I decided to go by train for my next visit on August 22 to Pontypridd in the Welsh Valleys. Unfortunately, the beautiful riverside journey alongside the River Severn to Cardiff from Gloucester was unavailable – a replacement bus service was on offer instead. I therefore booked for a trip involving three trains via Bristol Parkway but the very first train was 20 minutes late and I missed the connection.
About half an hour late, Tony Graham, the CEO and Town Clerk at Pontypridd, was waiting for me with sandwiches and a welcome cup of tea. Tony is approaching the end of Level 4 and preparing to complete his studies by the end of September. He showed me around the handsome former chapel containing a museum, community meeting rooms, and the town council’s offices. The council has ambitious plans for modernising the museum with excellent candidates to be interviewed for the lead manager’s role the following day.
Tony gave me a beautiful book, The Mab, telling ‘eleven epic stories from the Mabinogi’ in both Welsh and English and showed me the council’s Mab trail for youngsters which leads them around attractive sites in the town. The children would search for relief panels with a phrase and picture from the Mab that they could treat like a brass rubbing and were encouraged to create their own stories. The project was inspired by the Wellbeing and Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015 which is a strong influence on local action at all levels. This innovative piece of legislation puts sustainability for future benefit, especially for children, at the heart of public sector thinking – and it really does work.
The council has a good relationship with its unitary authority, Rhondda Cynon Taf, which has chosen Pontypridd for some significant investment. The next few years promise to be exciting for them.
By Elisabeth Skinner MBE. Follow her progress on Twitter – @lisabethski.