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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

New logo marks Valley Girls WI's fifth birthday

* The new logo.

* From left Gail Ellson, President of Valley Girls WI,
Sarah Meade of Honey Pots gift shop and
Kate Collins, Secretary of Valley Girls WI.
A new logo designed by a local artist has been launched to mark the fifth anniversary of the creation of Llangollen's Valley Girls WI.
The logo depicts a modern-looking woman in the foreground of Castel Dinas Bran and incorporates some of the traditional as well as contemporary features of the WI.
It was designed by Sarah Meade who owns and runs the gift shop Honey Pots in Castle Street and an online business, Sister Sister Biz.
Sarah said: “It’s been lovely to design a logo for The Valley Girls WI in Llangollen.  I’ve known many of the ladies for years and wanted to design a fresh logo that reflected the fun nature of their personalities.
“The design includes evidence of baking and crafting, with cupcakes and knitting needles as well as a bit of glamour with ruby red lips and nails.
"Daffodils have been included as well as some Welsh tapestry, as the Valley Girls are proud of their Welsh heritage and there is of course the ubiquitous jar of jam!”
Valley Girls WI was established in 2013 by a group of thirtysomethings who were keen to cement friendships forged at baby and toddle groups. 
It has evolved and grown with more than 20 regular members, meeting on the first Thursday of every month at the Memorial Hall, Market Street.
The logo will be used on pin badges for the Valley Girls to wear at meetings, as well as at local and national events.
President of Valley Girls WI Gail Ellson said: “We are all absolutely delighted with this new logo. Sarah has expertly captured the essence of the Valley Girls in this beautiful hand drawn logo.
“Valley Girls is going from strength to strength with highlights over the past five years including a kayaking trip over the Pontcysyllte aqueduct, a colourful yarn bomb of the town centre of Llangollen and a fantastic vintage themed charity calendar.
“We’re working on our 2019 programme at the moment, but it will definitely include a session on yoga, a book club, we’ll explore mental health issues and make some hanging 'bra-skets' to add colour to the town!”
* Valley Girls WI meets at the Memorial Hall, Market Street, Llangollen on the first Thursday of each month (unless otherwise stated).  All are welcome, and you can contact the group at or via Facebook.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sion Corn starts his trip to Llan Christmas Festival

* Sion Corn takes a test drive in the vintage 1927 Alvis with owner
Roger Williams at the wheel.

Sion Corn has been looking for the fastest way he can get to Llangollen to star in the town’s famous Christmas Festival at the end of November.
The town is famed for celebrating various modes of transport like river, road, canal and steam train.
So the grand old man – he’s known as Santa Claus in English – has been giving them all a try to see which will get him there as quickly as possible so he can spend more time joining in the fun with the thousands of  seasonal merrymakers who are expected to come flocking in to the big event on the afternoon of Saturday November 24.  
First to be given the Sion Corn rapid transport test was a vintage car owned by Llangollen motoring enthusiast Roger Williams.
Sion Corn jumped aboard and after giving the 1927 Alvis his special sack test he pronounced himself well satisfied with the gleaming machine.
He said: “Despite being over 90 years old – which is actually quite a bit younger than me - it’s still very fast and there’s plenty of room for me to jump in and out with my sack.
“It’s a definite possibility for November 24 but I’ve still got a few more kinds of transport to try out before I pick my final ride.”
Kicking off at 1pm with the famous parade which sees Sion Corn being escorted into town over the historic bridge by a colourful cavalcade of entertainers and local groups, the Christmas festival features children’s fairground rides and games, circus acts, a magician, dancing and face painting.
There will also be a chance for youngsters to visit Sion Corn in his glorious grotto and put in their early requests from what they’d like to see him bring them on Christmas morning. 
During the afternoon visitors can look forward to an eclectic mix of musical entertainment from local groups on two outdoor stages and other on-street entertainment.
The fun-packed day rounds off at 5pm with the ceremonial switching on of Llangollen’s legendary Christmas lights and a firework extravaganza. 
Llangollen Christmas Festival is organised by a group of dedicated community volunteers. It costs over £4,000 to stage each year and is self-funding.
The festival aims to provide a free family-orientated event in the safety of the town centre with surplus funds being donated to Wales Air Ambulance and local community groups.
Over the last couple of years the police have estimated that the spectacular event draws over 2,000 people into town during the course of the afternoon.
For the second year the festival has teamed up with Light Up Local Food, a project aimed at promoting Llangollen-based food and drink producers.
Chairman of the festival committee Austin ‘Chem’ Cheminais, who is also the local town crier and a member of the town council, said: “With the help of the community we manage, each year, to raise just about enough to fund the event and give a little to charity.
“Last year’s festival was particularly successful, in spite of the weather, and the feedback from those attending was very positive.
“The ‘market’ feel to the event provided by Light UP Local Food was particularly commented upon and helped to attract visitors from much further afield.
“Once again we’re expecting a bumper crowd to come along and help us to give a great early start to Christmas.”

Illustrator to be museum's guest speaker

John Swogger (pictured), an archaeological illustrator, will be giving a talk on creating history through cartoons and comics tomorrow (Wednesday) at Llangollen Museum. 
He will be using his work on the history of Oswestry which he created in comic form.
Entry is £3 on the door to include tea/coffee. All are welcome.

German students enjoy a museum visit

* A group of German students from Ectarc got into the Welsh spirit of things when they visited Llangollen Museum yesterday.

Give your opinion on your local library

Library customers across Denbighshire are being invited to say what they think of their local library.

A survey, which runs until November 17, asks adult customers why they use the library and to give their opinion on the quality of the services on offer and how they have benefited from them.

The survey can be completed online and there will be help available for customers to use library computers or wifi to complete the survey. Paper copes will also be available.

Libraries in Wales are required to conduct a survey every three years to gather feedback from customers on the range, quality and impact of their services.

The information gathered will be used to  help shape future service development, and to report on the service's performance against the Welsh Public Library Standards Framework 2017-2020 to Welsh Government.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Tree blocks canal and towpath

A huge tree has fallen across the Llangollen Canal, near to Bridge 44, blocking both the waterway and the towpath.

Big lift brings in new Corwen signal box

A big lift for a 7-tonne signal box cabin has brought an new aspect to the Corwen central station works site.

On Thursday contractors moved the former Weston Rhyn signal box cabin from its long term storage place at Carrog station yard the two miles down the A5 road and lifted it into position onto the recently prepared base.

The signal box is now sitting on its elevated position adjacent to the new Water Tower at the eastern end of the site and makes a fine addition to the station area which has been long planned.

Its successful move and installation is a major step forward with the project and enables the final phase of track laying and platform complete to proceed.

Externally renovated and repainted by volunteers in preparation for the move, the new facility awaits further work to renovated the interior and ultimately install the signalling frame and locking equipment.

* The big lift at Carrog.

* On the low loader arriving at Corwen.

* As installed with members of the project team celebrating the occasion.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Bikers lead moving Remembrance ceremony in town square

Llangollen's new Centenary Square was packed this morning (Sunday) with people who turned up to see around 40 members of the Biker Section of the Royal British Legion host a moving ceremony to launch the local Poppy Appeal.

Over 3,000 poppies hand-made by a small army of volunteers and positioned on the wall running along the back of the square formed the perfect backdrop to the ceremony which included the traditional bugle calls and minute's silence of Remembrance leading up to 11 o'clock.

Representatives of the Legion and the armed services were on parade with their standards.

A delegation from the Town Council was led by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Issy Murray Richards.

* Bikers assemble in the square before the ceremony.

* Some interesting machines were on parade.

* Around 40 members of the biker section of the RBL attended.

* The Act of Remembrance takes place around the war memorial against the backdrop of the poppy wall.

* The section's own bugler sounds the call.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Volunteers put poppy wall in place


A group of volunteers are this morning (Saturday) putting in place over 3,000 poppies in Llangollen's Centenary Square to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One.

The sea of blood-red flowers, made by groups and individuals over the past year or more, will be the backdrop to tomorrow morning's Royal British Legion ceremony marking the local launch of the annual Poppy Appeal.

Riders from the biker section of the Legion, accompanied by their own bugler, will lead a short service of Remembrance.

The ceremony will be attended by a delegation from the Town Council led by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Issy Murray Richards.

* Watch for coverage on llanblogger tomorrow.

People urged to consider neighbours on Bonfire Night

Residents are being asked to be considerate if they are planning on having a Bonfire Night display at home.

Denbighshire County Council is urging the public to consider neighbours who may be frightened or distressed by the noise and commotion.

Cllr Tony Thomas, lead member with responsibility for Public Protection, said:  “There are a number of organised displays, in Denbighshire and across the region, scheduled for Bonfire Night and we would recommend people attend those rather than have their own fireworks party in their back garden, for both safety and social reasons.

“If people want to hold their own event, we would ask they inform their neighbours well ahead of time so neighbours are aware when the fireworks are going to be let off. This allows them to make arrangements in relation to any pets they may keep, or to make plans to go out if they don't want to listen to the noise.

“We would also ask that people, no matter how experienced, take all the usual safety precautions, accidents happen when you become lax about the danger that you may be in.”

Anyone that chooses to use fireworks in an anti-social and irresponsible manner could find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Under fireworks regulations there is generally a curfew preventing people from letting off fireworks between 11pm and 7am but this is extended to midnight on November 5th and 1am on New Years’ Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.

Similarly, parents and youngsters are reminded it is illegal for children under 18 to buy or be in the possession of fireworks.

Fireworks are explosives and should be treated with great care and respect, here is our advice for anyone considering using fireworks this November:

1.         Only buy fireworks from reputable outlets and be wary of fireworks sold via social media

2.         Don't drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.

3.         Keep fireworks in a closed box.

4.         Follow the instructions on each firework.

5.         Light them at arm's length, using a taper.

6.         Stand well back.

7.         Never go near a firework that has been lit.  Even if it hasn't gone off, it could still explode.

8.         Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them.

9.         Always supervise children around fireworks.

10.       Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves.

11.       Never give sparklers to children under five.

12.       Keep pets indoors.

13.       Don't set off noisy fireworks late at night and never

Friday, October 26, 2018

Queen of Shops helps traders prepare for Christmas

* Councillor Hugh Evans and Helen Hodgkinson
showcase Denbighshire's #LoveLiveLocal campaign.

Denbighshire has its own ‘Queen of Shops’ to get the county’s retailers match fit for the vital Christmas selling season.

Retail expert Helen Hodgkinson has been working with shop and business owners in Llangollen and elsewhere alongside the County Council’s Economic and Business Development Team on how to make the most of the festive season.

Helen, a former fashion retailer and college lecturer herself, has been holding one-on-one sessions with businesses and is keen to get out the message that the county’s shops have plenty to offer shoppers for Christmas.

It’s part of Denbighshire County Council’s #LoveLiveLocal campaign to encourage people to use their local shops and services and for businesses to promote themselves and for everyone to use social media platforms Twitter and Facebook to share their positive experiences of Denbighshire as a fantastic place to shop.

She said: “Businesses have to be ready for Christmas with their plans in place because this is the most important time of the year and you have to get the basics right to reap the rewards.

“There’s a great offer in Denbighshire, lots of unusual, quirky, specialist independent shops offering great products and service but they still need a plan and know how to sell themselves.

“People want to buy something that’s a bit different, not mass manufactured, and provenance is important, where it’s from and how it’s made and is there a story behind it because all that adds value.”

Helen, from Dyserth, began in retail for supermarket chain Fine Fare in Buxton in Derbyshire and then went on to work for health food giants Holland and Barratt in Buxton and Stockport before moving to North Wales where she opened an ethical clothing business in Llandudno.

She then taught at Rhyl College where she set up FE – for Further Education – Retail as a small business within the college where students could gain experience of selling.

She also taught a series of courses by the high priestess of retail, TV star Mary Portas, on successful retailing and launched a Retail Academy at the college which worked with Denbighshire County Council.

Now the Council has called on Helen’s skills again and Council Leader Hugh Evans OBE said: “We want to help promote our local traders this Christmas as part of our work to create resilient communities.

“The #LoveLiveLocal 2018 campaign is a celebration of the diverse and vibrant shopping experiences we have in our County and is aimed at encouraging consumers to use the hashtag #LoveLiveLocal to promote businesses in Denbighshire across all social networking platforms.

“We are helping to highlight the great retail offer right here in Denbighshire and encourage shoppers to see what is on their local high streets.

“Not only do our businesses offer great value for money and a wide range of products, they also provide excellent customer service and we want to play our part in showcasing the fantastic businesses we have throughout Denbighshire.”

As part of the #LoveLiveLocal campaign, Denbighshire County Council will be rolling out a series of short video clips to highlight what the county has to offer shoppers and the campaign will encourage people to support local independent businesses by using the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to share good experiences they’ve had as well as promote products and services locally they have ‘loved’.

The videos will appear on social media throughout the Christmas period to help promote shopping locally.

Helen added: “Ten years ago retail was still retail but things have moved on so much since then and retailers have to move on as well.

“It’s vital to get involved with events happening locally and to look to mix up your offer so that on many high streets businesses add a café on their premises, provide samples, hold evening classes and get involved in social media.

“I’ve been around all eight towns in Denbighshire and things are happening on the high streets, they’re changing for the better with new businesses opening up and offering that something different that attracts shoppers.

“They’re thinking outside the box and inspiring their customers because there are a lot of very talented people out there and lots to celebrate on the Denbighshire retail scene.”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Volunteers produce a wall of remembrance poppies

* Volunteers at the RAFA Club fix the poppies in place.
A massive community effort in Llangollen has seen over 3,000 poppies made by hand to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.  

The sea of red flowers – the traditional symbol of remembrance – lovingly created by a small army of volunteers will go on display at the town’s new Centenary Square from this Sunday where they will form the backdrop of a special event to mark the local launch of the 2018 Poppy Appeal.

The production of the poppies began over a year ago and has been overseen by former Llangollen town mayor Sheena Grindley.
She said: “We put out the word out about what we intended to do and we immediately started to get people volunteering to help make them.

“The initial target figure was 2,000 poppies but we eventually got over 3,000.
“They’ve been knitted, crocheted from water resistant acrylic wool and also made from recycled plastic and then painted red.

“More than 100 people were involved in making them. I can’t remember a community event which has involved so many groups and individuals, who came not just from Llangollen but from surrounding areas too.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the response.”

Amongst the groups who joined the poppy production line were children from the town’s two primary schools, Ysgol Bryn Collen and Ysgol Y Gwernant.
“The children alone made over 320 poppies, all from the bottoms of plastic bottles which they then painted red and finished off with a black button in the middle. Each one will bear the first name and initial of the child who made it,” said Sheena.

“Their poppies will be planted in the soil along the back of Centenary Square while all the others have been fixed to many metres of green plastic netting, kindly donated by Matt Jones of Knights Construction, which will be positioned along the back wall close to our two war memorials commemorating the fallen of the First and Second World Wars.
“More volunteers have spent the past week fixing the poppies to the sheeting at Llangollen RAFA Club.

“We’re going to leave all the poppies on display until the New Year when people will be welcome to take them to keep as something to remember.”
On Sunday the poppies will take pride of place at the launch of the town’s annual Poppy Appeal at Centenary Square at 11am.

This will see a group of special guests in the shape of 40 riders from the biker section of the Royal British Legion (RBL) who will bring with them their own bugler to sound the traditional remembrance calls and a clergyman to take a short service.
On parade will be members of local RBL branch along with representatives of the Royal Naval Association and Royal Air Force Association.

A contingent from Llangollen Town Council will be led by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Issy Murray Richards.

Sheena added: “At the end of the ceremony people are invited back to the RAFA Club – appropriate as this is also the centenary of the formation of the RAF - for tea or coffee and to view photographic and art exhibitions on the theme of remembrance.”

Changes to waste collection being considered

The majority of households would only have their non-recyclable waste collected every four weeks under a plan being considered by Denbighshire County Council.

The proposals, which come under the spotlight of the council's Communities Scrutiny Committee  later this month, would see:

* A new weekly collection for recyclables such as paper, glass, cans, and plastic

* A weekly collection for food waste

* A new fortnightly collection for clothes and small electrical items

With 64% of waste already being recycled and a weekly recycling collection with extra capacity there should only be small amounts of non-recyclable waste left in the black bin, the council believes
The council is therefore proposing to change the collection of non-recyclable waste to every four weeks for the majority of households.

Residents can opt for bigger black bins if they need them, but overall, households will have an additional 35 litres of capacity each week in their Trolliboc for recycling packaging waste (including cans, tins, glass bottles& jars, plastic bottles & tubs, paper and card)  compared to their current blue recycling bin. 

They can free up even more space in their black bin by using the new kerbside recycling services for textiles, WEEE, batteries and where needed, nappy and incontinence waste.   

The council believes that increasing the size of the bins to the new larger ones and introducing weekly and recycling kerbside sort collections, supported by other special collections, should meet the needs of residents.
The Welsh Government has agreed £4 million for 2019/20 and a further £3 million in 2020/21.  Further discussions are on-going with Welsh Government and WRAP to find the additional funds needed to implement the project.
Members of the Communities Scrutiny Committee will consider the proposal at the meeting on October 25th at County Hall, Ruthin at 10am.
Councillor Brian Jones, Cabinet Lead Member for Highways, Planning and Sustainable Travel, said: “The county has historically one of the best recycling rates in Wales and residents have played a significant part in that success.

"Despite all the efforts, more than 5,000 tonnes of recycling are still being thrown away through general waste collections costing £500,000 which could be spent on protecting vital council services.
"This is a significant challenge and the Council needs to recycle more and reduce unnecessary disposal costs. That can only be done by changing the way in which its waste collection works and by changing the way residents recycle. The Council needs to work towards the statutory target of 70% by 2025, and it expects that the target could be increased to 80% by the Welsh Government in future.
“The majority of households in Denbighshire can be switched to the proposed system. The households at which the proposed system may be unsuitable are being identified. Where necessary alternative collection models, designed to achieve the highest levels of recycling practicable, will be introduced.

"Over 2,300 people responded to an online survey about the proposals, with a further 150 people completing surveys at libraries and One Stop Shops.  This information is extremely important and will help inform the decision the Council will soon need to make about the future design of our waste and recycling services.

"No decision has been taken. However, should the plans be approved, the Council would expect that any proposed change would take place in 2020."

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Call goes out for likely development sites

As part of its work on a new Local Development Plan, Denbighshire County Council is inviting landowners, developers and any others with an interest in land in the county to submit suggested sites for future development, with the deadline being November 26.
The Local Development Plan (LDP) sets out where, and how much, future development will happen in the county, as well as the areas to be protected from development.  To help inform these decisions, a ‘call for candidate sites’ will be held until November 26.

Submitting a site is not, however, a guarantee of inclusion in the LDP. 
All sites submissions must provide sufficient background information and the Council will assess each site before making a decision on its suitability.  All sites selected for inclusion will be subject to public consultation as part of the Deposit LDP early in 2020.

Guidance and forms for submitting a candidate site are available on the Local Development Plan section.   All forms must be submitted in full, and accompanied by the necessary maps, before the deadline of November 26.  Incomplete or late submissions will not be accepted, says the council 

* For further information, please contact the Strategic Planning and Housing Team: Email –

County leading the way on eco-friendly weed killing

Denbighshire County Council has become the first local authority in the UK to use the latest herbicide-free weed killing technology.

The Council’s Countryside Services has taken delivery of the new Foamstream M600 which uses heat and an organic foam made from olive oil, to kill plants.

* The Foamstream M600 in operation.
The foam is non-toxic and will enable the Council to reduce the amount of  herbicides it uses to control unwanted growth of plants and non-native invasive weeds including in sensitive areas such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Areas of Conservation and county wildlife sites.

Cllr Tony Thomas, lead member for the Environment, said: “Protecting the environment is something the Council takes very seriously and is a priority for us under our Corporate Plan.

“The use of herbicides is a concern for many residents, and we are investing in new, state-of-the-art technologies to manage our environment in a more eco-friendly way.

“This is the first step towards eliminating the use of herbicides and we will also be running a trial to see how effective this is at controlling weed growth on pavements and roads, as an alternative using herbicides in more urban settings.

“We are the first organisation in UK to purchase the latest technology to control unwanted growth of plants and non-native invasive weeds and hope other organisations follow our example.”

Herbicides have been linked to negative impacts on the environment with a number of recent studies identifying glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide, as a cause of death and decline among honey bees.

As the foam is completely organic and nontoxic, it can be used near to water and this will also reduce the impact on freshwater ecosystems and the species they contain, which are some of the most vulnerable to the effects of herbicides.

Earlier this year Denbighshire County Council was awarded Bee Friendly status from the Welsh Government, a scheme which aims to make Wales a pollinator-friendly country.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Welsh health and social care gets £180m funding

Plans to deliver a "seamless health and social care system", which aims to support people to live healthy and independent lives, will receive a £180m funding boost next year, Ministers announced today.

Health and Social Services Secretary, Vaughan Gething and Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies have set out their spending priorities for 2019-20.

Earlier this year, the Welsh Government published A Healthier Wales, the long-term plan for health and social care in Wales. 

As part of the process of transforming the health and social care system, the Welsh Government wants everyone to have access to a single integrated package of health and social care when they need it. This may be delivered by several different services, according to people’s needs.

Health and Social Services Secretary Vaughan Gething said: “In Wales, we’ve set out a clear vision to transform the health and care system. People will receive a single integrated package of support for health and social care tailored to their needs and preferences.

“The £180m package of investment we’re confirming today for health and social care in Wales represents a significant additional investment next year. It will be targeted across the health and social care system, to reflect the integrated approach we are promoting towards the development of seamless models of care.”

A package of £130m funding in 2019-20 will help to deliver the single integrated package of support and will be available to health and social care regional partnerships throughout Wales. The funding will be allocated across three main areas:
  • £50m of revenue funding for the Integrated Care Fund, which aims to reduce pressure on the hospital and social care system by helping to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions, inappropriate admissions to residential care, and delayed hospital discharges
  • £30m to be allocated through the regional partnership boards – these are shared decision-making bodies between health boards and local authorities. Regional partnership boards will play a leading role in the delivery of A Healthier Wales
  • £50m for the Transformation Fund, which will be allocated to programmes endorsed by regional partnership boards, to take forward the development and implementation of new models of care.
Ministers have also confirmed local authority social care services will receive £50m next year – £20m will be provided as part of the local government revenue support grant and a further £30m as a specific grant from the health and social services budget.

Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies added: “The £50m additional investment we’re making in social care will help services meet the growing demand for services and the needs of individuals in communities’ right across Wales.

“This wider package of investment demonstrates our commitment to the development of a truly seamless health and social care system in Wales.”

The announcement comes as the Welsh Government will today publish stage two of the draft Budget 2019-20 – the detailed spending proposals set out how the funding to each government portfolio will be allocated to individual programmes and grants.

Residents encouraged to stay safe at Halloween

This Halloween Denbighshire County Council is asking the public to consider those who may be frightened or intimidated.

Parents are being asked to make October 31 as pleasant as possible for the households called on by trick or treaters by being polite and courteous as well as being aware of the potential fire risk presented by children’s fancy dress costumes.

Cllr Tony Thomas, cabinet lead member for Housing, Regulation and the Environment, said: “Nuisance behaviour at Halloween has often been a bigger problem than Bonfire Night. 

“We would ask trick or treaters and parents to be aware of the shock some elderly and vulnerable people get when they find someone dressed in a terrifying outfit on their doorstep or from people persistently knocking on their doors.

“Elderly people can be left frightened and intimidated by youngsters calling at their home, particularly when the callers are in costume.”

Parents are advised to only purchase costumes from trusted sources and that are CE marked and to follow the instructions and safety information carefully.

Cllr Thomas added: “We would encourage parents to be vigilant and aware of the potential risks associated with fancy dress costumes and fire or naked flames, especially those items imported from non-EU countries where testing regimes may not be as stringent or the goods counterfeit.

“The simple advice is to keep your children away from candles and naked flames or use an LED equivalent.

“This year we are urging everyone in the community to help us make Halloween trouble free, to stay as safe as possible and for everyone to enjoy themselves.”

Saturday, October 20, 2018

MP praises work of community scheme

* Susan Elan Jones MP (left) with South Denbighshire Community Partnership manager Margaret Sutherland.

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones MP has urged the Government to examine the "excellent" work of the Corwen-based South Denbighshire Community Partnership.

In the House of Commons Chamber she said: “Our former colleague the late Jo Cox MP initiated an inquiry on loneliness so it was very moving to see her parents and sister in the House of Commons Chamber as we questioned the Minister on the Government’s newly-released strategy.

"I am really impressed by the fantastic work that the South Denbighshire Community Partnership is doing to bring people and communities together so I was very pleased to reference them in Parliament."

Ms Jones, who co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group for Charities and Volunteering, also questioned Minister Tracey Crouch on the need for the Government to develop better infrastructural support for charities.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Eisteddfod singing star to perform Down Under

* Mared Williams sings at this summer's eisteddfod.

A performer who was named the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod’s 2018 International Voice of Musical Theatre is gearing up to perform on Australia’s Gold Coast on Saturday.

As part of her Llangollen prize 21-year-old Mared Williams from Llannefydd will join hundreds of exceptional performers in the Gold Coast Eisteddfod’s Musicale.

The show is a celebration of musical theatre and one of the highlights of the seven-week long Australian festival of dance and music.

Mared wowed audiences and adjudicators with her performances of So Big So Small from Dear Evan Hanson, Pulled from the Addams Family and Being Alive from Company on the stage of the Royal International Pavilion in July.

Since winning the prestigious title at the eisteddfod, Mared has not only been gigging with her own songs but has also started a Masters degree in Musical Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music in London, whilst preparing for her adventure across the Australian coast.

“I’ve always wanted to travel, performing my own songs,” said Mared, “but it is incredible how many doors have opened since adding the title of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod’s International Voice of Musical Theatre to my CV.

“This really is going to be the trip of a lifetime for me, I’m really looking forward to experiencing an Eisteddfod outside of Wales as well as meeting new people and discovering the beautiful sights of Australia.

“I’d urge anyone with a passion for music and performance to enter the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod’s competitions and go into it aiming to have a wonderful day out doing what they love. It really is a dream come true!”

The Gold Coast Eisteddfod features over 70,000 singers and dancers, 330 bands and orchestras, 175 choirs, almost 1,500 dance groups and over 3,000 solo dancers.

The winner of the 2018 International Voice of Musical Theatre’s visit to the prestigious Australian festival has been covered completely by the Gold Coast Eisteddfod, a prize that will be up for grabs once again at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod 2019.

Interim Music Director of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, Edward-Rhys Harry, said: “Working with the Gold Coast Eisteddfod helps us to further raise the international profile of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, opening doors for new and exciting soloists from across the globe and acting as a springboard for glittering musical careers.

“We would like to thank Judith and the team for welcoming our 2018 winner Mared Williams and once again agreeing to offer this fantastic prize to the winner of the 2018 International Voice of Musical Theatre competition.”

* The eisteddfod is currently accepting entries for group categories. The deadline for Choral, Ensemble and Dance Categories is Friday November 23. Entries for soloists will open in December – visit for more information.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Concert raises £2,164 for cancer charity

The concert  in aid of Pancreatic Cancer UK staged at Llangollen Town Hall recently raised £2,164 for the charity.

The James Lambert Singers from Wrexham, conducted by Mair Evans and with guest tenor Colin Holt, played to a packed house.

Audience members carried home lots of raffle prizes.

Gethin Davies compered and Laura Howard Jones from the central London office of the charity spoke about its work and future.

A similar event is planned for October 5 next year.

Public get their first view of town's traffic blueprint

Llangollen people have been given their first look at a £2 million blueprint for the future shape of the town centre.

Consultants firm Arcadis, which has been hired to find solutions for the area’s traffic problems, hosted two briefing sessions – one outside the Town Hall yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon and the other inside the building in the evening – where it unveiled its vision for how things could look by 2020.
While this is still subject to consultation and amendment before the final version is presented at the end of next month, proposals include a new mini traffic island at the Abbey Road end of the famous bridge, the partial pedestrianisation of Market Street and the removal of parking bays along Castle Street.

While a steady stream of interested people turned up at the four-hour daytime briefing session less than 30 members of the public, including residents and business owners, attended the hour-long evening event.   
Alison Powell of Arcadis (pictured below) explained that the feasibility and scoping study being presented was a collection of ideas and suggestions which at this stage had no official status.

“We have been trying to work out what is technical and feasible in terms of solutions,” she said.
“Our aim is to create a high quality town centre environment which is attractive, safe and provides usable public space for a range of users and activities.”

Problems identified by her team around Castle Street, she said, was a conflict between pedestrians and traffic flow at the Abbey Road and A5 junctions, both of which were at or near capacity, the obstacles of parked cars, narrow pavements and general east/west traffic flows. In a bid to find solutions Arcadis looked at various forms of traffic modelling and examples of best practice in other areas of Britain.
An on-street public consultation exercise by the team in July, she revealed, had seen 300 responses submitted and Arcadis had also sounded out businesses, the Chamber of Trade and stakeholders including the Pavilion and the railway.

Chief complaints about Castle Street this had thrown up were the volume of traffic (74%), parking at the roadside (72%) and the lack of pedestrian crossings (56%).

Proposals for improvement include:
* Directional signs on the main roads into town aimed at diverting HGVs away from Llangollen.

* Pavements on the western side of Castle Street being widened.
* The creation of two pedestrian crossing points, on slightly raised sections of roadway, on the main street – one outside the library.

* The removal of street “clutter”, such as repeated signage, on the street.
* A slight reduction in the width of the carriageway on Castle Street.

* More tree planting along the street.
Major proposals include the creation of a mini roundabout at the Abbey Road end of the bridge and the stopping up of Market Street from Castle Street back to Greenfield.

This partial pedestrianisation would mean that buses coming into town will have to instead reach Parade Street via the A5 and the top end of Market Street.
Alison Powell said there would still be access to properties along Market Street but the stopping up might allow for the market to move off  the nearby car park and into the street, freeing up valuable parking spaces.

Parking spaces would also be removed from the section of Abbey Road immediately opposite the bridge to allow for the roundabout to be put in.
On the sensitive issue of parking, she said proposals were to reduce the number of long-stay spaces on the Market Street car park presently used by residents using permits therefore producing more short-stay spaces, the removal of parking spaces on Castle Street and having visiting coaches dropping off and picking up on Market Street car park while actually parking up at the Pavilion.

A limited number of disabled parking bays would be created in Bridge Street and Oak Street.
Next steps in the 2020 process before the final draft is published at the end of November, she explained, were a review of latest feedback, further research on what could be done to ease traffic problems at the Castle Street/A5 junction – a couple of options for this were in mind, she said – and estimations of the costs and economic impact of the proposals.

A question and answer session brought out a number of points, mainly on parking. These included:
* Concern by a B&B owner about her guests being able to find long-stay parking. Alison Powell said the aim was to accommodate all needs.

* Whether coaches would be put off  by not being able to park on Market Street. To this she answered that research by Arcadis had shown that was unlikely.
* Whether cars would stop to allow people to use the new crossing points.  AlisonPowell said: “In other places that have these cars do stop.”

* Why a narrower carriageway on Castle Street was necessary on top of removing parking on the street. “We need to do something additional to slow down the traffic,” she replied.
Graham Timms, one of the county councillors for Llangollen and chair of the 2020 working group, said: “The needs of businesses, residents and visitors have to be balanced to make the town centre work better for everyone.”

He said the overall cost of the 2020 scheme would be around £2 million. If eventually approved, half a million pounds of this would come from Denbighshire, between £160,000 and £200,000 from the Welsh Government with a “range of other options” being explored for the remainder.   
Cllr Timms revealed a number of other moves were being considered to alleviate the parking situation.

These included freeing up more spaces for short-term use by asking the owners of parking areas such as St Collen’s and inside the Pavilion grounds if they will allow these to be used by people working in the town centre so visitors can use the spaces they would normally occupy.
Later Cllr Timms said: “Arcadis is putting forward new and innovative solutions to some longstanding traffic problems in Llangollen.

“The Abbey Road/Castle Street junction usually operates at capacity and on busy days it simply can’t take the volume of traffic, causing tailbacks in all directions.
“This also applies to the junction at the other end of Castle Street controlled by traffic lights onto the A5, where improvements to the light sequence and improved pedestrian crossing points will also lead to the traffic flowing more freely.

“The report also suggests the creation of a pedestrian zone on Market Street banning traffic from entering or leaving the main Castle Street. The consultants say that removing traffic from this area will help with traffic flow by removing the obstructions caused by large vehicles turning at this junction. 
Llangollen’s other county councillor, Melvyn Mile, said: “Denbighshire County Council has already agreed to make an initial contribution of £½million towards the project and further funding is being actively pursued by the Llangollen 2020 group.

“Llangollen has the second highest footfall in Denbighshire during August, closely following Rhyl, whilst beating Prestatyn, Denbigh and other tourist hotspots within the county. But traffic chaos and parking misery have been an increasing problem in a town which we believe is the jewel in the crown of Denbighshire’s heartlands.”
* The Arcadis study was instigated by the Llangollen 2020 group that was formed in October 2017. The initial team comprised of Llangollen’s two county councillors, two town councillors and representatives from the Chamber of Trade.

The study has been jointly funded by a range of partners including Cadwyn Clwyd, Welsh Government, European Union, Denbighshire County Council, Llangollen Town Council and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.