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.

precinct_plan_16

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 – www.davelewisphotography.co.uk

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
Pontypridd
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 www.ticketsource.co.uk/muniartscentre

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.

wpc_ss

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.

andrea_cook1

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.

andrea_cook2

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.

Taff-Trail-Map


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?
  • 27.14%
  • 21.43%
  • 1.43%
  • 0%
  • 12.86%
  • 2.86%
  • 2.86%
  • 8.57%
  • 2.86%
  • 1.43%
  • 2.86%
  • 8.57%
  • 4.29%
  • 0%
  • 2.86%

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.”


Samhain

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.


Latest Ponty Developments

Although Ponty has been going to the dogs for years, even though the council spent millions on half a dozen useless ‘I Love Ponty’ websites, Lost Prophet words etched into pavements, kerbs that are easier to trip over for the ‘Make A Claim’ insurers and ‘Do Up Your Shop Front If You Are Owned By The Market Company’ schemes, recently there has been real change.

townhall_600I’m thinking of the freezing cold, outdoor swimming pool, which is very impressive and hopefully will be a great attraction for the town bringing in literally millions of visitors as the glossy, expensive literature and above cringe-worthy websites tell us – yeh right!

But what else I hear you ask? Well, the council sold off (or leased – not sure?) the best arts/music venue in the borough – the Muni (while keeping the two least profitable ones – strange business decision that one?) and guess what it is now open again!

Wow! Can’t wait for those new music hall shows!

And we also hear that arts council funding (think Owen Smith MP‘s dad – chairman of the arts council) will help transform the YMCA into yet another ‘arts venue’ so we’ll have two centres in Ponty.

market1_600Oh yes, and now a new ‘Covent Garden‘ development is proposed for the Market Company owned, fire-trap Town Hall (albeit with taxpayers money not the owners money), so we might even have three!

Well, I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for all these so-called ‘arts’ buildings to open, we’ll be spoilt for choice! You can imagine the debates in living rooms up and down the valley.

‘Should we take in some Puccini at the ‘Muni’ or Chekhov at the ‘Garden’, Chantelle?’ said mother of eight, Leanne, 26, from Tonypandy.

The question does arise though – is anyone making any money out of these schemes? We couldn’t possibly use the word ‘corruption’ so will have to make do with ‘scrutiny’. Hello? Anyone?

Meanwhile in another part of town; called the real world, RCT announce a discount card for over 50s who are on low incomes.

RCT council (that still owes tens of millions, and is making huge job cuts and service cuts) has also pledged to take in Syrian refugees! So maybe we could turn the Town Hall into a mosque? We may be needing one soon.


Tom Jones

Old Ponty boy Tom Jones, 75 years old, will be charging £35 for you to listen to him tell you things you could read in his autobiography at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on Oct 12th even though he’s worth over $250 million!

Inspired by the release of Over the Top and Back – The Autobiography, fans will be able to hear Sir Tom revisit his past as he chats to BBC 6 Music presenter Matt Everitt.

They will explore the twists of fate that took a boy from wartime Pontypridd to international stardom, which has seen him rub shoulders with a host of fellow superstars, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

The singer, who was recently dropped from BBC series The Voice, will reveal the stories behind the hits as well as the ups and downs of his remarkable life and career, while charting his success – from his early heydays to the subsequent fallow years the 1980s to his big comeback.

No doubt he’ll also tell everyone how much he loves Ponty even though he doesn’t seem to want to dip into the interest on his bank account to help improve things.


Ponty Lido Open!

lido1_600_400Well, the waiting is over. Over 35 years of waiting in fact… and I’ve finally been for a swim in the new swimming pool in Ponty Park. It was August, it was freezing cold and it was raining but I must say I was impressed.

The actual pool is much smaller than the original, not as deep, and there are other smaller kiddies paddling pools, which replace the old free pools. Plenty of sun loungers and plenty of changing cubicles, albeit only suitable for people with breasts under 5 ft in height.

lido2_600_400Not sure how the pool is ‘heated’ but I did see a chimney working overtime, so once again RCT council have successfully played the ‘I have no idea what this environmentally friendly bollocks is all about’ card. Just think about the lack of solar panels on St Catherine’s empty car park and Sainsbury’s store.

The artist’s impression of the Lido (I’m thinking multi-coloured doors) was obviously just for the posters as we have a drab racing green effect inside, although to be honest it’s probably better this way. More in keeping with the old baths.

lido4_600_400The cafe wasn’t open but I did see an entrance from the new ‘Telly-Tubbies’ play area so it looks like people will be able to sneak in to the pool this way when it’s busy.

It was free today but obviously there will be a charge in future, although I was assured that Leisure cards would be accepted which is great news for residents.

lido3_600_400Overall, I have to say I was impressed, I like the outdoor experience (oo, err, missus) and imagine on the one sunny day of the year, in October, when the pool will be shut, it will be awesome in there.

Now, all Ponty needs is to stop all the shops closing. M&S gone, WHS next… get the 64 arts centres open and we’ll be laughing all the way to the Wonky bar.


Cheaper ways to heat a swimming pool:

Solar Blankets – Solar covers are inexpensive and very efficient. Solar blankets can raise temperature of your pool water by up to 10 F (6 C), reduce heat loss and save money on fuel and electricity.

Solar Heating Systems – Affordable way to heat your pool and save money on fuel and electricity bills will raise the temperature of your pool water by up to 10 F (6 C) or more.

Heat Pumps – More energy-efficiency than standard gas heaters. Heat Pumps can save you up to 80% on your heating costs over standard gas heaters.


The Hagar Trilogy

trilogy_600_400Local writer, Dave Lewis, published his third crime thriller this week. A book that completes his modern technothriller trilogy based in various settings around south Wales and Africa.

The novels deal with the dangers of social media, the internet, Facebook and the amount of information we all post freely about ourselves online.

The books have gained some great reviews from readers all over the world. Here are just a few:

Ctrl-Alt-Delete

‘Have read both of Dave’s thrillers and thoroughly enjoyed them. The stories grip you from the beginning and take you on a thrilling, chilling ride. His IT knowledge is excellent and his descriptions of systems and language gives the books a realism which surpasses Deaver’s The Blue Nowhere – it made me check my Facebook security levels. Both books are a must for readers of murder thrillers. Cant wait for a third instalment.’ – Rhondda Rover

‘The novel for the Facebook generation. An ambitious tour de force that should put Wales well and truly on the international crime thriller map. Believable characters and a gripping story. Can’t wait for a sequel to find out what happens to Hal. Love the ‘Alien’ tag line too, very contemporary and quite scary.’ – Mark Jones

Raising Skinny Elephants

‘Brilliant book. Could not wait to read this after reading Ctrl-Alt-Delete. I bought it immediately so I could continue the story. Did not want to put it down. It was so well written and the suspense was great all the way though. I would definitely recommend this to anyone.’ – Eirwen Thomas


The Hagar Trilogy

Starts here… click here


Friends of Mynydd y Glyn

saveourmountain

A group opposed to the construction of a new wind farm on Mynydd y Glyn mountain, Pontypridd, are holding a public rally this weekend.

The protest at 11am on Sunday in the car park of the Queen’s Head Pub, Penycoedcae, Pontypridd, has been organised by Friends of Mynydd y Glyn, which includes residents from Pontypridd, Llantrisant, Tonyrefail and Porth.

The group are calling for councillors and politicians to reject the proposed plans by renenwable energy company Infinis for a wind farm in the area.

John Evans, local environmentalist, famous Welsh writer, and author of The Red Kite in Wales, and Goshawk, said: “This new wind farm poses major threats to our local wildlife and natural environment.

john_200“Mynydd y Glyn is an important habitat for red kites, goshawks and many other rare birds. It is also a home of many scarce mammals and invertebrates.

“If this wind farm goes ahead, they will all not only face the destruction of their habitat but many of the birds will be killed by the turbine blades.

“In Scotland, it has already been established that more birds of prey are killed by wind turbines than by poisoning or shooting.

“Local people here are really enjoying seeing Red Kites in this area for first time in well over 100 years, are we now all to sit back and watch while they are being destroyed?

“The mountain upland is part of a rich, mosaic of interconnected habitats which includes a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

“If we lose this, they will all be affected. It’s a potential environmental disaster.

“I think it’s fair to say we’ve already got more than enough wind farms in our area, and more and more people throughout the valleys are now saying enough is enough.

redkite_600A spokesperson for Friends of Mynydd y Glyn, Sue Morris, from Penycoedcae, Pontypridd, said: “The opposition to this proposed new wind farm is growing every day.

“Mynydd y Glyn is an area of unspoiled beauty, rich in wildlife, and many local people enjoy spending time there precisely for that reason.

“Residents from all the areas surrounding the mountain, and even further afield in Rhondda Cynon Taff, are joining us in the fight to protect and preserve our natural heritage for ourselves and future generations. Everyone is welcome to come along and get involved.”

Infinis project manager Julie Aitken said that a scoping report had been submitted for up to six wind turbines at 115 metres to tip height and that the company had held a round of public exhibitions in Porth, Trebanog, Tonyrefail and Pontypridd.

“It is too early to say whether this exercise will lead to any changes in the project design.”


Buy British? You’ll Be Lucky!

Ever wondered whether those iconic British brands we’ve grown up with since we were kids are still British owned? Well, read on…

Branston pickle – is now owned by a Japanese company.

Robertson’s – it was sold, along with other famous spreads like Hartley’s jam, Gale’s honey and Sun-Pat peanut butter to an ­American firm Hain Celestial.

Rolls-Royce – the most British of cars, Rolls-Royce was bought by Germany’s Volkswagen Group in 1998.

miniThe Mini – Germany’s BMW owns one of Britain’s other most famous car brands.

Weetabix – Chinese company Bright Foods bought the majority stake in the company, which also makes Alpen and Ready Brek.

Cadbury – US food giant Kraft owns your favourite chocolate bars and although they promised to safeguard jobs they transferred production to Poland.

Newcastle Brown Ale – Scottish & Newcastle, makers of the famous ale, was bought by Dutch brewer Heineken and Denmark’s Carlsberg in 2008.

Jaguar Land Rover – Car giant Ford sold the luxury arm of the firm – which makes the Range Rover Evoque to Indian company Tata, India’s biggest vehicle maker.

Camelot – The National Lottery operator was sold to a ­Canadian pension fund.

Boots – The chemist chain and beauty ­business was bought by private equity firm KKR and billionaire Italian Stefano Pessina. After 161 years being based in Nottingham, the new owners moved the firm’s HQ to Swiss tax haven of Zug. They sold a 45% stake to US retailer Walgreen.

Raleigh – iconic British cycle manufacturer, famous for the Chopper and Grifter, is now owned by Dutch rival Accell. Raleigh was once the biggest cycle maker in the world, employing 10,000 and producing two million bicycles a year.

Asda – The supermarket, now Britain’s second biggest grocery chain, was bought by American retail giant ­Wal-Mart in 1999.

It gets worse!

According to the Office for National Statistics, more than 41% of UK companies are foreign owned if you look at their shares.

That’s up from just under 31% in 1998 and a mere 7% in 1963.

Between April and June this year, overseas firms spent £2.6billion buying no less than 42 UK companies.

Last year foreign companies bought £33billion worth of UK businesses.

And while UK firms can go the other way, and buy businesses abroad, in reality many other countries have barriers that make it much harder for them to do so.

In Germany and France, they have a positive attitude towards ­Government supporting certain industries, unlike the UK, where our governments would sell their grannies for a few bob!


Welsh Poetry Competition 2015

Congratulations to Mick Evans who won this year’s 9th competition!

1st Prize – Map makers, by Mick Evans

2nd Prize – Mother Ireland, by Barry Norris

3rd Prize – Road to Liberty, by Danielle Hope

To see the full list of winners, read the poems and see judges comments please click here.

Our judge this year is acclaimed writer and poet Sally Spedding.


We should remind you that the competition is funded purely by the organisers & entrants and we receive no grants, bursaries or funding from the Arts Council of Wales, Literature Wales or any other external agencies whatsoever.

If any libraries, writing groups, Facebook groups, Twitter followers, schools, universities, arts organisations, poetry workshops, bookshops, art galleries, councils etc. would like more information please let us know. You can email us or write to us at the usual address. We are more than happy to post out entry forms to you. Also feel free to download copies yourself as it saves us money and more money goes to prizes next year.

www.welshpoetry.co.uk