Precinct Plans Out

Even though RCT asked the residents of the town what they wanted for the derelict precinct site they have once again completely ignored the views of the people, just as they did with the environmentally-unfriendly Lido.

Details of the major plans to revitalise the former Pontypridd precinct site have been revealed for the first time and they are modern as expected, rather than a return to the old Victorian facade that many residents wanted.

I suppose this was to be expected as the London firms Knight Frank, Gaunt Francis Architects, and Atkins that the council has been working with, without going out to tender, have their own ideas how to profit from our public funds.

It should also be remembered that Ponty MP and Labour Party leader candidate Owen Smith voted for Knight Frank to work on the HS2 link from London to Birmingham.

The council did say that updates will be provided ‘when appropriate’, but have not provided details of the residents feedback or suggestions yet. (Doubt they ever will.)

So here are some artist’s impressions of what the new Taff Vale Precinct will look like as the developers seek outline planning permission – likely to be considered later this year, probably dependent on how well Owen Smith MP does in the leadership race.

No housing, rain shelters, greenery or public art?

Overall, the proposals want to allocate floor space for cafes/restaurants (450 sq.m.), non-residential use (1,145 sq.m.), assembly and leisure (1,145 sq.m.) and offices (9,935 sq.m.), even though most people who submitted ideas for the site wanted residential included that would overlook the river and Park.

A strange proposal seeing as Ponty already has half it’s non-residential units currently empty. RCT leisure services have been slashed across the county, due to austerity, and many offices and council buildings have been quietly sold off (at huge discounts) as staff are made redundant. Again very strange, unless you are a rich property developer who knows someone in the council of course.

The largest of the three buildings – to be built opposite the YMCA building (which plans to have non-residential, assembly and leisure use) – would have five storeys and would be up to 25m high, while the middle building would have four of five storeys and the smallest – opposite the old bridge – would have two or three storeys, up to 20m high in total.

The new buildings as seen from ‘The Wonky’

A new basement car park will be built as the existing one will be demolished and replaced with more or less the same thing.

Andrew Morgan, leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf council, suggested that the council wants to ‘change the direction of this key valleys town’, although he didn’t say in which direction?

Almost at river level, so therefore car park must be dug down much deeper?

The leader also acknowledged the multiple failures of previous Labour-led councils:

“Over the last 10 years or so, there have been previous proposals for the redevelopment of the former Taff Vale site…

“However, none of these have come to fruition…”

He also went on to add that that “An office-led development will bring hundreds of people into the town, who in turn will spend their money locally.” But not in the evenings or weekends which residential properties would have.

Old Victorian facade of Taff Street

Should the council have gone for a design more in keeping with the town’s heyday or is a new, modern, carbon copy development of other areas more likely to bring people back into town? You decide.

Either way the town desperately needs something done and with Owen Smith MP having so many ‘grot spots’ under his reign as MP for the town I guess he and the council have to show something to the voters.

Living Income

Most rich, western, first-world countries have millions of ‘working poor’. These are people whose jobs do not pay enough to keep them above the poverty line, and whose wages are then topped-up by the state. In the UK we call this tax credits.

The minimum wage has never been high enough to reach the bottom of a ‘living income’ though. Therefore people still need government benefits. In 2008, about 5.5 million working families in the UK received tax credits, including working and child credits, housing benefits, and local tax benefits. The Tories austerity policies have reduced this number to 4.3 million. Given that there were 11.4 million working households in the UK in 2012, this means that an astonishing 38% did not receive a ‘living wage’.

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was cutting £12 billion from the welfare bill over the next four years as part of his screw-the-poor plan. Of this, £9 billion will come from cutting the tax subsidies for working families.

Mmm? Won’t this make things worse you ask?

The Tories also proposed to raise the minimum wage from £6.50 per hour to £9 per hour over the same period. The increase will fall on employers, not the government. The Treasury will save £12 billion, yet the higher minimum wage amounts to only £4 billion. In other words the government is taking £8 billion from people whilst also putting more and more burden on businesses and employers to pay this higher minimum wage!

This will result in more firms going bust and more people unemployed. This will cost the government more in benefits. Crazy backward economics?

As I pointed out in ‘Crap Jobs‘ automation will make more people unemployed. Up to 50% of existing jobs may be at risk in the next 20 years. Will enough new jobs be found to replace them? Of course not!

Also, is it even sensible to keep producing more and more shite we don’t need or can’t use?

So, as robots replace humans, humans will need incomes to replace wages from work.

Tax credits replace or top-up incomes, raising the minimum wage makes income more dependent on jobs. When wages go up we lose jobs to robots because they become cheaper.

So here is a radical (not new) idea. Government provides all citizens an unconditional tax credit / benefit amount, regardless of whether they work or not.

Bear with me. I know what you’re thinking. That would cost billions. Well, yes it would but we do away with the majority of the benefits system we have now, we just keep the bit that helps those sick, disabled, vulnerable etc. who cannot work.

This would mean that everyone gets a bare minimum amount of government money to spend on themselves. If they want more, they work, and get paid on top of this amount.

The UK is a very rich country and can certainly afford this but would it be a disincentive to work?

Well, the goal is not to strengthen the incentive to work, but to enable people to live without work. An unconditional basic income payment would make part-time work a possibility. Workers would be happy, have more leisure time, more time to spend with family, more time to spend money on services. All workers would have the freedom to make the same choices regarding how much to work, and under what conditions. No more slaves to the corporate machine that is driving us all to an early grave.

Now, if you think this is just a crazy idea and will cost too much money. Guess what, Switzerland have just voted on it, albeit rather negatively, and other countries, like Holland and Finland are seriously thinking about it too.

At the end of the day if you do the maths it will probably save the country billions!  Plus everyone will be happier and more productive. We’ll have more time to spend our cash on services which will need to offer more jobs to cope with the demand. There will be no abuse of benefits because there won’t be any!

Just a thought.

Wales Cycle Ride

Wales Trails_tshirt_frontIn August 2016 Pontypridd writer Dave Lewis cycled 688 miles around Wales in aid of Prostate Cancer UK.

Eleven years ago two intrepid Ponty bimblers cycled the iconic Land’s End to John o’ Groats route and raised over £1000 for Ty Hafan. This summer, one of those riders, Dave, and a university friend (who joined him for three days) managed another epic bike ride.

As well as raising money for the charity Dave is also hoping to inspire others to repeat the course and help turn this haphazard ‘loop’ of Wales into another world-famous iconic cycle ride just like Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

To get involved and support this worthy cause use the links below:

Dave is hoping to raise £500 for the charity via his JustGiving page. Click the button below and see how he’s getting on!

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

Prostate Cancer UK fights to help more men survive prostate cancer and enjoy a better quality of life. We find answers by funding ground-breaking research, we lead change by raising the profile of the disease and improving care. And we support men by providing vital information and services.

PROSTATE CANCER UK Registered charity number 1005541 and in Scotland (SC039332).

Ponty Prime Minister

‘Twas the night before the Labour leadership election and not a creature was stirring in the south Wales valleys. Well, apart from the usual scuffles between two obese, Kardashian lookalikes arguing over whose kebab is bigger whilst trying to strangle each other with their own stockings outside Soul Suite, but that goes without saying.

wolf-of-wall-streetThey say a week is a long time in politics, but recently it’s been like a badly-scripted soap opera or extended episode of House of Cards. We’ve had #Brexit in the valleys (that’s us by the way, us who get far more out of Europe than we put in), Cameron (the worst PM in 100 years if you read newspapers that have somehow forgotten how evil Thatcher was) gone, bonking Boris stabbed in the back by a grinning jester, nasty Nigel making a mint on his Euro speculation, and a Nazi mum who gave way to another investment banker‘s wife.

Then the really funny bit. Angela (can’t string a sentence together properly) Eagle decides to stand against Jezza, the man of the people, voted in by a bunch of loony lefties who wouldn’t know a proper job if their overpaid union could save one for them. Well, this is what we’re told by the mainstream media anyway… I mean, just look at Corbyn’s policies! It appears the UK has at last found a real politician who speaks for us all:

  • Corbyn is against PFI schemes
  • He supports a higher rate of income tax for the wealthiest
  • He wants to recoup losses from tax avoidance / evasion by investing £1 billion in HMRC
  • He opposes austerity
  • He opposed the new Welfare Bill, describing it as “rotten and indefensible”, after it emerged that thousands of disabled people had died after being found fit to work
  • He has said that the NHS should be “completely publicly run and publicly accountable”
  • He envisions the establishment of a “National Education Service”, a return to local authority over state-funded academies and free schools, and an end to the charitable status of public schools
  • Corbyn has campaigned strongly against tuition fees in England and advocates the restoration of maintenance grants, which were replaced with loans by the Tories
  • He is a pioneer of LGBT equality, Corbyn championed such causes as the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (great film btw!)pride
  • In 1975 he opposed Britain’s membership of the EU, then in 2015 he said that if Cameron negotiated away workers’ rights and environmental protection he would not rule out Brexit, then in 2016 he said that there was an “overwhelming case” for staying in the EU
  • He has been a consistent supporter of renationalising public utilities
  • He is a long-standing supporter of a United Ireland
  • He believes the royal ceremony for the State Opening of Parliament should be abolished and that Britain should become a republic and abolish the House of Lords
  • He has criticized Britain’s close ties with Saudi Arabia, yet he’s a total wimp as regards bombing ISIS
  • He has called for Tony Blair to be investigated for alleged war crimes
  • He opposes the replacement of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system and suggested that the 11,000 jobs supported by Trident could be replaced by “socially productive” jobs in renewable energy, railways and housing
  • He is a strong environmentalist, would ban hydraulic fracking, phase out fossil fuel extraction, and invest in public transport to improve air quality. He is also against the building of new nuclear power stations
  • Corbyn has been a long-time campaigner on animal rights issues and opposes the Yulin Dog Meat Festival

miss_islamOK, not perfect, but he’s getting there. If it was me I’d add a few tweaks: i.e. a living income in order to abolish the benefits system, reclassify Islam as a political ideology, boycott China (until they stop human rights abuses, stop killing elephants and rhinos, and withdraw from Africa, Tibet and the Philippines), deportation of foreign criminals, abolish public schools, ban job agencies, limit public servants salaries, and introduce the death penalty for paedophiles.

But back to Westminster, or as we in Wales call it – whatever ‘shite’ the BBC, Channel 4 or ITV want to tell us about our elected representatives this week. One thing we do know, it’s never the truth.

And so it seems the career-focused, media-savvy political class are at a loss. They can’t explain Brexit ‘cos they are so out of touch with reality, their media chums can’t give Jezza any decent platform ‘cos they’re scared stiff people might hear what he has to say and agree with him! Just read that list of policies again! So they are floundering big time.

Think about it. My God, what if people actually voted for him? Then the current crop of politicians would be out of their highly paid jobs for life, their middle-class school friends in the press might lose their cushy little numbers writing shit columns for the Sunday broadsheets, the status quo would be upset and the workers might actually get a decent standard of living from the 5th richest country in the world.

Then… Wow! said Kate Bush.

owensmithJust when you thought you’d had enough of this London-centric, reality-TV gameshow and were about to switch the telly over to watch ‘celebrity big island loves my brother dancing with a singing cake’, what we in Ponty have known for about six or seven years finally happens! Yep, our very own (I use that word loosely) ex-shadow cabinet minister Owen (son of Dai) Smith chucks his sugar plums on the workers party bonfire saying Labour needs both a “radical and credible” leader.

You couldn’t make it up! Mmm, radical eh?  OK, let’s compare policies with red Jezza.

Oily (as he’s known locally) Smith is well known for:

  • He supports PFI
  • As a lobbyist for Pfizer, he wanted to privatise the NHS
  • He also strongly supported Tony Blair’s city academies
  • He is a strong supporter of Trident and has friends in the arms industry
  • He has voted for military action in Libya and Iraq
  • He abstained on the Tory welfare benefit cuts

There seems to be no evidence whatsoever that Owen Smith is left wing. There is plenty of evidence that he is yet another, in a long line of, New Labour career politicians, who’ll say anything to win votes.

biased_mediaBut what the hell, we’re used to being screwed over in Wales. We’ve had a 100 years of it so why expect any change now? At least the TV will be fun for the next few months. From the partisan Welsh media circus expect two months of how crap ‘Corbynista’ is and how useless little ‘Eaglet’ is, and how great our local lad is of course, but after two months of mud throwing, we might, just might, have a Welsh winner once again. OK, we didn’t actually win the Euros, but we did lose to the eventual champions, and they were lucky anyway… if Ramsey had played… sorry, getting carried away here.

Anyway the Labour party will announce a winner on the eve of the Labour Party conference on 24 September.

Owen recently said – “I can heal the party and be a credible leader and next Labour prime minister.” Mr Smith also said he would vote to support the renewal of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system in a Commons vote on Monday. Not quite sure how nuclear missiles ‘heal’ things but never mind that, if Ponty can get it’s first PM then what’s a few kilograms of uranium, plutonium and tritium between friends? Some would say Ponty town centre needs it.

precinct1_600Ponty people will know Owen quite well of course as he is a regular supporter of Ponty RFC. In fact, not long after he was elected as our new MP (after ‘shredder Howells’ took to his easel full-time) he even introduced himself to me once at the club (no idea why?), guess it was ‘cos someone told him I write this crap? Lol.

So we have an exciting time ahead in British & Welsh politics that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to the EBC vans’ sat-navs sending them to dead-ends in Cwmaman and the locals directing them over the Rhigos. Maybe Owen can introduce the inevitable, politically-correct, media scrum to the Tuesday dinnertime crowd of The Wonky for a more ’rounded’ appreciation of the problems facing the UK’s citizens today?

Perhaps we the people of Pontypridd can forget about the gibberish we hear daily by (and about) people we know nothing about and instead listen to new gibberish by (and about) people we know everything about! It’ll be so funny, like a re-run of The Office or Fawlty Towers. Exciting times indeed.

fp_closedownBut, here is the really great thing. Owen Smith could actually win. He could become the next leader of the Labour party! He could become the next Prime Minister! Wow! Imagine that. Our very own Ponty boy could finally sort out the major problems of the town (see photos) and the globe!

He could force Bargain Booze to open for longer, get a valleys, regional rugby team back! He could get the council to approve my application for a lap-dancing bar on Taff Street and he could even get the precinct developed.

He might even ban job agencies and create proper jobs in Wales? Remember those days? Now there’s a thrilling prospect! Maybe politics is worthwhile after all?

Then again, maybe the people won’t be fooled and he’ll go back to selling drugs for erectile dysfunction after his political career is ruined. Who cares really?

Welsh Poetry Competition – Winners!

The wait is over and the results of the 2016 Competition have now been announced by judge John Evans at a special prize night in Clwb Y Bont, Pontypridd.

1st Prize – Blackfish by Tarquin Landseer (London)

2nd Prize – Shattering-earth 2016 by Paul Hawkes (Aberteifi)

3rd Prize – Birth by Diana Sanders (Corwen)

For more details and to read the winning poems – click here.

EU – Result!

united kingdom exit from europe relative imageWell, there’s a turn up for the plus fours! Didn’t think they’d allow this to happen. So what next?

Well, judging by social media (remind me to delete all my accounts later) the world will now dissolve, the KKK will be riding pale horses through Treorchy town centre, my children will be eaten by Britain First, our NHS will catapult all the Filipino nurses back to Manila this weekend, the pound will become synonymous with the Weimar Republic, house prices will rise to ten million euros each for a mid-terrace in Cwmbach, Boris will finally reveal himself to be a lizard, the Queen will emigrate to an independent Scotland and mosques will be draped in bacon and set alight. Oh yeh, and worst of all Loose Women (‘television for stupid people’ for those that don’t know) may get cancelled to make way for the news – damn.

Well, thank Dawkins for that. I thought we were in trouble for a moment. Look, Wales will probably lose to New Zealand again and the footie team will still be heroes, even if they go out Saturday. So all is not lost. Cheer up, as Brian of Nazareth said. At least Corbyn is on his way out too. Maybe now we’ve got the ‘EU vote’ out of the way we can start on the real problem, a minority Tory government (just 24% of the UK voted for Cameron btw).

cameron_faceBefore the vote I was sick to death of people lying (on both sides), sick of seeing Tories on the telly, sick of millionaires (journalists / business leaders / career politicians / ex-footballers / actors / celebrities) telling me how I should vote. I was also quite shocked that wonderful, caring, intelligent people I knew were turning into nasty, name-calling twats when faced with anyone who disagreed with them. Mmm? OK, I put it down to passion, nothing wrong with that, you’re forgiven.

Moving forward though, shouldn’t we be asking why poor, working class people voted for Brexit? For me it wasn’t because people had their intelligence chips removed it was just a way to stick two fingers up to the establishment. This was about class and wealth more than anything else. This was about inequality, unfairness and hopelessness. In Wales, it was the so-called ‘left-behind’ communities that voted out.

The Labour party, that has traditionally represented working people, have deserted us all long ago. Social mobility under Blair and Brown dropped to it’s lowest point ever in the UK. No-one cares about us, so I think people thought, ‘Right, I’m not going to care about you either.’

‘Wait, hang on… is that a burning cross outside my window?’ ‘Oh no, it’s alright, it’s just a London banker immolating himself.’

So let’s look at the actual doomsday scenarios I’ve been reading this morning. The pound has fallen. So? It’ll bounce back soon enough. How else will the rich get richer if they can’t speculate on currency fluctuations?

burningcrossOh yeh, house prices will crash. Great stuff! Youngsters might be able to afford one now. You know, those youngsters that are shouting and screaming for the genocide of ‘stupid old people’ because they can’t afford their own house, yet they spend a fortune every month on a mobile phone contract to post shit on social media, go to the pub, smoke, eat out, drive cars, go on gap years (from what I ask?), subscribe to Netflix and SKY TV instead of actually doing what older people did – save up for a deposit!

What about all the millions of job cuts that must come now? Well hang on, you can’t have it both ways, if EU nationals are sent packing we’ll have loads of jobs for people to do? But seriously, I doubt either will happen though. Maybe… just maybe, employers might just keep the good people, regardless of whether they eat beetroot soup or not.

What about the NHS, schools, council services? Will they just explode in a great big puff of smoke now that Boris has found a comb? ‘Oh yeh, I hope that austerity thing doesn’t stop now. I’ve got really used to it. How would we cope without cuddly George Osborne telling us we need to cancel our membership to Annabels because we’re all in this together?’

Btw, the happiest countries to live in are (in order) – Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Canada, Finland (‪#‎Fixit‬), Netherlands (‪#‎Nexit‬), New Zealand, Australia, Sweden (#Swexit). So, it kinda makes a mockery of all the so-called experts on our tellies telling the working class who voted for ‘out’ that they are idiots. And the arrogant, biased, pig-headed, absolutely disgusting BBC who dig up people to do vox pops about immigrants to peddle their nasty, racist, hate-filled agenda.

OK, rant over, time for a pint. ‘How much John?’ ‘Nine pounds fifty for a glass of Speckled Bollocks!’ We’ll see.

Europe – Judgement Day

Europe eh? Bloody hell. Husbands against wives, brothers against sisters, dogs against cats, hamsters against gerbils. And that’s just my house. Yes, I know you’re bored with it. The claims and counter-claims, the lies and counter-lies, the smug faces and biased media. But, wake up for a minute. Here’s the really important, nay incredible bit. We get to choose. Really! Well, as long as you use an indelible marker pen so the secret service can’t alter your vote.

europe1Who would have thought that we, the British people, would ever be given a chance by the ruling elite to vote for what we really want? And get this! This time it’s one person one vote! I think they call that democracy. Compare this to the last general election when only 66% bothered to vote. The Tory Party only got 37% which means that once again we have a minority government that approx. 76% of the people didn’t vote for!

Normally politicians will say anything to get our little crosses in their box, then spend four or five years ignoring our wishes while they line their own pockets on the back of our hard labour. But this time, it’s different. This time it’s got personal. Some would say far too personal and I’d agree. This vote could result in our political classes seeing their easy money disappearing as quickly as an African leaves Africa these days.

And this is why the airwaves, blogs, social media, TV, radio and even our pubs are full of it. Europe I mean, not bullshit, although there is a fair amount of that too. Now this decision will no doubt have some limited effect on us, the unwashed masses, but for the suits at the top of the butter mountain our decision could have very serious consequences. For the working class, struggling to make ends meet every week, a Remain vote or a Brexit probably won’t change much. We’ll still have the same political class in government. They’ll still be earning big bucks gambling on the stock markets while we eek out an existence and complain about the price of a pint.

As Joe Strummer said ‘the future is unwritten’, so ‘should we stay or should we go’? Well, I’ve been racking my brain for months and have finally decided, quite firmly, that I’m undecided. If the question was ‘Should we join the EU?’ I think most people would say ‘Non’ to us giving away hundreds of millions of pounds a week to tens of thousands of unelected Johnny foreigners who spend it all on grandiose schemes like straightening our bananas, but that isn’t what we’re being asked.

Ministry_of_Silly_WalksOK, so let’s look at some of the great and the good who are desperate for us to throw our love spuds on their barbecue. Out of touch, posh Etonian’s Cameron and Osborne, who want to privatise your granny, sell off the NHS to their friends in the pharmaceutical companies and send us back to Victorian times where we’ll eat gruel and be whipped for not doffing our hats quickly enough. They want us to stay in, even though they actually want us to leave so they can return to these good old days far faster. Then there is bonking Boris, fisherman’s friend Gove and irritable Duncan syndrome. They also want exactly the same as Cameron and his porky chums but say ‘Leave’! No wonder we’re confused, it’s almost as if this EU thing is just a game to them, to see who’ll become the next fascist leader of our less than free world.

And then there is the Labour Party. You remember them, the BBC used to allow them airtime occasionally. They were dead against us joining when national treasure Cliff Richard’s friend Ted Heath was kindly taking young lads for trips on his yacht. But nowadays they are mostly all for it. Wish they’d make up their mind! OK, to be fair only 4% of Labour MPs want to leave while 56% of Tories want to remain. So it’s as clear as mud what our career-representatives think (or don’t think, as the case may be).

Big business wants us to stay in, while small business wants out. The Greens and the scientists can see our planet melting if we let our current government have more say so also want to remain.

Oh dear. Looks like it’s up to us to work it out for ourselves. That could be a disaster, we’re not used to logical thought are we? That’s why we have politicians. To do our talking for us. Stops them messing up proper jobs. So let’s ask ourselves ‘what has the EU ever done for us’, apart from abolish the ministry for silly walks?

Workers rights have improved in Europe of course, especially for all those Polish descendants of our Battle of Britain Spitfire heroes who are now working in dynamic, meat-packing Merthyr. However, an over-abundance of job agencies has meant locals are overlooked in favour of Eastern europeans, which is a bad thing.

Many say our NHS would collapse without all the agency nurses we get from overseas but they can also double up as translators when we treat our EU cousins. Mind you I have to say that neither side has stated the bleeding obvious here. If we do vote leave and can control immigration better we can still employ EU doctors and nurses if we want to surely?

Most of our farmers are better off under the EU, although how Tesco can get away paying pennies for Welsh lamb is beyond me. Our fishing industry has been killed off by Europe but our environment is much better protected and pollution laws are more stringent.

Eurovision-song-contest-logoOK, what about the blue flag projects we see everywhere in Wales I hear you say? The A470, Ponty Lido and the dodgy pavements were all built with European money. Hooray! Mind you, we did give it to Brussels in the first place, then had it back minus a colossal admin fee, before it was topped up with more of our own money, which comes from the local council, via the Welsh Assembly, via Westminster, after we pay our taxes to London, then get subsidised to live in poverty because of antiquated maths devised by an evil goblin in a faraway kingdom somewhere in middle earth. I’m sure there’s an easier way of feeding people, building bridges and winning Eurovision?

Wales is a net beneficiary of the EU of course and will be until 2020, when we won’t be, because all our EU money will have to go to pay for even poorer countries than us.

Greece may default, and maybe even Grexit, while suicides are up 35% in a little less than 2 years there thanks to German austerity. Is this the future of the EU project? The future is indeed worrying. If the UK leaves Finland and Sweden also might consider it. Could we dismantle the EU and start again? Might put the price of a cuppa up in Strasbourg for a while if they lose their monthly income.

Bloody immigrants! That’s what the Germans would call us if we travelled there freely, took German jobs and got paid five times what we get paid here. But not many of us speak the lingo. Shame. I fancy living off Bavarian lager.

And what about these so-called trade agreements with Japan, Switzerland, Norway, and Brazil we could have? What about ISIS terrorists in boats off Kent and Norfolk? What’s wrong with a points system? The Six Nations has one. Will we be able to resurrect the British Empire and reclaim India if we vote leave? Might help our cricket team. Not so sure though, always crowd trouble there.

Talking of Empire, the Queen has been decidedly quiet on the topic. Apparently she wants to leave. A bit like all the men and women the same age as her, i.e. older people. They want Brexit because they’re scared about Turkey joining and have never really embraced the kebab culture. Younger voters on the other hand have a bigger and far more important decision to make. Should they go to Glastonbury or care about mobile phone roaming charges and vote stay?

OK, there it is. A broken Britain, a knackered EU, a sick world run by evil people – a depressing future either way. And so on that happy note, over to you, the people, to vote. And whatever you choose – please do vote. You may not get the chance again.

Reclaiming The Beat

Reclaiming The Beat_400Pontypridd writer Dave Lewis has just released his twelfth book, a poetry collection inspired by the ‘beats’ of 1950s America but not only brought up to date but also with a contemporary Welsh edge to it.

Reviewers have included world famous Pontypridd writer Catrin Collier who describes Lewis as “a true Welsh poet of the Valleys who illustrates just how deep the connection between artist, the land that nurtured him and those long since consigned to history burns. Here you will find poems to be savoured, dwelt on, and considered over weeks, months and years. Both a cry and lament for the human condition they are the work of a mature and master poet who like everyman craves life above all else.”

To purchase a paperback or ebook copy just click here and for more information about the author, and to see his other books visit his website here.

Precinct Plans

Right on cue – just before the Welsh Assembly elections – Labour-run RCT council have unveiled plans for the derelict 1960s Taff Vale Precinct in Pontypridd town centre, which the council has owned for a year and so far done nothing with.

This month though the council has released two designs of buildings which could be built on the site.


And although the proposed developments look pretty awful I guess beggars can’t be choosers.

After asking the public for their views it appears that the council have ignored them and gone for a fairly boring, unadventurous design as opposed to the old Victorian facades that many residents asked for. The new design may well fit in with the new YMCA design but will be very different to the old buildings opposite, so I guess compromises have to be made. Can’t see any obvious solar panels on the buildings either?

In the recent past, many attempts to revitalise the precinct have failed. Mainly due to the lack of vision of past council leaders and the threat of car parking in the War Memorial Park, although as we write this it seems there are more cars parked in the ‘people’s park’ than ever before.

Councillor Morgan said that the council is looking to see if a second bridge connecting Ynyangharad Park to the town centre can be built. Not sure if he’s been to Ponty lately but we already have two bridges from town into the park so this would actually be a third bridge!  Maybe someone has shares in a bridge-making company?

He is right to say that the river is an asset to the town though and that is why housing on top of the shop units must face the river and park. We have been saying this since before 1998 of course.

“The council has been working with London firm Knight Frank, Gaunt Francis Architects, and Atkins to produce options for what is possible upon the site.”

Why there is any ‘significant commercial sensitivity’ to this project though remains a mystery unless this is some sort of development deal that hasn’t gone out to tender yet.

Ponty MP Owen Smith voted for Knight Frank to work on the HS2 link from London to Birmingham incidentally.

The council does say that updates will be provided ‘when appropriate’, whatever this means, so we wait with bated breath!

Photo Exhibition

spillers300_200Pontypridd photographer Dave Lewis will be exhibiting some of his images at Gartholwg Lifelong Learning Centre from Friday, 15/04/2016 – Friday 06/05/2016.

The centre has a large exhibition space so why not pop along and see the photographs close up. All images are framed (either 8 x 12 or 12 x 16) and can be bought direct from the gallery or buy contacting Dave direct via his website –

For those thinking of taking up photography and don’t know what camera to buy why not read this article on Dave’s blog.

For more information, send us an email or contact the centre.

Gartholwg Lifelong Learning Centre
St. Illtyd’s Road
Church Village
CF38 1RQ
Telephone: 01443 219589

Crap Jobs

Over 80 years ago John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would have advanced sufficiently by now to allow us to work just a 15-hour week. However, it seems technology is now used to figure out ways to make us all work more not less!

How? Well, jobs have been created that are, effectively, pointless. Just think local council managers, their managers and their manager’s managers, and their manager’s manager’s managers and their manager’s manager’s manager’s managers. (This is not a joke btw, I’ve worked under this system!)

Huge numbers of people, in Europe and North America spend their entire working lives performing tasks they know do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul, a bit like using Facebook every day. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

Over the last 100 years an endless variety of new jobs and industries have been created, but very few have anything to do with the production of homes, food, clothes or things we humans actually need.

So what are these crap jobs, exactly?

Well, over the last century, the number of workers employed in manufacturing industries and in farming (i.e. making stuff we all require) has almost disappeared. But, ‘professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers’ numbers have tripled, and now account for 3/4 of total employment.

Production has been mostly automated but rather than allow us more time for leisure pursuits governments have ‘created’ bullshit jobs. Crap jobs. Pointless, meaningless jobs. The majority of which involve pushing paper from one person to another until all the trees are gone. Then they can create a new job – tree planting manager and the cycle begins again!

Think about it. Where did financial services, call centres, NHS administrators, human resources, and public relations come from? And do we need them? Do we hell!

It’s like someone is just making up shit jobs just to keep us all working. If we were living in a communist state where everyone has a job then maybe, but under a capitalist system surely the object is to screw people to make money. So, why create these pointless jobs? Very weird.

Think Port Talbot steelworks. People who actually make things the country needs. Yet our government is happy to lose these jobs and import cheap Chinese steel? But bankers, oh no, we can’t lose them. In fact since 2007 the UK has committed to spending £1.162 trillion at various points on bailing out the banks. That total outstanding support was equivalent to 31% of GDP in March.

Note: at a cost of £1 million a day, this is about 3,300,000,000 years worth of finance for Port Talbot.

The answer clearly isn’t economic: it must be political. The ruling elite must think that a happy and productive majority, with free time on their hands will end up thinking. And they can’t have us mere mortals thinking, that would be a real danger!

Why does society want to limit the numbers of artists, musicians, poets in favour of hundreds of WRU administrators and quango managers? Ask yourself the question – is my job worthwhile or is it just rubbish? Do I contribute to people’s well being or do I just make life more difficult for others? Just think solicitors, hedge fund managers or estate agents.

The other thing you find is that the people with bullshit jobs resent the people with proper jobs, e.g. doctors, nurses, farmers, schoolteachers, dustbin collectors, cleaners etc. How do they react towards them? Well, they pay them less, pile extra (meaningless) work on top of them and if they can, they humiliate, ridicule and ultimately force them out of the profession they once loved! Guilt perhaps?

A world without ship builders, construction workers or aircraft engineers would soon be in trouble, and even one without crime fiction writers or blues guitarists would be a poorer place. But how about a world without derivative traders, BBC TV presenters, PR consultants, job agencies, weather bimbos, celebrities? I think I’d cope.

And what happens when doctors strike? The BBC interview some selfish bitch who complains about how her in-growing toenail operation has caused her so much suffering that she even contemplated thinking of others for once in her miserable life. So much for balanced TV.

Nobody seems to ask why teachers don’t want to do what they always wanted to do. Nobody seems to realise why they are leaving the profession in droves! It’s not the money, it’s not the holidays, it’s not the kids. It’s their constantly changing conditions of service as dictated to them by talentless, over-paid ‘crap job’ holders, like politicians.

Real, productive workers are continuously abused and oppressed by the useless workers. And that is what the ruling class want. It’s a new form of oppression, a brave new world. And the Chinese and Africans want to be like us! Dawkins help us!

Ah, happy days.

Music at Muni

Three of Ponty’s best bands are to play a benefit concert for the town’s Muni Arts Centre.

Climbing Trees, The People The Poet and Peasant’s King will play the first live concert since The Muni Working Group – comprising representatives from Pontypridd Town Council, Cylch Cymreig, Artis Community, Coalfields Regeneration Trust and the YMCA – re-opened the venue in the autumn of 2015.

The bands, who have been participants in BBC Cymru Wales and the Arts Council of Wales’ prestigious Horizons 12 initiative, will join forces for this special event in association with promoters Staylittle Music on Saturday, April 2.

Matthew Frederick, of Staylittle Music and singer with Climbing Trees, said: “We’re thrilled to be involved in promoting this exciting show of local talent at one of South Wales’ best live music venues, with such a strong line-up reflecting the great music that’s coming out of Pontypridd and the surrounding area at the moment.

“There’s a massive amount of potential at The Muni, so it’s great to see this important facility getting back on its feet, not only as a live music venue but as a hub of the community.”

Development Manager of The Muni Åsa Malmsten added: “The Muni is at the heart of the Pontypridd and surrounding community – we are delighted that these three exceptional bands are performing for us here, and very generously donating their time and talent for free, to help us sustain this great venue. It should be a night to remember.”

Doors open at 7pm with tickets priced £5 in advance or £7 on the door.

This is an 18+ event, with tickets available to book online in advance from

Source: Wales Online

International Welsh Poetry Competition 2016

Calling all poets amongst our readers. Check out the Welsh Poetry Competition website.

The contest was set up by Ponty poet & writer Dave Lewis in 2007. Officially launched on St David’s Day @ Clwb-Y-Bont, Pontypridd, 2007 the aim is to encourage and foster the wealth of creative writing talent that we know exists in Wales but currently languishes in the doldrums. We aim to inspire people to capture life in the present day and to give a voice to a new generation of poets and writers. We are not interested in purely academic types of literature but would much rather see pure raw passion burst onto the creative writing scene in Wales.


With entries from as far a field as Abu Dhabi, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Corfu, Denmark, England, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Swaziland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, USA and Vietnam as well as Wales of course, the Welsh Poetry Competition is a truly international competition, accessible to all (through the English language).

We also hope to publish an anthology of winners every five years.

For more details – click here.

Come Dine With Me

Ponty girl Andrea Grainger (centre) appeared on Come Dine With Me, Cardiff 2013.


On many occasions she said that it was the best week of her life. Andrea carefully prepared her menus including all ingredients that were Welsh e.g. Welsh salted butter and Welsh cream liquor etc. She practiced for weeks and weeks trying out her food on anyone who came to the house. All her hard work paid off when she won Come Dine With Me!

The other contestants said she was a worthy winner. Andrea was then selected out of 10 years’ worth of winners to take part in the champion of champions which took place in Sheffield back in October.


Again Andrea thought it was an amazing experience especially because Dave Lamb was there throughout the programme and her cooking was judged by the Birmingham Michelin chef Glyn Purnell. The series is currently taking place this month on Channel 4 at 5 pm. So if would like to find out if Andrea won, her time to cook on champion of champions is 23rd Feb.

Good luck!

Six Nations 2016

Dates for this years’ competition:

Sunday, 7 February
Ireland v Wales (Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 15:00 GMT)

Saturday, 13 February
Wales v Scotland (Millennium Stadium, 16:50 GMT)

Friday, 26 February
Wales v France (Millennium Stadium, 20:05 GMT)

Saturday, 12 March
England v Wales (Twickenham, 16:00 GMT)

Saturday, 19 March
Wales v Italy (Millennium Stadium, 14:30 GMT)

Taff Trail Map

A useful, downloadable map of the Taff Trail for cyclists and walkers. Just click on the map for a larger version.


Cuts to Libraries

RCT council, which still pays out £1.2m to councillors is to cut £1.1m from libraries, bus routes, day nurseries and youth services. Nice to see where their priorities lie!

Among them are the introduction of single-staffed libraries – mooted for Hirwaun, Ferndale, Mountain Ash, Pontyclun and Rhydyfelin – and the plan to scrap three of RCT’s least-used bus routes, from Porth to Trehafod (Woodfield Terrace), Tonypandy to Gilfach Goch, and Fernhill to Pontypridd via Cefnpennar and Ynysybwl.

In November, it was revealed 20 library staff posts could be affected by a loss of pay, while 15 staff could be at the threat of redundancy.

A 25% cut to the council’s book fund has already been implemented.

Also, as part of further cuts, the five council-run day nurseries in Aberaman, Tylorstown, Tonyrefail, Pontypridd and Llantrisant could stop taking fee-paying children.

They would all become Flying Start-only centres, with the exception of Llantrisant which does not currently offer that provision and would close completely.

RCT council leader Andrew Morgan said the changes were necessary due to a huge reduction in funding by the UK government. He said: “To deal with this massive financial challenge, the council is seeking to make savings in a number of areas.

“Proposals are already being consulted upon to reduce our senior management costs and we are seeking to make as many ‘back office’ efficiencies as possible to protect frontline services from the impact of UK Government cuts.

“Faced with such a significant funding shortfall moving forward, we reluctantly need to consider a number of potential service changes.”

If you think this is criminal do something about it!  Start here.

Ponty Pubs

It’s been a while since we asked this question, so for 2016 here it is again. Kudos, Muni, Criterion all shut, still no-one knows what happened to the ‘Athletic’… but we still have a few watering holes worth a mention. Anyway, what do you think?

Which pub is the best in Ponty?
  • 25.64%
  • 20.51%
  • 1.28%
  • 0%
  • 14.1%
  • 2.56%
  • 2.56%
  • 7.69%
  • 2.56%
  • 1.28%
  • 2.56%
  • 10.26%
  • 3.85%
  • 0%
  • 5.13%

Welsh Rugby Is Dying

Wales did well in the RWC 2015. Well, they lost anyway.

Wales did well in the last 6 Nations too – we came 3rd.

Regional rugby is going swimmingly well too. Yep, I’m kidding of course. A Welsh team has never won the European Cup, Beddau 2nds get more fans turning up to an away game than Cardiff Blues and club rugby (that is all the clubs below the so-called ‘professional’ regional level) is going down the pan along with The Thomas family millions.

Think about it? Ponty’s “House of Pain” used to be just that for visiting sides (think Munster, Leicester, Bath, Leinster, Wasps and so on…) but now all we have is a creaking reminder of former glories. Remember Neil Jenkins, Martyn Williams, and the rotund Phil John and what he was worth?

Up and down the principality rugby clubs are struggling to survive. The money men have gone, all but the very die-hard of fans have left the building, councils are closing grounds, stands are crumbling, clubhouses open only on match days, players can earn more money fiddling the dole doing roofing jobs than spending time on the training field and you’ve as much chance of seeing Elvis in Treorchy as a full attendance.

The professional era promised so much but it was just a get-rich-quick scheme for the lucky few. Sure, plenty of committeemen had new conservatories built but what about investment in rugby, in schools, in coaches, in the small clubs, infrastructure, in the future?

All that regional rugby has done for Wales is break the hundred year old links between communities and the village, town and valleys teams.

Is rugby still the Welsh national game or is it mountain biking or fishing?

It’s Ponty v Cardiff on Boxing Day, a fixture that once saw 10,000 fans brave the elements to watch their heroes hit lumps out of each other. But not anymore. I doubt there’ll be 2000, and even that is ten times what most clubs get these days. Ponty is the last great Welsh team left. The last club left standing. You could make a film about it if Custer wasn’t already dead and gone.

Rumours on the terraces abound that lowly Merthyr are paying players £20,000 a year even though they are in the division below Pontypridd. All in cash of course. How can the village teams in their division compete with that? They can’t, and they will lose.

Pontypridd used to pay players well but now they struggle to pay anything near a £10,000-a-year salary, let alone the £600,000 Toulon pay Leigh Halfpenny, and they’ll laugh in your face if you say Welsh rugby is doing well.

Even the rich regional clubs set up by the Australian-run WRU at the time can’t compete with other nations. We must accept that Wales is a poor country, like Fiji and Samoa are to New Zealand. You can’t blame the players that are leaving for England and France.

Yet the WRUin in Cardiff gets richer as more corporate sponsorship brings even more people through the Millennium Stadium gates that don’t know one end of a rugby ball from the other (think about that one). There’s business people drinking champagne in their cosy boxes with salmon platters and half of them are not even watching the game on the telly provided. So much for live sport. Real rugby fans still crowd the pubs of the city on match days but only Brains brewery, chip alley and a few pasty shops makes any money. The valleys still struggle.

And the worst thing that has happened to Welsh rugby? Warren Gatland’s relative success.

The national side have been Six Nations champions four times in the last decade – incredible, considering the mess in the club scene. Ask yourself where the next Shane Williams or Sam Warburton will come from?

It has “sugar-coated” the reality. The reality that all true rugby fans can see as plain as a Bulgarian pin-up. Unless the WRUin make drastic changes to the game it is doomed.

A move to ‘true’ regions might have worked. Maybe even cutting the top flight by one or two clubs might have worked. But now all we have is four clubs, which means Ebbw Vale, Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Bridgend and Neath now have no top-tier team to support.

A favourite Sardis Road song is “I’ll never be a blue”. That sums up the insensitivity of the WRUin to the ethos of Welsh club rugby and why the ‘super clubs’ experiment will never work. Old rivalries was what made a Saturday afternoon worth living for. Not anymore.

The WRUin will probably get what they want of course. The death of Ponty and valleys rugby. The British & Irish Cup, which provided a competitive environment has been taken away from the best club in Wales. The rise of Merthyr that some see as a threat will Peter out as quickly as it loses money for the investors. After all it’s just a childish attempt to do a Welsh Toulon without reading the rules of the leagues – i.e. no promotion to regional level, therefore a completely pointless exercise.

It’s a far bleaker picture elsewhere in Wales. Great clubs like Pontypool, Aberavon, Newbridge, Swansea, Bridgend, Neath and many others are ghost towns on a Saturday when once you’d be queuing to get into pubs and clubhouses.

The future? There isn’t one at the moment.

Christmas Shopping

As many of us choose to do our shopping online each year why not have a look at some of the shops, businesses and links we promote on ‘Ponty Town’.

christmas_presentsWe have our business page, we have the links and banners that run down the right-hand side of each page, we have our ‘Support Wales‘ Amazon shop and we also have selected items on each post or news story.

If you’re looking for ideas and want to avoid the crowds, car parking and petrol costs then why not shop with us from the comfort of your own home!

Councillors – Are They Worth It?

Firstly, can I say this is not a personal attack on any individual, or any political party but…

In RCT, where we are seeing unprecedented cuts to jobs and council services it surely must make sense to look at other ways of saving money. An area that rarely gets looked at is our county councillors – the elected members of the borough. Now we’re not saying they are all a lazy bunch of illiterate fools, or useless old farts jumping on the gravy train to enhance their pensions, oh no, not at all. But we do believe there are too many and that many are overpaid. After all, councillors used to think it was an honour to serve and did this public service for free.

So before reading further just ask yourself the following questions: What do they do for us? And are they worth the money?

Here’s what they will cost us, the taxpayer, in 2015 / 2016:

Leader and Chair of the Cabinet
Morgan A. – £53,000

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Tackling Poverty Engagement & Housing
Montague K. – £37,000

Cabinet Member for Council Business
Webber M. – £32,000

Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Culture
Crimmings A. – £32,000

Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
Hanagan E. – £32,000

Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Services
Forey M. – £32,000

Cabinet Member for Economic Development & Planning
Bevan D.R. – £32,000

Cabinet Member – Children’s Social Services, Equalities and the Welsh Language
Hopkins G.E. – £32,000

Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, Libraries and Heritage
Rosser J. – £32,000

Chairperson of Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Adams L.M. – £22,000

Chairperson of Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee
Norris M.A. – £22,000

Chairperson of Public Service Delivery, Communities and Prosperity (and Crime and Disorder)
Davies. G.R. – £22,000

Chairperson of Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee
Leyshon C. – £22,000

Chairperson of Health and Well-Being Scrutiny Committee
Smith R.W. – £22,000

Chairperson of Development Control Committee
Stacey G. – £22,000

Chairperson of Licensing Committee
Fox A.S. – £22,000

Leader Of The Opposition
Jarman P. – £22,000

Total – £458,000

Ah, but that’s not all. We also have the other 56 councillors who are each entitled to a more modest £13,300.

Total – £744,800

This does not take into account expenses, of which some councillors claim next to nothing while others seem to want to suck the public tit dry for all their worth! Anyway…

Grand Total (cost to residents of RCT) – £1,202,800

Of course the question that must be asked is: Do you think we are getting value for money at £1.2 million every year, year on year…? And if not, what should be done about it?

Here’s some suggestions:

  • Reduce number of councillors to 7
  • Two for each area – R, C & T, plus leader
  • Salaries – £25,000 each, no expenses
  • Minimum qualifications, e.g. 5 GCSEs, business ownership, respected community member / leader in their field
  • Total cost – £175,000
  • Saving (per year) – £1,027,800 + expenses

Source: RCT website

Services Cut

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has to save £63m over three years. They’ve known this for years yet they keep dragging their feet. As anyone with a primary school education knows the longer you wait to start paying the more you have to pay when you do eventually start.

Big cuts to senior management and big cuts to middle management should have already been made – but they haven’t! OK, maybe turkeys don’t vote for Christmas but these Tory cuts to public services are unprecedented. Everyone knew they were coming and everyone who could have made it easier just buried their heads in the sand. That would be an ostrich not a turkey by the way.

So, what is the latest nightmare scenario:

  • Cuts look set to include library opening hours, budget and staff structures within youth services and subsided bus routes
  • Llantrisant Nursery is in line to close with fees and staffing being revised at other day nurseries
  • There will also be revised staffing at the council’s One4All contact centres

The council hopes to make savings of around £1.1m through the cuts. Great news eh? Mmm, not really… as they still have to find another £61.9m to cut.

Chancellor George Osborne is to introduce a Comprehensive Spending review (CSR) later this month in order to screw poor people, even though his family business made £6 million in a property deal with a developer based in a tax haven.

Wallpaper firm Osborne & Little teamed up with a secretive corporation in the British Virgin Islands, to draw up plans to redevelop its former London headquarters into housing. The companies jointly applied for planning permission for around 45 flats and houses, and once given the go-ahead, Osborne and Little sold its site to the offshore firm for £6,088,000.

Just goes to show that he doesn’t give a shit about anyone except himself.

Leader of RCT, Andrew Morgan (£53,000) said: “Reductions in the levels of service we provide are simply unavoidable. As far as we can, we want to avoid removing services completely.

“The council needs to achieve initial savings of around £27m to set a balanced and legal budget for 2016/17 financial year based upon forecasting prior to the CSR. Outside these amendments to service levels we will seek to make the further savings necessary through continued efficiencies and smarter ways of working to deliver services.

“All public sector funding flows from London, so the Welsh Government will not know how much Wales’ funding has been cut until the CSR is announced meaning local authorities cannot consider their own budget setting processes until December.

“This will mean a huge rush to set a balanced budget by the legally set date of the March 11.

“On top of the cuts by stealth the public sector are set to experience through the UK Government’s changes to National Insurance and other areas, this timescale makes an already difficult financial situation even worse. As councillors we are faced with no alternative other than to respond.”


I often wonder what our Celtic ancestors, or even the more recent Christian preachers, who once filled our chapels and churches up and down the Valleys, would say if they could see us hiding behind the settee with curtains drawn, TV and lights switched off, and the dog’s mouth all taped up the night before All Saints Day!… and all in fear of the dreaded knock on the door from various miniature goblins and ghouls who come calling this dreaded night, with a bag of flour and a brace of free range at hand, should we not be ready to hand over some hard earned cash or tasty treat!

For the record, the traditional Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day, on November 1st came a day after the Celtic harvest festival of the dead, or Samhain. Later on changed to All Hallows’ Even’ or Hallowe’en.

SamhainBut of course these days we do little to party – pagan or otherwise. We do little to remember or celebrate why this holiday was so special. We just embrace our pumpkins and witches hats, the plethora of costumes and props sold from competing supermarkets, all vying for who can sell the most tacky throwaway modern American pop culture, that’s made in China and destined to end the week in Wales’ overflowing landfill. (In the United States, Halloween has become one of the most profitable holidays, next to Christmas, for retailers)

Then we moan about the eggs and flour left on our cars and streets the morning after. We moan about how Primary school children are learning the black arts of extortion and blackmail younger and younger these days. But if we must speak out why can’t we campaign to change ‘Halloween’ back to what it originally was?

True Halloween traditions survive most accurately in Ireland today, where the last Monday of October is a public holiday. All schools close for the following week, commonly called the Halloween Break and as a result Ireland is the only country where children never have school on Halloween and are therefore free to celebrate it in the ancient and time-honoured fashion. If we did this in Wales we could even ditch Guy Fawkes night and have our own Celtic beer and food festival, that lasted for a week and culminated in a bonfire night of our choosing. After all, if Mr Fawkes had succeeded what difference would that have made to us in third world, post Welsh Assembly Wales anyway? We’d still be poor, forgotten and oppressed. Are you listening Mr Jones?

Of course to some fundamentalist Protestants, along with conservative Jews and Muslims the mingling of Christian and Pagan traditions for Halloween, and its assumed association with the occult, mean they strongly object to the holiday and refuse to allow their children to participate in what they regard as its Satanic imagery. Whilst other more moderate Christian churches offer a harvest-themed alternative to Halloween celebrations. Other Christians correctly hold the view that the holiday is not Satanic in origin or practice and that it holds no threat to the spiritual lives of children and the lessons taught about death and mortality are actually a valuable life exercise.

Now then, hands up who’s for a week long family festival, starting on Halloween, with a week off work, where we shut off Taff Street, erect huge marquees, serve hot food, real ale, mead, mulled wine, sell local crafts and produce, have street entertainers and Welsh bands, all to help us celebrate the end of summer and aid us in coping with the coming months of ill-timed darkness and seasonal affected disorder! Until someone stops messing with our clocks of course… ah, but that’s another story…

Land’s End – John o’ Groats

le_jog_bookcoverEver fancied doing the famous End to End challenge? The cycle ride from one end of the UK to the other.

Well, now you can and you won’t have to leave the safety of your favourite armchair or risk getting bogged down in traffic, punctures, sweat and gears.

A new book from local author, Dave Lewis, will tell you exactly what it’s like. Cycled in 2005 by two Ponty bimblers, this illustrated LEJOG diary is a funny account of life on the tarmac for two weeks during the Great British summer.

Available in paperback and e-book.

You never know, it might even inspire you to do the ride yourself?

Christmas Treat For RCT Residents

RCT have many car parks all over the borough, some are free, some are pay and display. The towns with free parking see an increase in footfall while the ones where you have to pay see less people (think dust bowl Ponty with its parking charges). So with this in mind the council are going to give us a Christmas treat!

scroogeFree town centre parking from 10am from December 1 to December 31. Early risers will still have to pay of course and cheaper internet shopping will still mean you don’t have to risk the dodgy pavements, cars hurrying to leave town and drugged up youths screaming obscenities, in order to stock up on great Christmas gifts (wherever and whatever they might be?)

Andrew Morgan, leader of RCT council, said: “As a result of drastic cuts to public sector funding from the UK government, many councils in Wales have been forced to consider reducing or completely ceasing their Christmas activities.”

Even though his huge salary (approx. £140,000 a year?) doesn’t seem to have been affected…

During October 2014, RCT’s cabinet members voted to scrap the council’s Christmas Events budget – which was set at £25,000 – for 2015/16. It was a decision made within wider £307,000 savings in events, which also saw Ponty’s Big Weekend axed. This was about the same time as top council employees were still earning millions of pounds a year between them!

But they are worth it of course because as well as offering us free car parking the council will also run a ‘shop local’ campaign during this period to remind local residents of what our local town centres have to offer. Like a Ponty without a Marks & Spencer, a bulldozed empty precinct and an increase in charity shops.

Yes, this Christmas promises to be a poor one. Well, unless you’re a RCT top manager and then it’s business as usual.