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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Update on plan for National Park in this area


* From left, Gareth Ludkin (Campaign for National Parks), Caroline Conway (CPRW), John Roberts (Friends of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley) in Carrog in the current National Landscape on the River Dee.

A joint statement, led by Campaign for National Parks and signed by 18 organisations including the Alliance for Welsh Designated Landscapes, RSPB Cymru, WWF and National Trust, has been released ahead of an expected public consultation on plans for a new National Park in North East Wales this autumn.

The statement calls on Welsh Government to set high ambitions for the proposed area with a supporting framework that will enable a new National Park, the first to be designated in Wales in over 60 years, to be an exemplar in the UK.

In meeting the multiple challenges facing Wales, including the nature and climate emergencies and increasing pressure on rural communities, the statement recommends a series of actions which will enable a new National Park to fulfil its purposes and thrive. These include:

  1. An emphasis on species recovery, climate change and a boundary which considers the full diversity of habitats and species present in the area. There should be targeted support for farmers and land managers in the area and an emphasis on nature recovery. 
  1. A commitment to new and ongoing funding at a level which will enable the new National Park to achieve its full potential whilst ensuring that there are no detrimental impacts on the existing National Parks in Wales. 
  1. Maintaining economic and social resilience for local communities. The new National Park will be an area where people live and work. The small towns, villages and communities within it must be supported to retain resilience, Welsh heritage and sustainability. 
  1. Modernised governance arrangements which ensure that those involved in making decisions about the new National Park have the necessary skills and are representative of both local communities and the wider population of Wales.  

Gareth Ludkin, Senior Policy Officer at Campaign for National Parks said: “We welcome proposals for a new National Park in North East Wales and believe this is a once in a generation opportunity for Wales to create a truly exemplar National Park that leads the way for the rest of the UK.

We want to see a new National Park which can tackle the dual climate and nature crises of today whilst also taking hold of the opportunity to build resilient communities, manage visitor pressures and innovate for the future health and wellbeing of Wales and the UK.”

Caroline Conway from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to model the way we would like to see all designated landscapes managed, and can act as a bridgehead to further expansion of existing national parks and national landscapes.”

Friends of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Chair, Martyn Holland, commented: “Friends are keen to see the opportunity taken to enhance and protect the special landscape in our area, with biodiversity and nature recovery to the fore. We welcome the emphasis that this must be done whilst maintaining the resilience and sustainability of local communities.”

Natural Resources Wales, the organisation leading work on the new National Park, has just released an Engagement Period Report which highlights a number of key opportunities as well as concerns which were raised during a period of public engagement in November 2023.

With attention now turning to the consultation in the autumn, the signatories are keen to ensure their joint statement is used to strengthen the proposals and create a truly transformative National Park.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Work to take place in Lower Dee Mill Park this weekend

* Lower Dee Mill Park where work has been going on. 

Some noise and disruption will result this weekend from the latest move to get part of the Four Great Highways scheme finished, according to the project team.

The scheme aims to enhance the landscape and improve accessibility, interpretation and signage in Llangollen.

The project is part of investment by the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund that was secured through a joint application between Denbighshire County Council and Wrexham County Borough Council for the Clwyd South Constituency. 

The application was supported by former MP for the area Simon Baynes and £3.8 million was allocated to Denbighshire to invest in the communities of Llangollen, Llantysilio, Corwen and surrounding areas.

In their latest update, issued this afternoon (Wednesday), the project team says: "The project has experienced a delay due to unexpected ground conditions in the area.  

"The delivery of the steel from R&R has unfortunately also been delayed due to issues at the supplier’s end, which have been out of the Contractor’s control.

"In order to mitigate some of the time lost, the steel supplier has requested to work in Lower Dee Mill Park this weekend (Saturday & Sunday).  

"This will involve loading the steel from Mill Street car park, moving it to the park and lifting it into position.  There will be some noise and disruption, but this will be kept to a minimum.

"A letter drop informing residents and businesses within the vicinity will be completed either later today or tomorrow by OBR and the OBR Works Manager will be on site both days to supervise the work should anyone have any queries or concerns."

Police renew appeal for missing man Anthony

* A picture issued by police of the missing Anthony.

North Wales Police have renewed their appeal for information to help find a man named Anthony who has been missing in the Chirk and Acrefair are since earlier this month.

In a statement they say: "We have grave concerns for the 62-year-old, who was reported missing on Wednesday, July 3rd.

"Searches were carried out by the Underwater Search Team along the Chirk Aqueduct on Monday, July 8th and Wednesday, July 10th after his belongings were discovered near to the canal on July 7th.

"Further searches by specialist officers have continued since in areas between Chirk and Acrefair to help locate Anthony.

"The last confirmed eyewitness sighting of him was in Acrefair cemetery between 6.30pm and 7pm on Monday, July 1st.

"Anthony is described to be around 5ft10, of a large build, has short grey hair with a moustache."

Yesterday, Inspector Matt Subacchi said: “Anthony has now been missing for 15 days and we have serious concerns for his welfare.

“Anyone who thinks they might have seen him after 7pm on Monday, July 1st, is urged to get in touch with us.

“I am also appealing to all residents who live in between Chirk and Acrefair to check their gardens, sheds, outbuildings and any allotments, where Anthony may have sought shelter.

“Those on narrow boats along the Shropshire Union Canal are also being asked to keep an eye out for sightings of him.

“Anyone with information can contact us via the website, or by calling 101, quoting itrace reference 47761.”

Eisteddfod's official photographer snaps up top industry award

* The image of Morcheeba performing at Devafest landed Stephen Cain a top industry award.

The official photographer for this year’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has snapped up a prestigious industry award.

Stephen Cain, who specialises in photographing arts events including theatre, live music and dance, captured hundreds of images vividly depicting how visitors, competitors and performers enjoyed the 2024 festival.

And the Wrexham-based lensman is now celebrating after his stunning photograph of Electronica legends Morcheeba performing at the Chester-based music festival Devafest last year landed a top honour in the 2024 Event Photography Awards.

Stephen, who works across Chester, Wrexham and North Wales, won the award for the best photograph in the Music Events - Performance Category after beating off stiff competition from nearly 800 entries.

* Photographer Stephen Cain with his award.

The Event Photography Awards are open to professional and amateur photographers, with awards in 16 core categories, including music events, concerts and performers, behind the scenes, food and drink, corporate events and conferences, cultural events, weddings and A-listers.

Stephen said: "I have a great passion for photographing the performing arts and creating images that have impact and personality.

"It’s a good feeling to have your work appreciated and this will encourage me to continue this wonderful journey and further develop my photography."

Since developing his passion for photography and becoming an events photographer 15 years ago, Stephen has gone on to become much sought after across a wide area.

Apart from the Eisteddfod in Llangollen he has captured performances for several local theatre companies, including Against The Grain, Chester Little Theatre, Grove Park Theatre and Tip Top Productions, as well as live music events, concerts, operas, dance and other events.

In addition to photographing live events, Stephen provides industry- standard headshots for actors, performers and business professionals at his studio in Wrexham, which he set up five years ago.

Eisteddfod trustee board member Dave Hennigan said: “Steven Cain is an outstanding photographer and this acclaim is long overdue. 

“His attention to detail is second to none as his ability to capture unique and glorious occasions. 

“This is precisely why this year Stephen was appointed official photographer at our biggest Llangollen Eisteddfod for generations. 

“Over the next few months, we will be releasing his work from this year's festival featuring over 3,000 competitors from 30 different countries as well as top artists like Simple Minds, Madness, Calan, Johns’ Boys Chorus and many others,

• More details of Stephen's work can be found on his website at:

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

So it's a sad farewell to Suzuki's mighty midget

Suzuki Ignis drive by Steve Rogers

Imagine England taking the field for the Euros final with just seven players,

It didn’t work out with 11 on the pitch but would have been a nightmare with four of the best players watching from the sidelines.

So spare a thought for Suzuki which has been forced to drop four models from its line-up. The problem is the UK’s strict zero emission rule which forces manufacturers to ramp up EV sales between now and 2030 when they must hit 80 per cent. In the meantime there is a £15k hit for every ICE car outside the limit.

Suzuki has not enough hybrid models to meet the target so Ignis, Swift Sport, Swace and Jimny are being phased out, possibly by the end of the year if the stocks are gone.

UK director Dale Wyatt told me the move will make room for EV growth from the end of next year. For now the sales focus is on new Swift and the three SUV models, Vitara, S Cross and Across.

Axing the funky Ignis is a big blow. It has been a favourite since arriving here in 2017 winning loads of awards and could easily have survived another decade or more. It is the standout model of the Suzuki range with character and charm, as well as being remarkably roomy for a car with tiny dimensions. Definitely a mighty midget.

My friend who is just shy of six feet could not believe the amount of legroom in the back seat for a car that looks so small. There is a bit of flexibility here because the back seat is on runners so take your pick of max legroom or more space in the boot. As a small SUV Ignis gets that little bit of extra height so headroom is generous as well.

The eye-catching body styling is mirrored in the cabin. The biggest moan will be the swathes of hard black plastic, which marks too easily, but Suzuki has cleverly introduced visual features to pep up the overall look the best of which is the full width ivory indent along the dashboard.

Against the opposition, which numbers the likes of Toyota Yaris, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen UP, the little Suzuki fares well, even stealing a march on its rivals with a four wheel drive model. The Allgrip system is highly efficient but it pushes the price up to £20 grand, quite a lot for a small car, so unless you live on a snow-capped mountain I would opt for the cheaper front wheel drive. It also eats into boot space losing 56 litres to the two wheel drive.

Ignis has upgraded the hybrid system with a 12V electric motor giving a small increase in acceleration, lower engine emissions and smoother stop/start system. It can’t match the 60 plus economy of some hybrid rivals yet it made a good fist of it. My average over 450 miles in the Allgrip model was 59.6mpg, way ahead of the official figure.

Drop a 1.2 litre into a car weighing just 895kg and you could reasonably expect sprightly performance but Ignis is a bit underwhelming. It needs to be worked in the gears especially on hills where it quickly runs out of puff.

On the road is a mixed bag. The short wheelbase, narrow track and 16in wheels means it can be unsettled on poorer surfaces and there is a good bit of road noise, yet it is still fun to drive.

Equipment across the range is good with keyless entry, rear camera, smartphone links, and LED headlights on the list (unusual at entry level). Some of the safety features, like lane departure and collision alert are warings rather than interventions.

Push the boat out for the range topping SZ5 and you get navigation, cruise control and automatic air conditioning. 

I have been recommending Ignis since my first drive in 2017 and will be sorry to see it go. Of course there will be used Ignis on the forecourts but if you want a new one best to get the order in soon.

Fast facts

Ignis SZ5 Allgrip

£19,949 (starts £17,949)

1.2 litre petrol; 83bhp

0-62mph 12.8secs; 103mph

52.4mpg combined

121g/km. 1st VED £210

Insurance group 15

Boot: 204-1086 litres


Dementia Friendly chair congratulates new repair cafe

          * Angela Williams at the repair cafe with its organiser Michael Jepson.

Angela Williams, chair of the Llangollen Age & Dementia Friendly group, attended the Llangollen Repair Cafe on Saturday. 

The cafe volunteers have made pledges and commitments to making their group more dementia friendly.

Angela was there to hand over their certificate to cafe organiser Michael Jepson - and at the same time get her vacuum cleaner repaired.

Angela said: "The Repair Cafe is a lovely idea. It has brought people together to help each other, both socially and financially as well as ecologically, saving items going to landfill." 

Monday, July 15, 2024

Latest details on yesterday's Horseshoe Pass crash

North Wales Live is reporting this afternoon (Monday) that a crash involving a motorcycle and two cars closed the Horseshoe Pass for more than two hours yesterday. 

The story says that at least one casualty was airlifted to the serious trauma unit at Royal Stoke Hospital.

* For the full story, go to: