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Friday, January 31, 2020

Former Llangollen mayor celebrates Brexit Day

Former Llangollen mayor and county councillor Stuart Davies (pictured) has sent in this picture of his boat, which he keeps in Portugal, "dressed for Brexit Day" with the national flags of Wales, England and Scotland.

Mr Davies has been a keen supporter of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.

Police boss: Don't prosecute people using medical cannabis

A police boss is calling for assurances that people using cannabis for medicinal purposes will not be prosecuted.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones (pictured) has written to the head of the Crown Prosecution Service in Wales asking for a guarantee that sick people will not be hauled before the courts for trying to alleviate their conditions.

Mr Jones, a former police inspector, is a long term advocate of drug reform.

He was deeply touched by the recent death of Phil James, a young father from North Wales who took cannabis oil to prolong his life after being diagnosed with a brain tumour at the aged of 33.

Mr James’ case made global headlines after he advocated for the use of CBD which contains banned Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The father-of-one from Oakenholt, near Flint, said the oil shrunk his tumour and staved off seizures allowing him to spend longer with his wife Nicola and their 15-month-old daughter, Phoebe.
He was diagnosed with a grade three tumour at the end of 2015 and it dramatically reduced in size after taking the drug.  
But Mr James then suffered a minor stroke and a CAT scan revealed a secondary tumour, causing him to suffer a series of falls, in February 2018.   
He died at Nightingale House Hospice in Wrexham on January 5. 
According to Mr Jones, the case of Phil James was a perfect example of why it was necessary to ensure that people who took medicinal cannabis should not have the additional worry of being threatened with the possibility of prosecution.
It was, he said, “cruel and inhumane” for people to be criminalised for being seriously ill.
In his letter to Chief Crown Prosecutor Barry Hughes, the police and crime commissioner wrote: “I am writing to you to request your support in preventing the prosecution of those using cannabis for medical purposes.
“On the 1st November 2018 the UK Government announced that cannabis products can be legally prescribed to individuals who could benefit from the medicine. “Cannabis based products have been proven to help those suffering with a number of issues including MS, Parkinson disease and epilepsy.

“Since the legalisation of medical cannabis there have only been two individuals that have received an NHS prescription for the drug.

“Unfortunately there are hundreds of individuals in the UK that need medical cannabis to continue to live without pain and enable them to lead a normal life.

“To those who don’t have an NHS prescription they are left with two options, the first is to pay for a private prescription and the second is to cultivate cannabis with a risk of receiving a criminal record. The cost of a private prescription for medical cannabis can be up to £3,000 a month. This is a cost which is impossible to sustain yet these individuals are increasing their debts and using their savings just to live a pain free life and prevent prosecution.

“In October 2019 MPs hosted a Cross Parliamentary meeting on Drug Reform called ‘forced to break the law: how should police respond to medical cannabis users’. 

“During this meeting we heard from individuals who use cannabis to relieve their symptoms yet spend their days worrying that they will be prosecuted for their cannabis use.

“During the meeting we heard about Lesley Gibson an MS patient who has spent the last year awaiting prosecution for the cultivation of cannabis.

“In January 2019 Lesley’s home in Carlisle was raided by Cumbria Police and her cannabis plants were removed. Lesley could not afford a private prescription and was left with no option but to medicate herself for her MS and grow her own cannabis plants. Her local Crown Prosecution Service decided to take the case to where she was acquitted. The Crown decided that it was not in the public interest to prosecute an individual who cultivated cannabis for medical purposes only.

“Is this now National CPS Policy that it is not in the public interest to prosecute users of medical cannabis? If so I welcome this progressive policy change and I agree that it is not in the public interest to prosecute users of medicinal cannabis.

“Individuals are forced to cultivate medicinal cannabis because the UK Government will not support widespread prescribing of pharmaceutical cannabis by the NHS.

I look forward to receiving clarification from the Director of Public Prosecutions.”

Choral concert for St David's Day

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Firework crackdown backed by councillors

Denbighshire County Council has supported a raft of recommendations to regulate the use of fireworks in the county.

A Notice of Motion, put forward by Councillors Brian Blakeley, Gwyneth Kensler and Julian Thompson-Hill and supported by councillors meeting in Ruthin, means that:

  • Organisers of all public firework displays within the local authority boundaries will be encouraged to advertise in advance of the event, allowing residents to take precautions for their animals and vulnerable people
  • The Council will actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people – including the precautions that can be taken to mitigate risks;
  • The Council will write to the Welsh Government urging them to utilise any levers at their disposal to mitigate any negative impacts on animals and vulnerable people of the hosting of fireworks displays;
  • The authority will also write to the UK Government urging them to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90 decibels for those sold to the public for private displays;
  • All local suppliers of fireworks will be encouraged to stock “quieter” fireworks for public display.
  • Further work will take place with the Council’s public protection team to see what other action can be taken.

MP signs holocaust book of commitment

Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes this week signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the Houses of Parliament, marking Holocaust Memorial Day 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
After signing he said: "May we never forget the persecution of the Jewish people. I know my constituents in Clwyd South will join me in pledging to honour those who died in the concentration camps of Europe during the Holocaust, paying tribute to the survivors and ensuring that anti-semitism is eradicated from our lives.”

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Police appeal follows serious A5 collision

Two people sustained serious injuries following a road traffic collision on the A5 in Glyndyfrdwy near Corwen yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, January 29th).
North Wales Police were called shortly before 3:30pm to a report of a two vehicle collision involving a Honda Civic and a Ford Ka.
The driver of the Honda was initially taken to the Wrexham Maelor Hospital but he has since been transferred to hospital in Stoke.
The female driver of the Ford Ka was airlifted by the Air Ambulance to hospital in Stoke.
Both have sustained serious but not life threatening injuries.
PC Anja Macleod of the Roads Policing Unit is appealing for any potential witnesses to come forward. She said: “The black Honda was travelling towards Corwen from Llangollen with the Ford Ka travelling in the opposite direction and I am appealing to anybody who saw either vehicle prior to the collision, or anybody who may have been travelling in the area and who may have dash cam footage to contact us.”
Anybody with information that could assist with the investigation is asked to contact officers at the Roads Policing Unit on 101 or via the live web chat quoting incident number Y012719.

Tory MPs voice concern about Welsh NHS

The seven Conservative MPs across North Wales have expressed concern over the latest set of A&E waiting time figures released this week by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).

A spokesperson said: "These figures are the latest in a very long sequence of under-performance by the BCUHB.

"The delivery of health services in Wales is the responsibility of the Labour Welsh Government. The BCUHB has been in special measures for almost five years. Health matters are top of the list of complaints we receive in our post bags and performance in key areas such as waiting times has been below what residents expect.

“We are meeting with the chairman of the BCUHB early in February. We will be seeking assurances that the right leadership is in place to turn around this performance and that the funding provided by the Conservative UK government for health is finding its way to residents."

County residents face 4.3% council tax rise

Denbighshire County Council has approved its budget for the 2020/2021 financial year, with an increase of 4.3% in council tax for residents.  

The draft settlement announced by Welsh Government last December showed an increase of 4.3% in the budget for Denbighshire and this is one of the highest increases seen for the council since 2007/2008. In cash terms this means an increase of £6.2 million.

However, in setting the budget, councillors have considered the fact that there are £12.41 million budget pressures facing the authority, including continued pressure on social services, education, school transport, waste services and pay increases. 

The settlement from Welsh Government would have needed to be an increase of 10% to cover these pressures.

In light of the better settlement, the council says it has been able to keep the increase in council tax as low as possible, with this year’s increase of 4.3%. which is lower than last year’s rise of 6.35%.

The budget for the 2020/ 21 financial year is £208 million. This includes a £1.5 million increase for education and children’s services; £2.8 million for schools; £2.6 million for adult social care;  £1.4 million for waste; £600,000 for school transport and £200,000 for climate change.

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance, said: “The council has a legal duty to set a balanced budget for the forthcoming financial year and I must commend councillors and staff who have worked tirelessly to get us to this position today where we can officially set the budget. They have come up with proposals to balance the books and have scrutinised and deliberated over the figures before coming up with the budget agreed at full council.

“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to identify more efficient and effective ways of working within the Council and the savings we have identified, together with the better settlement than expected, means that we have been able to keep the council tax levels low. 

"The public has told us that they did not want to see large increases and we have listened to their concerns and worked to find alternative ways of finding savings.

“The other good news is that we have been able to protect essential frontline services that people want and expect from the council.   
"The cuts we are taking forward this year will have little if any impact on the public and that has been a crucial part of our thinking from the beginning. 
"The Council has a strong track record of doing this and we have tried to lead by example by being as efficient and effective as possible, reducing our budgets and making savings through not replacing some posts and identifying better ways of working or stopping some things altogether.
“Moving forward, we will continue to host discussions with Welsh Government to provide a more sustainable footing for local authority finances in the future."

Snowdrop service planned at St Tysilio's Church

* The carpet of snowdrops beginning to emerge at St Tysilio's Church. 
The picturesque church of St Tysilio’s in Llantysilio will celebrate the vast array of snowdrops in its churchyard with a special service on Sunday February 9.

The Snowdrop Service is open to all and takes place overlooking the Horseshoe Falls, the start of Llangollen Canal, a World Heritage site.  

The carpet of snowdrops which is beginning to emerge between the gravestones at St Tysilio's Church.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A5 re-opens following serious collision

Emergency services were called to a crash just outside of Llangollen earlier this evening, according to

The incident took place on the A5 at Glyndyfrdwy – with police asking people to avoid the area as the road was closed.
The air ambulance was also called to the area just before 4pm, and took off around 30 minutes later heading to Stoke hospital.
The incident involved two vehicles.
Traffic Wales said on Twitter around 7.40pm that the road had been re-opened in both directions.

County approves reduction of single use plastics

Plans for Denbighshire County Council to significantly reduce its use of single-use plastics have been approved.

The full council agreed proposals drawn up by a cross-party task and finish group of councillors to reduce the use of plastics within council offices, following a Notice of Motion last year.

Plans include the following within the council’s office buildings - no longer providing plastic water cups and single use paper/plastic cups for hot drinks and the removal of water coolers, automated hot drink machines and vending machines.

A campaign will also be launched to encourage everyone who comes to the three main council offices to bring their own cup.

The cross-party group will now undertake further work with a view to draw up proposals to reduce the council’s use of plastic in school catering and procurement and the work will be linked to the Council’s wider work within the Climate Change and Ecological Emergency response.

Cllr Brian Jones, Lead Member for Waste, Transport and the Environment, said: “I’d like to thank the members of the cross-party group for their hard work in coming up with these proposals.

“Protecting the environment is a priority for the council under its Corporate Plan and this project focuses on reducing the amount of single-use plastic within Council offices as well as showing leadership within the wider community.

“These actions will benefit the environment by reducing and avoiding the use of plastics in Council offices, as an example by just ending the provision of plastic cups at water coolers will see 140,000 fewer cups being used over the next ten years.”

Denbighshire supports day for young carers

Denbighshire County Council is backing an initiative to support young carers.

Young Carers Awareness Day, led by the Carers Trust charity, is taking place tomorrow (Thursday) to raise awareness of young people looking after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol.

As part of its Corporate Plan, the council has committed to support carers by improving the services that exist and ensuring carers of all ages are aware of the services and support available.

Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts, lead member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement, said: “Young carers play an important role in our society when they themselves are having to cope with growing up.

“They are to be congratulated for the support they provide and I want to let them know we are working hard to support them.  Young Carers Awareness Day aims to make carers aware of their rights, to inform them of where to get help and support and to raise awareness of the needs of carers.  I would encourage any young carers to get in touch so we can let them know about the help that is available.”

The Young Carers Service in Denbighshire is provided by WCD Young Carers through Credu Connecting Carers and is currently working with 462 known young carers in the county.

Denbighshire schools will be holding a number of events to mark Young Carers Awareness Day.

* For information and support for young carers contact Denbighshire’s Children and Families Gateway on 01824 712200 or  Alternatively contact WCD Young Carers for access to information, training, groups, activities, days out, and support on 01597 823800,, or

Welsh towns to get £90m boost from government

Wales’s towns are to receive £90m of additional investment as part of a new Welsh Government approach to transforming town centres across the country, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn has announced.
The Transforming Towns package includes measures to increase footfall by making sure the public sector locate services in town centre locations, tackle empty buildings and land to help bring them back into use, and greening our town centres.
Towns are vital to environmental, economic, social and cultural well-being in Wales – around 40% of our population live in small towns of less than 20,000 people but nearly everyone identifies emotionally with a town – or city – in some way.
Many towns are struggling in the wake of declining retail sales and the way we use town centres has changed.
To help breathe new life into town centres, the Welsh Government has unveiled a new ‘Town Centre First’ approach, which means locating services and buildings in town centres wherever possible. 
As part of this approach, all Welsh Government departments will put the health and vibrancy of town centres as the starting point for their location decision-making processes.
Utilising this approach, the public sector is also being encouraged to support towns by locating offices, facilities and services within them in order to drive footfall and create or sustain vibrancy.
To support this new approach, the Welsh Government is announcing a £90m investment to transform Wales’ town centres. Investments include:
  • £36m for town centre regeneration projects, extending our current capital programme for a further year and bringing in an anticipated total investment of almost £58m;
  • £13.6m to tackle empty and dilapidated buildings and land. This will enable local authorities to take enforcement action to bring empty buildings and land back into use;
  • £2m for coastal towns to support projects to an anticipated value of £3m which will contribute to town centre / high street regeneration;
  • £10m of additional funding for the Town Centre Loans scheme, taking the total to £41.6m, to bring vacant and underutilised buildings back into use in our town centres;
  • £5m funding for Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity within town centres. This will support greening projects which will deliver environmental benefits and make town centres more attractive places to visit.
The £90m Transforming Towns package builds on the £800m investment in our towns as a result of significant Welsh Government investment since 2014.
The Deputy Minister made the announcement at the Queen’s Market building in Rhyl, which has received £5m of Welsh Government funding. This forms part of a total investment of £16.5m in the town centre as a result of regeneration schemes.

Monday, January 27, 2020

St Collen's bells toll for Holocaust remembrance

* The bell-ringing team get ready in the bell tower for the quarter peal.

To mark National Holocaust Memorial Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp bell ringers at St Collen's Church rang a quarter peal this afternoon  (Monday) starting from 4.30pm.

This meant about 45 minutes of continuous ringing with the bells half-muffled as they traditionally are for Remembrance Sunday.

Six ringers took part and the quarter peal was made up of 1,260 changes.

The bells at St Collen's, high up in the tower, were installed in 1887 to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

Police issue doorstep callers warning

* An example of one the invalid ID cards which have been seized by police. 
Police have issued a warning about doorstep callers who target areas offering small household products for sale.
These callers may claim to be ex-convicts attempting to mend their ways, however, they are not part of any recognised rehabilitation scheme, say officers.
The police statement says: "Please warn your neighbours, particularly elderly or vulnerable neighbours, not to open the door to strangers or buy or sell on the doorstep.
"Some doorstep callers may offer poor quality goods at inflated prices and if a caller is not genuine, they may be gathering information for future crime.
"Please keep in mind that if cold callers don’t get any sales in your area, they are less likely to return.
" The sellers may say that they are on a 'rehabilitation course' arranged by probation services or other organisations trying to find people work.
"This is not the case and often they are known criminals. Probation services do not run such schemes. 
"They may show a card which claims to be a pedlars licence or work permit."
The statement adds: "The bag of household products is supplied by someone who employs them. The males / females are supplied with a full bag of household products (including the typical tea-towels) and charged a minimal sum for the contents. They can keep whatever they make, above this amount.
"Usually they are deposited in an area from a car or van and given a list of streets to work. An hour or so later they are picked up and dropped off in another location. They often work from 9am to 9pm.
"They will knock on a door, offering cleaning items which they know are cheap and of very poor quality; the householder may also recognise that they are poor quality, but that is part of the scam. Many people will purchase items and pay them out of their good nature as they have fallen for their story or, just to get rid of them. 
"There have been cases of elderly residents handing over large sums as these people can be very persistent and confrontational."

Niro isn't just fiddling with hybrid power

Kia Niro road test by Steve Rogers

Come the end of the year more people will be driving hybrid or electric cars than ever before.

That is what the number crunchers at the car companies predict and there is no reason to doubt them. 

Hybrid and electric sales have more than doubled over the last five years but the trickle of new models will become a flood in 2020 driven by the need for all manufacturers to lower average CO2 emissions to 95g/km or less by next year.

Kia got in relatively early with Niro, launching its first hybrid in 2017, and it hit the bullseye because the crossover/SUV styling was the car nearly everyone was starting to buy and so it continues with SUV sales like a runaway train.

So is Niro the must 'go to' model for punters switching to hybrid power? Must is stretching it; rather give it serious consideration because Niro has a lot going for it.

Kia has opted for a relatively small 1.6 litre direct injection petrol engine paired with a 32kW electric motor which together muster 139bhp. It's no flyer, a sprint to sixty takes just over 11 seconds, but with the help of the electric motor it is quick off the line and with 265Nm of torque overtakes can be made without breaking into a sweat.

Rather than a continually variable transmission often used in hybrid cars, Kia has opted for a conventional automatic six-speed box and on balance this would be my preference.

The Niro's hybrid system is self charging, extending electric only mode by using the electric motor to harvest wasted energy when braking and decelerating. Drivers can do their bit by using the steering wheel paddles for braking. This not only replenishes the battery but makes passengers think you are a really smooth driver.

What we really crave is good clean economy and Niro was definitely on the money spending most of its time in the high fifties and even topping 60mpg. But drivers must play to the hybrid strengths which is gentle driving. Hard acceleration and long stretches at high speed will ruin economy to a far greater degree than hammering a similar diesel.

Kia built its reputation on value for money and once it won over customers it set about raising the quality and refinement bar. Sales heading towards the 100,000 a year show they have got it right. 

There aren't many companies that can match them for giving us all we desire in creature comforts.
Most sales are in the middle of the range but stretch one level more and the list is mouthwatering. 

Setting aside a full suite of safety features how do you fancy heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear outer seats, auto dipping LED headlights, and that is a just a snapshot.

An upgrade in the middle of last year brought Niro into line with the most up to date technology Kia can offer and that included an electric parking brake instead of the antiquated foot pedal. Thank heavens for that.

More importantly the cabin has been give a decent makeover, with an upgrade in trim quality along with the signature SUV dashboard with an impressive 10.25in touchscreen display for all the major functions, but you can still use switches for heating selections. Thank heavens for that as well.

This is a roomy family car with plenty of space for leggy children in the back. The batteries are positioned under the rear seat rather than the boot floor but even though it has a wide opening and a flat loading floor it still loses out a bit on overall space compared to a non-hybrid crossover.

The choice of hybrid motoring is growing by the month and it is always best to cast the net as wide as possible before making the final choice. 

What Niro tells me is that we have nothing to fear from going hybrid and Niro is a good starting point. My guess is a lot of people will come back to that starting point for the final sale.

Key facts
Niro HEV '4'
£29,270 (starts £24,855)
1.6 GDI; 139bhp
0-60mph 11.1secs; 101mph
54.3mpg combined
99g/km. 1st year tax £120
Insurance group 29
Boot: 373 lires

County launches consultation on climate emergency

Members of the public can have their say on how to tackle the climate and ecological emergency at a special public meeting.

Last year Denbighshire County Council declared a climate and ecological emergency which included a commitment to make the authority net carbon zero by 2030 at the latest and call on the Welsh and UK governments to provide assistance and resources to enable the Council to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A cross political party working group has been established to progress action within the Council and a consultation has now been launched with members of the public also being invited to share their views at a meeting on Tuesday, February 25 at County Hall, Ruthin between 6pm and 8pm.

Submissions to the consultation can be made online and the meeting is being webcast live with questions also being submitted via Twitter.

Cllr Brian Jones, the Council’s lead member for Waste, Transport and the Environment, said: “We want to hear what you think of our plans as a Council to reduce carbon, increase carbon capture and improve biodiversity and to also ask for your ideas for actions we can deliver.

“The Environment is a priority under our Corporate Plan and we have achieved a lot over the years as a Council on this agenda.

“We have reduced our carbon emissions, and the Council now only uses renewable electricity for its own buildings after switching to a renewable only energy provider for its schools, leisure centres, libraries, council offices and depots and we are halfway to reaching our target of planting 18,000 trees by 2022.”

Llangollen councillor Graham Timms, chair of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Working Group, said: “The Council wants to take the next step and become a net carbon zero and ecologically positive Council by 2030 and we are encouraging residents to attend the meeting to tell us what you think.

“We are looking forward to hearing from the public and showing them our commitment to the environment.”

Attendees will hear about the Council's plans in response to the climate and ecological emergency and will have the chance to ask questions and provide feedback on the Council's plans. 

Those wishing to attend can register their interest online before 9am, February 10 and the Council will let you know if you have a place by February 14.

The meeting is open to all ages and attendees under 16 must be accompanied by an individual aged 18 or over.

* Details on how to get your voice heard are on the Denbighshire County Conversation consultation website

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Dementia awareness meeting at community hall

Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council is hosting its next #DementiaAwareDenbighshire Community Led Network meeting on Thursday January 30, from 11am-1pm at St Collens Community Hall, Llangollen.

The aim of this network is to proactively lead on and facilitate initiatives to improve the awareness of Dementia in Denbighshire. 

The community-led network meets in community-based venues once every four months to keep momentum and build a movement for change across the county, making Denbighshire a safe, supportive and inclusive place for everyone.

The network is open to all individuals, organisations, voluntary and community groups and businesses operating in Denbighshire, people living with dementia and their families and carers, alongside representatives of Third Sector organisations and social enterprises, Town and Community Council Members, Denbighshire County Council, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, who are interested in building a movement for change.

The agenda for this meeting can be found here.

* To confirm your interest in attending this free event, register on Eventbrite:

Alternatively you can call us on 01824 702 441.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Tree-mendous Scouts do their bit for the environment

* The Scouts get to work at the Mooring Basin.

A team of volunteers from Llangollen Scout group did their bit to help the environment by planting 60 native trees in the Mooring Basin at Llangollen.

The group have taken responsibility for keeping the area free from litter and have done several clean-up sessions in the past but they wanted to do something more. 

With the help of the Our Picturesque Landscape project, a National Lottery Heritage-funded project based at Plas Newydd, and trees acquired from the Woodland Trust, the young people were able to create a new woodland shaw.

The Woodland Trust’s free trees scheme supports communities in woodland planting projects across the UK. 

At the Mooring Basin there are also several fruit trees which needed some TLC, so the group mulched the trees with compost to boost them into the new growing season and put new guards around the trees to protect them from rabbit damage.

The Our Picturesque Landscape team and the rangers within the wider Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team hope that this will be the start of many more activities with young people in the area volunteering to support their local environment.

Richard Bellamy, Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Wales said: We are enthusiastic about giving young people the chance to learn about and protect the environment. Thanks to National Lottery players our funding helps them to work with others in their community bringing fresh ideas and energy to the task.  

"The tree planting that the scouts have done is an excellent example of how young people can get involved, develop new skills and interests, connect with their communities and have fun.”

Cohesion grants up for grabs

North West Wales Community Cohesion Fund is inviting local organisations to apply for funding of between £500 and £3,000 to ensure that cohesion is embedded in communities.

Applications are welcomed for events or activities in the counties of Denbighshire, Wrexham and Flintshire.

For further information, contact the North-East  Wales Community Cohesion Team by e-mail:, or call 07990 647679.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Police boss asks for extra 25p to tackle sex and drugs crimes

* North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.

A police boss has unveiled plans for a 25p a week increase in the cost of policing to help him ramp up the crackdown on online sexual predators and county lines drugs gangs.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones says the rise – equivalent to the cost of a one-minute landline phone call – would also enable him to set up a new Economic Crime Unit to combat the growing number of fraud causes.

The proposed 4.5 per cent increase, believed to be the lowest in Wales, would cost Band D householders just an extra £12.51 a year.

Under the proposals, the force’s Major Crime Team would be beefed up with an extra 10 officers while more than 20 new ancillary police staff would be recruited to support the Commissioner’s plans to protect vulnerable people.

The frontline would be bolstered with 16 additional response officers while there would also be five more community safety officers, including three new officers for the pioneering Rural Crime Team.

Mr Jones will be seeking the backing of the North Wales Police and Crime Panel for the proposed increase at a meeting on Friday (January 31).

An on-line poll conducted by the Commissioner’s Office has found that almost three-quarters of respondents support an increase of 4.5 per cent or more.

The poll has also given a ringing endorsement of the Commissioner’s policing priorities with 95 per cent backing his war on organised crime gangs and the drive for safer neighbourhoods.

His campaigns against domestic and sexual abuse and criminal exploitation also attract over 90 per cent support while four out of every five responders also support his crusade against modern slavery.

Mr Jones, a former police inspector, said: “I am pleased that we have again been able to deliver the lower percentage increase among the Welsh police forces while once again helping increase frontline policing.

“I am elected by the people of North Wales so it is also important that I listen to them and their concerns so it is also good to know that they approve of the policing priorities I have set out.

“I work with the Chief Constable and his senior team to ensure we are able to give him the tools to do the job and he has confirmed that this increase will provide the Force with the resources they need.

“I believe the proposed increase strikes a proper and prudent balance between affordability for council tax payers and making sure North Wales Police can continue to be an efficient and effective force making the region one of the safest places to live in the UK and protecting the vulnerable.”

The latest online survey also found that over 70 per cent had a positive view of North Wales Police’s performance and almost 80 per cent were in favour of the way the Commissioner has consulted with the public.

Mr Jones added: “The nature of policing has changed hugely and we are facing new and increasing challenges so the force must evolve and adapt accordingly.

“In spite of having to absorb the swingeing cuts we have faced over recent years, we are investing in our frontline, professionalising our frontline and making us fit for the future.”

Another successful chapter for library service

Denbighshire’s Library Service is one of the best performing in Wales, according to recent figures.
The service has been ranked the best in Wales for providing informal training for users, the number of Welsh books borrowed and for having the best reach for the summer reading challenge, according to figures published.  

A total of 2,918 children participated in the 2019 Summer Reading Challenge – a reach of 26.6% of the 4-12 year old population, the highest reach in Wales (Welsh average was 10.7%).

The figures also showed that Denbighshire was ranked fifth in Wales for the number of active borrowers, sixth for the number of virtual visits to libraries and attendances at events and eighth in Wales for physical visits. 
Each council is asked to provide information to the Welsh Government ‘s Museum and Libraries Division on their performance against set targets.   
The figures, being discussed by members of Denbighshire’s Performance Scrutiny on January 30, come hot on the heels of Denbighshire’s 2019-2022 Library Strategy, which sets out how the service is due to develop over the coming years.
A volunteering strategy was launched in the summer of 2019, and offers a range of specific volunteering opportunities for adults and young people in libraries, to enable them to develop their own skills, to gain work experience, or to give back to their local community. 

The roles include digital volunteer, events and activities volunteer, young volunteer, stock volunteer and local history volunteer. There are currently 19 volunteers active in our libraries.  The service works closely with Working Denbighshire to provide opportunities for their clients to gain work experience.

The service’s activity in the area of health and well-being continues to be a particular focus and has seen significant progress during the year. 

The Reading Well Books on Prescription: Mental Health scheme in Wales was launched in July 2019, and the service has maximised on the opportunity to reach in to health and social care services to raise awareness of both the Reading Well schemes and the contribution libraries make to health and wellbeing and community resilience. 

Working in close partnership with Public Health Wales, the service has given numerous presentations to key Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board services and teams. The outcome of this concerted effort is that libraries are now seen as key partners in the preventative agenda.

In partnership with Conwy Libraries and Age Connect, the service has recently been awarded funding from the Healthier Wales Transformation programme for mental health for a project to embed the Reading Well for mental health scheme into primary care practice, and to develop the skills of the Libraries workforce in providing services to people dealing with mental health issues, aligning with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s ICAN strategy of providing support within communities.

The service also secured funding from Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council’s Dementia Aware Denbighshire plan to create dementia memory packs for families and carers to borrow, working in partnership with TIDE and Denbighshire Arts Service. Denbigh Library hosted the North Wales launch of Boots pharmacies’ endorsement of the Reading Well Books on Prescription Dementia scheme.

The service continues to develop its range of engagement and social opportunities to encourage community cohesion and to tackle isolation and loneliness – these range from reading groups and creative craft sessions to family history clubs, rhyme times for families with young children and lego clubs for older children.

Councillor Tony Thomas, Cabinet Lead Member for Housing and Communities, with responsibility for libraries, said: “The library service in Denbighshire has experienced a very positive chapter in its history.