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

Who Should You Vote For? – 29 April 2017

This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Don’t waste it.

Firstly, DON’T believe the media. Make your own mind up. Read the two parties policies then vote for what you’d prefer to see for your country.

Labour Party

This is the new Labour manifesto and I have to say I agree with about 80-90%, although there are other good policies on climate change, animal welfare etc.

  • Scrap student tuition fees
  • Re-introduce the 50p rate of tax on the highest earners (above £123,000)
  • Income tax rate 45p on £80,000 and above
  • More free childcare, expanding free provisions for two, three and four year olds
  • End to zero hours contracts
  • Hire 10,000 new police officers, 3,000 new firefighters
  • Moves to charge companies a levy on salaries above £330,000
  • Deliver rail electrification “including in Wales and the South West”
  • Bring the railways back into public ownership as franchises expire
  • Regain control of energy supply networks through the alteration of operator license conditions, and transition to a publicly owned, decentralised energy system
  • Replace water system with a network of regional publicly-owned water companies
  • Reverse the privatisation of Royal Mail “at the earliest opportunity”
  • Create at least one publicly-owned energy company in every region of the UK, with public control of the transmission and distribution grids
  • Extra tax take in total £48.6bn
  • £6.4bn from income tax from the top 5%
  • Extra £19.4bn from corporation tax
  • £6.5bn from tax avoidance programme
  • Boost wages of 5.7m people earning less than minimum wage to £10 an hour by 2020
  • Create a National Transformation Fund that will invest £250bn over 10 years in upgrading the economy
  • Deliver universal superfast broadband availability by 2022
  • A National Investment Bank as part of a plan to provide £250bn of lending power over the next decade for infrastructure
  • Reinstate the lower small-business corporation tax rate
  • Scrap quarterly reporting for businesses with a turnover of under £85,000
  • Introduce four extra public holidays each year to mark national patron saints’ days
  • Maximum pay ratios of 20:1 to be rolled out in public sector
  • Ban unpaid internships
  • “Clamp down on bogus self-employment” and extend rights of employees to all workers – including shared parental pay
  • Guarantee trade unions a right to access workplaces
  • End the public sector pay cap
  • Repeal the Trade Union Act and roll out sectoral collective bargaining, whereby industries can negotiate agreement as a whole
  • Enforce all workers’ rights to trade union representation at work
  • Abolish employment tribunal fees – so that people have access to justice
  • Use public spending power to drive up standards, including only awarding public contracts to companies which recognise trade unions
  • Give all workers equal rights from day one, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent
  • Shifting the burden of proof, so the law assumes a worker is an employee unless the employer can prove otherwise
  • Reintroduce maintenance grants for university students and abolish university tuition fees
  • A National Education Service for England to incorporate all forms of education
  • Overhaul existing childcare system and extend 30 hours of free childcare to all two year olds
  • Promise to reduce class sizes to “less than 30” for five, six, and seven-year-olds
  • Devolve responsibility for skills to city regions or devolved administrations
  • Free school meals for all primary school children, paid for by removing the VAT exemption on private school fees
  • Deliver safe staffing levels and reduce waiting lists
  • End hospital car parking charges
  • One million people will be taken off NHS waiting lists by “guaranteeing access to treatment within 18 weeks”
  • Scrap NHS pay cap
  • NHS will receive more than £30bn in extra funding over the next parliament
  • Mental health budgets will be ring-fenced, and Labour will ensure all children in secondary schools have access to a counselling service
  • Cuts to bereavement support payment will be scrapped, as will the bedroom tax and the “punitive sanctions regime”
  • Reinstate housing benefit for under-21s
  • Guarantee state pension triple lock, as well as the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes
  • “Rejects” proposal to increase state pension age further
  • A commitment to “protect the pensions of UK citizens living overseas in the EU or further afield”
  • Ensure that 60% of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030
  • A ban on fracking
  • Nuclear power “will continue to be part of the UK energy supply”
  • Introduce an immediate emergency energy price cap to ensure the average dual fuel household energy bill remains below £1,000 per year
  • Maintaining access to the EU’s internal energy market and retaining access to nuclear research programme Euratom will be a priority in Brexit negotiations
  • Build over one million more homes, with at least half for social rent
  • Homeowners willbe offered interest free loans to improve their properties
  • Guarantee help to buy funding until 2027 and give locals buying their first home “first dibs on new homes built in their area”
  • Legislate to ban letting agency fees for tenants, and look at giving the Mayor of London power to give London renters “additional security”
  • Make 4,000 additional homes available for rough sleepers to end homelessness
  • Extend high speed rail link HS2 to Scotland
  • Build a new Brighton main line for the SouthEast
  • Build Crossrail 2 – to run north-south through London between Hertfordshire and Surrey – “to ensure our capital continues to prosper”
  • Recognise the need for additional airport capacity in the South East (but there’s no mention of Heathrow)
  • 30 hours free childcare to be extended to two-year-olds and “some” to one-year-olds
  • An end to the so-called “rape clause” – part of the policy of restricting child tax credits to the first two children in a family. It means mothers who have a third child as a result of rape can be exempted, but would have to provide evidence in order to do so
  • A review into reforming council tax and business rates, in favour of options such as a land value tax
  • A national review of local pubs to examine the causes for their large-scale demise, as well as establishing a joint taskforce that will consider future sustainability
  • Labour opposes a second Scottish independence referendum
  • Establish a Scottish Investment Bank, with £20bn for local projects and Scotland’s small businesses, creating work and stimulating the economy
  • Build on the Development Bank of Wales using more than £10bn from Labour’s new National Investment Bank
  • Continue to fully support the principles and structures inherent within the Good Friday Agreement
  • Support the renewal of the Trident submarine system
  • Work with international partners and the UN on multilateral disarmament “to create a nuclear-free world”
  • Commit to the Nato benchmark of spending at least 2% of GDP on defence
  • Will have a complete strategic defence and security review
  • Insulate the homes of disabled veterans for free
  • Labour will not “scapegoat migrants” and will not set a cap on immigration, describing targets as “bogus”
  • International students will not be included in immigration numbers, but the party will crack down on “fake colleges”.
  • Accept the EU referendum result and “build a close new relationship with the EU” prioritising jobs and and workers’ rights
  • Guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and work to “secure reciprocal rights” for UK citizens elsewhere in the EU
  • A “meaningful” role for Parliament throughout Brexit negotiations
  • Scrap Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace with “fresh negotiating priorities” with strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the single market and customs union
  • Reject no deal as a viable option and if needs be negotiate transitional arrangements “to avoid a cliff-edge for the UK economy”
  • Keep EU-derived laws on workers’ rights, equality, consumer rights and environmental protections
  • Maintain UK’s leading research role by seeking to stay part of Horizon 2020 and its successor programmes
  • Seek to maintain membership of European organisations which offer benefits to the UK such as Euratom and the European Medicines Agency
  • Will not allow Brexit to be used as an excuse to undercut UK farmers and flood Britain’s food chain with cheap and inferior produce

Tory Party

Current policies:

  • Austerity and all the misery that goes with it, i.e. suicides, food banks, disabled benefit cuts
  • The Bedroom Tax
  • Denying disability benefit to 165,000 people
  • Scrapping housing benefit for 18-21 year olds
  • Massive hikes to tuition fees
  • Junior doctors’ contracts
  • School cuts
  • £30-a-week cuts to the sick
  • Legal aid cuts
  • Making rape victims prove their ordeal
  • Calling £450,000 homes ‘affordable’
  • Scrapping the Human Rights Act
  • Scrapping nurses’ bursaries
  • Snooping on all your texts, e-mails and browsing records
  • The great crackdown on unions
  • Slashing green subsidies
  • Scrapping child poverty targets
  • Cutting inheritance tax for the rich
  • Social care cuts
  • The public sector pay freeze
  • NHS ‘efficiency savings’ / privatisation
  • Mental health bed numbers reduced

And the new policies:

  • Trying to hike council tenants’ rents
  • Scrap free school lunches for infants
  • Ditching the triple lock on increasing the state pension
  • Means test winter fuel payments, taking away £300 from wealthier pensioners
  • Raising cost of care threshold from £23,000 to £100,000 – but include value of home in calculation of assets for home care as well as residential care
  • Scrap free school lunches for infants in England, but offer free breakfasts across the primary years
  • Pump an extra £4bn into schools by 2022
  • Net migration cut to below 100,000
  • Increase the amount levied on firms employing non-EU migrant workers
  • Increase the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate to £50,000 by 2020
  • Maintain pledge to cut corporation tax to 17% by 2020
  • Increase the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020
  • Introduce a right for employees to request information relating to the future direction of the company
  • No school will have its budget cut as a result of the new funding formula
  • At least 100 new free schools a year
  • End ban on grammar schools – conditions would include allowing pupils to join at “other ages as well as eleven”
  • A specialist maths school to be opened in every major city in England due to new funding arrangements
  • Every 11-year-old expected to know their times tables off by heart
  • If universities want to charge maximum tuition fees, they will be required to “become involved” in academy sponsorship or the founding of free schools
  • Introduce T-Levels
  • Change the rules to allow the establishment of new Roman Catholic schools
  • Real terms increases in NHS spending reaching £8bn extra per year by 2022/23
  • A new GP contract and changes to the contract for hospital consultants
  • Retain the 95% four hour A&E target
  • Require foreign workers and overseas students to pay more to cover the cost of NHS care
  • Tighten the rules against pension abuse and increase punishment for those caught mismanaging pension schemes
  • Give the pensions regulator powers to issue punitive fines for those found to have wilfully left a pension scheme under-resourced and if necessary, powers similar to those held by the Insolvency Service to disqualify relevant company directors
  • Consider new criminal offence for company directors who put at risk the ability of a pension scheme to meet its obligations
  • Students expected to leave the country at the end of their course unless they meet new “higher” requirements allowing them to stay
  • Overseas students to remain in the immigration statistics
  • Exit the European single market and customs union but seek a “deep and special partnership” including comprehensive free trade and customs agreement
  • Vote in both Houses of Parliament on “final agreement” for Brexit
  • Assess whether to continue with specific European programmes and it “will be reasonable that we make a contribution” to the ones which continue
  • Agree terms of future partnership with EU alongside withdrawal, both within the two years allowed under Article 50
  • Convert EU law into UK law and later allow parliament to pass legislation to “amend, repeal or improve” any piece of this
  • Remain signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights for the next parliament
  • Repeal or replace the Human Rights Act “while the process of Brexit is under way” ruled out, although consideration will be given to the UK’s “human rights legal framework” when Brexit concludes
  • Reduce and control immigration from Europe after Brexit
  • Seek to replicate all existing EU free trade agreements
  • Support the ratification of trade agreements entered into during our EU membership
  • Introduce a Trade Bill in the next parliament
  • Create a network of Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioners to head nine new regional overseas posts
  • Reconvene the Board of Trade to increase exports from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as England
  • Second part of the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press will not take place
  • Repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2014, which would – if enacted – force newspapers to pay their opponents’ legal costs linked to libel and privacy actions, even if they win in court, if they are not signed up to an officially-recognised regulator
  • £1bn to modernise the prison estate
  • Legislation to make changes in police practices if “stop and search does not become more targeted and stop to arrest ratios do not improve”
  • Develop the shale industry in Britain
  • Non-fracking drilling treated as permitted development
  • Halve rough sleeping over the course of the next parliament and eliminate it by 2027
  • Meet 2015 commitment to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020 and half a million more by the end of 2022
  • 160,000 houses built on government land
  • Maintain the existing strong protections on designated land like the Green Belt, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Continue £2.5bn flood defence programme to protect 300,000 existing homes by 2021
  • Minimum service levels agreed with train companies and staff during times of industrial action. A pledge to make this mandatory if a deal cannot be reached voluntarily
  • Continue investment in High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport, while ensuring these projects develop the skills and careers of British workers
  • Spend at least 2% of GDP on defence and increase the budget by at least 0.5% above inflation in every year of the new parliament
  • Retain the Trident continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrent
  • Better compensation for injured personnel and the families of those killed in combat
  • Bring back fox hunting

A lot to take in but remember The Tories main policy is austerity and that isn’t changing. They have also failed to deliver on most of the last manifesto’s promises. You could vote Plaid Cymru in Wales or SNP in Scotland of course, which just plays into the Tories’ hands but as for Tim (nice but dim?) telling Labour to join the Lib Dems, lol, that’s like Barnstoneworth United telling Man Utd to join them!

So over to you the great British public.

P.S. – Please forward this article to all your friends so they can make an informed choice rather than be influenced by the negative media we have in this country. Maybe use Facebook, Twitter etc. – put them to good use for once and change your world for the better!

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General Election 2017 – 18 April 2017

Normally I look forward to a general election because it means we finally get a chance to get rid of the Tories, start again with a few years of Labour before they get kicked out and so on… This time it’s a bit more depressing though. Most people I know, and talk about politics to, feel the same way as me. We have nobody to vote for. They might agree with about 50% of Corbyn’s policies but they also agree with 50% of the Greens, Tories and UKIP!  Basically, no political party seems to represent the ‘ordinary voter’, the ‘man in the street’, the ‘average Joe’.

Most people hate what the Tories are doing to them, but somehow, no matter how they vote, they end up with them!

The ‘media’ (of which the BBC is the biggest culprit) will spend two months telling us Labour are unelectable, allow the Lib Dems to waffle on about Brexit (like anyone cares what they think), give the SNP too much airtime and only a token ‘look at Leanne’s legs’ portion of time to Plaid. Wales will feel neglected and abandoned again, the electorate will either fail to turn out at all or vote UKIP / Monster Raving Looney as a protest, and we’ll end up with an out-of-touch Labour party in Cardiff Bay with a Tory Party in London. Same shit, different day.

The Tories will win because the foreign-owned newspapers will label Corbyn ‘RED Jezza’ and convince us he’ll open the UK’s borders to ISIS, bankrupt the country, make Putin a Lord and declare war on Trump (which he might). Opinion polls will redeem themselves and we’ll all die happily ever after as yet more austerity is piled on top of our current austerity. The bankers will get richer, crime will rise as benefits are cut, the NHS will be privatised, poor people will die in the streets and jobs will be those things you talk to your children about in the same sentence as dinosaurs.

Either way we’re buggered. So on that happy note – buy this before it’s too late!

(21222)


Black Someday Soon – 15 April 2017

The global banking crisis of 2007-2008 that wiped trillions of pounds off the world’s stock markets and caused major heartache for millions of people is going to happen again. Everyone knows this but no-one really knows when it’ll be or how bad it’ll be.

The ‘bankers’ (capital W), whose greed caused the last one are about to start gambling with our money again. Thanks to, yeh you guessed it, Donald Trump.

The Dodd-Frank reforms that were put in place in the US to stop this happening again are being swept away to allow banks to once again do what the hell they want. Deregulation has begun. You might remember Thatcher started it (think Yuppies in the city of London) and then Reagan followed suit. It got worse under Bush.

The UK poodle; May’s government, are worried. How do I know? Well, they’ve recently announced that the prize fund for premium bonds will be reduced. Don’t dismiss this, it’s important. The UK Treasury has £58 billion of our money invested in it via premium bonds. Just think what would happen if everyone cashed in their bonds at the same time. It would be a nightmare for the government. This figure is over half what they put into the NHS each year.

Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that the next crash is on it’s way. When? No idea, but it could be as early as this year. We’re well overdue one anyway. Why do I say this? Well, interest rates are as low as they can go, world governments can’t keep printing more money (QE) and China has already seen it coming and has battened down the hatches by slowing it’s own growth. This time the banks will have nowhere to go though.

OK, what will it mean for us mere mortals? Again, hard to say other than it will be us that pays for it. Saving rates will disappear. ISAs invest in stock markets so they could go negative. House prices will fall meaning negative equity for those buying a property now. Pension pots will suffer as these are also invested in shares. Inflation will cause food and petrol to rise and cash to be worth less. Oh yeh and loads will lose their jobs. And people worried Brexit was bad. Happy days.

Oops, almost forgot. Trump’s nuclear war against North Korea might also effect our savings.

Oh yeh, and the BBC will blame it all on Brexit.

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Wales / Europe – 6 April 2017

In the Brexit vote Wales voted 53% to leave the EU. The BBC keeps telling us what idiots we were so let’s look at some finances.

Wales gets about £658 million a year from Europe. This is spent on the following:

  1. European structural funds: This covers everything from supporting people into work and training to urban development
  2. Common Agricultural Policy: A £200 million a year scheme providing payments to more than 16,000 farms in Wales “to help protect and enhance the countryside”. One pillar of this is the Welsh Government Rural Communities rural development programme, a £957 million programme running from 2014-20 supporting businesses and farms in rural areas
  3. Other funds: There are several other funds covering everything from the arts to biodiversity

Let’s look at those three.

The first says ‘supporting people into work’ yet Wales has no decent jobs and is one of the poorest parts of the UK. I guess that bit didn’t work.

Second, our farmers get loads of cash from Europe yet many farms are struggling. Over the last three years for example 136 dairy farms closed in Wales.

And the third strand puts money into the arts (apparently?) Not that a single penny of that cash has ever gone to the international Welsh Poetry Competition (the biggest and best poetry contest in Wales) over the last 11 years.

OK, but how much does Wales give Europe to start with? Well, we pay in £414 million, so we only actually get back £244 million.

To put that into perspective the UK will save more than that every week after we leave so in theory if our Welsh government can shout a bit and London (remember to doff the cap) gives us just 1/52 of what it saves we’ll be better off.

Of course if we had stayed in Europe then this money would probably have disappeared by 2019 / 2020 as other, poorer countries than Wales (e.g. Serbia), took our funding. Good article here from 2014. So optimists could say if Wales was going to leave the EU then now is almost the perfect time to do so!

Over to you WAG… get shouting!

Note: Figures from the Western Mail

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A Look at the Top Casino Stocks of 2017 – 30 March 2017

The online gambling industry has had a tremendous impact on the gaming business in the last few years and with online casino websites like Guts AU are ready to take Aussie casino players on, it is not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Things were not looking very peachy this time last year for Macau, as gambling revenue in the region dropped significantly. However, things began to pick up from Q3 2016 and gaming revenues in Macau have since seen a steady rise. Lawrence Ho, chairman at Melco Crown Entertainment, even expects the gaming business in Macau to grow by as much as 5% to 9% in 2017.

Las Vegas, on the other hand, developed new gaming resorts, Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts, last year, while MGM Resorts is still bringing in the numbers as steadily as ever. If you are looking to buy into some gambling shares as an investor in 2017, take a look at the following stocks, which are and will continue to be, the top ones this year.

Las Vegas Sands

Las Vegas Sands is one of the leading stocks at the moment in the gambling industry, with impressive turnovers from its business establishments in Vegas. In fact, the company’s business in Macau has also started to grow since seeing its seventh month of rising profits in a row, after two years of more or less disappointing results. With The Parisian Macau now firmly established and beginning to generate significant revenue for the company in the Cotai Strip, investing in its stocks would most definitely be a good decision right now.

Wynn Resorts

2014 was a fantastic year for the Wynn Resorts group, but although 2016 was also a good business year, they are still a long way away from where they were in 2014. Having said that, this is an excellent time to invest in Wynn Resorts, since they did see a 32% year on date rise last year. In Macau, Wynn Resorts enjoyed almost an 11% increase in revenue generation during the third quarter of 2016, as compared to Q3 2015. The brand new Wynn Palace in Cotai did not disappoint either and will continue to reel in the profits for the company in 2017. Not to be completely left out of the loop in the US, Wynn Las Vegas is looking to come back into the game there by replacing its 18-hole golf course with the Paradise Park, which will have a clear water lagoon, beaches, water sports, an island in the middle of the lagoon, and much more. Things may take a while to really pick up, but there’s no denying that Wynn Resorts stocks hold tremendous potential for investors in 2017 and beyond.

MGM Resorts

They are known in the market as a stable and solid business group that values eventual and sustained growth over radical changes, and that’s good news for investors. MGM Resorts is currently planning to start a resort in Macau, alongside striking an unexpected deal with Las Vegas Sands; thereby ensuring the shareholders get good profit returns this year and the years after. However, the best part is that even if Macau goes into decline again, MGM Resorts stock will probably be the safest among all other names in the business.

The real threat which the gaming industries in Macau are still facing is from the Chinese government continuing to crack down on corruption within the Chinese territory. As China tries to put a hold on money-laundering through the gambling resorts in Macau, Las Vegas is getting a chance to come back on top after several years in the stagnant zone.

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Housing Crisis – What Crisis? – 29 March 2017

Hardly a day goes by without some ‘expert’ telling us all that we have a housing crisis and that we (the UK) needs to build millions more homes.

Really?  Well, there are over 1.4 million empty homes, the highest number for 20 years! These ’empty homes’ are typically second homes, or vacant properties which are either left empty or are awaiting for tenants to move in.  So is there a housing shortage?  No, of course not!

Low interest rates have actually made it easier for people to buy houses (if they want to, rather than renting like our European cousins do). However the average cost of a house is now over seven times that of average income in the UK (but only about three times in Wales as we’re so poor).

So should people be listening to the government, the BBC and the constant lies about digging up the countryside in order to build more houses?  No, of course not.  We should be cancelling the mobile phone package, cancelling the SKY TV and cutting down on meals and drinks out. It’s called saving.  A new concept for some I know but how do people think others bought a house before them.  They saved up for a deposit and then went without for a few years until they’d paid half the mortgage off.

It is true of course that as councils sell off their council houses to balance the books they then have less properties available for people starting out, on low incomes or benefits, but whose fault is this?  Yes – the council and government.

Another point worth making regards the so-called housing shortage is that the UK population is already way too high.  Currently we have over 65 million people living here (this doesn’t count the 1 million illegal immigrants). The UK needs to reduce its population. The world does too.

Is the UK overcrowded?  Well the population density of the UK is 269 people / square km – one of the highest in Europe.  Higher than Germany (233) (and they took in an entire country remember), higher than France (111), higher than Poland (124), higher than Ireland (65) and quite a bit higher than Iceland (3).

So do we need more houses?  No.  Do we need to reverse our population growth?  Yes.  Over to you Welsh / UK government…

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Tips for buying the perfect Mother’s Day gift – 24 March 2017

As March 26 approaches, you may still be looking for the perfect gift for your mum. You know that the gift must show her how much you love and appreciate her. However, it is never easy to find the gift you are looking for, whether you are ten years old or fifty years old. Your mum definitely deserves a gift that she will cherish for years to come.

There are steps you can take during your gift planning, selection and buying process to make it easier for you.

Decide on a Budget

One of the first things that you will need to do is decide how much you are planning to spend on the present for your mum. By creating a budget, you can be sure that you are only focusing on Mother’s Day presents you can afford.

One of the good things about creating a budget is that you can choose personalised or unique gifts for her that will not break the bank. As a matter of fact, you can make your selection that fits in your budget whilst presenting your mum with a gift you know she will genuinely love.

Know What Your Mum Likes

It is also a good idea to know your mum’s likes and dislikes. Not many people know her as well as you do. You know what she enjoys doing and you know her personality. Some searching online will help you identify a variety of gift ideas.

For example, is she health conscious? She may appreciate an annual gym membership or a cookbook of healthy recipes. Does she love jewellery? Why not get a personalised necklace that has her birthstone, or even a picture of you? Has she been working long hours? Gift her a complete day at the spa and brunch so she can have her own day of pampering.

Be sure the gift you select is something that your mum will actually use, and it will not sit on the shelf and collect dust. Items like cutting boards, jewellery and gym memberships are all gifts you know your mum will use.

Do Not Buy What Your Siblings Buy

This is not a case of follow the leader. If you have siblings, you need to choose a gift that will stand out from anything they may have in mind for Mother’s Day. Consider it a healthy competition between you and them, but rest assure your mum’s eyes will light up when you present her with her gift if you give thoughtful consideration when shopping for it.

If you’re struggling with gift ideas that are different from your siblings, the Mother’s Day gift generator may be able to help.

Purchase the Gift

The next thing that you will need to do is purchase the gift. If you are purchasing the gift online, it is imperative that you order it early so it will arrive on time. You need to give the retailer time to dispatch and deliver the gift so you are able to present it to your mum on her special day.

Gift wrap and a card are the final touches you need to present your mum with a complete Mother’s Day gift. Celebrate your mum and let her know how much you care.

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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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