Sunday, September 30, 2012

Innovative idea or conceptualised bovine excrement?

What is it about MPs in Pontypridd and art?  Now don’t get me wrong I like a good painting or a bit of sculpture as much as most people, although I can’t say it quite stirs me to the extent of a red jersey diving over the line.  But all things in perspective please.

First we had Kim Howells waxing lyrical about the joys of art (despite his occasional frustration with conceptualised bullshit) and the need for a gallery.  Although his suggestion that one of the Assembly buildings be converted because he was at a loss as to the purpose of the Assembly did little to endear him to those who believe in devolution.
Now it is the turn of Owen Smith. Fresh from his failure to get any movement out of the WRU on reintroducing regional rugby, and with some egg on his chops following the collapse of the precinct plans not long after he had assured everyone that everything was fine, he has a cunning plan.

Now that the developers who were to provide a stunning new precinct for high class shops such as Poundland and bring shoppers flooding into the town have gone bust what should happen to the site?   Owen thinks maybe a “contemporary Welsh art museum,”

He then delves even further into the realms of conceptualised bovine excrement with the suggestion that

“Although a private site, I'm sure any developer would be interested to hear what local people would like to see on the site and all ideas should be considered,"

Is he serious?  When we can’t even get the Council to consult with the public over what it is they want then why on earth should a private developer?  And given the reaction on the street and down the pub so far the majority of local people seem to think he has lost the plot just slightly.  Questions as to the colour of the sky on his planet have apparently been asked in many quarters.

Maybe the opinions of local people have been coloured by the offerings they have so far been given in the name of art – such as the Unity sculpture.  Or maybe they think that giving all the existing problems an art gallery comes pretty far down the list of what the area needs.



Thursday, September 27, 2012

He cannot be serious

Following the news yesterday that Taff Vale developers have gone into receivership and the Pontypridd precinct development is dead in the water, Ponty's Labour MP Owen Smith has announced that the whole development needs a rethink and that instead of shops what is needed is 'Tate on The Taff.'   Yes, an art museum is what is apparently needed in order to re-invigorate the town and bring people flocking in. Well I suppose all those who won't fit into the new much diminished paddling pool will need somewhere to go.

So how does he see this developing?  Who is going to pay for it?  Certainly there is no public money available.  But then he seems to be developing a habit of coming up with pie in the sky ideas - his Valleys Rugby initiative was sat on firmly by the WRU recently

It is a shame that he doesn't put his time and efforts into something more attainable and that will bring real benefit to his constituents.  Still, at least he is around and saying something, unlike his Assembly counterpart Mick Antoniw who yet again is the invisible man in all of this.  This despite the fact that regeneration is the remit of the Welsh Government. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Labour party beyond belief

My hatred of the Labour party in RCT grows by the day. They are the most arrogant, hypocritical and self-serving bunch of people I know, and so blatant in their use and abuse of the system it really does defy belief.

So what has caused this latest rant? A development control meeting Thursday evening.

First there was an application to retain part of a cafe in Treforest as a letting agency office. Officers recommended approval, despite a couple of residents having concerns about parking. There would, they said, be no difference in the levels of parking required or used if part of the premises were to operate as an office rather than the cafe occupying it all.

Local Councillor Steve Powderhill declared an interest as the applicant (a Welsh Lib Dem member) had stood against him in the Council election. That did not prevent him from then going on to speak against it and recommending it be turned down. His Labour colleagues all fell in line and agreed with him. There will be no change with regard to the number of people illegally parking in the area as a result as most of them are heading for the University not the cafe.

Then a bit further down the agenda came an application by Cllr Powderhill himself to build a house in Ynysybwl. Officers recommended it be turned down. Similar applications on the same plot had been several times in the past, before Cllr Powderhill became a Councillor! The application contravened just about every planning policy in the book and Officers had provided solid reasons for its refusal.

Still, surprise, surprise, Labour Councillors who make up the vast majority of the committee, voted to pass it. That they are so blatant in their actions almost defies belief. No ordinary mortal would be able to sway the committee in such a way and obtain permission which breaks every rule in the book.

Unfortunately it seems that when voters in Treforest and across RCT fell for the Labour line to 'send a message to Cameron and Clegg' they didn't realise that they were also sending a stronger message to the Labour party locally which was to carry on doing what they like.

There is also the question of course of where Powderhill actually lives. He gives his address as 124 Broadway, Treforest, which is where his business is located. I have certainly never seen any signs of life from the flat above where the tatty looking blinds are constantly closed.

During the election he made much of the fact that he was the only Treforest based candidate. So why is he building a house not only in another ward but another constituency, Ynysybwl being part of the Cynon Valley. But then oddly enough he gives his phone number on the Council website as (01443) 719184 - numbers starting with 71 do not tend to appear in Treforest, they are common in Ynysybwl however. Could he be doing an Antoniw?  Surely not, it must be a misconception on my part.

Here are a couple of the highlights of Powderhill’s election leaflet

“Never making promises I can’t keep and always honestly trying to do my best for the community not for my personal gain.”

“It’s about time we had someone who lives here and really cares for Treforest.”

“Which of your candidates actually lives in Treforest?”

“Which of the candidates has the time, the right motives and is committed to representing Treforest in the fit and proper manner which it really deserves?”

We may well ask what Cllr Powderhill’s motives really are.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Credit where it is due?

RCT Welsh Lib Dems, in particular Mike Powell and myself,  have been fighting against the Labour Council proposal to get rid of the paddling pool since it was first mooted in 2008.  Yes we have used it to political advantage as well, but does that make the cause any less valid?  Don’t see anyone attacking Owen Smith over the Valleys Rugby initiative.

When the plans moved forward earlier this year we were the ones who brought it to the attention of the public – if we hadn’t very few would be aware of it, and it would have been too late by the time the bulldozers moved in.

If nothing else we know how to campaign, so we did all the usual things – leaflet drops, Facebook group, public meeting.  The support for keeping the paddling pool is overwhelming and even we have been surprised by the level of anger at the proposals.  Yet there are still those who cannot resist having a dig.

They want to save the paddling pool, but don’t want to be seen to be involved in a campaign with us.  By doing so they fear they will be ‘condoning the actions of the coalition.’  They think we are doing a great job fighting the pool plans, but we should take the logo off our literature, and do it anonymously.  Happy to accept our help, as long as we don’t want any credit for it.

I hasten to add that this attitude is coming from relatively few people, but it still makes things difficult.  It prevents the campaign from moving forward with the vigour it should, and in effect could end up creating two campaigns, and diluting the effort which can only benefit those we are campaigning against.

It seems it is ok for us to take the blame for anything and everything – including so much that is out of our control, but heaven forbid we should be credited with doing something positive.

Why it is easier to not get involved

There are times when I really wonder why I do what I do, the politics, the community stuff, school governor, etc.  Why I don’t just join the ranks of those whose idea of making a difference is writing the odd letter to the press or online jibe. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not coming over all holier than thou, I have my faults - yes, really even me ;-)  I am not always right, but I am at least honest about what I believe in and not afraid to speak out about my views.  But is in any wonder that the majority people don’t want to get involved in either their community or politics when they see the constant stream of barracking that goes on.

A couple of things this past week or so have set off this particular rant.  Firstly a couple of letters which appeared in the Rhondda Leader and Ponty Observer in response to one I had printed criticising Leighton Andrews ( a slight variation of this piece)

Now I have no problem with people having a go at me, I am used to it – local press, various online forums, it goes with the territory, don’t dish it out if you can’t take it and all that jazz.  The fact that I am not even an elected politician makes no difference, they see me as fair game, and at least they know I am around.

What annoyed me about one of the letters in particular is that it named the school I am a Governor at and launched into quite a scathing attack on the school.  Now I never take my politics into school, and that somebody would sink so low as to denigrate the efforts of a local school they should be supporting just to have a dig at me makes me really angry. 

This same person recently wrote attacking the achievements of the local Communities First programme, again something I have been heavily involved in.  She has never taken the opportunity to get involved with it herself.  

It is so much easier to snipe from the side-lines isn’t it?  But then why would anyone seeing this be persuaded to actually get out there and get involved in actually trying to make a difference?

P.S.  If my ‘mates’ from Ponty Town forum are still watching, so glad you’ve not forgotten me ;-)


Thursday, September 06, 2012

First a congestion charge now Labour want to ban cars altogether

Just what planet is this man living on? Labour Councillor Ralph Cook is Cardiff’ Cabinet Member for Transport.  He has recently been at the centre of controversial plans to introduce a congestion charge in Cardiff.

Now, as reported by the BBC, he thinks there should be a car free housing zone created in the city.  Come on, I mean we all get a bit annoyed by traffic jams and there should be a better public transport system that enables more people to leave their cars behind, but really.

What I can’t understand is why he thinks the city’s traffic is so bad.  I work in Cardiff, usually at the Bay, but in recent weeks have been spending a bit of time in Roath at our by election campaign office there.  I travel to and from work at more or less peak time each day, and yes there is the odd delay, and traffic is a little slow up North Road and along the Ely link road, but not that bad.

In fact by far the worse of the congestion is in Pontypridd, closely followed by the Talbot Green crawl.  We’d better hope that his Labour colleagues in RCT don’t start getting any ideas.

As I said in a recent letter to the Echo and Western Mail a congestion charge in Cardiff would affect people from all across the region who, like me, travel to Cardiff to work. It is just another tax on people who happen to work in the Capital.

The Labour party really are a set apart from the real world aren’t they?