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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Free caravan weight and safety checks on offer

Residents in Denbighshire who own caravans or campervans are urged to take advantage of free weight checks and safety advice – to make sure they stay on the right side of the law.

Officers of Denbighshire Trading Standards, Conwy Trading Standards and North Wales Police Community Safety section are offering free “Check Your Vehicle’s Weight” sessions at the Weighbridge on the A525 between Rhuddlan and St Asaph on Friday August 2, between 12 noon and 4pm.

People don’t need to make an appointment, they can simply pop along between the listed times on the dates mentioned and find out if their vehicles are within the legal weights. Whilst there people can chat about the security of your caravan/ van with an Officer of North Wales Police Community Safety Team.

The weighbridge can be found on the Rhuddlan to St Asaph A525 road, approximately ¾ of a mile from Rhuddlan, located in the layby. There will be signs indicating the weighbridge is in operation.

New council team aims to help homeless

A new team to assist homeless people with high and complex needs has been launched across Denbighshire and Conwy.

The Housing First pilot aims to ensure people are settled as quickly as possible into their own home and are provided with the support they need, at their own pace, and for as long as they need it, to sustain their tenancy.

There is an emerging evidence base to show this innovative approach has the potential to deliver a sustainable exit from homelessness, improve health and well-being and enable social integration.
This approach is being supported and funded by the Welsh Government, with the team working with Denbighshire County Council and Conwy County Borough Council.

Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire County Council’s lead member for Well-being and Independence, said: “I’m pleased we will be operating the Housing First pilot to provide additional support to those residents who are experiencing long-term homelessness.”

Skates praises local Nature for Health scheme

* Ken Skates AM with volunteers, Denbighshire Countryside Services staff, local councillors and schoolchildren.

Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates praised a local initiative aimed at encouraging exercise to tackle mental and physical health problems.

Nature for Health, created by Denbighshire Countryside Services and the council's housing team, aims to develop the concept of social prescribing, where healthcare professionals can refer patients to take part in exercise and activities to alleviate a range of health issues.

Mr Skates said: “I was pleased to attend and speak at the launch of Nature for Health in Llangollen – it’s a fantastic scheme. The activities bring people and communities together and encourage residents to take pride in their green spaces, which we’re incredibly lucky to have an abundance of locally. We’ve got the best outdoor gym in Wales on our doorstep!

He added: “Projects like this are vital and are a fantastic way to improve mental and physical wellbeing.”

Nature for Health is an 18-month pilot scheme improving access to nature in Denbighshire, with indications showing public engagement continues to increase since its launch.

Denbighshire Council Access and Recreation Officer Hannah Arndt said activities act as an ice-breaker for those who can find social situations difficult. 

Volunteers can also learn skills such as dry stone walling and practical conservation.

Weekly sessions take place in Llangollen, Corwen, Prestatyn and Rhyl. For more information call the Llangollen office on 01824 712774 or the Rhyl office on 01824 708313.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Citroen Aircross is superb at flattening the bumps

* Above and below, the Citroen Aircross.

Citroen C5 Aircross road test by Steve Rogers

DID you know there are 42,000 speed bumps on roads around the country?

Citroen found out as part of a survey on speed bumps and pot holes and reckons the new suspension on its C5 Aircross and C4 Cactus does rather a good job of cushioning the jolting effect.

As luck would have it I was testing C5 Aircross at the same time the survey was released and can tell you Citroen's claims about its progressive hydraulic cushion suspension are no idle boast.

Speed bumps have done wonders in slowing traffic but some, particularly the rubber squares have to be taken very slowly. One residential street in Wrexham is known by locals as the Himalayas because of its towering speed bumps.

It is a road I often use and C5 Aircross was by far the best at absorbing the humps. I gave it another test near to my village where there are three potholes in a line and again Aircross passed the test with flying colours.

Of course Citroen has a proud history here. The wonderful DS of 1955 was the first to use hydraulics for the suspension while 20 years later the sleek CX set another milestone with its hydro-pneumatic self levelling suspension. 

Driving was more like floating but there was a downside for our family. My two young sons couldn't go 10 miles in a CX without feeling sick because of the motion of the car.

No such worries in the Aircross which is both super comfortable and surprisingly stable. This is a high sided SUV so a degree of body roll goes with the territory but as long as you don't push too hard through bends everything stays on an even keel.

Citroen has also come up with a seat design which is setting new standards so throw this into the mix and you have one very comfortable motor.

And it does not stop there, the slightly quirky styling gives the car personality and an identity of its own. It is a little more boxy than the hordes of rivals which bring more benefits. The cabin is very roomy and flexible. The individual back seats are on runners increasing the luggage area if necessary and when they are down provide a flat floor, long enough for a couple of adults to sleep!

Up front we have the signature space age dashboard with an central eight inch central touchscreen controlling just about every function. Not a favourite of mine as I prefer a rotary controller which is less of a distraction when driving.

Individual functions can be quickly selected from a touch pad strip under the screen but it is overly sensitive and easy to accidentally change the screen while moving your hand away. Voice control is an option but not as effective as other cars I have been driving.

The driver also has a changeable 12 inch screen in the binnacle which makes life easy when following navigation instructions.

People are still dubious about Citroen, and French cars in general, but a look inside C5 Aircross should park that myth. The company upped its game a long time ago and the materials and build quality exceed many rivals.

The spec sheet is long as is the list of safety features. Check out the brilliant 360 deg camera. However there is always room for improvement like a hold function on the electronic parking brake and fabric lining for the boot walls.

Citroen has one of the strongest line ups of petrol and diesel engines and my 2-litre diesel was smooth, efficient and punchy. With 400Nm of torque you should never be caught short when overtaking while there are smiles per mile with mid forties to the gallon a given. On a long run I topped 50mpg.

Outstanding is not a word I bandy about but it fits the bill here. There are any number of very good SUVs out there but C5 Aircross goes that extra mile on space and flexibility and has arguably the most comfortable ride of any of its rivals.

It is 100 years since Andre Citroen founded his car company. He was an innovator who always pushed the boundaries and would be pretty pleased with the way his company is continuing that tradition.

Key facts
C5 Aircross Flair 8sp auto
2-litre diesel; 174bhp
0-62mph 8.6secs; 131mph
126g/km. 1st year road tax £170
Insurance group 25

Railway swings back to the 60s this weekend

* Chris Burton plays at a previous railway 60s weekend.

* Revellers on the platform at a previous 60s party.

Llangollen Railway swings back half a century from this Thursday to Sunday when it stages its annual 1960s weekend.

A packed programme of retro-themed events begins on Thursday night when there's a real ale bar open from 5-11pm in the railway's Henry Robertson Suite.

Friday Night sees a 60s dance and real ale bar between 4 and 11pm with an entry fee of £2.

On Saturday there's an open mic session on platform one from noon-5pm.

That evening sees a live disco and dance on the main platform which has a £3 entry fee. Revellers are encouraged to dress in clothing from the swinging era.

During the weekend there will be classic cars, bikes and buses on display at Glyndyfrdwy station field and on Sunday there's an intensive timetable of steam, diesel and heritage railcar (DMU) services running.

On Saturday and Sunday a vintage rail replacement bus service will be in operation between Llangollen-Glyndyfrdwy-Carrog and Corwen.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Railway has talks with top Wales transport boss

* Lee Robinson from Transport for Wales meets Llangollen Railway's Liz McGuinness.

A national transport boss has paid a visit to Llangollen Railway.

Lee Robinson, North Wales Development Director of Transport for Wales, called into the heritage railway to meet its business manager Liz McGuinness and other members of the team based at the station.

He took a ride in a cab to Carrog in locomotive No.31271 and went on to Corwen to see station site progress.

Liz McGuinness said: "We discussed the need to improve public transport arrangements between Ruabon mainline station and Llangollen and we agreed to explore a joint ticketing venture to help visitors arrive by train and bus."

After his visit Mr Robinson said: "At Transport for Wales we are on a journey to transform the transport sector throughout our Wales and Borders network, through implementing our £5 billion investment programme.

“ It’s been great to visit Llangollen, to see the railway first hand and also the ongoing work to complete Corwen station.  

"We understand the social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits of the railway and these improvements will attract more visitors and allow them to leave their car at home to experience a fantastic day out.”

50mph speed cameras go in on the bypass

The installation of average speed cameras to enforce the 50mph limit on a stretch of the A483 began yesterday, according to

* For the full story, see:

Sunday, July 28, 2019

WI's bra-skets raise £170 to fight breast cancer

* Town crier Chem summons passers-by the the auction of bra-skets.

* Above and below: a couple of successful top bidders.

Town crier Chem acted as auction master when Valley Girls WI members sold off their colourful display of hanging basket bras to the highest bidders this afternoon (Sunday).

As part of their fundraising during the Fringe Festival, they spent last Thursday hanging a collection of the "bra-skets" on a trellis fence outside the Town Hall.

They aim was to remind people of the importance of self-examination when it comes to the crucial early detection of breast cancer and also to raise money to fight the disease.

Today it was time to auction them off and after Chem - kitted out in his new airier kilt - attracted their attention a procession of well-wishers dug deep to buy the baskets for sums of up to £20 apiece.

The unusual auction blossomed into a useful final tally of £170.

Valley Girls spokeswoman Gail Ellson said: “It was mainly intended as a bit of fun to cheer up the town as we did with the Yarn Bomb back in 2016 when we hung knitted items around the town centre. It also ties in with the artistic nature of the Fringe Festival.

“We thought we should also use it for the good of the community and visitors to the town by linking with a Breast Cancer charity Coppafeel

She added: “There are several health care professionals amongst the Valley Girls whose job involves a lot of health promotion and health education.

A few of us have links with the Coppafeel charity through one of our colleagues Sandra Smith, who volunteers for Coppafeel.

“Sandra spoke to the Valley Girls back in May and we were all inspired to support the charity.

“The Braskets had health education leaflets attached to them which onlookers weree welcome to take away.

“The leaflets provide user-friendly information on breast self examination, which is essential in aiding the early detection and subsequent treatment of breast cancer.”

Llangollen vicar appears on national TV this morning

* Father Lee Taylor on TV this morning.

Llangollen's vicar this morning made an appearance on a national television show.

The BBC's Sunday Morning Live looks at moral, ethical and religious issues with the help of expert guests.

Father Lee Taylor, vicar of St Collen's, was amongst the interviewees in an an item about the benefits of pubs to modern-day society.

Father Lee, whose family ran pubs back in his native Lancashire and who worked in some of these when he was younger, told the interviewer that they were "great places for engagement, interacting together and associating with others from all walks of life".

He also explained how he had performed a number of beer blessing ceremonies in his professional life, including one in Croydon where he was based before moving to Llangollen late last year.

Father Lee said he had used a very old prayer written in 1615 to perform the blessing and how it had been suggested during this period that beer may be a "salutory remedy for the human race".

"It's all about putting the good things together and celebrating the things that come from God," he added.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Public servants invited to free Glyndwr masterclass

* Dr Sarah Evans and Ken Perry.

People working in public services who want to drive change in communities across the region are being sought for a free evening masterclass run by Wrexham Glyndwr University.

Whether they work in the private, voluntary, community or public sector, participants are being asked to take part in the masterclass which links to new leadership courses being run at Glyndwr.  

The evening will give attendees a feel for some of the subjects covered by the university’s new MA in Public Service Leadership and its Introduction to Systems Leadership Short Course.

Both courses are unique in this country, and has been designed specifically to dovetail with the Welsh Government’s Future Generations Act – a major piece of legislation which is transforming the way that services are being delivered across Wales.

The taster sessions  are designed to help start breaking down barriers and building up networks among the diverse range of people working to improve the region’s communities.

Ken Perry, director of leadership practice Do-Well (UK) Ltd and a visiting industrial fellow at Wrexham Glyndwr University, has had a key role in developing both the MA and the short course.

He said: “Both of the sessions are open to everyone and anyone involved in public service – whether they work in the public, private, or third sectors.

“Anyone who is interested in the wealth and health or our region – and what they can do the help improve it – should get something out of these  courses. We have got avoidable inequality across communities in Wales, and through these taster sessions and the wider courses they feed into we are looking at finding the pioneers who can help to tackle that situation – and to build the kind of networks that are needed to do it.”

Dr Sarah Evans, Lecturer in Business at Glyndwr University and a public sector specialist, is the programme leader for the course. 

She said: “These courses are all about driving change through collaboration – and helping people build the networks they need is vital to securing that change. By coming to this event, people can get a taste of how they can work together on some of the big issues which face our society.”

The taster session – and Glyndwr’s  wider Public Service Leadership courses – are already picking up interest from organisations across Wales. 

Ken added: “We are looking for pioneers – people who are prepared to come in, take the course we have developed, and make it work for them and their situation.

“As well taster sessions,  we also offer a short course and an MA in Public Service Leadership – and we have been talking to fascinating people from across North Wales about taking part in each of them.

“We are talking to people from the NHS, the voluntary sector, housing associations and local authorities and more.”

The free taster session has been designed to tailor with the working day –  and runs from 4.30pm to 7pm.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Former councillor keeps pictures of Boris's early fight

* Boris Johnson canvasses in Castle Street during the 1997 General Election.

* The rosettes worn by Conservative supporters in '97.

* The first letter on Daily Telegraph notepaper.

... and side two.

* The letter from the office of the Mayor of London.

... and the letter's flipside.

* Boris Johnson's supporters wait anxiously for the result of the 1997 Clwyd South election.

Former Llangollen county councillor Stuart Davies has displayed various treasured items he keeps as mementos of the time 22 years when Boris Johnson fought the local Parliamentary seat.

The poll battle came in May 1997 when the man who became Prime Minister yesterday unsuccessfully contested the Clwyd South Seat during the General Election in which Labour won a landslide victory across the country.

He picked up 9,091 votes compared to his Labour opponent Martyn Jones who received a winning total of 22,901.

Stuart Davies acted as Johnson’s press officer and has since kept a number of pictures and souvenirs of the occasion.

These include a couple of Tory blue rosettes worn by supporters during the campaign and two letters sent to him from the candidate.

The first is dated just after the 1997 election and is written on the notepaper of the Daily Telegraph where Johnson was working at the time as a journalist.

In it he says - in at least foreign languages - that the “struggle continues” and the second came in October 2015 after Johnson had won the London Mayoralty for the first time. In it he tells Mr Davies that he fondly recalls visiting Brymo steelworks during the Clwyd South campaign.

There are also two pictures in the collection, one of which shows party supporters gathering round during the count and the other featuring the candidate back in 1997 canvassing from the doorway of a people carrier in Castle Street, Llangollen.

Mr Davies said: “I remember him from the campaign as being something of a man of the people who liked to meet and was able to talk easily to everyone right across society.

“I think that if he’s not able to push through Brexit we’ll see him call an early election and then I reckon he’ll win hands down.

“By the way, there are lots of jokes these days about his modern-day vehicle being messy all the time. Well, it was the same was back in 1997.”

Volvo S60 is a neat piece of Scandi chic

* The Volvo S60 saloon.

* The S60's interior.

Volvo S60 road test by Steve Rogers

THIS is a tail of amazing good fortune or, as my wife said, absolute stupidity.

It all started while loading golf clubs into the boot of the Volvo S60. I needed somewhere to rest my mobile and laid it on the edge of the roof mentally telling myself not to forget it before driving away.

You will have guessed what’s coming. I nipped to the gents and the distraction was enough for me to drive away with said mobile sitting on the roof.

The 15 mile drive home is mainly B roads, uphill, down dale, lots of twists, poor surfaces and the occasional pothole.

At home the mobile is nowhere to be found and then that moment when the head sinks into the hands. I left it on the roof of the car so that is the end of that... but low and behold it is still there.

After the stinging rebuke from my wife I suggested we look at the bigger picture and what it said about the quality of the S60s suspension and its ability to soak up everything thrown at it. My phone really should have ended up in a ditch.

The S60 saloon is Volvo's newest model following on from the V60 estate and shares the Swedish company's current design DNA so models morph into a set shape but who cares if they look great. It has won them loads of awards, not to mention sales which are at an all time high.

The new model is in the early stages with one engine, a four cylinder 2-litre petrol. Note the absence of a diesel, a brave move when rivals like Audi, BMW, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz are hanging in there with clean, economical diesels but sales show Volvo buyers are migrating to petrol.

As for the 2-litre it musters 250bhp and in all honesty is plenty quick enough with a decent amount of mid range pick up which is what's really important for stress free overtaking, and all this comes through a smooth eight speed automatic with steering wheel shifter paddles to spice up the drive.

If economy is important in the buying process then S60 is on the back foot against its diesel rivals. Mid thirties to the gallon is the best I could get which is reasonable for a car of this size with this sort of performance but way short of what a similarly powered diesel will return.

Once that hurdle is cleared the rest is an easy sprint to the finish line. S60 is in the zone right across the board but the stand out feature has to be the interior. The minimalist Swedish styling is Scandi chic at its best and along with the quality of materials makes it the pick of the class.

Volvo has taken the bull by the horns and virtually eliminated switches with the main functions selected from a nine-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. It works on the same principal as a mobile phone or tablet and is able to store masses of information.

I have got used to it driving Volvos over the last few years but still find swiping the screen for everyday tasks a distraction. That said there is the simplest of solutions for a driver who wants to keep his eyes on the road.

Voice control. Change the heating temperature or fan speed, select a radio station, or say a post code for navigation and it happens. Job done, I'm happy. The 12.3in digital display in the driver's binnacle is another bonus especially when using navigation.

It's a great car to drive too, lashings of style and substance, and superbly comfortable seats. R-Design models err towards a sporty drive with stiffer spring settings and selectable drive modes yet passengers are still cushioned against our many poor road surfaces.

As you would expect Volvo provides an abundance of safety features and that includes keeping the car in its lane and emergency braking if the driver's eyes are not focussed on the road or you are too slow to react to an obstacle whether it be a person or vehicle.

There are more S60 model variants on the way including the imminent arrival of the monstrous T8 twin engine with 400bhp. That is going to spice things up a bit!

That said Volvo does not hold the monopoly on the medium saloon sector which is jam packed with excellent models but while the Swede is amongst the best it is not enough to persuade me away from my favourite, the rear wheel drive Alfa Romeo Giulia. In fact if I was going down the Volvo road my pick would be its sister, the V60 estate, same car with more flexibility.

Key facts
S60 R-Design Edition 8sp auto
2-litre T5 petrol 250bhp
0-60mph 6.3secs; 145mph
35.3-39.8mpg combined
155g/km. 1st year road tax £530
Boot capacity 442 litres
Insurance group 34

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Final decision due on leisure delivery plan

A final decision will be made on the budget for transferring leisure facilities and functions provided by Denbighshire County Council to an alternative delivery model.

The cost and net savings for a ‘Council-owned not-for-profit trading company’ is to be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet on July 30th.

The business plan has previously been approved by Full Council.

The Council-owned trading company would enable the leisure service to trade more commercially to help sustain the facilities, as well as making substantial savings for the Council in the first year of operation.

The facilities proposed to be included are the county’s seven leisure centres as well as the Prestatyn Nova, SC2, Rhyl Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl Events Arena and events function, North Wales Bowls Centre, Rhyl Town Hall, Ruthin Craft Centre, Llangollen Pavilion, 1891, CafĂ© R (Ruthin) and Strategic Leisure.

Whilst the consideration of an alternative delivery model (ADM) is new to the Council, many other councils across the UK are already using similar ADMs to deliver a range of services, and the Council has engaged extensively with these other Councils as the Denbighshire model has been developed through the various stages.

Cllr Bobby Feeley, lead member for Well-being and Independence, said: “We are very proud of our leisure services in Denbighshire which have a positive impact on residents’ health and well-being.
“Investment by the Council over the past ten years has seen visitor numbers increase and ensured facilities are first class and up-to-date.

“Moving to an ADM will ensure the company continues to deliver a high-quality leisure provision long into the future, but as the company would be solely owned by the Council it will be the Council that sets the priorities for the company and the level of service expected.

“Therefore the public should see very little difference in terms of the quality of the services provided or the ‘look and feel’ of the facilities.”

Cllr Julian Thompson-Hill, lead member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets, said: “We have recognised the need for on-going investment at times of significant financial challenge. We have also listened to the public as the demand for leisure sessions grew and continues to grow across the Council.

“This model will allow for the continued innovative and entrepreneurial approach to commercial leisure long into the future.”

If the plan is supported by Cabinet the ADM implementation process will be started by the Council with the company expected to be operational April next year.

Give prescribed heroin to addicts, says police boss

* North Wales PCC Arfon Jones.

A police boss is calling for a pilot scheme to be set up in North Wales to give prescribed heroin to drug addicts as part of a pioneering treatment programme.

According to the region’s police and crime commissioner, Arfon Jones, the introduction of Heroin Assisted Treatment would save lives, reduce crime, cut costs and reduce the scale of the illicit drug market.

A similar scheme is being launched in Cleveland in the Autumn by the police and health authorities in Cleveland with the blessing of Home Secretary Sajid Javid who is allowing it to go ahead under licence.

It will see people with problematic drug use being given medical-grade heroin – diamorphine – at special centres where they can inject themselves twice a day, seven days a week.

The aim is to cure the most drug-dependent addicts by giving them access to medical and other specialist staff.

It has been estimated the scheme will cost about £12,000 a year for each addict, which is a fraction of the cost of the crime they commit.

Mr Jones believes a pilot in North Wales should be funded by the Area Planning Board, which together with the Health Board, has an annual budget of £10 million a year to spend on schemes aimed at combating substance abuse, including alcohol.

Mr Jones, a former police inspector, was speaking at a conference organised by the Welsh Association of Community Safety Officers in Newport.

He said: “Reducing criminal exploitation of vulnerable people is the overarching priority of my Police and Crime Plan so I am delighted to be here.

“In my view, the current method of tackling organised crime through the Criminal Justice System has not been effective.

“Once one group has been removed, another replaces it within days, or even hours which inevitably leads to further violence and exploitation.

“Trying to arrest our way out of responding for the demand for drugs is not working and quite frankly hasn’t been working for a long, long time.

“In 1971 when the Misuse of Drugs Act was introduced, we had less than 2,000 problematic opioid users now we have 300,000.

“Heroin Assisted Treatment is proven to reduce crime, cut costs and reduce the scale of the illicit drug market.

“From a Public Health perspective, the benefit of Heroin Assisted Treatment are endless because it reduces the likelihood of overdose, reduce the risk of HIV and other blood borne viruses and provides individuals with access to services.

“There are also clear benefits to the Criminal Justice System. Heroin Assisted Treatment has been proven to reduce acquisitive crime considerably.

“In Switzerland Heroin Assisted Treatment was introduced in 1994, and subsequent academic evaluation showed that prescribing medicinal heroin to 10 per cent of the heaviest users and whom committed much crime resulted in a 40 per cent reduction in the  illicit heroin market and reduced burglaries by up to 50 per cent

“Secondly I believe that diversion away from the Criminal Justice System is essential in ensuring that the most vulnerable within our societies are protected and helped to address their underlying issues.

“The majority of low level offenders offend due to their inability to deal with various issues and situations. These can include substance misuse, housing, debt or mental health to name but a few. 

“By addressing these underlying issues individuals are less likely to offend as they are no longer in crisis.

In 2013, Durham Constabulary introduced the Checkpoint Diversion Scheme which provided low level offenders with an alternative to the Criminal Justice System.

“Nine navigators were employed to work with low level offenders to address their underlying issues and work with them to prevent re-offending.

“This scheme has been extremely successful and has seen the reoffending rate reduce to around four per cent.

“Due to the success of the Durham model, I will be introducing Checkpoint Cymru into North Wales on October 1. 

“I am currently in the process of recruiting nine navigators and I have been absolutely delighted by the high level of interest in these roles, with over 60 applications being received. 

“The navigators will be based in all three of the custody suites across North Wales and will work with individuals during what will typically be a 16 week programme, but can be tailored to individual needs – for example, those caught in possession of a small amount of drugs will be given the opportunity to attend a four-hour drug awareness programme.

“We already know from the work done by our criminal justice system partners in North Wales that many of the offences committed by female offenders given short term sentences are those that will qualify for the Checkpoint Cymru  programme.

“Children with a parent in prison are twice as likely as other children to experience conduct and mental health problems, less likely to do well at school and more likely to be excluded.
“They are also more likely to be arrested and imprisoned as young adults and three times more likely to be involved in offending activity themselves.

“Therefore, the cost to local authorities, policing and our other partners of not effectively supporting children of imprisoned parents could be substantial.

“It makes absolute sense for partners across North Wales to pool resources, best practice and learning to ensure that these children are able to reach their full potential.

“Despite the strength of the business case and the widely accepted evidence, some local authorities in North Wales remain unconvinced and will not make a funding contribution towards the costs of a small regional team established to tackle this very issue of supporting families affected by parental imprisonment.

“This is a perfect example I believe where pooled budgets could make a significant difference to partnership working and where the Welsh Government can play such a crucial role in putting together a funding package. 

“Working together in effective partnership will help us all to meet the financial challenges we face whilst providing more effective support to people ensnared by problematic drug abuse and striking a blow against the illicit drugs trade.”

Monday, July 22, 2019

North Wales joins firearms surrender scheme

North Wales Police along with forces across the country are appealing for people to hand in unwanted guns with a two week surrender of firearms and ammunition, which started on Saturday.

Many firearms are held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality or are overlooked and forgotten in people’s homes. Others are acquired and distributed by criminal networks to harm, threaten and intimidate their local communities.
The surrender gives people the chance to dispose of firearms or ammunition by simply taking them to a designated local police station and handing them over.
The surrender will run until August 4. Surrendering unwanted, unlicensed weapons avoids the risk of them becoming involved in criminality and means that members of the community can dispose of firearms in a safe place.
During this period, those surrendering firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession upon surrender and can remain anonymous. However, the history of each live weapon will be checked for evidence of its use in crimes.
Detective Superintendent Steve Williams of North Wales Police said: “Given the large rural setting of our area, it may be that some people hold unlicensed firearms that have been handed down to them and may have concerns as to what to do with these weapons. There may also be people who, because of the change in legislation have a weapon they cannot legally hold. This surrender period allows them to dispose of these weapons in a manner that can allay such fears.
“Fortunately we do not have a significant gun crime problem in North Wales. However, we are not complacent about gun crime and we want as many guns surrendered as possible so I would encourage the public to come forward.”
This summer’s national campaign has a particular focus on firearms, stun gun type devices and pepper sprays. Police want to highlight the danger of these items and remind people they are illegal in this country and could lead to a prison sentence for anyone caught in possession.   
Assistant Chief Constable Helen McMillan, National Police Chief’s Council lead for Criminal Use of Firearms, said; “The last national firearms surrender in 2017 was a success and potentially helped save lives. With the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy underway, we feel it is the right time to ask police forces to run another two week campaign to collect unwanted guns and ammunition. Each firearm we retrieve has the potential to save a life, so do the right thing and surrender your weapon. 
“We also want to highlight that stun guns and similar devices are illegal in the UK and may not be brought in from abroad. They may be legal in some other countries, but if you are caught with one here you could be prosecuted with possession of a firearm and be put behind bars. This summer’s surrender is a good opportunity to hand in these types of devices.”
The surrender initiative is being co-ordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS). 
Detective Chief Superintendent Jo Clews, Head of NABIS, added: “This is an important national campaign co-ordinated by NABIS. During the last decade our experts have provided police forces with ground breaking ballistic forensic services and intelligence packages to prevent and detect gun crime. Even though UK firearm offences remain at relatively low levels compared to other countries, we cannot be complacent and this surrender will help remove further potential harm from our communities.”         
Weapons and ammunition can be surrendered at police stations including Wrexham.
If people are unable to visit any of these stations they are advised to contact North Wales Police on 101 to make alternative arrangements. For advice on how best to transport the weapon responsibly from home to their police station they are advised to phone 101 before travelling.
Wrexham Police Station, at the former Oriel Gallery, Rhosddu Road LL11 1AU, (01978) 834321. is open 8.30am/7pm – Monday to Saturday & 9am/6pm – Sundays.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

MP demands review of disabled welfare system

* Susan Elan Jones MP at the launch in Parliament of the Disability Benefits Consortium report Has Welfare Become Unfair?

Clwyd South Labour MP Susan Elan Jones has called for a compete review of how the welfare system treats disabled people.

Her demand came after she attended the parliamentary launch of the Disability Benefits Consortium report Has Welfare Become Unfair?

Ms Jones said: "Every year my staff team and I help around 800-1,000 constituents. Some of these will be local people with disabilities who are led down badly by an unfair system. 

"The Disability Benefits Consortium is a national group of more than 80 different charities and organisations.  

"I am pleased to support their excellent report and really hope the Government listens."

She added: "We urgently need a thorough review of the Personal Independence Payments assessment criteria and the inclusion of a disability element to Universal Credit."

The Disability Benefits Consortium report calls for the Government to act upon a series of 22 recommendations. 

These include suggestions that the Department for Work & Pensions produces simplified claim forms, increased resources so that charities and other advice agencies can better assist people in completing forms and a commitment to review of Personal Independence Payments assessments.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Valley Girls hang their Bra-skets in the town

* Sandra Smith of the Coppafeel campaign, left, with Gail Ellson
of Valley Girls WI with the Bra-skets display outside the Town Hall.

Valley Girls WI members are briefed on the Coppafeel
 campaign by Sandra Smith at their meeting.

Llangollen’s Valley Girls WI are showing how well they keep abreast of vital themes in health care with their latest project.

On Thursday evening a team of of members were out putting up hanging baskets outside the Town Hall in time for the annual Fringe Festival.

And what the girls have dubbed “Bra-skets” aim to remind people of the importance of self-examination when it comes to the crucial early detection of breast cancer.

Valley Girls spokeswoman Gail Ellson said: “It's mainly intended as a bit of fun to cheer up the town as we did with the Yarn Bomb back in 2016 when we hung knitted items around the town centre. It also ties in with the artistic nature of the Fringe Festival.

“We thought we should also use it for the good of the community and visitors to the town by linking with a Breast Cancer charity Coppafeel

She added: “There are several health care professionals amongst the Valley Girls whose job involves a lot of health promotion and health education.

A few of us have links with the Coppafeel charity through one of our colleagues Sandra Smith, who volunteers for Coppafeel.

“Sandra spoke to the Valley Girls back in May and we were all inspired to support the charity.

“The Braskets will have health education leaflets attached to them which onlookers are welcome to take away.

“The leaflets provide user friendly information on breast self examination, which is essential in aiding the early detection and subsequent treatment of breast cancer.”

Friday, July 19, 2019

Guide launched to support Denbighshire carers

A guide to all the information and support available to carers in Denbighshire has been launched.

North East Wales Carers Information Service (NEWCIS) was commissioned to develop the guide with local carers and partner organisations on behalf of Denbighshire County Council.

It helps carers find out how to get help with money and benefits, legal rights, time away from caring, practical support, training, learning and employment as well as NHS services.

Ian Whitehead, aged 53, from Rhyl, is a carer for his wife and also volunteers with NEWCIS supporting carers and helping with fundraising.

He said: “It is really important carers are aware of the support that is out there for them. They play a vital role, without them the person they care for would be more isolated and wouldn’t be able to get out as much.

“This guide collects everything in one place and helps make it clearer to carers. I would encourage them to pick up a copy.”

Supporting carers and creating resilient communities is a priority for the Council under its Corporate Plan and support includes helping carers access leisure services, providing financial support for short breaks, offering training to maintain caring roles as well as promoting life-long learning and support to continue working or re-enter the workforce.

Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire’s lead member for Well-being and Independence, said: “It is important carers know where and how to access support for themselves as well as the person they care for.  

“Carers look after family, partners or friends in need of help because they are ill, frail or have a disability. 

“Being a carer for another person covers a whole range of activities including personal care, emotional support, practical assistance, transport and social support. We have worked with carers and partner organisations on this guide which is full of helpful information about caring and the support available.”

* You can pick up the guide at One Stop Shops, libraries and doctors surgeries across Denbighshire.
Claire Sullivan of NEWCIS said: “We hope this leaflet can act as a fantastic resource for carers across Denbighshire. It illustrates the continued close working between the local authority and their third sector partners to ensure carers are supported well.”