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TOWN NEWS

Keep up to date with the latest news and information in Pontypridd.
By James Payne 13 Dec, 2017

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has announced a new small business rate relief scheme is set to be introduced from the 1st of April 2018 in Wales.

The new permanent scheme means that the number of properties eligible for small business rate relief will be limited to properties in each local authority. This is aimed at preventing larger and national chain businesses benefiting from the scheme.

The plan is for relief to be targeted more effectively to help small and local businesses, with £7m every year being reinvested to help small businesses.

The SBBR scheme will also provide

·        More support for the childcare sector, increasing the upper threshold for rates relief for childcare providers from £12,000 to £20,500.

·        Targeted support for small hydropower projects, in line with the Budget agreement with Plaid Cymru.

·        £5m of investment to extend the temporary high street rates relief scheme into 2018-19;

·        An extra £1.3m for local authorities for 2018-19, to give them the power to target relief to help local businesses including those who would benefit most from the additional assistance.

Mr Drakeford has also announced an extra £9m and £22m, will be allocated in the final budget in 2018/19 and 2019/20 respectively, with the aim of switching from RPI to CPI for business rates from April next year.

The Finance Secretary also announced today an extra £9m and £22m will be allocated in the final Budget in 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively, to support the switch from RPI to CPI for business rates from April 2018.

Professor Drakeford has said that the introduction of a permanent small business rates relief scheme next year would “provide certainty and security for small businesses in Wales.” The permanent scheme would see the Welsh Government maintain their level of support for small businesses after £110m of support this year. Mr Drakeford added that “the scheme will target effective support to businesses – helping to create jobs and deliver benefits to the local communities”

Changes to the Small Business Rates Relief scheme are being introduced following a public consultation on a permanent scheme in the autumn.

By James Payne 13 Dec, 2017

Forget Me Not
A brand-new play by Avant Cymru

“It’s not the man who has the most, who gives the most away”

Through the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Avant Cymru have worked with communities in Pontypridd and the Rhondda Valley to research and discover the stories from World War I –particularly about the effect it had on the people who left for the war, and the people who were left behind. Using these stories as inspiration, Avant Cymru are producing a brand new theatrical promenade experience at 1:30pm and 7:30pm Pontypridd Museum, 25-27th January 2018. Tickets are priced £10 and £8, and can be purchased from our website.

Artistic Director of Avant Cymru, and Director of Forget Me Not, Rachel Pedley: “Knowing that it’s the centenary of the last year of World War I, we wanted to mark what the people of the Valleys contributed at home and on the front-line. Research was a really important part of this, and so working with Glamorgan Archives, Pontypridd Museum and local
people was crucial to make sure we found the facts and stories that remember the contribution from Valleys residents.

We’ve been so inspired by what we’ve found – letters were an important form of communication, and this will play a big part in the storyline. Real words from actual soldiers have inspired the dialogue, and the storyline has been influenced through people’s experiences in trench life, the chapel and at home – the audience will get to be part of this through our exciting and interactive approach. “

The cast includes Daniel Rochford – originally from Pontypridd, Daniel was in S4C and BBC’s Hinterland/ Y Gwyll, and appears regularly as Ifan Harri-Parri in The Harri-Parris Radio Show on BBC Radio Walesand BBC Radio 4. He’s looking forward to being able to perform in his hometown, a chance not often presented to him.

We are particularly excited to bring this production to Pontypridd, a town rich in artistic history but now lacking when it comes to new, exciting and risky theatre. The town has shown its support through Pontypridd Town Council and Your Pontypridd, alongside RCT Theatres and RCT Council. On top of that, ticket holders can get 15% off at New York Pancake Department by displaying their ticket – it is open until 8pm on each night of the show.

ABOUT AVANT

Avant Cymru are a forward-thinking theatre company from the South Wales Valleys. We produce professional shows with and for our community and perform these locally, nationally and internationally to showcase inspiring, compelling and relevant stories from the Valleys. Find out more about us here.

Examples of our most recent work:

Killer Cells review
• Rhondda Road feature, review – also will be featured on BBC Radio Wales’ Good Morning Wales w/c 4th December 2017

In Autumn/Winter 2018, we will be performing and touring Blue Scar – a Hip Hop dance tale from the proud past of the South Wales Valleys. 

Follow us @AvantCymru
hello@avant.cyrmu
07834 402953

For further information and pictures or to arrange interviews and press tickets, please contact

Producer Alan Humphreys – alan@avant.cymru / 07817 132754
http://www.avant.cymru @avantcymru
By James Payne 08 Dec, 2017

There are currently four defribillators based in Pontypridd Town Centre based at: 


The Patriot Bar
25B Taff Street
Pontypridd
Tel No:  01443 407915

Wales Air Ambulance
75 Taff Street 
Pontypridd
Tel No: 01443 491408

Lido Ponty
Ynysangharad Park
Tel No: 0300 004 0000

South Wales Police
Berw Road
Pontypridd
Tel No: 01443 743654

South Wales Police Taff team are currently fundraising to get more defibrillators in the town centre. On Saturday the 16th of December, the SWP Taff team will have a Santa’s grotto in Pontypridd Market which with free entry. Please feel free to talk to the SWP Taff team and make a donation to help raise money to put more defrbillators in the town. 

You can donate and help the cause right now by visiting  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/pontypriddnpt   - any support would be much appreciated, and don't forget to visit Pontypridd Market on the 16th of December. 


By James Payne 23 Nov, 2017

Christmas 2017 in Your Pontypridd

Your Pontypridd is pleased to announce it Christmas offers for 2017 we’ve got some great competitions including a £1000 prize draw, tickets and signed merchandise for a homecoming concert.

Plus we’re introducing Elves Behaving Badly to Ponty and you can win prizes if you find them being naughty in our businesses. You will also get to decide which retailer has the ‘Best Dressed Christmas Window’ in Pontypridd! 

This is aimed at tempting you all to shop in Pontypridd this festive season.

Christmas Prize Draw with EE and Tailor Made Travel

For the second year Your Pontypridd is running our bumper Christmas Prize Draw where you can win your share of £1,000 worth of prizes and support our local traders in Pontypridd over the festive period.

Prizes will includes £500 of Your Pontypridd vouchers, iPad and a weekend break in the New Year

Spend £20 in Pontpyridd’s participating shops, café and restaurants to be eligible to enter the draw and if you want to be one of the business staking part please let us know and we’ll supply you with promotional material and entry tickets.  

Climbing Trees Homecoming Christmas Gig Tickets and Merchandise

Pontypridd’s own Climbing Trees are playing at the Muni Arts Centre on 23rd December 2017 in the Muni Arts Centre and Your Pontypridd has teamed up with them to give away two pairs of tickets and signed merchandise.

To enter the competition head over to our Facebook page to Like it and share the competition post and answer the following question to win ‘In which famous city did Climbing Trees headline at The Delancey in October 2017?

Get liking and sharing and answering and don’t forget to ‘Like’ Climbing Trees Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @climbingtrees for regular update from the band.

Best Dressed Christmas Window 2017

Pontypridd’s retailers enjoy creating eye catching window displays and Your Pontypridd has decided to challenge them with a ‘Best Dressed Christmas Window’ competition for 2017.

And you can decide the winner, we’ll upload the Christmas Window photos and you can vote for your favourite and we’ll announce the winner during December.      

We can’t wait to see what the business come up with!

Elves Behavin’ Badly in Pontypridd

Your Pontypridd is delighted to announce Ponty will be an Elves Behavin’ Badly town in 2017.

The light-hearted pre-Christmas phenomenon will see Elfie and Elvie behaving badly in a BID business during December and you’ll have a chance to win a selection box if you correctly guess which shop they’re in and upload you answer to Your Pontypridd Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages with the #PontyElves


By Your Pontypridd 23 Nov, 2017

Chancellor Phillip Hammond delivered his Budget yesterday in the House of Commons and the headlines are as follows

  •  Economic forecasts from the Office of Budget Responsibility
  •  Weaker productivity, but still economic growth over the next few years
  •  Household spending and investment continues to grow
  •  Another 600,000 people in work by 2020
  •  Borrowing to continue to fall until 2021

 For Business Improvement Districts the news was mixed

Small business support

  • Business rates re-evaluation once every 3 years not 5
  • Business rates to be uprated with CPI instead of RPI from 2018. The measure was brought forward by two years after intense lobbying by the BRC and the CBI
  • Keeping VAT threshold for small businesses at £85,000, this is vitally important for small business in Pontypridd to ensure that they can continue to trade and grow and provide employment for the town.
  • New measures to ensure online retail markets are liable for VAT as well as the sellers to ensure better parity with high street traders

Transport & Infrastructure

Much applies to England with £1.9 billion for transport improvements in the Oxford – Milton Keynes corridor by 2021 and £3.95 billion for the Tyne & Wear Metro by 2021

But for Wales, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority will publish an update to the National

Also the introduction of the ‘millennial’ railcard for 26-30 year olds, good for Business Improvement Districts looking to attract shoppers and visitors.

National Living Wage

From April 2018, the National Living Wage (previously the National Minimum Wage) will see the following increases according to age:

  •  Increased rate for 21+ year olds to £7.38 per hour
  •  Increased rate for 18 to 20 year to £5.90 per hour

Much of the local government funding and housing Development applies to England as those powers are devolved to the Welsh and Scottish Government’s, however a few things still apply

Planning reforms will be introduced that will ensure more land is available for housing, and that better use is made of underused land in our cities and towns

Abolishing stamp duty for first time buyers on the first £300,000 of any new home purchase

On Brexit, UK Government is focusing on securing certainty for businesses so they can better plan long term investments. The budget contained some very welcome measures for BIDs but also highlighted a few emerging concerns.

  Your Pontypridd BIDs’ analysis

As the Chancellor acknowledged businesses wanted as much certainty as possible from the Brexit negotiations when looking at future long investment, including in our town centres.

Many economists over the past few years have highlighted productivity as an issue for the economy going forward, and this was reflected in new OBR figures. That said, predictions on household spend and employment numbers were up which bodes well for consumer spending.

The Chancellor’s solution to improving productivity is to invest heavily in transport and digital infrastructure, which is positive for BIDs. The more people can move and communicate with BID destinations for work and leisure the better and the Chancellor announced major projects in many larger cities as well as support for smaller projects across the county.

The millennial railcard is an interesting proposal from the Chancellor with off-peak railcards which are designed purely to make the cost of leisure activities cheaper for the age group. This is again positive for many BIDs’ marketing initiatives to attract visitors and tourists.

Business rate reform for small businesses was also a key part of the Chancellor’s support for small businesses with moves to increase the frequency of rate reviews and the switch from RPI to CPI would take place in 2018 instead of 2020 thanks to a well-run campaign by the BCC and the CBI, but these measure now needs action from the Welsh Government to ensure Welsh business isn’t disadvantaged.

An interesting inclusion into the Budget was the news that online market places will now also be liable for VAT as well as sellers, in a move designed to bring more parity between online retailers and traditional traders. All of these measures will be welcomed by BID levy payers.

The Chancellor’s commitment to build more homes in urban centres need to be monitored to ensure  it doesn’t put more pressure on local authorities like Rhondda Cynon Tad County Borough council to convert more vacant commercial space into residential under permitted development rights.

Finally, another measure that levy payers will be interested in is the increase in the National Living Wage announced for this April. Businesses in the retail and leisure sectors will need to start incorporating this into their future planning now to ensure the impact is as managed as possible.

Overall from a Your Pontypridd BID perspective the measures in the Budget on business rates are welcome if the Welsh government follows suit and BIDs and levy payers should monitor the impact of housing and pay policies to ensure their impact on the local trading environment is as managed as possible.

By James Payne 16 Nov, 2017

SKINNY DOG FRIDAY DISCO TILL 2AM!

2.30PM SATURDAY - WATCH WALES VS GEORGIA LIVE  followed by band The Shakes!

Fairwarning live at the Skinny Dog from 7pm Sunday!

By James Payne 10 Nov, 2017

1. Firstly, could you tell us your name, what you do in the band and the meaning behind the name ‘Climbing Trees’?

 I’m Matthew Frederick, pianist, occasional guitarist and one of three vocalists in Climbing Trees. We have three frontmen in a way, depending on the song, and like to mix things up in terms of lead vocals as well as instrumentation, which I think works particularly well live as well as on record.

 The band’s been going for six years in total, with the current four-piece line-up for the last three and a bit years, during which time momentum has steadily been building. We’ve taken things in a slightly different direction over the past couple of years, particularly with the second album – there’s some big instrumental tracks on the latest record which are much more expansive, which I think has worked well at some of the bigger festivals we’ve played.

 With regards to the band name, a couple of the boys were on a bike ride in the forestry back in 2011, and one asked the other if they liked climbing trees. We were looking for a band name at this point, and the other thought that he was suggesting a band name rather than the actual activity of climbing a tree. We decided it suited the folky, acoustic feel of the first album, and it stuck!

 

2.     Your band performed at the first gig following the Muni’s reopening – how far do you think the venue has come since that night?

  A long way!  The Muni had been open for a few months as a community project before we got involved. We wanted to kickstart live music in the Muni again – I remember going the ‘Fight Night’ shows when I was around sixteen or seventeen, and it used to be absolutely packed.  I’ve also run several songwriting sessions there in the past, so it’s been a venue close to my heart for a long time now.  I started performing there and doing a few shows solo, but always wanted to play with the band there. We were looking to put on a hometown show, and it seemed fitting to do it at the Muni alongside our friends The People The Poet and Peasant’s King, the ‘Holy Trinity’ of current Ponty bands!

 It sold out and the place was buzzing.  The show brought in fans of all three bands, lovers of music in general as well as people who just wanted to support their local venue.  The Mayor of Pontypridd at the time, Jayne Brencher (currently Councillor of the Graig Ward), came on stage sporting her bling along with her Climbing Trees t-shirt, gave a great speech and went down a storm, and we also had the comedian Vern Griffiths compering, which tied everything together nicely. The whole night definitely showed the potential of the venue, and it’s great to see music in a regular basis here now. It’s a perfectly sized venue for the town for those larger shows and for touring bands, and it’s really a facility that we all need to make the most of.

3.     Are you looking forward to playing in your hometown for Christmas and what was the idea behind that?

 We try to play one hometown show every year, and we haven’t actually gigged in Ponty since that Muni show in April 2016.  We’re hoping for another cracking night, and we’re looking forward to a great atmosphere, what with it being our final show of the year, a Saturday night and just two days before Christmas!

4.     What do you think of the current nightlife/music on offer in Pontypridd?

There are actually a whole load of events going on – probably more than people realise – and each seems to have its core crowd. It’s good to see the BID and the likes of Ponty Arts sharing events on social media, because they need as much publicity as they can get. The appetite is certainly there, it’s just a matter of getting the word out.  

I try to get to as many of these intimate events as possible. Pontypridd Museum have started putting on a poetry night roughly once every couple of months, which is always an eye-opener.  I spend a lot of time in Clwb y Bont, which works well for smaller shows, as well as the folk, blues and jazz nights. There are plenty of people out there desperate to go out and watch live, original acts, and making sure that the message gets out there, whether through social media, print or other avenues, is absolutely crucial to the success of these nights.

5.     As a musician, what was it like to see the introduction of LINK Fest in Pontypridd?

I was actually really looking forward to LINK Fest, but unfortunately it clashed with our New York shows last month.  It’s definitely something that Ponty needs – linking all of its venues together to provide a little something for everyone across one weekend, much like Sŵn and HUB Festival do so well down the road in Cardiff. The first year is always a good test of the water, and it’ll be interesting to see how the festival develops in 2018.

6.     Do you think there are improvements to be made or any new ideas needed moving forward?

I think it’s important that our local venues and promoters work together as much as possible, avoiding clashes in terms of the types of events they’re putting on, where possible. Each venue naturally has its own niche – the Muni’s there for the larger events, the poetry in the Museum works really well, as do more traditional forms of music, the Bont covers a number of genres and is a great place for bands starting out to play to a small, captive crowd.  It’s key to get everyone working together as one body whilst retaining what makes each venue unique.

7.     How did you find about the BID?

Gareth Pugh of Plaingrafffic first mentioned the BID to me a good few months back. He’s designed the artwork for all of the Trees releases so far, as well as working with Your Pontypridd, which has become more noticeable both on social media and in the town of late. It’s good to bring local businesses together under one banner and expand their customer-base with things like the new Student Discount card scheme.

8.     The band is working with the BID for this show – how important is the BID’s role in the town moving forward?

There are some interesting ideas in the pipeline, including digital advertising in the town, which will help promote the both the BID and the businesses involved, as well as events likes ours.  The student scheme in particular could provide a welcome boost – those studying in Trefforest are a largely untapped market.  A lot tend to hop on the train down to Cardiff when Ponty is only one train stop away in the opposite direction, and it’s essential that it’s seen as a viable option in terms of shopping and eating out, as well as a good night.

There are lots of cool little shops popping up of late – Soul Spice in the market is one of my favourites, and the New York Pancake Department on Taff Street are just this month introducing a vegan menu, which is handy for me as a vegan! We also have Terry’s Music on Church Street, another favourite of mine. He was in the market for years, and it’s great to have a music shop in Ponty selling records as well as instruments and other bits and bobs. I think there are always a few options in Ponty for whatever you’re after – there’s a great deal of potential, and these new developments can hopefully continue to push the town in the right direction.

9.     Are there any improvements or ideas that you would like the BID to consider in the future?

The little things make a lot of difference, the branding’s great and just needs to be seen in as many places as possible. It’s essential for the BID to continue to get involved with events as well as businesses – the more connections made the better, meeting the right people is crucial to keep the momentum going.

  10. What are your plans for 2018?

I have a load of different ideas bouncing around, so I’m not sure quite where to start! With regards to the Trees, we’ve come to the end of the second album’s cycle in terms of promotion, single releases, festivals and touring. We released ‘Borders’ in July 2016, and since then we’ve played a lot of shows, in Europe and the US as well as the UK, which is something we could only have dreamed of a few years ago.

We each have solo and side-projects that we’ve set aside a bit of time to concentrate on at the start of 2018 before reconvening a little further down the line to start writing afresh ahead of the third record. Personally, I’ve been wanting to record another solo album for a while now, so that’s at the top of my to-do list, but aside from that I’m also currently writing a piano piece for a short film, and more generally I’ll be looking to put on more Staylittle Music shows throughout 2018. So we’ll wait and see, but there’s a lot to look forward to!

  Thanks for your time today Matthew, we wish the band all the best in the future and look forward to working with you for the upcoming hometown show.

By James Payne 10 Nov, 2017
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