The Council has a new Chief Executive
The Council has announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive.
Graham Boase, who was the Corporate Director of Economy & Public Realm for the Council, has been appointed to the role.
Leader of Denbighshire, Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, said: “This is a fantastic appointment for Denbighshire and, on behalf of our staff and residents in the county, the elected members and I would like to congratulate Graham and welcome him to the new role.
“There was an extremely a rigorous selection process with a number of strong contenders in the running who all performed to an extremely high standard.
“Denbighshire County Council is one of the best performing councils in Wales and we are now looking forward to working with our new chief executive to continue that success into the future.”
Mr Boase said: “I am very excited about becoming Chief Executive of this fantastic Council, having started working for Denbighshire as far back as 1996.
I’m so grateful to the elected members for showing their trust and faith in me, it gives me a lot of confidence to know that they have backed my progress from Head of Service, to Corporate Director and now to Chief Executive.
“I think I know the Council well and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the job, talking to our excellent leadership team, dedicated elected members and our residents about our future Vision for the Council.”
Mr Boase starting working for Denbighshire at its inception in 1996, initially as a Senior Planning Officer, in 2003 he became Head of Planning & Public Protection and in 2017 was promoted to Corporate Director: Economy and Public Realm.
He started in his role as Chief Executive on 1st August.
Star award for Denbighshire Care Worker
One of our social care workers has received an award for making a positive difference to residents lives in the face of the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic created.
Katie Newe, service manager at the Council, is one of 12 care workers in Wales who have received the Care Stars Award.
Care Stars was created to highlight social care and early years workers who really made a positive difference to people’s lives during the pandemic.
Katie was nominated by Ann Lloyd, her Line Manager for the awards last month.
Ann said: “While leading a large service and supporting our independent partners, Katie also rolled her sleeves up and helped out wherever she was needed. She worked tirelessly in our own care homes, extra care housing and in homes in the independent sector that were at crisis point. It was nothing for her to work seven days per week and cover evening and night shifts if that was what it took to support our citizens and relieve staff who were exhausted and at breaking point.
“Katie was a tower of strength for her team, and her passion and commitment to the social care sector was second to none. She truly was an exceptional role model. I am convinced that her doggedness and determination throughout this pandemic protected many of our vulnerable older people in Denbighshire.”
‘Thrilled’ to be nominated and recognised as a Care Star, Katie said: “It has been a tough time for everyone and I have been able to do what I do because of the amazing support and guidance from Ann Lloyd, Phil Gilroy and Nicola Stubbins, who have all worked tirelessly to protect the most vulnerable citizens of Denbighshire.
“It goes without saying that each and every one of our Care staff are Care Stars too, they have gone into work each day despite their personal fears and the trauma’s they have faced, every day I am blown away by the dedication and commitment of Denbighshire’s carers. Let’s hope the worst is now over and we can look forward to happier times.”
Cllr Bobby Feeley, the Council’s Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said: “We are proud to see that Katie has received deserved recognition for her dedication to caring for, protecting and serving our communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
“She has been exceptional and I would also like to say a huge thank you to social care and frontline staff working for Denbighshire County Council who have gone above and beyond providing help and support to the most vulnerable across our communities.”
Funding for community events in Denbighshire
The Council has announced a one-off grant funding opportunity for communities that host and organise events in Denbighshire.
The aim of the fund will be to improve the current infrastructure to support more sustainable and cost effective events, making it easier to host more events in local communities.
A total budget of £128,000 is available, to be shared by successful applicants across Denbighshire.
Cllr Bobby Feeley, the Council’s Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said:
“This is a fantastic opportunity for community groups and event organisers to apply for funding to help improve event infrastructure in the county.
“We would like to ask those applying to work in partnership with city, town and community councils and their local county councillor, to develop their proposals.
“This is part of the Council’s Corporate Plan priority to help support our communities to become more connected and resilient, and able to enjoy the unique experience that local events offer.”
The Council’s preference would be for city, town and community councils to be named as the lead, submitting the project proposal on the applicant’s behalf.
Community development officer support will be available throughout the scheme period to offer guidance and facilitation, and to act as a liaison officer with internal departments as required.
You may also receive support to apply for match funding.
Submissions are open until September 30, and shortlisting will take place by the end of October, with successful applicants being informed in November.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or 01824 706142, and you can apply at www.denbighshire.gov.uk/en/leisure-and-tourism/events-whats-on/funding-opportunity-for-community-events-infrastructure.aspx
Rhyl hosts launch of North Wales-wide bus ticket
A one-purchase ticket valid on buses across North Wales has been officially launched.
The launch of the 1Bws ticket, which after purchase is valid for travel on buses across North Wales, took place in Rhyl recently.
The launch, held at the Events Arena, was attended by bus operators from across North Wales as well as invited guests from Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Isle of Anglesey and Wrexham councils, Senedd members and officers from Transport for Wales.
An adult ticket costs £5.70, a child will pay £3.70 and holders of English and Scottish concessionary bus passes will also pay £3.70.
A family ticket is available for just £12.
One ticket is valid all day on busses in Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Isle of Anglesey and Wrexham and on buses from North Wales to Chester, Whitchurch and Machynlleth.
There are buses covering most of the region and it is possible to explore the North Wales Coast, Snowdonia and the Clwydian Range and the Dee Valley.
Cllr Brian Jones, the Council’s Lead Member for Waste, Transport and the Environment, said: “I am very pleased we are supporting this initiative, which will encourage local people and visitors alike to use our extensive bus network.
“The initiative is a great way to get people back on buses and open up North Wales in a way that protects the environment.
“This ticket is a great example of the strong partnership that exists between bus operators and local authorities. It has been possible to introduce this ticket because public and private sector, bus operators large and small, have all worked together.”
Richard Hoare, Arriva’s Regional Commercial Director, said: “The introduction of the 1Bws ticket is a result of the close working partnership in North Wales between operators and local authorities. “This is an important development for existing customers and potential new users, as the new product will make travel by bus more convenient and easier to use.
“Buses are an important contributor to the North Wales economy and will be key in encouraging a green and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.”
Timetable information for all buses in North Wales is available online at http://bustimes.org/ or http://www.traveline.cymru/; or by phone on 0800 464 00 00.
1Bws is valid on all local bus services operating in North Wales with the exception of service 28 between Mold and Flint.
It is also not valid on tourist services operated by open top buses, on National Express coach services and park and ride services.
Digital Buddies scheme needs volunteers
An initiative that has helped communities stay digitally connected during the pandemic is looking for more volunteers to support Denbighshire residents.
In the summer of 2020, Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council, Digital Communities Wales and Denbighshire County Council, in collaboration, launched Denbighshire Digital Buddies.
The scheme helps anyone needing assistance with digital technology and has helped families, friends and loved ones stay connected through the difficult lockdowns of the pandemic.
Buddies have provided technical support over the phone, helping people become more independent and improving their mental health and wellbeing.
Gareth Jones of Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council, said: “Communities in Denbighshire have come together during this pandemic, and our Digital Buddies scheme has tapped into that positive energy to provide valuable support”.
My role has been to recruit volunteers, ensure they are trained and to match them with people in the community who need digital assistance. We would like to recruit more volunteer Digital Buddies".
Debbie Hughes, a Digital Buddy volunteer from Prestatyn said: “I have recently helped a lady who had no IT skills at all. She was able to access a tablet through some of the work I do and was then able, with my support, to download WhatsApp. The lady now video calls her daughter in New Zealand.
“I think it’s opened her eyes a lot to other things that technology can do, and she will hopefully sign up to an IT class at her local library in September.
Debbie added: “Going through the training was very positive and I learned the wide variety of things technology can help with. Being a Digital Buddy volunteer is very rewarding as it is great to support people and see their IT confidence increase”
Councillor Bobby Feeley, the Council’s Lead for Wellbeing and Independence said: “This is a great volunteer scheme which has made a big and positive difference to people’s lives during the pandemic. Being connected to your friends and loved ones has never been so important and I am grateful to see how much the Denbighshire Digital Buddies have helped communities in the county.
“It is a very rewarding scheme for volunteers to join, as keeping everyone connected to each other is vital for mental health and wellbeing".
If you know anyone that has a tablet or smartphone and needs help using it, for example, we would like to hear from you, and the person can be paired with a Digital Buddy.
Please contact Gareth Jones on 01824 702441 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or if you would like to be a Digital Buddy.
Flats to offer respite and short breaks to unpaid carers
Two flats have been renovated by the Council with funding received from Welsh Government via the Integrated Care Fund (ICF) to offer respite and short breaks to unpaid carers.
The properties are in Corwen and Ruthin and form part of the Council’s Corporate Plan priority to support unpaid carers.
Both properties feature modern facilities and will allow carers and/or those they care for to have a break.
Both flats have easy access and adaptations to make them disabled friendly and have sleep in facilities if overnight support is needed.
This development builds on the successful pilot in Ruthin, where unpaid carers have been able to benefit from breaks within the Llys Awelon Extra Care Scheme in partnership with North East Wales Carers Information Service (NEWCIS).
Unpaid carers in the county can access a wealth of support from local and national organisations including short breaks, a sitting service and direct payments which allows them to balance a life alongside caring.
They are able to undertake a needs assessment carried out by NEWCIS, commissioned by the Council, to find out what support is available.
This assessment allows the unpaid carer to explain the impact caring has on them and their life and to explore a range of support options.
Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire’s Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said: “Unpaid carers play a pivotal role in our society and the Council values their contribution. We have renovated these two properties to offer the chance for respite and short breaks.
“It offers the opportunity to take time out and I would encourage all unpaid carers in the county to contact the Council for a carer’s assessment so they can see what support is available to them.”
As part of its Corporate Plan, the Council has committed to supporting unpaid carers by improving the services that exist and ensuring young, young adult, parent and adult carers are aware of the support available.
Councillor Ann Davies, the Council’s Carers Champion, said: “I welcome the offer of these two properties in Denbighshire to give unpaid carers respite and short breaks.
“There is a huge burden of responsibility on their shoulders and this offer of support will help provide them with additional respite.”
You can find out more by contacting the Council’s Single Point of Access on 0300 4561000 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm or email email@example.com.
Funding towards the cost of installing gigabit broadband
Rural residents and businesses in Denbighshire are being remind to apply for funding towards the cost of installing gigabit broadband.
The Welsh and UK governments are working together on the Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme which covers part of the cost of installing new gigabit-capable internet connections.
Under the partnership £7,000 is available for small-to-medium sized businesses and up to £3,000 is available for residential premises.
Gigabit-capable broadband connections offer the fastest and most reliable speeds available, and the scheme is open to rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps.
Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of the Council and Lead Member for the Economy, said: “The scheme has now been relaunched by the Welsh and UK governments and we are urging Denbighshire residents in rural locations without decent broadband to check to see if they are eligible for these vouchers.
“Connecting communities is a priority for the Council under our Corporate Plan and improved internet connections ensure our communities have access to goods and services and help the county’s businesses provide services online.
“It is possible for residents or community groups to work together on applications and the Council is working to advise and assist them with their applications.”
As well as offering the Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme, the Welsh Government funded Fibre Roll-out will see a total of 1,862 extra premises in Denbighshire enabled for Fibre To The Premises
(FTTP) connection by June 2022 and Openreach has already enabled 399 premises in the county.
If you would like to discuss the options available contact the Council’s digital officer via firstname.lastname@example.org and to check eligibility for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher visit https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/
Survey for needs assessment for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation
A survey has been launched as part of work to produce an up to date needs assessment for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation in Denbighshire.
The Council is assessing current accommodation need for Gypsies, Traveller and Travelling Show people and this does not include looking for locations for sites.
The process will include talking to Gypsy and Traveller families, key stakeholders and representative groups and will run until 7 October 2021.
It will include a review of local data, including the number of unauthorised encampments that have taken place in the county and a consultation with families from the Gypsy and Travelling community living in Denbighshire.
Elected members and City, Town and Community Councils will also be asked to promote the survey to eligible residents as well as feed in local knowledge around travelling patterns.
The Council has a legal duty to undertake a new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) every five years as a requirement of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 and it is also a requirement for the replacement Local Development Plan the Council is currently working on.
A Task and Finish group set up to support the process had a work brief and a communications plan endorsed by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee on July 26.
Cllr Mark Young, the Council’s Lead Member for Planning, Public Protection and Safer Communities, said: “We have now launched the consultation and will be looking to gain as much feedback from Gypsy and Traveller families as we can to help inform this process.
“We are encouraging Gypsy and Traveller families to take part in this consultation process. The Council has a legal duty to undertake this Assessment and it is important we do it properly.
“This process is to gain a better understanding of any accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers who live in the area as well as those Gypsy and Traveller families who stay on unauthorised encampments.
“The GTAA will assess any accommodation need only and this work does not include looking for locations for sites. There will be no further work on looking for sites until we understand any potential need.”
Opinion Research Services will be undertaking the assessment on behalf of the Council and it will be carried out in conjunction with Conwy County Borough Council who are conducting a similar assessment in Conwy.
If you are a Gypsy, Traveller or Travelling Show person living in Denbighshire then contact Michael Bayliss at Opinion Research Services on 07471 267095 or email email@example.com.
Please feel free to share with any Gypsy, Traveller or Travelling Show friends or family that you may have.
Grant to help Denbighshire people further careers
A grant to help people further their careers has been re-launched.
The Council’s Employee Training Grant supports employed residents from Denbighshire earning below the county median wage.
Funding of between £250 and £2,000 per person can be awarded for training, development or accessing mentoring to allow them to progress within their current workplace or with a new employer.
So far those who have received the grant have seen their wages increase on average by 24 per cent per annum.
The grant is administered by the Council’s Economic and Business Development Team and supports the Council’s corporate priority of ensuring Denbighshire is a place where people want to live and work and have the skills to do so.
Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of the Council, said: “We have re-launched our employment training grant and increased the eligibility to make it available to more people.
“This grant offers a fantastic opportunity for people to further their careers right here in the county.
“Those who have successfully applied have seen their wages increase on average by just under a quarter and if you are looking to progress in your career, I would urge you to check your eligibility.
“We are also asking employers to consider if they have any employees who may benefit from this scheme which could help you retain and upskill staff and grow your business.”
In order to be eligible you must be living in Denbighshire earning below the county median salary (£28,199) be in employment (minimum 16 hours) and can clearly demonstrate availability of suitable positions with a Denbighshire-based company.
Funding can be used to pay for further education courses, professional skills and training such as AAT, NVQ, City & Guilds and commercial vehicle driver training.
To apply or check eligibility visit www.denbighshire.gov.uk/employee-training-grant
Public Space Protection Order goes live
The Council has launched a Public Space Protection order (PSPO) to ensure dog owners control their pets properly whilst using county public areas.
The PSPO launched following a full consultation, will allow the Council to take action against owners who allow their dogs to foul in an area of public land without cleaning up after them.
The intention of introducing the revised, county wide control of dogs PSPO is to effectively deal with particular problems and nuisances that occur across the county.
This order also prohibits owners from taking their dogs onto sports pitches across Denbighshire and also letting a dog off a lead anywhere that is not allowed.
There are also restrictions on Rhyl and Prestatyn beaches between May and 30th September please check the signs in these areas.
Cllr Mark Young, the Council’s Lead Member for Planning, Public Protection and Safer Communities, said: “We know that the majority of Denbighshire dog owners are respectful of other members of the public and they do clean up after their pets. Unfortunately, the Council does receive a number of complaints from residents regarding anti-social behaviour from dog owners who don’t control their dogs properly in public places.
“This new PSPO will allow us to take the appropriate action against those dog owners who behave irresponsibly with their pets in public.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to remind all dog owners to ensure that they carry appropriate dog mess bags with them when they take their dogs for a walk.”
For further information, please click these links:
Council recognised for support of the armed forces community
The Council has been recognised for its support of the armed forces community.
The Council is one of 24 Welsh organisations and private sector employers to have received a Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Silver Award in 2021 from the Ministry of Defence.
The ERS encourages employers to support defence and is open to employer organisations that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community, and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant.
Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of the Council, said: “We are delighted to have achieved this recognition from the Ministry of Defence.
“This recognition is vital to show our support of the contribution made by all those who serve in Her Majesty's Armed Forces.
“As an employer we have been able to ensure that service personnel and members of the Armed Forces community are supported within the Council.”
The Council signed the Armed Forced Covenant in 2019.
The official presentation of the award will take place at the Armed Forces in Wales and ERS Silver Awards Ceremony in Cardiff on Thursday 25th November.
Denbighshire joins efforts to boost Foster Carers in Wales
Local Authority fostering services in Wales have joined forces to become ‘Foster Wales’; teams across the nation combine their efforts and expertise to significantly increase the number and diversity of Local Authority foster carers.
Despite over a third (39%) of Welsh adults claiming they have considered becoming a foster carer, there is still a need to recruit an estimated 550 new foster carers and families across Wales every year. This is to keep up with the numbers of children who need care and support, whilst replacing carers who retire or are able to provide a permanent home to children.
The new national network, ‘Foster Wales’ brings together the 22 not-for-profit Local Authority fostering teams across Wales. With decades of experience, they work together and share information and expertise to make a significant national impact on the futures of young people.
Launching Foster Wales Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan MS, said: “It is fantastic to be launching Foster Wales. I know from listening to foster carers just how rewarding fostering can be. This new initiative will benefit looked after children and allow Local Authority fostering and recruitment teams across Wales to think bigger, creating a national impact without losing their advantage of specific local expertise.”
“This government is committed to reducing the number of children in care, giving care experienced children better outcomes and importantly eliminating the profit element of children in care. Foster Wales is part of achieving this promise and will better enable children to stay in their community and meet the evolving needs of foster children and the people who foster them.”
Across Wales, every child in need of a foster carer is in the care of their Local Authority, so continually forming relationships within their local communities will help Foster Wales enable children to stay in their local area when it’s right for them.
Local Authority teams already share information through regular contact, but just over a quarter (26%) of adults in Wales mistakenly believe fostering services delivered by councils probably aren’t very well joined up across the country. The move to unify the 22 Local Authority fostering services under the Foster Wales name therefore seeks to reassure and do justice to the pan-Wales work being undertaken.
Cllr Bobby Feeley, the Council’s Lead for Wellbeing and Independence said: “Significantly increasing the number and diversity of foster carers recruited directly to Local Authorities will enable us to have more choice available when matching a child; finding the right fostering family for each child is key to our ultimate goal of building brighter futures for children in our care.
“In the majority of cases, finding placements for children that keep them in their local area is a great benefit. It keeps them connected to their friends, their school and their sense of identity. It builds confidence and reduces stress. Working with Foster Wales means offering the right local home to a child who needs that opportunity and getting the expert local support and training needed to equip foster carers for the journey ahead.”
Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru, Heads of Children’s Services member Tanya Evans, said, “Becoming a foster carer is a decision to help make a real difference to the lives of children. There are hundreds of children across Wales right now who have a right to thrive and need somebody in their community to support and believe in them.
“Dispelling the myths surrounding foster care is a key task. For example, no two children are the same and neither is the foster care they need. There is no ‘typical’ foster family.
“Whether you own your own home or rent, whether you’re married or single. Whatever your gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or faith, there are young people in your community who need someone on their side.
“All we need is more people like you to open their doors and welcome them in.”
To find out more about Local Authority fostering in Wales, visit http://fosterwales.gov.wales http://maethucymru.llyw.cymru
Demolition work has resumed on Queen’s Buildings in Rhyl
Work to demolish the Queen’s Buildings has resumed following a slight pause.
The demolition was temporarily put on hold whilst structural engineers and contractors worked to determine the safe demolition of the remaining buildings and the removal of asbestos.
Although the project has made positive progress, with just over half of the buildings already demolished, the pause means the demolition phase will be completed later than initially planned.
The Queen’s Buildings has been named as the ‘key catalyst’ project within the Council’s wider Rhyl Regeneration programme.
Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of the Council and Lead Member for the Economy, said: “It was important to pause the project to ensure the safety of the public and building’s operatives. I am pleased the areas of concern have been resolved and the demolition work can now continue.
“The contractors have already made good progress with the demolition and I am looking forward to watching the project develop further towards the next phases.”
Although work on these buildings has resumed, elements of the Queen’s Supermarket are still open to the public from the High Street entrance.
Stores that continue to trade in here are Lynn’s Hair pieces, Top Shelf Vapes, Pennywise Cards and Gifts and Steve’s Vac’s.
For the most up to date information about projects involved in the Rhyl regeneration programme, please visit www.denbighshire.gov.uk/rhyl-regeneration
Nature for Health: Back Up and Running
As the nation faces increasing challenges to keep healthy, one of the best, most simple medicines is to get out into the natural environment. Denbighshire is home to high quality green space, and not just in the mountains. Denbighshire Countryside Service manages a number of community green spaces with close connections to urban areas, where the Nature for Health programme has been running since 2018. The Nature for Health project provides opportunities to get outdoors through healthy walks and wildlife conservation activities, as well as craft sessions, in Rhyl, Prestatyn, Denbigh, Llangollen and Corwen. The Covid-19 pandemic meant volunteer activities were put on hold for the majority of last year, but since many of the sessions were restarted in May this year, they have been going from strength to strength. The groups have seen incredible successes seeing people tackle health issues, become more active, overcome bereavements, and above all, make new friends.
The nature and conservation sessions in Rhyl and Prestatyn have focussed on maintaining existing projects, including keeping vegetation at bay around areas of recently planted trees, and seeing that wildflower areas at Coed Y Morfa in Prestatyn continue to flourish. Sessions in Denbigh have recently restarted, with conservation volunteering opportunities at Mount Wood. In Rhyl and Prestatyn, The volunteers made miniature herb gardens, which they decorated and took home with them. Participants also enjoyed constructing elevated bird feeding stations for Brickfields Pond in Rhyl. More recently, we ran willow weaving workshops in Rhyl and Prestatyn, and all who attended enjoyed making their own Catalonian tension tray! Volunteers learnt about the traditional agricultural practice of scything, and cut one of our meadows in Rhyl, led by a local instructor. Furthermore, during a guided tour of the Prestatyn Wetlands, our Grazing Project Coordinator explained the process of livestock checking with Belted Galloway cattle. Through this, volunteers have gained valuable skills which could be applied to future work opportunities.
An ongoing Art in Nature project has been very successful in introducing new people to the project through wildlife-themed craft sessions. Cyanotype printing with leaves was a particular success. The Let’s Walk Denbighshire sessions are now back up and running every Friday, coordinated by Community Wellbeing Officer Katrina Day. Though taking part in the sessions, participants have seen improvements in their health, including combatting Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack and improving mental wellbeing.
Steve Fenner has been volunteering with the Nature for Health project since its beginning, having been involved with work at Coed Y Morfa in Prestatyn since 2017. More recently, he has attended volunteer sessions including scything and willow weaving (pictured), as well as many conservation tasks at Coed Y Morfa. “I like getting out, meeting new people and doing something physically active. It’s nice having something within the town that is easily accessible.”
We have many activities planned for the rest of the summer, including bird and bat walks, another scything session in Denbigh, more arts sessions and conservation tasks around the sites. Let’s Walk Denbighshire will continue to go ahead: it’s a great way to explore your local area while meeting new people. Why not join us at a future Nature for Health session? Contact NatureForHealth@denbighshire.gov.uk (NaturErBuddIechyd@sirddinbych.gov.uk) or 01824 712757 for information on opportunities in Rhyl, Prestatyn, Denbigh, Llangollen and Corwen.
The Nature for Health Project is a collaboration between Denbighshire Countryside Service and Denbighshire Housing. The Art in Nature events are a project collaboration between Community Arts Denbighshire Leisure, The Carers Trust, Dementia Friendly Denbigh and the Nature for Health Project. These sessions have been funded by Dementia Aware Community Led Grant DVSC.
Claudia Smith (Countryside Ranger) and Katrina Day (Community Wellbeing Officer), Denbighshire Countryside Service
Trees play an important role in shaping and defining the landscapes of Denbighshire. From veteran parkland trees to woodland saplings, and from upland whitebeams to lowland poplars, they all contribute to the fabric of the county.
Generally, trees can live for a long time in Wales i.e. decades through to centuries. Through the course of a long lifetime trees provide numerous benefits to the wider environment and other species, including us. Benefits include provision of oxygen, carbon sequestration, home to other species, landscape character, cultural heritage, and the list goes on. However, the majority of these benefits are provided when a tree is in good health with vigorous growth.
Being living organisms, trees are susceptible to disease. Causes and presence of disease are an important element of the natural world but there is a fine balance to be struck in a healthy environment.
As humans have moved further and faster around the world, carried materials such as timber and soil to and from locations beyond natural ranges, and eroded natural systems, some species have exploited niches previously unavailable to them.
Hymenoscyphus fraxineus commonly known as ash dieback is a fungus that nowadays has spread well beyond its native range of parts of Asia. Ash (Fraxinus species) trees in such areas are able to cope with the presence of H. fraxineus as they have co-evolved. However, the native ash Fraxinus excelsior of the UK is more vulnerable as they have evolved independently.
Ash trees are one of the most common trees in Denbighshire. They dominate some woodlands, line many highways, stand proud in parks, and provide habitat for many associated species. However, as a tree declines in condition it is more likely to shed limbs therefore posing a potential risk to people. Although deadwood is a very important habitat feature and is retained where possible, we have a duty of care to the general public.
The health and safety of residents and visitors is of paramount importance. Therefore, we now have a team of Tree Inspectors dedicated to the task of mapping, surveying, inspecting, and risk assessing ash trees across the county. This is a challenging task and not only important for health and safety of people but also for purposes relating to the declaration of a climate change and ecological emergency. Trees that are recorded on our tree management system will be monitored closely to determine if and when any physical works are required.
Michelle Brown, Tree Inspector, says: “My favourite part of the job is being in the outdoors and enjoying Denbighshire’s nature and countryside. I also really enjoy meeting the public and trying to foster a positive relationship between us all.” She goes on to note that there is hope, saying “I’m most interested by the variable response of trees to ash dieback, not just in mature trees but also in a sizeable percentage of juvenile trees. The varied nature of Fraxinus excelsior gives hope that favourable (possibly resistant) mutations are already potentially being seen in young healthy trees and these must be protected as carefully as the surviving mature trees.”
Data gathered on ash trees during 2021 will feed into an Ash Dieback Action Plan. This document will provide a strategy to manage ash trees infected with ash dieback. It will also include a wider approach to protecting associated species, promote suitable tree species for planting as replacements, and consider locations where we can encourage natural regeneration of trees.
Unfortunately, ash dieback is not the only threat to our local trees. Other notable pests and diseases include Dutch elm disease Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, larch disease Phytophthora ramorum, and oak processionary moth Thaumetopoea processionea. These and some other species pose real threats but you can help reduce such pressures. The TreeAlert website from Forest Research is a good starting point should you wish to learn more and submit a report for tree pests and diseases.
Tom Hiles, Tree Inspector, notes how he stays positive in light of the growing number of tree pests and diseases: “It’s good to be proactive. We are able to do something about the environmental challenges of our time, albeit as small players in a vast game. There is always something to learn and explore further. Trees and their biology, how they interact with other species and their history in the landscape is fascinating.”
We can all make a positive difference and help reduce the spread of pests and diseases by practising good biosecurity. The simplest of which is to clean your footwear of mud after every walk, run, or exploration. Not only are you minimising the spread of spores and seeds, you’re also protecting your money as you won’t need to buy new shoes as regularly. More information on biosecurity can be found on the Natural Resources Wales website: https://naturalresources.wales/guidance-and-advice/business-sectors/forestry/tree-health-and-biosecurity/how-to-practise-biosecurity-in-woodlands-keep-it-clean/?lang=en
Andrew Cutts (County Tree Officer)