Please find our older blog posts below, with hits in brackets. This news archive from the official Pontypridd Town website only runs from 2014 when we moved the old html, css site over to WordPress. Previous years work (1998-2014) has unfortunately been lost in the ether somewhere.
Welsh Rugby Is Dying – 24 Dec 2015
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.
Councillors – Are They Worth It? – 12 Nov 2015
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 – 4 Nov 2015
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 – 31 Oct 2015
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.
But 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 to John o’ Groats – 20 Oct 2015
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.
You never know, it might even inspire you to do the ride yourself?
Christmas Treat for RCT Residents – 5 Oct 2015
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!
Free 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 – 23 Sept 2015
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.
I’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!
Oh 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 – 14 Sept 2015
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 – 25 Aug 2015
Well, 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.
Not 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.
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.
Overall, 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 – 18 August 2015
Local 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:
‘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 – 14 August 2015
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.
“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.
A 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 – 1 August 2015
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.
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 – 8 July 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.
Unthinkable RCT Council Cuts – 24 June 2015
Well, we’ve had ‘brutal‘ cuts, now for ‘unthinkable’ cuts… what’s next? ‘
Historical’ ‘Hysterical’ cuts?
Back to the present – Rhondda Cynon Taf council’s leader has called a meeting of the leaders of all local political groups to discuss “unthinkable” service cuts on the horizon.
The meeting takes place at the civic offices (where we’ve heard they do a mean line in tea and biscuits) at Clydach Vale on Thursday, July 2 – even though a similar meeting a year ago failed to do the job properly. No doubt council officers like those jam and cream ones with the light dusting of sugar…
Cllr. Morgan said: “The consequence of these cuts will not just be to services but to those employed in health, local government, fire [service] and the police. This then makes an even more devastating impact on communities particularly here in RCT where the public sector is the largest employer locally.
“We know there is simply no chance of us being able to avoid very difficult choices around the future of certain services but I am absolutely determined to seek every opportunity for the council to find ways of protecting the frontline.”
Of course if we’d been in power, a day after the last election (think the original Lib/Con coalition, not the current apocalyptic scenario) we’d have seen the huge cuts coming and would have started to make small steps then. For example, we would have starting cutting the numbers and salaries of chief executive, directors, councillors, senior and middle managers. In fact, any council staff earning more than £30,000. But then as we’ve said before ‘Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas’.
Tip: Meetings are supposed to have actions.
Great news that the restoration of Pontypridd’s famous lido at Ynysangharad Park is on track to be finished by this summer – 20 June 2015
Rhondda Cynon Taf council says its contractors have made significant progress over the winter months on the £6.3m project, which plans to transform the historic lido into a state-of-the-art facility, albeit one that isn’t open all year round, is not at all environmentally-friendly and will no doubt cost an absolute fortune to run by a cash-strapped council.
Wales Online have revealed pictures here.
It is of course fantastic news that a pool that should have been developed over 20 years ago is finally opening but with obesity rates continuing to rise in RCT and prices in sports centres rising by approx. 14% (as well as our council tax rises), is this new pool going to be sustainable? Time will tell I guess. We hope so!
Olympic legacy eh?
Cardiff v Ponty – 12 June 2015
Ever since Muppett, Samuels, the WRUin and the other 4 ‘clubs’ decided to scupper the best team in Wales, i.e. the Celtic Warriors, there has been animosity between C****** RFC, the Blues and the true home of rugby in Wales – Pontypridd.
It seems a new row is erupting as the most successful Welsh team in the British & Irish Cup (yep, Ponty) and the best team in the Welsh Premiership and Welsh Cup for the last umpteen years (I’ve lost count how many times Ponty win everything…) has been ousted from the European competition to be replaced by a made-up team called Blues A or some such bollocks!
For years the valleys have been calling for a new, fifth region, Owen Smith MP (big rugby fan) and many others, including former Wales internationals have all put their voices behind this cause, but all have tried and failed to get top-class rugby back where it belongs. Well the latest news is that those arrogant tossers at Cardiff have decided to pump millions into Merthyr RFC in order to finally beat Ponty into submission.
Mind you, paying players, below the premiership, is outlawed at present by the WRU, so will they have the balls to say anything? I doubt it. Just think how the tiny village/town of Toulon have ruined French rugby.
Of course if Merthyr were going to develop new, young talent which could be brought through to play for the Ospreys (probably closer than Cardiff) and then Wales it might be a good thing, but no, alas, it will be half a dozen foreigners and over-the-hill, former Welsh internationals that see their pension pots enhanced. Can’t blame those players, and good luck to them of course – take the Thomas tokens and laugh all the way to the bank, but is this really helping Welsh rugby?
If the WRU weren’t so spineless then they’d endorse and fund a valleys region so that Cardiff have competition, rather than just roll over and take one up the Arms Park for the boyos. A new region could be based in Merthyr (or Ponty) and do what Ponty has always done – develop Wales’ future rugby players! But this idea? To bankroll a lower division team in order to spite one of Wales’s greatest clubs just ‘cos they won’t kiss your boots – pathetic!
Roll on 2015/16 season and see if Ponty doesn’t win everything again!
Wales Online – click here.
YMCA – 20 May 2015
Plans to transform the iconic Pontypridd YMCA building into a state-of-the-art culture and community hub have been revealed after £4.25m was raised towards the £6m development. The new design will get rid of the beautiful old entrance and replace it with a carbuncle of modernity, but I guess that’s the price of progress.
Whether it’ll be fun to stay there we don’t know yet but the Arts Council of Wales will contribute £2.25m to the project, alongside a £2m Welsh Government pledge through its Vibrant and Viable Places Programme operated through Rhondda Cynon Taf council.
The fairly boring design, has been created by the architect of the Wales Millennium Centre.
The plans include a gym and fitness suite, youth club room, recording studio, reception area, five meeting spaces, two dance studios, digital media suite and office spaces.
A new café will also open on the Taff Street side of the development to compete with existing business owners, along with three shop units to go with all the other empty shop units in town. Although how this shiny, new development will fit in with the stinking dirty food outlets at the other end of the street is unclear as yet.
Kath Davies, director of investment and funding services on behalf of the Arts Council of Wales, said: “We are pleased to have been able to support this ambitious project through our Capital Programme.
“Ponty YM will significantly contribute to the sustainability and long-term resilience of the area and support the capacity to deliver great art and culture to the local community and beyond.
This is an interesting statement coming so soon after the closure of the Muni Arts Centre and Gallery.
Minister for communities and tackling poverty Lesley Griffiths added: “These exciting plans for Pontypridd YMCA are set to transform this iconic building and regenerate the local area.
“I am very pleased the Welsh Government has been able to support this project with £2m of funding. The centre will act as a creative, social and educational hub at the very heart of the community.”
Yet another interesting statement coming so soon after 100’s of council redundancies in the education sector.
The building opened in September 1910, when working-class townspeople united to bring the YMCA to life.
Councillor Robert Bevan, RCT council’s cabinet member for economic development and planning, said: “The council’s success in securing funding through Vibrant and Viable Places ensures a range of projects will be delivered which will benefit Pontypridd and surrounding communities.
“The council now looks forward to working with partners on this project to develop the provision of arts and cultural arts activities in the area.”
Maybe the council could support the international Welsh Poetry Competition which hails from the town? We have asked but never got a reply.
Just like those pavements I guess?
Call us sceptical but when funding is being cut and jobs lost to so many areas already offering great services to the community we wonder who will benefit from this alternative stream of government money?
Some cynical residents of the town have told us that ‘friends’ of certain people are rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the coming cash, but we couldn’t possibly comment.
Election Result 2015 – 8 May 2015
Well, the results are now in and as predicted it’s no change for Pontypridd, Wales or Westminster.
Owen Smith, resident Labour donkey with red rosette (no offence Owen) has retained his seat, even though 60%, of those that could be bothered to turn up, voted against Labour, and so it’s business as usual for him on his £67,000 salary plus expenses.
But in London, England, it’s an absolute nightmare as Cameron & Osborne (more benefit cuts for the disabled, privatised NHS, bigger nuclear weapons, more money for bankers, fracking, environmental catastrophe, more terrorism, abolition of council services, education cuts for the poor, increase in food banks) get voted back in by a media-brainwashed electorate that seems to think some vague concept of a ‘deficit’ is more important than our children’s future.
And politicians and the media wonder why people don’t vote anymore!
The turnout was around 66% (pretty disgusting when compared to the Scottish referendum). So even with this slim majority there were 34% of the population who ‘didn’t care’ and therefore could have voted against the Tories! So, please make sure, as your life gets worse over the next few years, that you don’t listen to these idiots moaning. Instead just give them a huge slap!
The problem with this election as far as I could see was that the media had already made our minds up for us, constantly telling us that it would either be a hung parliament or the Tories would win. The media instead of thinking about the consequences of such a rash act as re-electing one of the most right-wing parties in the history of British politics focussed on telling us to avoid the Nationalist SNP and the racist UKIP. This resulted in a rather boring election campaign where the main parties became very careful not to do or say anything controversial so they might ‘lose’ an election rather than ‘win’ one.
This morning shows us that 3.5 million clowns have voted for UKIP (most as a protest vote) and the Scots kicked Labour out in favour of independence. Wales seemed to completely lose the plot, but maybe if we watch the Scots doing politics properly we might learn something while we queue at our soup kitchens over the next few years.
So what now? I hate to think what state the country will be in come 2020.
In Wales, 37% of the votes are Labour, which means 63% voted against Labour! Yet they still have a 25-15 seat majority – election reform anyone? Or shall we just accept that they’ll be laughing all the way to their second homes?
But at least we’ve got the precinct now. Horray! Shit.
RCT Council Buy Precinct – 4 May 2015
RCT Council has bought the former site of Pontypridd’s famous precinct.
Now the council will begin talks with other public sector organisations over its future.
Council leader Andrew Morgan said: “As outright owners of the land, the council is now in a far stronger position to drive forward its redevelopment.
“We should be ambitious about the potential opportunities.”
In 2011, the building was demolished as developers Taff Vale Ltd sought to build a 21st-century shopping facility there, with a new 70,000 sq ft Riverside Shopping Centre mooted.
But those plans fell through in September 2012 as the company went into receivership.
“As part of any proposals, I am keen to engage other public sector bodies who deliver services in Pontypridd and also the Welsh Government.
“By thinking outside the box, I believe we can make the most of the opportunity of having outright control of the site.”
Well, a good place to start would be here.
Who will you vote for? – 15 April 2015
With the General Election getting ever closer we’ve added a poll on the message board.
It’ll be interesting to see if we get the same kind of result as is often quoted/shown in the various TV polls.
See who the candidates are here.
Precinct Development – 28 March 2015
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is in the process of purchasing the Taff Vale site in Pontypridd.
Thanks to Welsh Government funding announced this week through the Vibrant and Viable Places Programme, the Council is set to purchase the long leasehold interest for the former Taff Vale Precinct.
The key Pontypridd gateway site has been in the hand of receivers for three years and the purchase is intended to kick start redevelopment following a number of unsuccessful regeneration projects.
Assembly officials have confirmed the availability of this funding earlier this week.
County Borough Councillor, Andrew Morgan, Leader of the Council said: “By securing the site the Council will be able to take an active role in the redevelopment of this part of Pontypridd, which is of strategic importance to the town and wider local economy.
“If successful in the process, a whole new range of opportunities will be opened for the Council and potential partners to take forward not only in terms of this site, but the wider regeneration of Pontypridd.
The question is will the backward thinkers of the council just think more ‘shops’ that we don’t need or want, or will they listen to the people who have, for 20-30 years, been asking for the town to be developed in a ‘better’ / more eco-friendly and sustainable way to all the other carbon-copy, bland, boring town centres we have near us?
Why don’t you the people vote here.
Friendly Valleys? – 22 March 2015
Do you live on the friendliest street in the Valleys?
Wales Online have teamed up with The Big Lunch to find the place that boasts the happiest postcode, the most helpful neighbours and the most cheerful community. To mark the launch and let people across Wales know they can register for a free resource pack to hold their own Big Lunch in their community, we’re searching for a street that can show the country what being a good neighbour is all about.
The winning street will receive a plaque to proudly display, and the accolade of being its valleys friendliest street.
Perhaps you don’t think of your neighbours as neighbours, you think of them as friends, and the majority of your birthday cards every year are hand-delivered.
Does everybody feed each other’s cats and water their plants when someone goes on holiday?
Your street may have raised money on behalf of a neighbour who needed it, or perhaps your neighbours were there for you during a difficult time.
Whether you live on a terrific terraced street, a caring cul-de-sac or a dream development, this is your chance to show your pride in where you live and generate some positive news about your community. So why not get in touch and share your story?
Now, in its seventh year, The Big Lunch is partnered by Halifax and ASDA. In 2014, a massive 4.83 million people took part in Big Lunches across the UK, including more than 120,000 in Wales.
Anyone who is thinking of holding a Big Lunch on Sunday, June 7, can register online to receive a free pack containing everything you need to get started.
To request a pack or for more information visit www.thebiglunch.com
How to Enter
If you think your neighbourhood deserves to win the friendliest street in the Valleys competition, simply finish this sentence in no more than 200 words: “My street is the friendliest street in the (include as appropriate) Cynon Valley; Rhondda; in and around Pontypridd; in and around Merthyr; Rhymney Valley; Bridgend County; Blaenau Gwent because…”
Please post your entries to Jessica Flynn, Media Wales, 6 Park Street, Cardiff, CF10 1XR, or email firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please use the correct area in the email subject line. Don’t forget to send us your name, address, contact telephone number and email address.
Deadline for entries is 5pm on April 20, 2015.
Obese Valleys – 7 March 2015
Two-thirds of people in some parts of South Wales are classed as overweight or obese, new figures have revealed.
The Rhondda Valleys were the worst performer in the battle against the bulge with 65.8% of people having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher.
Across all of Wales nearly 60% of people were overweight or obese, with 22% of those deemed obese.
New figures, which break down results from last year’s Wales Health Survey, also revealed the areas where people were most likely to smoke, drink and take no exercise.
Throughout Wales 43.2% of people said they drank more than the guidelines and 26.8% said they were binge drinkers.
Happy St David’s Day – 1 March 2015
Saint David’s Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March each year. The first day of March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David. Tradition holds that he died on that day in 569. The date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century but despite many high-profile campaigns to make the day a National holiday (Bank holiday) in Wales and the UK both Labour and Tory governments refused to listen to the will of the people.
Cross-party support resulted in the National Assembly for Wales voting unanimously to make Saint David’s Day a public holiday in 2000. A poll conducted for Saint David’s Day in 2006 found that 87% of people in Wales wanted it to be a bank holiday, with 65% prepared to sacrifice a different bank holiday to ensure this. The author of this website has sent three petitions to the office of the British Prime Minister and each time got the standard letter saying ‘No’.
Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron have all turned us down. Maybe they were scared the UK would become more productive with more bank holidays to make their slave workers happier? Maybe they were afraid of rising patriotism and are considering an ISIS Appeasement Day instead? Or maybe they just don’t know where Wales is? You decide.
In the meantime our suggestion is that all Welsh workers phone in sick on 1st March (or nearest working day to it) until the Welsh government (at least) listens to us.
Every year parades are held to commemorate Saint David. The largest is held in Cardiff, and is a mixture of folklore and military tattoo. Celebrations often include concerts, a parade and a food festival.
Welsh Poetry Competition 2015 – 11 Feb 2015
It’s that time of year again folks. When writers from around the globe focus on Pontypridd and the international Welsh Poetry Competition. We have a great judge in acclaimed writer, Sally Spedding, and are still offering great cash prizes. For more information and to download an entry form visit the website:
And this year it’s even more interesting because the ‘Cardiff International Poetry Competition’, run by Literature Wales and funded by the arts council, will not take place in 2015. The competition has in the past received generous financial support from Cardiff Council, however, in light of increased pressures on Council budgets, we have been informed that this funding is no longer available.
Not sure how many millions of pounds Literature Wales gets to promote literature in Wales and the valleys (not that we’ve noticed much of it being spent here of course), but hopefully their loss will be our gain.
Maybe all those thousands of entrants will now try our competition, based here in Ponty, instead!
Photo Exhibition – 19 Jan 2015
Local photographer Dave Lewis will be exhibiting some of his images at Gartholwg Lifelong Learning Centre from Monday, 26/01/2015 – Friday 13/02/2015.
The centre has a large exhibition space so why not pop along and see the photographs close up. All images are framed and can be bought direct from the gallery.
Lifelong Learning Centre
St. Illtyd’s Road
Telephone: 01443 219589
Poster – click here.
Council Tax Rise – 17 Jan 2015
Rhondda Cynon Taff residents could be hit with a 3.8% rise in council tax next year as the council cuts jobs for frontline staff while giving senior managers huge pay rises. Doesn’t seem fair does it?
Wales Online says that Wales’ third-largest local authority will consider the tax increase as part of its efforts to slash £70m from its budget by 2017/18.
RCT council will also think about cutting marketing, tourism, special education, adult education, sports development, highways maintenance and finance to save a meagre £8m next year.
Andrew Morgan, the council leader, said “While the amount raised through council tax does contribute to the funding we have available to support the delivery of our services, it only equates to around 20% of total funding available, with the bulk made up of government grant funding.”
Cabinet will meet again in February to recommended a budget strategy for consideration by council and then we’ll be into major campaigning for the general election – should be a fun time in RCT, a time full of lies, hypocrisy, unfairness and downright, dirty, double-dealing.
And the result? Well, being an optimist I’d say we can expect less jobs for the residents of RCT, longer dole queues, huge cuts to local services, rising crime, obscene golden handshakes for certain senior staff at RCT, less money in the local economy, higher taxes, higher NHS bills and businesses closing.
Free Speech – 12 Jan 2015
At ‘pontytown‘ we believe in free speech. Well, we try anyway.
In the past, newspapers, councillors, solicitors, Lords, MPs, business owners, deluded internet trolls and even other websites have tried to silence us. We’re still here though. We’re here because we care about our town and don’t like seeing selfish idiots ruining it. We’re now into our 17th year. Have we achieved anything? Difficult to say, but at least we do say.
Over the next few months a general election campaign will be fought, won and lost. Afterwards we’ll probably have another 17 years of material… Will we carry on? Will we bother? Who knows? That is up to you – the local people. If you want this site, it’s ‘mental / yet entertaining & informative’ message board to continue then you need to start using it. You need to get involved. To encourage your friends to get involved. To say what you’re thinking. Tell the world what you think. If you don’t then most likely we’ll just fade away.
All we ask is you remember the Scottish vote and remember the broken promises. Then think about the last 100 years of what ‘London’ has given (like charity) to Wales and its people. Don’t ask yourself if you are happy with being second class citizens, ‘cos you’re not – ‘they’ don’t give you a second thought.
If you do the same thing – the same thing will happen. If you want things to change – change what you do.
Happy New Year Taxpayers – 1 Jan 2015
Taxpayers in RCT have had to pay a legal bill of more than £354,000 because officials failed to do things properly. Yet, the idiots who costs us this money are still in jobs!
The local authority paid out £144,000 for the legal costs of nursery campaigners and then a further £97,500 to Rhydyfelin Library Support Group for their legal costs.
RCT council said its own external legal bill came to £113,199, meaning the council’s total expenditure for all legal costs was £354,699.
This means that nearly £355,000 has been spent on lawyers, instead of providing frontline services to the public. It is a very expensive mistake to make, especially when so many staff have already lost their jobs, been made redundant or are about to lose their jobs due to lack of money.
A statement from RCT council said: “The council has since reviewed its decision-making processes going forward.”
RCT council must shave £30m from its budget in 2014/15, and has estimated it must save shed a further £40m by 2017/18. ‘Good luck?’