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.
3D Politics– 27 Sept 2016
It must have been about ten or fifteen years back when I realised that politics in the UK was not only rotten, but also broken. I suppose it’s always been rotten. After all, the system just keeps those in power in power and those that are rich, rich. But recently I really think it’s got much worse.
The more I watch the biased, dumbed-down news channels or listen to the lies and drivel of mainstream career politicians the more I get turned off from politics. In fact I seem to be actively encouraged by the media and the politicians to switch off, lose interest and finally give up on the whole idea that I can change anything by engaging with these parasites.
I used to think the problem in the UK was the press – the BBC, the foreign-owned Tory tabloids and the politically-correct broadsheets, but now I realise they are the same thing – the media and the politicians I mean. They are both part of one cosy little clique. It’s a childish little game they play. No-one gives a shit about anything except themselves. They don’t care about their communities or the country, all they want is to maintain the status quo and shun anything that may interfere with this symbiotic arrangement.
Result – I become depressed. Like a teacher who cares about children’s welfare. Like a doctor or nurse that longs to help people. Like any public servant that truly gives a monkeys about his fellow man and community! What do I do?
Well, I can fight. But sooner or later I’ll get so stressed out, as I battle against overwhelming odds, that I’ll finally get beaten down to their level. I either accept the banal and the stupid, I either welcome the deterioration of standards in society or I get ousted. The next step? Let go, made redundant, moved on / out, sacked, abused, threatened…
What becomes of me if I continue to stand up for goodness and mercy? Well, I become the personification of ‘natural wastage’.
It’s their masterplan. The sadder we all become the less likely we are to vote for any of them in the future. They simply do not represent us anymore. Voter turnout falls to an all-time low but the system means they still get ‘voted’ in to carry on ruining our lives and keeping us oppressed.
We need a new political system. One where the people write the policies.
I often get asked if I’m left-wing or right-wing. I bet you do too. Well, I’m both. I’m a raving facist when it comes to paedophiles, Muslim terrorists and serial rapists and I’m a loony leftie when it comes to our NHS, jobs and social care services. I want a living income for all, to abolish the benefits system for all but the most needy. So my politics, like many I believe, cannot be put into a box. Although I bet many would jump into my box – ooh err missus.
For example, I don’t want Eastern European criminals strolling into my country yet still love my Polish friends. If fundamentalists from Leicester want to blow me up then shoot them I say, but at the same time I want more Filipino nurses recruited to prop up our NHS until such time as we train more of our own.
I want equality in the workplace and equal pay for men. Yes, men I said! Everywhere you look there are women. Overpaid women! Take the BBC for instance. Every week they have two female presenters interviewing two women who are so hard done by, then they go over to the sports or business news with two more women, or maybe the weather with another woman. Mmm?
I believe in 3D Politics! I don’t want to be placed upon a straight line that goes from left to right, I want to be a sphere, I want to be able to have a different opinion on everything, not be forced into accepting the one true path of some silly, outdated, backward-thinking political party that never gets more than 30% of the country’s vote. I wonder why!
Here’s a good link for starters – take the test – and see where you stand. Life’s a grid man!
So, what political system would we have? Well, we have the internet so I’m sure we could be using this tool in politics too.
Compare the one-off democracy of the EU vote to the policies of the current government. They want to privatise the NHS, they want to give control of our energy to the Chinese, French and Germans. They want the USA to put bigger nuclear bombs in our country, they want to keep an unelected monarchy and hereditary Lords. They want the gap between rich and poor to grow wider, our state schools to become militarised zones and climate change to kill us all. They want environmental devastation, species extinction, habitat destruction and life expectancy to fall to an all-time low for poor people. Hands up who voted for all this? Well, apparently we did.
So, how about a vote on a 100% publicly-funded NHS? How about a vote on abolishing private schools? That would help social mobility that millionaire May laughably claims she wants.
How about we vote on whether we should allow Sharia courts to continue in this country? How about we vote on child benefit for only one child? How about we decide what higher rate of tax Wayne Rooney should pay? How about we decide what pay BBC presenters get? How about we vote on whether we want Halal and Kosher slaughter methods to be banned?
Until we get to choose what we want we will never have democracy. We are quickly heading towards a US style of election system. One where money talks and the choice is between two idiots who would struggle to comb their own hair or manage a simple email account.
This is why working class people vote for UKIP. It’s a protest vote. It’s a vote against the status quo, it’s a vote against the BBC, Channel 4 and the rest of our unelected mouthpieces who continually tell us how we should think, how we should vote and how awful we are.
Someone needs to take control and give the people a chance to get involved. Facebook politics anyone?
Precinct Plans Out– 21 Aug 2016
Even though RCT asked the residents of the town what they wanted for the derelict precinct site they have once again completely ignored the views of the people, just as they did with the environmentally-unfriendly Lido.
Details of the major plans to revitalise the former Pontypridd precinct site have been revealed for the first time and they are modern as expected, rather than a return to the old Victorian facade that many residents wanted.
I suppose this was to be expected as the London firms Knight Frank, Gaunt Francis Architects, and Atkins that the council has been working with, without going out to tender, have their own ideas how to profit from our public funds.
It should also be remembered that Ponty MP and Labour Party leader candidate Owen Smith voted for Knight Frank to work on the HS2 link from London to Birmingham.
The council did say that updates will be provided ‘when appropriate’, but have not provided details of the residents feedback or suggestions yet. (Doubt they ever will.)
So here are some artist’s impressions of what the new Taff Vale Precinct will look like as the developers seek outline planning permission – likely to be considered later this year, probably dependent on how well Owen Smith MP does in the leadership race.
No housing, rain shelters, greenery or public art?
Overall, the proposals want to allocate floor space for cafes/restaurants (450 sq.m.), non-residential use (1,145 sq.m.), assembly and leisure (1,145 sq.m.) and offices (9,935 sq.m.), even though most people who submitted ideas for the site wanted residential included that would overlook the river and Park.
A strange proposal seeing as Ponty already has half it’s non-residential units currently empty. RCT leisure services have been slashed across the county, due to austerity, and many offices and council buildings have been quietly sold off (at huge discounts) as staff are made redundant. Again very strange, unless you are a rich property developer who knows someone in the council of course.
The largest of the three buildings – to be built opposite the YMCA building (which plans to have non-residential, assembly and leisure use) – would have five storeys and would be up to 25m high, while the middle building would have four of five storeys and the smallest – opposite the old bridge – would have two or three storeys, up to 20m high in total.
The new buildings as seen from ‘The Wonky’
A new basement car park will be built as the existing one will be demolished and replaced with more or less the same thing.
Andrew Morgan, leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf council, suggested that the council wants to ‘change the direction of this key valleys town’, although he didn’t say in which direction?
Almost at river level, so therefore car park must be dug down much deeper?
The leader also acknowledged the multiple failures of previous Labour-led councils:
“Over the last 10 years or so, there have been previous proposals for the redevelopment of the former Taff Vale site…
“However, none of these have come to fruition…”
He also went on to add that that “An office-led development will bring hundreds of people into the town, who in turn will spend their money locally.” But not in the evenings or weekends which residential properties would have.
Should the council have gone for a design more in keeping with the town’s heyday or is a new, modern, carbon copy development of other areas more likely to bring people back into town? You decide.
Either way the town desperately needs something done and with Owen Smith MP having so many ‘grot spots’ under his reign as MP for the town I guess he and the council have to show something to the voters.
Living Income – 15 Aug 2016
Most rich, western, first-world countries have millions of ‘working poor’. These are people whose jobs do not pay enough to keep them above the poverty line, and whose wages are then topped-up by the state. In the UK we call this tax credits.
The minimum wage has never been high enough to reach the bottom of a ‘living income’ though. Therefore people still need government benefits. In 2008, about 5.5 million working families in the UK received tax credits, including working and child credits, housing benefits, and local tax benefits. The Tories austerity policies have reduced this number to 4.3 million. Given that there were 11.4 million working households in the UK in 2012, this means that an astonishing 38% did not receive a ‘living wage’.
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was cutting £12 billion from the welfare bill over the next four years as part of his screw-the-poor plan. Of this, £9 billion will come from cutting the tax subsidies for working families.
Mmm? Won’t this make things worse you ask?
The Tories also proposed to raise the minimum wage from £6.50 per hour to £9 per hour over the same period. The increase will fall on employers, not the government. The Treasury will save £12 billion, yet the higher minimum wage amounts to only £4 billion. In other words the government is taking £8 billion from people whilst also putting more and more burden on businesses and employers to pay this higher minimum wage!
This will result in more firms going bust and more people unemployed. This will cost the government more in benefits. Crazy backward economics?
As I pointed out in ‘Crap Jobs‘ automation will make more people unemployed. Up to 50% of existing jobs may be at risk in the next 20 years. Will enough new jobs be found to replace them? Of course not!
Also, is it even sensible to keep producing more and more shite we don’t need or can’t use?
So, as robots replace humans, humans will need incomes to replace wages from work.
Tax credits replace or top-up incomes, raising the minimum wage makes income more dependent on jobs. When wages go up we lose jobs to robots because they become cheaper.
So here is a radical (not new) idea. Government provides all citizens an unconditional tax credit / benefit amount, regardless of whether they work or not.
Bear with me. I know what you’re thinking. That would cost billions. Well, yes it would but we do away with the majority of the benefits system we have now, we just keep the bit that helps those sick, disabled, vulnerable etc. who cannot work.
This would mean that everyone gets a bare minimum amount of government money to spend on themselves. If they want more, they work, and get paid on top of this amount.
The UK is a very rich country and can certainly afford this but would it be a disincentive to work?
Well, the goal is not to strengthen the incentive to work, but to enable people to live without work. An unconditional basic income payment would make part-time work a possibility. Workers would be happy, have more leisure time, more time to spend with family, more time to spend money on services. All workers would have the freedom to make the same choices regarding how much to work, and under what conditions. No more slaves to the corporate machine that is driving us all to an early grave.
Now, if you think this is just a crazy idea and will cost too much money. Guess what, Switzerland have just voted on it, albeit rather negatively, and other countries, like Holland and Finland are seriously thinking about it too.
At the end of the day if you do the maths it will probably save the country billions! Plus everyone will be happier and more productive. We’ll have more time to spend our cash on services which will need to offer more jobs to cope with the demand. There will be no abuse of benefits because there won’t be any!
Just a thought.
Wales Cycle Ride – 28 July 2016
In August 2016 Pontypridd writer Dave Lewis cycled 688 miles around Wales in aid of Prostate Cancer UK.
Eleven years ago two intrepid Ponty bimblers cycled the iconic Land’s End to John o’ Groats route and raised over £1000 for Ty Hafan. This summer, one of those riders, Dave, and a university friend (who joined him for three days) managed another epic bike ride.
As well as raising money for the charity Dave is also hoping to inspire others to repeat the course and help turn this haphazard ‘loop’ of Wales into another world-famous iconic cycle ride just like Land’s End to John o’ Groats.
To get involved and support this worthy cause use the links below:
Dave is hoping to raise £500 for the charity via his JustGiving page. Click the button below and see how he’s getting on!
JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.
Prostate Cancer UK fights to help more men survive prostate cancer and enjoy a better quality of life. We find answers by funding ground-breaking research, we lead change by raising the profile of the disease and improving care. And we support men by providing vital information and services.
PROSTATE CANCER UK Registered charity number 1005541 and in Scotland (SC039332).
Ponty Prime Minister – 13 July 2016
‘Twas the night before the Labour leadership election and not a creature was stirring in the south Wales valleys. Well, apart from the usual scuffles between two obese, Kardashian lookalikes arguing over whose kebab is bigger whilst trying to strangle each other with their own stockings outside Soul Suite, but that goes without saying.
They say a week is a long time in politics, but recently it’s been like a badly-scripted soap opera or extended episode of House of Cards. We’ve had #Brexit in the valleys (that’s us by the way, us who get far more out of Europe than we put in), Cameron (the worst PM in 100 years if you read newspapers that have somehow forgotten how evil Thatcher was) gone, bonking Boris stabbed in the back by a grinning jester, nasty Nigel making a mint on his Euro speculation, and a Nazi mum who gave way to another investment banker‘s wife.
Then the really funny bit. Angela (can’t string a sentence together properly) Eagle decides to stand against Jezza, the man of the people, voted in by a bunch of loony lefties who wouldn’t know a proper job if their overpaid union could save one for them. Well, this is what we’re told by the mainstream media anyway… I mean, just look at Corbyn’s policies! It appears the UK has at last found a real politician who speaks for us all:
- Corbyn is against PFI schemes
- He supports a higher rate of income tax for the wealthiest
- He wants to recoup losses from tax avoidance / evasion by investing £1 billion in HMRC
- He opposes austerity
- He opposed the new Welfare Bill, describing it as “rotten and indefensible”, after it emerged that thousands of disabled people had died after being found fit to work
- He has said that the NHS should be “completely publicly run and publicly accountable”
- He envisions the establishment of a “National Education Service”, a return to local authority over state-funded academies and free schools, and an end to the charitable status of public schools
- Corbyn has campaigned strongly against tuition fees in England and advocates the restoration of maintenance grants, which were replaced with loans by the Tories
- He is a pioneer of LGBT equality, Corbyn championed such causes as the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (great film btw!)
- In 1975 he opposed Britain’s membership of the EU, then in 2015 he said that if Cameron negotiated away workers’ rights and environmental protection he would not rule out Brexit, then in 2016 he said that there was an “overwhelming case” for staying in the EU
- He has been a consistent supporter of renationalising public utilities
- He is a long-standing supporter of a United Ireland
- He believes the royal ceremony for the State Opening of Parliament should be abolished and that Britain should become a republic and abolish the House of Lords
- He has criticized Britain’s close ties with Saudi Arabia, yet he’s a total wimp as regards bombing ISIS
- He has called for Tony Blair to be investigated for alleged war crimes
- He opposes the replacement of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system and suggested that the 11,000 jobs supported by Trident could be replaced by “socially productive” jobs in renewable energy, railways and housing
- He is a strong environmentalist, would ban hydraulic fracking, phase out fossil fuel extraction, and invest in public transport to improve air quality. He is also against the building of new nuclear power stations
- Corbyn has been a long-time campaigner on animal rights issues and opposes the Yulin Dog Meat Festival
OK, not perfect, but he’s getting there. If it was me I’d add a few tweaks: i.e. a living income in order to abolish the benefits system, reclassify Islam as a political ideology, boycott China (until they stop human rights abuses, stop killing elephants and rhinos, and withdraw from Africa, Tibet and the Philippines), deportation of foreign criminals, abolish public schools, ban job agencies, limit public servants salaries, and introduce the death penalty for paedophiles.
But back to Westminster, or as we in Wales call it – whatever ‘shite’ the BBC, Channel 4 or ITV want to tell us about our elected representatives this week. One thing we do know, it’s never the truth.
And so it seems the career-focused, media-savvy political class are at a loss. They can’t explain Brexit ‘cos they are so out of touch with reality, their media chums can’t give Jezza any decent platform ‘cos they’re scared stiff people might hear what he has to say and agree with him! Just read that list of policies again! So they are floundering big time.
Think about it. My God, what if people actually voted for him? Then the current crop of politicians would be out of their highly paid jobs for life, their middle-class school friends in the press might lose their cushy little numbers writing shit columns for the Sunday broadsheets, the status quo would be upset and the workers might actually get a decent standard of living from the 5th richest country in the world.
Then… Wow! said Kate Bush.
Just when you thought you’d had enough of this London-centric, reality-TV gameshow and were about to switch the telly over to watch ‘celebrity big island loves my brother dancing with a singing cake’, what we in Ponty have known for about six or seven years finally happens! Yep, our very own (I use that word loosely) ex-shadow cabinet minister Owen (son of Dai) Smith chucks his sugar plums on the workers party bonfire saying Labour needs both a “radical and credible” leader.
You couldn’t make it up! Mmm, radical eh? OK, let’s compare policies with red Jezza.
Oily (as he’s known locally) Smith is well known for:
- He supports PFI
- As a lobbyist for Pfizer, he wanted to privatise the NHS
- He also strongly supported Tony Blair’s city academies
- He is a strong supporter of Trident and has friends in the arms industry
- He has voted for military action in Libya and Iraq
- He abstained on the Tory welfare benefit cuts
There seems to be no evidence whatsoever that Owen Smith is left wing. There is plenty of evidence that he is yet another, in a long line of, New Labour career politicians, who’ll say anything to win votes.
But what the hell, we’re used to being screwed over in Wales. We’ve had a 100 years of it so why expect any change now? At least the TV will be fun for the next few months. From the partisan Welsh media circus expect two months of how crap ‘Corbynista’ is and how useless little ‘Eaglet’ is, and how great our local lad is of course, but after two months of mud throwing, we might, just might, have a Welsh winner once again. OK, we didn’t actually win the Euros, but we did lose to the eventual champions, and they were lucky anyway… if Ramsey had played… sorry, getting carried away here.
Anyway the Labour party will announce a winner on the eve of the Labour Party conference on 24 September.
Owen recently said – “I can heal the party and be a credible leader and next Labour prime minister.” Mr Smith also said he would vote to support the renewal of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system in a Commons vote on Monday. Not quite sure how nuclear missiles ‘heal’ things but never mind that, if Ponty can get it’s first PM then what’s a few kilograms of uranium, plutonium and tritium between friends? Some would say Ponty town centre needs it.
Ponty people will know Owen quite well of course as he is a regular supporter of Ponty RFC. In fact, not long after he was elected as our new MP (after ‘shredder Howells’ took to his easel full-time) he even introduced himself to me once at the club (no idea why?), guess it was ‘cos someone told him I write this crap? Lol.
So we have an exciting time ahead in British & Welsh politics that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to the EBC vans’ sat-navs sending them to dead-ends in Cwmaman and the locals directing them over the Rhigos. Maybe Owen can introduce the inevitable, politically-correct, media scrum to the Tuesday dinnertime crowd of The Wonky for a more ’rounded’ appreciation of the problems facing the UK’s citizens today?
Perhaps we the people of Pontypridd can forget about the gibberish we hear daily by (and about) people we know nothing about and instead listen to new gibberish by (and about) people we know everything about! It’ll be so funny, like a re-run of The Office or Fawlty Towers. Exciting times indeed.
But, here is the really great thing. Owen Smith could actually win. He could become the next leader of the Labour party! He could become the next Prime Minister! Wow! Imagine that. Our very own Ponty boy could finally sort out the major problems of the town (see photos) and the globe!
He could force Bargain Booze to open for longer, get a valleys, regional rugby team back! He could get the council to approve my application for a lap-dancing bar on Taff Street and he could even get the precinct developed.
He might even ban job agencies and create proper jobs in Wales? Remember those days? Now there’s a thrilling prospect! Maybe politics is worthwhile after all?
Then again, maybe the people won’t be fooled and he’ll go back to selling drugs for erectile dysfunction after his political career is ruined. Who cares really?
Poetry Winners – 5 July 2016
The wait is over and the results of the 2016 Competition have now been announced by judge John Evans at a special prize night in Clwb Y Bont, Pontypridd.
1st Prize – Blackfish by Tarquin Landseer (London)
2nd Prize – Shattering-earth 2016 by Paul Hawkes (Aberteifi)
3rd Prize – Birth by Diana Sanders (Corwen)
For more details and to read the winning poems – click here.
EU Result – 24 June 2016
Well, judging by social media (remind me to delete all my accounts later) the world will now dissolve, the KKK will be riding pale horses through Treorchy town centre, my children will be eaten by Britain First, our NHS will catapult all the Filipino nurses back to Manila this weekend, the pound will become synonymous with the Weimar Republic, house prices will rise to ten million euros each for a mid-terrace in Cwmbach, Boris will finally reveal himself to be a lizard, the Queen will emigrate to an independent Scotland and mosques will be draped in bacon and set alight. Oh yeh, and worst of all Loose Women (‘television for stupid people’ for those that don’t know) may get cancelled to make way for the news – damn.
Well, thank Dawkins for that. I thought we were in trouble for a moment. Look, Wales will probably lose to New Zealand again and the footie team will still be heroes, even if they go out Saturday. So all is not lost. Cheer up, as Brian of Nazareth said. At least Corbyn is on his way out too. Maybe now we’ve got the ‘EU vote’ out of the way we can start on the real problem, a minority Tory government (just 24% of the UK voted for Cameron btw).
Before the vote I was sick to death of people lying (on both sides), sick of seeing Tories on the telly, sick of millionaires (journalists / business leaders / career politicians / ex-footballers / actors / celebrities) telling me how I should vote. I was also quite shocked that wonderful, caring, intelligent people I knew were turning into nasty, name-calling twats when faced with anyone who disagreed with them. Mmm? OK, I put it down to passion, nothing wrong with that, you’re forgiven.
Moving forward though, shouldn’t we be asking why poor, working class people voted for Brexit? For me it wasn’t because people had their intelligence chips removed it was just a way to stick two fingers up to the establishment. This was about class and wealth more than anything else. This was about inequality, unfairness and hopelessness. In Wales, it was the so-called ‘left-behind’ communities that voted out.
The Labour party, that has traditionally represented working people, have deserted us all long ago. Social mobility under Blair and Brown dropped to it’s lowest point ever in the UK. No-one cares about us, so I think people thought, ‘Right, I’m not going to care about you either.’
‘Wait, hang on… is that a burning cross outside my window?’ ‘Oh no, it’s alright, it’s just a London banker immolating himself.’
So let’s look at the actual doomsday scenarios I’ve been reading this morning. The pound has fallen. So? It’ll bounce back soon enough. How else will the rich get richer if they can’t speculate on currency fluctuations?
Oh yeh, house prices will crash. Great stuff! Youngsters might be able to afford one now. You know, those youngsters that are shouting and screaming for the genocide of ‘stupid old people’ because they can’t afford their own house, yet they spend a fortune every month on a mobile phone contract to post shit on social media, go to the pub, smoke, eat out, drive cars, go on gap years (from what I ask?), subscribe to Netflix and SKY TV instead of actually doing what older people did – save up for a deposit!
What about all the millions of job cuts that must come now? Well hang on, you can’t have it both ways, if EU nationals are sent packing we’ll have loads of jobs for people to do? But seriously, I doubt either will happen though. Maybe… just maybe, employers might just keep the good people, regardless of whether they eat beetroot soup or not.
What about the NHS, schools, council services? Will they just explode in a great big puff of smoke now that Boris has found a comb? ‘Oh yeh, I hope that austerity thing doesn’t stop now. I’ve got really used to it. How would we cope without cuddly George Osborne telling us we need to cancel our membership to Annabels because we’re all in this together?’
Btw, the happiest countries to live in are (in order) – Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Canada, Finland (#Fixit), Netherlands (#Nexit), New Zealand, Australia, Sweden (#Swexit). So, it kinda makes a mockery of all the so-called experts on our tellies telling the working class who voted for ‘out’ that they are idiots. And the arrogant, biased, pig-headed, absolutely disgusting BBC who dig up people to do vox pops about immigrants to peddle their nasty, racist, hate-filled agenda.
OK, rant over, time for a pint. ‘How much John?’ ‘Nine pounds fifty for a glass of Speckled Bollocks!’ We’ll see.
Europe Judgement – 17 June 2016
Europe eh? Bloody hell. Husbands against wives, brothers against sisters, dogs against cats, hamsters against gerbils. And that’s just my house. Yes, I know you’re bored with it. The claims and counter-claims, the lies and counter-lies, the smug faces and biased media. But, wake up for a minute. Here’s the really important, nay incredible bit. We get to choose. Really! Well, as long as you use an indelible marker pen so the secret service can’t alter your vote.
Who would have thought that we, the British people, would ever be given a chance by the ruling elite to vote for what we really want? And get this! This time it’s one person one vote! I think they call that democracy. Compare this to the last general election when only 66% bothered to vote. The Tory Party only got 37% which means that once again we have a minority government that approx. 76% of the people didn’t vote for!
Normally politicians will say anything to get our little crosses in their box, then spend four or five years ignoring our wishes while they line their own pockets on the back of our hard labour. But this time, it’s different. This time it’s got personal. Some would say far too personal and I’d agree. This vote could result in our political classes seeing their easy money disappearing as quickly as an African leaves Africa these days.
And this is why the airwaves, blogs, social media, TV, radio and even our pubs are full of it. Europe I mean, not bullshit, although there is a fair amount of that too. Now this decision will no doubt have some limited effect on us, the unwashed masses, but for the suits at the top of the butter mountain our decision could have very serious consequences. For the working class, struggling to make ends meet every week, a Remain vote or a Brexit probably won’t change much. We’ll still have the same political class in government. They’ll still be earning big bucks gambling on the stock markets while we eek out an existence and complain about the price of a pint.
As Joe Strummer said ‘the future is unwritten’, so ‘should we stay or should we go’? Well, I’ve been racking my brain for months and have finally decided, quite firmly, that I’m undecided. If the question was ‘Should we join the EU?’ I think most people would say ‘Non’ to us giving away hundreds of millions of pounds a week to tens of thousands of unelected Johnny foreigners who spend it all on grandiose schemes like straightening our bananas, but that isn’t what we’re being asked.
OK, so let’s look at some of the great and the good who are desperate for us to throw our love spuds on their barbecue. Out of touch, posh Etonian’s Cameron and Osborne, who want to privatise your granny, sell off the NHS to their friends in the pharmaceutical companies and send us back to Victorian times where we’ll eat gruel and be whipped for not doffing our hats quickly enough. They want us to stay in, even though they actually want us to leave so they can return to these good old days far faster. Then there is bonking Boris, fisherman’s friend Gove and irritable Duncan syndrome. They also want exactly the same as Cameron and his porky chums but say ‘Leave’! No wonder we’re confused, it’s almost as if this EU thing is just a game to them, to see who’ll become the next fascist leader of our less than free world.
And then there is the Labour Party. You remember them, the BBC used to allow them airtime occasionally. They were dead against us joining when national treasure Cliff Richard’s friend Ted Heath was kindly taking young lads for trips on his yacht. But nowadays they are mostly all for it. Wish they’d make up their mind! OK, to be fair only 4% of Labour MPs want to leave while 56% of Tories want to remain. So it’s as clear as mud what our career-representatives think (or don’t think, as the case may be).
Big business wants us to stay in, while small business wants out. The Greens and the scientists can see our planet melting if we let our current government have more say so also want to remain.
Oh dear. Looks like it’s up to us to work it out for ourselves. That could be a disaster, we’re not used to logical thought are we? That’s why we have politicians. To do our talking for us. Stops them messing up proper jobs. So let’s ask ourselves ‘what has the EU ever done for us’, apart from abolish the ministry for silly walks?
Workers rights have improved in Europe of course, especially for all those Polish descendants of our Battle of Britain Spitfire heroes who are now working in dynamic, meat-packing Merthyr. However, an over-abundance of job agencies has meant locals are overlooked in favour of Eastern europeans, which is a bad thing.
Many say our NHS would collapse without all the agency nurses we get from overseas but they can also double up as translators when we treat our EU cousins. Mind you I have to say that neither side has stated the bleeding obvious here. If we do vote leave and can control immigration better we can still employ EU doctors and nurses if we want to surely?
Most of our farmers are better off under the EU, although how Tesco can get away paying pennies for Welsh lamb is beyond me. Our fishing industry has been killed off by Europe but our environment is much better protected and pollution laws are more stringent.
OK, what about the blue flag projects we see everywhere in Wales I hear you say? The A470, Ponty Lido and the dodgy pavements were all built with European money. Hooray! Mind you, we did give it to Brussels in the first place, then had it back minus a colossal admin fee, before it was topped up with more of our own money, which comes from the local council, via the Welsh Assembly, via Westminster, after we pay our taxes to London, then get subsidised to live in poverty because of antiquated maths devised by an evil goblin in a faraway kingdom somewhere in middle earth. I’m sure there’s an easier way of feeding people, building bridges and winning Eurovision?
Wales is a net beneficiary of the EU of course and will be until 2020, when we won’t be, because all our EU money will have to go to pay for even poorer countries than us.
Greece may default, and maybe even Grexit, while suicides are up 35% in a little less than 2 years there thanks to German austerity. Is this the future of the EU project? The future is indeed worrying. If the UK leaves Finland and Sweden also might consider it. Could we dismantle the EU and start again? Might put the price of a cuppa up in Strasbourg for a while if they lose their monthly income.
Bloody immigrants! That’s what the Germans would call us if we travelled there freely, took German jobs and got paid five times what we get paid here. But not many of us speak the lingo. Shame. I fancy living off Bavarian lager.
And what about these so-called trade agreements with Japan, Switzerland, Norway, and Brazil we could have? What about ISIS terrorists in boats off Kent and Norfolk? What’s wrong with a points system? The Six Nations has one. Will we be able to resurrect the British Empire and reclaim India if we vote leave? Might help our cricket team. Not so sure though, always crowd trouble there.
Talking of Empire, the Queen has been decidedly quiet on the topic. Apparently she wants to leave. A bit like all the men and women the same age as her, i.e. older people. They want Brexit because they’re scared about Turkey joining and have never really embraced the kebab culture. Younger voters on the other hand have a bigger and far more important decision to make. Should they go to Glastonbury or care about mobile phone roaming charges and vote stay?
OK, there it is. A broken Britain, a knackered EU, a sick world run by evil people – a depressing future either way. And so on that happy note, over to you, the people, to vote. And whatever you choose – please do vote. You may not get the chance again.
Reclaiming the Beat – 23 May 2016
Pontypridd writer Dave Lewis has just released his twelfth book, a poetry collection inspired by the ‘beats’ of 1950s America but not only brought up to date but also with a contemporary Welsh edge to it.
Reviewers have included world famous Pontypridd writer Catrin Collier who describes Lewis as “a true Welsh poet of the Valleys who illustrates just how deep the connection between artist, the land that nurtured him and those long since consigned to history burns. Here you will find poems to be savoured, dwelt on, and considered over weeks, months and years. Both a cry and lament for the human condition they are the work of a mature and master poet who like everyman craves life above all else.”
Precinct Plans – 8 May 2016
Right on cue – just before the Welsh Assembly elections – Labour-run RCT council have unveiled plans for the derelict 1960s Taff Vale Precinct in Pontypridd town centre, which the council has owned for a year and so far done nothing with.
This month though the council has released two designs of buildings which could be built on the site.
And although the proposed developments look pretty awful I guess beggars can’t be choosers.
After asking the public for their views it appears that the council have ignored them and gone for a fairly boring, unadventurous design as opposed to the old Victorian facades that many residents asked for. The new design may well fit in with the new YMCA design but will be very different to the old buildings opposite, so I guess compromises have to be made. Can’t see any obvious solar panels on the buildings either?
In the recent past, many attempts to revitalise the precinct have failed. Mainly due to the lack of vision of past council leaders and the threat of car parking in the War Memorial Park, although as we write this it seems there are more cars parked in the ‘people’s park’ than ever before.
Councillor Morgan said that the council is looking to see if a second bridge connecting Ynyangharad Park to the town centre can be built. Not sure if he’s been to Ponty lately but we already have two bridges from town into the park so this would actually be a third bridge! Maybe someone has shares in a bridge-making company?
He is right to say that the river is an asset to the town though and that is why housing on top of the shop units must face the river and park. We have been saying this since before 1998 of course.
“The council has been working with London firm Knight Frank, Gaunt Francis Architects, and Atkins to produce options for what is possible upon the site.”
Why there is any ‘significant commercial sensitivity’ to this project though remains a mystery unless this is some sort of development deal that hasn’t gone out to tender yet.
Ponty MP Owen Smith voted for Knight Frank to work on the HS2 link from London to Birmingham incidentally.
The council does say that updates will be provided ‘when appropriate’, whatever this means, so we wait with bated breath!
Photo Exhibition – 16 April 2016
The centre has a large exhibition space so why not pop along and see the photographs close up. All images are framed (either 8 x 12 or 12 x 16) and can be bought direct from the gallery or buy contacting Dave direct via his website – www.davelewisphotography.co.uk
For those thinking of taking up photography and don’t know what camera to buy why not read this article on Dave’s blog.
For more information, send us an email or contact the centre.
Gartholwg Lifelong Learning Centre
St. Illtyd’s Road
Telephone: 01443 219589
Crap Jobs – 4 April 2016
Over 80 years ago John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would have advanced sufficiently by now to allow us to work just a 15-hour week. However, it seems technology is now used to figure out ways to make us all work more not less!
How? Well, jobs have been created that are, effectively, pointless. Just think local council managers, their managers and their manager’s managers, and their manager’s manager’s managers and their manager’s manager’s manager’s managers. (This is not a joke btw, I’ve worked under this system!)
Huge numbers of people, in Europe and North America spend their entire working lives performing tasks they know do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul, a bit like using Facebook every day. Yet virtually no one talks about it.
Over the last 100 years an endless variety of new jobs and industries have been created, but very few have anything to do with the production of homes, food, clothes or things we humans actually need.
So what are these crap jobs, exactly?
Well, over the last century, the number of workers employed in manufacturing industries and in farming (i.e. making stuff we all require) has almost disappeared. But, ‘professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers’ numbers have tripled, and now account for 3/4 of total employment.
Production has been mostly automated but rather than allow us more time for leisure pursuits governments have ‘created’ bullshit jobs. Crap jobs. Pointless, meaningless jobs. The majority of which involve pushing paper from one person to another until all the trees are gone. Then they can create a new job – tree planting manager and the cycle begins again!
Think about it. Where did financial services, call centres, NHS administrators, human resources, and public relations come from? And do we need them? Do we hell!
It’s like someone is just making up shit jobs just to keep us all working. If we were living in a communist state where everyone has a job then maybe, but under a capitalist system surely the object is to screw people to make money. So, why create these pointless jobs? Very weird.
Think Port Talbot steelworks. People who actually make things the country needs. Yet our government is happy to lose these jobs and import cheap Chinese steel? But bankers, oh no, we can’t lose them. In fact since 2007 the UK has committed to spending £1.162 trillion at various points on bailing out the banks. That total outstanding support was equivalent to 31% of GDP in March.
Note: at a cost of £1 million a day, this is about 3,300,000,000 years worth of finance for Port Talbot.
The answer clearly isn’t economic: it must be political. The ruling elite must think that a happy and productive majority, with free time on their hands will end up thinking. And they can’t have us mere mortals thinking, that would be a real danger!
Why does society want to limit the numbers of artists, musicians, poets in favour of hundreds of WRU administrators and quango managers? Ask yourself the question – is my job worthwhile or is it just rubbish? Do I contribute to people’s well being or do I just make life more difficult for others? Just think solicitors, hedge fund managers or estate agents.
The other thing you find is that the people with bullshit jobs resent the people with proper jobs, e.g. doctors, nurses, farmers, schoolteachers, dustbin collectors, cleaners etc. How do they react towards them? Well, they pay them less, pile extra (meaningless) work on top of them and if they can, they humiliate, ridicule and ultimately force them out of the profession they once loved! Guilt perhaps?
A world without ship builders, construction workers or aircraft engineers would soon be in trouble, and even one without crime fiction writers or blues guitarists would be a poorer place. But how about a world without derivative traders, BBC TV presenters, PR consultants, job agencies, weather bimbos, celebrities? I think I’d cope.
And what happens when doctors strike? The BBC interview some selfish bitch who complains about how her in-growing toenail operation has caused her so much suffering that she even contemplated thinking of others for once in her miserable life. So much for balanced TV.
Nobody seems to ask why teachers don’t want to do what they always wanted to do. Nobody seems to realise why they are leaving the profession in droves! It’s not the money, it’s not the holidays, it’s not the kids. It’s their constantly changing conditions of service as dictated to them by talentless, over-paid ‘crap job’ holders, like politicians.
Real, productive workers are continuously abused and oppressed by the useless workers. And that is what the ruling class want. It’s a new form of oppression, a brave new world. And the Chinese and Africans want to be like us! Dawkins help us!
Ah, happy days.
Note: I should point out that I have ‘borrowed / pinched’ most of this from a few different columns I read saying exactly the same thing, especially a great article from David Graeber. I’ve tried to put my own slant on it as well to make it more relevant to Wales and our local angle.
Music at the Muni – 20 March 2016
Three of Ponty’s best bands are to play a benefit concert for the town’s Muni Arts Centre.
Climbing Trees, The People The Poet and Peasant’s King will play the first live concert since The Muni Working Group – comprising representatives from Pontypridd Town Council, Cylch Cymreig, Artis Community, Coalfields Regeneration Trust and the YMCA – re-opened the venue in the autumn of 2015.
The bands, who have been participants in BBC Cymru Wales and the Arts Council of Wales’ prestigious Horizons 12 initiative, will join forces for this special event in association with promoters Staylittle Music on Saturday, April 2.
Matthew Frederick, of Staylittle Music and singer with Climbing Trees, said: “We’re thrilled to be involved in promoting this exciting show of local talent at one of South Wales’ best live music venues, with such a strong line-up reflecting the great music that’s coming out of Pontypridd and the surrounding area at the moment.
“There’s a massive amount of potential at The Muni, so it’s great to see this important facility getting back on its feet, not only as a live music venue but as a hub of the community.”
Development Manager of The Muni Åsa Malmsten added: “The Muni is at the heart of the Pontypridd and surrounding community – we are delighted that these three exceptional bands are performing for us here, and very generously donating their time and talent for free, to help us sustain this great venue. It should be a night to remember.”
Doors open at 7pm with tickets priced £5 in advance or £7 on the door.
This is an 18+ event, with tickets available to book online in advance from www.ticketsource.co.uk/muniartscentre
Source: Wales Online
International Welsh Poetry Competition 2016 – 20 Feb 2016
Calling all poets amongst our readers. Check out the Welsh Poetry Competition website.
The contest was set up by Ponty poet & writer Dave Lewis in 2007. Officially launched on St David’s Day @ Clwb-Y-Bont, Pontypridd, 2007 the aim is to encourage and foster the wealth of creative writing talent that we know exists in Wales but currently languishes in the doldrums. We aim to inspire people to capture life in the present day and to give a voice to a new generation of poets and writers. We are not interested in purely academic types of literature but would much rather see pure raw passion burst onto the creative writing scene in Wales.
With entries from as far a field as Abu Dhabi, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Corfu, Denmark, England, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Swaziland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, USA and Vietnam as well as Wales of course, the Welsh Poetry Competition is a truly international competition, accessible to all (through the English language).
We also hope to publish an anthology of winners every five years.
For more details – click here.
Come Dine With Me – 11 Feb 2016
Ponty girl Andrea Grainger (centre) appeared on Come Dine With Me, Cardiff 2013.
On many occasions she said that it was the best week of her life. Andrea carefully prepared her menus including all ingredients that were Welsh e.g. Welsh salted butter and Welsh cream liquor etc. She practiced for weeks and weeks trying out her food on anyone who came to the house. All her hard work paid off when she won Come Dine With Me!
The other contestants said she was a worthy winner. Andrea was then selected out of 10 years’ worth of winners to take part in the champion of champions which took place in Sheffield back in October.
Again Andrea thought it was an amazing experience especially because Dave Lamb was there throughout the programme and her cooking was judged by the Birmingham Michelin chef Glyn Purnell. The series is currently taking place this month on Channel 4 at 5 pm. So if would like to find out if Andrea won, her time to cook on champion of champions is 23rd Feb.
Six Nations 2016 – 29 Jan 2016
Dates for this years’ competition:
Sunday, 7 February
Ireland v Wales (Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 15:00 GMT)
Saturday, 13 February
Wales v Scotland (Millennium Stadium, 16:50 GMT)
Friday, 26 February
Wales v France (Millennium Stadium, 20:05 GMT)
Saturday, 12 March
England v Wales (Twickenham, 16:00 GMT)
Saturday, 19 March
Wales v Italy (Millennium Stadium, 14:30 GMT)
Taff Trail Map – 20 Jan 2016
A useful, downloadable map of the Taff Trail for cyclists and walkers. Just click on the map for a larger version.
Cuts to Libraries – 19 Jan 2016
RCT council, which still pays out £1.2m to councillors is to cut £1.1m from libraries, bus routes, day nurseries and youth services. Nice to see where their priorities lie!
Among them are the introduction of single-staffed libraries – mooted for Hirwaun, Ferndale, Mountain Ash, Pontyclun and Rhydyfelin – and the plan to scrap three of RCT’s least-used bus routes, from Porth to Trehafod (Woodfield Terrace), Tonypandy to Gilfach Goch, and Fernhill to Pontypridd via Cefnpennar and Ynysybwl.
In November, it was revealed 20 library staff posts could be affected by a loss of pay, while 15 staff could be at the threat of redundancy.
A 25% cut to the council’s book fund has already been implemented.
Also, as part of further cuts, the five council-run day nurseries in Aberaman, Tylorstown, Tonyrefail, Pontypridd and Llantrisant could stop taking fee-paying children.
They would all become Flying Start-only centres, with the exception of Llantrisant which does not currently offer that provision and would close completely.
RCT council leader Andrew Morgan said the changes were necessary due to a huge reduction in funding by the UK government. He said: “To deal with this massive financial challenge, the council is seeking to make savings in a number of areas.
“Proposals are already being consulted upon to reduce our senior management costs and we are seeking to make as many ‘back office’ efficiencies as possible to protect frontline services from the impact of UK Government cuts.
“Faced with such a significant funding shortfall moving forward, we reluctantly need to consider a number of potential service changes.”
If you think this is criminal do something about it! Start here.
Welsh Rugby Is Dying – 24 Dec 2015
Wales did well in the RWC 2015. Well, they lost anyway.
Wales did well in the last 6 Nations too – we came 3rd.
Regional rugby is going swimmingly well too. Yep, I’m kidding of course. A Welsh team has never won the European Cup, Beddau 2nds get more fans turning up to an away game than Cardiff Blues and club rugby (that is all the clubs below the so-called ‘professional’ regional level) is going down the pan along with The Thomas family millions.
Think about it? Ponty’s “House of Pain” used to be just that for visiting sides (think Munster, Leicester, Bath, Leinster, Wasps and so on…) but now all we have is a creaking reminder of former glories. Remember Neil Jenkins, Martyn Williams, and the rotund Phil John and what he was worth?
Up and down the principality rugby clubs are struggling to survive. The money men have gone, all but the very die-hard of fans have left the building, councils are closing grounds, stands are crumbling, clubhouses open only on match days, players can earn more money fiddling the dole doing roofing jobs than spending time on the training field and you’ve as much chance of seeing Elvis in Treorchy as a full attendance.
The professional era promised so much but it was just a get-rich-quick scheme for the lucky few. Sure, plenty of committeemen had new conservatories built but what about investment in rugby, in schools, in coaches, in the small clubs, infrastructure, in the future?
All that regional rugby has done for Wales is break the hundred year old links between communities and the village, town and valleys teams.
Is rugby still the Welsh national game or is it mountain biking or fishing?
It’s Ponty v Cardiff on Boxing Day, a fixture that once saw 10,000 fans brave the elements to watch their heroes hit lumps out of each other. But not anymore. I doubt there’ll be 2000, and even that is ten times what most clubs get these days. Ponty is the last great Welsh team left. The last club left standing. You could make a film about it if Custer wasn’t already dead and gone.
Rumours on the terraces abound that lowly Merthyr are paying players £20,000 a year even though they are in the division below Pontypridd. All in cash of course. How can the village teams in their division compete with that? They can’t, and they will lose.
Pontypridd used to pay players well but now they struggle to pay anything near a £10,000-a-year salary, let alone the £600,000 Toulon pay Leigh Halfpenny, and they’ll laugh in your face if you say Welsh rugby is doing well.
Even the rich regional clubs set up by the Australian-run WRU at the time can’t compete with other nations. We must accept that Wales is a poor country, like Fiji and Samoa are to New Zealand. You can’t blame the players that are leaving for England and France.
Yet the WRUin in Cardiff gets richer as more corporate sponsorship brings even more people through the Millennium Stadium gates that don’t know one end of a rugby ball from the other (think about that one). There’s business people drinking champagne in their cosy boxes with salmon platters and half of them are not even watching the game on the telly provided. So much for live sport. Real rugby fans still crowd the pubs of the city on match days but only Brains brewery, chip alley and a few pasty shops makes any money. The valleys still struggle.
And the worst thing that has happened to Welsh rugby? Warren Gatland’s relative success.
The national side have been Six Nations champions four times in the last decade – incredible, considering the mess in the club scene. Ask yourself where the next Shane Williams or Sam Warburton will come from?
It has “sugar-coated” the reality. The reality that all true rugby fans can see as plain as a Bulgarian pin-up. Unless the WRUin make drastic changes to the game it is doomed.
A move to ‘true’ regions might have worked. Maybe even cutting the top flight by one or two clubs might have worked. But now all we have is four clubs, which means Ebbw Vale, Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Bridgend and Neath now have no top-tier team to support.
A favourite Sardis Road song is “I’ll never be a blue”. That sums up the insensitivity of the WRUin to the ethos of Welsh club rugby and why the ‘super clubs’ experiment will never work. Old rivalries was what made a Saturday afternoon worth living for. Not anymore.
The WRUin will probably get what they want of course. The death of Ponty and valleys rugby. The British & Irish Cup, which provided a competitive environment has been taken away from the best club in Wales. The rise of Merthyr that some see as a threat will Peter out as quickly as it loses money for the investors. After all it’s just a childish attempt to do a Welsh Toulon without reading the rules of the leagues – i.e. no promotion to regional level, therefore a completely pointless exercise.
It’s a far bleaker picture elsewhere in Wales. Great clubs like Pontypool, Aberavon, Newbridge, Swansea, Bridgend, Neath and many others are ghost towns on a Saturday when once you’d be queuing to get into pubs and clubhouses.
The future? There isn’t one at the moment.
Councillors – Are They Worth It? – 12 Nov 2015
Firstly, can I say this is not a personal attack on any individual, or any political party but…
In RCT, where we are seeing unprecedented cuts to jobs and council services it surely must make sense to look at other ways of saving money. An area that rarely gets looked at is our county councillors – the elected members of the borough. Now we’re not saying they are all a lazy bunch of illiterate fools, or useless old farts jumping on the gravy train to enhance their pensions, oh no, not at all. But we do believe there are too many and that many are overpaid. After all, councillors used to think it was an honour to serve and did this public service for free.
So before reading further just ask yourself the following questions: What do they do for us? And are they worth the money?
Here’s what they will cost us, the taxpayer, in 2015 / 2016:
Leader and Chair of the Cabinet
Morgan A. – £53,000
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Tackling Poverty Engagement & Housing
Montague K. – £37,000
Cabinet Member for Council Business
Webber M. – ￼£32,000
Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Culture
Crimmings A. – £32,000
Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
Hanagan E. – £32,000
Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Services
Forey M. – £32,000
Cabinet Member for Economic Development & Planning
Bevan D.R. – ￼£32,000
Cabinet Member – Children’s Social Services, Equalities and the Welsh Language
Hopkins G.E. – £32,000
Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, Libraries and Heritage
Rosser J. – £32,000
Chairperson of Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Adams L.M. – £22,000
Chairperson of Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee
Norris M.A. – £22,000
Chairperson of Public Service Delivery, Communities and Prosperity (and Crime and Disorder)
Davies. G.R. – £22,000
Chairperson of Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee
Leyshon C. – ￼£22,000
Chairperson of Health and Well-Being Scrutiny Committee
Smith R.W. – £22,000
Chairperson of Development Control Committee
Stacey G. – ￼£22,000
Chairperson of Licensing Committee
Fox A.S. – £22,000
Leader Of The Opposition
Jarman P. – £22,000
Total – £458,000
Ah, but that’s not all. We also have the other 56 councillors who are each entitled to a more modest £13,300.
Total – £744,800
This does not take into account expenses, of which some councillors claim next to nothing while others seem to want to suck the public tit dry for all their worth! Anyway…
Grand Total (cost to residents of RCT) – £1,202,800
Of course the question that must be asked is: Do you think we are getting value for money at £1.2 million every year, year on year…? And if not, what should be done about it?
Here’s some suggestions:
- Reduce number of councillors to 7
- Two for each area – R, C & T, plus leader
- Salaries – £25,000 each, no expenses
- Minimum qualifications, e.g. 5 GCSEs, business ownership, respected community member / leader in their field
- Total cost – £175,000
- Saving (per year) – £1,027,800 + expenses
Source: RCT website
Services Cut – 4 Nov 2015
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has to save £63m over three years. They’ve known this for years yet they keep dragging their feet. As anyone with a primary school education knows the longer you wait to start paying the more you have to pay when you do eventually start.
Big cuts to senior management and big cuts to middle management should have already been made – but they haven’t! OK, maybe turkeys don’t vote for Christmas but these Tory cuts to public services are unprecedented. Everyone knew they were coming and everyone who could have made it easier just buried their heads in the sand. That would be an ostrich not a turkey by the way.
So, what is the latest nightmare scenario:
- Cuts look set to include library opening hours, budget and staff structures within youth services and subsided bus routes
- Llantrisant Nursery is in line to close with fees and staffing being revised at other day nurseries
- There will also be revised staffing at the council’s One4All contact centres
The council hopes to make savings of around £1.1m through the cuts. Great news eh? Mmm, not really… as they still have to find another £61.9m to cut.
Chancellor George Osborne is to introduce a Comprehensive Spending review (CSR) later this month in order to screw poor people, even though his family business made £6 million in a property deal with a developer based in a tax haven.
Wallpaper firm Osborne & Little teamed up with a secretive corporation in the British Virgin Islands, to draw up plans to redevelop its former London headquarters into housing. The companies jointly applied for planning permission for around 45 flats and houses, and once given the go-ahead, Osborne and Little sold its site to the offshore firm for £6,088,000.
Just goes to show that he doesn’t give a shit about anyone except himself.
Leader of RCT, Andrew Morgan (£53,000) said: “Reductions in the levels of service we provide are simply unavoidable. As far as we can, we want to avoid removing services completely.
“The council needs to achieve initial savings of around £27m to set a balanced and legal budget for 2016/17 financial year based upon forecasting prior to the CSR. Outside these amendments to service levels we will seek to make the further savings necessary through continued efficiencies and smarter ways of working to deliver services.
“All public sector funding flows from London, so the Welsh Government will not know how much Wales’ funding has been cut until the CSR is announced meaning local authorities cannot consider their own budget setting processes until December.
“This will mean a huge rush to set a balanced budget by the legally set date of the March 11.
“On top of the cuts by stealth the public sector are set to experience through the UK Government’s changes to National Insurance and other areas, this timescale makes an already difficult financial situation even worse. As councillors we are faced with no alternative other than to respond.”
Samhain – 31 Oct 2015
I often wonder what our Celtic ancestors, or even the more recent Christian preachers, who once filled our chapels and churches up and down the Valleys, would say if they could see us hiding behind the settee with curtains drawn, TV and lights switched off, and the dog’s mouth all taped up the night before All Saints Day!… and all in fear of the dreaded knock on the door from various miniature goblins and ghouls who come calling this dreaded night, with a bag of flour and a brace of free range at hand, should we not be ready to hand over some hard earned cash or tasty treat!
For the record, the traditional Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day, on November 1st came a day after the Celtic harvest festival of the dead, or Samhain. Later on changed to All Hallows’ Even’ or Hallowe’en.
But of course these days we do little to party – pagan or otherwise. We do little to remember or celebrate why this holiday was so special. We just embrace our pumpkins and witches hats, the plethora of costumes and props sold from competing supermarkets, all vying for who can sell the most tacky throwaway modern American pop culture, that’s made in China and destined to end the week in Wales’ overflowing landfill. (In the United States, Halloween has become one of the most profitable holidays, next to Christmas, for retailers)
Then we moan about the eggs and flour left on our cars and streets the morning after. We moan about how Primary school children are learning the black arts of extortion and blackmail younger and younger these days. But if we must speak out why can’t we campaign to change ‘Halloween’ back to what it originally was?
True Halloween traditions survive most accurately in Ireland today, where the last Monday of October is a public holiday. All schools close for the following week, commonly called the Halloween Break and as a result Ireland is the only country where children never have school on Halloween and are therefore free to celebrate it in the ancient and time-honoured fashion. If we did this in Wales we could even ditch Guy Fawkes night and have our own Celtic beer and food festival, that lasted for a week and culminated in a bonfire night of our choosing. After all, if Mr Fawkes had succeeded what difference would that have made to us in third world, post Welsh Assembly Wales anyway? We’d still be poor, forgotten and oppressed. Are you listening Mr Jones?
Of course to some fundamentalist Protestants, along with conservative Jews and Muslims the mingling of Christian and Pagan traditions for Halloween, and its assumed association with the occult, mean they strongly object to the holiday and refuse to allow their children to participate in what they regard as its Satanic imagery. Whilst other more moderate Christian churches offer a harvest-themed alternative to Halloween celebrations. Other Christians correctly hold the view that the holiday is not Satanic in origin or practice and that it holds no threat to the spiritual lives of children and the lessons taught about death and mortality are actually a valuable life exercise.
Now then, hands up who’s for a week long family festival, starting on Halloween, with a week off work, where we shut off Taff Street, erect huge marquees, serve hot food, real ale, mead, mulled wine, sell local crafts and produce, have street entertainers and Welsh bands, all to help us celebrate the end of summer and aid us in coping with the coming months of ill-timed darkness and seasonal affected disorder! Until someone stops messing with our clocks of course… ah, but that’s another story…
Land’s End to John o’ Groats – 20 Oct 2015
Well, now you can and you won’t have to leave the safety of your favourite armchair or risk getting bogged down in traffic, punctures, sweat and gears.
A new book from local author, Dave Lewis, will tell you exactly what it’s like. Cycled in 2005 by two Ponty bimblers, this illustrated LEJOG diary is a funny account of life on the tarmac for two weeks during the Great British summer.
You never know, it might even inspire you to do the ride yourself?
Christmas Treat for RCT Residents – 5 Oct 2015
RCT have many car parks all over the borough, some are free, some are pay and display. The towns with free parking see an increase in footfall while the ones where you have to pay see less people (think dust bowl Ponty with its parking charges). So with this in mind the council are going to give us a Christmas treat!
Free town centre parking from 10am from December 1 to December 31. Early risers will still have to pay of course and cheaper internet shopping will still mean you don’t have to risk the dodgy pavements, cars hurrying to leave town and drugged up youths screaming obscenities, in order to stock up on great Christmas gifts (wherever and whatever they might be?)
Andrew Morgan, leader of RCT council, said: “As a result of drastic cuts to public sector funding from the UK government, many councils in Wales have been forced to consider reducing or completely ceasing their Christmas activities.”
Even though his huge salary (approx. £140,000 a year?) doesn’t seem to have been affected…
During October 2014, RCT’s cabinet members voted to scrap the council’s Christmas Events budget – which was set at £25,000 – for 2015/16. It was a decision made within wider £307,000 savings in events, which also saw Ponty’s Big Weekend axed. This was about the same time as top council employees were still earning millions of pounds a year between them!
But they are worth it of course because as well as offering us free car parking the council will also run a ‘shop local’ campaign during this period to remind local residents of what our local town centres have to offer. Like a Ponty without a Marks & Spencer, a bulldozed empty precinct and an increase in charity shops.
Yes, this Christmas promises to be a poor one. Well, unless you’re a RCT top manager and then it’s business as usual.
Latest Ponty Developments – 23 Sept 2015
Although Ponty has been going to the dogs for years, even though the council spent millions on half a dozen useless ‘I Love Ponty’ websites, Lost Prophet words etched into pavements, kerbs that are easier to trip over for the ‘Make A Claim’ insurers and ‘Do Up Your Shop Front If You Are Owned By The Market Company’ schemes, recently there has been real change.
I’m thinking of the freezing cold, outdoor swimming pool, which is very impressive and hopefully will be a great attraction for the town bringing in literally millions of visitors as the glossy, expensive literature and above cringe-worthy websites tell us – yeh right!
But what else I hear you ask? Well, the council sold off (or leased – not sure?) the best arts/music venue in the borough – the Muni (while keeping the two least profitable ones – strange business decision that one?) and guess what it is now open again!
Wow! Can’t wait for those new music hall shows!
Oh yes, and now a new ‘Covent Garden‘ development is proposed for the Market Company owned, fire-trap Town Hall (albeit with taxpayers money not the owners money), so we might even have three!
Well, I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for all these so-called ‘arts’ buildings to open, we’ll be spoilt for choice! You can imagine the debates in living rooms up and down the valley.
‘Should we take in some Puccini at the ‘Muni’ or Chekhov at the ‘Garden’, Chantelle?’ said mother of eight, Leanne, 26, from Tonypandy.
The question does arise though – is anyone making any money out of these schemes? We couldn’t possibly use the word ‘corruption’ so will have to make do with ‘scrutiny’. Hello? Anyone?
Meanwhile in another part of town; called the real world, RCT announce a discount card for over 50s who are on low incomes.
RCT council (that still owes tens of millions, and is making huge job cuts and service cuts) has also pledged to take in Syrian refugees! So maybe we could turn the Town Hall into a mosque? We may be needing one soon.
Tom Jones – 14 Sept 2015
Old Ponty boy Tom Jones, 75 years old, will be charging £35 for you to listen to him tell you things you could read in his autobiography at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on Oct 12th even though he’s worth over $250 million!
Inspired by the release of Over the Top and Back – The Autobiography, fans will be able to hear Sir Tom revisit his past as he chats to BBC 6 Music presenter Matt Everitt.
They will explore the twists of fate that took a boy from wartime Pontypridd to international stardom, which has seen him rub shoulders with a host of fellow superstars, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis and Frank Sinatra.
The singer, who was recently dropped from BBC series The Voice, will reveal the stories behind the hits as well as the ups and downs of his remarkable life and career, while charting his success – from his early heydays to the subsequent fallow years the 1980s to his big comeback.
No doubt he’ll also tell everyone how much he loves Ponty even though he doesn’t seem to want to dip into the interest on his bank account to help improve things.
Ponty Lido Open – 25 Aug 2015
Well, the waiting is over. Over 35 years of waiting in fact… and I’ve finally been for a swim in the new swimming pool in Ponty Park. It was August, it was freezing cold and it was raining but I must say I was impressed.
The actual pool is much smaller than the original, not as deep, and there are other smaller kiddies paddling pools, which replace the old free pools. Plenty of sun loungers and plenty of changing cubicles, albeit only suitable for people with breasts under 5 ft in height.
Not sure how the pool is ‘heated’ but I did see a chimney working overtime, so once again RCT council have successfully played the ‘I have no idea what this environmentally friendly bollocks is all about’ card. Just think about the lack of solar panels on St Catherine’s empty car park and Sainsbury’s store.
The artist’s impression of the Lido (I’m thinking multi-coloured doors) was obviously just for the posters as we have a drab racing green effect inside, although to be honest it’s probably better this way. More in keeping with the old baths.
It was free today but obviously there will be a charge in future, although I was assured that Leisure cards would be accepted which is great news for residents.
Overall, I have to say I was impressed, I like the outdoor experience (oo, err, missus) and imagine on the one sunny day of the year, in October, when the pool will be shut, it will be awesome in there.
Now, all Ponty needs is to stop all the shops closing. M&S gone, WHS next… get the 64 arts centres open and we’ll be laughing all the way to the Wonky bar.
Cheaper ways to heat a swimming pool:
Solar Blankets – Solar covers are inexpensive and very efficient. Solar blankets can raise temperature of your pool water by up to 10 F (6 C), reduce heat loss and save money on fuel and electricity.
Solar Heating Systems – Affordable way to heat your pool and save money on fuel and electricity bills will raise the temperature of your pool water by up to 10 F (6 C) or more.
Heat Pumps – More energy-efficiency than standard gas heaters. Heat Pumps can save you up to 80% on your heating costs over standard gas heaters.
The Hagar Trilogy – 18 August 2015
Local writer, Dave Lewis, published his third crime thriller this week. A book that completes his modern technothriller trilogy based in various settings around south Wales and Africa.
The novels deal with the dangers of social media, the internet, Facebook and the amount of information we all post freely about ourselves online.
The books have gained some great reviews from readers all over the world. Here are just a few:
‘Have read both of Dave’s thrillers and thoroughly enjoyed them. The stories grip you from the beginning and take you on a thrilling, chilling ride. His IT knowledge is excellent and his descriptions of systems and language gives the books a realism which surpasses Deaver’s The Blue Nowhere – it made me check my Facebook security levels. Both books are a must for readers of murder thrillers. Cant wait for a third instalment.’ – Rhondda Rover
‘The novel for the Facebook generation. An ambitious tour de force that should put Wales well and truly on the international crime thriller map. Believable characters and a gripping story. Can’t wait for a sequel to find out what happens to Hal. Love the ‘Alien’ tag line too, very contemporary and quite scary.’ – Mark Jones
Raising Skinny Elephants
‘Brilliant book. Could not wait to read this after reading Ctrl-Alt-Delete. I bought it immediately so I could continue the story. Did not want to put it down. It was so well written and the suspense was great all the way though. I would definitely recommend this to anyone.’ – Eirwen Thomas
The Hagar Trilogy
Starts here… click here
Friends of Mynydd y Glyn – 14 August 2015
A group opposed to the construction of a new wind farm on Mynydd y Glyn mountain, Pontypridd, are holding a public rally this weekend.
The protest at 11am on Sunday in the car park of the Queen’s Head Pub, Penycoedcae, Pontypridd, has been organised by Friends of Mynydd y Glyn, which includes residents from Pontypridd, Llantrisant, Tonyrefail and Porth.
The group are calling for councillors and politicians to reject the proposed plans by renenwable energy company Infinis for a wind farm in the area.
John Evans, local environmentalist, famous Welsh writer, and author of The Red Kite in Wales, and Goshawk, said: “This new wind farm poses major threats to our local wildlife and natural environment.
“Mynydd y Glyn is an important habitat for red kites, goshawks and many other rare birds. It is also a home of many scarce mammals and invertebrates.
“If this wind farm goes ahead, they will all not only face the destruction of their habitat but many of the birds will be killed by the turbine blades.
“In Scotland, it has already been established that more birds of prey are killed by wind turbines than by poisoning or shooting.
“Local people here are really enjoying seeing Red Kites in this area for first time in well over 100 years, are we now all to sit back and watch while they are being destroyed?
“The mountain upland is part of a rich, mosaic of interconnected habitats which includes a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
“If we lose this, they will all be affected. It’s a potential environmental disaster.
“I think it’s fair to say we’ve already got more than enough wind farms in our area, and more and more people throughout the valleys are now saying enough is enough.
A spokesperson for Friends of Mynydd y Glyn, Sue Morris, from Penycoedcae, Pontypridd, said: “The opposition to this proposed new wind farm is growing every day.
“Mynydd y Glyn is an area of unspoiled beauty, rich in wildlife, and many local people enjoy spending time there precisely for that reason.
“Residents from all the areas surrounding the mountain, and even further afield in Rhondda Cynon Taff, are joining us in the fight to protect and preserve our natural heritage for ourselves and future generations. Everyone is welcome to come along and get involved.”
Infinis project manager Julie Aitken said that a scoping report had been submitted for up to six wind turbines at 115 metres to tip height and that the company had held a round of public exhibitions in Porth, Trebanog, Tonyrefail and Pontypridd.
“It is too early to say whether this exercise will lead to any changes in the project design.”
Buy British – You’ll Be Lucky – 1 August 2015
Ever wondered whether those iconic British brands we’ve grown up with since we were kids are still British owned? Well, read on…
Branston pickle – is now owned by a Japanese company.
Robertson’s – it was sold, along with other famous spreads like Hartley’s jam, Gale’s honey and Sun-Pat peanut butter to an American firm Hain Celestial.
Rolls-Royce – the most British of cars, Rolls-Royce was bought by Germany’s Volkswagen Group in 1998.
Weetabix – Chinese company Bright Foods bought the majority stake in the company, which also makes Alpen and Ready Brek.
Cadbury – US food giant Kraft owns your favourite chocolate bars and although they promised to safeguard jobs they transferred production to Poland.
Newcastle Brown Ale – Scottish & Newcastle, makers of the famous ale, was bought by Dutch brewer Heineken and Denmark’s Carlsberg in 2008.
Jaguar Land Rover – Car giant Ford sold the luxury arm of the firm – which makes the Range Rover Evoque to Indian company Tata, India’s biggest vehicle maker.
Camelot – The National Lottery operator was sold to a Canadian pension fund.
Boots – The chemist chain and beauty business was bought by private equity firm KKR and billionaire Italian Stefano Pessina. After 161 years being based in Nottingham, the new owners moved the firm’s HQ to Swiss tax haven of Zug. They sold a 45% stake to US retailer Walgreen.
Raleigh – iconic British cycle manufacturer, famous for the Chopper and Grifter, is now owned by Dutch rival Accell. Raleigh was once the biggest cycle maker in the world, employing 10,000 and producing two million bicycles a year.
Asda – The supermarket, now Britain’s second biggest grocery chain, was bought by American retail giant Wal-Mart in 1999.
It gets worse!
According to the Office for National Statistics, more than 41% of UK companies are foreign owned if you look at their shares.
That’s up from just under 31% in 1998 and a mere 7% in 1963.
Between April and June this year, overseas firms spent £2.6billion buying no less than 42 UK companies.
Last year foreign companies bought £33billion worth of UK businesses.
And while UK firms can go the other way, and buy businesses abroad, in reality many other countries have barriers that make it much harder for them to do so.
In Germany and France, they have a positive attitude towards Government supporting certain industries, unlike the UK, where our governments would sell their grannies for a few bob!
Welsh Poetry Competition – 8 July 2015
Congratulations to Mick Evans who won this year’s 9th competition!
1st Prize – Map makers, by Mick Evans
2nd Prize – Mother Ireland, by Barry Norris
3rd Prize – Road to Liberty, by Danielle Hope
To see the full list of winners, read the poems and see judges comments please click here.
Our judge this year is acclaimed writer and poet Sally Spedding.
We should remind you that the competition is funded purely by the organisers & entrants and we receive no grants, bursaries or funding from the Arts Council of Wales, Literature Wales or any other external agencies whatsoever.
If any libraries, writing groups, Facebook groups, Twitter followers, schools, universities, arts organisations, poetry workshops, bookshops, art galleries, councils etc. would like more information please let us know. You can email us or write to us at the usual address. We are more than happy to post out entry forms to you. Also feel free to download copies yourself as it saves us money and more money goes to prizes next year.
Unthinkable RCT Council Cuts – 24 June 2015
Well, we’ve had ‘brutal‘ cuts, now for ‘unthinkable’ cuts… what’s next? ‘
Historical’ ‘Hysterical’ cuts?
Back to the present – Rhondda Cynon Taf council’s leader has called a meeting of the leaders of all local political groups to discuss “unthinkable” service cuts on the horizon.
The meeting takes place at the civic offices (where we’ve heard they do a mean line in tea and biscuits) at Clydach Vale on Thursday, July 2 – even though a similar meeting a year ago failed to do the job properly. No doubt council officers like those jam and cream ones with the light dusting of sugar…
Cllr. Morgan said: “The consequence of these cuts will not just be to services but to those employed in health, local government, fire [service] and the police. This then makes an even more devastating impact on communities particularly here in RCT where the public sector is the largest employer locally.
“We know there is simply no chance of us being able to avoid very difficult choices around the future of certain services but I am absolutely determined to seek every opportunity for the council to find ways of protecting the frontline.”
Of course if we’d been in power, a day after the last election (think the original Lib/Con coalition, not the current apocalyptic scenario) we’d have seen the huge cuts coming and would have started to make small steps then. For example, we would have starting cutting the numbers and salaries of chief executive, directors, councillors, senior and middle managers. In fact, any council staff earning more than £30,000. But then as we’ve said before ‘Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas’.
Tip: Meetings are supposed to have actions.
Great news that the restoration of Pontypridd’s famous lido at Ynysangharad Park is on track to be finished by this summer – 20 June 2015
Rhondda Cynon Taf council says its contractors have made significant progress over the winter months on the £6.3m project, which plans to transform the historic lido into a state-of-the-art facility, albeit one that isn’t open all year round, is not at all environmentally-friendly and will no doubt cost an absolute fortune to run by a cash-strapped council.
Wales Online have revealed pictures here.
It is of course fantastic news that a pool that should have been developed over 20 years ago is finally opening but with obesity rates continuing to rise in RCT and prices in sports centres rising by approx. 14% (as well as our council tax rises), is this new pool going to be sustainable? Time will tell I guess. We hope so!
Olympic legacy eh?
Cardiff v Ponty – 12 June 2015
Ever since Muppett, Samuels, the WRUin and the other 4 ‘clubs’ decided to scupper the best team in Wales, i.e. the Celtic Warriors, there has been animosity between C****** RFC, the Blues and the true home of rugby in Wales – Pontypridd.
It seems a new row is erupting as the most successful Welsh team in the British & Irish Cup (yep, Ponty) and the best team in the Welsh Premiership and Welsh Cup for the last umpteen years (I’ve lost count how many times Ponty win everything…) has been ousted from the European competition to be replaced by a made-up team called Blues A or some such bollocks!
For years the valleys have been calling for a new, fifth region, Owen Smith MP (big rugby fan) and many others, including former Wales internationals have all put their voices behind this cause, but all have tried and failed to get top-class rugby back where it belongs. Well the latest news is that those arrogant tossers at Cardiff have decided to pump millions into Merthyr RFC in order to finally beat Ponty into submission.
Mind you, paying players, below the premiership, is outlawed at present by the WRU, so will they have the balls to say anything? I doubt it. Just think how the tiny village/town of Toulon have ruined French rugby.
Of course if Merthyr were going to develop new, young talent which could be brought through to play for the Ospreys (probably closer than Cardiff) and then Wales it might be a good thing, but no, alas, it will be half a dozen foreigners and over-the-hill, former Welsh internationals that see their pension pots enhanced. Can’t blame those players, and good luck to them of course – take the Thomas tokens and laugh all the way to the bank, but is this really helping Welsh rugby?
If the WRU weren’t so spineless then they’d endorse and fund a valleys region so that Cardiff have competition, rather than just roll over and take one up the Arms Park for the boyos. A new region could be based in Merthyr (or Ponty) and do what Ponty has always done – develop Wales’ future rugby players! But this idea? To bankroll a lower division team in order to spite one of Wales’s greatest clubs just ‘cos they won’t kiss your boots – pathetic!
Roll on 2015/16 season and see if Ponty doesn’t win everything again!
Wales Online – click here.
YMCA – 20 May 2015
Plans to transform the iconic Pontypridd YMCA building into a state-of-the-art culture and community hub have been revealed after £4.25m was raised towards the £6m development. The new design will get rid of the beautiful old entrance and replace it with a carbuncle of modernity, but I guess that’s the price of progress.
Whether it’ll be fun to stay there we don’t know yet but the Arts Council of Wales will contribute £2.25m to the project, alongside a £2m Welsh Government pledge through its Vibrant and Viable Places Programme operated through Rhondda Cynon Taf council.
The fairly boring design, has been created by the architect of the Wales Millennium Centre.
The plans include a gym and fitness suite, youth club room, recording studio, reception area, five meeting spaces, two dance studios, digital media suite and office spaces.
A new café will also open on the Taff Street side of the development to compete with existing business owners, along with three shop units to go with all the other empty shop units in town. Although how this shiny, new development will fit in with the stinking dirty food outlets at the other end of the street is unclear as yet.
Kath Davies, director of investment and funding services on behalf of the Arts Council of Wales, said: “We are pleased to have been able to support this ambitious project through our Capital Programme.
“Ponty YM will significantly contribute to the sustainability and long-term resilience of the area and support the capacity to deliver great art and culture to the local community and beyond.
This is an interesting statement coming so soon after the closure of the Muni Arts Centre and Gallery.
Minister for communities and tackling poverty Lesley Griffiths added: “These exciting plans for Pontypridd YMCA are set to transform this iconic building and regenerate the local area.
“I am very pleased the Welsh Government has been able to support this project with £2m of funding. The centre will act as a creative, social and educational hub at the very heart of the community.”
Yet another interesting statement coming so soon after 100’s of council redundancies in the education sector.
The building opened in September 1910, when working-class townspeople united to bring the YMCA to life.
Councillor Robert Bevan, RCT council’s cabinet member for economic development and planning, said: “The council’s success in securing funding through Vibrant and Viable Places ensures a range of projects will be delivered which will benefit Pontypridd and surrounding communities.
“The council now looks forward to working with partners on this project to develop the provision of arts and cultural arts activities in the area.”
Maybe the council could support the international Welsh Poetry Competition which hails from the town? We have asked but never got a reply.
Just like those pavements I guess?
Call us sceptical but when funding is being cut and jobs lost to so many areas already offering great services to the community we wonder who will benefit from this alternative stream of government money?
Some cynical residents of the town have told us that ‘friends’ of certain people are rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the coming cash, but we couldn’t possibly comment.
Election Result 2015 – 8 May 2015
Well, the results are now in and as predicted it’s no change for Pontypridd, Wales or Westminster.
Owen Smith, resident Labour donkey with red rosette (no offence Owen) has retained his seat, even though 60%, of those that could be bothered to turn up, voted against Labour, and so it’s business as usual for him on his £67,000 salary plus expenses.
But in London, England, it’s an absolute nightmare as Cameron & Osborne (more benefit cuts for the disabled, privatised NHS, bigger nuclear weapons, more money for bankers, fracking, environmental catastrophe, more terrorism, abolition of council services, education cuts for the poor, increase in food banks) get voted back in by a media-brainwashed electorate that seems to think some vague concept of a ‘deficit’ is more important than our children’s future.
And politicians and the media wonder why people don’t vote anymore!
The turnout was around 66% (pretty disgusting when compared to the Scottish referendum). So even with this slim majority there were 34% of the population who ‘didn’t care’ and therefore could have voted against the Tories! So, please make sure, as your life gets worse over the next few years, that you don’t listen to these idiots moaning. Instead just give them a huge slap!
The problem with this election as far as I could see was that the media had already made our minds up for us, constantly telling us that it would either be a hung parliament or the Tories would win. The media instead of thinking about the consequences of such a rash act as re-electing one of the most right-wing parties in the history of British politics focussed on telling us to avoid the Nationalist SNP and the racist UKIP. This resulted in a rather boring election campaign where the main parties became very careful not to do or say anything controversial so they might ‘lose’ an election rather than ‘win’ one.
This morning shows us that 3.5 million clowns have voted for UKIP (most as a protest vote) and the Scots kicked Labour out in favour of independence. Wales seemed to completely lose the plot, but maybe if we watch the Scots doing politics properly we might learn something while we queue at our soup kitchens over the next few years.
So what now? I hate to think what state the country will be in come 2020.
In Wales, 37% of the votes are Labour, which means 63% voted against Labour! Yet they still have a 25-15 seat majority – election reform anyone? Or shall we just accept that they’ll be laughing all the way to their second homes?
But at least we’ve got the precinct now. Horray! Shit.
RCT Council Buy Precinct – 4 May 2015
RCT Council has bought the former site of Pontypridd’s famous precinct.
Now the council will begin talks with other public sector organisations over its future.
Council leader Andrew Morgan said: “As outright owners of the land, the council is now in a far stronger position to drive forward its redevelopment.
“We should be ambitious about the potential opportunities.”
In 2011, the building was demolished as developers Taff Vale Ltd sought to build a 21st-century shopping facility there, with a new 70,000 sq ft Riverside Shopping Centre mooted.
But those plans fell through in September 2012 as the company went into receivership.
“As part of any proposals, I am keen to engage other public sector bodies who deliver services in Pontypridd and also the Welsh Government.
“By thinking outside the box, I believe we can make the most of the opportunity of having outright control of the site.”
Well, a good place to start would be here.
Who will you vote for? – 15 April 2015
With the General Election getting ever closer we’ve added a poll on the message board.
It’ll be interesting to see if we get the same kind of result as is often quoted/shown in the various TV polls.
See who the candidates are here.
Precinct Development – 28 March 2015
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is in the process of purchasing the Taff Vale site in Pontypridd.
Thanks to Welsh Government funding announced this week through the Vibrant and Viable Places Programme, the Council is set to purchase the long leasehold interest for the former Taff Vale Precinct.
The key Pontypridd gateway site has been in the hand of receivers for three years and the purchase is intended to kick start redevelopment following a number of unsuccessful regeneration projects.
Assembly officials have confirmed the availability of this funding earlier this week.
County Borough Councillor, Andrew Morgan, Leader of the Council said: “By securing the site the Council will be able to take an active role in the redevelopment of this part of Pontypridd, which is of strategic importance to the town and wider local economy.
“If successful in the process, a whole new range of opportunities will be opened for the Council and potential partners to take forward not only in terms of this site, but the wider regeneration of Pontypridd.
The question is will the backward thinkers of the council just think more ‘shops’ that we don’t need or want, or will they listen to the people who have, for 20-30 years, been asking for the town to be developed in a ‘better’ / more eco-friendly and sustainable way to all the other carbon-copy, bland, boring town centres we have near us?
Why don’t you the people vote here.
Friendly Valleys? – 22 March 2015
Do you live on the friendliest street in the Valleys?
Wales Online have teamed up with The Big Lunch to find the place that boasts the happiest postcode, the most helpful neighbours and the most cheerful community. To mark the launch and let people across Wales know they can register for a free resource pack to hold their own Big Lunch in their community, we’re searching for a street that can show the country what being a good neighbour is all about.
The winning street will receive a plaque to proudly display, and the accolade of being its valleys friendliest street.
Perhaps you don’t think of your neighbours as neighbours, you think of them as friends, and the majority of your birthday cards every year are hand-delivered.
Does everybody feed each other’s cats and water their plants when someone goes on holiday?
Your street may have raised money on behalf of a neighbour who needed it, or perhaps your neighbours were there for you during a difficult time.
Whether you live on a terrific terraced street, a caring cul-de-sac or a dream development, this is your chance to show your pride in where you live and generate some positive news about your community. So why not get in touch and share your story?
Now, in its seventh year, The Big Lunch is partnered by Halifax and ASDA. In 2014, a massive 4.83 million people took part in Big Lunches across the UK, including more than 120,000 in Wales.
Anyone who is thinking of holding a Big Lunch on Sunday, June 7, can register online to receive a free pack containing everything you need to get started.
To request a pack or for more information visit www.thebiglunch.com
How to Enter
If you think your neighbourhood deserves to win the friendliest street in the Valleys competition, simply finish this sentence in no more than 200 words: “My street is the friendliest street in the (include as appropriate) Cynon Valley; Rhondda; in and around Pontypridd; in and around Merthyr; Rhymney Valley; Bridgend County; Blaenau Gwent because…”
Please post your entries to Jessica Flynn, Media Wales, 6 Park Street, Cardiff, CF10 1XR, or email email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Please use the correct area in the email subject line. Don’t forget to send us your name, address, contact telephone number and email address.
Deadline for entries is 5pm on April 20, 2015.
Obese Valleys – 7 March 2015
Two-thirds of people in some parts of South Wales are classed as overweight or obese, new figures have revealed.
The Rhondda Valleys were the worst performer in the battle against the bulge with 65.8% of people having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher.
Across all of Wales nearly 60% of people were overweight or obese, with 22% of those deemed obese.
New figures, which break down results from last year’s Wales Health Survey, also revealed the areas where people were most likely to smoke, drink and take no exercise.
Throughout Wales 43.2% of people said they drank more than the guidelines and 26.8% said they were binge drinkers.
Happy St David’s Day – 1 March 2015
Saint David’s Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March each year. The first day of March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David. Tradition holds that he died on that day in 569. The date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century but despite many high-profile campaigns to make the day a National holiday (Bank holiday) in Wales and the UK both Labour and Tory governments refused to listen to the will of the people.
Cross-party support resulted in the National Assembly for Wales voting unanimously to make Saint David’s Day a public holiday in 2000. A poll conducted for Saint David’s Day in 2006 found that 87% of people in Wales wanted it to be a bank holiday, with 65% prepared to sacrifice a different bank holiday to ensure this. The author of this website has sent three petitions to the office of the British Prime Minister and each time got the standard letter saying ‘No’.
Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron have all turned us down. Maybe they were scared the UK would become more productive with more bank holidays to make their slave workers happier? Maybe they were afraid of rising patriotism and are considering an ISIS Appeasement Day instead? Or maybe they just don’t know where Wales is? You decide.
In the meantime our suggestion is that all Welsh workers phone in sick on 1st March (or nearest working day to it) until the Welsh government (at least) listens to us.
Every year parades are held to commemorate Saint David. The largest is held in Cardiff, and is a mixture of folklore and military tattoo. Celebrations often include concerts, a parade and a food festival.
Welsh Poetry Competition 2015 – 11 Feb 2015
It’s that time of year again folks. When writers from around the globe focus on Pontypridd and the international Welsh Poetry Competition. We have a great judge in acclaimed writer, Sally Spedding, and are still offering great cash prizes. For more information and to download an entry form visit the website:
And this year it’s even more interesting because the ‘Cardiff International Poetry Competition’, run by Literature Wales and funded by the arts council, will not take place in 2015. The competition has in the past received generous financial support from Cardiff Council, however, in light of increased pressures on Council budgets, we have been informed that this funding is no longer available.
Not sure how many millions of pounds Literature Wales gets to promote literature in Wales and the valleys (not that we’ve noticed much of it being spent here of course), but hopefully their loss will be our gain.
Maybe all those thousands of entrants will now try our competition, based here in Ponty, instead!
Photo Exhibition – 19 Jan 2015
Local photographer Dave Lewis will be exhibiting some of his images at Gartholwg Lifelong Learning Centre from Monday, 26/01/2015 – Friday 13/02/2015.
The centre has a large exhibition space so why not pop along and see the photographs close up. All images are framed and can be bought direct from the gallery.
Lifelong Learning Centre
St. Illtyd’s Road
Telephone: 01443 219589
Poster – click here.
Council Tax Rise – 17 Jan 2015
Rhondda Cynon Taff residents could be hit with a 3.8% rise in council tax next year as the council cuts jobs for frontline staff while giving senior managers huge pay rises. Doesn’t seem fair does it?
Wales Online says that Wales’ third-largest local authority will consider the tax increase as part of its efforts to slash £70m from its budget by 2017/18.
RCT council will also think about cutting marketing, tourism, special education, adult education, sports development, highways maintenance and finance to save a meagre £8m next year.
Andrew Morgan, the council leader, said “While the amount raised through council tax does contribute to the funding we have available to support the delivery of our services, it only equates to around 20% of total funding available, with the bulk made up of government grant funding.”
Cabinet will meet again in February to recommended a budget strategy for consideration by council and then we’ll be into major campaigning for the general election – should be a fun time in RCT, a time full of lies, hypocrisy, unfairness and downright, dirty, double-dealing.
And the result? Well, being an optimist I’d say we can expect less jobs for the residents of RCT, longer dole queues, huge cuts to local services, rising crime, obscene golden handshakes for certain senior staff at RCT, less money in the local economy, higher taxes, higher NHS bills and businesses closing.
Free Speech – 12 Jan 2015
At ‘pontytown‘ we believe in free speech. Well, we try anyway.
In the past, newspapers, councillors, solicitors, Lords, MPs, business owners, deluded internet trolls and even other websites have tried to silence us. We’re still here though. We’re here because we care about our town and don’t like seeing selfish idiots ruining it. We’re now into our 17th year. Have we achieved anything? Difficult to say, but at least we do say.
Over the next few months a general election campaign will be fought, won and lost. Afterwards we’ll probably have another 17 years of material… Will we carry on? Will we bother? Who knows? That is up to you – the local people. If you want this site, it’s ‘mental / yet entertaining & informative’ message board to continue then you need to start using it. You need to get involved. To encourage your friends to get involved. To say what you’re thinking. Tell the world what you think. If you don’t then most likely we’ll just fade away.
All we ask is you remember the Scottish vote and remember the broken promises. Then think about the last 100 years of what ‘London’ has given (like charity) to Wales and its people. Don’t ask yourself if you are happy with being second class citizens, ‘cos you’re not – ‘they’ don’t give you a second thought.
If you do the same thing – the same thing will happen. If you want things to change – change what you do.
Happy New Year Taxpayers – 1 Jan 2015
Taxpayers in RCT have had to pay a legal bill of more than £354,000 because officials failed to do things properly. Yet, the idiots who costs us this money are still in jobs!
The local authority paid out £144,000 for the legal costs of nursery campaigners and then a further £97,500 to Rhydyfelin Library Support Group for their legal costs.
RCT council said its own external legal bill came to £113,199, meaning the council’s total expenditure for all legal costs was £354,699.
This means that nearly £355,000 has been spent on lawyers, instead of providing frontline services to the public. It is a very expensive mistake to make, especially when so many staff have already lost their jobs, been made redundant or are about to lose their jobs due to lack of money.
A statement from RCT council said: “The council has since reviewed its decision-making processes going forward.”
RCT council must shave £30m from its budget in 2014/15, and has estimated it must save shed a further £40m by 2017/18. ‘Good luck?’
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.