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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Police boss puts out call for old IT kit

* North Wales Police Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin visits Wales Recycle I.T at Llangefni to meet Gareth Roberts, Rebekah Lowther and Deborah Mitchell. Picture Mandy Jones

A police boss is appealing to companies and public bodies in North Wales to donate their redundant IT kit to a social enterprise so it can be recycled and given to people who need it.

The plea came from the region’s police and crime commissioner, Andy Dunbobbin, during a visit to North Wales Recycle IT who have already handed out £35,000-worth of desktops, laptops, tablets and accessories.

After being repaired or refurbished, the equipment has been given to nursery groups, school pupils, charities and elderly people in care homes who are all on the wrong side of a “digital divide”.

Although it’s free of charge, each piece of equipment that’s recycled for the benefit of the community comes with a 12-month guarantee.

The launch of the service was particularly timely because the world had been knocked sideways by the Covid-19 pandemic and education had shifted online, and digital communication became increasingly important

Among the organisations that have stepped up to the plate are North Wales Police who have donated 300 bits of kit, mainly desk tops and laptops.

North Wales Recycle IT was founded by Rebekah and Robin Lowther who also run a successful commercial information technology company, C1phertech, in Llangefni, which was set up 10 years ago.

The social enterprise has provided equipment to organisations across North Wales and needs more businesses and public sector bodies to help them out so they can keep up with the demand.

Operations director Rebekah said: “Through C1phertech, we deal with a lot of waste treatment facilities in England and we realised there was nothing here in Wales for recycling redundant IT equipment.

“Companies were coming in from England, taking the equipment out and charging for the service.

“We wanted to be able to keep that equipment here in Wales, refurbish it and then give it back out to people within the community.

“We established the social enterprise in 2019, fully funded by our commercial company, set it all up and then we got all our quality certifications and accreditations on the 9th of March 2020 and then the world went mad.

“We shut down for that first lockdown.  We realised then when we got back in January this year we were shocked to find just one school down the road said they had 180 pupils with no device in the house. 

“It’s shocking that they would have one phone between them or one laptop which is fine in normal times if you’re just doing your homework.

“The devices donated have been life-changing for the individuals and families within the communities of North Wales.

“Children have continued their education, individuals were able to communicate with friends and family online and get essential items delivered to their door.

“Schools have now reopened but we still need help to bridge the digital divide in North Wales and help those pupils, families and individuals in need.

“We can reduce social isolation and open doors for them to communicate, educate and become connected with the outside world.”

Tech savvy Mr Dunbobbin, who has a background in IT, was “blown away by the fantastic work” being done by Rebekah and the team.

He said: “I would urge any companies or public sector organisations who are upgrading their technology to donate their redundant desktops, laptops and tablets to North Wales Recycle IT so they can be refurbished quickly and provided to those in need.

“It’s so good that North Wales Police donating equipment that is no longer needed by us and is bringing new use and that really falls in line with the green agenda in terms of recycling.

“What they are doing here is the epitome of social value, helping people across the whole age spectrum – right through from nursery school tots to elderly people in care homes, and many others in between.

“The digital divide was happening anyway, but the pandemic has accelerated the process greatly and North Wales Recycle IT are doing a brilliant job in helping to bridge that gap.

“I know they are also looking for more volunteers and if anybody wants to get involved, I’d certainly encourage them to speak to the people here.”

The hook up with North Wales Police was championed by Gareth Wynne Roberts, the force’s Deputy ICT Infrastructure Manager.

He said: “This is the ideal partnership for us because we have IT equipment that we no longer need for us as an organisation. 

“We wanted a way to remove that equipment from our premises, but we wanted to try to give something back to the community and this enterprise is perfect for us. It allows us to give back to those who need it the most. 

“As well as being a good thing to do, it also makes my life easier.  Having a company on your doorstep to be able to come to pick up kit at any time – and not charging for it - is important and I think this relationship is definitely beneficial for both sides.

“Clearly, we have done our part in terms of security to ensure our information was clear from those machines and ensured that all security measures were in place as we didn’t want to risk not only ourselves but also North Wales Recycle IT.

“I’ve worked for North Wales Police for 18 years and this is one of my proudest moments. “

It was a sentiment echoed by Deborah Mitchell, one of the social enterprise’s non-executive directors.

She added: “It’s a free service for the organisations around us and what better way to contribute to the local economy than being able to repurpose redundant IT equipment and then give it back to those that are in need in the local community.”

Friday, July 30, 2021

Fully vaccinated adults no longer need to self-isolate

All adults who have been fully-vaccinated will no longer have to self-isolate if they are identified as close contacts of someone with coronavirus from 7 August, the First Minister has confirmed.

The changes to the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect (TTP) service for fully-vaccinated adults will come into effect from 7 August – the same day as Wales is expected to move to alert level zero, if the public health situation allows.

Children and young people under 18 will also be exempt from the need to self-isolate if they are also identified as close contacts of a positive case.

But everyone who tests positive for coronavirus or has symptoms must continue to isolate for 10 days, whether they have been vaccinated or not.

The TTP service will use the Welsh Immunisation Service to identify adults who are fully-vaccinated and who will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are identified as close contacts.

From 7 August, instead of instructing fully-vaccinated adults to isolate, contact tracers and advisers will provide them with advice and guidance about how to protect themselves and stay safe.

The TTP service will provide a “warn and inform” service for all fully-vaccinated adults and under-18s, who are identified as close contacts.

Some extra safeguards will be put in place for those working with vulnerable people, particularly health and social care staff, including a risk assessment for staff working in health and care and daily lateral flow tests. Members of the public will be strongly advised not to visit hospitals and care homes for 10 days.

Everyone identified as a contact of a positive case will continue to be advised to have a PCR test on day two and day eight, whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

The changes will help ease the pressure on vital services caused by the recent rapid rise in Covid cases, driven by the delta variant over the last two months.

Cases have risen by 800% since the end of May, when they were at very low levels. Over the last week case rates have started to fall in all parts of Wales.

Almost 80% of adults in Wales have been fully vaccinated – the best rates in the UK and some of the best in the world.

UK Government Minister visits Llangollen Railway

* Simon Baynes and Amanda Milling speak to 

volunteers at the station.

Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes welcomed the Conservative Party Chairman and UK Government Minister, Amanda Milling, on a socially distanced visit to Llangollen Railway following its reopening earlier this month.

Mrs Milling’s visit came as part of her Levelling Up Tour during which she is visiting areas which are part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda to provide jobs and opportunities across the whole of the UK. 

Llangollen Railway is part of an area bid for Levelling Up funding to help create opportunity and economic prosperity in Clwyd South.

Mr Baynes and Mrs Milling met with volunteers on the platform and took a train from Llangollen to Berwyn Station and back again on which the driver was John Joyce and the guard was Matt Carty.

They also met with Paul Reynolds (Operations Manager), Bob Creasey (Secretary to the Board), Phil Freeth (Finance Director), Mike Williams, Tom Taylor (Advisor to the Board). 

Overall, there are 600 active volunteers helping the Llangollen Railway including a fast-growing youth group. 

Mrs Milling said: “It was brilliant to visit Llangollen Railway as part of my Levelling Up tour of the United Kingdom.

“It was great to hear about the work that the volunteers do for the railway and the tourists that enjoy visiting. 

“Levelling up our country is a key mission of this Conservative government to help improve communities across the country. 

“I wish Simon and the team at Llangollen the best of luck with their area levelling up bid which I know would help create opportunity and economic prosperity in the area.” 

Simon Baynes said: It was a great pleasure to welcome Amanda Milling MP to Llangollen and to showcase the amazing work of our volunteers in bringing the railway back into action after so many months. 

"It was a pleasure to meet again with everyone involved on the platform and to make a special journey between Llangollen and Berwyn and back with the Conservative Party Chairman.

“It was also a very valuable opportunity for me to stress the benefits of UK Government investment for our communities in Clwyd South which would benefit massively following the Covid-19 pandemic and would help unlock the potential of our young people by bringing in new jobs and opportunities. 

"I will continue to make the case for our area to receive Levelling Up funding, and I look forward to working with UK Government Ministers to advance our case over the coming months.”

Audi's luxury hybrid has some serious tech

Audi A8 plug-in hybrid drive by Steve Rogers

It is packed with the sort of wizard technology you would expect to find in a jet fighter with a computer system to match,  and thanks to an electric motor Audi's luxury A8 is good to go until 2035.

Hybrid cars have been given a five year lease of life after new petrol and diesel engined cars are confined to history in 2030.... unless the Government of the day has to do an embarrassing U-turn because we are not ready to switch to electric motoring.

Let's not worry about that, back to the here and now the German giant's flagship has been given a new lease of life thanks to electric power that makes it cleaner, quieter and quicker.

Helping out the three litre V6 petrol is an electric motor that racks up around 110bhp bringing the tally to a whopping 443bhp. But the key number is 500 and that is the Newton metres of torque blasting out when the accelerator is plunged although to get this cruise missile performance switch to sport mode because in standard drive the eight speed tiptronic gearbox is a tad slow to respond.

Is this a car for tearing away from the traffic lights? Of course not, the A8 will spend most of its time cruising cities and motorways with nothing more than the whisper of wind to disturb the passengers who will more than likely be chauffeured.

This is the sort of car seen depositing A listers at movie premiers, one down from a Rolls-Royce or Bentley at less than half the price. Sumptuous leather interior, thick pile carpets, gadgets galore, and the smoothest of rides thanks to air suspension on both axles. This car will even glide over a speed bump.

The silent running comes into play with the battery powered electric motor which is good for about 29 miles and can be driven at up to 84mph, but the hybrid really comes into its own in towns and cities where it is keeping the air clean and getting the most miles out of the batteries.

Audi has been pushing the boundaries on technology since A8 was introduced in 2003 and this fourth generation is another tour de force. The driver's digital cockpit has become a regular feature, interchangeable with fantastic high definition Google mapping. The main change has come in the centre console, a bone of contention with many, and I am at the front of the queue.

The rotary controller, and efficient and safe way of selecting the various functions, has been replaced by touch screens which are not difficulty to master but still drawer eyes away from the road.

I tried voice control but my Welsh accent was too much for the young lady who failed to pick up a post code or tune me into Radio 2 or 5 Live. Somehow my instruction brought up Radio Wales.

What I did like was the delicate click and vibration of the touch sensitive switches, the selection of colours for the mood lighting and the powered doors which open and close at the slightest touch on the handles.

The serious technology is centred around the car's safety features which virtually allow the car to drive itself by keeping it within its lane and a set distance to the vehicle in front, braking and accelerating according to the speed selected.

Audi has been in a decade's long battle for supremacy with Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series and, frankly, all three are brilliant cars, but for me the Audi just has the edge on interior finish. And then I was brought down to earth with a bump. Having spent many miles on roughish coastal roads an annoying creek developed in the trim around the sunroof. Shock, gasp. Even the mighty can falter.

It never ceases to amaze me that the big three charge a heap of money for their luxury cars but can still find room for extras. My test car was £91k but still had six grands worth of extras but that is small change if you can afford that for a car.

Fast facts

A8 60 TFSI e quattro


3-litre petrol + electric motor 443bhp

0-62mph 4.9secs; 155mph

128.4mpg with electric assistance

36mpg petrol only

52g/km. VED £25

Insurance group 29

Boot: 390 litres

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Road closures on busy route near Llangollen

A busy road near Llangollen will be affected by multiple closures at the beginning of next month, according to a story in the Oswestry Advertizer.

This says that the A483 stretch between Ruabon and Halton Roundabout, and the stretch between Halton and Gledrid Roundabout, will be closed on August 4 and 5, respectively to allow for general repairs and work on the grass verges.

Chirk town councillor Gareth Baines has explained that the closures will be overnight.

He said: "The advice from the North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agent advises closures between 19:00-06:00.

"Some of the work at Gledrid has already been undertaken overnight, resulting in one way traffic over Chirk Bridge."

* For the full story, see: Busy road near Chirk to close for works to be completed | Border Counties Advertizer

Voluntary council launches latest youth grant

Denbighshire Voluntary Service Council (DVSC) has launched its 2021-22 Youth Led Grant. 

A total of £4,960 is available to support a range of small volunteering projects and activities, led and carried out by young people which contribute towards the seven Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015) goals.

DVSC says: "For many young people the past year has been incredibly hard with changes to social and education life. 

"Here at DVSC we wish to continue with our support for projects that can help young people in our communities. Our aim is to continue to fund young people in the area who have bright ideas on how they wish to solve some of the key challenges facing young people.

"Our Youth led Grants have been enabled by funding from the Welsh Government. 

"The purpose of the grant is to enable youth led activity to contribute towards the seven Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015) goals.

"The Act is unique to Wales attracting interest from countries across the world as it offers a huge opportunity to make a long-lasting, positive change to current and future generations."

The deadline for this year's grant round is September 13, with a decision made on applications later that month. 

* To apply for the grant, fill out DVSC’s online application here.

If you want advice and guidance you contact DVSC’s bilingual Community Support team member, or call him on 01824 702 441.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Offender tagging comes to north Wales

Burglars, thieves and robbers from North Wales will be fitted with GPS tag upon on their release from prison.

The ‘world first’ scheme was initially launched as a pilot in six police force areas, including Cheshire, but is now being extended to cover much of the rest of the country, including in North Wales, says a story in this week's Denbighshire Free Press.

* For the full story, see: Burglars, thieves and robbers in North Wales to be fitted with a GPS monitoring tags | Denbighshire Free Press

Plans in place for summer season in Denbighshire

* Extra parking spaces are to be created at Horseshoe Fall as part of the county council's summer plan.

Denbighshire County Council is informing residents of its plans to welcome visitors this summer.

With a busy summer expected, the council says it is working to manage the increase in visitors and has made a number of preparations.

Additional car parking spaces have been created at Moel Famau and Horseshoe Falls, Llangollen, while extra countryside rangers are being deployed at beauty spots, including Loggerheads and Moel Famau country parks and Horseshoe Falls, to provide information, support for visitors and help deal with any issues.

Extra street cleaning provision will be in place during the summer months focusing on busy areas in towns and parks, while increased bin emptying will be in operation at tourist hotspots.

The council is also working with regional partners to share messaging across the border around the differences in regulations between England and Wales.

Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of Denbighshire County Council, said: “Tourism contributes £552million a year to Denbighshire’s economy and we want people to come to Denbighshire this summer and return again year after year, so it is important we make the county safe and welcoming to visitors while giving residents confidence they remain safe.

“We have allocated additional resources during the summer months to manage the situation.

“We are asking people to plan ahead before visiting, think about avoiding busy areas or busy times and have a plan B if things look busy.

“It is important to always park responsibly in designated areas and to respect the countryside, this includes keeping dogs on a lead and to bring picnics rather than disposable barbeques.

“We would also remind people to be respectful to those working to ensure the safety and enjoyment of visitors and residents.

“It is important we all enjoy the summer and make the most of our freedoms but we have to remember Covid-19 has not gone away and to act safely, responsibly and respectfully.”

Residents and visitors are reminded parking restrictions are important for both road safety and ensuring there is a fair turnover of parking spaces.

Motorists not complying with parking restrictions risk receiving a Penalty Charge Notice.

The council developed its Destination Management Plan in partnership with tourism businesses across the county and has been coordinating activity to ensure a positive experience for visitors, residents and businesses this summer.

This includes encouraging visitors to plan, prepare and pre-book, coastal safety tips, and outdoor safety messages while social media graphics have been produced for businesses and Tourism Ambassadors.

* Find out more about the Council’s Destination Management Plan at

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

County's cabinet gives go-ahead to 2020 traffic scheme


* An artist's impression of how the completed scheme will look.

Denbighshire County Council's powerful cabinet has given the go-ahead to the £1.7 million plan to re-shape Llangollen town centre's road system.

Its unanimous approval subject to a number of important amendments at this morning’s webcast meeting was greeted as a “historic day” for the town by both local county councillor Graham Timms and cabinet chair, Cllr Hugh Evans, who went on to describe Llangollen as “the jewel in the crown” of Denbighshire.  

The 2020 scheme, as it was originally known, means the removal of on-street parking from Castle Street and from the Abbey Road/Castle Street junction to enable the adjacent pavements to be widened and reduce parking-related congestion on Castle Street. 

Other proposals include introducing a number of pedestrian dropped kerbs along Castle Street and to reduce traffic speeds by raising the road surface at some side road junctions as well as providing loading bays for businesses on Castle Street, together with disabled parking spaces near to Castle Street. 

It is also proposed to make Market Street one-way in a westerly direction between Castle Street and East Street.

The Castle Street improvement is part of a phased-approach to improve parking and to improve walking and cycling routes in the town. 

A recent three-week public consultation exercise resulted in a total of 507 questionnaire responses being received by the council. 

The number of people who agreed with the various proposals generally ranged from between 60% and 68%.

The number of people who disagreed with the various proposals generally varied from between 25% and 36.

A total of 64% respondents said the project is generally a good idea, with some of those saying the project could be improved further.

A total of 36% of respondents said that the project isn’t generally a good idea.

As a result of the consultation a list of amendments was made to the scheme which are:

1. Change the two proposed loading bays for Castle Street to general loading bays. This is proposed in response to concerns raised by business owners about them not being able to use their own vehicles to unload goods.  

2. Consider placing time limit on Castle Street loading bay from 0930 until 6pm.

3. Change the proposed loading bay for Market Street to a general loading bay.

4. Inset proposed Castle Street loading bays (this means that the existing pavements won’t be widened where they are adjacent to the proposed loading bays).

5. Withdraw the proposal to close Short Street.

6. Consider amendments to East Street/Parade Street 90 degree bend Consider scope to improve the existing “pinch-point” issues that have been reported.

7. Consider and, if possible, provide additional short stay parking on Market Street one way section. One-way restriction may provide sufficient width to provide 2 no. on-street parking spaces.

8. Undertake traffic assessment and consider options for re-routing of HGV through traffic.

A further significant amendment came at the cabinet meeting when members agreed to a suggestion from Cllr Tony Thomas that the pavement outside the town hall be further recessed to allow the loading bay earmarked for this spot to become a free, short-stay parking area for residents and businesses.

In doing this, Cllr Jones, lead member for waste, transport and the environment, assured that the “town hall tree” nearby would be treated with “tender, loving care”.

It was also agreed to explore to possibility of providing between 100 and 150 parking spaces on land east of Llangollen Health Centre.

Recommending the scheme’s approval Cllr Jones said that during the consultation period he had walked the streets of the town centre and received a number of positive comments about the proposals.

He added: “This is a big, important project and I really want to see it happen. It has the support of the area’s MP and Senedd Member and we hope to deliver it next year.”

Mike Jones, the traffic officer in charge of delivering the scheme, outlined the issues it is meant to solve, including traffic congestion and the difficulties faced by pedestrians in crossing Castle Street, particularly in the busy spring and summer periods.

The scheme, he said, would “create a much more friendly pedestrian environment” and provide loading bays for businesses in the area.

Traffic regulation orders for the scheme will go out next month with work starting in September. With a six to seven month construction period, it should be completed by March of next year, he explained.

Cllr Jones added: “We’ve worked with residents and we’ve listened to businesses and, as a result, have put compromises in the scheme. However, I realise not everyone is happy about it.”

He said that as this was an on-going project, phase two would look at a weight restriction for HGVs and extra parking close to the health centre.

Local county councillor Melvyn Mile, who was observing the meeting, said the consultation had shown two-thirds to one-third of people questioned in favour of the scheme in general.

He added: “It would be a tragedy if this £1.7 million could not be spent on Llangollen. It’s a long-standing complaint that the town doesn’t get any investment from Denbighshire, so this is very welcome.”

The other local county councillor, Graham Timms, chair of the 2020 working group, said: “It was a locally-led initiative to tackle long-standing traffic issues.

“We had to recognise the conflicting needs of specific groups but it will be the biggest improvement in Llangollen in generations if this is approved and a historic moment.”

A number of cabinet members expressed their support for the scheme.

And the chair, Cllr Hugh Evans, said: “We went out of our way to engage and consult as widely as we could on this scheme.

“This level of investment is a historic day. Llangollen is the jewel in the crown of Denbighshire and a lovely place to visit but we need to make it better.”

Cabinet members voted unanimously to approve the scheme.

Later Llangollen town councillor Stuart Davies, who watched the cabinet webcast, contacted llanblogger to say: “I welcome a number of concessions made, including the loading bay outside the town hall being used for parking, the multi-use of other loading bays on Castle Street and the re-opening of Short Street.

“I also welcome the commitment to look at providing extra parking on land east of the health centre.”   

After the meeting, County Cllor Timms sent the following statement to llanblogger:

"Llangollen 2020 was initially a locally led initiative to tackle the longstanding problem of how a small market town designed in the days of the horse and cart can adapt to modern day demands of the active, and the not so active traveller.

 Cllr Graham Timms' further statement

"After the 2017 election as elected members we made it our priority to work with the community to seriously tackle this problem, working with the town council, the chamber of trade, Denbighshire County Council and Welsh Government to search for solutions. The Llangollen 2020 group was set up and terms of reference were agreed between partners.

"Over the last 4 years there has been an emphasis on encouraging everyone to get involved in searching for solutions and agreeing a way forward. The three major consultations on the scheme have identified areas where there is a broad agreement and the final scheme before you today includes these areas, but also recognises the conflicting needs of specific groups. As Mike has demonstrated, the county has responded to the concerns of everyone who participated.

"We had no budget and so we're delighted in 2011 when £500,000 of a new Welsh Government Grant was agreed by the Denbighshire cabinet to be allocated towards what is now a £1.75m project. If agreed today this will be the biggest investment in Llangollen for generations and the quality of the materials will also ensure that its effect is felt for generations to come. It is a historic opportunity, demonstrating how an active community driven scheme, funded by DCC and Welsh Government Grants can help to solve problems and create a better place to live work and visit.

"Llangollen's problems will not be entirely solved by this scheme and the report recognises the need to continue to work with the community to find solutions to parking as the next priority. Thankfully, that is likely to cost much less, but will be time consuming to find an adequate solution.

"I'd like to thank all those who have been involved in getting the scheme to this stage and finally I'd like to thank Robyn Lovelock who has been instrumental in driving this project from the start and whose dedication energy and ability has inspired us all.

"I would urge you as cabinet members to agree this proposal to transform Llangollen into a place that we can all be proud of."

Electric vehicle charging points planned for Llan, says story

The Denbighshire Free Press says an email sent to councillors has revealed Denbighshire County Council is trialling a network of electric vehicle charging points.

The story adds that the first trial tranche of those will see charging points installed at eight locations across the county by April 2022, including two in Llangollen – at the Market Street and Pavilion car parks, both able to charge up to four vehicles.

* For the full story, see:

llanblogger reviews new novel by Wrexham author

Book review by llanblogger

British journalist Jack Telford was involved in the Spanish Civil War right up to his neck.

But even greater adventures awaited him when he went on to immerse himself in World War Two.

His support for the losing Republican side made him a marked man when the sad Spanish conflict ended and it was only by the skin of his teeth that he managed to escape the turmoil which followed Franco’s victory.

Telford’s fictional odyssey through a battle-scarred Africa and Europe are told by Wrexham author David Ebsworth in his epic new novel, A Betrayal of Heroes.

We first meet Telford in Ebsworth’s opening novel featuring him, Until the Curtain Falls, which is set in a Spain torn apart by civil conflict in the late 1930s – a subject which the author has taken to his heart and become an acknowledged authority on.

In this new offering, the third in the series which runs to a mammoth 750 pages, we catch up with Telford as he becomes caught up with Nazi spies in Casablanca and then fights alongside former Spanish Republicans recruited into the army of Free France all the way from the Libyan desert to the liberation of Paris.

His credentials as a correspondent for the old Reynolds News - which actually existed - give Telford access to some of the Second World War’s hottest spots and a cavalcade of real famous people whose stories Ebsworth skilfully weaves into the narrative.

In his spying guise, for instance, he links up with the film star Leslie Howard, whose death in plane crash en route from Spain to the UK in 1943 remains a tantalising mystery to this day and, as a war reporter, he crosses paths with the likes of Charles De Gaulle, US general George Patton and even Ernest Hemingway.

Apart from its fast-paced action and absorbing plot, what impresses most about this book is Ebsworth’s minute attention to detail.

If he writes about a character lighting up a cigar, he has to describe in detail its brand and the colour of the tin it came from. And if someone boards a plane it must be identified right down to the type and the sound its engines make as they get ready for take-off.

Telford’s incredible wartime journey affords him a number of near-death experiences but will our hero survive to find himself at the centre of some fresh adventure? We shall have to see.

A Betrayal of Heroes is available on Amazon at:

Monday, July 26, 2021

Firefighters called out to Berwyn, says Leader

Leaderlive is reporting this morning that firefighters have been called out to a Llangollen home following reports of a blaze.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service confirmed just before 8am on Monday that crews were on their way to a property opposite the Chainbridge Hotel in Berwyn following reports of a house fire.

* For the story, see:

Plan for local people to use Plas Madoc tip to be raised again with Welsh government

* The household waste recycling site at Plas Madoc.

Llangollen's lack of a permanent local waste recycling facility is to be taken up again with the Welsh Government, according to a local campaigner.

Phil Jones has been promoting the idea of Denbighshire striking a deal with neighbouring Wrexham for Dee Valley residents to be able to use its household waste recycling centre at Plas Madoc.

This, he says, would overcome the problem of local people having to use a pop-up facility at the Pavilion or travel over to Ruthin to use the tip there.

Mr Jones organised a petition in favour of striking a deal with Wrexham which has attracted around 900 signatures.

He has provided regular updates on his campaign to llanblogger and in the latest of these he says: "started a campaign to establish access to the Plas Madoc recycling site for residents of the Dee Valley when I was told by County Councillor Mel Mile that there was ‘no appetite’ to do a deal with Wrexham CBC for a service level agreement between the two authorities. 

"Hearing this I wrote to Hannah Blythyn, the Welsh Minister responsible for waste. She in turn contacted the Chief Executive of Denbighshire CC and was assured that cross border co-operation in the efficient use of property assets (like modern recycling facilities) in line with Welsh Government policy on asset management, was underway.

"Of course we are in a pandemic, so negotiations take more time. Well, roughly one year later I have now received an email from Tony Ward, the DCC officer responsible for the waste service. 

"He tells me that the cost of paying for a service at Plas Madoc is not affordable. You might find this somewhat surprising, in that the quantity of waste is the same for both authorities and therefore one might assume that the savings made by a reduction in volumes for Denbighshire would roughly correspond to the costs incurred in asking our neighbouring authority to process the waste. 

"Apparently not; Mr. Ward tells me that the costs of processing waste deposited at the Pavilion pop-up is £7.26 per booking whereas, the equivalent charge per booking required by Wrexham CBC equates to £41.67. Why such a difference I wonder?

"I will now be seeking clarification on how these costings have been calculated. Local authorities are expected to collaborate in the utilisation of expertise and resources so that efficiency savings can be made in the delivery of services. So, over-charging for services or under accounting for costs is not compatible with this ethos."

He added: "The Welsh Government wants us to be a world leader in recycling and we are bombarded with press releases telling us how well we are doing. Yet, if you live in the Dee Valley be ready to drive 30 miles if you can’t make it to the pavilion pop-up. 

"Instead of solving a problem Denbighshire CC has created another layer of bureaucratic costs discouraging recycling with a booking system and limiting access to a few days a month. 

"We know that DCC spends far more per head of population on waste services in the north of the county but 13 years after closing our recycling site without consultation we still have a second class service. 

"Mr Ward tells me “there is therefore no plan to continue discussions about this with WCBC”. Well, for the 900 people who signed our petition, yet another fob-off is not acceptable.

"Thank-you for your continued support. We now know that our elected county councillors have never supported our campaign for access to Plas Madoc despite over 900 people signing our petition.

"If you feel unhappy about this you could write to them to say so, at:

"We will now take up this issue again with the Welsh Government and be asking if their policies regarding recycling and asset management are being applied effectively in North Wales. 

"Are our public servants just ‘talking the talk’ and not really ‘walking the walk’ when it comes to recycling?"

Saturday, July 24, 2021

'Tell me if you've been hit by pension injustice', says Skates

Member of the Senedd Ken Skates wants women in his constituency who have been affected by state pension age increases to be awarded compensation by the UK Government. 

The Clwyd South MS said the Women Against State Pension Injustice (Waspi) campaign have been vindicated after a watchdog’s investigation found there were failings in the UK Government’s communication of the changes.  

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman found that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should have told the women – who maintain they did not know the retirement age was rising until it was too late to prepare – more than two years earlier than it did. 

Mr Skates said: “This has been a long-running campaign which my colleague Susan Elan Jones worked extremely hard on during her time as MP, and this is a big finding. Nearly four million women have been affected by the state pension age changes, including many in Clwyd South and across North Wales.” 

Women born in the 1950s have long said the lack of information around the decision to increase their retirement age from 60 to 65 resulted in financial and emotional distress, with research in 2005 finding that only 43% knew their pension age was changing. The state pension age for both men and women has now increased to 66. 

Mr Skates added: “The Ombudsman has now said what the campaigners have said all along. Maladministration has been established and these women should be compensated. I would expect all MPs across North Wales to make the same case to the UK Government so they can finally get justice for what they’ve been put through.” 

Former Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones presented a petition to Parliament on behalf of Waspi campaigners in her consistency. Although no longer a Member of Parliament, she remains a strong supporter of the campaign. 

She said: “This is a major breakthrough. There is still a long road ahead for these women to get the justice they deserve, but this backs up everything the campaigners have said and finally acknowledges that the DWP were in the wrong. 

“This has had a huge impact on so many women who were given no time to make proper plans for their retirement. I hope this is the beginning of the end of their tireless campaign.” 

The next stage of the Ombudsman’s investigation will consider the impact of the DWP’s failings, and could recommend affected women receive compensation from the Government. 


Roadworks alert for Regent Street has sent out the following local roadworks alert:


Regent Street

25 July — 25 July


Delays likely - Traffic control (two-way signals)




Works location: REGENT STREET OUTSIDE NO 28...


Public facing description: has automatically assigned a category of Unclassified works to this Works based on the information available. Please note: Works Descriptions are not published by Welsh Water.


Responsibility for works: Welsh Water


Current status: Planned work about to start


Works reference: PE12595625434/02