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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BBC reports child's river death

The BBC is reporting this evening that a child has died in the river near Pontcysyllte.

For the full story, see:

A statement on the North Wales Police website says:

"North Wales Police, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and the Air Ambulance were called to an incident in a river in  Pontcysyllte near Llangollen around 5.00pm this evening (Wednesday 30th September).

"Sadly a child was pronounced dead at the scene and the next of kin have been informed.

"There are no more details available at present."

MP supports charities in conference speech

The right of charities to campaign and to provide services for people in need has been at the heart of what it's meant to be a charity in Britain for over 100 years.

That was the message from Susan Elan Jones MP (pictured) to a capacity meeting of charities at this week's Labour Party Conference.

The Clwyd South MP is co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Charities and a Shadow Wales Office Minister.

She said: "I was delighted to speak at such a well-attended meeting of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) and also join in a discussion with audience members and other speakers.
"Charities make our local area, our country and our world a better place, and it was great to be able to discuss the future of charities at this important event." 

Community hub idea for old health centre

* The former health centre in Regent Street is empty since the opening of the new facility in Mill Street.

LLANGOLLEN’S former health centre should be turned into a business and community hub.

That’s the suggestion by a member of the town’s Cittaslow group, which fosters economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Following the recent move by the local GP practice to a new health centre in Mill Street, questions have been raised about the future of the old building, the former National School in Regent Street.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), which owns the building adjacent to St Collen’s church hall, says it is now looking at selling or finding an alternative use for it.   

Mike Edwards, a board member of Llangollen Cittaslow and also a member of the Keep Llangollen Special (KLS) community group, said: “I feel this is the health board's opportunity to help the people of Llangollen by making the property available as a business and community hub (BACH) which the chair of the Keep Llangollen Special group has already constructively discussed with Simon Dean, the acting chief executive of BCUHB.

“The idea would be to provide facilities for Llangollen's multiple small independent business and residents to offer them meeting space, ITC infrastructure for co-ordinated web and social media marketing, business start-up support, training and development to help them compete in the current volatile economy.

“It could have back-office provision such as secretarial, administration, printing and photocopying. The facility could also offer help and support for vulnerable people in our community.”

He added: “KLS would like to work with all other interested community based organisations and groups, including Cittaslow and Llangollen Food Assembly, to progress this scheme and develop a business case and plan to secure suitable grant aid and financial support.

“It should be remembered that an open market sale of the property by the health board would be complicated and difficult due to existence of the church hall co-joining the former GP surgery and the car park which is understood to be owned by the Church in Wales with rights of way and useage granted and enjoyed by the church body.

“It is also understood the local social housing providers have already turned down an offer to acquire the property.

“Another relevant factor is that the building was originally provided by voluntary public subscriptions so is and always has been an asset of community significance.”
A spokesperson for BCUHB said: “The property is owned by the health board and, following completion of the new primary care resource centre, has been identified as surplus to the health board’s requirements.

“As such we will now follow the Welsh Government guidance for the disposal assets. This may include sale or alternative use subject to the appropriate approvals.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Silver Band's fashion fundraiser

Llangollen Silver Band will be holding a fundraising and social evening at the Band Room in Parade Street on Saturday November 14 at 7.30 pm.

The event includes a sale of nearly new ladies clothes, bags and jewellery.

There will also be a buffet, raffle and drinks for sale.

Tickets are £3 and are available to purchase from the Honey Pots shop in Llangollen and from the band room on Monday evenings (7-9pm) and Friday evenings (6-8:30pm).

Tickets include entry with buffet and one drink (there will be more drinks for sale).

A band spokesman said: "We ask that those coming bring one or two items of good quality unwanted clothing, bags or jewellery to add to the sale if they can."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ll20 hit by powercut

Update ...

The power was back on again at around 10pm.

It's understood that one event affected by the outage was the St Collen's harvest supper at the Royal Hotel.

Luckily, however, the power didn't go off until after the main course had been served.

Llangollen suffered a power cut at around 8.45 this evening.
ScottishPower emergency line says a large number of properties in the LL20 area are affected and that teams have been despatched to deal with promlem caused by a fault in an overhead power line.

New ambulance response system gets green for go

THE Welsh Ambulance Service will embark on its pioneering new clinical model pilot this week.
Under the new model, those patients in imminent danger of death will get a life-saving response as quickly as possible.
All other patients else will have a response based on their clinical needs, but it might not always equal a trip to hospital – it could be a referral to NHS Direct Wales or their GP.
It is hoped the new model will end the current practice of sending multiple ambulances to a 999 call in order to meet the eight-minute target.
The pilot was established after the McClelland review recommended that Welsh Government move away from the eight-minute target to a more intelligent set of indicators, which put a greater emphasis on patient outcomes and experience.
The changes will come into effect on October 1.
Dr Brendan Lloyd, Medical Director at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Since 1974 our ambulance service has been measured by the time it takes to reach emergency calls.
“Para-medicine and pre-hospital care has developed rapidly since then, but the focus is still on how many ambulances arrive at calls within eight minutes regardless of the clinical outcome.
“That’s why we’re moving away from time-based targets to look more at the quality of what we do for our patients once we arrive.

“Having an ambulance arrive at a patient’s door quickly does not necessarily translate to a better outcome for the patient, but having the right type of vehicle arrive at a patient’s door and timely transport to a treatment centre does.”
The new model will introduce three new categories of calls – red, amber and green – to replace the current system.
RED calls are immediately life-threatening calls – someone is in imminent danger of death, such as a cardiac arrest.

There is compelling clinical evidence to show an immediate emergency response will make a difference to a person’s outcome.

The eight-minute target will be retained for this group of calls with an initial target of 65% receiving an eight-minute response

AMBER calls refer to those patients with conditions which may need treatment and care at the scene and fast transport to a healthcare facility, if needed.

Patients will be prioritised on the basis of clinical need and patients will receive a fast, blue light response.

There will be no time-based target for amber calls, but a range of clinical outcome indicators will be introduced to measure the quality, safety and timeliness of care being delivered alongside patient experience information, which will be published every quarter.

GREEN calls are less urgent calls, which can often be managed by other health services, like GPs, or through self-care.

This category also includes calls from healthcare professionals, which will be handled in a different, planned way in the future.
Dr Lloyd added: “In order to meet the complex and growing demands on our ambulance service, we need to transform the way we deliver our services.
“This new model will make our ambulance service among the most progressive in the world.”
* There is a more information about the pilot on the Trust’s website.
You can also keep abreast of news and updates by following the Welsh Ambulance Service on Twitter @WelshAmbulance and on Facebook.

Government announces help for retailers

Economy Minister Edwina Hart has announced the Welsh Government has extended and enhanced the Wales Retail Relief scheme for 2015-16 to help retail businesses cut up to £1500 off their rates bill.
Last year more than10,500 retailers benefited from the scheme which cut annual rates bills by up to £1000.

Edwina Hart is encouraging eligible retail, food and drink businesses to take advantage of the additional savings offered in the current financial year by the Wales Retail Relief scheme.

The Minister said: “The Welsh Government introduced Wales Retail Relief last year to help retailers across Wales, many of which were experiencing difficult trading conditions. I am pleased that more than 10,500 businesses benefited from reduced rates that helped cut their costs and improved their bottom line.

“I hope many more businesses will take advantage of the extended and enhanced scheme that we have launched this year and I would encourage them to contact their local authorities that are administering the scheme on behalf of the Welsh Government.

“Our town and village centres need successful traders and Wales Retail Relief contributes to the package of Welsh Government support aimed at developing vibrant and sustainable town centres.”

Ratepayers that stand to benefit from this relief will be occupying properties that have a rateable value of £50,000 or less, that are wholly or mainly being used as retail premises - shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments.

The relief is available until 31 March 2016 and offers up to £1,500 subject to state aid limits. Business that benefited from relief last year can also apply for the current relief.

The announcement came during High Street Week, the highlight of the Welsh Government’s ‘Support Your High Street’ campaign, which encourages people to make use of the excellent shops and businesses available on their doorstep.

* Detailed guidance is available on our website here: Wales Retail Relief.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Concerns over self-catering businesses raised by AM

Speaking in the Assembly Chamber this week, North Wales AM Mark Isherwood has twice raised the concerns of North Wales businesses that  Welsh Government proposals for changes to the non-domestic rating of self-catering businesses will have “horrendous unintended consequences for truly genuine Welsh businesses”.
Mr Isherwood (pictured below) raised the matter in this week’s Business Statement, and the following day with the Economy Minister.   
Speaking in the Business Statement he said: “Could I ask you to bring to the Chamber the Welsh Government’s proposals for changes to the non-domestic rating of self-catering businesses in Wales before you lay your proposed Order on this, expected imminently, certainly before Christmas?
“You will be, no doubt, aware that the Wales Association of Self Catering Operators, the only membership body specifically representing self-catering operators in Wales, has said that any proposed measures enacted by the Welsh Government should enhance the positive contribution self-catering makes to the Welsh economy and that translating the concept of 70 days’ occupancy and 140 days’ availability into firm rules should allow for mitigation in those unforeseen and unforeseeable circumstances where bone fide businesses are unable to meet either criterion for reasons clearly and certifiably outside of their control.
“I’ll quote one operator only, although I’ve been deluged from North Wales: ‘The Welsh Government proposals have horrendous unintended consequences for truly genuine Welsh businesses that are beyond their control. It will be the death knell for small self-catering and many other businesses in the heart of rural Wales, especially north Wales.’”
The Minister for Finance and Government Business Jane Hutt AM told Mr Isherwood  to write to the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport about this, but the following day Mr Isherwood raised it directly with the Minister in the Chamber.
He said:  “In a letter they sent to all AMs on August 31st, the Wales Association of Self Catering Operators expressed concern about the way the Welsh Government perceives self-catering in Wales and that the Welsh Government is insufficiently aware  that self-catering in Wales is an important business sector in its own right, employing large numbers of people, supporting local suppliers and benefitting local rural economies.”
Mr Isherwood added:  “The Minister’s dismissive response was alarming and I will now be writing to her in the hope of a better response. As someone in North Wales with 18 properties told me ‘these are not second homes, this is a letting business.’”

Friday, September 25, 2015

Mind Body and Spirit Fair this weekend

A Mind, Body & Spirit Fair will be held this weekend in the Community Hall next to St Collen's Church in Llangollen.

On both Saturday and Sunday, from 9am-4pm, there will be stalls, free talks.

Admission is free.

Anna buzzing about new ice cream

* Launching new Honey ice cream ready for Llangollen festival is Anna Taylor.
An ice cream maker is buzzing about a new flavour it's launching.
Chilly Cow Ice Cream will be unveiling the honey and lavender variety at the popular Hamper Llangollen food festival on Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18.
Anna Taylor who runs the company based at Llanychan, near Ruthin, will be using honey farmed just down the road from her by enthusiastic beekeeper Brian Dacre, a carpenter who makes hand-crafted bee hives as well as farming bees.
Anna, who started Chilly Cow Ice Cream just 15 months ago, has seen her business grow from having just a handful of customers to 45 outlets.
She said: “Brian’s honey is pure gold, just delicious and there’s big demand for it, plus it’s local to us, so perfect for using in a new flavour of ice cream. I am about to start work on developing it and testing to create a unique new flavour. The idea is to combine it with lavender, which will be an ideal foil for the honey. I plan to launch it at Hamper Llangollen so I can offer foodie lovers the chance to taste it before they buy.”
The popular event in Llangollen’s Royal Pavilion is recognised as one of the UK's top 10 food festivals.
Cadwyn Clwyd has provided financial support over the past few years to ensure the festival's long term viability, this was funded through the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government.
The honey and lavender flavour is the latest in a growing range of ice cream produced by Anna in a specially converted building at Stryt Fawr Farm, the family home where her husband, David and his father farm a herd of 75 Brown Swiss diary cows.
Anna said: “The Brown Swiss cows produce a rich, creamy milk, with high buttermilk content. It’s great for ice cream. We are so lucky to have them. Their milk makes a far nicer ice cream product than any other. I know I’m biased, but I love it.”
The idea to start producing ice cream professionally came after she had a go at it as a dessert for herself and David and their two children, Harry, seven and Ellie, five.
Anna said: “We started making a small quantity and it was so delicious that we decided to take the idea further. We looked into production costs, had some batches made up professionally using our milk and recipe and they were so good that we decided to go for it and set up a manufacturing unit here at the farm.”
Helped by local authority grants and advice from small business support organisations, the couple converted a former garage into a brand new production unit and it was not long before Anna had become a full time ice cream maker.
She said: “I used to have a job as a mortgage advisor and at first I thought I would be able to make ice cream part time and continue with the job I trained for during the rest of the week. But demand grew so quickly that was just impossible.”
Anna now has a part time employee who helps with the ice cream manufacturing, while she herself is also there most of the week, as well as taking to the road to distribute her orders across the region on a Friday.
She supplies delicatessens, pubs, hotels and food shops from Rossett to Llandudno.
“We also supply the shop at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, which I’m really proud of,” she said.
She also sells ice cream tubs direct from the farm.
Her growing flavour range includes traditional favourites such as vanilla, strawberry ripple, and chocolate, more unusual sticky toffee fudge, lemon meringue, chunky chocolate mint, and exotic flavours like mango and passionfruit and cherry cheesecake.
She said: “I taste all the flavours myself to make sure they work and I never sell any flavour that I’m not totally happy with. One of our most popular varieties, though, is the one called Just Chilly Cow, which has no additional flavourings at all – it is made purely of our own fantastic milk.”
Anna is a big fan of food festivals, like Hamper Llangollen and is also a member of the Clwydian Range Food Trail, which includes small artisan food producers around the region.
She said: “It is great to be part of the trail as I get to meet so many other excellent local producers and often we can help each other out by including each other’s links on our websites. Word of mouth also helps spread the news about all our products. That’s why Hamper Llangollen is so good. Once people have tried our ice cream there, they will often go home and tell friends and family about it, which is a great way of getting our brand more widely known.”
For more information about Chilly cow range visit and for details about Llangollen Food Festival-Hamper Llangollen 2015 visit

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Aldi has "no news" about taking over Llan supermarket

* Work continues on the new supermarket off the A5.

ALDI says it has “no news” about any possible interest in the new supermarket being built in Llangollen.

And one of the area’s Welsh Assembly Members said he understands talks about a possible tenant for the 34,000 sq ft building off Berwyn Road are continuing.
The two statements obtained by llanblogger come after a week of intense speculation that a bargain retailer would be taking over the store, on the former Dobson & Crowther printworks site, in the wake of Sainsbury’s withdrawal from the scheme earlier this year.

Since then the store giant has been trying to find a tenant.
Word on social media was that it would be Aldi but llanbogger has been unable to have this either confirmed or denied by official sources.

All a spokesperson at the public relations company representing the German-owned company would say was: I have spoken to Aldi and there is no news on a possible store in Lllangollen.
“Obviously, if this changes I’ll keep you updated, but currently there is nothing to report.”

Clwyd South AM Ken Skates told llanblogger that Sainsbury’s had informed him on Wednesday of last week that they are “continuing to discuss with interested parties.”
llanblogger broke the news back in May that Sainsbury’s had pulled out of plans to take over the new supermarket, dashing hopes for 130 promised jobs.

The company blamed tough trading conditions for the move.

A spokesman said at the time: “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.”

* llanblogger will continue to look for a definite answer on who the new tenant will be.

AM calls for urgent statement on GP "crisis"

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has called for an urgent statement from the Welsh Government on the GP "crisis" facing North Wales.
A leading doctor warned this week that more than half of GP surgeries in North Wales are at risk of closing in the next 12 months.
Speaking in this week’s Business Statement, Mr Isherwood said: “Can I again raise the very important, critical matter, where the Vice-Chair of the North Wales Local Medical Committee has today raised a crisis that must be dealt with urgently, if thousands and thousands of people across North Wales are not to suffer?
“North Wales Members know already, although we’re sworn to confidentiality, that further closures are in the pipeline that will already affect thousands more patients.
"We know that the Chair of the North Wales Local Medical Committee said that both GPs and out-of-hours surgeries are facing ever-growing pressure and that the closure of community hospitals and cuts to minor injuries clinics are responsible for the current crisis facing GPs and accident and emergency departments in North Wales.
“I’ve been writing to the Minister about this after meeting GPs in North Wales for nearly two years, highlighting their concerns about the inability to recruit, the British Medical Association description of the impending crisis in North Wales and, of course, the Royal College of General Practitioners’ campaign highlighting this and its causes, including the shortage of beds in community hospitals.
"Given the imminent crisis that we’ve been warned about for years and years, what is your Government going to do about it? Please can we have an urgent statement?”
The Minister for Finance and Welsh Government Business, Jane Hutt, replied: “We have just announced a new package of support for GP practices and agreed a new two-year contract with GPs. I do believe also, in terms of our work, which is very important, with the General Practitioners Committee Wales and health boards, to encourage ways in which we can ensure that access to primary care has improved, that that is making a difference.”
Mr Isherwood added: “If all the problems have now been addressed by the Welsh Government, why do they think this warning was issued today? As GPs in North Wales told me 20 months ago when I met them to discuss the Royal College of General Practioners Wales’ ‘Put Patients First – Back General Practice’ campaign,  top of their serious concerns was recruitment, where the average age of GPs in North Wales was over 50 but that they couldn’t recruit, and other concerns included the shortage of beds at community hospitals.”

Skates drives into school bus row

An Assembly Member says it’s ‘time for common sense to prevail’ as the battle to reinstate an axed school bus continues.

Clwyd South AM Ken Skates has previously called on Denbighshire County Council to reverse the decision to cut the service to Ysgol Caer Drewyn – a plea which fell on deaf ears.

He has now requested a meeting with council chief executive Dr Mohammed Mehmet in a bid to find a resolution to the situation.

More than a dozen families now face walks of between one and two miles along Green Lane, the busy main route for traffic travelling to and from Ruthin.

Mr Skates said: “The parents who don’t drive now either have to pay for 10 taxis a week or walk their children up to two miles each way twice a day along a route which the council until recently deemed hazardous. They feel that their children are being put in danger. 

“I recently obtained a copy of the council’s risk assessment of the route for a constituent, and every parent who has seen it disagrees with the findings.

“Locals will tell you that Green Lane is in need of traffic-calming measures as it is, and I would invite the council officers who don’t think there’s a problem to put themselves in the shoes of the parents and walk the route during the morning rush hour. Let them see how easy it is to walk a half-hour journey while pushing a pram and keep their other children safe when there are no pavements. I’ll happily join them.”

Mr Skates says he will invite Corwen councillors Huw Jones and Simon Watkins along to the meeting if granted a platform by Denbighshire.

The Labour AM added: “I know Huw and Simon have been working hard on this too, so it’s important we work together to get the right result. This is already creating huge difficulties for parents, and I know the school is concerned about the children’s safety.

“The council says it’s ‘following guidelines’, but I’m afraid people see that as an attempt to deflect the blame for this vital service being withdrawn. They are exactly that – guidelines. Each case should be judged on its own merit, and it’s time for common sense to prevail.”

Chance to have your final say on maternity services

* Mabon ap Gwynfor with Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru Wrexham.
Public meetings, including one in Llangollen, have been organised to give people a last chance to have their say on the proposed changes to maternity services at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales have organised three community meetings next week where they will encourage as many people as possible to oppose the proposed downgrading of maternity services in north Wales.
The first will be at Brymbo Cricket Club, on Monday 28th September at 7.30pm.
The second meeting will be at the Wynnstay Arms, Ruabon on Wednesday 30th September at 7.30pm, and the final meeting will be at Llangollen Town Hall, on Thursday 1st October, at 7.30pm.

The Health Board have put forward four options for maternity services in north Wales

The first is to implement no change to the consultant-led service.

The second option is to downgrade the maternity service at Wrexham Maelor from being a consultant led service to a midwife led unit.

The third is to downgrade maternity services at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor. And the fourth option is to downgrade maternity services at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Bodelwyddan.

The consultation will finish on October 5th.

Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru – The Party Of Wales’ Assembly Candidate for Clwyd South, said: “The proposals to downgrade maternity services across north Wales have caused real concern and anxiety for a great many people.

“If the service at Wrexham Maelor is reduced it could mean 1,000 births going to Chester and a further 1,100 going to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. That raises concerns about transport, safety and the increased risk to mothers and babies.

"The poorly attended health board meetings have not addressed those concerns convincingly and it’s vital that people have their say in these local meetings.

"People raise this issue regularly with us and feel disempowered. They want to have their say, and that is why we’ve organised these meetings to gather evidence and information to feed into the Health Board’s consultation. If people want to express their feelings then we would urge them to attend one of these meetings, as it is likely to be their final chance to make a positive contribution.”

People wishing to contribute to the consultation can do so by:
* Writing to Maternity Services in North Wales, FREEPOST RSZZ-SGXY-TSEZ, LL17 0JG
* Or calling Freephone 0800 169 3142 (Monday – Friday 9 – 5, answerphone outside these hours) 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Flu jabs now available at health centre

Llangollen Health Centre has asked us to publish the following message about flu jabs ...

Our flu vaccinations have now arrived. 

You qualify for a flu vaccination on the NHS if you:

* 65 years of age or over
* have a chronic disease such as heart, renal, liver, neurological or respiratory disease 
* have diabetes
* have had a stroke or TIA
* are in receipt of a carer’s allowance  or  are the carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill
* are pregnant
* are a community first responder
* are a member of a recognised voluntary organisation  which provides planned emergency first aid at organised public events

Children aged two and three years (born on or after 1 September 2011 and on or before 31 August 2013), are eligible to have a nasal vaccination.

* To book your appointment please ring the Health Centre on 01978 860625.

Gwyn the Butchers wins top high street award

* Winner: Gwyn the Butchers in Castle Street.

A well-known Llangollen business has landed a top award from the Welsh Government.

Gwyn the Butchers in Castle Street was recently shortlisted for the High Street Heroes Awards established by Communities Minister Lesley Griffiths.

And it's just been announced that the shop, which recently hosted a visit by the Prince of Wales on the day he was attending the International Eisteddfod, is the winner in the awards' hotly contested Food and Drink category.

During a visit to Gwyn Davies, Lesley Griffiths said: "It should be a source of great pride to all of the winners of the High Street Favourites categories to have been celebrated in this way by local people.

"These businesses provide vital services and great produce, as well as valuable places for family and friends to come together to socialise.

“It is great to be here to meet the winner of the Food and Drink category, Gwyn Davies.

"The members of the public who nominated Gwyn praised the friendly and personal service they receive at his family business as well as his dedicated community work. Congratulations on your well-deserved award.”

The announcement comes during High Street Week, the highlight of the Welsh Government’s Support Your High Street campaign, which encourages people to make use of the excellent shops and businesses available on their doorstep.

Events and fun family activities are taking place across Wales this week, such as food and craft fairs, children’s activities, vintage days and street parties.

Winners in the various categories are:
  • Food and Drink - Gwyn Davies Butchers, Llangollen, Denbighshire
  • Fashion, health and beauty - Pout Boutique, Porth, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • Leisure, home and garden - Pieces for Places, Barmouth, Gwynedd
  • Professional and financial services - HighStreet Media, Treorchy, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • Eating out on the high street - Denbigh Chocolate Shop, Denbigh, Denbighshire
  • Community service provider - Artie Craftie, Blaenavon, Torfaen

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bond fan AM plans 007-themed fundraiser

A North Wales Assembly Member and life-long Bond fan is holding a 007-themed fundraiser as part of his 2016 election campaign.

Ken Skates, AM for Clwyd South, is issuing an open invitation to his Bond Ball in Ruabon on Friday, October 30, the same week the franchise’s latest movie Spectre hits UK cinema screens.

* The name's Skates - Ken Skates. 
Mr Skates said: “The evening will include a carvery, Buck's Fizz on arrival, music, roulette and prizes for the b est Bond-themed outfit. You only live twice, so dust off your dinner jacket, cocktail dress or metal-rimmed bowler hat and come along for a great night – I’ll be expecting you.”

The evening will take place at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel and tickets, which include food and drinks on arrival, are £30. Money raised will go towards Mr Skates’ Assembly election fund.

The Labour AM added: “Rather than just asking for people’s money to fund my campaign, I’m offering something in return – a fun night with food and entertainment.”

Mr Skates, the Welsh Government minister responsible for culture, sport and tourism, has been busy taking part in Bond-inspired activities this year to promote North Wales as Europe’s adventure capital.

He has sped across the waters of Pwllheli on a jet-ski, rode the waves of Surf Snowdonia, flow down the world’s largest zipwire in Bethesda and raced around Anglesey Circuit in a supercar.

Mr Skates said: “I’ve been blown away by the number of fantastic adventures across North Wales and am now a fully-fledged devotee of adventure tourism.”

Spectre, the 24th film in the 007 series, sees Daniel Craig reprise his role as the smooth-talking secret agent. Its UK release date is Monday, October 26.

If you are interested in buying tickets, email

Reminder to apply for cash seized from criminals

Time is running out for community groups in North Wales to bid for a share of a £42,000 pot of money seized from criminals.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC is urging organisations which help tackle anti-social behaviour and combat crime and disorder to get their application in before the deadline on October 2.
The scheme has been set up by Mr Roddick, North Wales Police and the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT).
Two groups from each county stand to receive £3,000 apiece while £6,000 is available for a group that operates across North Wales.
The Your Community, Your Choice initiative - otherwise known as the Participatory Budgeting Scheme - is being partly funded by the money recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash confiscated from offenders with the rest coming from Mr Roddick (pictured right).
Community groups are being urged to apply before the closing date on October 2.
Application packs can be found on the websites of the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner and North Wales Police.
A shortlist of applicants will be chosen by a special panel and from November 1 members of the public will decide which groups to support with a vote via the two websites and a dedicated email address.
Voting will then take place between October 26 and November 27.
Mr Roddick said: "Last year we had bids from across North Wales from all sorts of interesting groups doing great things in their local communities and I’m hoping for an even greater response this year.
"I would urge organisations to get their bids in now to make sure that they do not to miss out on this opportunity to hit criminals where it hurts most, their pockets.”
"It’s a first class scheme which brings the police and the community closer together.
"It gives an opportunity for the community to decide how they would like to see the funds we’ve extracted from criminals spent in their community.
"It also sends a very good message that crime does not pay and the ill-gotten gains of criminals are going back into the communities from which the money was taken.
"This is an opportunity to provide support for some fantastic community organisations in every part of North Wales.
"We are inviting the groups to make their applications and explain, if they are successful, how they would spend the money.
"What they do will contribute to the Police and Crime Plan to reduce crime and disorder in the area and that is a really positive thing.
"Our aim is to make North Wales an even safer place to live, work and visit."
Assistant Chief Constable Richard Debicki was equally enthusiastic.
He said: “I think the value of a scheme like this is it allows members of the public and local organisations right in the heart of communities to bid into a fund and to be part of the solutions to crime and disorder in their area.
"The money is from the Police Commissioner’s fund as well as money which has been seized, and assets confiscated from the proceeds of crime.
"It's absolutely right and proper that the money taken out of the hands of criminals is put back into the community.
"We are very happy to be a partner of the Police and Crime Commissioner in this initiative."
"This initiative should help to give the local community a great deal of confidence that the Police and the Commissioner are listening to their concerns.
"This is about the local community and local organisations working together and working with the police to put things in place at a local level in order to tackle the issues which matter to the public most.
PACT manager Dave Evans explained "The fund will be open for application by email using a standard application form that will be available on both the PCC’s website and North Wales Police’s website.
"We have had some particularly high quality applications in the last couple of years and we are looking for a similar quality this time.
“Applicants have to be a properly constituted community group or a registered charity and the main criterion is that the project in question helps to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
“It gives us the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of community groups and also importantly gives our local neighbourhood policing teams the opportunity to engage with those groups and support them with those projects that they want to run.
"I would highly recommend that applicants considering putting in a bid liaise with their local neighbourhood policing team to discuss their bid and make sure that it is as comprehensive as possible."
* Completed applications must be returned via email to by the closing date on October 2. For more information ring 01745 588516 or go to or

Monday, September 21, 2015

Llangollen on route of all-woman bike ride

Llangollen features in the latest all-women cycle ride which takes place next weekend.

Belles on Bike will be staged next Sunday, September 27.

As usual, the ride is just for women to get used to their bikes and build up their confidence so organisers from Sustrans say it doesn't matter if someone has never been on a bike, or even taken to the saddle for a while.

Riders will gather at Chirk Railway Station at 10.30am where they will meet the all-women team of Sustrans volunteers.

Sustrans volunteer ranger Ani Sutton said: "The National Cycle Network (NCN) that we are using runs along the towpath of the Llangollen Canal, and we are also celebrating 20 years of NCN this year.

"This is also a World Heritage Site so it is a really pretty route.

"We stop and start as many times as is needed, and if you need to stop lots of times, that is absolutely fine.

"No one will mind as the ride is intended to be this way, so don't think you will be too slow. There are places that we do have to walk also such as through tunnels and by moored boats.

"We work our way to Llangollen and have a bite to eat, either in the tea shop or you are welcome to bring your own nibbles, and then we make our way back the same way.

This helps with getting to know the route and confidence building. It is a really flat route along the canal and traffic free other than when we cross a road in Trevor, but volunteers are around to assist at all times."

Ani added: "Wear whatever you want, as long as you are comfortable. It's handy to wear gloves and unfortunately waterproofs may be a good idea to bring along, as we do tend to have a few showers on this route. A drink is also beneficial.

"A new addition to this ride is that we will be joined by a few female Canal & River Trust staff who are also new to cycling.

"The Canal & River Trust are promoting the 'Share the Space Drop the Pace' campaign to encourage cyclists to slow down and for everyone to share the towpath including anglers, boaters, runners, dog walkers etc, so there will potentially be signs at the two of our 'rest points' promoting this campaign."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Skates opens centre's new fitness studio

* Ken Skates AM cuts the tape on the new fitness studio at Splash Magic.

Assembly Member Ken Skates cut the ribbon to declare a leisure centre’s new fitness studio open for business.

The Clwyd South AM was one of the guests invited to the opening of the new Functional Training Studio at Splash Magic in Acrefair, formerly Plas Madoc Leisure Centre.

Darrell Wright, chairman of the Splash Community Trust, said: “It’s an addition to our existing gym and is a bit like a boot camp but indoors. There are monkey bars, ropes, kettlebells, all sorts of equipment to give people a fun and different workout.

“As is always the case with Splash, it’s been a tremendous team effort. The centre has paid for the equipment, and we’d to thank Craig Young from CY Consulting for all his advice.

“We’d also like to say a huge thank you to Kronospan for donating the flooring and Coleg Cambria students for once again lending their expertise to fit it.”

Chris Ryan, Kronospan’s company secretary, said: “Kronospan is delighted to have given Splash Magic our locally made flooring for the new gym area. So many volunteers work tirelessly for this special community-run leisure centre, so we are very pleased that we were able to help too.”

The Splash Community Trust was launched after Wrexham Council controversially closed Plas Madoc and faced a huge public backlash.

The centre was reopened by volunteers in December and has since gone from strength to strength, with all profits reinvested into improving the facilities.

Mr Skates, who was one of the founding members, added: “It’s a pleasure to be opening the new studio, which has been made possible thanks to the generosity and continued support of Kronospan and Coleg Cambria.

“The strides Splash Magic has made in such a short space of time have been amazing, and it’s a shining example to others of how facilities like this should be run.”

Heritage loco marks railway anniversary

To mark the sixth anniversary of her first public working on the line, heritage diesel locomotive D5310 will be in operation at Llangollen railway on Saturday September 26.

D5310 is a Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon (BRCW) Sulzer Type 2 locomotive built at Smethwick in 1958 and entered traffic in January 1959.

It was designed as a mixed traffic diesel-electric locomotive as part of British Railway's Modernisation Plan.

The loco was renumbered as 26010 in BR days and withdrawn in December 1992.

Following extensive restoration and repairs, the Class 26 arrived at Llangollen on September 9, 2009 and has proved to be a very reliable performer.

D5310 will be in operation alongside one of the railway's DMU fleet on the day and will work the 10:40, 13:00 and 15:10 departures from Llangollen.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

llanblogger takes a short break

llanblogger is taking a short break and will be back with all the latest news and information from the area in about a week's time ...

Dementia arts project coming to Llan

A project aimed at people living in the community with dementia is coming to Llangollen.
Lost in Art is will have sessions led by professional artists who are also Dementia Friends.
Its aim is to explore the role of the visual arts in addressing issues which can affect people with dementia, including social isolation, confidence, communication and quality of life and wellbeing. 
People with dementia often experience poor quality of life due to reduced independence, reduced activity and reduced social contact.
This reduction of social contact is often the result of the stigma associated with the condition and in light of this, there has been increased interest into finding activities in which people with dementia can engage with and enjoy without feeling patronised or stigmatised, and which stimulate the participants both mentally and physically, making them feel valued and deemed capable.
One such activity is art, and Bangor University’s evaluation of the Lost in Art programme identified a range of benefits which included suggested improvements in communication, mood, and memory.
Lost in Art has been running for five years in Denbighshire, funded by Arts Council of Wales and Denbighshire County Council.
The project runs in 11-week blocks and has been based at Ruthin Craft Centre and in various locations in Rhyl, where participants were encouraged to engage with current exhibitions. 
The participants are sometimes joined at workshops by a family member where they are encouraged to work both together and separately. 
The Lost in Art Regional programme builds on these ideas, providing an art programme across four counties for people with dementia to enjoy. 
Each project includes a visit by children from a local primary school. 
Following a visit to the school by a member of the Alzheimer’s Society, where pupils learn about dementia and become Dementia Friends, the children and their teacher spend an afternoon engaged in artistic activity with Lost in Art members, getting to know one another and enjoying the opportunity for some intergenerational exchanges.
No previous art experience is necessary, and workshops will be running over the autumn months in the following locations:  Llandudno, Llangollen, Mold, Rhyl, Ruthin and Wrexham. 
* If you would like to join any of the groups, phone Jo McGregor, Project Co-ordinator, on 07973 931097, or Denbighshire's Arts Officer Sian Fitzgerald on 01824 708216   .

Friday, September 11, 2015

Crime tsar rules out "go soft" policy

A crime tsar has rejected calls to "go soft" on crimes like burglary and small-scale cannabis offences.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick spoke out after it was suggested by a senior figure in national policing that people whose homes have been burgled should no longer expect officers to turn up at their door to investigate the offence

Chief constable Sara Thornton, who leads the National Police Chiefs’ Council, also said forces might not always investigate complaints about people growing cannabis.
Mr Roddick, pictured below, said: "There has been commentary in the press that cutbacks will necessitate police forces to decide not to attend at the burglary of someone's homes.
"I wish to make it clear I will never endorse this approach. The violation of one's home is one of the most traumatic crimes that anyone can suffer.
"I place security at home amongst my highest priorities. Domestic burglary levels in North Wales have, through hard work and dedication, been reduced to very low levels. Our intention is to continue prioritising this.
"We certainly shouldn’t go soft on either of these crimes, burglary in particular, because burglary by definition threatens people’s homes. One of my principal crime policies is that people should feel safe and secure at home. If you don’t feel safe and secure at home, you won’t feel safe and secure anywhere.
“So although the Chair of the Chief Constable’s Council has said the police won’t be enforcing burglaries when investigating them, that is not the North Wales Police policy, quite the contrary. North Wales Police will pursue burglars.
"Similarly, our policy towards drugs has not changed. The people we serve have every right to expect us to provide a comprehensive and professional service in these cases.
"In relation to cannabis, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In the last week or so there were no less than three reported cases in the newspapers showing how North Wales Police had enforced against three separate growers of cannabis.
"In one, there were many plants worth quite a lot of money. In another one, there were only five plants and in the other there were about a dozen plants.
"Those examples show that North Wales Police will enforce no matter how many plants you’re growing and each one of those persons was arrested, prosecuted and fined or imprisoned, so that is the answer, yes,  North Wales Police will enforce against them.
"Policing is a local matter. It’s the responsibility of the local force. The decision to enforce will be taken locally and not by the national council of chief constables."