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* North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin (left) and Chief Constable Carl Foulkes.
People in North Wales are being urged to help draw up a new blueprint for the way the region is policed and help decide where 20 extra PCSOs should work.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin and Chief Constable Carl Foulkes are asking local communities, groups and representative bodies to tell them what they think is most important and what they are most worried about.
Mr Dunbobbin is preparing to write his first Police and Crime Plan after being elected in May and is keen for as many people as possible to have a voice in the process.
Along with the Chief Constable, he is asking people to take part in a survey which will help shape North Wales Police’s priorities.
The survey covers all aspects of policing, from tackling serious and organised crime and protecting children and young people from sexual exploitation and abuse, to dealing with social media trolling and responding to non-emergency calls.
The survey is now available at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SMDKY8R for people to complete until Friday, August 20.
Paper copies will be available for those who do not wish to fill in the online version. There will also be an easy read version available.
It’s in the form of multiple choice questions with participants indicating on a scale of one to five how important they consider each different aspect of policing to be.
The aim is to publish the plan in September.
Mr Dunbobbin said: "North Wales is one of safest places to live, work and visit in the UK and I want to ensure we keep it that way. As the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, I have statutory duty to consult local people on policing priorities.
“In consultation with the force, I’m drafting my first Police and Crime Plan and in order to do that the force and I need to be aware what local people believe the policing priorities should be.
"My aim is to ensure that the views, needs and expectations of all parts of our communities are reflected in the plan.
“I am accountable to the people when it comes to crime and anti-social behaviour so it is vitally important for me to find out what people think about how the region should be policed.
“The updated Police and Crime Plan will set out in plain English and Welsh the level of service people can expect to receive from their local police force.
“Essentially, I will be consulting the public on the policies contained in my manifesto when I was elected.
“The Welsh Government is funding an increase in the number of PCSOs in Wales from 500 to 600. I have had conversations to make sure that North Wales gets its fair share and as a result the force is to have an additional 20 of them.
“The survey also provides people with the opportunity to give their view on where they think the PCSOs should work.
"Importantly, the rights and interests of victims will be at the heart of the Police and Crime Plan.
“The North Wales Victim Help Centre does excellent work and it has specialist teams have been set up to provide support for victims of cybercrime, child sexual exploitation, modern day slavery and fraud.
“I am keen to invest further in victim services and I will be setting up a victims’ panel so that survivors also have a voice in the way we operate and the support we provide so that we can do things better.
“The purpose of the Police and Crime Plan is to ensure the force is paying specific attention to those points which have been identified as crucial by the public, me and indeed by the force itself.
“An important part of my role as Commissioner will be to monitor the force’s compliance with the plan and I will be rigorous in holding them to account on behalf of the people of North Wales.”
Chief Constable Foulkes said: “The views of the people of North Wales are are really important to us and through previous surveys have shaped the force we are today.
“We want to make sure we are addressing the concerns of local communities to influence the content and priorities of the Police and Crime Plan, and crucially how North Wales is policed. Our aim is to ensure that all our diverse local communities have a say in shaping future services and the allocation of resources.
“Completing the survey won’t take up too much time but it will make a big difference in terms of our understanding of what is important to the public, what they think we do well and where they think we could improve. The Commissioner and I look forward to hearing from as many people as possible.”
* Paper copies of the survey are available by contacting email@example.com or 01492 805486. An easy read version of the survey is also available.
* Shea put together and performed in the finale concert.
* Louise Cielecki on stage.
* Talented young singer Celyn Orton-Jones.
* Baritone Sam Snowden.
* Singer and Shirley Ballas's friend Daniel Taylor with his guitar.
* The evening's compere Andy Snowden.
Enterprising young entertainer Shea Ferron brought his latest series of charity concerts to a resounding finale with a show performed both live and online last night (Saturday).
And a star of national TV joined a small, invited audience at Lllangollen Town Hall in a series of standing ovations to the talented 18 year old and the terrific team that helped him do it.
Shea has been rapidly building up a portfolio of acting and singing appearances in the area for a number of years.
He has joined the cast of numerous shows with Llangollen Operatic Society, its junior section the Young ‘Uns, and the Collen Players music hall group, winning a number of amateur stage awards into the bargain.
During the pandemic he sang his way through a series of self-arranged open-air gigs to raise thousands of pounds for good causes.
His finale concert in aid of the Welsh mental health charity Hafal was a hybrid affair before a 30-strong, socially-distanced audience of family, friends and supporters which was also live streamed on social media.
Among those at the Town Hall was Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas who was there with her partner, the star of Blood Brothers UK Daniel Taylor, with whom Shea has become friends as a result of his performance work and who readily agreed to join him on stage last night.
A host of local companies helped Shea stage the spectacular affair including Orb Sound and Lighting which arranged the technical side of the production.
Professional compere was Andy Snowden, also well known on the local and regional entertainment circuit, and after his own opening number, Mr Cellophane from the musical Chicago, he introduced another up-and-coming young singer Amy Grace.
She thrilled with numbers including the title song from forthcoming 25th Bond film No Time to Die and Jolene by Dolly Parton.
First to bring the Town Hall crowd to their feet was Royal Northern College of Music graduate and Shea’s fellow John Boys Male Voice Choir singer Sam Snowden who used his impressive baritone to bring us hits from musicals Blood Brothers, Frozen II, Waitress and a resounding Toreadur from Carmen.
Next up came Celyn Orton-Jones, a young lady familiar to local audiences through her numerous appearances with local societies such as the Operatic Society’s Young ‘Uns.
She chose a powerful selection of show numbers rounded off in style with In a Crowd of Thousands from Anastasia.
After the break it was back with a knock-about duet from Shea and his old Young ‘Uns pal Louise Cielecki, the Song That Goes Like This from Spamalot.
Shirley Ballas’s friend, Liverpool-born actor, producer and director Daniel Taylor has appeared in a string of stage roles including Sammy in Blood Brothers in the West End and on national tour.
He chose to sit simply with his guitar playing some powerful numbers of his own composition, including a poignant homage to the NHS and, diversely, ending with The King of the Swingers from the musical Jungle Book.
Louise Cielecki came back to belt out the title song from Beauty and the Beast, Little Girls from the musical Annie and, most movingly, I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables.
Shea bounded back on stage to wind up with his own sensational selection which included the equally tear-jerking Tell Me It’s Not True from Blood Brothers and Empty Chairs and Empty Tables from Les Miserables.
At the end of the highly enjoyable show he was able to announce that the efforts of himself and his multi-talented friends had raised close on £400 for Hafal, with contributions still being accepted at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hafalconcert
* Shea has since announced on Facebook that Shirley Ballas has made a major donation to the appeal
He posted: "I’m extremely grateful to Shirley Ballas for the offer of a further £500 for the charity which will take us up to just over £1,000 pound which is truly amazing."
* Simon Baynes MP with County Councillor Trevor Bates, PCSO Gareth Jones, Police Sergeant Jenna Hughes and a Wrexham Council Highways Department representative in Ty Nant, Glyn Ceiriog.
Welsh Conservative Member of Parliament for Clwyd South, Simon Baynes made a socially distanced visit to Glyn Ceiriog to discuss problems with off-road vehicles on small country lanes.
Mr Baynes met with Ceiriog Valley county councillor Trevor Bates, Police Sergeant Jenna Hughes, PCSO Gareth Jones and local residents.
The area attracts off-road bike users in particular, due to the road conditions.
PCSO Jones said he had recently spoke to a group who had come from areas such as Nottingham and the Midlands.
Similar scenes have also played out in other parts of Wales, not only for motorbikes but also groups of 4x4s, and in the Lake District and North Yorkshire.
Cllr Bates, said: “Enough is enough. My inbox is crammed with similar complaints from local residents who are being driven away from ancient lanes and old drovers tracks because of touring motorised vehicles with thrill-seeking drivers whose actions are basically bullying walkers, cyclists and horse riders away from their local countryside.
"There are some careful and considerate people driving these lanes but we are also seeing more and more illegal activity on the lanes which seems to attract vehicles from all over the UK and abroad.
"I'm hearing of more and more confrontations between landowners and 4x4 drivers and motorcyclists. And I recently heard of drivers being threatened with a shotgun which makes one wonder what pushed a person to such extremes.
“I don't want to stop people from enjoying the countryside in a responsible way, but to see my constituents suffer the intrusions of noise, pollution and crime combined with danger and threats is simply not acceptable.
"I am now calling on both Welsh Government and Westminster to undertake a review of the effects that off-roading is having on areas like the Ceiriog Valley and Snowdonia in Wales, and the likes of Cumbria, the Peak District and North Yorkshire National Parks in England.”
PCSO Gareth Jones, said: “The Ceiriog Valley has for so long had issues with anti-social driving with trail bikes and 4x4 use in the area along the tracks, which has caused much disturbance for local residents and tourists.
"And, since the easing of lockdown restrictions, the number of incidents reported in the area has been increasing.
"As a result, some people no longer feel safe walking, horse riding or cycling in the area. The lack of maintenance of the lanes over the years, with sheer rock and in places deep mud, has created the perfect conditions for off-road motorbikes as they use it as a scrambling track."
He added: "We patrol the area and engage with the community as much as we can, but of course, it is impossible to be there 24 hours a day, especially given the isolated nature of where these incidents occur.
"As a result, my colleague PCSO Martin Griffiths and I arranged a meeting with the help of local Councillor Trevor Bates, who has done a fantastic job working with Wrexham Council to hopefully get new gates installed along the tracks.
"The plans for new gates are a welcome feature that will hopefully deter motorcycles and off-road vehicles using the lanes in future. We urge anyone who witnesses anti-social driving in the area to contact officers of 101, or via the web chat.”
Simon Baynes MP said: “I was very sorry to hear of the incidents experienced by residents and their families in the Ceiriog Valley, some of which could have had devastating consequences.
"This is completely unacceptable. It’s extremely important that road users and visitors to the area drive safely, and comply with the law, to prevent dangerous situations.
"I would like to thank all of those who attended the meeting with me recently, especially North Wales Police, and I was grateful to be able to speak to residents and hear from them first-hand about this problem blighting our otherwise idyllic countryside in the Ceiriog Valley.”
Vaccine certificates have been available in Wales since May for those who need to urgently travel internationally and provide proof of their vaccination status, with certificates being sent in the post.
The paper certificates will continue to be issued only for people who are unable to access the digital Pass.
Access to the NHS COVID Pass in Wales means that proof of vaccination will be available for people to show on their phone, tablet or laptop.
Covid vaccination status is available if you:
The digital pass will show if you have been vaccinated against Covid, although you will still need to check entry requirements for the country you intend to visit such as number of vaccination doses, testing and isolation, and will still need to follow travel rules such as pre-departure testing.
Your Covid vaccination status can be viewed online on the NHS COVID Pass website, where you can either download or print it as a PDF document.
This is the only valid digital vaccination status available; any alternative services claiming to offer proof of vaccine status for a fee are not legitimate.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: "I’m pleased that people in Wales can now access their vaccination status via the NHS COVID Pass if they need to travel urgently and have completed their vaccine course.
“It’s important to remember that the Welsh Government advice on travel hasn’t changed, and people should only consider international travel if absolutely essential.”
People in Wales can now access their vaccination status on their phone, tablet or laptop using the digital NHS COVID Pass. Work is ongoing to integrate England’s NHS App and NHS Wales systems to allow people in Wales to use it.
People can request a bilingual NHS COVID Pass letter by calling 0300 303 5667.
Latest coronavirus update from the Welsh Government (dated yesterday) is:
Coronavirus in numbers
What to do if you have symptoms of coronavirus
Where to find the latest information
* Below: Mock-up of ‘Bridges, Not Walls’; artist Luke Jerram stands in front of Llangollen Bridge; tailor upholsterer Emma Williams stitches fabric squares together
International artist Luke Jerram is working to transform Llangollen Bridge into a giant artwork celebrating peace, as part of this year's Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod (LIME).
Luke plans to wrap the Grade 1 listed stone bridge in a giant patchwork of fabrics, reflecting the crafts and cultures of Wales alongside the festival’s participating nations.
Called Bridges, Not Walls, the artwork celebrates the idea of peace on which the festival was founded nearly 75 years ago.
Known for public art installations around the world including Museum of the Moon, Play Me, I’m Yours, which brought street pianos to dozens of international cities, and his recent Glass Microbiology sculptures depicting the coronavirus and its vaccine, this is the first commission in Wales for Luke, who completed his degree at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Whilst the Llangollen Eisteddfod will mainly be held online this year, organisers hope the eye-catching Bridges, Not Walls will also attract people to visit the town this summer.
In a race against time, 800 squares of one-metre-wide fabric, including local donations from Llangollen, are currently being stitched together to cover both sides of the 60 metre-long bridge.
Organisers say creating an ever-changing artwork depending on the angle, light and weather conditions, the bridge will become an incredible sight to view and visit and a powerful symbol connecting this year’s online festival with its physical roots.
Even the water below it will be transformed with the reflections and colours from the bridge.
Luke Jerram’s new bridge artwork aims to connect and extend the Eisteddfod’s creativity out from the field where it is normally held each year into the town, transforming and animating Llangollen for the whole world to see.
With the panels of the archways almost complete, work will soon start on the material to cover the bridge’s stanchions, or columns, which stand in the water and support the bridge above.
Luke said: “From the moment I saw it, Llangollen Bridge struck me as incredibly powerful, both physically and symbolically.
"The message and celebration of peace is at the heart of the Llangollen Eisteddfod and so this historic bridge, one of the seven wonders of Wales, makes the perfect canvas.
"As Sir Isaac Newton once said, 'We build too many walls and not enough bridges.'
"From Israel to the USA, we are at last exploring the possibility of building bridges rather than walls.”
Usually attracting over 4,000 performers from around the world and 35,000 visitors to Llangollen, this year’s unique celebration of global peace and harmony will be largely held online in July 2021, with the main programme being presented over the weekend of the July 9-11 July.
Bridges, Not Walls will remain in place on Llangollen Bridge until August 5.
Betsan Moses, chief executive of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod (LIME), said: “We’re hugely excited about Bridges, Not Walls which celebrates everything Llangollen’s much-loved Eisteddfod stands for - peace, creativity and togetherness.
"We’re looking forward to sharing a varied and inspiring programme of events online this year and we hope Luke’s artwork will also encourage people to visit the historic town over the summer.”
With major event funding from Welsh Government, this year’s online Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod will celebrate the broadest possible range of musical genres from classical, opera and choral, to jazz, soul and rock, to connect with existing and new audiences in preparation for its physical return in 2022.
* For more information, visit https://international-eisteddfod.co.uk/
The second of four pop-up art events at Liberty Tavern in Market Street, Llangollen is being held today (Friday) between 1 and 7pm.
The new venue is currently playing host to artist Jon Young, with a permanent display of his work.
People will be able to drop in to enjoy the hospitality and see additional work by Jon, including his new Rock Legend Series and Arisaig Collections on one of their first outings.
Pop-up event organisers say: “With seascapes, landscapes and vintage fashion there is something for everyone.
“Originals, prints and cards will all be available. No pre-booking is required and all Covid regulations are in place for your safe and enjoyable visit.”
People are being invited to have their say on drawing up a plan for the long and short term future of Llangollen’s Pengwern Vale.
Last March Natural Resources Wales [NRW] and the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty [AONB] organised a meeting with the community of the vale to discuss opportunities around working in partnership to make a positive contribution to its special landscape character.
They arranged a virtual event to listen to what people said about living, working and visiting the vale, the challenges they face and working together in response to the climate and environment emergency.
Over 30 external participants came to a virtual evening meeting including residents, town and county councillors, a headteacher, school governor, local businesses and representatives of Friends of Pengwern Vale, Friends of the Earth, Woodland Trust, the local health centre, Llangollen 2020 (sports clubs) and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water.
A follow-up online meeting will now be held on Tuesday, June 29, between 7 and 9pm, to develop a Plan for the Vale.
Richard Dearing, who has been co-ordinating the project for Natural Resources Wales, said: “At the March online meeting once people realised there was no pre-determined plan, the discussion became positive and free flowing.
“Lots of existing and possible initiatives were raised along with the ambition that the group could start to prepare a Plan for the Vale setting out a vision and ambition for at least the next generation. This could be seen almost as an Area Statement in miniature [see link].
“Some of the possibilities raised ranged from promoting the local engagement with the environment seen during lockdown, to management of recreation, green infrastructure, sustainable land management, and even as far as promoting engagement in wider environmental issues for the next generation.”
He added: “The meeting on June 29 is about supporting the community to develop a short, medium and generational plan for the vale that will be instrumental in delivering the communities vision with the support of a range of stakeholders and partners.
“Unfortunately, the meeting will have to be held online again but we really look forward to meeting face to face as soon as we can.
“We are asking those that would like to log on to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be sent a link to the meeting next week.”
You don’t say exactly what repairs are needed. If you have problems such as electrical wiring that you think might be faulty, or there’s damp, or an infestation by pests, the landlord has a legal obligation to put things right.
Landlords are also responsible for the maintenance of the general structure, and fittings such as boilers and radiators; basins, baths and toilets; and the drains.
The first step is to contact your landlord again, in writing. Include photographs of the problems. Keep a record of all communications and evidence relating to the disrepair.
If that doesn’t prompt any action, the housing advisers at Citizens Advice Cymru can help with next steps. These could include contacting your local council (who will have dedicated officers for dealing with disrepair in private rented properties) or asking for a visit by the environmental health team.
Tenants can take their landlords to court to force them to carry out repairs. However, it’s worth getting some advice and thinking carefully before embarking on this route.
* Jim Jones, the chief executive of North Wales Tourism.
A tourism leader in North Wales has slammed Airbnb for its “cynical support” for a Welsh Government plan to tax the industry.
Jim Jones, the chief executive of North Wales Tourism, described the plan to impose the controversial Tourism Tax as a “flawed idea”.
Airbnb have said they back the idea and that they want to work with the Welsh Government in a bid to tackle so-called “over tourism”.
But Mr Jones was not impressed saying that any additional levy would be counterproductive and deter visitors from coming to North Wales and play to the “anti-visitor mantra”.
With Covid restrictions being eased, the last thing that was needed was a tax that would encourage “staycationers” to go to other parts of the UK instead.
Mr Jones said: “North Wales is increasingly recognised as a world class visitor destination with international and UK wide appeal, we have the opportunity to significantly grow the value of tourism to the local economy and region as a whole.
“Instead of the Welsh Government prioritising the recovery and optimistically talking growth, such as a 1% increase in tourism spend which would add an extra £20m to the economy, we find ourselves back to 2017 when the then Finance Minister Mark Drakeford was trying to push through four new taxes, one being tourism tax.
“We told him then as we tell him now, this is not welcomed by the majority of the industry.
“It is counterproductive and will damage our economic performance, brand and prospects. It will also increase social exclusion, undermine policies to create a healthier and more active Wales, limit opportunities for economic growth in Welsh-speaking heartlands and disproportionately impact those least able to afford to take a holiday.
“It is extremely insensitive that the Welsh Government are talking about this and could not have come at a worse time for our industry, raising the subject knowing full well it will play into the anti-visitor mantra.
“Welsh tourism and hospitality businesses pay business rates to Welsh Government, revenue ALL generated through visitor spend and so already a tax on tourism spend.
“In my view the whole tourism tax model is flawed in Wales as local authorities already get an enhanced grant towards increased visitor numbers.
“Are the Local Authorities prepared to relinquish a grant from Welsh Government to undertake a massive logistic challenge of extracting taxes from business, a number of our businesses who have already said they will not collect any form of tourism tax.
“Most local authorities are sitting on huge financial reserves following the pandemic, this should also be challenged of what any additional revenue will be used for, when they can’t spend the money they already have.
“I’m also very disappointed that Airbnb have come out to support a tourism tax, I believe this is a cynical move by Airbnb who now charge hosts 15% commission.
“They are not on a level playing field with our serviced accommodation sector, there is a statutory misalignment - whereby many Airbnb hosts can have no business insurance nor public liability insurance, have no responsibility to test electronic equipment and can freely dispose of waste through their local authority as if domestic tenants.
“Of course, once they have the same statutory obligations as us, then they can contribute to the discussion, but as it stands, they are unequal partners in this industry and their opinion in my view is redundant.
“A majority of Airbnb owners are not registered for business rates and are unregulated, so how on earth would they propose to ensure compliance?
“The Welsh Government should be undertaking an urgent reform, on a system that is currently unfair, as they tax and punish success in hospitality businesses, because it’s being based on turnover, much of which is unprofitable.”
From today (Tuesday) people in North Wales will be able to dial 111 to get non-urgent medical advice and access to their out of hours service.
111 is a free treatment and advice service, managed by a team of professionals, who will quickly help users get the right treatment at the right time and in the right place.
The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Advice is also available online at www.111.wales.nhs.uk
The service has now been rolled out to all health board areas of Wales, except Cardiff and Vale, which is expected to come online later this financial year.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “The 111 service will support people to receive the most appropriate services for their needs, and reduce the pressure on our 999 service.
"When the NHS is experiencing high demand the service is particularly useful in ensuring people are directed to the most appropriate services.
“Supported by the 111 website, this easy to remember free phone service will make it easier for anyone to access the support they need.”
* From left: Beth Ward, Robin Hughes, Simon Baynes MP and Steve Davies at Drosi Bikes in Llangollen.
Welsh Conservative Member of Parliament for Clwyd South, Simon Baynes, made a socially-distanced visit to Drosi Bikes in Llangollen.
They have recently started trading following the lifting of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Mr Baynes heard more about the founders Beth Ward and Robin Hughes are proudly turning old, unwanted bikes into unique, functional and fun machines as well as electric-powered ones.
Their aim is to reduce waste and help everyone have a positive impact on the world and its environment. They also provide a bike servicing and repairs service.
Drosi Bikes initially opened on May 17 this year.
They hope their social enterprise business venture will encourage new riders to get fitter and their name is a play on the Welsh word trosi, meaning ‘to convert.’
All the bikes that they refurbish are donated and they have started to hire out bikes to local residents in exchange for a donation in order to encourage active travel.
They also carry out e-bike conversions at a more affordable price – all customers have to do is supply the bike.
An e-bike conversion from Drosi typically costs around £860 – considerably less than the market rate of a new e-bike.
Simon Baynes also met volunteer Steve Davies who, as a qualified cycle mechanic, helps with the bike recycling programme.
Drosi also works with volunteers who are looking to learn more about fixing bikes, which emphasises how the company is giving people new and skilled job opportunities in the local community.
Beth Ward said: “Our sole purpose as a social enterprise is to improve the diversity in the cycling community and to offer people of all backgrounds an accessible and affordable solution to climate change.
"We've been overwhelmed by the support we've received so far and we hope that the Community Bike Workshop in Llangollen will be a place that inspires more people to choose to cycle and not drive."
Simon Baynes said: “The team at Drosi Bikes are passionate and dedicated, and it was a pleasure to meet them in Llangollen.
"Their business idea is fantastic – converting old unwanted bikes into a range of new bicycles and it certainly has caught on given the steady increase in business that they are experiencing.
"Their shop is right in the centre of Llangollen next to the museum and is a great addition to the town which already has a very strong tradition of outdoor activities and care for the environment. I am sure they will go from strength to strength.”
During June the Our Picturesque Landscape project of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be continuing work to restore an important piece of community heritage along the canal towpath in Chirk.