compete at Llangollen 2015 in July.
But their dream of coming to Llangollen suffered a huge setback when the first 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on April 25, damaging large areas of the country and claiming over 8,000 lives.
Then, just as its people were trying to recover, Nepal was hit by a second large quake of 7.3 magnitude on May 12 which killed hundreds more and caused even further destruction.
In the wake of the second disaster, Todd Lochhead, the Bristol man leading the effort to bring the dancers to the Eisteddfod, decided to fly over to Nepal to visit Bhaktapur.
He wanted to offer what support he could to members of the group which is based at the Rising English School in the town run by his friend Kapil Banebepali and his wife Chandika who he first met when he was teaching English there 20 years ago.
One of the people 45-year-old Todd, a New Zealander who works as a financial consultant, greeted at the school on his arrival from the UK was the young drum-master of the troupe, Manish Shilpakar.
Speaking from the school, where he is now living after his home was badly damaged by the first earthquake, 24-year-old Manish said: “A lot of my family members and friends have also lost their homes.
“Conditions are pretty bad over here but we are coping by joining together as a community.
“Before the earthquakes we were all looking forward to coming to Llangollen and I am still hopeful we will be able to get there.”
Todd said he had been shocked to see the destruction on the ground when he arrived.
And while he stressed that day to day living was still the first priority for people associated with the dance group, he revealed he was due to discuss the possibility of at least a small number of them making a token visit to the Eisteddfod if at all possible.
Describing what he had found when he arrived in Bhaktapur at the weekend, Todd said: “When I see the result of the two earthquakes all around me the word devastation takes on a whole new meaning.
“I believe about 600 people in the town were killed in the first earthquake and I’ve heard that one or two died in the second one.
“I’d say 80 to 90 per cent of the houses in the town have either been completely demolished or are in an unstable condition.
“The great fear for many people is actually going outside into the street in case buildings fall on top of them.
“Although the front of the school collapsed in the first quake it was still semi structurally safe because it’s built of concrete.
“This means people from the area have been using it as a refuge. There were initially about 150 people sleeping outside in the school grounds.
“As I speak there are still about 100 people sleeping there – including myself – and they are on very simple matting.
“They are cooking and sharing what food they have. The shops are open, which is amazing when you see what destruction there has been.
“There are relief teams in the area, including the Chinese and Turkish Red Cross and Indian troops are helping with the clear-up operation.”
Todd, who is due back in the UK later this week, added: “Thankfully, no-one from the dance troupe has been injured or killed but some have lost relatives.
“The dance teacher, Mukti, has had his house completely destroyed which means he and his two children, son Roshik and daughter Rhosika, who are both around 10 or 11 years old, have been left homeless.
“Another family who are part of the group, Lashmi, and her three daughters, Manisha, Unisha and Ubisha, also lost their home. Nobody knew where they were for 10 days after the first quake but then they were found and I have now visited them in a Red Cross refugee camp.
“In the second earthquake earlier this month the two grandparents of one of the children at the school were both killed.
“In the April quake one of the adjacent buildings fell on to the school toilet. Ten people were killed but three children were rescued.”
Todd said that while daily survival was the main priority, before leaving Nepal he was due to speak to his friend Kapil about the possibility of a small number of the troupe trying to get over to visit the Eisteddfod.
“I will discuss whether one or two people might yet come over. I very much hope this could be done but it is still early days.
“After the two earthquakes I’d have said it was definitely not going to happen but every day there’s a bit more hope. We’ll just have to see how it goes.
“The number one priority for everyone sheltering at the school at the moment is shelter.
“I’m looking for a large tent along the lines of a marquee for them. They’re certainly going to need it if there’s another earthquake and, also, the monsoons are coming.
“If someone back in the UK could supply one of these it would be a godsend.
“As soon as I come home I’ll be trying to raise some money for the people in Bhaktapur.
“They need targeted aid for things like altering the school building to make it better able to withstand further earthquakes.
“These people are very resilient but these two disasters have had a huge impact on them.”     
Rising English School founder Kapil Banebepali said: “We are very much focusing on ensuring everyone is safe and it is difficult to think about anything else but that at the moment.”
Todd first came across the dancers when he journeyed to Nepal in 1995 to work as a teacher at the Rising English School.
Founded by Kapil and Chandika, who is now the principal, it offers lessons to children aged three to 13, many of whom would otherwise have ended up having to go out to work.
Kapil also started the dance troupe which performs traditional and highly colourful routines, one of the most striking of which is the stunning masked dance that has its roots deep in Hindu culture.   
Todd saw them perform and was so impressed that it became his dream to see them compete at Llangollen.
He visited the Eisteddfod office in Llangollen Pavilion a few days before the 2014 festival and arranged for them to register for the Children’s Folk Dance, Traditional Dance and Cultural Showcase competition categories.
Todd then set about the mammoth task of asking business contacts and friends to help him raise the estimated £40,000 to bring 34 people, including 20 dancers aged eight to 16, and musicians over to Llangollen.  
Fundraising was going well until the earthquakes hit Nepal with such catastrophic effects.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

MP says hunting ban should stay

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones (pictured below) says Members of Parliament should be prepared to "vote through the night" to stop David Cameron's Government bringing in legislation that would repeal the Hunting Act.

Speaking on the day she took her oath in Parliament in Welsh and English, she said: "The Conservatives and Plaid may be keen to bring back fox hunting, but I and the bulk of people around here are certainly not. 
"As someone who comes from and is proud to represent a rural area in Parliament, I support population control of foxes. But what I am totally against is that so-called sport where a pack of dogs chase foxes and then rip them from limb to limb.

"A previous Labour Government was right to ban that cruel practice - and I promise local residents that I will join other Labour MPs and I hope some MPs from other parties who care about animal welfare to make sure that foxes, hare and deer are protected from the kind of abuses that sadly used to be legal in this country."

Help available with superfast broadband says AM

Welsh Government help is available for residents and businesses struggling with slow broadband speeds, says an Assembly Member.

Ken Skates, the Labour AM for Clwyd South, has been distributing details to households in some of the more rural parts of his constituency to make people aware that support is available while they wait to be connected to the Superfast Cymru network.

Mr Skates said anyone who lives in Clwyd South can contact him for more information about what is on offer from the Welsh Labour Government.

He said: “If your home or business can’t yet access high-speed broadband, the chances are it’s on its way as a result of the Welsh Government’s Superfast Cymru programme.

“We are investing record sums in North Wales and most exchanges in Clwyd South are now live – such as Brymbo , Rhos, Ruabon, Cefn Mawr and Llangollen – or soon will be, like Chirk and Glyn Ceiriog. Few other nations have adopted such an ambitious plan, and we are on track to deliver it with the help of European money.

“If you are still waiting, there is other support available from the Welsh Labour Government. 

“Access Broadband Cymru is a grant of up to 90% of the costs of installing a fast broadband system, for example a satellite connection, and is also available for community solutions. If your current connection speed is slower than two mega-bits per second, you can qualify.”

Anyone based in Clwyd South who is interested in seeking the support is asked to email for more information and an application form.

Mr Skates added: “You can visit to see when you will be connected to the network.

“Superfast Cymru is a pioneering £425m project which aims to address the market failure of telecommunications companies, who have invested in urbanised areas where profits can be maximised instead of connecting homes in rural areas.

“We are on target to have 96% of homes and businesses linked up to the network by next summer – making us one of the best-connected countries in the world.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Councillor's concerns over pass road closure

* A council map showing the closure and alternative route.

LLANGOLLEN county councillor Stuart Davies says he has “grave concerns” about the temporary closure of a stretch of the Horseshoe Pass just as the busy summer season begins.

Cllr Davies has learned that Denbighshire County Council recently made an order banning vehicles from using a length of the A542 pass – one of the main approach routes to the tourist town – between the Ty Cerrig/PIas Norway junction and the White Hart/Pentredwr junction to allow carriageway reconstruction and resurfacing work to go ahead.

The county council public notice detailing the order says it will come into force on June 8 and remain in place for 18 months or until the completion of the works, whichever is the earlier.

However, the county says it is anticipated that the works will take about five weeks to complete.

The altemative route available for traffic will be via the A542, A5104, A494, Castle Street, Abbey Road and A542 and will be signposted accordingly.

Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout the period of closure.

Cllr Davies said: “I have grave concerns about this closure leading up to one of the busiest times of the year for the town.

“It will mean people having to divert through Corwen adding six miles or so on to their journey.

“I will be getting in touch with officers to make sure that the works are done as quickly as possible and to ensure that the closure is kept to a minimum period of time.”