As the elected town councillor for Treforest and Llantwit Fardre resident, I must express my concern for the local economies in these areas follow George Osborne’s budget.
Mr Osborne has decided to put VAT on hot takeaway food. Llantwit Fardre and Treforest are dependent on takeaways for local jobs and ‘exports’ to other wards use the home delivery services. This will hit us more.
Can local Conservative councillor, Joel James, who is standing for re-election, tell us whether he supports this hike in goods prices? His party is in effect creating an inflation rate of 5% on hot foods.
Can he explain how this is going to help the local economy grow when it is common economic knowledge that an increase in prices at this level significantly reduces consumption of those products?
It seems to be that the only firms that will benefit from this budget are the supermarkets for which hot takeaway food is not even 1% of their turnover. Coun James and his party need to seriously consider their economy policy, for which it will be the families of the children on the playing fields of Llanilltud Farerdref that will be paying the price.
The people in Treforest are frustrated. We have many problems relating to parking, litter, dog fouling and shockingly we recently had a mugging.
The are many opportunities under the law available to use to resolve this issues on our own initiative without having to rely on the local authority, town council or police, who between them are failing us badly, making excuses time and time again.
I will summarise the outcome of these as follows:
1. We assume an identity as the Treforest Community
2. We bring under our control the precept for the ward (i.e. the council tax that currently goes to Pontypridd Town Council)
3. We bring under our control the PACT meetings, Neighbourhood Watch Schemes
4. We employ our own staff and volunteers to use statutory powers relating to fixed penalty notices (on-the-spot-fines) on a ‘contingent’ (ad-hoc) basis and use this money to pay for the clean-up or remedy of what the penalty is being issued for.
5. Bring into the group essential community organizational structures, like Taff Meadow, Trefforest Community Centre, and maybe the Residents Association and the community group for the parks in the area.
6. All the public to collectively make decisions about issues affecting them, such as planning if their neighbour want to install an extension or conservatory, etc.
With regards to 1) under the Equality Act 2006 we can define ourselves by ‘race’ in that we are the “citizens of Treforest who share a common heritage in its past, present and future”. In addition we can define ourselves by belief, such as; “We the people of Treforest believe we are more than capable of managing our own lives and that we do not believe we should have to ask the permission of others outside the community to decide how to manage our own affairs and provide for our needs that are within our competencies.”
The Community of Treforest could have the legal structure of a community council using the Local Governemnt Act 1972 to get the money from 2), to get the statutory powers for 4) and would then have a formal structure to run the schemes in 3). These powers under 4) could be used to tackle parking offences, littering, dog fouling, etc. Further examples are on Wikipedia.
With regards to 2) the Police want communities to take over PACT and the Neighbourhood Watch Schemes are easy to set up and come with funding. We as a community could use our rights under the Human Rights Act to install CCTV as party of Neighbourhood Watch which we manage ourselves without the police. We could use this to spot and record offences and then instruct our fixed-penalty notice officers to go and issue the on the spot fine. Any serious actions, like the recent mugging, can be referred to the Police through PACT with the CCTV evidence.
With regards to 5) The town council is investigating its use of Taff Meadow, and it may be this Treforest group could take it over. Also, the Community Centre, which is a separate organisation, could want to merge with this new group so that we are all able to “pool our resources” to put Treforest first, on the basis of our priorities not any other areas. It may be that the other separately constituted community groups like the one that looks after the park and the Residents Association could become part of this strategic co-operating body. With many groups into one, that would cut down cost duplications like admin and insurance, which can be spent on the community.
Even with the legal structure of a community council, which would need to elect councillors, our three councillors could just be Treasurer, Secretary, and Chair, and then we would just need a Clerk to handle the legalities, who would be the only person permantly on the Payroll, to keep costs low. Decisions could be made by the people of Treforest as suggested in 6 and all these councillors would need to do is ‘rubber-stamp’ them for the clerk to send on to the authorities.
The three councillors could come from these wards below based on the ‘Lower Layer Super Output Areas’ from the Office for National Statistics, so using their website, we can easily monitor how effective our crime-fighting measures are in each ward and how well each councillor from the ward is doing to solve the case-work assigned to them to solve long-term problems.
My ancestors, the Freeman of Llantrisant, took control of their community 665 years ago. Also it is over 10 years since the people of Northern Ireland agreed to put their differences aside and work together in government on common ground, while peaceful working towards the constitutional outcomes they wanted. If they can put their divisions behind them for progress through self-governance, I’m sure the people of Treforest can.
I find Cllr Bell‘s comments quite odd, seeing as some of the grants in question were only given due to a letter of support that he wrote for the project! To attack the project is to attack the creative efforts of all the young people involved. As a councillor for the area he should be supporting youth projects, particularly ones which make such a good contribution to the community.
What Cllr Bell fails to acknowledge is that the funding allocated to the project in Treforest would have gone elsewhere had a convincing case, which a letter from him was part of, not been put together.
When local council budgets are being cut due to Cllr Bell’s colleagues in London slashing the Assembly’s budget, he should be pleased that local community groups like Glamorgan Blended Learning Ltd are bringing in external funding to benefit the local community.
Treforest residents have joined forces to transform their community.
Work has already started to improve park facilities for children, while teenagers are using their art skills to enhance a subway in Treforest.
Town councillor Jonathan Bishop was delighted to mark the start of the landscaping work at the St Dyfrig’s underpass.
He said: “This is one of many projects the Treforest Regeneration Partnership has supported and will go some way to transforming the village into a thriving community where all residents live together with tolerance and respect for one another’s differences.“
After a series of successful campaigns on the environment, a local activist has announced his intention to seek selection for the local government elections in 2008.
Jonathan Bishop, 27, who runs the Clean Treforest Campaign and is Youth Officer for the Pontypridd Labour Party has said that the time has come for change, “Plaid councillors like Geraint Day and Dennis Watkins seem to be able to talk their way into getting elected, but its action on the ground that counts.”
Mr Bishop said his recent campaigns on the environment have been successful, and says he will put the environment at the heart of his campaign if he gets selected, “I successfully managed to get graffiti cleaned up in Treforest and Efail Isaf and managed to get the public parks in those areas enhanced from the shabby states they were in”, he said, “My petition to the European Parliament on the environment was accepted, and there are now investigations as to whether building on the Treforest Conservation Area and in Ynysangharad War Memorial Park would constitute a breach of European Law”.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Leader Russell Roberts welcomed the announcement, “It takes people like Jonathan to keep the Council informed of what is happening in our communities so we can take action”, he said, “The council is committed to providing a safe and prosperous environment for all residents in Rhondda Cynon Taff, and its important that environmental problems are brought to our attention”.