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Thursday, March 31, 2022

Chance for dream drive of historic engine at Llangollen Railway

Llangollen Railway is set to make many young boys' dream of being an engine driver come true over the next couple of months.

Its Driver-for-a-Fiver experience will allow budding Casey Joneses to take the controls of a vintage diesel engine for a short chug on the famous Dee Valley line.

The mighty machine they'll be driving is a 66 year-old shunting locomotive that can usually be found doing unglamorous jobs like moving locomotives and carriages around in sidings.

The Class 08 diesel-electric engine number 13625 affectionately nicknamed 'Gronk' due to the distinctive noise made by its 350hp English Electric diesel engine, was built in 1956 at Derby Locomotive Works. 

The 08 will also be working a new and shorter shuttle service between Llangollen and Berwyn Stations, which will run in-between the three daily steam and diesel trains that run between Llangollen and Carrog.

The novel new services are the brainchild of Mike Williams, a longstanding volunteer guard and Board Member for Operations at the railway.

He said: “I’ve spent a lot of time working on the 08 over the last year. The old girl really has been invaluable to us, shunting our yards and also hauling the works trains to get our railway back in business. 

"It’s a popular loco that doesn’t get much use on public trains and we’re often asked when there might be a chance to sample a ride behind it. Well, now people can – and they can even have a go at driving it too!”

Driver-for-a-Fiver will run in Llangollen station and allow those over 12 - under 16s must be accompanied by an adult - the chance to drive the locomotive for a short distance along the platform and back. 

The experience is available between 11:20-12:05, 13:15-14:15 and 15:35- 16:15. Tickets can be purchased on the day. 

With a return journey time of 50 minutes, the Berwyn Shuttle allows those looking for a shorter trip the chance to travel to the beautiful Berwyn station in the scenic Dee Gorge. 

There is a station tearoom and it is also possible to take a walk to the Chain Bridge or nearby Horseshoe Falls and return back to Llangollen on a later train if desired. 

Departures from Llangollen are 10:20, 12:15, 14:30 & 16:30, with returns from Berwyn at 10:50, 12:16, 12:45, 14:26, 15:00, 16:31 & 17:00. 

Tickets cost £8.50 for adults, £5 for a child and £7.50 for seniors, purchasable from Llangollen station on the day. 

Mike added: “The rolling stock the shuttle will use is also interesting and quirky, adding a bit of character to the experience. 

"There is a converted open freight wagon, which has seating and a canopy. Travelling in this is a real outdoor experience and you’ll be able to hear the river as well as see it. 

"There is covered accommodation for the less adventurous – a converted LNER pigeon van, which is fully enclosed but with nice, large windows. This vehicle is nearly 100 years old and was built to carry racing pigeons around the country. 

"Don’t worry though, it’s had a lot of work done on it since then to make it suitable to carry people, including those who have mobility issues."

The events will run in April on Sat 9th & Sun 10th , Sat 16th , Sun 17th & Mon 18th , Sat 23rd & Sun 24th and Sat 30th. In May they will run on Sun 1st & Mon 2nd.

Bryn Collen children take part in Big Walk and Wheel

* All this week children from Ysgol Bryn Collen have been joining in with the 2022 Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel event.

This year over 2,400 schools from across the UK are taking part, including Bryn Collen which invited all its children to either walk to school, from the green by Pengwern park, or head in by cycle or scooter from St Collen’s church car park each day from Monday to Friday. 

Almost 800,000 youngsters have been involved in what is the largest inter-school walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling challenge which aims to inspire pupils to get active of their school run.

A spokesperson for Bryn Collen said: "The Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel to School week has been successful so far with over 150 pupils taking part.

"They either walked from the green in Pengwern or cycled/scooted from St Collen’s Church."

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Recycling facility campaigner gives latest update

Phil Jones, the man behind the on-going campaign to see Llangollen people secure easier access to recycling facilities has given his latest update on the situation:   

"Will we get access to a proper recycling facility in 2022?

You may have seen that there are changes coming to recycling services in that charges will be applied from April 1st. and the details have been covered in previous posts. Here’s a link:

When these charges were announced we also heard that a new contract for waste services had been awarded jointly with Conwy CBC.

We were told that efficiency savings would result, but that the service would not cover the Dee Valley. 

I wrote to DCC’s lead member for waste asking him to task officers to look again at how the income stream coming from new charges would affect their original assessment that access to the Plas Madoc facility was ‘unaffordable’. 

I was informed that my request had been passed to our County Councillors. I have received no acknowledgement from them and as neither of them ever supported our campaign.

Clearly no progress can be expected on this issue until after the elections on May 5, but this is your opportunity to make sure that whoever you vote for is willing and able to represent your wishes for access to the existing Plas Madoc recycling facility.

In a time when our 22 county councils in Wales are supposed to be working collaboratively, pooling expertise and assets it is a nonsense that we cannot access a ready made facility in the Dee Valley, but we are expected to drive 30 miles and pay for the privilege of disposing of our waste." 

MS calls for action to secure future of religious buildings

* St Collen's is one of Wales's most famous religious buildings.

North Wales Senedd Member Sam Rowlands is calling for urgent action to secure the future of religious buildings in Wales. 

Mr Rowlands, who is  trustee of a local church in the region, was responding to a Senedd debate on religious buildings, which received Welsh Government and cross-party support.


He said: “It is extremely concerning that we continue to see the closure of religious buildings up and down Wales, and I am sure all members will agree that faith is an important aspect of Welsh life.

“Religious buildings are often the heart of communities, and, at times, bring all parts of our community together. Even for non-believers, faith is what many people reach out to in times of need. 

“While these buildings are merely structures to hold the church, the significance is beyond bricks and mortar it is what they represent."

He added: "These buildings often hold important family and community memories of celebration, memories of grief, and every emotion in between. 

"They have also been the gathering place through generations, the support in dark times and good times, and I argue they will need to be in place for future generations too. 

“But, sadly, as we know, the future of many buildings of religion and of faith across Wales is not secure. This is also sadly the case in my own region of North Wales, with many important buildings having an uncertain future. 

"For example, St Mary's cathedral in Wrexham, a Grade ll listed building, is currently facing a worrying time with the cathedral hall needing a full refurbishment and the heating system needing to be replaced. Also coming to mind is Llanrhychwyn church in the beautiful Conwy valley, which many people claim is the oldest church in Wales.

“Now is the time for Welsh Government to work with all denominations in Wales to discuss the future of religious buildings, and most importantly ensure they are here to stay for our future generations.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Overnight closures of A5 east of town announced

* The Traffic Wales notification posted by Llangollen Rural Community Council.

Fresh night-time closures of a main route through Llangollen have been announced for next week.

Llangollen Rural Community Council this morning (Tuesday) posted on its Facebook page details of overnight closures, coupled with diversions, in connection with the ongoing work to strengthen retaining walls on the A5 to the east of the town.

According to the notification from Traffic Wales, these will take place between next Monday, April 4 and Saturday, April 9 between 7pm and 6am each night.

Traffic will be diverted via the A539 and A483 and Traffic Wales warns the closures will result in potential traffic congestion on the A5 and adjacent local roads.

They say the retaining wall works, which have been going on for many months, are due to be completed on April 14 and that the closures are required to resurface the carriageway.

They add that it would not have been possible to carry this out under the usual lane closures due to the narrowness of the A5 at this point.

Traffic Wales also says the overnight working could result in higher levels of noise for which it apologises in advance.

Meanwhile, night-time closures of Castle Street, which began last night, will continue until this Friday, April 1.

Councils treating care home residents as "second class" says leader

* Mario Kreft MBE, chair of Care Forum Wales.

Vulnerable care home residents are being treated “like second class citizens” by  councils thanks to a growing North-South divide, according to a sector leader.

And a home owner from Llangollen agrees with his assessment.

An investigation by Care Forum Wales (CFW) has revealed that the fees paid by local authorities in the North are up to £11,000 a year less per person than those on offer from their counterparts in South Wales.

They say the issue was brought into sharp focus when Torfaen Council announced big increases in their rates – 17 per cent for residential care and 25 per cent for nursing care.

It means that a 50-bed care home in Torfaen will receive £546,000 a year more for providing residential EMI care than a similar sized home in Anglesey, Wrexham and Flintshire for exactly the same levels of care.

In the cases of Denbighshire and Gwynedd, it equates to an extra £494,000 a year and £444,600 more than a home in Conwy.

Care Forum Wales chair Mario Kreft MBE says it’s adding insult to injury at a time when care homes across Wales are being forced to close because chronic underfunding has made them “unviable”.

This comes at a time when local authorities in Wales have received an additional £36.5 million to meet the extra costs of paying staff the Real Living Wage of £9.90 an hour.

Overall, there has been an overall rise of 9.4 % in local authority funding but the increases in fee levels have almost all been lower, at 6-7.5%.

It was clear that local authorities in North Wales were choosing not to pass on the extra funding to the front line of social care.

As a result, there was “growing chasm” between the fees paid by councils in the north compared to the majority of authorities in South Wales.

He said: “The North-South divide is essentially treating our beloved care home residents - who are by and large extremely frail and vulnerable - like second class citizens.

“It is neither fair nor is it kind. The people making these decisions should take a long look at themselves.

“It’s also a kick in the teeth for our magnificent staff who have been utterly heroic and put their lives on the line during the pandemic to protect the people for whom they provide care.

“I have said in the past that channelling funding through local authorities without clear conditions was like putting a fox in charge of the hen house and what’s happening now is doing nothing to disabuse me of that notion.

“Everyone is blaming the Welsh Government but they have come good with extra funding.

“Councils have been given more money to cover the additional costs of implementing the Real Living Wage but the increases we’re seeing in North Wales are generally around six or seven per cent.

“North Wales used to be the top of the league in terms of care home fees and now we are in the relegation zone.

“Fees are unsustainable at this level and something has got to give. In many cases, the extra financial burden will fall on hard-up families to make up the difference.”

According to Bethan Mascarenhas, who runs The Old Vicarage care home in Llangollen, most care homes were at breaking point.

She said: “You have look at the impact on residents and what you can do with £10,000 more a year.

“We have 17 beds so it would be a huge amount - £170,000 more a year for us to do all sorts, including better equipment, better activities and paying our team better.

“It like councils are turning care homes in North Wales into areas of deprivation.

“It’s really demoralising. We’re in an impossible situation and as a care provider I don’t have a quality of life.

“I’ve struggled over the last two years and buck stops with you. We’re all exhausted and I’ve not taken a holiday in two years because I don’t want to leave my team.

“Like any business, unless you have the finances to back it up, especially when the kitemarking and the expectations are so high, there comes a breaking point and I think most homes are quite close to that.”

New choir hits happy note for Covid recovery

* Cllr Mark Young, pianist Morwen Blythin, tutor Dylan Cernyw and conductor Sionedd Terry with young Denbighshire Primary Choir members ready for rehearsal.

A new youth band and a children’s choir are offering young people a route back to normality after the easing of Covid restrictions.

Both have been set up for free by the award-winning North Wales Music Co-operative which has sister organisations in Wrexham and Denbighshire.

Sessions are free to join and, at the youth band, participants do not need to own their own instruments but can borrow from the Co-op’s supply.

The idea is to make music more accessible for young people of all ages and backgrounds as well as boosting their mental well-being in the wake of hardships caused by the pandemic.

After just a few weeks in operation the band in Wrexham and the choir in Denbighshire  have proved an invaluable lifeline for children across the two counties.

Founder and Head of Service Heather Powell set up the not-for-profit co-operatives nearly a decade ago after funding cuts were made to music education services across Wales. Today they offer music sessions in 200 schools, covering more than 5,000 children, and they have more than 70 self-employed tutors on their books.

Heather thanked local and national arts and community organisations for their support, including Denbighshire and Wrexham Councils, Offa Community Council and the National Lottery community grants project.

She said: “We have faced many challenges keeping music lessons alive over the two years of the pandemic. With social distancing in force, face to face lessons were off the table and some instruments could not be played at all.

“It is massively rewarding not only to see our existing services back up and running again but the addition of new sessions like the youth band and children’s choir.”

The choir for primary school aged children meets at the Denbighshire Music Co-operative headquarters on Spencer Industrial Estate, Denbigh.

Co-operative leaders are overjoyed they have been able to set it up in time for the staging of the 2022 Urdd Eisteddfod in Denbigh.

The choir is led by classically trained mezzo soprano Sioned Terry who has performed at international sporting events, for the Royal family, and sung alongside international tenors Rhys Meirion and Wynn Evans.

She is helped with the Denbighshire Primary Choir by fellow Denbighshire Music Co-operative tutors, Dylan Cernyw and Morwen Blythin.

The choir has about 20 members to date at free weekly one hour sessions, where they are busy rehearsing a mix of Welsh and English language music.

Sioned is delighted to be back teaching face to face and says even though the choir meets after school time when children are naturally winding down from their  lessons, they are still full of enthusiasm.

She said: “We have been hugely encouraged by how many children turn up each week and how keen they are to learn new songs. We have a good mix of both boys and girls, and they’re all looking forward to getting out in the community to do their first public performances.”

Dylan added that one of their favourites was the Sound of Music classic Do, Ray, Me, which teaches children the musical scale while actually singing it.

He revealed that they are hoping one of their first ever public performances will be at the Denbighshire County Council Queen’s Jubilee Service in June.

He said: “It would be a great opportunity to celebrate our music and our talented young people while also being a wonderful thankyou to Denbighshire County Council for the support they have given us.

Denbighshire councillor Mark Young, who is also Denbighshire Music Co-operative Chairman, said the co-operative was a credit to the local community.

He said: “We all know how good music is for the soul and we are blessed to have such strong advocates of music in the heart of our community especially over these last few difficult years.

“Heather and the whole co-operative team have done us proud keeping music lessons alive and offering our young people the chance to de-stress through their various music themed activities.

“It’s also great news that we now have a new up and coming young choir right here on our doorstep in the year when the Urdd Eisteddfod, one of Europe’s largest touring festivals, is due to be staged in Denbigh this spring.

“What a brilliant testament to our region’s musical heritage.”

The Urdd Eisteddfod was originally due to visit Denbigh in 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. It is now scheduled to be held in the town from May 30-June 4.

The Denbigh Primary Choir meets on Thursdays at the Denbighshire Music Co-operative headquarters, Spencer Industrial Estate, Denbigh, from 4.30-5.30pm. For details visit:

Monday, March 28, 2022

Castle Street re-surfacing work begins


* Heavy equipment moves into position on a closed Castle Street.

The long-awaited resurfacing of Castle Street began earlier this evening (Monday).

At 6pm the street was closed from the A5 to the A539 with only a short section from Parade Street to the bridge remaining open, controlled by lights, for traffic coming out of Parade Street in the direction of the A539. 

The night-time closure will remain in force until midnight with diversions in place for through-traffic.

From around 6.45pm tonight heavy road-laying equipment, some of it delivered on low-loaders, began to move into place at the A5 end and begin the operation.  

The night works will continue until this Friday, April 1.

Oak Street was also closed off by diversion signs this evening. 

Phase one of the work will involve resurfacing Castle Street between its junction with the A5 and the Market Street junction. 

Phase two, which will involve surfacing Castle Street between the Market Street junction and the Mill Street/Abbey Road junctions, will commence in early May. 

Lloyd's Coaches posted earlier today on social media that during this closure evening service T3 will divert between Ruabon & Llangollen Via A483 / A5 Froncysyllte and will be unable to serve bus stops at Plas Madoc, Acrefair, Trevor & Llangollen Parade St & Bridge End. Buses will pick up and set down passengers in Llangollen on A5 near to Stans Garage.

The re-surfacing is part of the town's on-going 2020 project.   

The works, which started in October and are due to be completed in May, are being undertaken by the county council in partnership with Welsh Government and Transport for Wales.

The council says consideration was given to options other than night-time closures, such as undertaking the work during the day or conducting a shorter series of night closures.

However, it was determined that these options would not be feasible for safety reasons and because, in the case of the shorter series of night time works, they would cause more disturbance to residents.

A Parry Construction Co Ltd is the principal contractor for the work.  

More details given of £6.5m plan to transform Royal Hotel

* Artist's impressions of how a redeveloped Royal would look from the river side (above) and Bridge Street (below). 

Potential developers have given more details of the £6.5m plan to transform the Royal into luxury hotel and spa.

As revealed last week by llanblogger, Denbighshire County Council is currently considering an application to breath new life into the historic hotel which dates back to 1752.

If this wins approval the Royal Hotel, which has been empty since 2019, would be redeveloped by One Hundred Knights, the Welsh company behind local success stories at the nearby Tyn Dwr Hall wedding venue, the Three Eagles Bar & Grill, and The BLK Sheep Baa & Grill. 

The planning application for the Grade II listed Royal Hotel has been submitted by local business partners Tom Bellis and Matt Jones who have owned the hotel since 2019.

Mr Jones says the proposed redevelopment would conserve many of the historic characteristics of the hotel, and that refurbishment and development work would be undertaken with expert guidance from the Welsh historic environment service Cadw.

The proposed development would include an extensive refurbishment of the hotel’s interior, with the addition of an upscale bar and bistro, as well as a flagship new luxury spa wing. 

The spa wing would include plunge pools on a cantilevered super-structure, with elevated views over the River Dee. The total investment would be in the region of £6.5m.

With its commanding riverside location adjacent to the Grade I listed Llangollen Bridge - one of the Seven Wonders of Wales - the 18th century Royal is a key part of the visual identity and heritage of the town.

The future Queen Victoria was a guest at the hotel with her mother in 1832, just five years before she succeeded to the throne. More recent visitors include the late Italian operatic superstar Luciano Pavarotti.

The new Royal Hotel development would include 45 bedroom suites, and developers say it is likely to generate in the region of 65 jobs and six apprenticeships per year. 

Mr Jones says that if planning is approved, he could reopen the hotel to guests as early as summer 2023.

“The Royal is a gem of a building and location, and has drawn visitors to Llangollen for more than 250 years. Our redevelopment plans would help to ensure that it is still bringing visitors to our town for many more generations to come.

“For a long time The Royal was considered one of the most prestigious hotels in Wales, but now it needs significant investment and development to help it shine again. We believe our plans can deliver a landmark hotel for the region, drawing new visitors to Llangollen and Denbighshire, and creating sustainable year-round jobs.”

Mr Jones says that his company is in the process of setting up the One Hundred Knights hospitality training academy in partnership with Coleg Cambria, and says the hotel would take on six hospitality apprentices per year.

Jim Jones, CEO of North Wales Tourism said: “It’s great to see such an ambitious company as One Hundred Knights producing major plans for transforming the iconic Royal Hotel in Llangollen. 

“The company has a track record of investing in quality, such as their restaurant The Three Eagles Bar and Grill also in Llangollen, which won the best eatery at the Go North Wales Tourism Awards in 2021. I wish them the best of luck with the planning application and look forward to working with them.”

A decision on the planning application is expected from Denbighshire County Council in the coming weeks.

Holy Cross Church holding soup kitchens to support Ukraine

Holy Cross Catholic Church is hosting two Lentern soup kitchens during April to raise funds for the people of Ukraine. 

The first one will be held at the church in Oak Street this coming Friday, April 1, from 12 noon until 2pm.

The second soup kitchen will also be in the church on Friday April 8 between the same times.

Entry is through the church. 

MS calls for more Welsh Government support for tourist sector

* Sam Rowlands MS, far left, on a recent visit to Llangollen Railway. 

Sam Rowlands MS, chair of the Senedd’s Tourism Cross Party Group, is calling for more Welsh Government support for the tourism sector.

The Senedd Member for north Wales was commenting on the latest Council Tax Empty Dwellings Regulations.

He said: “The tourism sector is so important here in Wales. We welcome around 11 million overnight domestic visitors, 87 million day visitors, around a million international visitors in normal years.

“These people come to our country, spend their money, support local jobs, enjoy all that we have to offer, and in my own patch in north Wales, this sector is worth around £3.5 billion a year to our economy. 

“One of the big concerns that the tourism sector are sharing with me is the Government's latest council tax empty dwellings regulations and specifically, the criteria for self-catering accommodation. 

“The new changes mean they are now in line with business rates instead of council tax with properties needing to be let for 182 days, which is a 160% increase, and available to let for 252 days, which is an 80% increase. 

“Many people in tourism sector are shocked with these changes, and they seem to be detrimental to their livelihoods.” 

Mr Rowlands asked the Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, did he think the changes were good for the sector. 

The Minister said it was a challenge to strike a balance which could not be struck successfully if they did nothing and simply carried on as they were.

Mr Rowlands added: “I am extremely disappointed with the response from the Welsh Government. Tourism in my region of North Wales is vitally important for the economy of the area and businesses involved in this sector need to be supported more.”

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Scrubbies entrepreneur Kerry has day at House of Lords

* Kerry Mackay with Simon Baynes MP on the House of Lords terrace.

Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes met Kerry Mackay from Glyn Ceiriog at a reception in the House of Lords for the top 100 most inspirational and dynamic female entrepreneurs in the UK. 

Mr Baynes praised the success of Kerry, a resident in his constituency, on the success of her business Scrubbies, which manufactures home-compostable cleaning pads made from bamboo, organic cotton and vegan ink.

Back in January Mr Baynes championed Kerry’s achievements in the House of Commons, for a second time, during Women and Equalities Questions with the Minister Kemi Badenoch MP.

Kerry, whose product has been popular in Llangollen, said: “What an honour to be invited to the House of Lords and to be recognised in such a special way. My MP coming along to express pride in my achievements which made my day and is yet another example of his unwavering support for local business within his constituency."

Mr Baynes said: “It was great to meet again with Kerry at the reception in the House of Lords and to congratulate her on her achievements as one of the top 100 most inspirational and dynamic female entrepreneurs in the UK – she really is a true inspiration. 

"I know that the residents of Clwyd South and myself are extremely proud of the success of her business, Scrubbies, and I wish her all the very best for the future.” 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Work planned on 2020 project next week

Work planned for week starting Monday March 28 on the town's 2020 project is:

Daytime works

  • Continue the Yorkstone paving up the east side of the bridge
  • Continue laying kerbs around the radius towards Mill Street
  • Install the bell bollards
  • Install drainage on Mill Street/Abbey Road (north side)
  • Install kerbs on Abbey Road/Mill Street (north side)

Night works (6pm until midnight)

Surfacing on Castle Street (A5 to Market Street)

Friday, March 25, 2022

Bryn Collen children aiming for a wheely great week

Children from Ysgol Bryn Collen will next week be joining almost 800,000 youngsters from across the UK when they take part in the 2022 Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel event.

The largest inter-school walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling challenge, it aims to inspire pupils to get active of their school run.

This year over 2,400 schools are taking part, including Bryn Collen which has invited all its children to either walk to school, from the green by Pengwern park, or head in by cycle or scooter from St Collen’s church car park each day from Monday to Friday. 

MS highlights north Wales dental care "crisis" in Parliament

North Wales MS Mark Isherwood has highlighted the problems people in North Wales are experiencing in accessing an NHS dentist with the Health Minister.

And he called on her to take action to address the "dental crisis" facing the region.

Questioning the Minister in yesterday’s meeting of the Welsh Parliament, Mr Isherwood said it is 16 years since the North Wales Regional Committee raised concerns about a forthcoming NHS dental crisis in Wales and asked why the problem has not been dealt with.

He said: “I have relatives in Flintshire who themselves have struggled to access an NHS dentist, who thankfully recently received treatment after weeks in great pain. 

"We know that, in January, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board insisted that action is needed to address dentistry in North Wales, after 83 dental posts were lost during the last year, and the British Dental Association warned that significant numbers of dentists were planning on leaving the NHS, saying that NHS dentistry is hanging by a thread because without NHS dentists, there would be no NHS dentistry.

“And earlier this month, Bupa Dental Care handed in notice of termination for their Flint branch. It's 16 years since the North Wales Regional Committee raised concerns about a forthcoming NHS dental crisis in Wales, and here we are, all these years later, in these circumstances. 

“So, what action will the Welsh Government now take to engage with the British Dental Association to address their concerns with the dentistry contracts, that these reduce focus on regular check-ups, force dentists to choose between old and new patients, and fund dentists by 15 per cent less than six years ago?”

Responding, the Health Minister said: “We are doing all we can”.

She told Mr Isherwood: “We're continuing to work with the British Dental Association to explore how the reform of the national dental contract can encourage dental practices to collaborate at a local level. 

“I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear, in relation to Bupa in Flint, that the health board plans to recommission replacement services in the area as early as possible.” 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Shanty flashmob lined up for Fringe show next month

* The Old Time Sailors will appear at Dinas Bran in April.

Llangollen Fringe has signed up a novel flashmob musical outfit for a show next month.

The Old Time Sailors will appear at Ysgol Dinas Bran - a new venue for the Fringe - on Friday April 29.

The sailors are billed as "17 of the finest shanty-singing sailors from around the world".

They'll play over 30 songs at Dinas Bran, where the audience is encouraged to sing and dance along with them.

The Fringe team says: "The flashmob performance is designed to take you back in time through an unforgettable trip to the 19th century. 

"Every member of the audience receives a copy of the Sunday Sailor, their own newspaper-shaped program which includes the lyrics to all their songs, plus personalized postal stamps, in order to sing along and become a sailor for one epic night.

"We're also excited to be using Dinas Bran Shool, which has amazing acoustics and plenty of space for everyone to boogie. And, donlt worry, the usual refreshments will be available."  

MP visits railway exhibition at town museum

* Simon Baynes MP with manager Gill Smith at Llangollen Museum. 

Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes recently visited the Llangollen Museum Railway exhibition at the town's museum. 

Along Lost Lines centres on the Ruabon-Barmouth railway and Mr Baynes met with museum manager Gill Smith and museum adviser David Crane.


Mr Baynes praised the exhibition for its "incredible insight" into local history and also took the time to thank volunteers at the museum for their dedication in ensuring that people are able to access information on the history of the area.


Gill Smith said: "Mr Baynes visited Llangollen Museum to view the railway exhibition which has been put up by Peter Dickinson. 

"The exhibition runs until April 3 and we very much appreciate the support given by Simon and the time spent with him."


Simon Baynes said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Llangollen Museum and would highly recommend going to see the exhibition if you’re able to. 

"It gave a great insight into the local history of Llangollen. I would like to thank Gill, Dave and the volunteers at Llangollen Museum for their efforts and wish Llangollen Museum the very best for the future."

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Rhug Estate makes food donation to Llan care home

* Bethan Mascarenhas and residents of the Old Vicarage Care Home during a recent visit to Rhug Estate to learn about how the organic chicken is reared on the farm. 

Rhug Estate has made generous donations of its award-winning organic chicken to local hospices and charities.

These include The Old Vicarage care home in Llangollen, Ty Gobaith/Hope House in Oswestry and Severn Hospice in Shrewsbury. 

Whenever there is surplus stock, whether it is Rhug’s award-winning organic meat from the farm or items in the farm shop, Lord Newborough is always keen for local charities and residents to benefit. 

Lord Newborough, owner of Rhug Estate, said: “I am pleased that we have found some good local causes to support once again. I believe something positive should always come out of our business having surplus stock.” 

Old Vicarage owner Bethan Mascarenhas said: “Thanks to Lord Newborough and the staff at Rhug Estate for their generous donation and for a lovely warm welcome when we visited. 

"The chicken was put to good use in lots of delicious recipes by our cooks. 

"We loved seeing the estate and hearing all about its history and values. It is great to have local ingredients on our menu, especially when they are shared with the likes of Raffles in Singapore! It was a real treat for our residents.”

Rhug’s chickens are slow-maturing birds that free range on organic pastures for 12 to 16 weeks – that is more than double the amount of time a standard supermarket chicken lives on farm. 

The estate saw a surge in online customers when the pandemic hit in 2020. 

Its award winning organic chicken was out of stock for a number of weeks but is now available to buy from the farm shop and from the website: and customers can have them delivered direct to their door if they live on mainland UK. 

Welsh Government calls for 'meaningful action' from Chancellor


The Welsh Government has said today's Spring Statement must be used to provide meaningful action to tackle the cost of living crisis.

In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Welsh Government’s Finance Minister Rebecca Evans (pictured) called on the UK Government to “act now and stand with the Welsh Government to provide a full crisis response to the cost of living emergency.”

The Welsh Government has said UK Government decisions on unemployment support, changes to universal credit and increases in taxes on income are adding to the pressures on household budgets.

It calls for the uprating of welfare benefits – currently set at 3.1% - to be significantly increased in the context of inflation levels expected to hit almost 8% by April. The Welsh Government is also calling the reversal of the decision to remove the £20 universal credit uplift.

The case for a windfall tax on the excessive profits made by big energy companies, with money raised to be spent on supporting vulnerable households, has been described as “irrefutable” by the Finance Minister.

The Welsh Government has also put forward a number of other suggestions to help people. Proposed measures include moving the social policy costs to general taxation, introducing a low income energy tariff to better target support to lower income households, and providing further and increased support through the Warm Home Discount and other winter fuel payment schemes.

Rebecca Evans, said:

“We have invested more than £330m to support people through the cost of living crisis, nearly double equivalent support in England.

“But it is the UK Government that has the key levers, particularly through the tax and benefit system, to offer people more financial protection.

“The cost of living crisis is very real for people, and is set to get worse from April. No one can afford to underestimate the gravity of the challenges we face. The suggestions we have made are effective, practical measures that would help people pay bills and put food on the table. Now we need the UK Government to listen, act, and stand with us to provide a full crisis response to the cost of living emergency.”

The Finance Minister also calls on the Chancellor to take the necessary steps to secure the UK’s energy security, in response to the major geopolitical crisis arising from the Ukraine conflict. She calls on greater investment to incentivize renewable energy generation to meet net zero targets and support a more resilient domestic renewable energy system.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Planning application submitted to transform Royal Hotel

* The Royal Hotel during lockdown.

* An artist's impression submitted with the application showing how the riverside elevation of the hotel could look.

The planning application to transform Llangollen’s historic Royal into a ‘destination hotel’, potentially with a Michelin star restaurant, spa and terrace with the ability to create an estimated 45-plus jobs has been submitted to Denbighshire County Council.

The council’s planning search portal contains details of the scheme, submitted in the name of Matt Jones of MAVI Properties Ltd based in Middle Sontley, Wrexham.

According to council documents, the application for the hotel, which dates back to 1752, is Grade II Listed and has been closed since 2019, involves demolition of existing extension and erection of replacement four-storey extension to the side and rear.

It also features the erection of a two-storey extension to existing courtyard and an extension to an existing rear balcony including installation of canopy and decking.

Also planned on the site, which covers 1,375 square metres, are alterations to internal room layouts, repair works to external goods and windows and associated works.

The application further explains that the aim is the proposed refurbishment and extension of the hotel to “create a destination venue and to improve accessibility of the existing historic element.”

It explains there will be: “Works consisting of partial demolition of existing a 1960’s extension to facilitate the creation of an all-new spa extension with additional high-end accommodation above. New restaurant area to be created to existing basement with extended external decking area.”

The application adds that in 2019 a public consultation meeting was held at the Royal Hotel to allow local residents and business owners to opportunity to meet the project team and to review and discuss the design intentions.

It says: “During this meeting, the project’s aim to turn the Royal into a ‘destination hotel’, potentially with a Michelin star restaurant, Spa and terrace with the ability to create an estimated 45+ jobs were discussed.

“The intention to develop the project with the Local Authority and CADW was stated, to not only preserve the historical characteristics of the building, but to also provide an asset to increase footfall to the town. As part of the discussion, the issue of erosion to the existing riverbank wall was raised. Remedial works were subsequently completed in 2021.”

The application states that there will be no demolition of any Listed buildings, either partial or total.

It goes on to say the redevelopment would provide the opportunity to employ the full-time equivalent of 45 people.

* The application, reference number 03/2022/0174, can be viewed on the council’s planning portal at: