This new year will see the Pontypridd town centre planning saga continue with more pressure on the public purse.
I'm sure we will see more planning blight, regardless of what Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Leader Russell Roberts has said in this newspaper about how Pontypridd is going to be fit for the 21st century.
I can recall a similar headline on the front page of the Observer on Octobet 20, 1988 - "21st century Ponty - Town plans are unveiled".
Since then, in 1991 we have had Fountain Walk (1), then in September 1997 we had Fountain Walk (2) with an extention of planning consent to 2002, which then disappeared off the radar. In Spring 2001, Angharad Walk (1) appeared, which was killed off within months by the Environment Agency because it wanted to build a raft over our river into the par. Then we had a revamp, Angharad Walk (2), which received consent by RCT in July 2003. But still not one brick has been laid!
Pontypridd residents then had the prospect of a Morrisons store on the Brown Lenox site, but the Welsh Assembly rejected it because it said that it would have a detrimental effect on the town centre scheme, Angharad Walk.
In 2005, the council said it had a 10 year development plan all ready to go and Catherine's Corner was going to be the start - a new car park! Yet we already have six car parks, all within walking distance.
Now in 2007 we have the "new kids on the block", Taff Vale Ltd, which has produced plans for a scheme called Glan-yr-Afon that will require the precinct and Gas Lane to be redeveloped without encroaching on Ynysangharad War Memorial Park. This begs the question: where have Angharad Walk and Teesland gone? The answer is, they gone nowhere - they are still there waiting for our taxpayers' money before they can afford to put their bricks down!
I am very angry about the failure of the politicians and local government planners to get to grips with a simple planning restoration and development scheme for a small market town like Pontypridd. It is an absolute disgrace. Money is being wasted for negative development and this has to stop. In my opinion, the matter should be of grave public concern due to the invisible cost of private consultants invovled in the saga since 1983.
I hope Councillor Roberts will listen to the public and that his vision for Pontypridd will indeed be fit for the 21st century because as long-suffering taxpayers, we have heard it all before. But this year, through our public pressure groups, we are going to do something about it.
We want to have what our neighbouring towns have. There are 21st century developments in Merthyr, Caerphilly and Bridgend, but not Pontypridd. Why?