Last week, I was pleased to see that the Welsh Government identified the Ynysangharad War Memorial Park as one of the three additional Discovery Gateway destinations for the Valleys Regional Park, adding to the previous announcement which saw the Dare Valley Country Park named in the first tranche of six designated sites. 

The 9 total sites identified so far will help to connect the Valleys as a region by using the unique industrial and cultural heritage to encourage people to explore the landscapes that surround us.  This will crucially promote tourism and encourage residents of the Valleys to be more active.  We will now work together with our fellow Valleys Councils, the Welsh Government and the respective site operators to develop plans which will be supported by £7m capital funding over the next two years.

We already know that tourism will play a greater role in our County Borough in years to come and it is vital that we exploit the opportunities afforded to us by both our beautiful natural surroundings and our key visitor attractions.  Our support for the reopening of both the Rhondda and Abernant Tunnels highlights this, as we recognise that the coming to fruition of both projects will provide a huge boost to our Active Travel offer in the northern reaches of our County Borough.

I recently attended the 2018 EU Funds Awards, where the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty won the Best Cultural Heritage Project in Wales award.  This is a fantastic achievement and we are incredibly proud of the progress we have made since re-opening the flagship attraction in 2015, where over 266,000 visitors have come through the door - with over 91,000 in this season alone.

The success of the Lido Ponty capped off an excellent week for our tourist attractions after the Welsh Mining Experience claimed the Family Venue of the Year award at the Welsh Hospitality Awards, beating nine other tourist attractions across Wales.  Ensuring that visitors leave our attractions with a hugely positive impression is something that we always strive for and it is pleasing to see that the dedication and hard work of our staff has been recognised.  We have invested significantly in improving the offer of the attractions at the WME and the range of events hosted there throughout the year offer something for everyone, and this year’s edition of the Santa’s Toy Mine has already been confirmed as our most successful to date, with over 16,500 visitors.

Once again, our Theatres are hosting the annual Christmas Pantomime and I would urge anyone looking for some festive entertainment to book their tickets for the excellent performances of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Parc and Dare Theatre in Treorchy.  This year’s festive show features panto favourite Maxwell James, as well as Jemima Nicholas and Lee Gilbert.  Call the Box Office on 03000 040 444 or visit to find out more.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish all of the Council’s staff and residents of Rhondda Cynon Taf a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Posted on 18/12/2018