This is the final Neath Ferret blog before the website becomes a memory at the end of the year.
It is something of a relief to the editor who has kept the website going through thick and thin for the past ten years with no sponsors and no influence by any political party or advertiser.
It can now be revealed that the editor overcame cancer during the life of the Neath Ferret and is grateful for those who took over during this period. This year saw the loss of his dear wife with a rare form of bone marrow cancer, something not mentioned before in order to keep the website away from personal issues.
Now age is catching up on the editor who has a condition called ‘heart failure’. So it is time for someone else to produce a similar social media type of website to highlight problems in the community. The rest of his team have lost interest, besides, they have their own health problems.
All this is mentioned because it is only fair that readers should know why The Neath Ferret is coming to a close.
Apart from all this, the EU is about to consider what is called Article 13, which, if it goes through, will restrict what can be put on the Internet. It will particularly affect social media websites. Article 13 of the EU directive raises serious questions about the implications for free expression, creativity, and the freedom to publish.
Over the past ten years, this website has been dependant on its readers, and the editor thanks each and everyone who has contributed to its pages. The contributors have included AM’s, MP’s, Councillors and others in authority, which indicate that those from all walks of life have had a say in community issues.
All remains is for the editor to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR with the hope that all the views expressed on this website have always been accepted in good faith.
This is the penultimate blog before the Neath Ferret becomes just a memory at the end of the year.
This month we present the first of a series of memories, which we hope will reflect the past 10 years of being an active social media website, allowing residents to express their views on a variety of topics.
As we have said before, our success is reflected by the huge number of posts received from readers, including the replies from those who either agree or disagree with the views expressed.
The clocks going back one hour, the colder weather and the leaves falling reminds us that winter is ahead. Let’s hope the annual fireworks displays will delight families and that elderly folk will not be alarmed by premature fireworks by irresponsible individuals.
Finally, we have to say that we are looking forward to seeing the end result of Neath’s development scheme and hopefully a series of craft shops in Queen Street that will reflect hand skills of the past. As the old saying goes: “If you don’t use it, you will lose it.”
The best and most effective ‘tweets’ are the ones that are short and to the point, like Donald Trump’s on Twitter, but that doesn’t mean to say that we agree with what he writes.
If tweets to this website are over 250 words they are automatically deleted and are not even seen by our editorial team.
Tweets, another name for what appears on our Readers Letters page, makes us mention the tremendous response we have had during the past ten years that we have been on-line. Our hosting service gives the figure of 11,625, which works out at an average of 20 posts per week.
Our viewing figures, the term is ‘hits’, have been breathtaking, making us the most viewed local social media site in Wales.
Our NEWS page frequently follows up and expands on readers letters and what they have to say, making it an innovative way of presenting issues that are often not mentioned elsewhere in the media. This support for readers is one of the reasons for our success.
As the old saying goes, nothing stops the same for ever, and this applies to the Neath Ferret. After almost 11years we are coming to an end and the countdown counter on our HOME page will give an indication of our remaining days.
Coincidentally, the life span of a real live ferret is 10 to 11 years, so the Neath Ferret is no exception in this sense.
We again thank our readers and contributors for making this website so lively and informative during its lifespan.
After 11 years of activity the Neath Ferret will be taken off line at the end of the year. Perhaps someone else will produce a similar website to highlight the needs of the community of Neath, at least we hope so.
The Neath Ferret is being buried for several reasons, including the loss of support from prime contributors.
We are proud of the fact that over 11,600 posts have been received on our Readers Letters page and that we have given the opportunity for so many readers to express their views on a wide variety of topics.
We are sure that there are some who will rejoice at the news, mainly those in office who have been criticised by readers. We would, however, like to think that all this has be done in good faith and has been accepted as such.
We thank all those who have helped to make the Neath Ferret a lively controversial website.
Last month (July 2018) will long be remembered, not only for the hot weather, but some of the issues discussed in our readers letters.
The letters covered a wide range of issues, including a comment stating that this website was somewhat Islamic. The reader in question should look at the videos on Youtube from which we often embed a copy.
Youtube and this website have one thing in common and that is we both reveal life as it is. Both publish what is sent in by the public and it is up the viewer/reader to evaluate the content.
If some people don’t like the truth about what is happening they sometimes call a person a racist or even a bigot. In reality the person they refer to is a realist, someone who is aware of what is happening in society.
Remember the word ‘realist’ because we rate the majority of our readers as realists. As for the others it would appear that they are not aware, or refuse to see, what is happening in this country.
The sewer smells in Old Market Street and Water Street again reflect the neglect by Welsh Water who currently have a series of adverts on TV that state they are a ‘not for profit’ company. But we also blame the council for not chasing Welsh Water for action. The problem has existed for years and is very evident in hot weather.
Sewer gas is highly explosive and something should be done before a major incident happens, In addition to this, the River Neath is an open sewer that is disgrace to both Welsh Water and the Council.
Finally, congratulations to Geraint Thomas the Welshman who was the winner of Tour de France. Geraint has put Wales on the map and makes everyone feel very proud of him.
Last month (June 2018) was one of the hottest months on record — and for more reasons than one. We included a Pat Condell video and asked readers for their comments. The result was the longest thread we have ever had on our Readers Letters page.
One reader even got a little nasty and accused us of being racist and condemned us for our actions, which was to make this website lively and thought provoking, He appeared to be silenced by another video, which apparently made him realise his own short comings.
This month we have gone further and have produced another SPOTLIGHT website and give details of this and the others on our NEWS page.
Apart from comments on Pat Condell our readers have brought up a wide variety of subjects to make this one of most interesting websites on the Internet, well, we would say that, wouldn’t we?
Seriously, this website is looked at by those who care for our town who are hopefully wiser for knowing the feelings of the man (and woman) in the street.
By the way, have you listened to LBC RADIO (its in our menu) and the various issues being discussed? If not, then you are missing a lot of interesting discussions.
There was disappontment with the Government's decision not to give financial backing to the Swansea Tidal Lagoon. It would appear that Wales is being ignored yet again - recently it was decided not to power trains from Cardiff to Swansea by electricity.
We all know that tidal power is more reliable than wind power but what is being ignored is the other benefits that arise from the project. Perhaps this will open the door to the Chinese or another country - remember that many of our utility companies are already owned by other countries.
In our last blog we mentioned the problem of getting on this website when using our registered domain name. The fact is that registering a domain costs money and we have no income to renew it.
Up to now it has been paid from the pocket of one of our team but it has now been decided to reveal the facts which is simply that we have no sponsors or financial support
From the very start we have been totally independent and have not asked for sponsors or help with running the site.
The same thing goes for the cost of hosting and we are currently using the free facility of SPANGLEFISH - the brand name of Plexus Media, a web specialist firm based in Scotland.
Plexus Media rely on GOOGLE adverts and get a modest return for every hit an advert gets. It must be said, however, that Spanglefish can provide ad-free (Gold) versions for £29.95 per annum. Here again, in the past, one of our team has put his hand in his pocket to pay for this.
Having said all this, the good news is that the NEATH FERRET website can be found on GOOGLE when you search for the name.
May we suggest that you put this website in your favouries for quick access.
Some readers may have had problems getting on our website last month. The reason is due to the registry that holds our domain name: www.neathferret.co.uk. The good news, however, is that when you Google NEATH FERRET we are there on the top of the page. In fact Google gives the means of going direct to the page you want.
Readers have expressed their concerns about Neath railway station and reports that it may not be a main line station. The report that it may be an unmanned station has added to resident worries.
It is a fact that more use of trains would reduce road congestion and pollution, but high fares are a deterrent. Perhaps we should follow the example of other countries.
Gone are the days when Western Welsh buses ran from the rail station’s forecourt. If we want to reduce road congestion and pollution we must work towards an integrated transport system and take a few lessons from the past.
We start off this month with some unusual reports from outside sources.
Its the start of a dig and delve drive on situations that affect our lives in one way or another.
Many think that Swansea is more open than Neath as far as future developments are concered. We aim to fill the gap with the help of our readers who are our reporters.
An effective council news website is long overdue. Perhaps one day the council administration will come to life - it just needs enthusiastic councillors to give them a push.
On our FRONT PAGE (Home) we present the latest Youtube video by Mike Davies showing the beauty of our waterfalls in the Neath valley - frozen as you may never see them again.
Have you ever climbed a frozen waterfall? See it being done on Mike's videos.
The focus this month is the Beast fronm the East. We urge all readers to take care and keep warm.
Last month a reader's report on the parlous condition of a section of the M4 motoway resulted in a much need repair. More reports like this are needed to get attention to our roads at this time of year.
We must apologise to readers who had difficulty in accessing this website in January. This was due to the large number of people attempting to view at the same time.
Our viewing figures are increasing and peaks sometimes occur as they do sometimes with news websites.
Our moderator for readers letters has a difficult job in attempting to let everyone have their say, however, there are occasions when the line of decency is crossed. When several readers complain about a letter then something has to be done, as we did last month with one item
Letters are published as received but we limit these to around 200 words. Short ‘tweets’ are often more effective than long drawn out letters. (Note that this blog has 208 words).
The development of Neath is of great concern to residents and the lack of feedback from official sources is disconcerting.
Perhaps the greatest problem in Neath is parking and readers letters have highlighted this.
In residential areas some motorists are not using their garages and driveways and cause congestion by parking on public roadways. Perhaps a charge for inconsiderate motorists should be considered. It would certainly help the council’s financial resources - and may even provide cash to improve traffic flow.
The Neath Ferret is ten years old this year and must thank all readers,correspondents and posters for its success. During the past ten years we have brought many issues to the attention of those who are responsible for community administration.
Caring councillors have been provided with the means of finding out what residents are concerned about and then doing something about it.
Our independent hosting service state that, up to today, 10,560 posts have been received. Of course this represents a small fraction of our readership as not everyone writes in. A modest calculation reveals that there has been hundreds of thousands of hits over this period. Our presence on Goggle is an indication of how popular the site really is.
The year 2017 saw the sad death of Cllr Janice Dudley who was so proud to be Mayor of the County Borough. On the bright side there has been talk of a revised rail service, although there is a question mark over the future of Neath General Station as a main line station.
Acquisition of the vacant Metal Box works by the Council is a positive move forward, providing something is done with it sooner rather than later.
Car parking charges in Neath is a cause for concern by many residents with the possibility that shoppers will avoid Neath in favour of out of town shopping centres that provide free parking - and where you can park almost outside the shop you are going to - handy for our ageing population.
Hopefully, the traffic lights at Dwr y Felin Road will get priority attention in the new year. The hold-ups over the holiday break highlight the seriousness of the situation.
A special word of thanks and appreciation must go to Mike Davies of Cadoxton who has produced some stunning photographs in 2017. Mike has done much work for various charities, including producing Christmas greeting cards for the Friends of Neath, Port Talbot and Tonna hospitals. He has been a great asset to this website for which we are very grateful.
The Editorial team also wish to thank those who have expressed their gratitude for us providing a means of expression and wish them, and all other readers, a happy and healthy New Year.
Let’s hope Christmas and the festive decorations will brighten up Neath, which many letters on our Twitter Page say is a dismal town.
It goes without saying that our councillors, the guardians of our town are being blamed for the state that it is in.
To be fair, and in contrast, Aberavan Beach and the Baglan Energy Park is well cared for. So why is Neath being neglected? The blame must rest with the councillors.
The Bryncoch South website highlights what needs to be done in that part of Neath. Let’s hope the new councillor, Jo Hale, who replaces Janet Dudley, will take note and urge the full time officers for action.
Air pollution near Dwr-y-Felyn school, caused by the badly sequenced traffic lights at the main road junction, is of particular concern. This section of road which takes the Pontardawe traffic from the A 465, has the heaviest traffic flow in the Borough and needs priority attention.
The Government’s announcement of bringing into use former railway routes brings a ray of hope for the Neath Valley railway line. If this is revived it will be a good thing to Neath. It is up to our powers that be to pursue this. Apart form the shopping angle it could be a tourist attraction for some of our heritage sites that are close to the line.
Finally we would like to wish all readers a very happy Christmas and New Year and to thank them for supporting this website, now approaching it’s 10th year.
The motor traffic going into Neath is increasing, and so is the air pollution. Disabled drivers who have difficulty in walking are grateful to find car parking spaces near the shops.
The report on driverless electric buses in Germany is something that we could do with here. A frequent service from the Cimla and Waunceirch (both hilly areas) could certainly reduce the cars going into Neath, which on occasions, gets almost grid locked.
The air pollution at the traffic lights at Dwr y Felyn Road and Eastland Road are areas of concern that can be improved by careful planning. It is up to our councillors to push for this.
We were pleased to note the NPT Air Pollution website and urge air quality checks at the traffic lights mentioned above
How long is the land, which was formally the old multi story car park, going to remain unused? Surely it could be used as a temporary car park - or even a taxi rank? If used for taxi parking the space they currently use could be made available for disabled drivers - especially with Christmas approaching.
An effort must be made to bring shoppers into Neath for the festive season, lets hope that the Christmas lights will not disappoint them.
We promised a website called: ‘My Councillor’ but we deferred the. launch as a mark of respect after the death of Mayor Councillor Janice Dudley while attending an event at Aberavon Beach in August.
The main purpose of the website was to provide a facility to contact your councillor directly on matters often mentioned on this website. It is thought to be a step forward to improve communications.
In the meantime we introduce EATING OUT IN NEATH, a website which looks at the hygiene of food establishments in Neath. It is appropriately launched after the town’s Food & Drink Festival.
Neath is a lovely compact town for events of this kind and we hope that many visitors will return for future events.
The introduction of ‘What's on in Neath’ to our menu links to the council’s website - so really, the ball is in their court to keep residents informed on events in Neath. It makes sense as many of the events are at council venues.
Parking in Neath is a problem with cars going around and around looking for a short term parking space. This adds to pollution which is a growing worry. On weekends perhaps parking in school carparks and playgrounds would help. It is time that councillors put their thinking caps on.
We have included a new item in our menu: 'THOUGHT BLOG' it's a new type of blog that you can respond to. We want to see how it goes before we expand it.
The new 'My Councillor' website planned for this month has been deferred due to the sad loss of the Mayor - Cllr Janice Dudley.
The same thing applies to another website we have planned for law and and order in Neath: 'Neath Crime Watchers' - it's aim is to make you feel safer as you walk the streets of Neath.
The testing time for law and order is the Great September Fair. Our readers will have their eyes open - and so will the Police, we hope.
MENU TRIM. We will be trimming our menu and putting in our archives some items not updated for a month or more. They will be brought back into view IF and when updated.
How sad it is to have our readers writing in about the slow demise of Neath with signs our councillors are apparently ignoring - or is it that they simply do not care?
Neath has so much going for it that other towns would crave for. It has attractions that make it a wonderful tourist attraction - if only it was promoted the right way. One of the biggest attractions is The Great September Fair that goes back to 1280 - one of the oldest fairs in Britain. Note the count down timer on the Front Page.
The National Trust Centre at Aberdulais has the largest electricity-generating wheel in Europe, with a diameter of 8.2m, which was built by students and apprentices of British Steel at Port Talbot. The village has more bridges for its size than any other places in the UK., this includes a canal viaduct that crosses a road and a river.
The beautiful Gnoll Country Park with its ponds and wildlife is a delight to visit and ideal for young children that are supervised by adults.
Neath boasts of four hotels in the centre of the town compared to the centre of Port Talbot which has only one.
We have discovered many sources of hidden news, so from this month onwards we are going to do a regular NEWS SWEEP, which we hope readers will find interesting. This is in addition to the many interesting items our readers come up with. So with all things considered, we hope to make the NEATH FERRET even more interesting, informative and educational.
It will be seen, hopefully, that we are doing our best to promote Neath, in spite of those outspoken readers who (quite rightly) write in and report what they find. Their hearts are in the right place because, they too, want Neath to be a better town to live in.
Finally we would like to say we are going to trim our MENU on 10th August by removing inactive items, We hope STaN will return before then to keep Jack O’ the North company.
Life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows, from school, college to work. But have you noticed there is always someone who stands out from the rest in one way or another? The bully or bigot who makes life a misery - the person who attempts to domineer you and make you feel small.
Often they subconsciously make themselves feel superior to the person or group they are referring to, whom they sometimes call bigots. In actual fact it is they who are the bigot, because a bigot does not see himself as others do.
And so it is with the Readers Letters page on this website - there is one who calls other readers bigots, morons and cranks This obnoxious attitude shows a lack of respect to other readers and the editorial team.
We will refrain from mentioning who we refer to but feel sure that readers will know the name of the person concerned.
Let’s be clear, we value our readers and respect them. We aim to be tolerant, including to those who admit they have problems writing, for one reason of another. We publish letters as they are written and hope other readers will be equally tolerant when they read them.
As a famous person once said: ‘love is stronger than hate’ and often we must put down the attitude of obnoxious people to their inferior mental make-up - or perhaps their genes.
To change the subject, we rather like the comment by a reader about some councillors being in a rut and said: “the only difference between a rut and the grave is the depth.” Now that to our mind is something worth thinking about.
There was a time when Neath’s Police Station (now a pub) was opposite the Railway station - pity its not there now. If it was perhaps we would not see the downs and outs sleeping in that area - what a shocking sight for late night rail travellers arriving in Neath. See READERS LETTERS for another view on this.
By the way, ignore the conspiracy theory about STaN having a rest from his column due to a gypsy's warning from someone in the Labour party. It's more than likely that Mrs Stan has complained about the time he is has been spending at his computer and he has therefore promised to give her more attention. To make up for this have a look at a new item in the menu entitled: I SAY. It has not yet been mentioned on our NEWS page as it is under development. Perhaps in time STaN will be added to it!
Another election is coming up and we hope that everyone will think and not vote automatically as some do. Should you vote for the person or for the party he/she represents? We share the view of the Electoral Reform Society (https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk) inasmuch that our present system does reflect the views of the majority, as shown last time in the results for the SNP and UKIP.
We agree with those who believe that any successful candidate should have over 50% of the votes cast. It is just plain common sense.
Here is Neath the sad death of a swan on the canal has raised much anger by readers - mainly because the authorities do not appear to care. If it comes to that, do they care for Neath as they should - or do they care more for the pound in their pocket? Our STaN reckons their caring can be measured by their attendances at council and committee meetings, we will wait and see.
The new Mayor of Neath Port Talbot, Cllr Janice Dudley, is the second Plaid Cymru member to hold the office, and we know she will do so without any political bias - as should anyone holding the office. The attitude of others, however, is another matter as was noted when the office went to a non-Labour member. These matters don't go unnoticed and show up small minded individuals, clergy and those in the public eye.
More interest has been shown in the old Neath-Brecon railway line, which has had less use since the Tower Colliery closed. Use of this line for passenger traffic will unite the valley villages and reduce road congestion and air pollution - all we want now is someone with vision to pursue the matter.
The local elections on 4th May give residents the opportunity to express their feelings about the way our council is run. Many readers believe that Port Talbot is given preference in the way our council tax is being applied.
It is a fact that many readers believe Neath is losing its identity as a market town and becoming a dormitory town for 'downs and outs'.
The idea of making Neath the main shopping hub for the valley villages is one way of bringing business to Neath and this can be done by a Metro train running from Onilwyn on the existing railway line. The line runs right past the Lidl food store and the Tesco supermarket at Neath Abbey.
Reducing road traffic pollution in Neath and the Dwr y Felin school area should be the aim of any future local administration. Our health depends on the air that we breathe.
We have no intention of telling readers how to vote - they can judge for themselves how the town of Neath has been run for the past five years. So use your vote wisely on 4th May.
The only way Peter Hain - Lord Hain, will be remembered in Neath and by future generations, will be IF he did something outstanding for the town. To date he has done nothing for the town he represents.
What a wonderful thing it would be if he took an interest in the railway line that runs from Onllwyn to Neath and beyond. Lord Hain has the connections to get things moving at a time when Neath is being regenerated.
Research has been done and all that is wanted now is a leader - a name of note.
There is no doubt about it, road traffic is getting worse and parking a nightmare. Now is the time to whip up interest. Can Lord Hain do it - YES he can.
There is no doubt about it, enthusiasm is growing for a sprinter train service to run from Onllwyn to Neath, thus connecting all the valley villages with what will be hopefully be a great shopping centre at Neath. In the menu (Blast from the past - Valley Train Stations) are pictures of all the old railway stations on this line. What has been done in the past can be done again - especially with the need to help the environment and ease road traffic congestion.
But can the enthusiasm match that of the Rhondda Tunnel Society which now has over 2,000 members? There they want Britain's second longest tunnel for a cycling track - here in Neath we hae a more powerful reason to bring back something from the past.
The traffic lights at the bottom of Dwr-y-Felin Road, which serves Neath College, are a joke with one set of lights (the one with the arrow) mounted in the wrong place. We wonder has the penny dropped in the highways department after we brought this to their attention. IF ( repeat IF) this is rectified by having it to face Neath Abbey it will increase the traffic flow.
The development of a security ankle clamp for prisioners with a built in tranquilizer dart and audible alarm would solve a lot of prision problems in addition to allowing prisioners to work to clean up our roads, canals etc. The tamper proof device could be very effective to maintain order where it is needed most.
We agree with Donald Trump when he says that the world is in a mess - many think he is going to make it worse.
Many think that the town of Neath is in a mess - the evidence is there for all to see. Councillors not attending meetings is not helping matters and this has been highlighted in many posts in Readers Letters.
It goes without saying that councillors should be criticized - and often they are on our Letters page - these comments are just the tip of the iceberg. The time has come for council meetings to be recorded on video to make proceedings more widely known.
Any volunteers to do this?
The Vale of Neath railway line has created much interest and its use for shopping to ease road congestion is a serious consideration for the future. The rail track is there - let's use it. What is more, its use could open up the valley as a tourist attraction.
The trouble is that many don't realise the beauty of the area we live in - and its time for many councillors to wake up and get things moving.
Very few are likely to forget the past year -2016. So rather than put words in print, we present two videos which highlight the main events:
Many names are not included. At the end of the video you can follow on to others.
And later this month we will be producing a revolutionary website that should capture the minds and imagination of all those who want to see Neath thrive in the years to come.
Our readership is going up month by month - thanks to the writers of lively letters.
Our connection with the Huffington Post (UK) provides a news briefing for quick digestion, a step forward in providing news from outside the box.
At the end of this month we will announce the NPT councillor of the year from the TNF angle. We await for more views from readers.
Our CHRISTMAS CHEER item on our HOME page gives some light relief from some of the more serious issues discussed by readers.
JUST STaN continues to expose some of the hidden facts on local politics that may annoy those concerned - if they got thin skins. We think it is only right that residents know that it is often not what you know but who you know.
Finally we wish all correstpondents and all readers a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS, remembering the reason for the season.
+ November 2016
If you are a MP, MEP, AM, Councillor or a popstar, you can expect to be scrutinised and in the news. Here on THE NEATH FERRET that certainly applies to reports sent in by readers - remember, our readers are our reporters.
Exposing hypocrites certainally attracts attention where a public figure says one thing and does another.
Broken promises by councillors are noted and are being kept in mind for the next election. Remember you can fool some of the people some of the time ...etc... etc...etc.
Our reporter STaN has compared council websites, including Swansea and Bridgend, and has found that Neath Port Talbot is sadly lacking when it comes to councillors performances and attendances at various meetings. These results should be published on the NPT website BEFORE the next election of councillors. Failure to do so means that full time officers are failing at their job, which means that even more questions wlll be asked.
+ Brand NEW - the Huff Post News Brief in our menu.
Last month (September) we presented videos on the Neath September Fair, The Neath Battle of Britain Parade and links to the hidden valley windmill farm, we say 'hidden' because the windmills are not an eye-sore but could, in fact, become a tourist attaction.
This month we have Neath's Food Fayre, which one reader suggests should be nearer Christmas and to combine it with a Craft Fayre. Maybe it's worth a thought?
The visit of BBC 1 TV's Question Time to the Gwyn Hall is likeiy to create much interest, but quite fankly we are disappointed with the lack of possible questions that could be asked. It is about time Neath was put on the map and we hope that the BBC camera crews will make the most of their visit. No other town in Wales can quite match its history and heritage.
We must not forget to mention Dementia and the fact we published details of something that little is known about. We also revealed how one of our readers is dealing with it.
So viagra is banned from our Reader Letters page and created the laugh of the month. Well, it appears we can use it here with no joke included.
The BBC 'Any Questions' progamme is coming to the Gwyn Hall in October so it would be good idea to read on this website the questions that readers would like to see asked.
Therefore let's make the most of this pending visit to discuss what the panel should be asked. Already Stan has made a guess as who will be on the panel. Any other forecasts?
Another reader has suggested that Neath should be cleaned up before the BBC visit, because they may make the most of their time here and film parts of this old Roman market town for another programme.
Neath is a gem within the County Borough but needs to be polished to attract visitors.
Neath canals have been the subject of many letters with a constructive response by Cllr Andrew Jenkins. Let's hope that this interest will continue.
Long posts in READERS LETTERS are causing a bit of a problem. Not only do they take up space but they prevent others having their say.
Short and to the point posts are often more effective - and they seem to get more attention.
Keeping control of a website such as this can be a problem so perhaps readers can help by keeping their posts limited to not more than 250 words.
We can certainly make provision in another website for longer posts and/or give regular contributors their own facility like JUST STAN. We do not, however, want to fragment what has been a successful format for the last eight years.
Those with a keen eye will note that we have trimmed our menu, so it is now shorter. To make up for this more items will be put on our LINKS page over the next few weeks.
The editorial team will endevour to keep in mind that this website highlights the views of its readers and the opportunity for the powers that be to respond to them.
We would like to think that this website helps councillors and gives power to their elbow. Putting it another way, councillors are only human and cannot be expected to have eyes everywhere - this is where this website can help.
Our news reports are given in good faith and we hope that they will be accepted the same way.
Following on from last month, we have now produced a WESTMINSTER FERRET website. It's on trial and perhaps when it accepted it will cut down national political comments on these pages, leaving us to concentrate on more local matters. It's on our menu for easy access.
That was the week that was! The last week of June 2016 will go down in history with the referendum and its results and the saga that followed.
There has been so many comments on this website about it that one reader said it should be renamed the Westminster Ferret.
It is a fact that many readers feel very strongly about events at Westminster so it may be an appropriate time for a dedicated Westminster Ferret website to be made to run in conjunction with this one.
Perhaps such a website would attract more attention from MP's. As a start, it would include letters from the Neath Ferret - we have to start somewhere.
It would be trial to see if it takes off. It is likely that it would contain some humour, which would make some MP's smile. On the serious side it would give some feedback from the man in street with comments that perhaps the newspapers would not handle.
A refreshing change in politics is certainly called for, so perhaps a Westminster Ferret can help.
Our main aim is to foster a community spirit and with this in mind we present a brand new website which hiighlights ALL the community councils in Neath and District;
For far too long our community councillors have gone unnoticed. This website gives them credit for the unpaid work they do. - they should certainly not be taken for granted.
The candidates for the local election on 5th May are listed in our menu - so you know what to expect ahead of the date. The page will be deleted after the election.
As for the EU Referendum scheduled for 23rd June, there is an on-gong series of Youtube videos on our news page and in our menu. These should help to make your mind up when things get hotter. No doubt we will have further points of view on our Readers Letter page.
Public toilets in stores has been a talking point and it looks like that Swansea Council is aware of the need. Let's hope our council will take notice of this important public requirement with all future planning applications.
+ April 2016
It is going to be a month of speculation - and the matters of concern are on our NEWS page. Half way though the month we may be distracted by the Queen's 90th birthday - well, be have catered for that too with a look at the Queen's family, which has gone through many ups and downs.
Our readers' letters page puts the letters of our local newspaper in the shade, well, we would say that, wouldn't we. Thanks to all the readers who have expressed their views on a wide range of subjects. We just hope those in authority will take note.
+ We have to add that we are puzzled why some newspapers have not picked up some of our news items. Maybe it is only a question of time before they do?
How many websites like this one are on the Internet? We think there must be a few. If readers come accross any we would be pleased to know and publish details. It is about time people should know what the press won't print
So there is a new newspaper being published: 'The New Day' not to be confused with the USA: 'The Day', which comes to light when you search for the new publication.
The aim of the new newspaper is to publish unbiased news, something like us when we let our readers do the reporting. But are some of our readers biased? Sadly they may be, but that is life. The point is that we give readers the opportunity to present an opposing view, so this should present a fair balance.
So don't shoot the Editor if you disagree with what you read, beacuse you can express you own view to balance matters.
Our feature of drawing attention to information websites has been well received, proving the point that the internet is a mine of information. It's a feature that no newspaper (that we know of) has done, so perhaps 'The New Day' may be the first - we must wait and see.
14th February 2016
We trust that readers will appreciate the St.Valentine's letters and news items. It is perhaps a light-hearted response to a certain reader who said that this website is all doom and gloom. Remember, we like to laugh with readers and not at them.
Last month saw the loss of some well known personalities - Terry Wogan included. It only goes to show that life is all too short, and we all come to the same end. This fact of life should make us come down to earth and help those who need it. Not hand outs by more of a hand up. We must think less of ourselves and more of others. We should remember that need comes before greed.
We hope that this website will inspire many to do something for their community. We will help to highlight, in good faith, what needs to be done by those who have the authority and power to make things happen.
January 2016 +++
The past year is reflected on our Readers Letters page, which covers a wide variety of subjects. Most of all was the state of our town and its visual decline. Hopefully the year 2016 will see some improvement.
Residents must play their part in not dropping chewing gum on the streets, because in the end a town is only as clean as people allow it to be.
This website is playing a vital role in drawing attention to what needs to be done. Parents and teachers must teach youngsters to respect the community and to remind the younger generation that manners maketh man.
We introduce a new gossip column, which speculates on the future. We hope it will become a lively feature that can be discussed on our Readers Letters page.
May we thank all readers for their contributions and wish everyone a very Happy New Year.
+ It would appear that the Neath Ferret is widely read in Nigeria, going by what has appeared on our Readers Letters page. One writer said she lives in the USA but the letter was sent from Nigeria.
These scammers were perhaps not aware that we are basically an investigative website with links to the police. The police have long warned people about these scams.
The relevant letters were published as a warning of what to expect by email. Now that we given out the alert, future scam letters will be automatically deleted - unless they provide a laugh. Scammers please note.
++ The surge in 'hits' on 4th January suggests that council officials, returning to work after the Christmas/New Year break, wanted to be kept up-to-date with what the people of Neath think about various issues. As said before, this website can be powerful aid to those in authority. Let's hope that they return often to this website and benefit from what readers say.
+++ The need for a computerised filter has arisen for our Readers Letters page. This will hopefully raise the standard of posts received.
December 2015 ++
Last month was very lively on our READERS LETTERS page and we hope that the MP for Neath will take note of the views expressed. As said before, this website presents valuable feedback to the 'powers that be' from the man in the street.
On 1 December 2015, Wales will be the first UK country to introduce a soft opt-out system for organ and tissue donation. Aready a reader has written in about it - as reported on our NEWS page. It is for every reader to make up their own mind about this
On a brighter note, we present a Christmas gift for all our readers - see our NEWS page (1.12.15). We hope that it will give you much pleasure over the Christmas season. Remember you can pass this gift on to your friends and relations - they are bound to thank you for it.
We wish all our readers and correspondents a very Happy & Merry Christmas - and hope that all will remember the reason for the season.
+ The highlighting of new posts on our READERS LETTERS page is on trial.
The idea is to highlight new posts for 2 days so that writers and viewers can spot them quickly - particularly those lower down the page. We hope everyone will like this new facility.
++ We cringe when we read some letters from readers about the state of Neath - and we hope that councillor will cringe too. We don't like seeing these letters, which are viewed all over the world by former natives of Neath. To suppress them would be wrong - the powers that be MUST know what Neath residents think. This website gives them feedback, like it or not.
Remember, the views expressed are just the tip of the iceberg. Is proof required? Go to any Neath hairdresser and ask what their customers talk about. We challenge Neath councillers to go to other towns and see the difference.
The Neath regeneration video made by Mike Davies caused quite a stir and apparently was well received in offficial circles. This led to the NEATH YOUTUBE website on which any Neath resident can have his/her video shown - providing it is put on the actual YouTube site first.
This is the first website of its kind and will hopefully promote Neath on the Internet in a very innovative way. To get the new website going, it includes a selection of videos from the past. Another website worth mentioning is SELECT OGGLE, which is the index for many other helpful websites. We do hope you will tell your friends about this.
The breaking news about the reaction of beer on plastic pipes is yet to revealed in the media. We simply wonder if this subject it to hot for the press to handle?
Last month was quite eventful - the month of the annual September Fair, Jeremy Corbyn elected as Labour leader, more migrants leaving their troubled home lands and the VW exhaust emissions deceit - all reflected on our Twitter page. This month started with the Neath Food and Drink festival and was given the thumbs up by our columnist, Stan.
It was indeed refreshing to see Stan giving Neath a word of praise, which indicates that this website is not all doom and gloom. Perhaps it helped to ease the bad news of Tesco leaving Water Street and B&Q leaving Neath.
All too often we have heard people saying that Neath is now a town with just phone shops and charity shops - the latest news simply endorses this view.
It is now up to the council and the powers that be to keep a hard core of traders in the town until the town's development is completed. Can they do it? We hope they can, because once the Neath Valley folk get into the habit of by-passing Neath on the A465 to go to Swansea or Aberavon it will be hard to change - and with the present lower cost of motor fuel a few extra miles won't affect the purse.
Our readers have shown their concern over the Syrian refugee crisis and express their views on our READERS LETTERS page.
On 9th September 2015 Queen Elizabeth II breaks a record and becomes Britain's longest reigning monarch. It is therefore appropiate that we highlight the new ROYALTY OGGLE website on that date.
According to the media, 70% of the British population approve of the Royal family - at least the Queen. Just to complete the picture we look at the remaining 30%. The NEATH FERRET is known to be controversial and to provoke thought and would like to know the views of its readers. We just hope that we get some balanced views.
July was a lively month on the Readers Letters page with posts from a member of the Socialist Workers Party and the return of a Neath Councillor with a comment about our editorial aim of making this a politically balanced website. Our edits (******) to the reply were made to prevent this website becoming a name slinging war of words. We have always said that letters should be polite and considerate. We do undersatnd, however, that certain writers provoke others to respond with a knee jerk reaction. The provoking writers usually end up with egg on their face and often get lost for words.
The news item about email scams reveals our close connection with the police. Also the news about the new OGGLE websites indicates another step forward for quick access to those highlighted.
An eye is being kept on our new Neath MP., Christina Rees, to see if she will give some form of support to the objectors of the proposed wind turbine on Drummau moutain.
It is sad to hear and read about the negative comments about our town, which of course reflect on the councilors. One wonders if they ever shop there?
Last month we heard of many acts of terror and our sympathy goes to the families of the victims. Our READERS LETTERS page reflects the concern of our readers who make comments that should be noted by the powers that be. We feel pleased that we providing the means for readers to express their concern about what is happening and what is likely to happen in this country if the warning signs are ignored.
It is with some regret that we notice the number of letters received about the former MP for Neath - Peter Hain. The editorial team do not endorse the adverse comments made but feel readers must have their say.
After all, It is a well known fact that Peter Hain likes publicity - but surely not with the comments made on the pages of this website? Having said this, it must be acknowledged that the comments made arise from his own making. In other words he is adding fuel to the fire he has lit in the hearts and minds of our readers.
We only wish that some readers would write in and defend Peter Hain and create a balance - sadly no-one has ever done this to our knowledge. The right of reply has always been there for those who can find words.
You only have to read the website 'Spotlight on Peter Hain' to know about the activities that the media choose to ignore giving many giving the impression that there is a ring of steel around this person.
We believe in the freedom of the written word and the right of our readers to write about what the media knows but will not print.
This month sees the results of the 2015 General Election and highlights how unfair our votng system is with one million votes producing 56 seats in Scotland for the SNP and four million votes producing just one seat for UKIP in the rest of the UK.
As for the results here in Neath, we leave it to our readers (Readers Letters) to have their say and sum up the outcome.
It's a while since we added to this page but much has been happening behind the scenes. All will be revealed in due course -in the meantime let's get the General Election over. The candidates are listed on our front page - it's a copy of what you will see when you go to vote.
The editorial team wish all readers a very HAPPY NEW YEAR with a special word of thanks to all our contributors.
In our menu we look back at 2014 and the items we mentioned on this website.
Following the previous item, we show on our Home page a video of the launch of the Apple Ipad and it's great potential. Will tablets like this eventually replace newspapers and books? Perhaps not for a few years - but it is certainly a possibilty. There is no doubt it would help the environment. We must wait and see.
We reckon that our viewing figures have increased since the Apple iPad was launched - now other tablets have added more readers.
We hear on the grapevine that all NPT councillors will be given/loaned iPads for council use. This is a great idea if it cuts down on the mountain of paperwork that councillors have to deal with. This is another step to a paperless system, resulting in a big saving in the long term - and benefit to the environment.
We look forward to the time when Blaenhonddan Community Council will have their six community centres fitted up with broadband. Wifi at these venues will surely increase their bookings. Not only that, seniors residents - silver surfers, will have the opportunity to get help with the use of their iPads. BCC must look ahead and cater for the future and the benefit that they can give to others
We are now in our 6th year and our viewing figures run into hundreds every day - we look foward to the time when we can say thousands.
Our success is allowing readers to have their say without fear or favour. By allowing user names we enable readers to say what they think without offending family and friends. One unpublished PS on a letter read:
"If my wife knew I was writing this she would divorce me!"
Another unpublished PS said:
"By using the above name I will still have friends at my local pub. It is fun to hear their comments on what they read."
So we thank all those who have written to READERS' LETTERS, by far the most viewed page on this website. Thanks also to those who have used their own name to reveal how they feel on important issues.
Please don't ever think about shooting the messenger (the editorial team) - we simply publish what readers feel about various issues, in addition to items that newspapers won't print.
Please spread the word.
We have trimmed our menu to feature the most looked at pages. We hope you will approve. Our sub menu contains more inforrmation.
Our computer system is not yet back to normal. For the technically minded, the graphics chip on our seven year old Apple Mac has packed in. Apple offer a collect, repair and return service which is one of the reasons why Which? give them a 96% customer satisfaction award. In the meantime we have to put up with a PC for our editoral comments.
We rarely comment on readers posts because, as we have often said before, we believe that readers letters show up the character of the writer. When we do comment it is a matter of serious concern.
By and large, our readers respond in a sensible manner and that is good enough for us.
We regret having to report that we have a rare computer problem which means that there will be delays to updates including the publication of letters on our Twitter page.
Please accept our apologies for something that is beyond our control.
One of our editorial team is a member of the Afan Tawe Nedd Neighbourhood Watch who co-ordinate schemes in Neath and Port Talbot and we are therefore aware of crime figures due to the close association with the Police who attend the quarterly meetings.
Various types of crimes are discussed, including Hate Crime. We are therefore very much aware of the implications.
Have said this, one can understand the task confronted by our moderator who checks readers letters before publication.
Every effort is made to ensure that posts conform to our terms and conditions - but some may be open to question.
Any reader has the right to question objectionable letters and even request deletion - if a good reason is given.
Our aim is to uphold law and order with democracy in mind. We think it essential to uphold the freedom of the written word - and publish material in good faith with this in mind.
Respect must be given to others - and the right to reply in a polite manner is always given
Who are we?
It would appear that we have several readers guessing about the identity of our editorial team - one councillor in particular.
It should be noted that several national newspapers have writers who use a pseudonym - so why not us?
The Daily Express use the name 'William Hickey' for one of its columns - viz:
"William Hickey" is the pseudonymous byline of a gossip column published in the British newspaper, the Daily Express. It was named for the eighteenth-century diarist of that name.
The column was first established by Tom Driberg in 1928. Driberg continued to write the column until 1943. In the 1960s it was written by columnist Nigel Dempster. The column has been written by numerous anonymous journalists over the decades.
If this type of reporting is good enough for the Daily Express then it is good enough for us.
We believe we can dig and delve for facts and bring things to light by having anonymous writers. Some may be surprised who they are.
PS..... Our editorial writers belong to no political group or organisation - they just believe in honesty and free speech - and allowing others to have their say.
There can be little doubt about it, letters, posts, (whatever you wish to call them) to this website create a fair balance of how readers feel on various matters - the response to the news item on Gordon Brown is just one example.
In our opinion, we score over Twitter and Facebook - no signing in, no passwords - just straight forward comments - simple.
What many like about this website is the 'local feel' - you get to know what local residents think.
You may be surprised who reads this website, that is the silent majority - those who read, write nothing, but think all the more.
Isn't it odd how some Labour councillors bash this website when all we do is reveal what readers say. After all, the readers are their constituents - the people they represent.
However, we do listen to what councillors say on the rare occasions they write - and we even corrected one of our editorial blogs, only to be accused of editing the councillors letter - which we did, for it to make sense in view of our correction.
Now we will have to see if that councillor can deal with the comments arising from his post.
In our menu is a letter that the SWEP did not print (RUBBISH) - this is another example that we print items that newspapers won't.
We believe that truth and honesty matters. With some the penny has yet to drop.
If the mountain will not come to Muhammad...
If one's will does not prevail, one must submit to an alternative.
The full phrase 'If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain' arises from the story of Muhammad, as retold by Francis Bacon, in Essays, 1625.
Following the posts from several readers on the Scottish referendum, we decided to see what Andrew Jenkins had to say about it on his website.
Fair play, it was bang up to date - look for Andrew Jenkins in our menu to see what he has written.
Cllr Andew Jenkins has been mentioned on our pages because he is such a talented writer and for what he has written for our community websites in the past. If he were not in his present position we think a journalistic future would suit him.
Having a number of initially enthusiastic young Labour councillors on the council was thought to be a good thing - young blood and enthusiasm to stir up action. At least two of those councillors have their own website - they have the right idea - communication with residents.
Having said this, there is a feeling that these new councillors are been moulded into shape by their stick in mud colleagues. We wonder is it a case of follow the party line and keep your own views to yourself?
The non-appearance of their existence on our well read community websites is either an indication of them cooling off, or, as mentioned, a word put in their ear from fellow councillors.
As for Plaid Cymru councillors, they have an equal opportunity to express their views instead of being what appears to be a most ineffective opposition.
PS...... MP's write for newspapers - so why can't councillors write for the media?
Ed Note.... An edit and correction has been made to this blog from information given by Cllr Rob James. Letters page refers.
We have altered the order of the top four items in our menu and have put them in the order that they are are most read. That will be handy for our regular visitors.
Soon we are going to remove other items in order to focus attention on matters that count. Most items will be kept in our archives so that they can be brought back if need be.
Slowly but surely the penny will drop and critics of this website will realise that we are not politically motivated. What ever party is in power will get the flak from our readers. As one reader puts it: "It is the system that is the problem." It is money and protecting the interests of those in power, readers' say.
It seems that using this website to express thoughts and feelings is a way for issues to get noticed. It may take time for the penny to drop - but drop it will.
The same goes for ANY MP representing Neath. If he/she puts their own interests first then we will highlight it on these pages, at least, our readers will.
An open democracy is what we want - it is just as well that our critics keep this mind.
The offer (NEWS page) to the councillor we mentioned has been turned down - it was no surprise. It was an opportunty to prove us wrong - an opportunity lost. That is the way it goes - we try to open doors for others but if they don't walk through them then so be it.
Our offer to a certain councillor to have his own regular blog page on this website is a bold one. We say this as it appears that the councillor concerned has little respect for this website or its readers - many of whom are likely to be his constituants.
However, the offer of the blog will hopefully put the councillor's views in prespective and may (repeat may) help to balance some of the opinions expressed on this website.
It is a risk we are prepared to take in the interests of democracy and to make this website even more lively. We feel sure that certain readers will respond in a positive way. In the past some posts have left the councillor lost for words, or so it seems - now he has the opportunity of more than criticizing readers by giving answers to some past questions in a positive way.
In contrast to our previous comment, we have to say that many readers are concerned about those going abroad to fight alongside Islamic exremists.
Whilst we do not get involved with readers posts, other than highlight them on our NEWS page, we think that the term 'traitors' is appropriate for those concerned.
So any new reader will hopefuly see that this website presents a broad view of peoples thoughts and feelings.
Have said this, we should remember that our main aim is to hightlight local affairs. Therefore no-one should be carried away by international matters over which we have no control. As far as local affairs are concerned, this website is read by those who have the power to do something about our local problems. In fact, they should be grateful for the feedback which is given in good faith to benefit our town.
We have to admit that some letters from readers make us smile. Wit and humour is not a bad thing - providing its not overdone.
Often there is an underlying meaning to these letters and one has to read between the lines. To look at a serious issue and then come up with a suggested solution with a smile is certainly a way to draw attention to it.
If only we could laugh everything off - but sadly there are people out there with no sense of humour and are easily offended. If we ever offend anyone we sincerely opologise. However, we must say that we don't want life to be dull and boring.
We have to agree with some of our readers. Yes, it is time we woke up and became aware of what is happening around us, especially in our community. This brings us to the question of blogs - this is where a person expresses himself/herself on the Internet, knowing that the local newspaper is hardly likely to print what he/she writes.
In our case its the Swansea based South Wales Evening Post which is printed in Cardiff. It is no longer an 'evening' paper and competes with the national press first thing in the morning.
Getting back to blogs, there are many around - but who are aware of them? You can have the best one around but if no-one knows about it then it a waste of space. There must be ways of getting your blog known - and there is. This week was saw the introduction of the JUST BLOGS website for 'professional' bloggers - Boris Johnson (BoJo) the Mayor of London included. For the man/woman in the street we have the new 'Joe Blogs' website - you are the first to know about it.
The man/woman in the street has now the means of speaking out independently of the media - and with many blogs under one umbrella.
Will the media mention 'Just Blogs' and 'Joe Blogs'? What a silly question - they look at them as a rivals. Think about it! Have you ever seen this website mentioned on the Evening Post?
+ Both the blog websites mentioned above are now listed in our menu.
If you search the Internet you will find a tremendous number of reports and comments on street lighting. No matter how changes are funded, some say by the EU, it seems a waste of money to change a complete lamppost when changing the lighting fitting would do the job. As one reader pointed out, the lampposts appear identical even to the point of being made by the same manufacturer. Maybe someone of note should look into this? Al least we have drawn it to the attention of those who may be interested - that's the best we can do.
Because Peter Hain is our MP and a figure of note, we have done a brief review of the new 'publication' for readers who have not got the time or inclination to view themselves. There is no better way, we thought, than to reproduce the synopsis as it is printed. Apart from this, we mention the profile written by himself, which appears on his own website. It remains up to our readers to judge if the facts are fairly presented on what is a very revealing documentary.
PS We do wish that local residents would come forward and send in some positive comments about Peter Hain and what he has done for Neath - or for them personally. We have mentioned this before but there was no response.
Reading through Spotlight on Peter Hain (published today) with an open mind, it is noted that Stan, our columunist from 'Just Stan' (see menu) has been mentioned more than once. We take this as a big compliment in a production which must have taken months of research by the three(?) Neath authors.
The 'Spotlight' is most revealing and includes a compliment or two to Peter Hain from various sources. To put the many facts about this MP under one umbrella, so to speak, was quite a task - but one that must be considered worthwhile to know the man the people of Neath voted into office
No doubt this must one of the most revealing documentaries ever to be put on the Internet and deserves to be noticed by the media.
The publication should be read with an open mind and readers should form their own opinion.
We note that the publication date for Spotlight on Peter Hain has been extended to 11th August 2014.
We have been told that the pubication contains many unknown facts about the Labour MP for Neath. Like many of our readers we look forward to reading about them. The big question is: will the media take notice? We must wait and see!
PS It has been suggested that a bottle of smelling salts should be to hand when reading some chapters. It make one wonder!
We can reveal that there is much speculation about the forthcoming Spotlight book on Peter Hain - the MP for Neath. We understand that it is written by a consortium of writers, all from his constituency.
We question if the content will be fair and balanced - and hope it will be. One thing is certain, it is sure to reveal a side of this MP that many are not aware of.
Also the writers are sure to highlight what this MP has done for Neath and its residents.
For the book to be accepted in all circles as a fair record of his life as an MP., it must be a balanced documentary. We just hope the authors will read this before the book comes out in print.
It is only right the tax-payer should know how his/her money is being spent - especially by those who represent us in government. Hence we make no excuses for revealing facts our readers should know. It should be clearly understood that the facts put together by our writers are scattered in the public domain. It takes much skill and research to put them all together in a way that is easy to understand. We just hope that our readers will be wiser as a result.
If you have been on holiday, or away from it all, may we suggest you look NEWS TIT-BITS (in our menu) to catch up with the main points of the news. You are sure to be surprised with the content.
Contrary to what some may think or say, the Editorial team love eath - a town that has great potential with its cherished history.
We say this in view of what is published on this website - it may appear that we are knocking the town and its councillors - the truth is that we are attempting to highlight what needs to be done and to give power to their elbows - and to spur the council's full time officials into action.
We act in good faith and for the residents of the town - whose voice is heard on our Reader's letters page.
By speaking out and speaking plainly we (and our readers) endevour to give feedback to those in power. We hope that this will produce positive results.
Older items have been deleted to make room for new ones