Archive – 2017

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.


2017

The Precinct Latest – 23 March 2017

Most people have noticed that great big hole in the ground now and many have asked what’s going to go in there. Well, the council’s ‘latest’ plans (they do change their minds quite a bit) are to put a God-awful ugly building with offices, gym and library there. Horray! Maybe…

I’m all for a fitness centre (the town’s been crying out for one for years) but what will happen to the new gym planned for the YMCA? Are those plans now changing seeing as the ‘Precinct II – the return of the precinct’ seems to be including everything in one place? What will happen to the current Pontypridd Library?  Will this beautiful old building be sold off to friends of friends of someone at a discount price?  I hope local councillors keep us informed on this one.

The One4All Centre (Sardis House) will also move here. So what happens to that almost empty building?  Will it be sold off or demolished?

There seems to be a move to put all the council’s eggs in one basket, which is quite sensible I guess. One building where you can do lots of things. Maybe they will include a cafe, bar and restaurant there too?

However, although the council says it has listened to the views of local people it appears to have not listened to the views of local people who said that residential housing should also be included in the new precinct. You’d think that trying to encourage people to live in the town would be a priority, especially as these days towns up and down the country are dying for lack of businesses, shops etc. Plus the flats could overlook the beautiful park.

Still, I’m not complaining, at least something is happening and with the project being completed by 2019 it’s only been 40+ years that I can remember since a new development has been needed.  Cool.  Super fast council eh!  They might even incorporate solar panels into their thinking in another half a century.

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Brand Wales – 2 March 2017

About 20 years ago I tried to start a ‘wear red’ day on 1st March to celebrate St David’s Day.

I got about five of us to turn up on a damp Tuesday in the local pub to have a beer and talk about our cultural identity over a pint of Brains SA. This was in Pontypridd and we swore that the following year we’d get more people, and the year after we’d sweep the country with our positive nationalist fervour. This was a long time before social media of course and years before the Cardiff parade. Anyway it failed.

These days we have American supermarkets, who’ve seen the potential to cash in, produce a tacky Cymrufication kit where parents can buy leeks, daffodils and various other ‘red’ stuff rather than making their own like they used to do.

Recently the BBC gave Wales an extra £8m while Scotland got £30m and a new TV channel. Scotland does have twice as many people I guess but whilst we complain the real reason has to be to stop any further push for independence. Listening WAG? Hint, hint.

Journalist Carolyn Hitt, of the Western Mail, tells us that whilst we love to support the rugby team we are pretty crap at caring about other aspects of Welsh life – ‘the arts and media; education; health; how we are governed; our economic development; our future in the union.’

Frankly, I think she needs to realise that us Welsh do care about those things. The people I know care quite a lot in fact! Unfortunately rugby (or football) is the only thing we can get ‘marginally’ involved in these days without someone from the thought police telling us we’re inappropriate.

Let’s look at her list shall we?

OK, the ‘arts and media’ first. The WAG funds the arts council (we’re talking millions of pounds here), the arts council gives most of it to the Welsh National Opera (that favourite of Welsh pastimes that many a Chantelle from Abertridwr looks forward to every year), then they give millions to Literature Wales who give it to their friends and relatives (they probably even have a list of whose turn it is), some is given to the Welsh Books Council who give it to their friends who set up publishing houses that publish the friends and relatives of the people Literature Wales give money to! Then there are magazines that no-one reads that review this shit and the awards, bursaries and residencies and so on… it’s a very complicated, cyclical thing this arts business. Then BBC Wales and the Western Mail reviews all the crap that is produced (that still no-one buys) and then they get more funding, pay for a stand at Hay-on-Wye (that no-one looks at), have a few lunches and the rest is dished out to ‘artists’ who fancy travelling with their aunt to some third world country or sailing their boat around California whilst sipping champagne… for fucks sake!

Here’s a thought. The international Welsh Poetry Competition, founded and run in Pontypridd is now in it’s 11th year and has never had a single penny from the ‘arts and media’ in Wales. People fund it; poor Welsh people and those from overseas. I could go on, there are plenty of examples of worthwhile ‘projects’ in Wales but the ‘Welsh media’ refuse to engage with them! It’s a closed Taffia shop.

OK, second, what about ‘education’? Strange but true, I used to be a secondary school teacher but managed to ‘escape’ before the stress of caring killed me. Why did I leave? Was it the naughty children? No it wasn’t. It was the same reason very few teachers I know want to carry on. It’s was the constant pile of bullshit the government and media heaped upon me. Here’s an example of current said bullshit:

The EWC… ever heard of it? No, neither had most teachers before they got a demand for money from them. In the case of schoolteachers it was £45 a year. What for you ask? Well, nothing really. Now in 2016 there were 36,951 teachers registered. That equates to £1,662,795. Where does that cash go? No idea. Probably to pay the staff to do the website and email more demands for money to teachers who have enough bullshit to deal with without more piled on top of them! Who suffers? Yep, the kids. Your kids.

Oh yeh, and have schools improved lately? Nope. Got worse in fact. Standards are falling, pupils are getting left behind in maths and science, they’re becoming more obese because of a lack of will by WAG to prioritise physical education and our fat, dull kids (who aren’t actually any different from kids years ago) now think the only future they have is a YouTube channel selling makeup tested on their pets.

Of course while this is all going on our politicians are still having all-expenses-paid trips to the Far East to ‘look at’ how they do it better rather than just adopt a Scandinavian model and have done with it.

OK, third on the ‘Hitt list’ – health. Mmm? I think to suggest people don’t actually care is rather insulting but unfortunately we are all too sick to protest against the £1 million spent on Arabic, Czech, Mandarin, Bengali and Polish translation services. We are too busy dying on waiting lists to march in the streets about the crazy 40+ non-clinical staff (we’re talking ‘carbon manager’, ‘leadership coach’, ‘equality and diversity officer’ etc.) who together earn a total of £1.5 million a year in our Welsh NHS.

To be fair though the WAG has responded well to this crisis. Since 2010 they’ve spent over £100,000 on ‘potted plants to cheer themselves up.

Next up, ‘how we are governed’. Are we you ask? Oh don’t get me started on this one! OK, how about £15 million lost on ‘dodgy’ land deals? How about £60 million still not recovered from LG? The St Athan cock up which saw the MoD cost us £113 million. The £5 million wasted on a ‘cooking bus’ – honestly I’m not making this pile of shite up!

And how would we be rewarded if we’d cost our companies hundreds of millions of pounds I wonder? The sack maybe? Jail perhaps? Well, how did the politicians deal with all this waste? They gave themselves a pay rise. AMs got a pay rise of £10,000 so they now get £64,000 for wasting our cash while the rest of the population struggle by on benefits, zero hour contracts or minimum wage.

Economic development? Mmm? Port Talbot steelworkers getting their pensions cut, Ford Bridgend losing jobs, Boots shops to close, the list goes on. How exactly are ‘ordinary’ people able to fight against this? And as for our future as part of the Union – we haven’t had one for hundreds of years so nothing’s changed there? A Westminster Tory government not knowing or caring what or where ‘Wales’ is.

So rugby. Well, it’s the only thing we have isn’t it? Although corporate wankers (like the overpaid BBC and other media) have taxed the ‘ordinary’ Welsh rugby fan out of existence. £100 for a ticket my arse! Who can afford that? Only people who work in government or the media! I played rugby from age 9 until I retired and used to watch Wales religiously at the ‘Arms Park’ but can’t afford to go anymore. The WRU have ruined rugby for real rugby fans – they got rid of the best region in Wales; the Celtic Warriors, they out-priced the valleys, buggered up the trains and now pipe music around the stadium while the ‘fake news’ media (BBC and Western Mail) tell us ‘what a great atmosphere’ there is in the stadium. Bullshit.

And as for national pride plummeting when Wales lose – this isn’t really anything to do with national pride, it’s just the realization that everything is totally fucked. If we win we give ourselves a week off dwelling on the fact that we’re screwed. Wales always has been and nothing will ever change except the gap between the ‘have’s’ and ‘have-nots’ will grow wider because the only people who can make a difference – the media – refuse to upset the cosy little apple cart they sit upon.

Hitt also claims there is no easy answer to understanding ‘Brand Wales’. I disagree. The Brexit vote, for example, didn’t uncover anything anyone outside the closeted, politically-correct media and government didn’t know already.

I also find it hard to agree with the Western Mail’s prescriptive idea about ‘Welshness’ that should include radical Islam as practiced in our capital city’s mosques and taxi firms. The most liberal ‘Welsh’ people I know don’t want this in their country. Try walking down ‘Riverside’ or ‘Adamsdown’ at night and play ‘spot the infidel’ if you don’t believe me. Yep, it’s you!

Moving on though, I agree that ‘Scotland and Ireland have embraced their clichés and reaped the tourist rewards’ but why haven’t small-minded Wales done the same? Many have tried to open a ‘Welsh-themed’ pub but once again the media fails to help those not financially connected to themselves. Wales is a land packed full of creative individuals, forever struggling with one finger in the dam and one trying to conduct the orchestra of progress. No-one in power gives a shit unless they can make a buck too. Is this Thatcher’s ‘I’m alright Jack’ legacy or an influx of English immigrants who’ve diluted the original altruism or the coalface camaraderie of Welsh man and woman? I’m not sure.

For 20 years I’ve also been observing that ‘there are more Irish-themed pubs in the Welsh capital than Welsh-themed pubs.’ My friends, Welshmen and countrymen don’t have the cash to open a ‘Welsh-themed’ pub although many of us would love to do so.

Hitt concludes her article saying ‘we need a strong media’ yet continues to work for Trinity Mirror who admitted they were involved in the phone hacking scandal in 2014. Maybe she should quit her high-paid job, start her own newspaper or online blog and see just how far she can get changing things from within the real world?

Incidentally, back in May 2016 she wrote a column defending the millions of pounds of taxpayers money spent on the salaries of her fellow journalists (John Humphreys used to earn approx. £450,000) and even falsely claimed that Netflix costs us more than the BBC. Mmm? Really? I pay £12.12 a month for the BBC and iPlayer deletes all the good stuff I want to watch yet Netflix costs me £5.99 a month and I get to save stuff for years! So, sorry, you’re talking bollocks love!

Anyway, back to the point in question and why us Welsh can’t seem to ‘brand’ ourselves successfully on the global stage. The answer? Easy – money. Equality and fairness in funding. Maybe the Western Mail can donate £10,000 to the international Welsh Poetry Competition? Then I’d be able to advertise and promote the contest in the USA. Maybe BBC Wales can do a TV programme on where exactly the arts council millions go? Maybe the newspapers can do some hidden filming in Cardiff’s mosques or better still follow a few AMs or local, geriatric councillors around and see what they get up to.

Then again, maybe they’re not ‘all in this together’ with us and just talk shit ‘cos it pays well. Very well.

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Welsh Poetry Competition – 1 March 2017

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

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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.

1st Prize – £500

2nd Prize – £250

3rd Prize – £100

Judge – Kathy Miles

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.

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Read All About It – 20 Feb 2017

Is it me or is there a severe lack of local news these days?

WalesOnline seems to have abandoned it’s local news section with stories still there from Boxing Day!  The BBC don’t even know where the ‘valleys’ are and the local rag (the Observer) is losing circulation faster than a Muslim trying to get through US customs these days. So where is the ‘Ponty’ news?

All anyone seems to care about is whether Trump should be allowed to speak to parliament or not. Who cares? It’ll be a laugh whatever he says. We don’t have to agree or believe his fake news do we?

Surely far more important is how we get rid of this terrible Tory government in Westminster that is privatising everything they can lay their greasy hands on. And locally, in Wales, we need more support from our ineffectual WAG and our own MPs.

Good news for Ponty is that the precinct development is offering us a ‘Playschool’ through the square window experience so that’s a plus (I think), while a negative is the news that the YMCA refurbishment is on hold as they couldn’t raise the money to match fund for their upgrade.

But what about our local (ish) MP – Owen Smith? He seems to have completely lost the plot as he apologises on behalf of the British people for the refugee crisis. Don’t you just hate it when people do that? Like all those journalists that tell us the British Empire was evil and we should all be ashamed! Like our families ever made a penny from it. Next thing we know Owen will be recording a duet with Lili Allen!

And of course with global events dominating the headlines local issues get swept aside.

In 2010 the UK’s illegal immigrant population was estimated to be at 1.1 million. It is very likely that, in the six or seven years since that estimate was produced, the number has continued to increase. It is certainly heading towards half the population of Wales!

So, do we want child refugees to be allowed into the UK? Yes of course we do, but they should all go to live in Tory wards (like Surrey) where the standard of living is higher and they’ll have the care and support they need. Thinking about it though maybe half of RCT can migrate to Surrey too and then perhaps we’ll get the help and support we need.

Closer to home again our MP was also one of those who defied Jeremy Corbyn (not to mention the British people) and voted against Brexit even though his constituency voted 54% for it. All this at a time when the residents of RCT are experiencing cuts after cuts to council services.

Everywhere in Britain, hospitals, schools, police forces and local services are struggling to cope yet the UK gives £12 billion to foreign countries in overseas aid. Health tourists in England alone costs the country £1.8 billion. Foreign citizens make up 9% of the general population but 12% of the prison population in England and Wales. However unpalatable it may be to us the Daily Mail and UKIP do have a point!

So what the hell is going on in UK politics? What the hell is going on locally? Nobody wants UKIP to do well but we must have a credible opposition otherwise they will. Fighting within the Labour Party just makes things worse for the working class because they feel abandoned, have nowhere to turn and nothing to lose.

The mainstream parties need to get out and about and see what is going on in their communities. They need to re-engage before it is too late. At the moment I see people taking one side or the other which just causes hate and anger to grow. This cannot be allowed to continue. Hitler rose to power in a divided, broken nation. The genocide in Rwanda happened after tribal xenophobia. The breakup of the former Yugoslavia the same thing. Both sides of any argument must at least see the other’s point of view. Otherwise we’ll tear each other apart while the rich continue to get richer laughing and watching it happen.

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New £1 Coin – 14 Feb 2017

In order to steal even more cash from us poor the UK Treasury is to make the current £1 coin worthless later this year.

A new 12-sided pound coin comes into circulation in six weeks time in a bid to beat the forgers.

Don’t panic yet though as we still have eight and a half months to spend the old ones before they cease to be legal tender.

These are the key dates:

  • March 28 – new coin comes into circulation
  • October 15 – shops are told not to accept old £1 coins or distribute them in change
  • After October 15 – for a limited period, banks and post offices will still allow customers to deposit old £1 coins into their bank account

The new coin design has the English rose, the Welsh leek, the Scottish thistle and the Northern Irish shamrock emerging from one stem within a royal coronet. On the alternate side, the portrait of the Queen is still there though.

I wonder what will happen if Liz pops her clogs before March? Will they have to make a new, new one?

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Big Brother – 5 Jan 2017

Extreme surveillance becomes UK law but not one of the mainstream media care. I wonder why? Maybe they are all in this together too?

The bill gives the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world. Maybe you should start asking your own MP why they let it happen?

The Investigatory Powers Act legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US. That’s the country in all those Hollywood films like Enemy of the State etc. You know the one, the country where Edward Snowden exposed the full extent of what they were doing. And the UK has just gone one better!

US whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”

Snowden in 2013 revealed the scale of mass surveillance – or bulk data collection as the security agencies prefer to describe it – by the US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ, which work in tandem.

But, as George Orwell often warned us the western democracies only have to scream the word ‘terrorist’ and we all nod our heads and accept we’re being spied on for the greater good. This is bullshit of course.

The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Strasburger, one of the leading voices against the investigatory powers bill, said: “We do have to worry about a UK Donald Trump. If we do end up with one, and that is not impossible, we have created the tools for repression. If Labour had backed us up, we could have made the bill better. We have ended up with a bad bill because they were all over the place.

“The real Donald Trump has access to all the data that the British spooks are gathering and we should be worried about that.”

OK, let’s get real. Our government has been spying on us for years anyway, this act just makes it legal. In October, the investigatory powers tribunal, the only court that hears complaints against MI6, MI5 and GCHQ, ruled that they had been unlawfully collecting massive volumes of confidential personal data without proper oversight for 17 years.

The Act legalises hacking by the security agencies into computers and mobile phones and allows them access to masses of stored personal data, even if the person under scrutiny is not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Privacy groups are challenging the surveillance powers in the European court of human rights and elsewhere.

Jim Killock, the executive director of Open Rights Group, said: “The UK now has a surveillance law that is more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy. The state has unprecedented powers to monitor and analyse UK citizens’ communications regardless of whether we are suspected of any criminal activity.”

Renate Samson, the chief executive of Big Brother Watch, said: “The passing of the investigatory powers bill has fundamentally changed the face of surveillance in this country. None of us online are now guaranteed the right to communicate privately and, most importantly, securely.”

Sign a petition against this Act.

You have been warned!

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Barebones Furniture – 20 Jan 2017

Barebones is driven by the desire to make living spaces and working spaces feel welcoming and comfortable for all those that experience them.

We provide a service that gives our customers an opportunity to make their own mark on the space they occupy.  We believe that by actively encouraging our customers to be a part of the development process; from initial concepts and design to the delivery and fit.

This process works for us and it works for our customers. Whether it’s a one off commission or as part of a larger project roll-out.  We have over forty years combined experience of working with design, timber, furniture and wood machining coupled with strong Project Management skills.

If you would like more information on how we can work with you, drop us an email or give us a call on 07759 180608.

Check out our website for gallery images.

Andy Davies
www.barebonesbrand.com

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