Owen Smith’s Pontypridd Observer Column 08/10/2014

Despite the tough choices our Councillors face following Tory/Lib Dem cuts, Labour Members of RCT are committed to securing the best education possible for all of our children.

The news that the Council will dedicate £100m on school-improvements will be warmly welcomed by Pontypridd parents. This investment is possible through support from the Welsh Labour Government and it will provide much-improved facilities for 7,000 children.

It will include an exciting new 3-to-19 school to be built in Tonyrefail, along with a Sixth Form Centre of Excellence, and £24m to be spent on transforming the buildings at Y Pant Comprehensive School – including an up-grade of the current temporary classrooms.  

It will make a huge difference to the day-to-day learning of children across Pontypridd and I pay tribute to new Council Leader Andrew Morgan, and his Cabinet, for having the courage of their conviction and prioritising education – especially in the face of such stringent cuts from the Tories and Lib Dems in Westminster.

I am also still in contact with the Council about the planned changes to the catchment area for Y Pant and Bryn Celynnog. I remain firmly opposed to these changes and have told the Council I think they should be re-considering.

I will keep pressing the point that I agree with local parents who feel traditional connections between communities and schools should be treated with more respect, and that concerns over the safety of the planned changes need to be fully addressed.

We also received welcome news this week that the on-call fire engine in Treforest will be retained. This decision comes after a determined campaign led by the Ponty Retained Fire Crew alongside myself, Mick Antoniw, Labour Councillors, the public and hundreds of other organisations across Pontypridd.

While it’s regrettable the Fire Authority was forced to make a choice between frontline services at Treforest and Porth in the first place, this is the right decision. Our frontline services are already stretched to breaking point and removing the engine from Treforest would have put public safety at risk.

The future of our fire services and the planned change to catchment areas are vital issues that have been raised with me on a number of occasions in my recent surgeries. If you’d like to discuss these – or any other issues – please book an appointment at one of my upcoming surgeries by phoning me on 01443 401122.