Boost for park life in Llanferres

A POPULAR outdoor space that is tended to by volunteers of all ages will continue to be at the heart of a community – thanks to cash confiscated from criminals.

Llanferres Playing Field and Recreation Association (LPFRA) has endured a difficult 12 months seeking to earn much-needed funding to cover running costs at the village playground and park, amid events being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The well-kept facility has been a hub in the small community between Ruthin and Mold for more than 20 years.

LPFRA has helped nurture young villagers into good ambassadors for their community by encouraging them to play their part in volunteering days, helping to spruce up the facilities and work alongside older residents.

Thanks to a £2,500 grant from a special fund distributed by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, their good deeds are set to continue for years to come.

The Your Community, Your Choice scheme is also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT), which is celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year.

It is the eighth year of the awards scheme and much of over £280,000 handed out to deserving causes in that time has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The scheme is aimed at organisations who pledge to run projects to tackle anti-social behaviour and combat crime and disorder in line with the priorities in Commissioner Arfon Jones’s Police and Crime Plan.

This year there are 21 grants given to support schemes by community organisations, with an online vote deciding the successful applicants from among the many projects submitted and over 33,000 votes cast.

Also successful in securing grants in Denbighshire were Clwyd Amateur Boxing Club in Rhyl, which scooped £2,500 to help with running costs, and Denbigh in Bloom, which has been awarded £2,000 to support the planned regeneration of Lower Park.

The Llanferres association, a registered charity, has helped tackle anti-social behaviour by encouraging youngsters to be involved in the regular maintenance working party days.

LPFRA chairman Sean Thomas said: “The events help bring the community together and we have a lot of volunteers who want to take part.

“On one recent occasion the ages of those taking part varied from 84 to about four, so we really do have all ages within our community getting involved.

“It helps the young people who take part to gain life skills. They are experiencing what it is like to work as part of a team and it can help build their confidence.

“We are doing what we can to try and help the youngsters to feel involved and to gain from the experience.

“There is a great deal of community spirit on show and we welcome anyone who wants to be involved.”

The association has been badly affected by the impact of Covid-19 which led to a planned race night having to be called off last March, denying LPFRA an anticipated four-figure windfall.

Other fundraising events have had to be put on hold, preventing the association meeting its annual running costs of between £1,500 and £2,000.

Sean added: “I jumped for joy as soon as I was advised that we had been successful. This will make a big difference to us and we are very grateful to everyone who voted.

“All the events we have planned to hold have been cancelled. We have had to dig into our reserves to cover certain costs so it is really welcome news to receive this funding.”

The pandemic led to the site having to close for six months until last September when it reopened with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place.

The land – owned by Llanferres Community Council and leased to LPFRA – was transformed in the late 1990s when the park and playground was created and the site on Cae Gwyn has been a regular recipient of the ‘Green Flag – Community Award’ in recognition of how tidy it has been kept by volunteers.

As well as the maintenance days, other events regularly held include making bat and bird boxes and a fundraising BBQ in the Park.

“We are fortunate to have such support from our local community,” said grandfather-of-four Sean, who has lived in the village since 1994.

“We are only a small village, but we get a lot of support and we are very grateful for it.

“The work we can now carry out will be a big help and, should things start to return to normal, we look forward to welcoming many more people to the park in the future.”

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, who has visited the park, said: “I am delighted that my Your Community Your Choice fund continues to support community projects like this for an eighth consecutive year.

“This unique fund allows our communities to decide which projects should get financial support through our on-line voting system and the response has seen almost 15,000 members of the public vote for a total of 30 projects.

“These projects help to support my Police and Crime Plan whose purpose is to ensure that North Wales Police is paying specific attention to those points which have been identified as crucial by the public, me and indeed by the force itself.

“Many of you will be aware of the recent Third Sector consultation that I carried out which has resulted in an update to my priorities to include the ways in which we address emerging trends including Organised Crime and the exploitation of vulnerable people.

“As part of this I aim to ensure that a clear focus continues around county lines crimes – a particularly vicious form of criminality that exploits young vulnerable people into a life of crime which is extremely dangerous and violent and from which there is little escape.

“I am delighted to see that a number of your applications aim to address this issue and support our young people.

“Community groups are vital to the citizens of north Wales, and in helping to ensure that our communities continue to be some of the safest places to live, work and visit in the UK.”

PACT chairman Ashley Rogers added: “Your community your choice is a really valuable way of supporting communities and putting the choice of which projects are supported in their hands.

“It’s a very democratic process which is why I think it’s been such a long running  and successful scheme.

“It’s lovely project to be involved with and you can directly see the benefits from the funding in strengthening our resilient communities.”

Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett said: “This money includes cash from assets seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This is a particularly vital message as through the professionalism of North Wales Police Officers and with the support of the Courts, we are able to hit the criminals where it hurts – in their pockets.

“Our operations target all types of serious criminality including cross border crime, armed robbery, criminal use of firearms as well as drug production, importation and supply.

“Those who are involved in serious and organised crime often live well beyond their means, drive expensive cars, live in large houses and frequently holiday abroad; they may well be living lifestyles on the proceeds of crime.

“Our communities continue to play a part in this success with local intelligence information given to our officers that help us to bring these criminals to justice.

“It sends a really positive message that money taken from the pockets of criminals is being recycled. This is turning bad money into good that’s being used for a constructive purpose.”

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