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Monday, November 30, 2020

New coronavirus measures from this Friday announced

PUBS, bars, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be forced to stop selling alcohol and to shut by 6pm in a new round of restrictions that begin on Friday night ahead of Christmas, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

The new regulations that come into force from 6pm on December 4 will also see cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues forced to shut their doors until they are reviewed on December 17.

The announcement comes just three weeks after the end of Wales's 17-day firebreak lockdown and amid another rise in coronavirus cases particularly among under-25s in 17 of the country's 22 local authorities.

Earlier this afternoon Mr Drakeford told a press conference in Cardiff that scientific and medical advisers believed unless further restrictions were put in place, the number of people in hospital in Wales with Covid-19 could rise to 2,200 people by January 12.

Modelling suggested another 1,600 people could also lose their lives over the winter period, he said.

Mr Drakeford told the Welsh Government's press briefing: "The measures we are taking are based on what the UK SAGE group of experts tells us has worked best elsewhere.

"From 6pm on Friday, our national measures will be amended to introduce new restrictions for hospitality and indoor entertainment attractions.

"Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will have to close by 6pm and will not be allowed to serve alcohol. After 6pm they will only be able to provide takeaway services."

The Welsh Government is making a further £340m available through the Economic Resilience Fund to support businesses affected by the new changes to the regulations. It will include a specific fund to support hospitality and tourism businesses.

The new Welsh Government support is split into two funds: a £160m Restrictions Business Fund and a £180m sector-specific Economic Resilience Fund grant scheme.

The Restrictions Business Fund will enable eligible businesses in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors which pay non-domestic rates (NDR) to access grants of up to £5,000.

It is estimated around 60,000 businesses, with a rateable value of under £150,000 will receive this support.  

Businesses not on the NDR system, will be able to continue to apply to local authorities for the Lockdown Discretionary Grant of up to £2,000.

In addition, hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses will be able to access a sector specific Economic Resilience Fund grant scheme.

Small and medium sized businesses meeting the criteria could receive up to £100k. Larger Welsh-based businesses could receive up to a maximum of £150k.

This part of the package is expected to support up to 8,000 businesses in these sectors and a further 2,000 in the related supply chains.

More information about the funding and how it can be accessed will be published on the Business Wales website in the coming days.

Economy Minister Ken Skates said: “These are incredibly difficult days for businesses and these decisions have not been taken lightly.

“We expect today’s £340m announcement to support tens of thousands of businesses and help protect many more jobs and livelihoods. It must also be remembered that UK Government support is also available to businesses.

“We will continue to do everything we can to support our firms and our people through these challenging times.”

Health centre booking flu jab appointments for 50-64 year olds

* The huge queue for over-65s drive-through flu jabs at the Pavilion recently.

Llangollen Health Centre is now booking appointments for a flu clinic at Llangollen Pavilion on Sunday December 13th for the 50 to 64 year-old age group.

* If you wish to have a flu vaccination and you fall into this age category please ring the health centre on 01978 860625.

Former Llan PE man could have a role at Wrexham FC, suggests story

* The picture by Rob McElhenney that appeared on Twitter.

Hollywood star Rob McElhenney has hinted that a former PE teacher in Llangollen could have a role in the new-look Wrexham FC, suggests a story in Welsh news service Nation.Cymru.  

McElhenney, who recently sealed a deal for the club alongside fellow star Ryan Reynolds, tweeted that he would “never get into an airplane unless you trust the people flying it” and included a picture of himself standing next to Peter Moore, who is also a former Liverpool CEO.

He was wearing a Wrexham AFC face mask and Peter Moore a Liverpool FC facemask.

The story says Moore, 66, spent three years as CEO at Anfield having arrived in June 2017 and oversaw a period of growth and success on and off the field before handing over the reins to Billy Hogan at the end of August.

He had previously been linked with a return to the game to oversee the challenge of getting Wrexham into gear in the event of a successful takeover by stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

The former Reebok, Sega, Microsoft and EA Sports executive has his roots in Wales and recently became honorary president of Gresford Athletic, a lower-tier Welsh side that plays four miles from the Racecourse Stadium.

Moore was a PE teacher at Ysgol Dinas Bran in Llangollen before moving to the United States.

County council describes test and trace efforts

Great efforts are continuing to be made in Denbighshire to try and reduce the number of coronavirus cases in the county, says the county council.

Moli Lloyd Evans from Pwllglas near Ruthin is a member of the Contact Tracing Team within the Test, Trace and Protect service.

Moli said: “My role is to phone anybody who tests positive for coronavirus. The first thing I’ll do is check how they are doing, whether they need any help. 

"I’ll monitor their symptoms or if they have any concerns, I can signpost them to other services in the NHS.   

"I will then give them their isolation advice to self-isolate for 10 days after their symptoms began or  it will be ten days after a test if they have no symptoms."

She added: "The symptoms are a cough, high temperature  and no taste or smell. That’s what we ask people to look out for.  

"Then everyone else in the household will also be asked to self-isolate. I then conduct an interview to establish all the contacts and locations they’ve been during their infectious period so that we can contact those people and give them the advice they need and put them in isolation as well.

“Generally the response from the public is really good. People are happy to work with us, to give us the information and they want our help as well. Sometimes  people can be scared or anxious or sometimes they can be unwell.  

“As a team we always work with those individuals to guide them through things in a friendly and supportive manner.   If  someone needs a bit more time to gather their thoughts and provide the information then that’s fine.  The biggest hurdle we have is working against the clock and it does sometimes hold us back if we cannot get hold of someone. We’d rather be one step forward and try and prevent any further cases of coronavirus from spreading."

Meanwhile, the council is advising residents in Denbighshire of two testing centres that have opened to the public in the county.  

One has opened at County Hall car park in Ruthin since Wednesday, 18 November and will remain open for another two weeks between the hours of 9.30am and 4.30pm. No appointment is necessary for this walk-on and drive-in service.

A walk-in testing centre has also opened in Rhyl.   The testing centre is located on Quay Street car park, near the blue bridge. People will need to make an appointment to have a test and can do so by visiting the Welsh Government website: or by phoning 119.

Councillor Mark Young, Cabinet Lead Member for Planning, Public Protection and Safer Communities, said: “I would like to commend the teams working on the Test, Trace and Protect service right across Denbighshire.   

"They are doing a sterling job in tracing the contacts of positive cases and providing advice for people to self-isolate. It’s an extremely demanding job but completely essential in our efforts to try and reduce the spread of coronavirus in our communities.

“This work is being complemented by a number of testing centres that have been set up in the county, to provide tests for residents.  

"I would urge people that require a test to use their great facilities in our communities.  You don’t need an appointment to visit the Ruthin testing centre, you simply need to turn up and a test will be carried out.  The testing centre in Rhyl requires an appointment, so I would ask you to get your appointment booked at the earliest opportunity."

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Campaign starts to bring back lost recycling facility


* A poster produced to promote the campaign. 

A Llangollen resident has started a campaign – complete with petition – for the return of a recycling facility to the Dee Valley.

Phil Jones claims that while 13 years have passed since the closure of the old refuse tip at Wenffrwd off the A539 no action has been taken by Denbighshire County Council (DCC) on commitments to look for a replacement site or a joint deal with neighbouring Wrexham for Llangollen residents to use its Plas Madoc recycling centre.

He said:Both the Welsh Government  and DCC trumpet their achievements in recycling, but this doesn’t match reality in the Dee Valley where we have been kept in the dark by DCC and our elected representatives.

“So, 13 years have passed and what has DCC achieved?

“No replacement site was ever found and facilities were closed in Carrog and Corwen. Plans are now in hand to build a new facility in Denbigh, though.

“Negotiations with Wrexham CBC fizzled out without a conclusion and no formal agreement for access to Plas Madoc was obtained.

“With covid restrictions we now have little or no recycling service in Llangollen, and Wrexham CBC has banned non-resident access to Plas Madoc.

“I asked one of our county councillors what officers were doing to address this problem and was told there was ‘no appetite’ to negotiate a deal with WCBC.

“This information was soon contradicted when I subsequently wrote to the Welsh Minister and to the chief executive of DCC. I was assured that DCC was more than willing to collaborate with its neighbouring authorities to negotiate cross border arrangements for such things as access to recycling sites.

“Happy to know that common sense had prevailed, I waited a month or two expecting that an announcement would soon be made. I heard nothing, so I wrote to both chief executives of DCC and WCBC. I have never had a reply from DCC but I did get a response from WCBC.

“They are open to negotiation of an access agreement, but of course DCC will have to pay for it. Nothing will be set up before April 2021, I am told, and then it must be conditional on DCC allocating the necessary funds required.”

Mr Jones added: “Based on DCC’s performance over the last 13 years I have no confidence that they will be resolving this issue anytime soon.

“And because of their inability to communicate with their ratepayers, I think it would be foolish to wait until April next year to find out whether they intend to offer a full recycling facility in the Dee Valley.

“As a first step we should ask our county councillors, Messrs Timms and Mile, to get the free collection of bulky waste items for residents in LL20 reinstated.

“In order to push DCC into action we have to start a campaign.”

He says a petition is now open for signature, either online at or in person at Watkin & Williams, Gwyn the Butcher, Lilly Rose Interiors, or Fouzi’s Cafe.

Mr Jones added that paper copies of the petition will be available for signature as an alternative to the online version at these shops in week commencing today (Sunday).

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Collen Players present smash-hit online Christmas show

* Show chairman Father Lee Taylor.

The Collen Players went online to present their Christmas variety show yesterday evening.

Unable to perform before their usual audience due to the pandemic they observed strict social distancing to livestream their hour-long mixture of song and fun on their own Facebook page.

Their aim was to bring a little pre-festive light to a grimly locked-down world.

And hundreds from across the UK and abroad tuned in to watch them.

Acts were accompanied on the piano by Owen Roberts. 

Presented as usual by their founder Father Lee Taylor, vicar of St Collen’s, who opened with his traditional brand of patter, the whole thing kicked off with a rousing version of Couple of Swells from Julie Thomas and Gethin Davies.

* Julie Thomas and Gethin Davies are a couple of swells.

Next to take to the stage was Phil Robinson reprising a couple of music hall favourites, Champagne Charlie and The Spaniard That Blighted My Life.

* Phil Robinson is Champagne Charlie.

Things were slowed down beautifully when Susan Stokes sang Wouldn’t It Be Lovely from My Fair Lady and O Holy Night.

* Wouldn't It Be Lovely sings Susan Stokes.

The show stayed in reflective mood as Mike Connolly presented the very seasonal Do You Hear What I Hear? And Adeste Fidelis.

* Mike Connolly sings Adeste Fidelis.

Gethin Davies returned for a light-hearted couple of numbers, My Old Dutch and Have Some Madeira M’Dear.

* Gethin Davies presents Have Some Madeira M'Dear.

Young Shea Ferron, who also arranged the technical bits of the show, switched into his other mode as a talented singer to ring out If I Can’t Love Her from Beauty and the Beast and the poignant Christmas in the Trenches.

* Shea Ferron sings the moving Christmas in the Trenches.

There was more music hall-style patter from Father Lee – including the naughty Marrow Song - before special guest Santa Claus was called up to deliver a Christmas message which spoke of Llangollen’s resilience in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

The show ended on just the right note with a rousing version of White Christmas.

* Santa Claus, a close associate of the new Town Mayor, Austin "Chem" Cheminais, delivers his Christmas message.

* A recording of the show can be seen at:      

Friday, November 27, 2020

Tune in for some Christmas cheer this evening

* Neil Barrett and David Lyne's double act will be on the evening's bill. 

The Collen Players are to stage a special Christmas Variety show this evening.

But because they’re not yet allowed to perform for a live Llangollen audience due to social distancing rules, they will be bringing some roistering seasonal cheer through the airwaves.

The group was founded a couple of years ago by Father Lee Taylor, priest-in-charge of St Collen’s Church and a music hall enthusiast.

He said: “Collen Players have now done a number of very successful shows which attracted large and appreciative audiences.

“Unfortunately, we had to cancel one of the shows soon after the pandemic began but we were determined to go ahead with our Christmas special.

“We’ll be streaming it live on our own Facebook page observing the very strictest social distancing rules.”

He added: “Like so many other entertainers we’re having to adapt to this new way of performing but we can’t wait to be involved in the show.

“People have had such a very bad time over most of this year and we think they deserve a little cheering up in time for Christmas.

“We hope as many people as possible will watch the show which starts online at 6.30pm tonight (Friday).

Father Lee will as usual be the evening’s chairman and the performers will be Shea Ferron, Julie Thomas and Gethin Davies, Mike Connolly, Susan Stokes, Phil Robinson, Neil Barratt and Dave Lyne.

Accompanying them on the piano will be Owen Roberts.

* To see the show being livestreamed at 6.30pm this evening, go to the Collen Players Facebook page at:      

Entries invited to business champions awards

Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes (pictured) has shown his support for small community-based enterprises in his constituency by backing the Wrexham and Denbighshire Business Champions Awards.

The awards were launched to highlight the achievements of the UK’s very best small businesses who have shown great community spirit in their local area and are aimed at any businesses with up to 50 employees, including hairdressers, cafes, accountants, solicitors and graphic designers.

Small businesses in both Wrexham and Denbighshire have the chance to be in the regional finals, competing at town and country levels. The awards will culminate with five regional finals in Wales, Scotland Northern Ireland, Northern England and Southern England.

Simon Baynes MP said: “In Clwyd South we have so many excellent small businesses who are worthy of the Business Champions Award. 

"So it’s wonderful to see that these businesses have an opportunity to be recognised for their efforts, particularly during these challenging times. I would strongly encourage small businesses in Wrexham and Denbighshire to apply for this award and I want to wish them the very best of luck in this competition.”

Awards Director, Damian Cummins, said: “This year, more than ever, we have learned to appreciate our local independent businesses. From the local corner shop to barbers, pubs and cafes.

“Lots of these small businesses are put off by business awards as they feel they are too small to compete. We wanted to create an awards ceremony that recognised and celebrated the very best of local businesses, from the High Streets to those hidden away in the nooks and crannies of towns and villages.

“The Wrexham and Denbighshire Business Champions are all about the story. We want to know why you are the best in your area and how you support the local community. From being the latest craze or ‘go to’ restaurant in your town, to the family business that’s been going quietly for generations.

 “These are truly local, transparent awards, celebrating local success stories and are incredibly easy to enter. Just reaching the finals alone will help companies to successfully market their business and thrive.”

* For more information, or to enter the awards, you can visit or

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Update on the coronavirus cases at Llangollen Fechan

According to Denbighshire County Council, latest figures available from the Coronavirus incident in the Llangollen Fechan Care Home in Llangollen show there have been five further deaths, taking the total in the last three weeks to 20.

There have been 11 new positive coronavirus tests, which include four residents and seven members of staff, resulting in a total of 60 residents and 40 staff since the start of this incident (as of 26 November)

The Incident Management Team, comprises of Denbighshire County Council, Public Health Wales and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

These organisations are bringing together their expertise and continue to work with the owners of the home and to co-ordinate the response. 

The IMT is taking the incident very seriously, it says.

Co-chair of the IMT, Nicola Stubbins, said: “We continue to work together closely to monitor the situation and to help the owners and staff to implement the control measures.

“We are very sad to report these further deaths and are very concerned about a number of residents who are currently very poorly.

Unfortunately, residents who are already vulnerable through their age or pre-existing conditions are more likely to suffer the worst outcomes from this deadly virus and our thoughts are with all of those affected.

“We still expect to see cases in a variety of settings, and we manage any clusters of Coronavirus appropriately.  This can include providing advice around infection prevention and control, and by supporting contact tracing where required.

“Anyone who meets the definition of a contact will be contacted as a routine part of theTest, Trace and Protect process and provided with additional advice for themselves, their household and other contacts.

“We remind the public that they have a vital role in preventing the spread of Coronavirus.  They can do this by adhering to Welsh Government regulations currently in place in Wales, and by observing social distancing guidelines – that’s staying two metres away from others – and washing hands regularly.”

Council reminds residents of self-isolation support payments

Denbighshire County Council is reminding the county’s residents that have been contacted by NHS Wales Test, Trace and Protect service (TTP) and told to self-isolate that they may be entitled to financial support from a package announced by Welsh Government.

The Self-Isolation Support payment is being administered by local authorities and the application process has now been implemented.

People are entitled to a Self-Isolation Payment of £500 if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • They have been told to self-isolate by NHS Wales, Test, Trace, Protect service (TTP) on or after 23 October 2020
  • They are employed or self-employed
  • They cannot work from home and will lose income as a result
  • They or your partner are currently receiving at least one of the following benefits:
    • Universal Credit
    • Working Tax Credit
    • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
    • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
    • Income Support
    • Housing Benefit
    • Pension Credit

A discretionary payment of £500 may be available if people meet all of the following criteria:

  • You have been told to self-isolate by NHS Wales, Test, Trace, Protect service (TTP) on or after 23 October 2020
  • You are employed or self-employed
  • You cannot work from home and will lose income as a result
  • You or your partner do not currently receive:
    • Universal Credit
    • Working Tax Credit
    • income-based Employment and Support Allowance
    • income-based Job Seekers Allowance
    • Income Support
    • Housing Benefit
    • Pension Credit
  • You will face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work while you are self- isolating.

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance and Assets, said: “We fully recognise that some people will have suffered financial hardship as a result of the covid restrictions and worrying about finances only adds to people’s concerns.

“The Isolation Payment has been made available by Welsh Government to assist those that have suffered financially and the scheme is open until the New Year.   The Council has published the information on its website, on social media and through the local press, in the hope that people who may be eligible come forward to apply.

!The Council is responsible for administering the scheme in Denbighshire and information on the criteria, as well as how to apply and the application forms themselves are available on the Council’s website and we would encourage people to take a look and consider whether they are eligible for the payments.

* To apply, please visit the Council’s website:

SM calls for support for "desperate" B&Bs

North Wales MS Mark Isherwood has again called on the Finance Minister Rebecca Evans to provide an urgent statement detailing how she’s going to support "desperate" small B&B businesses, or explain why she’s “abandoned this key sector and its support for our local economies.”

Throughout the pandemic Mr Isherwood says he has made repeated calls for support for these businesses, yet they continue to miss out on funding sources.

Yesterday he again challenged the Minister over the lack of support.

Calling for an urgent statement on the matter during yesterday’s Business Statement in the Welsh Parliament, he said: “When I asked you for a statement on this six weeks ago, I said the Welsh Government again excluded them from financial support to help them survive the pandemic, this time barred from a third round of the economic resilience fund. 

"They were also deemed ineligible in previous rounds and have been denied small business grants, unlike their counterparts in England and Scotland.

"In reply, you said they should speak to Business Wales advisers to explore whether they can point them in the direction of other forms of support. Having tried this, they told me that only loans were available, and these would push them into unmanageable debt.

“They've since told me that they are also ineligible for your lockdown discretionary grant and ask if the Welsh Government were going to help them before we go into this winter, stating, 'Our sector cannot possibly survive without additional help'. 

They therefore need a statement from you, detailing the support you will now give them, or explaining why on earth you've abandoned this key sector and its support for our local economies.”

The Minister told Mr Isherwood to send her details of the reasons why the B&B owners he referred to were not eligible for the discretionary fund

She added: “We are looking to explore what we can learn from this current ERF phase 3 in terms of our package of support as we move forward for business. So, I'd be keen to understand why they were unable to access funding through the discretionary fund, which is deliberately very wide and broad in order to meet the needs of those businesses that have not yet been able to access support.”

Mr Isherwood added: “I will now go back to the desperate B&B businesses who have been in touch to inform them of the Minister’s latest response and ask for their feedback once more, before writing to the Minister.”  

Christmas quiz papers available from Saturday

Papers to enter this year's Cancer Research Christmas Quiz will be available to collect from this weekend.

Organisers say: "Unfortunately, Llangollen Tourist Information is only open on Fridays and Saturdays, but you can pick up your Christmas Quiz as usual from Pro-Adventure.  

"For those who don’t know the town so well, it’s near the traffic lights at the top of Castle Street.  

"The quiz will be available from Saturday, 28th November. 

"After being so badly compromised by Covid this year Cancer Research UK will more than ever appreciate all the support you can offer to put its valuable work back on track."  

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

New guidance on face coverings in schools and colleges

Denbighshire County Council is reminding pupils and parents about changes to guidance regarding face coverings in schools and colleges.

The Welsh Government has updated its guidance and face coverings should now be worn in all areas outside the classroom by staff and learners in secondary schools and colleges, on dedicated school and college transport for learners in year 7 and up and by visitors to all schools and colleges, including parents and carers picking up and collecting children.

The Council understands sufficient time will be needed for schools to communicate these changes to staff, parents and pupils and the expectation is these changes will be implemented as quickly as possible over the coming weeks.

Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts, the Council’s Lead Member for Education, Children's Services and Public Engagement, said: “Schools have worked tirelessly to keep pupils safe with a range of measures and this new guidance on face coverings will keep pupils, staff and parents as safe as possible.

“It is especially important to note that parents and carers picking up and collecting children from school grounds will now be required to wear a mask.

“Along with hand-washing and social distancing, the use of face coverings will help ensure our schools are safe and reduce transmission of Covid-19. We are encouraging pupils, staff and parents to follow this guidance so they can all play their part in keeping our communities safe.

“When cases have arisen in our schools they have been dealt with effectively and the Test, Trace, Protect procedures have been followed.

“The commitment and resilience shown by our pupils and schools has been outstanding. They have worked tirelessly and shown true courage and determination through what has been a difficult time.

“Protecting the health and well-being of our pupils and maintaining a high quality education remains our priority.”

Parents/guardians have been advised to remain alert for the main symptoms of coronavirus:

•  A new or continuous cough

•  A high temperature

•  A loss of or change to sense of smell or taste

Those advised to self-isolated should book a coronavirus test if they develop any of these symptoms, even if they are mild. A test can be booked by phoning 119 or online:

Advice requires those self-isolating to stay at home, not to go outdoors to exercise, to visit shops, family or friends, or to other public spaces. Please do not invite people to your house.

* Further formation on Test, Trace, Protect can be found here

Flu jabs to be available for 50s and over

 Earlier this year the Welsh Government committed to the roll-out of Wales’ largest ever influenza vaccination programme to protect people from the risks of flu.

The Welsh Government secured nearly 460,000 additional vaccines for 2020/21 and these are currently being made available to all GP practices and community pharmacies in Wales. 

Those aged 50 and over should now expect to be contacted by their GP practice or can contact their local pharmacy to arrange a vaccination. 

By mid-November more than 750,000 vulnerable people, NHS staff and schoolchildren in Wales had taken up the offer of a free flu vaccine. Of those aged over 65, 70% had also been vaccinated - levels substantially higher than during the same period last year.

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, said, today:

This winter more and more people in Wales are taking-up the offer of a free flu vaccine. We have made great progress to protect the most vulnerable in our community and a further 460,000 people in Wales will now be able to benefit from the protection the vaccine offers them and our NHS services.

Extending the flu vaccine to everyone aged 50 or over will help prevent more people becoming ill and reduce pressure on the NHS this winter. I would urge anyone who is eligible to follow the example of the huge numbers of people vaccinated already and have the vaccine.

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Frank Atherton, said:

Everyone who is eligible for a NHS flu vaccine can be confident about having it to protect themselves and those around them this winter. Rolling-out the vaccine to all over 50s will protect them and others in our communities in every part of Wales and help protect the NHS this winter.

Four UK nations agree new rules for the festive period

A broad set of UK-wide measures to help people come together with their loved ones during the festive period, in a way that is as safe as possible, have been agreed by the governments of the UK’s four nations.

Speaking after a meeting of the governments, the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford said: “This has been a very long and difficult year for everyone. All our lives have been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everyone has done so much to help control the spread of the virus and to save lives. But that has meant many sacrifices, including not seeing family and close friends. We are all looking forward to Christmas and a chance to spend some time with all those we hold dear.

“Today, I met the First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland and Michael Gove, from the UK Government, and I’m pleased we were able to agree a common four-nation plan for the festive period.”

The text of a joint statement issued by the four UK governments is:

"As 2020 draws to a close, we recognise it has been an incredibly difficult year for us all. We have all had to make significant sacrifices in our everyday lives, and many religious and community groups have already had to change or forgo their customary celebrations to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

"This cannot be a ‘normal’ Christmas. But as we approach the festive period, we have been working closely together to find a way for family and friends to see each other, even if it is for a short time, and recognising that it must be both limited and cautious.

"Even where it is within the rules, meeting with friends and family over Christmas will be a personal judgement for individuals to take, mindful of the risks to themselves and others, particularly those who are vulnerable. 

"We need everyone to think carefully about what they do during this period, balancing some increased social contact with the need to keep the risk of increased transmission of the virus as low as possible. 

"This is particularly important when considering those who are vulnerable, and before deciding to come together over the festive period we urge the consideration of alternative approaches such as the use of technology or meeting outside.

"In this context, the four administrations have reached agreement on a single set of UK-wide measures to help people come together with their loved ones in a way that is as safe as possible.

"Today we have agreed that:

  • Travel restrictions across the four administrations and between tiers will be lifted to provide a window for households to come together between the 23rd and 27th of December.
  • Up to three households can form an exclusive ‘bubble’ to meet at home during this period. When a bubble is formed it is fixed, and must not be changed or extended further at any point.
  • Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place, but existing, more restrictive rules on hospitality and meeting in other venues will be maintained throughout this period.

"It is important that everyone respects and abides by the rules of each nation wherever they choose to spend the festive period. Where there are any variations in our approach, these will be communicated by each administration accordingly. Further guidance will be provided in due course.

"The winter holiday period is a time often spent with family and friends, with schools and offices closing and people travelling over the bank holidays. Many have already begun making their plans, and we are today providing clarity to help people make the right choices for them, and enjoy time with those closest to them while staying within the rules to protect us all."

Llyr Gruffydd to fight Clwyd South Senedd seat for Plaid

Plaid Cymru's current Member of the Senedd for North Wales has been chosen to fight to represent the Clwyd South constituency.

Llyr Gruffydd (pictured) has been the North Wales MS for the past nine years and is the party's shadow minister for Energy, the Environment and Rural Affairs.

The Clwyd South constituency has been represented since 2011 by Labour's Ken Skates, who is also the Welsh Government's Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales.

Mr Gruffydd, a father of four, has been at the forefront of campaigns to defend nurses facing extra unpaid shifts at Betsi Cadwaladr health board, plans to privatise dialysis services and also been a fierce critic of the over-use of management consultants by the NHS.

Mr Gruffydd said: "I'm grateful that the local party membership has chosen me. Clwyd South is a microcosm of Wales - rural communities, towns, urban villages and a very varied economy that is a mix of industry, public services, farming and tourism. It stretches from the border near Whitchurch to Llandrillo near Bala and includes Llangollen and the urban villages of Wrexham.

"This part of Wales desperately needs fresh vision for the coming five years, so that we can recover and succeed despite the full impact of the Covid pandemic and Brexit shambles hitting the local economy and hard-pressed local services.

"These communities have had it hard - Brymbo for example lost a steelworks in 1990 and it's taken decades to recover. Many others have suffered a decade of cuts and austerity only to find that the Tories have belatedly found a magic money tree when it comes to dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. That's come too late for many self-employed and small businesses that have fallen through the net and also many workers who have sadly lost their jobs as a result of the situation. My priority is to work with my Plaid Cymru colleagues to build a stronger Welsh economy that will offer people fresh hope after so many setbacks and uncertainty."

Mr Gruffydd added: "I'm passionate about ensuring a better future for our children. That means a greener, cleaner future for Wales and the world. The growth in renewable energy - much of it community owned such as Corwen Hydro - points in the right direction and Wales can lead the way on this.

"The environment also impacts our health and well-being - the fires earlier this year at Kronospan and the Hafod tip have both been wake-up calls about ensuring our health is at the heart of our priorities.

"That's why I've also been campaigning with local residents to improve healthcare in the rural South Maelor area around Hanmer, where a cross-party campaign seems to be bearing fruit after years of neglect."

Until recently, Clwyd South had been a Labour stronghold both in Cardiff and Westminster.

But Welsh Conservative Simon Baynes was elected as the area's MP in 2019 bringing to an end 22 years under Labour.

The Senedd Election is due to take place on May 6, 2021.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Health board taken out of special measures

This afternoon, Health Minister Vaughan Gething announced that the Health Board would be de-escalated from Special Measures with immediate effect.  

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Chairman Mark Polin and Acting Chief Executive Gill Harris said in a joint statement:

“We welcome this significant announcement and continued support from Welsh Government.  We are encouraged by the growing confidence in our plans to make strategic longer term improvements while acknowledging that there is much more to do.

“The package of support recently announced by Welsh Government will help us to build on work to develop transformational and sustainable solutions to long term challenges in unscheduled care, diagnostics, planned care and mental health services.

“We are confident that our ambitious plans for the future will improve patient experience and waiting times. These include the establishment of Diagnostic and Treatment Centres and driving forward the business case for a North Wales Medical and Health Science School.

“We are hugely proud that colleagues across the organisation have risen to the challenge of COVID-19 and have displayed positivity, resilience and a commitment to patients in the most difficult of circumstances. We thank them for everything they have done to care for patients and keep our communities safe.

“There is a lot more work ahead but we are confident that with the support of our staff, partners, and public, the much-needed transformation of health services across North Wales will be achieved.”

In a joint statement Welsh Labour elected members said:

“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, NHS staff in North Wales have worked heroically to help protect people.

“Today’s welcome news that BCUHB has come out of special measures is recognition of how the health board has managed the pandemic and implemented significant improvements.

“The work of improving health services in North Wales will continue and today’s announcement will provide very welcome assurance to patients and staff that Betsi Cadwaladr is heading in the right direction.”

Hannah Blythyn MS, Lesley Griffiths MS, Ann Jones MS, Eluned Morgan MS, Jack Sargeant MS, Ken Skates MS, Mark Tami MP and Joyce Watson MS