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What's on Communitywise

Drinking in Public
The areas where you will be fined £100 for drinking in public in Aberdare and Pontypridd

A ban on street drinking will come into force in Pontypridd and Aberdare town centres from September.

Rhondda Cynon Taf council is trying to crack down on alcohol related anti-social behaviour in its two largest towns through a public space protection order (PSPO) which will see offenders fined £100 if they get caught and do not give up their drink.

Cabinet approved the proposal in April which also applies to other intoxicating substances.

As well as banning drinking in the street in Aberdare and Pontypridd, the PSPO will also make the whole of RCT a Controlled Drinking Zone.

This will mean police and authorised council officers have the power to request that any person stops drinking and surrenders their alcohol if they are causing, or likely to cause, anti-social behaviour.

The council recently launched a campaign called “Calling Time on Street Drinking” to raise awareness of the changes which come into force on September 1.

Why has this been put in place?

The proposal was put forward following the 2016/17 crime perception survey as part of the RCT Community Safety Partnership.

Almost a third of participants labelled alcohol as the single-biggest contributor to crime and disorder in Aberdare and Pontypridd.

So where will street drinking in RCT’s two largest towns be banned?

Aberdare’s no drinking zone will include the town centre, the nearby Ynys development including its playing fields, Aberdare railway station and the Gadlys Pit car park

Pontypridd’s zone includes Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, Pontypridd railway station, Pontypridd bus station and an area of lower Graig.

How will it work?

Police and council officers will carry out patrols in these zones and will ask anyone who they catch drinking to hand it over or throw it away.

If they do not, the officers have the power to hand out a £100 fine.

The council will be holding several public engagement events in both town centres throughout August to give people more information about the PSPO.

The council says that the PSPO could be wavered for authorised public drinking at organised events within Aberdare and Pontypridd, including Christmas markets and the Big Welsh Bite event.

What the cabinet member has had to say

Councillor Rhys Lewis is the cabinet member for stronger communities, well-being and cultural services.

He said: “The council recently launched its Calling Time on Street Drinking campaign to promote the new rules and, with less than a month to go until the PSPO comes into force, it is focusing on a targeted exercise to ensure residents are fully-informed – particularly in Aberdare and Pontypridd where the greatest changes will take place.

“This includes more than 20 engagement events taking place in the two towns throughout August, where people can speak directly with officers about the new rules.

“There are also dedicated pages on the council’s website with important information – including answers to frequently answered questions and maps of where the ‘no alcohol zones’ will be.”


A former school building in Pontypridd will be demolished despite hundreds wanting to save it

The demolition of a popular former school building in Pontypridd has been approved despite hundreds of local people wanting to save it.

Rhondda Cynon Taf’s planning committee voted in favour of Rhondda Housing Association’s (RHA) plans to build eight flats on site of the woodworking block (Block F) of the former Coed y Lan Comprehensive School and the former caretaker’s house on Lanpark Road.

Block F is not listed in its own right but is curtilage listed as part of the former school site but planners said they were minded to refuse the application when it came before them in April.

Jon Wilks, speaking on behalf of Rhondda Housing Association, said the new building would replicate the existing building.

“It would be as close to the woodworking block as can viably be achieved,” he said.

He also revealed that prospective residents of a nearby development at Block C have not yet been able to move in with the 18 homes being vacant since January.

Mr Wilks also said that the limited heritage value does not warrant the level of investment needed to restore it.

“Rhondda Housing have worked hard to develop a scheme that responds to concerns,” he said. “They are confident it is the best possible solution.”

Mr Wilks said that RHA would be prepared to adhere to a condition which require the building to be a replacement of the current one.

But Louise Jones, a resident of Lanpark Road, collected nearly 300 signatures from people opposing the demolition.

She said the building has “significant importance in maintaining the character of the local area.”

Mrs Jones also said that the building provides screening for residents from the modern development behind it.

“Not one resident wanted the building demolished,” she said. “The only argument against restoration is one of cost.

“Rhondda Housing does not want to spend the money to restore it. The building can be saved and restored.

“It is not democratic or reasonable to ignore the wishes of local people.”

Her husband Christopher Jones also addressed committee.

He said the area had a “distinct and unique architectural heritage” and that the new building would be a pale imitation.

“We’ve already lost many important buildings in Pontypridd,” he said.

“We should have a better understanding of the need to retain these buildings. It makes sense to reuse this building.

“Rhondda Housing have shown contempt for residents. Rhondda Housing is trying it on to push for a cheaper option.”

Councillor Heledd Fychan, who represents Pontypridd Town ward, said the fact that residents can’t move in is not the fault of current residents.

“It would be a grave mistake to allow demolition” she said.

“The building has stood for over a century. It is an important part of the historic landscape.

“Cost should not be the driving force. We should be creating social housing in this historic building.”

Councillor Pauline Jarman said: “We are far too keen to demolish our history rather than seeking to retain it.

“It would be a poor decision to consign this particular building to demolition. It has far too much history.”

Speaking about the residents who have not been able to move in to the other building she said: “This council can’t be held responsible for Rhondda Housing Association making commitments and then not delivering. That is pretty shocking.

“I can’t in all justification put my hand up to have this building demolished.”

Six councillors voted in favour of the plans and three voted against.

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