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Monday, October 31, 2016

Travellers arrive on Market Street car park

* The caravans on Market Street car park.

A small group of Travellers are on the Market Street car park in Llangollen.

A spokesman for Denbighshire County Council said: "The council has been made aware this morning of the presence of Travellers on the Market Street car park. 

"The council’s Estates team is in contact with Highways (given that it’s a public car park) to look at the circumstances and we will be  deciding on the next steps during the course of the day.

"The council would normally issue a notice, asking for the Travellers to vacate the land. If they refused, then the council would then need to go through the legal process."

Fancy touch to Christmas festival parade

Organisers say they are hoping to make this year's Llangollen Christmas Festival parade more colourful than ever by inviting youngsters to take part wearing fancy dress.

There say there will be prizes for the best costumes.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Warning over Halloween costume safety

With Halloween 2016 is fast approaching, Trading Standards across Wales are urging parents to be aware of the potential fire risk presented by children’s fancy dress costumes.

In October 2014 television presenter Claudia Winkleman’s eight-year-old daughter was severely burned after her witch costume caught fire, having been in contact allegedly with or in close proximity to a lit candle inside a pumpkin. 

Following this incident a co-ordinated survey was conducted by Trading Standards Services throughout the UK to assess the level of compliance of children’s costumes available at that time.

The safety of children’s costumes currently falls under the need to comply with the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011, which is achieved through meeting the requirements of Part 2 of the Toy Safety Standard EN71.

Compliance with Toy Safety Regulations doesn’t mean that these costumes won’t catch fire as a ‘maximum allowable rate’ at which the flame can spread is defined.  Parents are advised to only purchase costumes that are CE marked and to follow the instructions and safety information carefully. 

Fancy dress costumes must be labelled with a ‘CE’ which is a declaration by the manufacturer that they comply with the Toy Safety Regulations.

Emlyn Jones, Denbighshire’s Public Protection Manager said: “We would encourage parents to be vigilant and aware of the potential risks associated with fancy dress costumes and fire or naked flames.

"The simple advice is to keep your children away from candles and naked flames or use an LED equivalent. Children are wearing fancy dress costumes more and more, including wigs and masks, not only during the Halloween period so follow this advice at all times. 

"Only buy costumes labelled with a ‘CE’ and report retailers to your Local Trading Standards Service if you encounter costumes that do not bear this important safety mark.”

Councillor David Smith, Denbighshire Council’s Lead Member for Public Realm, said: “The messages about highly flammable costumes are ones which we should make sure all members of our families are aware of. 

"Ensuring that safe products bought from reputable sources are the only products which enter our homes, should be seen as a priority for all families.”

* Children’s fancy dress costumes discovered without the CE mark should be reported to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.    

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ambulance Trust launches communications app

* The Trust’s Pre Hospital Communication Guide App on a phone screen.

THE WELSH Ambulance Service has launched an app to help frontline staff to interact with patients who have additional communication needs.

The bilingual Pre-Hospital Communication Guide App is a useful tool to assist those who are deaf, hard of hearing, don't speak English as their first language, have learning difficulties, or whose illness or injury affects their communication.

It is available to download both for staff and members of the public on their mobile phones and tablet devices, and displays images and supporting text to find out important information about the patient and what has happened if they have had an accident.

It can also identify if they use a specific communication method or the language they speak.

Pioneered by the Trust’s Patient Experience and Community Involvement Team, the app is based on a small booklet which was developed and issued by the service in 2013.

Claire Bevan, the Trust’s Director of Quality, Safety and Patient Experience, said: “Our staff will often come into contact with members of the community who have difficulty communicating, whether it’s through injury, illness or because they speak a different language.

“As a Trust it’s important that we recognise the communication needs of each individual and are able to find out those crucial details.

“Especially in the event of a medical emergency, it’s vital that we have a simple means available to quickly discover what symptoms they’re experiencing, as well as their medical history.

“This app is a very positive development in addressing that and we would encourage members of the public and our colleagues alike to download it to their phones.”

The app is available to download on mobile phones using the iOS, Android and Blackberry systems.

For iOS search your app store for ‘PreHospApp’, for Android search ‘pre hospital app’ and on Blackberry search for ‘Pre-Hospital Communication App’.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Free parking in run-up to Christmas announced

* Llangollen's Market Street car park is included in the Free After 3 scheme.  

Christmas shoppers are being given a festive treat from the county council when shopping in Denbighshire towns, including Llangollen, this festive season.

The "Free After 3" parking scheme will again be in operation this December to help support  town centres and encourage local shopping in the run-up to Christmas.
The scheme provides free parking in all council operated pay & display car parks in town centres after 3pm on a daily basis until December 31.
The car parks included in the initiative are:

East Street 
Hall Street 
Market Street 
Mill Street 

Green Lane 

Crispin Yard (Cae Ddol) 
Dog Lane 
Market Street 
Park Road 
Rhos Street 
St Peter's Square 
Troed y Rhiw 

Crown Lane 
Factory Ward 
Post Office Lane 
Vale Street 

Lower High Street 
Kings Avenue 
Railway Station (Coronation Gardens) 

Parliament Street 

Children's Village (Underground) 

Morfa Hall
Morley Road 
Sky Tower 
West Kinmel Street 

St Asaph 
Bowling Green 

Councillor David Smith, Cabinet Lead Member for Environment, said: “We are delighted to be offering free parking across Denbighshire after 3pm again this year. 

“We feel this is a good way of encouraging people to support the town centres and to access the wide variety of goods and services available from our local businesses."

This initiative coincides with the Small Business Saturday initiative across the county where the council is urging people to support their local businesses and services on December 5 and in the run-up to Christmas.
Denbighshire County Council is also helping support local businesses through its shop local campaign, #LoveLiveLocal which encourages people to share positive experiences of Denbighshire as a fantastic place to shop on social media and a Christmas video which will showcase what the county has to offer shoppers over the festive period. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

North Wales is in Lonely Planet's top 10 list

North Wales has made it on to the Lonely Planet’s Top Ten ‘Best in Travel 2017’ list – the only destination in the UK to do so.

The area came in at number four on this prestigious list but what caught the eye of the Lonely Planet - said to be the world’s leading travel authority - is the way the former industrial landscape has been reinvented and repurposed to create a series of truly world class attractions, from high speed zip lining and inland surfing, to underground trampolining in a 176-year-old disused slate mine.

Wales has enjoyed two record breaking years with visitor numbers crossing the 10 million mark for the first time in 2014 and record spend from domestic and overseas visitors in 2015.

Wales is looking to sustain this performance with the raised profile from international events such as Euro 2016, and the success of the 2016 Year of Adventure tourism campaign.

Economy Secretary and North Wales AM, Ken Skates, said: “This is such fantastic news for Wales as our Year of Adventure draws to a close.  Being listed as one of the best in the world by such a well respected and established publication such as the Lonely Planet is a real coup for north Wales. 

“The award will of course play a big part in our marketing for 2017 as we move on to celebrate the Year of Legends in Wales.  I’m sure it will make people who haven’t visited before think about Wales as a holiday destination and will also entice those who haven’t visited for a while back to Wales.

“This recognition is testimony to the commitment and partnership working between public and private sector to deliver a world class visitor experience.  North Wales has reinvented itself over recent years and the addition of some cutting edge, world class facilities to match the awe-inspiring scenery has given people compelling reasons to visit the area.  

"We’ve seen Investment in products which are attracting people to Wales – many for the first time and once in Wales they experience the warm welcome, culture and history of the area.”

Tom Hall, Lonely Planet’s Editorial Director, said: “We included North Wales in this year’s list of top ten regions because it deserves to be recognised on the global stage. It’s a stunning area with a vast array of activities on offer to keep travellers entertained.

"North Wales has also become a haunt of in-the-know foodies, so however visitors get their kicks, once they’ve worked up an appetite, they’ll also be well catered for. North Wales is a gem and should be on every traveller’s radar.”

Top 10 Regions in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017:
  1. Choquequirao, Peru
  2. Taranaki, New Zealand
  3. The Azores, Portugal
  4. North Wales, UK
  5. South Australia
  6. Aysén, Chile
  7. The Tuamotus, French Polynesia
  8. Coastal Georgia, USA
  9. Perak, Malaysia
  10. The Skellig Ring, Ireland.

AM raises questions on children from Jungle Camp

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood (pictured) has raised questions over the number of unaccompanied children from the ‘Jungle Camp’ in Calais who will be given protection in Wales and highlighted the challenges facing North Wales local authorities in dealing with the specific needs of refugees.   

Responding to the Statement by the Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee on the Committee's Forward Work Programme including Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Unaccompanied Children, Mr Isherwood, who is hosting and sponsoring the ‘Sanctuary in the Senedd’ event with the Welsh Refugee Council on 7 December, when Members can meet asylum seekers and refugees from across Wales, spoke on the issue in the Assembly.

He said: “Obviously, references have been made to the horribly named Jungle camp in Calais and the fact that that’s closing down.

"The Children’s Commissioner for England has previously said that about 300 children there, from countries like Syria and Afghanistan, will come to the UK.

"We know that, last week, British and French officials began registering unaccompanied children in the camp who are hoping to join relatives in Britain. Do you have any indication if those figures are accurate or can you perhaps drill down to try and establish the number? If it is 300, or more, what proportion will be in Wales?

“Similarly, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has said the UK Government is, to quote, ‘moving quickly’. She wants as many children as possible brought to the UK before the camp is shut. But the charity Safe Passage UK, which is working with the UK Government, says it’s not yet been shown any operational plans setting out how the children will be transferred. Again, could you look at the operational plans as they develop, not only with the UK Government but with the Welsh Government, in terms of the settlement here?

“I have represented people, with a number of councils, and there have been different approaches, but above all, the key points raised are, for example, in Wrexham—which has already agreed to accept people (under the Syrian Refugee Settlement Scheme) —the need for language support and, in Flintshire, for full language and curriculum support in schools, supporting integration of families into local communities, as well as the hard-end issues such as housing and health.”

Mr Isherwood added: “As a Wrexham Council representative said, we have a proud tradition of welcoming people in need, but as Gwynedd Council, which has already welcomed people from Syria, have told me, they must be sure before accepting unaccompanied children that we are able to provide a stable and sustainable environment, and as Flintshire Council stated: “the bigger challenges will be to integrate families into local communities, remembering that people will be mentally and emotionally scarred by their experience and will be in need of empathy and support.”

Signs of the times at Llan Museum

Local traditional sign writer David Kynaston will be giving a talk in Llangollen Museum this Wednesday at 7.30pm.

David grew up locally and it was in art classes at school he developed his love of "lettering".

Now he is known internationally and travels the world sign writing and doing workshops.

He is responsible for almost all the beautiful signs around Llangollen.

All welcome. Admission £3 to include tea/ coffee.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Ambulance service launches promises to older people

* Alison Johnstone, Patient Experience & Community
Involvement Manager, holds up the Welsh
Ambulance Service’s Promises to Older People.
THE WELSH Ambulance Service has launched a list of promises to older people who use its services.

Over the last few months members of the Trust’s Patient Experience and Community Involvement team have engaged with hundreds of older people to find out how they would like to be treated.

There are over 800,000 people in Wales aged 60 or over, which accounts for more than a quarter of our population. 

This is expected to rise to over one million people in the next 20 years.

‘Our Promises to Older People’ was launched to coincide with International Day of Older Persons and includes pledges to treat older people with dignity and respect, provide good information and communication if a patient has sensory loss and to recognise the signs of people with dementia.

The Trust was recently shortlisted in the final of the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Awards for its work to help patients with dementia in the Swansea area.

Claire Bevan, Executive Director of Quality, Safety and Patient Experience for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said that the promises will help the Trust to focus on the individual care needs of older people across Wales.

She said: “We know that a high number of older people use our services regularly, whether calling 999 in a medical emergency or using our Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service for hospital appointments. 

“We want to make sure that the services we provide meet individual needs of older people and to ensure that they have a good experience when in our care.

“Our Promises to Older People are important to us, and we would like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation for their contribution to inform the development of Our Promises for Older People.”

The list of promises has been hailed as an example of good practice by Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira.

She said: “‘Our Promises to Older People’ is an excellent example of how to communicate with older people and their families in a way that is both meaningful and relevant.

“Setting out these commitments in such an accessible format, with a strong focus on values and outcomes, makes clear the high standards older people have a right to expect when accessing services provided by the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust.

“I have written to the Cabinet Minister for Health to highlight ‘Our Promises to Older People’ as an example of good practice and hope that other service providers across Wales will soon adopt similar approaches to communicate with those who use and rely upon their services.”

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Llan Youth Band provide play area fanfare

* The Youth Band playing at Pontfadog.

Members of Llangollen Youth Band were delighted to play at the unveiling of a new children’s play area in Pontfadog on Thursday, October 20.

The grand opening was a celebration of four years of fundraising by the local community, led by Pontfadog resident Rachel Maries.

Amongst the members of the youth ensemble was Rachel’s son, Tom, who plays tuba in both the Youth and Senior Bands.

The honour of opening the play area went to Wales rugby international, Rupert Moon.

The band played a number of Welsh classics such as 'Men of Harlech' and 'All through the Night'.

A spokesman for the band said: “We were delighted to be able to send members of our talented Youth Band to the opening of the new children’s play area in Pontfadog.

"Our congratulations go to all that have been involved in the fundraising efforts and we hope that local children enjoy the new facility for years to come." 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Reviving ancient skill on the river

Coracle expert Les Davies has been reviving the ancient skill on the River Dee this afternoon as part of an autumn fun day at Llangollen Museum, which also features exhibitions of spinning and wood turning.

Les has his next coracle display on the river at 3pm.

Also at the museum in Parade Street until 4pm there are stalls selling cakes, jewellery, bric-a-brac and gifts.

Aldi expected to open next summer creating 30 jobs

* The supermarket now to become Aldi, possibly next summer.

Llangollen's new Aldi store is expected to be open in summer 2017 creating up to 30 jobs, according to the company.

The discount grocery chain also says it aims to encourage links with other local traders.

Earlier this week Aldi won planning approval from the county council to occupy the town's "ghost" supermarket off the A5 on a shared basis with Home Bargains.

And in its first official statement to llanblogger, the company says: "Aldi is delighted to confirm that it has received planning permission for a high-quality new food store on Berwyn Street, following careful consideration from Denbighshire County Council.

"The site, which has been occupied by a vacant retail building for over a year, was originally planned to be occupied by Sainsbury’s. Aldi will now take on the site and bring its award-winning range of products to Llangollen.

"We are really pleased to be opening a new store in Llangollen. We understand that there is a strong local interest in the future of the Berwyn Street site, so we are pleased to announce that we will be taking it on and bringing it into productive use.

“Not only will the new store deliver a multi-million-pound investment in the local area and create up to 30 much-needed new jobs, it will also provide greater shopping choice for local people and help them save money on their weekly grocery shop.”

The statement adds: "Unlike other retailers, Aldi has a unique offering and does not act as a one-stop shop.

"Aldi stores do not have a butcher, fishmonger or bakery, nor do they provide childcare facilities or sell tobacco.

"Instead, Aldi is known for encouraging linked trips between its stores and other local businesses, encouraging residents to complete their shopping at other local shops, adding to the vitality and viability of the local area.

"Work on site will start in the coming months, and Llangollen’s new Aldi is expected to be open in summer 2017.

"Recruitment will start during construction: anyone interested in jobs at the store should register their details on"

Friday, October 21, 2016

Council helps businesses master Facebook

Denbighshire County Council has been helping businesses get to grips with social media.

A free workshop was recently held in Denbigh to help firms embrace Facebook as part of the Council’s Economic and Community Ambition Strategy which aims to make the county more business friendly.

The workshop was held at Denbigh HWB and included tips on how to set up a business Facebook account, what content businesses should post to engage customers as well as insights on how to get the best out of the site.

The event is one of a series being organised by Denbighshire County Council to support local businesses to make the most of being online.

Stuart Whitfield, Economic and Business Development Officer, said: “Social media like Facebook is an accessible way for businesses to engage new customers. For a little bit of effort the marketing potential is huge whether you are a retailer or offer a service. The course feedback has been excellent.

“As part of the Council’s Economic and Community Ambition Strategy, we aim to support businesses and help them thrive.”

Denbighshire County Council is hosting a free Introduction to Twitter for Small Businesses workshop at Rhyl College on November 8 between 4.30pm and 8.30pm.

* To book a place or to see other business training events being offered visit

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Have you twigged onto church's Christmas tree festival?

* One of last year's festival entries. 
Have you started planning yet to enter this year’s Christmas Tree Festival at Llangollen Methodist Church?  

This very popular (and closely contested) festival will be held once again this year, starting with setting up on Friday December 9 and finishing with dismantling on Wednesday January 4.

This year there will be two classes of entry plying for visitors' votes – traditional trees and creative interpretations.

You will need to supply and decorate a small tree, no taller than 5 feet, using an appropriate Christmas theme.

You might like to link the decoration to your business or organisation, or just be creative.   

Any lights must be battery operated. Hard bases are provided that you can cover with a cloth or paper as you wish.  

Small business cards or promotional materials can be placed at the base of the tree for visitors to pick up.

More details later but start planning now and please register your intention to enter by Saturday December 3 at the latest -  by emailing:, or phoning 01978 860557.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

County gives cautious welcome to cash settlement

Denbighshire County Council has given a cautious welcome to the provisional financial settlement by Welsh Government, with the proposed settlement slightly better than expected, but remains challenging.

The council will see an increase of 0.5% , the first increase since 2013/14.

It says this will help to ensure that the council can deliver its priorities and avoid further cuts next year.

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance, said: “The Council will need to consider the proposed settlement in greater detail.

“What it generally means is that the savings we have already identified for 2017/18 will be sufficient and the council will not need to find any further cuts for the next financial year.

“An increase in funding is always to be welcomed, but we need to consider this good news in the context of continuing increases in the council’s costs.

He added:  “We have worked tirelessly over recent years to prepare and respond to the financial challenges, whilst minimising the impact of cuts and protecting key frontline services as far as possible.

“We have also worked to be more efficient as a council, streamlining our services to be as effective as possible in the current economic climate, whilst continuing to provide value for money services and maintaining our position as being one of the highest performing councils in Wales.

“That commitment to maintaining the best possible services for Denbighshire residents continues.”

Ghost supermarket plan approved by county

llanblogger exclusive

* The supermarket site in Berwyn Street.

Denbighshire County Council has approved plans allowing Aldi and Home Bargains to jointly move into Llangollen’s controversial “ghost” supermarket.

Local county councillor Stuart Davies, who believes the discount retailers could now move in as early as next February, said council planning officers used delegated powers to give the go-ahead to the scheme for the use of the 34,000 sq ft unit off the main A5 road.
The building has stood empty since May 2015 when Sainsbury’s for whom it was built made the shock announcement that they would not be moving in due to a scaling back of their new store developments.

The latest planning application, made in the name of Sainsbury’s who still own the building, sought permission for the subdivision of the existing retail unit and alterations to allow it to trade as two retail units with associated internal and external physical alterations to the building, service yard, customer entrance and forecourt areas.

Cllr Davies said: “As there were only two objectors to the plan officers used delegated powers to approve the application earlier today (Wednesday), so it’s now all systems go.

“In line with the negotiations we had with them, the applicants have agreed to make parking spaces on the site available for a maximum of three hours, which I think is a good deal.

“There’s still some conversion work to be done to make it into two units but I’d take an educated guess that it will be open by February next year.

“Whilst there will be some impact on traders in the town, the jobs at the print factory were secured by this process of developing a supermarket on its former site.

“I believe a vast number of people are in favour of Aldi and Home Bargains moving in. It’s all about jobs for themselves and jobs for their kids.”

The Sainsbury’s pull-out, which they blamed on “adverse trading conditions” at the time, dashed hopes for 130 promised jobs.

The grocery giant announced they wouldn’t themselves be running the store directly and revealed they were looking for potential tenants.

Interest by Aldi and the discount group Home Bargains had often been speculated upon but never confirmed by either company.

Neither Aldi or Home Bargains have yet commented on their interest in the development.

* The application, reference number 03/2016/0887, can be inspected in full via the planning search section of the Denbighshire County Council website at:

Businesses invited to star in council film

Denbighshire County Council is calling on businesses gearing up for the festive period to take part in a Christmas video.

As part of the Council’s #LiveLoveLocal campaign which encourages shopping at local traders throughout Denbighshire, a video is being produced to highlight what the county has to offer.

#LiveLoveLocal aims to get people to show support for local businesses by using the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to promote good experiences they’ve had and promote products and services locally they have ‘loved’.

The council is looking for businesses who would like to take part in the video, with scenes involving customers within a shop setting.

Leader of Denbighshire, Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, said: “This video is part of Denbighshire’s commitment in showing residents and visitors what a great retail offer there is in the county.

“There are so many local traders who provide a professional, quality service to their customers.

“We are encouraging businesses to take part in the video which will feature a magical tale of a family at Christmas.”

* If you would like to take part in the video contact or by phoning 01824 706222.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Special events planned at Llan Museum

Llangollen Museum has two special events planned for this month ...

MP meets man heading bank closure probe

Clwyd South Member Susan Elan Jones yesterday (Monday) joined a cross-party delegation of MPs who met Sir Russell Griggs, the man conducting the independent review into bank branch closures.

Speaking after the meeting, she said: "Sir Russell's report is expected before the end of the year. At today's meeting, I expressed the anger of my constituents at local bank closures and also suggested some ideas of what I thought needed to happen if a bank branch closed.

"For instance, I shared with the meeting what many businesses in our area told me about the need for a free cash collection service. In my view, this is something banks should provide free of charge, using security companies. There are also issues regarding the ordering of cash that I think need to be looked at carefully.

"I also feel that if a bank closes, the bank should be under an obligation to inform all customers what financial services are available in the vicinity, including if that means advertising Post Office or other competitor services.

"Another issue I raised were the very unique problems facing charities, clubs and any organisation requiring more than one signature on a bank account."

Ms Jones has also arranged meetings with TSB Bank and Tesco Bank via the Industry and Parliament Trust, and is planning to introduce a Bill in Parliament next year on banking protocol in the aftermath of bank closures.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Chocolatier smashes truffle record at food festival

* Jo Edwards breaks the truffle rolling record at the show.

A chocolatier from North Wales has become the fastest truffle maker on the planet after smashing the world record in front of a cheering crowd at a food festival.

Jo Edwards broke the record of TV chef Gino D’Acampo in the main demonstration kitchen at Hamper Llangollen over the weekend and has now sent off the evidence to the Guinness World Records.

It was the perfect way for Jo, 42, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her artisan chocolate company, Aballu, which she founded in 2006.

According to Jo, it was more difficult than expected because the chocolate was stickier than normal making rolling and coating the truffles harder than usual.

Even so, she still managed to better D’Acampo’s total of 47 in two minutes with a new world best of 49.

The record was one of the highlights of Hamper Llangollen - now recognised as one of the top food festivals in the UK - which attracted thousands of foodies to the picturesque town in the Dee Valley.

Jo said: “It was a fantastic experience and the number of people in the audience was amazing, they really got behind me. I also had family who travelled from Manchester and South Wales to support me.”

“The Hamper Llangollen food festival has been brilliant and very, very busy; I’ve had a wonderful time introducing visitors to my artisan chocolate products.

“I make everything on site in Rossett and currently employ two people but I’m looking to expand.”

Hamper Llangollen chairman Colin Loughlin was delighted with the attendance at this year’s event.

He said: “It’s been brilliant and we are really pleased. This is our 19th year and the festival is clearly now a very well established and extremely popular event on the calendar of food lovers across North Wales and beyond.

“I’m delighted we continue to attract the very best exhibitors and suppliers to the festival and which helps brings so many visitors to then town.”

Also there was one of Britain’s youngest sommeliers, Dan Davies, 21, who has advised stars like Sir Tom Jones, actress  Jennifer Lawrence and Coldplay's Chris Martin on which wine to choose with their meals.

Dan, the son of celebrity chef, Dai Chef, has attended the festival every year since he was just five years of age and now works as the head sommelier at the four rosette Stovells hotel at Chobham, Surrey.

At Hamper Llangollen, he helped his dad present cookery demonstrations by talking about wines as well as sampling the delights of the food festival.

He said: “Stovells is a classic restaurant with a Mexican flare and my job is to run the department and buy the wines we sell. Wine is my passion and I trained over three years.

“I have advised singer Tom Jones on wines when he came into the restaurant for a meal and when I worked at the Clifton, a three rosette restaurant in Taplow, Berkshire.

“I also advised Jennifer Lawrence and Coldplay’s Chris Martin on their wine choice and took care of Heston Blumenthal when I was at the Clifton too.”

He added: “The Hamper Llangollen food festival is a wonderful event. I have been coming with dad and the family since I was a little boy and it’s always an event I look forward to.

“The quality of the products on display is first class and the range of exhibitors is amazing. It’s a really special event.”

Festival visitors were treated to flutist Maria Hayes as she played on the stall of Denbigh gin maker the North Star Distillery.

The artisan gin is the brainchild of hospital worker Mathew Rowland who launched the first new distillery in the Conwy hills for more than 100 years to produce his folk music inspired new gin.

Margaret Rowland, Matthew’s mum, says the classic gin distilled by her son is infused with music.

She said: “Matt is a keen folk musician and Morris dancer and plays musical instruments as the gin is fermenting; hence it is infused with the music of the region.”

The head chef of Gales, Llangollen, Jack Hatley, took to the demonstration kitchen stage to prepare a lamb shawarma for the audience and said he was amazed at how good the festival was.

Jack, who has previously worked in the kitchens of the Chester Grosvenor, also teaches regularly at Upstairs Downstairs, a cook shop in Oswestry which runs cookery lessons in everything from bread making to Greek or Italian cooking.

He said; “It’s my first visit to Hamper Llangollen and I’m really, really impressed. The variation and quality of the products on display is amazing."

Brian Horwich, who runs Pant Glas Bach Preserves, at Llanasa, says he has been attending and exhibiting at Llangollen since launching his business eight years ago.

He said: “I’m really happy with Llangollen the festival is always a highlight for me. I find regular customers come back year after year to buy from me and being in exactly the same place inside the exhibition hall each year helps too.

“I produce jams, marmalades, chutneys and curds using, whenever I can, local produce. I supply farm shops and independent food stores across North Wales. It’s always nice to attend Llangollen and see regular customers.”

* For more information about Hamper Llangollen go to

Bugsy Malone comes blasting into town

* Celyn Orton Jones as Blousey Brown and her co-star Cassius Hackforth in the title role of Bugsby Malone pose beside the vintage car as they shoot the promo video in Castle Street. 

It was "lights, camera, action" for members of Llangollen Operatic's Young 'Uns recently as they shot a promotional film for their latest production.

The society's junior section will be staging the smash-hit kids musical Bugsy Malone in the Town Hall early next year.

Rehearsals started last month and the 40-strong cast reckon they already know most of the songs from the piece which has words and music by Paul Williams and a libretto by Alan Parker.

Two of the main performers were out last weekend filming scenes from the production which cleverly puts a rip-roaring tale of 1920s gangsters into a kids' setting.

Some of the action for the movie took place in the period setting of Llangollen steam railway while a gleaming vintage car lent extra authenticity.

Celyn Orton Jones plays Blousey Brown. She's been part of the Young 'Uns for seven years and had numerous cameo roles but this is her first principal part. 

She said: "This was my first experience of being filmed for a video. Going on the train was an adventure and good fun.  The ride in the car was awesome!"

Her co-star was Cassius Hackforth who plays Bugsy Malone.

Another seasoned Young 'Uns performer, he has landed the award for best performer in the last two shows but this is also his first lead role. 

Cassius, who has been busy performing with National Youth Music Theatre over the summer months in The Pied Piper of Hamlin, said: "What an enjoyable experience, having access to such amazing local facilities, such as the railway station, and using a genuine 1920s car to drive around Llangollen in."

Assistant producer Dee Smith said: "Filming in town for our promotional video, which is being created by Barrie Potter, was great fun.

"Llangollen Railway  kindly allowed us to film Bugsy and Blousey on the station and in the old-style carriages.

"Llangollen Motor Museum gave us enormous help by making driver Geoff Owen and their 1926 vintage convertible  - the same one that Terry Waite uses in the Eistedfodd parade- available  for us to film Cassius and Celyn. 

"Bailey's Delicatessan provided a film set for Blousey and Bugsy's meeting and Banardo's kindly lent us some tea-cups at the last minute. 

"We really want to thank them all for their assistance." 

* Bugsby Malone will be staged from February 16-18, including Saturday matinee. Tickets are now on sale via priced at £10 for adults and £8 concessions.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Plan to set up safer neighbourhood group

Consideration is being given to establishing a Safer Neighbourhoods Partnership with the local police in Llangollen.

This would be a small group of people meeting with police representatives on a quarterly basis to discuss any issues of concern, particularly matters relating to crime and anti-social behaviour and to review local crime statistics.

The partnership could consist of representatives from the town council, county councillors, other public services agencies, local public houses, hotels, schools and any member of the public with a particular interest in the issue.

A spokesman for the organising group said: "This will help build closer relationships with the police and the community generally and hopefully have some influence in reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in the town.

"Anyone interested in being part of this partnership or who has any comments to make should contact the Safer Neighbourhoods Team Leader, Sergeant Martin Jones, at  email:,  or Ian Parry  Tel: 01978 449365, email:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Drug services can make better use of council change cash says police boss

* North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.
A police boss says vital services for victims of drug abuse in North Wales can make better use of £12 million in funding thanks to the Welsh Government decision to abandon a council shake-up.
According to North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, the stability of working with existing public bodies will help him deliver on promises in his Police and Crime Plan by working collaboratively across the region with local authorities and the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board.
He has pinpointed building effective partnerships as a cornerstone of his work and he said: “We need a co-ordinated approach with everyone working to the same plan and I have prioritised services to the victims of domestic abuse, substance abuse and the victims of crime.
“In the area of substance abuse there are various pots of money available but different agencies are commissioning services separately and I want us to provide services together, avoid duplication and get more bang for our buck.
“This is a project that is ongoing and will be helped by the Welsh Government’s decision to scrap plans to slash the number of local authorities because there is £12 million plus available and if we can bring it all together there will be more money for the front line.”
His intervention comes after Wales’s Local Government Minister Mark Drakeford’s announcement that the Welsh Government no longer planned to cut the number of local authorities from 22 to as few as eight.
In North Wales this would have meant the existing six authorities being pruned to three or even two but the £250 million bill and the expected 2,000 job cuts have dissuaded the Government from pursuing the controversial policy.
Mr Jones said: “I fully support and welcome this decision because it will help me to work collaboratively to deliver vital services such as those that help victims of domestic abuse and substance misuse.
“That is a key part of my Police and Crime Plan and it means we can continue to work with our partners the local authorities, the health boards and the fire and ambulance services which will all be affected by Professor Drakeford’s proposals.
“One thing I would caution about is that as part of the process he looks at the number of statutory bodies otherwise all we will be doing is attending meetings and I see this as an opportunity to rationalise these strategic bodies so we can get on with the real work.
“I’m not one to get hung up on infrastructure. What I want is to get the best structure to deliver the most appropriate services most efficiently to the people who need them.
“The Minister must also not forget the role to be played by the non-devolved organisations like the Police, the Probation Service, the National Offender Management Service and the Prison Service in delivering these vital services to the people of North Wales.
“It is important that he issues guidelines to include us as stakeholders within the new regional partnerships.”
His response comes in the wake of the decision by Professor Drakeford to scrap the proposals that were the brainchild of his predecessor as Local Government Minister, Leighton Andrews.
Instead he has set out “a new way forward” which would instead see closer collaboration between neighbouring councils and key services delivered regionally.
Mr Jones added: “This is the right way forward and local authorities will remain as the alternative would cost too much, cause a major upheaval and cultural issues but would put back the delivery of services.
“The main concern should be what services look like and how effective they are and not the structures for their delivery.”

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Llan man in line for top care award

* Josh Wilson.

A rugby-playing father-of-one from Llangollen who combines life on the family-owned holiday park with a job as a support worker in a children’s home is in line for a top care award.

Josh Wilson, 25, is a role model for the youngsters he supports at a specialist therapeutic children’s home in Ruthin in encouraging them to strive for the best and keep active through sport.

The home is a six-bedroom unit for young boys aged 11-18 with complex behavioural and emotional difficulties who are given intense support to help them succeed in education and employment.

Josh, who is employed by Branas Isaf, formerly taught swimming to children aged three to 12 at Corwen Leisure Centre. He plays competitive rugby for Chester Rugby Club, which is in North Division 2, has a talent for communicating with children and inspiring them to succeed.

He combines his challenging role as a support worker two days a week with his responsibilities at the family business, Ty Canol Caravan Park in Llangollen, which includes holiday cottages and caravan sales.

The new dad, whose daughter Azaia Wilson, was born a year ago, has now been formally recognised as one of the best support workers in the care industry after being announced as a finalist in the Wales Care Awards 2016.

Josh has been working for the children’s home for just over a year, has been shortlisted for the Exceptional Newcomer Award, sponsored by Coleg Cambria, which is one of a series of categories in the prestigious national awards, run by Care Forum Wales, which acknowledge the hard work and exceptional performances of those in the care sector.

As a finalist Josh, who lives in Llangollen, will now attend a glittering awards ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 21.  

It is an impressive achievement for the former fitness instructor who also won the national and regional Newcomer of the Year title in the Caretech Awards in November.

“It was a bigger shock than last time to be nominated. My family are proud and my mum is especially proud,” said Josh, who also worked in Corwen and Llangollen Leisure Centres as a fitness instructor after leaving school.

“I’m not bothered about winning. I’m just flattered to be shortlisted. I’m looking forward to representing my company as they’ve done a lot for me.

“I feel like I’m putting something back and making a difference. When I come back from work I feel happy, it’s very rewarding.

“When you drive home at the end of the day you always think about what you’ve done with the kids and what I would’ve liked to have done better.

“I love working there. The whole team is brilliant and my manager has done a lot for me. I’ve come a long way since joining the team.

“I’d never worked in care before. I was in the deep end quite quickly but I wouldn’t have had it any other way as it meant I learnt very quickly.”

Josh, who attended Ysgol Dinas Brân, said the most satisfying aspect of his job was watching the youngsters’ progress and reform their behaviour through sport and other goal-driven work. The home has even created a squash league to build their self-confidence.

One of his most notable achievements was seeing a young boy for whom he was a key worker move on from the home and flourish.

“I feel like I’m a role model to them. I always tell them what the score was in the rugby. I’m trying to inspire them and keep them active by encouraging them to the gym,” said Josh, who is in the completion stages of his QCF Level 3 in Caring For Children and Young People.

“I’ve recently had a child myself and it’s put a different perspective on things. I’m much more empathetic.

“You have your bad days but I’m level-headed and can deal with most things thrown at me. You want to see the lads do well.

“I would like to continue working with young people in the future. I play rugby and I look after myself and the kids look up to me. I try to work on their self-confidence and you develop a bond.”

Josh is attending the awards ceremony with registered manager Leanne Bennett who herself has been nominated for the Peter Clarke Award.

Nominating Josh for his award, Leanne said: “Josh is a very well-liked and respected member of the team at Pant Glas and nothing is ever too much trouble for Josh. He is eager and enthusiastic in his role and works exceptionally well both lone working and in a team.

“He has a good morale which impacts on others and his can do attitude is infectious to his colleagues. Josh is an asset to our team and I feel he has a brilliant career ahead of him.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.

He said: “The event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.

“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.

“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.

“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.

“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce - they deserve to be lauded and applauded.”