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.
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?’
Champagne Druidic Christmas – 23 Dec 2014
Started in 2013 by members of www.pontytown.co.uk, the annual Christmas Day ‘morning drinkies at the druid stones’ kicks off again at 10:00am. Massive crowds are once again expected to converge on the Rocking Stones, Pontypridd Common, for what some have called the new Glastonbury. Well, it’s muddy anyway.
With hungover children, literature salesmen, air-conditioning engineers and sex gods (no sign of retiring yet) in attendance a large and visible police presence is anticipated. And with dog walkers from all over the country, including all fans of www.doggieblog.co.uk, greeting each other with the traditional sniff of the goolies it promises to be a great occasion. A quick sip of Tesco’s finest (or Aldi’s strongest – whatever your preference), colourful umbrellas twirling (weather permitting), a quick chat through groggy eyes and it’s back home to the Turkey murdering (or lone Onion in Davis’s case).
For the stalwarts the party continues at the Llanover Arms at 1:00pm and everyone is welcome.
Merry Christmas Ponty People.
Happy Yuletide – 21 Dec 2014
Many cultures have winter festivals that are in fact celebrations of light. The Pagan holiday called Yule takes place on the day of the winter solstice, around December 21 in the northern hemisphere (below the equator, the winter solstice falls around June 21). On that day (or close to it), an amazing thing happens in the sky. The earth’s axis tilts away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, and the sun reaches at its greatest distance from the equatorial plane. As a festival of the Sun, the most important part of any Yule celebration is light.
In the Northern hemisphere, the winter solstice has been celebrated for millenia. The Norse peoples viewed it as a time for much feasting and merrymaking. Traditional customs such as the Yule log and the decorated tree can all be traced back to Norse origins.
The Celts of the British Isles celebrated midwinter as well. According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration.
Few cultures knew how to party like the Romans. Saturnalia was a festival of general merrymaking and debauchery held around the time of the winter solstice. This week-long party was held in honour of the god Saturn, and involved sacrifices, gift-giving and a lot of feasting.
Four thousand years ago, the Ancient Egyptians took the time to celebrate the daily rebirth of Ra, the god of the Sun. As their culture flourished and spread throughout Mesopotamia, other civilizations decided to get in on the sun-welcoming action. They found that things went really well… until the weather got cooler, and crops began to die. Each year, this cycle of birth, death and rebirth took place, and they began to realize that every year after a period of cold and darkness, the Sun did indeed return.
Winter festivals were also common in Greece and Rome, as well as in the British Isles. When a new religion called Christianity popped up, the new hierarchy had trouble converting the Pagans, and as such, folks didn’t want to give up their old holidays. Christian churches were built on old Pagan worship sites, and Pagan symbols were incorporated into the symbolism of Christianity. Within a few centuries, the Christians had everyone worshipping a new holiday celebrated on December 25.
Ponty Band Success – 18 Dec 2014
Two of Ponty’s best new bands, Climbing Trees and Peasants King have been successful in their bid for a bursary from the Launchpad fund, created as part of the BBC Wales and Arts Council of Wales’ Horizons scheme to develop new contemporary music in Wales.
Both bands will receive up to £2,000 each to help support them in developing their music. Climbing Trees will use their funds for recording, mastering and mixing at Mwnci studios in Carmarthen, while Peasants King, who this week released a festive cover version of Slade’s classic Merry Christmas Everybody, will mix their debut album with acclaimed producer Greg Haver.
A panel of music experts from BBC Radio Wales, Arts Council of Wales, Clwb Ifor Bachand others choose the recipients.
Launchpad fund applications opened in September to Wales-based artists and bands writing, producing and performing original contemporary popular music.
For more information about the Launchpad fund go to the Horizons website – www.bbc.co.uk/horizons
Stay Anonymous Online – 12 Dec 2014
With plenty of talk in the media (and in local crime thrillers) these last few years about the criminal spying undertaken by the USA and UK governments on the world’s citizens many feel the NSA and GCHQ have gone too far. What we look at online, what sites we browse and what stuff we buy is our business not the snoopers.
Google, Facebook, Apple, BT etc. (the list is very long) all give our data to the Americans and British intelligence services. Why? You might ask. Well, there is only one reason and it’s not terrorism – it’s so they can build up a picture of us all so they know what we’ll do before we do it and also what we’ll buy or more importantly are likely to buy in the future. They then send us the adverts targeted to us personally to sell their crap.
The two tiered web is already with us, adverts are targeted at us on a daily basis, via phones, websites, internet searches and even this website (via Google Ads we use to try to get clicks to pay for it!). Everywhere we turn we see fonts, logos and branding, well OK, maybe not that many in Taff Street these days, but you get the picture.
Anyway, in order to stop the government snoopers, the Russian mafia, ID theft gangs, viruses etc. and do our bit for free speech and freedom of choice here are a few links for people who care about their own civil liberties:
DuckDuckGo – search engine that doesn’t track you
Zone Alarm – free firewall
Last Pass – password management
VPN Book – virtual private network
Tor – the ultimate tool – The Tor Project
This list is by no means complete but should be great for starters. But what about email I hear you cry? Well, there are programs that hide your details, like HushMail etc. but many of these companies have been shut down by the NSA.
What about Facebook? Well, you can delete your account of course but guess what? It’s still there! You need to go to Facebook.com/deactivate.php – follow the instructions and wait 2 weeks!
And don’t start me on Cookies 2:0. It’s a brave new world.
Christmas Craft Fair – 1 Dec 2014
The Positively Ponty Christmas Craft Fayre will be held at Clwb Y Bont on Saturday, 6th December 2014. Times: 11:00am-4:00pm.
Santa may also make an appearance after 12:00pm so why not bring the kids too!
Hot spicy parsnip soup and the bar open too! Easily the best craft fayre in the valleys this Christmas.
General Election – 26 Nov 2014
Yes, I know, Christmas hasn’t happened yet, nor the New Year hangover and the credit card bill, but, very soon, whether we like it or not, in May there will be a General Election. Yep, just after Wales win the 6 Nations 😉 I wonder which political party will claim that as their victory?
OK, so why spoil things now? We’ll have plenty of time in the Spring to get frustrated, annoyed and disillusioned with the political class putting the boot into our oppressed Welsh nation, just like they have for the last hundred years or more. Well, I have a one-word answer – Scotland.
No-one could have escaped the hysteria caused by the independence debate in Scotland. Sixteen year olds voting, the terrifying prospect of North Sea Oil not being there to pay for America’s wars, a proposed pension fund for all people, social equality, high paid jobs, greater tourism, European currencies, ditch the Queen (and her fascist regime) and more whisky – oh, if only all polling days could be this exciting!
Well, they say a week is a long time in politics and so it proved to be last time around here in Pontypridd. Local ‘Marmite’ hero, and many people’s favourite to become an MP, Mike Powell, would have walked it. Should have walked it. But, we hadn’t banked on Clegg the Tory (Clegg joined the Cambridge University Conservative Association between 1986 and 1987), the posh, public school educated Deputy PM with Russian aristocracy in his family tree. Yep, he spoiled it for everyone who’d put their misguided trust in him and his party.
Those Lying Democrats! Breaking their promises on tuition fees amongst other things. And so, with one small step for his power-hungry ego (into a government coalition) here is one party that no-one will ever vote for again. Ah, but will we? Surely, ‘Ponty’ is about as far removed from Westminster dodgy deals as Cameron, Clegg and Miliband are from the real world. Although to be fair to ‘not Red enough’ Ed he did at least go to a comprehensive school in London.
OK, so back to ‘Ponty’. Kim Howells, artist, former Trotskyite and ‘massive majority’ former Ponty MP had Thatcher to fight for much of his career and so we all loved him (or tolerated him) as ‘one of our boys’ at least. And then came Owen Smith, our current MP, born in Morecambe, England, son of Dai Smith, Head of the Arts Council in Wales. Mr Smith, former BBC radio producer and worker in the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industry is also a keen Ponty rugby fan (can’t be bad)…
His majority was slashed last election to 2785. So what you might say? Well, the consensus of opinion on the streets, pubs and rugby club is this: if Mike Powell ditches the unelectable ‘Lib Dem tag’ and stands as an Independent he’ll win! No ifs, no buts! Shit! Really?
Well, normally this would be a two horse race, Labour donkey with red rosette versus local, outspoken underdog but, at the time of writing, the UK (and I include Wales in this) has been gripped by some sort of political fever that almost rivals that of the Scottish election. Yep, you guessed it – UKIP. The party that would raise the tax threshold to £13,500 for us ordinaries but would also allow fracking, more nuclear power stations and a lowering of the minimum wage! The jury is out on privatising the NHS (although we know the Tories will do this if voted in again).
Here’s just a few UKIP policies, just in case people were seriously thinking of voting for them:
- We would review all legislation and regulations from the EU and remove those which hamper British prosperity and competitiveness, i.e. lower the minimum wage
- Inheritance tax will be abolished – tax cut for rich
- We will introduce a 35p income tax rate between £42,285 and £55,000, whereupon the 40p rate becomes payable – tax cut for the rich
- UKIP supports the development of shale gas – earthquakes R Us?
So in conclusion, and assuming Plaid Cymru don’t get their act together I can see three nags heading down the final furlong. Question is do you vote for the horse or the jockey? Think about it.
Valley Lines To Be Electrified – 24 Nov 2014
Plans are afoot to electrify the train network in south Wales. The current franchise holder Arriva Trains Wales receive a subsidy of around £180m a year from the Welsh Government. The next franchise operator will continue to receive a subsidy, but electric trains are more efficient to run and have great passenger capacity, so will generate more revenues for whichever private company wins the franchise.
As part of the deal with the UK Government the Welsh Government will have devolved responsibility for the franchise. It currently has a co-signatory deal with the Department for Transport. The next franchise will be from 2018.
However, Labour have mooted the possibility of not-for-profit or even stated owned train operators. There is potential for the Welsh Government to run the franchise through an arm’s length body as is the case with Cardiff Airport.
It could also delay that decision on the next franchise by offering an extension to Arriva Trains Wales when its current deal ends in 2018, but with a lower subsidy than currently provided, but the bottom line is that we can’t expect any electrified services until the early 2020s.
Electrified times will reduce times from stations in the Valleys to ensure that services such as Merthyr to Cardiff, currently over an hour, can be done in less than 50 minutes, whereas a non-stop service from Merthyr to Cardiff would only take around 30 minutes.
The Welsh Government could also ensure provision of more trains for rugby fans after international rugby games in Cardiff.
Muni Deal Called In – 12 Nov 2014
As part of cost-cutting plans Labour-controlled RCT council decided to close Pontypridd’s Muni Arts Centre (even though it was losing the least money when compared to the Park & Dare and the Coliseum) and a private group setup by Pontypridd’s Labour MP Owen Smith, calling itself ‘The Muni Working Group’, which includes representatives from Pontypridd Town Council, Cylch Cymreig, Artis Community, Coalfields Regeneration and the YMCA, put in an application to run the centre.
These plans, however, have been criticised by Councillor Mike Powell, who has asked for them to be called in for further scrutiny by the council.
He said: “After the recent publication of the cabinet’s decision to give the Muni lease to a not for profit organisation, a private applicant contacted me to look at his application.
“When I saw the detail that was in that private application, I then compared it with the detail in the confidential report that went to the cabinet.
“I was astounded by the lack of financial information and proposed job creation that was not given to members.
“I could not believe they were asked to decide on such an important decision based on what I didn’t see included in the report.
“The private applicant indicated that there would be substantial sums being invested and income generated rather than the alternative that the council wish to proceed with.
“Therefore, in view of the information I have seen, I asked for it to be called in for further scrutiny and to look at what reasoning the officers had for not providing the in depth detail that this decision for the people of Pontypridd and RCT really needs to ensure it is sustainable for more than a couple of years.”
RCT Cut Senior Managers At Last! – 4 Nov 2014
Fifteen senior managers are to be given huge redundancy payouts while those remaining will receive pay rises!
Rhondda Cynon Taf council will scrap the roles of 15 senior staff but some posts will be re-graded.
As a result of the decision, the new management arrangements will come into place this month and save approx. £1m.
Councillor Andrew Morgan, leader of RCT Council, said: “Further savings across other levels of management will be considered in the coming months.”
He added: “It is totally right and proper that where officers take on additional responsibilities for new service areas and functions that their grade level reflects this.”
Although when staff lower down the pay scales take on extra work they never seem to get pay rises.
The leader also stated that: “Our levels of chief officer remuneration are not over generous and in many circumstances are below those offered by neighbouring authorities of similar size. No one can level criticism that we are not prudent in this respect.”
Yet, senior management can still rake in over £60,000 a year, some having got their posts without interview. A decision that is still in dire need of scrutiny.
RCT To Charge For Sports Fields – 3 Nov 2014
As part of its drive to save millions of pounds Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has proposed charging clubs for the use of the council’s 26 bowling greens, 15 cricket grounds, 38 rugby fields and 67 football pitches, in Phase Three of cuts to services.
It estimates a 34-week season would cost a football or rugby club’s first team £600 to use a council field, with their second team paying £450 and third and subsequent teams £300. Even junior teams will have to pay £100 per season!
So, what will clubs do? The answer seems obvious – some will pay, some will run fewer teams, some will fold completely. One thing is for certain though, with less people playing sport in the borough, the result will be more unhealthy kids and adults. This can only increase the burden on an already over-stretched and under-resourced NHS.
For clubs with a first team, a second team, youth side and a number of age groups it could mean a yearly bill running into thousands of pounds. Some clubs just won’t be able to afford these costs.
What do you think? Tell us here.
Redundancy Costs – 1 Nov 2014
RCT have paid out £7,722,000 to 369 employees, in severance payments to staff leaving the council in 2013-14 – a figure up from £3,052,000 in 2012-13. Opposition leaders say this could run into millions more if more jobs are lost.
The news comes in the same week that cabinet members met to consider the possibility of a merger with Merthyr Tydfil council, which would result in yet more job losses.
Cllr. Jarman of Plaid Cymru said “The bill for severance is already rising because of the cuts that are being made as a result of the austerity agenda and this won’t change next year even if we have a change of government at UK level.
“History tells us there will be fewer jobs if reorganisation goes ahead.”
According to the council’s Statement of Accounts 2013-14, 369 employees left the authority with 18 of those due to compulsory contract terminations.
In 2013-14, six employees received severance payments between £100,001 and £150,000, a further six received payments between £80,001 and £100,000, and 13 employees received payments of between £60,001 and £80,000.
Earlier this year, the Williams Commission said the number of Welsh councils should be cut and First Minister Carwyn Jones supports replacing Wales’ current 22 authorities with just 12.
Ponty Rugby Still The Best – 27 Oct 2014
Pontypridd RFC have been one of the best teams in Wales for many, many years now but not even their great passion and determination could beat professional outfit and English Championship leaders Bristol in an action-packed British & Irish Cup clash at Sardis Road.
Semi-pro side Ponty were reduced to 12 men at one stage yet still battled on. A total of seven yellow, and one red card were flashed during a fiery encounter. A few missed kicks and some white-line fever eventually did for the home side but what a game and what a performance.
If only the Welsh regions could play with this much heart then we’d have an European champion by now!
Ponty lost 13-24 although still have a chance in the group if Bristol slip up.
Local Author Publishes Photography e-book – 12 Oct 2014
Local writer and photographer Dave Lewis has taken his first steps into non-fiction by publishing a neat little e-book on photographic composition. Wales has seen a huge growth in the numbers of people getting involved in digital photography, which has to be one of the biggest hobbies in the world! And for all those starting out this could be just the book you need. Written in an easy-going, simple language, there is little or no technical waffle. Just plain, sensible instructions and advice. A must read for all photographers.
“An introduction to the basic rules and principles of photographic composition. Contains practical advice on improving composition and taking better photographs. A concise guide suitable for the complete beginner through to the more serious digital photographer.
“It doesn’t matter whether you use a professional DSLR, a small compact or a mobile phone, this book will teach you all there is to know about photographic composition in order to improve your shots.
“An easy read illustrated with over 60 carefully chosen images.
“Dave Lewis is a writer and photographer that lives in the UK. He has over 25 years experience in photography and has lectured digital photography and Photoshop for the last 7 years.”
To download a copy or view a sample – click here.
More RCT Cuts – 3 Oct 2014
Whilst people are still reeling from the massive cuts in services and huge job losses that have already taken place in the council it seems that this could just be the tip of the iceberg.
News is finally out about the third round of brutal cuts to services across the borough.
The council’s cabinet (which still consists of nine members, some semiliterate, on huge salaries) will meet next week to finalise cuts to yet more front-line services. Officially no details have been released but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (not that you’ll find anyone in the RCT cabinet of that intellect) to work out how many job losses, forced early retirements and loads of redundancies a shortfall of £30 million will cause.
A second attempt to cut free full-time education for young children will be considered. Although why the people responsible for ‘messing up’ the first attempt are still in a job, resulting in a hugely expensive legal battle, is a mystery to us.
Cuts to music services inside and outside schools seems likely. Meaning that Wales (or at least RCT) will no longer be considered the land of song.
Cutting funds for corporate service areas, including customer care and the town centre events programme, will also be considered.
Many parks and street cleansing services are to be scrapped.
We have heard several rumours that refuse collections will be reduced further, with some council officers even hinting at the whole service being sold off to private companies.
Further rumours hint at severe cuts to non-statutory social services and abolishing some services completely! Of course this will result in the HR department and Pensions department being cut as they will have far less staff to administer for. And so the cuts go on!
Many members of the public have suggested cutting the huge numbers of councillors we pay for but get no value from to just a handful and we understand from a source in cabinet that this is also being considered.
Councillor Andrew Morgan, leader of RCT Council, has cut his own hugely ‘over-the-top’ salary by a meagre 10%, stopped the Labour propaganda rag ‘Outlook’ from going straight to recycling bags and restricted a few top managers, but to be honest he needs to do a lot more!
In a bid to plug Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s £70m budget gap, over the next four years, two phases of cuts have already been approved and started as staff at Pontypridd’s job centre will tell you as they see new claimants rise in number.
The council has already shut 14 libraries and 10 day centres. Adult education jobs have been cut and tutors taken back on, on less money. The Meals on Wheels service has been reduced.
The Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd (the most profitable centre of it’s kind) has been given over to a private company in a deal that is in dire need of public scrutiny. The Cynon Valley Museum and Gallery has been axed, and the Coliseum Theatre in Aberdare and Park & Dare Theatre in Treorchy now face reduced programmes.
All 12 outdoor paddling pools in the county borough have been closed, which will no doubt help childhood obesity – not!
All streetlights will be switched off in non-residential areas overnight, hence increasing crime and putting more strain on the police force.
Leisure centres in Tonyrefail, Rhondda Fach, Hawthorn and Abercynon have had their opening hours reduced while other centres seem set for closure.
Online Shopping – 19 Sept 2014
In addition to the local businesses that advertise with us on ‘Ponty Town’ we have updated our business directory with some online shops from around the UK. If you shop with these merchants we get a small commission. This helps to pay for the website and keep us free and independent. It doesn’t cost you anything.
If you can take the time to have a look at these sites we’d be very happy and if you know of any local businesses that might wish to advertise with us please let them know!
Dewi Sant / Cottage Hospital – 12 Sept 2014
Cwm Taf University Health Board’s oldest hospital, Dewi Sant, in Pontypridd, which opened in 1968, is to be developed into a University Health Park. As part of the plans, inpatient services currently provided at Dewi Sant as well as Pontypridd and District Cottage Hospitals will be moved to the Royal Glamorgan in Llantrisant, with Cwm Taf ‘claiming’ it will provide more intensive rehabilitation facilities.
Meanwhile, palliative care services at Y Bwthyn will be provided at a specially-designed unit at the Royal Glamorgan, supported by charity Macmillan Cancer Support, while Child and Adolescent Mental Health services will be moved from Tonteg Hospital to the Royal Glamorgan.
The model will be similar to that of the health board’s flagship Keir Hardie University Health Park in Merthyr Tydfil – the first integrated health park of its kind in Wales.
Stephen Harrhy, Cwm Taf’s director of primary, community and mental health services, said: “Patients’ needs are changing and becoming more complex, our elderly population is increasing and we need to adapt our services to ensure we provide people with the best possible standard of care and support.
“We need to make services less hospital-focused and provide more care at home by working closer than ever before with our local authority partners.
“Our plans will ensure that there are better links between all our services so that patients are seen quickly by the appropriate specialists and teams so treatment can be delivered in the best place for the patient and at the right time.”
Cwm Taf will be using its regular public forum meetings to share emerging details with members of the public over the coming months. The next scheduled meetings will take place at Ystrad Rhondda Sports Centre on September 24, from, 1.30pm to 3.30pm, and at Llantrisant Leisure Centre on October 1, at 11am.
To book a place at the meetings, email: email@example.com or call 01443 744839.
Thousands of jobs to go – 12 Sept 2014
All 22 local authority leaders in Wales have signed a letter sent to all members of the National Assembly for Wales, the House of Commons and the European Parliament outlining ‘very serious concerns’ over having to find up to £900m in savings.
The letter highlights the crisis in services where ‘more leisure centres will close, more libraries will be shut, day centres will be depleted and thousands of redundancies will occur.’
It says councils will soon ‘reach a tipping point’ as indications are that we will need to achieve anything between £570m and £880m in savings in order to balance budgets up to 2017-18. The letter goes on to describe a dire future for local government, and for the hundreds of services it provides.
Everyone knows that councils cannot possibly sustain the level of public services people expect with the level of cuts we see coming. Yet we, the people, pay ever increasing council tax bills and income tax which in theory goes into various government pots, which then gets dished out to pay for services. But, as we see it, with fewer people working, there’ll be less people paying in and so the situation will just get worse! Maybe this is what the Tories want? Back to Victorian times? Children chimney sweeps?
Carmarthenshire council leader Kevin Madge said “If these cuts come in the form they are predicted to do, we may as well put up a sign saying: ‘Local government in Wales closed until further notice’.”
Cardiff council leader Phil Bale said: “The financial position in Cardiff continues to be bleak with the city council having to find budget savings in the region of £45.4m, on top of more than £48m of savings from the last budget round.”
But where can councils cut to save money? RCT have asked for suggestions, we all know what has been suggested and what should be done first. Whether the turkeys will vote for Christmas is another matter though.
We leave you with these thoughts and figures: there are 60 AMs in the Welsh Assembly, 650 MPs in Westminster and 785 MEPs in Brussels.
Darkness on the Edge of Town – 27 Aug 2014
As part of RCT’s massive cuts to public services, cabinet members agreed to switch off all street lights in non-residential areas between midnight and 5am, while half would be turned off in residential areas during the same time period.
Local councillors have been asked to help identify ‘areas of concern’ before street lights are turned off across the county borough at night.
There are 28,500 street lights across RCT and the savings could deliver a £300,000 saving per year when it is implemented. Almost as much as sacking two or three senior staff might save.
The council still needs to save £30 million in 2014-15 though, so once again, this proposal hardly scratches the surface.
Not sure why every other light couldn’t have been turned off a few years ago but I guess the council needed a few meetings before they could do that.
Calling All Dog Lovers – 19 Aug 2014
Are you a cat, dog or animal lover? Then a recently launched website by a local dog just might be what your looking for! ‘Doggie Blog’ is a new site which highlights the adventures of a local pooch whilst also aiming to educate us all about dog related stuff. Local news, doggie facts, animal welfare and local, animal related, charity work.
There is a collection of stories which will be added to each week or so, plus pages of helpful information about diet, training and behaviour. The site also has two shops and links to many useful resources.
So if you are a dog lover why not take a look – click here.
RCT Council Double Standards? – 3 Aug 2014
RCT council have already ‘deleted’ 111 staff. Strange term we know 😉 There’s a best selling crime thriller from a local author with that word in it, but anyway we digress. Amongst the staff, who have taken early retirement or voluntary redundancy, were 92 education and lifelong learning staff, 4 environmental services staff and 7 community & children’s services staff. Will they find other jobs? Unlikely.
Highly paid (some would say overpaid) council bosses (who, incidentally, all seem to still be in a job) have also said there must be many more job losses before the council can hope to save the countless millions it needs to save next year.
… fast forward a week …
Controversial plans to give senior officers pay rises in order to make wider savings for the local authority have been deferred.
It seems while staff who actually ‘do things’ get ‘deleted’ 3 of the authority’s most senior members of staff were recommended to receive a 15% pay increase.
The move to give increases to senior staff members amid the Labour RCT Council’s current financial crisis was lambasted by other political parties and many councillors.
Under scrutiny is Christian Hanagan, currently the head of strategy and public relations and the son of cabinet member for education and lifelong learning Eudine Hanagan as he was one of the 3 senior officers in line for a pay rise. This further controversy comes at a time when many people still want to know how he came to get the post, without it being advertised or without an interview, in the first place!
Ponty Hero – 1 Aug 2014
Former Pontypridd RFC and Wales rugby player Richard Parks is a man who has scaled the highest peaks and traversed the poles so fans of the adventurer will be delighted he has just written a book detailing his adventures.
Beyond the Horizon tells the story of how the ex-Wales international set himself the ultimate challenge after injury forced him to retire from the game. His 737 Challenge journey saw him become the first person to conquer the highest peaks on each of the world’s seven continents and stand on all three poles within seven months.
His book is available in hardback, paperback and kindle formats.
Poetry Winners Announced! – 24 July 2014
The international Welsh Poetry Competition, which is based in Pontypridd announced the winners at a prize giving event at Clwb Y Bont last night.
The winners were:
1st Prize – The Pain Game by Kathy Miles
2nd Prize – albatross by Robert Marsland
3rd Prize – Remembrance: All Hallows by Eluned Rees
In addition to the top three prizes there were also another 17 runners up plus one special mention. For the complete list of results and some photos from the event please visit the competition website.
Twitter – @welshpoetrycomp
Postively Ponty – 5 July 2014
Promoting Pontypridd’s heritage, culture, art, literature, music, economy, crafts, tourism, and its people’s health, education and social well-being.
Positively Ponty is a volunteer led community group formed in April 2012 to promote Pontypridd locally, nationally and internationally. We believe that we could attract tourists and engage residents, if we build on some of our great people, places and events.
Initially we aim to gather support locally with a series of fun events – craft fairs, music evenings, kayaking on the Taff, Ponty walks, Ponty Talks, green fingers festivals and more!…
Please join us if you can and help make it happen! We meet every Wednesday 6:30pm at Clwb Y Bont, Taff Street, Pontypridd.
Facebook group – click here.
Support Wales – 1 July 2014
Welcome to the ‘Support Wales‘ / ‘Cefnogwch Gymru‘ shop front sponsored by Amazon.
Scroll through the pages, click on a product and this site gets a small commission if you buy anything. It costs you nothing, you support this website, and you support Welsh artists, musicians, writers and manufacturers.
Go on show your love for Wales!
Pontypridd to waste even more millions – 19 June 2014
Pontypridd town centre is set to waste yet another £5.98m of Welsh Government cash.
They take the Muni Arts Centre from us but try to keep us quiet by offering cash for the YMCA building.
Some money will go to build social and affordable housing above shops on main commercial streets though.
Further cash will be dished out to renovate and sell long-term empty properties in the town centre through a low cost home ownership 70/30% shared equity scheme. I wonder if the very rich Market Company will benefit from this rather than spend their own money?
Where the money will be spent:
- Creating homes above retail premises
- New homes will be created above shops in Pontypridd town centre.
- A mixture of social and affordable housing, the scheme will complement the new town centre improvements.
- Homestep Plus: homing in on empties
- Homes around the town centre will receive free energy efficiency measures in this initiative to tackle extreme fuel poverty. The scheme will be targeted at those people with the least income and most hard to treat homes.
- Rhondda Cynon Taf council will make the land available and seek expressions of interest from the development industry.
- The old YMCA building in the town centre will become a state of the art, multi-purpose facility.
- Vibrant and Viable Places funding will contribute towards the development which will create offices and workspace for rent to social enterprises and business. There will also be a suite of arts facilities.
- Pontypridd town centre will be given a boost by working with owners and businesses to improve the look of shop fronts and create new homes.
RCT Brutal Cuts – 18 June 2014
RCT council’s leader says the authority must slash a massive £26m from its budget next year with every single service being put under scrutiny.
Cllr. Andrew Morgan said further ‘brutal’ cuts will have to be on a ‘much bigger scale’ than the first two phases of sweeping cuts to public services which have only saved £8m.
He also warned that every single one of the authority’s services is being reviewed, and that he is asking council staff and the general public for their ideas to save money.
Well, if he’s asking let’s tell him!
Phase One and Two have already suggested or implemented cuts to school admission arrangements, meals on wheels, libraries, youth provision, day centres, adult social care, heritage services, arts and culture, bus routes, paddling pools, leisure and street lighting.
“We have cut about £8m so far, and we’ve just been informed by the Welsh Government to expect bigger cuts to funding next year, because of significant decreases to their funding.
“So while we thought we would have to save maybe £20m next year, it is now more likely to be closer to £26m.
“So we therefore have to cut about 20-25% from the remainder of our budget, for non-statutory and non-protected services.
“We’ll also be looking at doing some more public engagement, where people can put suggestions to senior members face-to-face.
“If people put forward a daft idea I’ll tell them, but if it’s something we can consider and is workable and we can save money then we’ll do it.
Email the leader of the council here.
T-Shirt Shop – 14 June 2014
The Ponty T-shirt shop has been up and running for a few years now and we’d like you to help us improve it. If you can thing of any designs or text that you’d like to see please drop us an email or post a reply below this article.
Saturday 21st June 2014 is International T-Shirt Day – our day to celebrate the world’s favourite garment for a seventh time running. And to celebrate the occasion, we will offer free delivery on all products from our range.
Here are the details:
Free delivery on 20/06/2014 and 21/06/2014
Applies to all products from our range
No minimum order value
Voucher code: T-DAY2014
Save Our Fire Engine – 7 June 2014
A decision on cutbacks to the fire service in Rhondda Cynon Taff will be announced on September 29. Firefighters said they expected an announcement on phase three of the Fire Cover Review, which will decide the future of provision in Porth and Pontypridd, to take place in the summer.
Proposals were put forward to either close Porth Fire Station or get rid of an on-call fire engine in Treforest, Pontypridd. The devastating news, which could lead to redundancies, prompted crews from both stations to launch rival campaigns to retain their respective services.
Members of the Pontypridd retained fire crew, together with Pontypridd MP Owen Smith and AM Mick Antoniw, presented a 9,500-signature petition to the Chief Fire Officer Huw Jakeway. Members of the public, councillors, businesses and schools in the Pontypridd region have supported the retention of the second fire engine.
Mr Jakeway said: “The review has looked at the location, number and type of resources within each of our authorities including firefighters vehicles, equipment and fire stations – that are needed, and where they should be located to provide the most efficient and effective and safest fire and rescue service across South Wales.”
New RCT Leader – 2 June 2014
New Rhondda Cynon Taff Council Leader Andrew Morgan has immediately reshuffled his cabinet members after being officially elected by the majority Labour group. Cllr. Morgan, ward councillor for Mountain Ash West and Cabinet Member for Frontline Services takes over from Anthony Christopher, who tragically passed away on May 15 after a long battle with leukaemia.
One of his first pledges as new leader was to cut the salaries of all cabinet members.
The new leader has promoted Aberdare West and Llwydcoed councillor Ann Crimmings, Llanharan councillor Geraint Hopkins and Maerdy councillor Keiron Montague, to his Cabinet. The cabinet will reduce from ten members to nine.
Find out more here.
Protesters chained to bookshelves – 2 June 2014
Police were called after a group of campaigners chained themselves up at Rhydyfelin Library, near Pontypridd. Protesters chained themselves to bookshelves for around four hours. The library closure is one of 14 made by Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) Council as the authority tries to save £70m over the next four years.
At 1.30pm on Saturday everyone was asked to leave the library as it closed its doors for the last time, but campaigners refused and staged a peaceful protest until police arrived at around 5.30pm. There is due to be a judicial review at Newport Crown Court on Thursday this week as campaigners continue their fight to keep the library open.
Sian Perkins was one of those who chained herself to a bookshelf at the protest. She said: “I think it’s about time the RCT sat up and listened to the community.
Town Council – 2 June 2014
At the Annual General Meeting on 28th May, Councillor Steve Powderhill was elected the new Pontypridd Town Mayor. Steve accepted the chain of office from the former Town Mayor, Councillor Keith Bennett.
So if anyone has any issues with the running of the town then why not get in touch with the town council. The offices are open Monday-Thursday, 8.00am-4.00pm, and Friday, 8.00am-3.30pm.
You can also contact the town council in the usual ways. So don’t be shy, tell them what you want to see!
For example, a spellchecker used on the signs erected on The Common so they don’t make themselves look like complete and total idiots when they get things wrong.
Perhaps you could ask why the grass isn’t cut properly or maybe you could suggest they put bat boxes and bird boxes on some of the trees?
Telephone: 01443 490740
133 Berw Road
Last call for entries – 27 May 2014
The 8th international Welsh #Poetry Competition is entering its final two weeks so just enough time to get those entries in to us. This year we have famous Welsh writer – John Evans, as judge for the contest. Entry forms can be downloaded from our website – www.welshpoetry.co.uk – or you can enter online with PayPal.
Poems in English, 50 lines maximum.
1st Prize – £400 / 2nd Prize – £200 / 3rd Prize – £100
plus 17 runners up mentioned in dispatches and published in a future anthology.
An international event – dreamed up in Ponty, created in Ponty, organised in Ponty, run in Ponty…
Top flight rugby at Ponty – 26 May 2014
The Welsh Rugby Union is to call an extraordinary general meeting after former chief executive David Moffett claimed enough support from member clubs. Ex-WRU chief Moffett is seeking election to the governing body, and 43 clubs, including the four professional regions, have apparently made valid applications for the meeting. A no confidence vote at an EGM could force out elected members, giving Moffett the chance to return in a different role.
Moffett, WRU chief executive between 2002 and 2005 and a former head of Regional Rugby Wales, was responsible for the move to regional rugby.
Could this move pave the way for a fifth region in Wales? If so, Pontypridd, who have won the league and cup more times than we can remember in recent years would seem favourite to house a new professional team.
RCT to scrap education cuts – 25 May 2014
Parent power has prevailed after a top judge overturned a council’s decision to cut its nursery education provision.
A judge at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today concluded that Rhondda Cynon Taf council acted unlawfully when making cutbacks to its schools admission arrangements.
In January, cabinet approved proposals for children to start full-time nursery at four years old instead of three, delivering annual savings of £4.5m.
But the decision was met with a barrage of opposition, with thousands lining the street of Pontypridd to march against the measure.
A campaign group, called Parents Against the Cuts to Education in RCT, was set up to fight the measure.
Money was raised by the group through several fundraising events in order to hire a legal team to lodge the judicial review.
And after obtaining legal aid, the campaign group have won their battle against all the odds.
Pontypridd’s Muni Arts Centre closes – 25 May 2014
The arts centre, in a converted church, is to close in Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) council’s £70m budget savings.
RCT’s two other council-run theatres – the Coliseum in Aberdare and the Park and Dare in Treorchy – have been spared the axe but councillors confirmed this week that the Muni will shut.
Max Boyce said: “It is a terrible, terrible shame. It’s not just a theatre, it’s a focal point for people to share their dreams, share their escapism.
“When you take away somewhere like the Muni, something in that town dies. These [venues] are so integral to the passion that exists in those communities for the arts and for culture.
You just can’t put a price on that sort of thing.”
Welcome to the new Ponty Town website – 24 May 2014
After sixteen years of html and css we’ve finally decided to move over to WordPress.
This new structure will encompass most of the old pages and we’ll attempt to use this homepage for news, columns, campaigns etc. We hope you’ll continue to support us by reading this site, posting on the forum and clicking our links. We’ll also try to add a few more images as time goes on and also some ‘appropriate’ Amazon purchases for you with each new story.