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Divide and rule – how valleys’ rivalry plays into Labour hands.

RCT N

Rhondda Cynon Taff came into being as a unitary authority in 1995, but it is far from being a united community. Indeed the rivalry between the three areas - Rhondda, Cynon Valley and Taff Ely is as keen as ever, with each constituency claiming the others are more fairly treated, and in Taff Ely (Pontypridd constituency) there is also a growing divide between east and west.
People in the Rhondda think Pontypridd is getting everything, mostly it seems based in the fact that the Council keep boasting about the £10million spent on the town centre. The fact that the Council are closing the Ponty theatre and keeping the other two open, that Pontypridd Museum has had its grant stopped, and their nearest indoor pool, Hawthorn, is closed does not figure in the reasoning.
They point to the lido that is being built and show this is proof of everything being poured into Pontypridd - this despite the fact that nobody in Pontypridd wanted it in the form proposed and instead wanted to keep their paddling pool. The Council are closing paddling pools in Rhondda and Cynon but not Taff Ely was the cry last summer - overlooking the fact that this was because they had none in Taff Ely to start with.
The £98million spent on the Porth bypass is conveniently forgotten by some, as is the Heads of The Valleys funding and the money spent on Tonypandy and Porth town centres - albeit that the changes there were not wanted by retailers and have not brought any benefits to the towns whatsoever.
Cynon museum supporters at the Cabinet meeting last week were heard complaining that everything was going to the Rhondda - this it seems based on the fact that the Cynon Museum is to close whist the Rhondda Heritage Park is not. The £53million+ new school and leisure complex being built in Aberdare again seemed not to figure, although once more this was a move that was met with some resistance by locals.
Residents in the Pontypridd town area will point to Talbot Green and the new town being panned there, they will quote all the things that are being closed and complain that their town is being forgotten, despite the fancy new pavements and a lido nobody wants!
Of course what is missed in all of this often not so friendly rivalry is the fact that the Labour Council are doing the dirty in all of us, in whatever part of the Local Authority we live.
They may be spending a few million here and there on new roads or buildings or so called regeneration projects, but the fact is this Council has no idea of what regeneration actually means. Thus we have the "road to nowhere" that is the Porth bypass. It may have cut a couple of minutes off the journey from Tonypandy to Pontypridd but it has done nothing to bring new business into the upper Rhondda. Likewise the new look given to Pontypridd town centre is meaningless when there are shops closing at a rate of knots, the precinct site is still empty and there is nothing to attract visitors.
Whilst people waste time complaining that the grass is greener over the mountain or down the valley they are forgetting that the whole area is being let down by the party who promised to stick up for RCT - the Labour party.
Karen Roberts

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