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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

We're taking a short break

llanblogger is taking a short break and will be back in about a week's time ...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Llan represented in contest for young cooks

Nine top cooks from primary school across the county, including Ysgol Y Gwernant in Llangollen,  will gather at Denbigh High School for the grand final of this year’s Great Denbighshire Menu competition in May 2016. 

As one of Denbighshire Education and Children’s Services’ centrepieces to mark 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl, this year’s Great Denbighshire Menu Primary School Competition takes as its theme “Dahlicious” and asks children to choose their favourite Roald Dahl book to create a healthy (fictional) breakfast that could be served at school. 

Now in its second year, the Great Denbighshire Menu competition is a successful collaboration between Denbighshire Healthy Schools and Curriculum Enrichment initiatives. 

The competition encourages children to learn how to cook by using local ingredients to prepare healthy meals, while, at the same time, teaches them about the importance of food preparation. 

Healthy Schools Co-ordinator Paula Roberts said: “The copmpetition raises awareness about healthy eating and why it is important.  Your food choices each day affect your health — how you feel today, tomorrow, and in the future."

Curriculum Enrichment Co-ordinator, Sarah Dixon, said: “In the build up to the launch of the competition in February, students had been busily learning new skills in the kitchen and mastering their techniques.  We’re very proud of all these students for what they have achieved."

The young cooks endured rigorous school-based and regional heats to reach the Grand Final. 

The nine finalists from Ysgol Cefn Meiriadog, Ysgol Pendref, Ysgol y Llys, Ysgol Carreg Emlyn, Ysgol Bro Famau and Ysgol y Gwernant will now go head to head in the final.

* You can follow the competition on Twitter @cyfoeth_enrich and keep up to date with any news on

MP battles 80mph speed limit plan

Susan Elan Jones MP is calling on all Conservative candidates in North Wales to disown an election pledge in their party's  Assembly election manifesto to consult on increasing speed limits to 80 mph on the M4 and A55.

The Clwyd South Labour MP won cross-party support to introduce a bill to Parliament that sought to review sentencing for unlicensed or uninsured drivers who kill or seriously injure people.

In 2015, she was awarded 2015 Parliamentarian of the Year by national road safety charity Brake.

Susan Elan Jones MP said: "Far too many people have been injured and killed on our roads for us to give up the fight for road safety. From the community in Overton who campaigned for and got a 40 mph buffer zone to communities both sides of the border who are campaigning for a dual carriage on the A483/A5, road safety is a big issue in our area.

"We must continue with our campaigning and we must all work together cross-party. However we really can't do this when speeding is trivialised. I really hope that Conservative candidates in this election will make it quite clear that they do not support a 80 mph speed limit on any road. It is a very bad idea."

Brake spokesman Jack Kushner said: "We urge the government to reject needless proposals to increase speed limits to 80mph.

"We're disappointed it is being considered. Evidence from previous consultations made it clear that an increase would not only be dangerous - potentially 25 more deaths and 100 more serious injuries each year - but also highly damaging to the environment and economy."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Silver band teams with schoolchildren for enjoyable concert

* Llangollen Silver band play at the Methodist Church last night. 

LLANGOLLEN Silver band joined forces with the children of Ysgol Bryn Collen to present a Spring Concert at the town’s Methodist Church yesterday (Saturday) evening.
The band played more than a dozen numbers in three sets, ranging from stirring marches such as the Welsh-themed Arms Park to themes from films like The Mission and Singing in the Rain.

The children presented two sets of songs which included selections from their forthcoming production of the musical Cinderella Rockerfeller and numbers from the musicals Annie and Sound of Music.
Loud applause from a packed and appreciative audience persuaded the band to play two encore numbers to round off a very enjoyable evening’s entertainment.  

Legendary racer to star at Llan Bike Fest

Living legend Giacomo Agostini, widely acknowledged as the greatest motorcycle racer in history, will be guest of honour at the Llangollen International Motorcycle Festival - LlanBikeFest 2016 - on Saturday July 23 and Sunday July 24.

* Giacomo Agostini will star at Llan Bike Fest 2016.

With an unbeaten record of 122 Grand Prix wins and 15 World Championships titles, Ago is flying in especially from his Italian home to spend the weekend at the Festival meeting fans, judging competitions and providing opportunities for autographs and photos.

Agostini’s appearance at LlanBikeFest follows news that top British racers Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness are unable make it to the event because of changes in their commitments.

LlanBikeFest co-organiser John Hutchinson said: “We are sorry that McGuinness and Hutchinson have had to bow out – but that can happen during a busy racing season. We trust that the opportunity to meet Ago will more than make up for any disappointment.”

Ago commented: “I am looking forward to being at LlanBikeFest in July – a real festival of motorcycling for everyone who loves bikes, in a beautiful part of the world.”

LlanBikeFest 2016 will build on the successful Festival last year, which starred Carl Fogarty and Mick Grant, and attracted more than 6,000 visitors.
It is being held again at the town’s Pavilion set amid some of Britain’s best biking roads - at the foot of the Horseshoe Pass and its famously bike-friendly Ponderosa CafĂ©, and on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park.

On-site attractions will include hundreds of bikes, displays, stunts, demonstrations, trade and club stands, plus beer, bands and evening entertainment in Llangollen Town. There will also be a charity raffle in aid of Wales Air Ambulance.
Follow the event on Twitter at @llanbikefest and Facebook at Llangollen International Motorcycle Festival.

Day tickets are £10 on the gate or online at with concessions, or contact the Festival office at 07960 693398, Club stands and exhibitor bookings are free.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Railway steams back to Victorian times

Llangollen Railway will be stepping back in time to the Victorian era over the weekend of May 14 and 15 with a steam-filled historical experience for all the family.

At Llangollen station, look out for the visiting steam traction engine, Punch & Judy shows, live music and a railwayana exhibition, before embarking on a steam-hauled trip down memory lane.

Berwyn, the station in the gorge, has been transformed back to its original Victorian appearance, complete with period posters and traditional coal fires.

Celebration is in the air with the bunting flying and the band playing on the platform in case of a surprise royal visit. At Glyndyfrdwy, you can visit the vintage Victorian fairground, or marvel at the sights of a traditional sheepdog trials taking place next to the station. There will be a dedicated Victorian railway exhibition at Llangollen over the weekend, featuring many historic drawings, documents and railwayana relating to the former Ruabon to Barmouth line dating back to the 1850s. Many of these have never been publically displayed before and offer an insight into the early days of the line from over 150 years ago.

For full details, download the commemorative programme (designed in the style of the traditional 1860s railway timetables of the Great Western Railway) for free from our website: 

Whilst it is not essential, the Llangollen Railway invites our visitors to consider entering into the spirit of the occasion by wearing a suitable Victorian attire.

Visitors can take advantage of discounted fares by booking in advance for this event.

Museum plans attic sale

Friday, April 22, 2016

Llan Methodist Church's musical event

Versatile Philip turns his hand to very different production

The man who took a prominent role and came up with many of the costumes for Llangollen’s Operatic Society’s last smash-hit show has turned his hand to a gripping new play at Theatr Clwyd.

Versatile Philip Main was a key supporting actor and also created a number of the Nazi era costumes in The Producers which finished a sell-out run at Llangollen Town Hall last weekend.

But at the same as being involved with the musical comedy, Philip (pictured) was also working on the costumes for a very different kind of stage production, Deep Cut at the theatre in Mold.
The play, by Philip Ralph, concerns the death of Private Cheryl James, of Llangollen, one of four trainee soldiers who died of gunshot wounds at Deep Cut Barracks in Surrey between 1995 and 2002.

Cheryl’s parents refused to accept the official verdict of suicide, and the play’s dialogue is based on verbatim transcriptions from the subsequent inquiry.

Philip said: “I spent so many weeks researching, sewing, and making period correct costumes for The Producers.

“Out of necessity I looked at images of the Hitler Youth, Hitler himself, Bavarians and Stalin  as well as various productions of the musical to make sure that everything looked right, with a little bit of artistic licence.

“As well as that I was also rehearsing my own role within the production. 

“All the while I was also doing research for my next job, to provide costumes and a specific firearm for the production of Deep Cut at Theatr Clwyd.

“I have gone from the war and the 1960s to the 1990s and of course the new review of all that happened at Deep Cut Barracks.

“Next I have to have ready some Shakespearian costumes for a photo shoot for a Shakespeare 400 event also at Theatr Clwyd in June, in which I am also singing a couple of period songs.  Life is never dull as a costumier!”

Deep Cut opens tonight (Friday) in the Emlyn Williams Theatre at 8pm and there are also performances tomorrow at 2pm and 8pm. Tickets are £9.50 with concessions at £7.50.

Joan helps people with hearing problems

* Dr Sarah Bent, Suzanne Tyson, Chair for Hearing
Aid, and Jane Wild, Head of Adult Audiology
Service, with volunteers, seated, Dylan Williams,
Derek Griffiths and Joan Fisher.

A former school meals supervisor has found a new role - helping people with hearing problems in Llangollen.

Pensioner Joan Fisher, 77, from Wrexham, is one of the volunteers who provide assistance and advice to hearing aid users at drop-in sessions and in their own homes.

The volunteers’ work is helping audiology departments reach out to more people  by carrying out routine checks and maintenance on hearing devices in the community.

Joan has worn a hearing aid for the past seven years and has now volunteers at drop-in sessions at Llangollen and Penycae.

She said: “The clients really love the service as it saves them having to make a trip to the hospital. And it’s not a clinical environment which some elderly people find difficult.

“I know we save so much time for audiologists even though we are only doing the basics like checking batteries and re-tubing a device. The response we get is fantastic and makes it all worthwhile. You actually feel you’ve done some good.”

She added: “The best words you can hear, after you’ve carried out some simple basic maintenance on a device, is when you ask the client can they hear OK and they tell you to stop shouting! It means a lot.

“I really enjoy the role. I run drop-in sessions at Llangollen Library and another at a community centre in Penycae.”

Joan was among the volunteers from across the region who attended a special celebration event at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.

They were welcomed by Jane Wild, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s head of adult audiology.

Thanking volunteers for the support they provide to many hearing aid users she said: “We really welcome the additional support our volunteers are able to provide to our service users.

“Many of our volunteers are themselves hearing aid users, or have a family member who is, and so understand firsthand the difficulties they may be experiencing.

“They go out to drop-in sessions or visit patients in their own homes and are trained to re-tube hearing aids and carry out basic device maintenance.

“They also provide advice and encouragement, referring back to audiology or on to other support organisations when they feel that this will help.”

“The service they provide means audiologists can focus on delivering the parts of the service that require a qualified audiologists.

“Without our volunteers we would have to spend more time re-tubing hearing aids, checking batteries are fitted properly and carrying out other simple maintenance tasks.”

Volunteer Dylan Williams, 74, of Wrexham, who uses a hearing aid himself, helps run a drop-in session at Penley every third Monday of the month and also visits hearing aid users in their own homes if requested to do so.

According to Sarah Bent, a clinical scientist with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s audiology service, the work volunteers do means patients, many of whom are elderly, don’t have to travel to hospital when their hearing aids need basic maintenance.

She said: “The work of our volunteers certainly helps a great deal so audiologists can work in clinic with the patients most in need of their help.

“And the volunteers really add value. They can speak about their own experiences and so offer something that professionals cannot.”

Suzanne Tyson, chair of the charity Hearing Aid, who works with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Hearing Aid Volunteer Service in the Glan Clwyd area said: “The volunteer service was operated by Action on Hearing Loss, formerly called the RNID, through their Hear to Help project which was lottery funded and ran across the whole of Wales.

“That project has now come to an end and the volunteer service has been taken over by the health board. I’m so pleased and proud to be involved with the service and delighted with its obvious success.”

“The work the volunteers do is vital and amazing. Each and every volunteer puts so much work in and the value to our patients and therefore Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board should not be underestimated.”  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Welsh Tories unveil "new deal" for older people

* At the launch of the new welsh Conservatives' policy at Glyn Wylfa.

Simon Baynes, the Welsh Conservative Assembly Candidate for Clwyd South, launched his party's new deal for older people at the Glyn Wylfa social enterprise centre in Chirk.

Mark Isherwood and Suzy Davies, Welsh Conservative Assembly Members in the last Assembly term, presented the new deal to an audience of local residents.

They outlined the Welsh Conservatives' plans to implement a £400 weekly cap on residential care costs and to protect £100,000 of assets of those in residential care, providing dignity and ensuring people do not lose their life savings to care costs.

Mark Isherwood said: "We will support older people across Wales to remain active members of the family, community and society, while providing security for the future with clear action on residential care costs. Welsh Conservatives will also put an end to age discrimination and promote and protect older people’s rights."

Simon Baynes said: "I have a strong interest in care for older people through my work running the charity Concertina - Music for the Elderly which provides musical entertainment for older people to combat loneliness and reawaken happy memories from the past.

"The Welsh Conservatives believe that old age is something to be celebrated. We believe that older people deserve dignity and respect as well as independence and the freedom to make decisions about their lives." 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bank investigates after cashpoint fails to pay out

A BANK has agreed to investigate after a Llangollen man received no money when he used a cashpoint in the town.

Well-known town crier Austin “Chem” Cheminais had something to shout about when tried to withdraw £200 from the ATM outside the Co-op supermarket in Regent Street on Saturday April 9 for a weekend trip away nd the machine failed dispense any money.

His bank, HSBC, has since reimbursed him with the full amount but says it is now investigating with the cashpoint’s operating company why he had a problem.    

Mr Cheminais (pictured) said: “After the machine returned my card but failed to let me have my cash I immediately phoned the help number displayed on the cash machine and after a wait spoke to a someone who then put me on hold before passing me on to some else. 

“They checked and confirmed that there had been a problem and agreed that the machine hadn't given me any cash.

“They then told me that my account had been debited but there was nothing that they could do and that I would have to go through my own bank to dispute the transaction. 

“Two people came to use the machine whilst I was still there and when I told them what had happened they said, `It is always doing it! It's been doing it for weeks’.

Frustratingly, when I contacted my bank they suggested that it would have been better and a lot easier had I used a HSBC cash point. 

“I pointed out that they had closed all of their local branches and that using their cashpoint would require a 23-mile round-trip.

“I worry that it could happen to someone in different circumstances who needed the money to feed their children or at an urgent bill.” 

HSBC has no credited Mr Cheminais’s account with the £200.

And a bank spokesperson said: “We are now investigating why there were issues with the ATM with its operator.”

A spokesperson for Cashzone, which operates the cashpoint, said: “We are very sorry for the inconvenience experienced by Mr Cheminais.
“Whenever we receive reports of service issues we send out our expert team of engineers as quickly as possible because we know how important it is for the community to have reliable access to cash.

“People who experience issues when withdrawing money should check their bank accounts and get in touch with their bank who will be able to assist them.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Skates warns over tax returns scam

People in the Dee Valley are being warned about a tax returns scam.

Clwyd South Assembly candidate Ken Skates is urging people not to fall foul of the email con trick, purporting to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The Welsh Labour politician said: “I have been made aware of this scam, which on the face of it looks like an official email from the Crown.

"The message says that the recipient is entitled to a significant amount, often hundreds of pounds, in tax returns, but it’s merely a ruse designed to con you into giving personal details.

“Any legitimate tax return due to you will be in the form of a letter and enclosed cheque, and you should never give card or bank information online in this way. It all looks above-board, but I cannot stress enough how important it is not to be hoodwinked.”

The email invites the recipient to follow a link and input personal details onto a form which uses HMRC logos and, on first inspection, looks official.

“If you are ever in any doubt about the authenticity of emails like this, especially when large sums of money are promised, you should check with HMRC or seek advice from Trading Standards before proceeding,” said Mr Skates.

Mr Skates can be emailed at, or contacted through Facebook at

Monday, April 18, 2016

Royal goes up for sale at £1.1 million

The Daily Post is reporting that Llangollen's historic Royal Hotel is up for sale at £1.1 million.

For the full story, see:

Mike dashes to triathlon triumph

* Mike, right, with his daughter Claire and son Christian after finishing the triathlon.

AN INTREPID Llangollen man has raised over £300 for the Wales Air Ambulance by taking part in yesterday’s Chirk Triathlon.

Mike Edwards finished the event in a respectable time of 1:44.09 and was second in his age group category.

The gruelling challenge was a family affair for him as his son 43-year-old son Christian and eldest daughter Claire, 30, also took part.

Christian finished in 1:22:39 and Claire in 1:34:00.

Wales Air Ambulance is a cause close to Mike’s heart.

Following a heart attack five years ago he regained his fitness and took up the triathlon event. 

“I am a keen supporter of  the air ambulance, being well aware of the value of a speedy response in my sport,” he said.

Mike is also a long-term cyclist, regularly hitting the mountain bike trails at Coed Llandegla  and pounding the roads in the Wrexham and Llangollen areas.

Mike’s Virgin Money Just Giving page at:

Pengwern Wild Spaces Project event

Pengwern Wild Spaces Project has asked us to display these posters about a forthcoming event:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New speed watch team spots first motorists

LLANGOLLEN’S new community speed watch team has had its first outing and reported a number of motorists for exceeding the limit.

The group of volunteer residents was formed earlier this year to monitor speeding hotspots in the town.

* Volunteers monitored speed near this spot on the A539.
After receiving statutory training in police hand-held radar guns, they had their first monitoring session earlier this week.
Local county councillor Stuart Davies, who is one of the group, said: “Myself and another volunteer were positioned on the A539 on the Wrexham side of the bus stop.

"We were there for half an hour and monitored a number of motorists – I’m not allowed to say exactly how many - exceeding the 30mph limit as they headed along the road in the direction of Wrexham.

“Their details have been given to the police and they will now receive warning letters.

"Persistent offenders will receive up to two warning letters, and on a third occasion, they can expect further action by police."

He added: “It was a very worthwhile exercise as we get a lot of complaints about speeding in the Llangollen area and this scheme helps us to react positively without being too draconian.
“All the points where our monitoring takes place are first risk-assessed by the police.

“Within the next few weeks we will be looking at the 20mph zones in Brook Street and Pengwern, near Pentrefelin and on the A5 close to the fire station.
“We currently have four members in the group with a fifth who has just applied to join.”      

History group's talk on fascinating subject

Llangollen Museum is hosting a talk by Ruth Tams on the history of toilets, entitled Flushed with Pride, on Wednesday April 27, starting at 7.30pm.

Entry fee is £3 which includes tea or coffee.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Police investigate damage to former GPs' surgery

Police officers were this afternoon (Saturday) investigating the breaking of glass in the front door of the former GPs' surgery in Regent Street, Llangollen.

The building has been empty since the practice moved to the town's new £5 million health centre in Mill Street last summer.

A number of residents have expressed concerns about its future use.

Llan voters put Labour leader on the spot

llanblogger joins Pavilion audience for live

TV Q&A session with Carwyn Jones 

* Carwyn Jones chats to audience members after the programme.

Labour’s leader in Wales faced a barrage of questions from a lively Llangollen audience at the Pavilion last night (Friday).

Carwyn Jones, the country’s First Minister until the May 5 Assembly Election began, was the latest party boss put on the spot by voters as part of BBC Wales’s Ask the Leader series.
First pre-arranged question of the live half-hour programme came from Laura Davies who asked why Labour had “screwed up” the NHS in Wales.

Mr Jones replied that despite the budget of the devolved Welsh service being cut by 10% by the Westminster Conservative government, Wales was spending “more than ever before” on its NHS.
He added: “Most people get a good service for most of the time. But when we see there's a problem we take action."

Mr Jones cited the case of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, covering North Wales, which had been placed in special measures by the Welsh Government because people had lost confidence in it.
But he said: “We are making sure that it regains the confidence of the people of North Wales and it is beginning to regain that confidence.”

He also claimed that Wales was spending more on the NHS than England.
Asked by Dr Rhys Davies about the GP recruitment crisis currently affecting the health service, Mr Jones said that to take the pressure of family doctors it was essential that patients didn’t “default” to visiting their GP before trying other avenues for health advice, such as pharmacists and GP nurses.

Llangollen county councillor Stuart Davies claimed that the local health situation had not been helped by the closure of the town’s cottage hospital.  
Second question came from Mike Evans who referred to the “disconnect” between the Welsh Government and voters in the north of Wales, and challenged Mr Jones to explain why Cardiff felt “more remote” to people in this region than Westminster.

The Labour chief replied that there were more Assembly Members representing North Wales than there were MP’s for the region.
He went on to detail some of the money recently spent in the north, such as on new schools and hospitals and the face-lifting of the A55 trunk route.

Mr Jones was asked by an audience member what benefits the Northern Powerhouse, being promoted for the north of England by Chancellor George Osborn, would bring to North Wales.
“I don’t see it as competition,” he answered.  

Explaining that the suggested powerhouse would mean better transport links within its area, Mr Jones said that Welsh Labour had just announced plans for a North Wales metro link, adding there would be a metro summit called by Labour within 100 days if the party won the assembly election.
He also told the audience that Labour had already improved the country’s road and rail links, including the rail line from Holyhead to Cardiff, and was now improving broadband links in North Wales.

Third questioner Michael Stokes asked Mr Jones if he planned to work closer with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn if his party won the election.
Mr Jones replied: “I welcome support from all colleagues elsewhere in the UK.”

There was no answer from him when asked by programme presenter Bethan Rhys Roberts if he thought that Mr Corby didn’t look like a Prime Minister.
Final question came from James Wallace who asked the leader whether he apologised for “taking his eye off the ball” when it came to education in Wales.

“I don’t think we have,” responded Mr Jones.
He said that schools were being built or rebuilt right across Wales while “nothing like that” was happening in England.

“We now have more young people sitting in facilities that are appropriate for the 21st century,” he pointed out, adding that Wales now had better GCSE results than ever before and A Level results that were also improving.
Asked by an audience member about what cash support Labour was planning to provide for university students in Wales, Mr Jones answered: “We will maintain our support for students at a higher level than in England.”   

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friends of Earth put candidates in the frame

Llangollen Friends of the Earth has put candidates contesting Clwyd South in the May 5 Welsh Assembly election in the frame.

Spokesman for the group (pictured below) Warren Davies said: “We invited all of the candidates to take part in a 60 second video interview.

“We asked them to tell us about themselves, why they are standing, their priorities and what they are going to do about climate change.
“The candidates we invited to be filmed were Simon Baynes (Welsh Conservatives), Mabon
Ap Gwynfor (Plaid Cymru), Mandy Jones (UKIP), Duncan Rees (Wales Green Party), Aled Roberts (Welsh Liberal Democrats) and Ken Skates (Welsh Labour). Mandy Jones (UKIP) did not respond.”

* All of the videos are now available on the YouTube channel at:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Triathlon is a family affair for Mike

* Mike Edwards outside Chirk Leisure Centre with one of the Wales Air Ambulance mascots, Huw HEMS.

Fundraising for a good cause has become a family affair for Llangollen’s Edwards clan.

For when dad Mike tackles the Chirk Triathlon this Sunday he’ll be doing it alongside his eldest son, Christian, 43, and his 30-year-old eldest daughter, Claire.

Mike is raising money for the Wales Air Ambulance, which is a cause close to his heart.

Following a heart attack five years ago he regained his fitness and took up the triathlon event. 

“I am a keen supporter of  the air ambulance, being well aware of the value of a speedy response in my sport,” he said.

Mike is also a long-term cyclist, regularly hitting the mountain bike trails at Coed Llandegla  and pounding the roads in the Wrexham and Llangollen areas. 

Sunday’s Chirk Triathlon starts and finishes at Chirk Leisure Centre where Mike has been  training for the big event. To sponsor him, go to his Virgin Money Just Giving page at:

Welsh Conservatives unveil tourism strategy

Welsh Conservatives have unveiled a policy which they say promises to deliver a tourism "boom” for Wales.

The Party is pledging to promote Wales to the rest of the UK and the world and put industry expertise in the driving seat.

The announcement follows statistics which Conservatives claim shows that under Labour day visits to Wales by British residents have fallen by one fifth.

They have announced a five-point plan for the tourism industry and outlined a commitment to introduce a Tourism Bill as a core tenet of their legislative programme should they win the May 5 Welsh Assembly election.

Visit Wales would be removed from government control and operate at arm’s-length.

A new fund would also be established, offering grants to small and medium-sized operators, helping them expand and grow.

Firms would be able to bid for the grants in exchange for up-skilling, or taking on new staff. 

Mark Isherwood, candidate in North Wales, (pictured) said: “A decline in visits to Wales by British residents highlights the need of a change of emphasis.

“Tourism contributes massively to t he North Wales economy.  The people who know best in attracting tourists to Wales are those in the industry itself - and it is time to put the experts in the driving seat.

“We’d remove Visit Wales from government control, freeing it both from the shackles of bureaucracy and Labour’s ‘safety first’ approach."

Welsh Conservatives Leader, Andrew RT Davies, said: "We know many tourist operators struggle with costs such as VAT bills, and a Welsh Conservative Government would provide a dedicated fund, helping small and medium-sized operators grow, expand, and meet costs.

“Meanwhile, our dedicated Tourism Bill will enshrine, in law, an independent, expert-led approach to boosting tourism into Wales, and deliver a mechanism that ensures local communities are involved in promoting visitor experiences. 

“We have so much to be proud of, and with a renewed emphasis on attracting visitors to Wales, we can see our seas swell, beaches throng and mountains move.

“Whilst the sector faces challenges, in Wales, we have tremendous potential to ensure Wales is a world-leader, promoting our castles, seaside towns, growing cities, stunning landscapes and industrial heritage. Under a Welsh Conservative Government, the industry would be freed from government interference, unleashing Wales’ potential as a world-leader in tourism, securing real change and delivering a boom for the sector." 

Welsh Conservatives say they will also safeguard Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Llan Operatic produce another hit with their latest show

* A scene from Springtime for Hitler.

Llangollen Operatic Society likes to break free from the mould of traditional am dram fare with its
big annual show.

And they’ve certainly done that again with their latest production.

While last year there were the singing nuns, gangsters and cops of Sister Act, this time the Town Hall stage is packed with dodgy Broadway Mr Fixits, showgirls, crazy Nazis and even a gang of libidinous dancing grannies as a multi-talented cast serve up the musical comedy version of Mel Brooks’ Academy Award winning movie, The Producers.

And apart from all that, there are also a couple of four-letter words and a bit of simulated sex thrown in for good measure.

But it’s all done in the best possible taste.

The story centres on two theatrical producers, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop.

Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful.

The humour of the show draws on ridiculous accents, caricatures of Nazis and many show business in-­jokes.

It also features the outrageous title song Springtime for Hitler.

Much of the action revolves around the crooked Bialystock, so the character is hardly ever off stage. But John Clifford proves he’s well up to the job of handling the gargantuan part, shining in every department – line delivery, singing and even some dancing.

Sidekick Leo Bloom is excellently portrayed by Ross Wilson who brings a neat touch of pathos to the role along with some rare acting and singing ability.   

Love interest is provided by the boys’ ultra-sexy Swedish secretary Ulla, played with plenty of va-va-va-voom by a blonde-wigged Louisa Jones.

Bialystock and Bloom go looking for the worst director on Broadway to ensure they get a flop which pays them a fortune. And they get him in the extravagantly gay Roger de Bris who finds his perfect embodiment in Nathan Lloyd.

Taking the part of Franz Liebkind, the outrageous old Nazi who pens  a musical called Springtime for Hitler on which the whole theatrical scam is based, is Joe Scatley. He goes deliciously over the top with the role, which is exactly what is called for.

The supporting team of around 30 people provide powerful and tuneful back-up for the main characters.

Particularly memorable are the team of nymphomaniac grannies who are Bialystock’s willing backers in more ways than one.

The whole crazy romp culminates in a grand finale piece of Springtime for Hitler which brings a spectacular touch of Broadway to Llangollen Town Hall, despite the straight arm salutes and swaztikas.   

Musical director Elen Mair Roberts shines as usual at the head of a versatile six-piece band.

It was Nia Pickering’s first time as artistic director but on this showing it won’t be the last.

The Producers is on at the Town Hall again tonight  (Wednesday) and also Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings with a matinee on Saturday.

I’m told tickets are becoming as scarce as honesty amongst Bialystock and Bloom, so if you want to see it you’d better make sure you grab some as soon as you can.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

MP calls for government action on tax havens

Clwyd South Labour MP Susan Elan Jones (pictured) has written to Prime Minister David Cameron MP calling on the government to take action on the issue of tax havens.

She said: "The Panama Papers has rightly brought the issue of tax havens into focus and there are also real questions the Prime Minister and Chancellor need to answer on a personal basis.

"But we shouldn't be allowed to ignore the wider action that needs to be taken too.

"I was and remain very supportive of what former Labour Leader Ed Miliband MP proposed on this issue in the run up to the last general election when he warned that tax havens costing British families and businesses billions of pounds should be given just six months to put their house in order and open their books - or face being placed on an international blacklist.

"Ed Miliband highlighted figures that showed how despite David Cameron boasting more than 18 months ago that he had forced tax havens to open up, not one of the tax havens linked to Britain as Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies had yet delivered on Cameron’s promise that they would publish a register showing who owns the companies registered there.

"We need action on this serious issue. Ordinary families and businesses from our area do not get away with this sort of behaviour, which as we have seen recently is quite shocking and unethical. It's vital we have tough action on this issue."

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Skates tackles mobile phone companies over service

Ken Skates has urged people in Clwyd South to contact their mobile operators and report problems with loss of service.

Welsh Labour candidate Mr Skates recently wrote to phone companies and Ofcom to raise concerns about repeated signal issues in Wrexham and the Dee Valley.

He had reported problems in several areas throughout the constituency, and continues to press for better provision from providers.

He said: “People contacted me from Penley, Overton, Ruabon, Llangollen - where my office is - and a host of other areas in Clwyd South.

“This week I received an official response from EE which suggested there are 'no issues' in some of the areas I highlighted, which certainly doesn't tally with my experience - nor, I'm sure, with that of many other people in our area.”

Mr Skates added: “Strong, reliable mobile phone signals are crucial for our businesses and for people going about their day-to-day lives, so I wrote to mobile operators demanding urgent action to address the issues we are experiencing.

“I have also written to the Conservative UK Government, which should be enforcing the obligation for networks to provide 4G to 95% of customers by the end of next year. Sadly, they haven't responded yet.”

Mr Skates said he will continue to update people on progress made via his Facebook page

He added: “Anyone who would like more information can contact me on 07526 742607 or email”

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Good turnout for new youth choir's first workshop

* Young singers at the new youth choir's first workshop.

NINETEEN young singers from seven schools in the area turned up for the first vocal worshop of the new Llangollen Youth Choir held at the Pavilion.

Family and friends of the children also came along to enjoy their debut performance and organisers say they were suitably impressed.

Next three rehearsal dates will be on the Saturdays May 14, June 11 and July 16. They will take place at Ysgol Dinas Bran and the cost is £6 per session from 10am-1pm.

Parents have been asked to register their interest online by emailing:

Spokeswoman Amanda Thomas said: "We’ve been asked if we’re looking for sponsorship. We most likely will in time but, for now, we’re just excited to be working together voluntarily to get this off the ground. 

"This is a mixed choir, so we’re looking for musical boys and girls in current school years of 5, 6, 7 and 8.

"Further details about the choir can be found online at:  We’ll be setting up a Facebook page over the next few months with help from our singers."

Friday, April 8, 2016

Operatic duo's radio interview about new show

Two members of the team staging Llangollen Operatic Society’s forthcoming show, The Producers, spoke live about the production on radio this morning (Friday).

Artistic director Nia Pickering and Ross Wilson, who will take one of the lead roles as Leo Bloom, were guests on the Am Dram slot during the Wynne Evans Show on BBC Radio Wales.
Nia told the host this was her first time as a show director but that things had been made easier for her by a “phenomenal team” both on stage and behind the scenes.

She said she would hopefully be directing again in the future after The Producers, which is on at the Town Hall next week.
Ross, who explained that his day job was as assistant manager at the Cornmill restaurant in the town, said his first time on stage had been with the society’s junior section, The Young ‘Uns, at the age of just four and that he had go on to study drama in Newport.

One of the numbers from the show, recorded at a recent rehearsal, played the interview out, with Wynne wishing them all the best with the show.

Follow the link to hear the interview:!49427&authkey=!AMelL26UGigq7ds&ithint=file%2cwav

Operatic to chat on air about new show

* John Clifford and Ross Wilson in a scene from the show.

Cast and crew of Llangollen Operatic Society's forthcoming show, The Producers, will go on air to talk about the production this morning (Friday).

They will chat live to host Gwynne Evans on his BBC Radio Wales show at around 11.30am.

Gwynne will also be playing a recording of one of the main chorus numbers, Along Came Bialy, which the cast recorded during a recent rehearsal.

The Producers will be staged at Llangollen Town Hall from April 12-16, starting at 7.30pm, and with a matinee performance at 2.30pm on Saturday 16th.

Tickets can still be purchased online at

Pictures: Jon Haddy.

* A roistering scene from The Producers.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Llan's dancing grannies stun Eagles Meadow shoppers

* Cast members of the Producers go through their paces at Eagles Meadow.
A GROUP of dancing grannies from an amateur stage society stopped shoppers in their tracks with routines from their new show.

The high-stepping troupe from Llangollen Operatic Society staged a pop-up performances at the Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham to showcase their latest production.

From April 12-­16 they will be staging the hilarious musical comedy version of Mel Brooks’ Academy Award­winning movie, The Producers, at their local town hall.

Society members were already on a high after hearing a few days earlier that their last major production, the musical comedy about gangsters and nuns Sister Act, had been nominated for a trio of honours in the National Operatic and Dramatic Association’s (NODA) 2015 awards, acknowledged as the am­dram equivalent of the Hollywood Oscars.

And they’re looking to pick up similar accolades for The Producers which has taken Broadway and the West End by storm, winning a record-­breaking 12 Tony Awards and three Olivier Awards.

The story centres on two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop.

Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful.

The humour of the show draws on ridiculous accents, caricatures of Nazis and many show business in­jokes.

It also features the outrageous hit song Springtime for Hitler.

Musical director for the show, Elen Mair Roberts, said: “The grannies going through paces at Eagles Meadow have a major part in the show as the elderly female backers who’d do anything for dodgy producer Max Bialstock.

“Their routines are hardly what you’d expect from ladies of more mature years!

“Everyone was feeling great about the pop-up event because just a couple of days ago we heard from NODA that our production last year of Sister Act had been nominated for thee of its 2015 awards.

“These are Best Technical, Best Performances for Elen Haf Taylor as Sister Mary Clarence and Ross Wilson as Sweaty Eddie and also Best Production.

“We’ll find out at the NODA annual meeting in Hereford on May 12 if we’ve been successful, so we’re all keeping our fingers crossed.

“We were actually at Eagles Meadow this time last year to present pop­up selections from Sister Act and that helped us to boost our audience numbers when we staged the show in Llangollen last April.

“With that and the award nominations, appearing at the shopping centre was definitely a lucky date for us and we’re hoping it brings us similar good fortune this time.”

She added: “People who stopped to watch us performing songs from The Producers certainly seemed to enjoy it and a few said they’ll be coming along next month to see the show, which was great news.

“We’d like to thank the management team at Eagles Meadow for all the kind co­operation they’ve given over the past couple of years.

“It’s a pleasure to come along here as we always get such a friendly reception from everyone.”

One of those taking the role, Caroline Anthonisz, said: “The grannies dance is my favourite part of the show and it was great to do it in front of the crowds at Eagles Meadow.

“I hope lots of those who enjoyed it will come along and see the whole thing next month.”

That may well be the case with Karen Griffiths who was stopped in her tracks as the grannies strutted their stuff.

She said: “I was just walking along with my own earphones in when I heard some music that was even louder.

“I wasn’t expecting to see anything like that but I really enjoyed it.

“I live in Acrefair, not far away from Llangollen, so after what I’ve seen today I might go along and see the show.”  

Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: "We were delighted to welcome Llangollen Operatic Society once again.

"Our shoppers loved what they saw of the show, it was hugely entertaining and I'm sure the production itself will be a big hit."

The Producers will be staged at Llangollen Town Hall from April 12­16, starting at 7.30pm, and with a matinee performance at 2.30pm on Saturday April 16.* Tickets are now available online at: