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Friday, July 10, 2020

Advice to licenced premises and customers ahead of re-opening



Licenced premises in Denbighshire are being given guidance on how to re-open safely.

Denbighshire County Council has been providing advice to pubs, restaurants, and cafes that are able to open outside areas only from Monday (July 13). 

As the Licensing Authority, the Council is working with partners to ensure a safe and smooth re-opening and has written to licenced premises in the county detailing steps that need to be taken.

Guidance includes increased supervision of outside areas and toilets, an increase in cleaning of all surfaces while open, effective waste disposal and management, seating only with the possibility of table service only, no live music or entertainment and that a full risk assessment is carried out.

Cllr Mark Young, the Council’s Lead Member for Planning, Public Protection and Safer Communities, said: “We are looking forward to businesses in Denbighshire re-opening next week and the Council has been working with many businesses ahead of re-opening.

“We are urging businesses to check Welsh Government guidelines as well as being mindful of social distancing regulation and to manage the potential of an increase in noise, anti-social behaviour and littering.

“Irrespective of the measures being implemented to meet Covid-19 requirements, it is vital the obligations of the Licensing Act still are still met.

“As lockdown measures ease it is important to ensure the safety of staff and members of the public and we would like to remind customers to behave in a responsible manner and to follow social distancing measures while visiting premises.”

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Harrison, North Wales Police, said: “I would like to thank the majority of our fantastic communities for pulling together during this difficult time, for adhering to the rules and helping others. These efforts really do make a difference.

“We of course want people to enjoy themselves, the last few months have been challenging.  I would ask people to stick to the social distancing rules and make sure everyone remains responsible, sensible and mindful of the restrictions that are still in place. The risk of COVID transmission has not gone away so we all must try and act in a way that protects our family and friends.  I hope everyone has a safe, relaxing and enjoyable weekend.”

Latest lockdown easing measures unveiled - as tourism industry get ready


Pubs in Wales have been sent a “clear signal” to prepare to open indoors from August 3 by the First Minister as he announced the latest round of lockdown changes, Wales Online is reporting this afternoon.
The measures will be phased in every Monday over the next review cycle and will see large parts of Wales’ visitor, hospitality, leisure and tourism industries re-open.
Mar Drakeford also announced that “provided the re-opening of outdoor hospitality goes well and the state of the virus allows, indoor opening for pubs, bars, cafes, and restaurants will resume from August 3."
Larger gatherings of up to 30 people will now be permitted provided they are outdoors “where these are organised and supervised by a responsible person for sports and other leisure activities and classes,” a Welsh Government spokesman said.
As expected he confirmed pubs, cafes, and restaurants will open outdoors and hairdressers, barbers and mobile hairdressers will re-open by appointment from Monday (July 13). 
Tourism bosses in county get ready for changes
Tourism businesses in Denbighshire are gearing up to kick-start their season, in readiness for the relaxing of lockdown restrictions on the industry, announced by First Minister Mark Drakeford today (Friday)

Bookings can be made for stays after 11 July. This will be at people’s own risk and they should check with the accommodation provider before they book.  
This includes any accommodation that is entirely self-contained, e.g. holiday cottages, holiday caravans including touring caravans, motorhomes, boats and some glamping accommodation with their own kitchens and bathrooms that no other guests use.
The proposed guidance also allows hotels and other serviced accommodation (e.g. B&Bs, hostels, etc.) that do provide en-suite rooms and can provide room service meals to re-open.
Caravan parks where accommodation is entirely self-contained may be allowed to re-open – but shared facilities on the premises will remain closed, such as swimming pools, leisure facilities, shared shower and toilets blocks, shared laundry, etc, and public areas in other accommodation types.  

This means any caravan or touring site where individual accommodation has its own supply of water for on board shower, WC and cooking with strict application of guidance on shared waste disposal and water points.

Businesses are expected  to take all reasonable measures to ensure that 2 metre distance is kept whilst waiting to enter premises, as well as admitting people onto premises in sufficiently small numbers to ensure that distance is kept.

Leader of Denbighshire, Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, who is also the Cabinet Lead Member for the Economy, said: “This latest relaxation of regulations for the industry is very much a step in the right direction.

“Tourism is very much at the heart of our economy in Denbighshire, contributing around £509 million a year and many people are heavily reliant on the industry for income and jobs.

“Many businesses will have really struggled over the past three months and it’s been a fine balance between protecting communities and re-starting the local economy.  It’s now time to look forward with hope and work together to offer the best possible experience for visitors from afar and wide, providing the usual high quality offer and encourage visitors to return to our scenic county”.

Ian Lebbon, Chair of the Denbighshire Destination Management Partnership, said: “We have waited a long time for this day. It’s been a really tough time for the tourism industry nationally and it’s no exception for us in Denbighshire.

“We fully recognise that restrictions needed to be put in place for the benefit of communities, but it’s now a case of looking forward to get  as many businesses as possible back on their feet and breathing new life into the industry, through encouraging visitors back to our county.

“We live in one of the most scenic areas of the UK, with a great blend of coastal and country communities and attractions.  We will continue to champion Denbighshire and North East Wales as great destinations for holidays and day trips for the whole family.

“We expect more people to stay in the UK for their annual holidays and it will be great to get tourism going again in our county. However, we want to make sure that people can visit Denbighshire in a safe manner,  whilst respecting communities and our scenic countryside and be mindful to check with providers and attractions whether they are open before travelling." 


County says it's working out details of schools re-opening



* Ysgol Dinas Bran.

Denbighshire County Council has issued a statement in response to the Welsh Government Education Minister’s plans for the new school year in September.

Kirsty Williams MS has confirmed that the autumn term in Wales will start on September 1. 

Her guidance states that schools that can accommodate all pupils on that day and first week should do so, but recognises that some schools may also need time for planning and reorganisation at the start of the next term.  

However, in the interests of all of children and young people, the Minister has announced that all schools will be open to all pupils by the September 14 at the very latest.

Councillor Huw Hilditch Roberts, Cabinet Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement, said: “There have been growing demands from parents and guardians, as well as local authorities and schools across Wales for information about the new term in September.

“At least the latest announcement has outlined the Welsh Government’s position and direction of travel.  We now need to consider the Minister’s statement carefully and consider what plans need to be put in place to welcome pupils back in September and when schools can safely re-open.

“We’ll be working with headteachers to finalise plans for September, in line with Welsh Government operational guidelines. Dates and plans will be confirmed before the start of the summer holidays and the Council and schools will be providing updates to parents and guardians. 

“The safety of all pupils and school staff will be paramount as plans are drawn up and implemented."

Eisteddfod goes online to celebrate diversity



 *  Inclusion Project participants in rehearsal last year.


* A performance of Tapestry from the 2019 Inclusion Project on the main stage.


Llangollen TV Online Dance Champions winners Gema Citra Nusantara from Indonesia.

The second day of Llangollen Online focused on the celebration of diversity that is at the heart of the eisteddfod.

For over 10 years the festival has run an annual Inclusion Project enabling local groups that would not otherwise have performed in the event to take to the stage. 

The 2020 project had to be postponed due to the pandemic but a special video piece has been released to highlight its importance and this also features a recap on last year’s performance called Tapestry.

With awareness of diversity issues increasing across the globe in recent months, the eisteddfod’s aim of promoting understanding and acceptance through music and dance is celebrated in What Diversity Means To Us with commentary from adjudicators and participants.

“Everyone is invited, everyone is celebrated.” says Michael McCulloch the conductor of The Sunday Night Singers from California who first visited the eisteddfod in 2004. 

The winner of the Llangollen TV Dance Champions category was announced as Gema Citra Nusantara from Indonesia.


Llangollen Online runs until Saturday and further details on the daily programme can be found on www.llangollen.net

Playgrounds could be re-opened from July 20, predicts story



* The children's play area in Riverside Park.

According to a story in Wales Online this morning, playgrounds and community centres will open from July 20, ahead of the summer holidays, Mark Drakeford will announce today.
In a three-week package of measures to further lift Wales’ coronavirus restrictions the First Minister will also reveal that the wider beauty industry, including tattooists can prepare to re-open from July 27 if conditions allow, the story adds.
And it says Mr Drakeford will also confirm that from Monday, hairdressing salons will be able to reopen by appointment, as will restaurants, pubs and caf├ęs with outdoor areas.
Asked specifically by llanblogger about the situation with the children's play area and bandstand in Riverside Park this week, a Denbighshire County Council spokesperson said: "The Welsh Government position on places like Riverside Park has not changed, so  it will remain closed until the guidance has changed and the closure sign will remain in place."
* For the full story, seehttps://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/welsh-playgrounds-community-centres-beauty-18572841#source=push


Rural residents urged to apply for help with improved broadband speeds



Rural residents and businesses in Denbighshire are being urged to apply for funding towards the cost of installing gigabit broadband.

The Welsh and UK governments are now working together on the Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme which covers part of the cost of installing new gigabit-capable internet connections.

Under the new partnership £7,000 is available for small-to-medium sized businesses and up to £3,000 is available for residential premises.

Gigabit-capable broadband connections offer the fastest and most reliable speeds available, and the scheme is open to rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps.

Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of Denbighshire County Council and Lead Member for the Economy, said: “This scheme will help ensure more people and businesses have access to reliable broadband speeds. I urge all those Denbighshire residents in rural locations without decent broadband to check to see if they are eligible for these vouchers.

“Connecting communities is a priority for the Council and improved internet connections ensure our communities have access to goods and services and help the county’s businesses provide services online.

“It is possible for residents or community groups to work together on applications and the Council is working to advise and assist them with their applications.”        
 
* You can contact the council via communitydevelopment@denbighshire.gov.uk and to check eligibility visit https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

Thursday, July 9, 2020

All schools to return from.September, says government

All pupils in Wales will be able to return to school in September, it has been announced.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams has today confirmed that schools will be able to return to full capacity, with limited social distancing measures in place when the new school year starts.
For the full story, in the Daily Post, see:
https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/pupils-wales-return-school-september-18568806

More businesses set to re-open next Monday



* The Cottage Tearoom and Bistro.



More Llangollen businesses have taken to Facebook to give details of their re-opening – or extended opening hours – as the Covid-19 lockdown gradually eases.

The Cottage Tearoom and Bistro in Castle Street posted: “A lot of our customers have been asking when we can finally reopen and we can confirm that from the 13th July we will be reopening our front garden to customers.

“Thorough preparations are being made from Government guidance including Risk Assessments & having appropriate measures in place.

“We can't wait to welcome you all again, we simply want this to be a mutual team effort from both staff & customers.”

In a separate post the business added: “From the 13th July, customers will be able to sit in our spacious outdoor seating area. Toilet facilities will also be available.

A similar post from another businesses said: “Finally we’re open Monday 13th Llangollen Barbers Shop, Chapel Street - so excited.”


Siop Fach, the cards and gifts shop on the corner opposite Fouzis, is now open 7 days a week, its owner posted.

Giving the opening hours, they added: “Monday: 9.30 to 3, Tuesday: 9 to 5, Wednesday: 930 to 3, Thursday: 9.30to 2.30, Friday : 9 to 5, Saturday: 9 to 5, Sunday: 10 to 5.
“Plus, we have a click and collect service!

“All our cards and gifts are on line at: www.siopfachllangollen.co.uk

The Market on the Fringe posted that it will be re-opening this Saturday, adding: "We look forward to seeing you all again."

They posted: “It’s sooooo encouraging to see that our lovely customers are asking  are we open yet.

"As things stand we will be closed for July. Unfortunately, with the shambolic arrangements that the government is trying to make, such as you can’t come in and use the toilet facilities, we just can’t see how it can be workable.

“We are monitoring the government guidelines and will update you whenever we have further information.”

Latest post from another local pub, The Prince of Wales in Regent Street, said: “Hello everyone we are hoping to open on the 31st of July, all depending on how it goes with the virus we will keep you all updated with any changes we make.

“Can’t wait to see you all enjoying yourselves with a nice cold pint." 

Children deliver digital peace message from eisteddfod to world


* Children went digital to deliver their peace message to the world.

Llangollen Online began on Tuesday with a special message of hope for the world in which local children reflected on the global impact of coronavirus.

Each year since 1952 Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has presented a message of peace and goodwill from the young people of Wales to the children of the world.  



Due to the pandemic, this year for the first time, the message was created digitally with children from Ysgol Bryn Collen in Llangollen and St Joseph’s Catholic & Anglican High School in Wrexham, who worked remotely to create the unique performance.

The message, written by Christine Dukes and narrated by the children, called on us all to reflect on how coronavirus has brought a different kind of peace to the world and how we can work together to overcome the impact of the pandemic.

It said: “This global pandemic has allowed us all to stop, pause, think, think about a world where we are all sharing the same fight for once, the same enemy at the door for once, the same battle to be fought for once. We became a ‘we’ not ‘I’”.


Other content featured on Tuesday includes a message of support from the Eisteddfod’s Patron HRH The Prince of Wales and the announcement of the winner of the Llangollen TV Children’s Choir category, which was won by British Columbia Girls Choir of Canada.

* Llangollen Online runs until Saturday and further details on the daily programme can be found on www.llangollen.net



MP describes how the Chancellor's measures could benefit Llangollen



* Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Commons yesterday.

Clwyd South Conservative MP Simon Baynes has sent a statement on the UK Government's announcements yesterday afternoon about the help it intends to give to businesses to help them recover from the coronavirus lockdown.

It says: "Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has said it will do whatever it takes to protect people and businesses from the immediate economic crisis. 

"As part of this, more than 8,200 jobs have been supported through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, allowing employers to put workers on furlough while the Government supports their wages in Clwyd South.

"The Chancellor has now set out the second phase of the Government’s response, focusing on jobs: supporting people to find the jobs that are out there, creating new jobs through investing in infrastructure, and protecting jobs by revitalising the hard-hit sectors upon which many jobs depend.

"As part of this, employers will be encouraged to retain staff who have been on the furlough scheme, with the Government paying a one-off bonus of £1,000 for every employee who was furloughed and who is kept on until January.

"Also included in the Government’s £30 billion Plan for Jobs:

•          A temporary cut in VAT for the tourism and hospitality sectors, to give a much-needed boost to some of the industries hardest hit by coronavirus.
•          A new Eat Out to Help Out Scheme, giving people up to 50 per cent off meals out at restaurants, pubs and cafes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.
•          The temporary removal of stamp duty on all homes under £500,000 until the end of March 2021, to catalyse the housing market.
•          A new Kickstart Scheme, which will create hundreds of thousands of new, fully-subsidised jobs for young people.

"The Chancellor’s Summer Economic Update, along with the New Deal for Britain announced by the Prime Minister last week, will benefit people and businesses across Wales. 

"This includes an additional £500 million of Covid-19 funding for the Welsh Government through the Barnett Formula. The UK Government is now providing £2.8 billion through the Barnett Formula to help the Welsh Government support individuals, businesses and public services through Covid-19.

"Following the Plan for Jobs, the UK Government will turn its attention to a third phase – a moment for rebuilding. The Chancellor will produce a Budget and a Spending Review in the autumn."

Mr Baynes MP added: “Throughout the coronavirus crisis, the UK Conservative Government has stood squarely behind people and businesses with one of the largest and most comprehensive packages of support anywhere in the world.

“As we turn our attention to carefully reopening our economy, it is right that the Chancellor is doing everything in his power to support, protect and create jobs. This plan will be a lifeline for countless people and businesses across Clwyd South.

“By levelling up the whole country, we will give businesses the confidence to retain and hire, create jobs in every region and ensure young people have the opportunity of a better start.”

Chamber's reaction to the measures

Llangollen Chamber of Trade and Tourism has let llanblogger have its own reaction to the Chancellor's measures.

This says:  "Any proposals by the government to offer further financial support is positive. 

"Llangollen is predominantly made up from independent businesses that have been unable to open and utilise the high level of tourist traffic that moves through the town and this has had a profound effect. 

"The cancellation of the annual Eisteddfod, although understandable, is also a significant factor likely to  also impact upon the town economic viability. 

"Many of the existing businesses have created alternative measures to ensure their survival but not all of these carry sustainability in the long term.

"Now that the travel restrictions have been lifted by the Welsh Government, any ongoing support would assist  in the town's recovery and allow it to thrive, particularly as it has a large number of cafes, restaurants and pubs providing for the large numbers of regular visitors and tourists.

"It is yet to be seen whether the proposals will allow Llangollen to return to its normally vibrant self but it is a start."

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Chancellor announces help for post-Covid hospitality sector

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to cut VAT on hospitality as part of a £30bn plan to prevent mass unemployment as the economy is hit by coronavirus.
The government will also pay firms a £1,000 bonus for every staff member kept on for three months when the furlough scheme ends in October.
And Mr Sunak announced a scheme to give 50% off to people dining out in August.
These measures were announced in Parliament this afternoon in The Chancellor's summer statement on the economy.
For the full story, see the BBC online at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-53268594

Eisteddfod plans to build houses on its overspill car park


* The site of the proposed development off Abbey Road.

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has applied for planning permission to build seven houses on the overspill car park close to its main site off Abbey Road.

The proposed development of three-bedroom homes would be served by two private shared driveways.


The site is a small triangular paddock off the A542 and is currently listed as brownfield for development purposes.

A design statement issued by the applicant’s agents, Fisher German of Chester, admits the proposed scheme is outside the development boundary and is therefore contrary to Denbighshire’s current Local Development Plan (LDP).

But the statement adds: “Notwithstanding, the (county) council currently has a significant shortfall from the plan-led housing requirement figure.

“The site adjoins a settlement boundary, in a highly accessible and sustainable location, and the provision of housing should be afforded significant weight so as to outweigh any policy conflict, subject to technical matters.


* A plan of the proposed housing development.

“The site is an under-utilised brownfield site located within a settlement. It may fall just the wrong side of the settlement boundary, but numerous appeal decisions and court rulings have confirmed that settlement boundary lines do not necessarily reflect the position on the ground.

“In this case, the site is connected to the town by continual development and very obviously forms part of its associated wider developed area.”


* A sketch of the housing types proposed.

A transport statement has been submitted alongside this application. This confirms both existing accesses to the site are suitable for the development and that “good visibility splays are created”.

The statement also confirms that a “minimal increase in traffic” would be created on Abbey Road as a result of the development.

A decision on the plan by county planners is pending.

* Further details of the application can be found on the county council's planning portal at: 

Use reference number: 03/2019/1075

Shunter makes history by reaching end of line at Corwen




* The diesel shunter at the end of the line.

Monday saw the first locomotive to run through Llangollen Railway's new station site to the end of the line at Green Lane, Corwen,

During the course of an engineer's possession of the line for a weed-killing exercise, the class 08 diesel shunt ran from Llangollen to Corwen and entered the station loop to reverse back.

This was the first time since December 1964, when the line closed due to flooding, that a locomotive has reached the west end of the new Corwen station.

It was on a day when the volunteer work force was present preparing to reopen the works site for a resumption of building the final stages of the platform after the lockdown.

Railway spokesperson George Jones said: "It was a tremendous occasion for all present and a good result for all the effort which went into restoring the track over the gap which has existed in the embankment until it was infilled last year."


End of an era at Ysgol Y Gwernant



* Bethan Jones.


* Diane Davies.

July sees an end of an era for Ysgol Gymraeg Y Gwernant as two of its leaders are leaving. 

Head Bethan Jones and deputy head Diane Davies are both leaving their posts to pursue new adventures.

School spokesperson Meinir Rees said: "We wish Bethan all the best in her new job as head teacher in Llanrwst and we wish Diane an enjoyable  and relaxing retirement.

"Bethan and Diane have worked together for 15 years from the very beginnings of the Uned Gymraeg, then Ysgol Gymraeg y Gwernant. 

"Their determination, drive and enthusiasm has helped to secure Welsh medium education for the children of Llangollen and surrounding area for generations to come. 

"They have instilled and secured a school with exceptionally high standards and also a very caring and nurturing environment.

"They will both be greatly missed."

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Eisteddfod faced "uncertain future" but for government help, says chair


* Last year's eisteddfod parade passes over the bridge.

Llangollen International Eisteddfod would have faced an "uncertain future" without financial support from the Welsh Government, its chair has told the BBC.
Dr Rhys Davies said the festival would have lost "hundreds of thousands" of pounds without grants to support it.
The event should have begun yesterday (Monday) but was cancelled because of Covid-19.

Parking spaces could be lost to allow social distancing, councillor reveals



* Llangollen is one of the towns where pavements 
may be widened to allow social distancing.

A Llangollen county councillor has revealed Llangollen could lose some of its parking spaces as a result of widening pavements to create more room for social distancing due to coronavirus.

Graham Timms makes the revelation as the Labour group of councillors on Denbighshire County Council – of which he is part – call on the authority’s leaders to introduce 30-minute free parking in town centres such as Llangollen to make up for the loss of spaces.

This move, they say, could come into force when the council re-introduces parking charges in August.

Cllr Timms said: “Llangollen is one of the towns where some parking spaces could be lost by widening pavements to create more space for social distancing.

“I am very keen to ensure that there is mitigation for parking places that are lost on our streets to ensure that our small businesses continue to thrive.”

Cllr Timms said he could not yet give any further information about what will actually happen in Llangollen as things were still at the planning stage.

On behalf of the Labour group its leader Cllr Joan Butterfield has written to the leader and chief executive of the council setting out the 30-minute free parking suggestion.

She writes: “We call on you to support local town centre businesses by introducing 30 minutes of free parking in all Denbighshire’s town and city centre car parks from 1st August 2020.

“This will coincide with the re-introduction of parking charges in all Denbighshire’s car parks.

“Recent proposals to remove some of the free 30-minute on-street parking in some Denbighshire towns to create more space for social distancing will certainly make our high streets more attractive and safer places to shop.

“But this will also mean that some ‘pop-and-shop’ residents could have to start paying for their parking, making them less likely to shop locally. 

“Whilst we support moves to make our towns safer, we also recognise that small businesses play a vital role in providing services to local residents and visitors.

“These businesses have really struggled over the last three months, many of them have been closed and some that remained open have suffered from a huge reduction in incomes.  Now that the lockdown is coming to an end we need to ensure that Denbighshire finds ways to revitalise our town centres.

“We are particularly concerned about those town centre businesses that provide services for our residents; Butchers, Greengrocers, Newsagents, Bakers and many others.

“They contribute to the vibrant atmosphere on high streets and make them attractive places to be. We need to support them at this time to ensure that they can continue to serve their communities and make their contribution to get the economy moving again.

“We need our town centres to have a good range of shops for residents and visitors in order to stimulate the local economy and tourism as we begin to welcome visitors back to Denbighshire.

“We believe that offering an incentive of thirty minutes free parking in all town and city centre car parks will be good for businesses, residents and visitors.”