First of all “Who is Neil Allcock?”
Neil is from Newport and his school overlooked Llanwern Steelworks where is Uncles worked, his Dad was down the road at Armco on a Steel Press. His Mum worked there too as a cleaner when she was younger, and he worked there during University cleaning out the coke ovens with a pick-axe and shovel. He was 20 and only worked there for 6 weeks but saw men age 10 years in 3 weeks during Shut Down and 16 hour shifts. It was a good lesson on what hard graft is and that Shifts will kill you.
Neil left school with no qualifications so did a Youth Training Scheme as an Apprentice Hairdresser for two years in Cardiff, a bus and a train ride away.
When he finished the apprenticeship he went back to college in the evenings to catch up with GCSE’s and A Levels, went to University (Philosophy) and then went on to do a Masters Degree in Information Studies.
After finishing his studies at North London University he worked for English, Welsh & Scottish Railway, where he was a Contract Manager, Performance Manager and finally a Project Manager. After this Neil entered the world of IT where he has continued and recently worked for a short period at Airborne in Llangeinor providing holiday cover.
This is a list of jobs Neil has done (in chronological sequence and probably a few missing):
Outdoor Market Stall Assistant, Paper round, Apprentice Hairdresser, Pizza Chef, Short Order Chef, Driver, Milkman, Factory Worker, Industrial Cleaner, Shop Assistant, Data Entry Clerk, Contract Manager, Performance Manager, Project Manager, IT Support and Project Management, Video Store Assistant, DJ, Adult Literacy Coach, English Teacher (TEFL), Garw Womble, Community Councillor?
“How did Neil end up in Pontycymer?”
Neil moved to Pontycymer just over a year ago by accident and good fortune because the Garw Valley is beautiful. He had returned from Tanzania (where he was doing Voluntary work teaching English and IT to the people of Mikindani) with no job. Without a job he could not find a place to rent due to Mortgage Regulation and was homeless for a few weeks before he found a flat in Pontycymer.
Priority No.1 – Clean up Pontycymer
One of the first things he did was to set up GarwValley.org as an information hub and then he revived The Garw Wombles.
The Garw Wombles are usually litter picking but #Allcock4Pontycymer wanted to go futher and start “Extreme Wombling” which meant painting bus shelters, de-veging areas that had become unkempt over time and doing the real labour involved in cleaning up the Valley. The first project was the painting of the Bus Shelter opposite the SPAR in Pontycymer and acheived with the much appreciated help of Rod Shaw, Pontycymer’s Borough Councillor who procured the paint and paintbrushes from Bridgend County Borough Council. On the day Huw Irranca-Davies (AM), Chris Elmore (MP) and Community Councillor Ryan Clatworthy joined in not to mention Stella Edwards and Dawn Davies.
Since then the Garw Wombles continue to work on various projects around Pontycymer and Blaengarw.
The Garw Wombles are supported by KeepWalesTidy.cymru who provide red bin bags, litter pickers, a pair of secateurs and Insurance for Litter Champions in case they ever have an accident. KeepWalesTidy will also be helping them procure fruit trees (free food!) and wild flower seeds that they will be planting around Pontycymer and the Valley in 2018.
Given Neil’s background in the Railway it is not surprising that he also volunteered with The Garw Valley Railway.
“Why does Neil Allcock want to become a Community Councillor?”
As a Garw Womble Neil is dedicated to cleaning up Pontycymer and the Valley and is slowly working on projects and realising this dream. Recently Neil contacted the Community Council because he wanted to voluteer to help out with the maintenace of the area around the Lakes but the Community Council refused his help on Health & Safety grounds; Insurance. Neil, like all Litter Champions, is insured by KeepWalesTidy and therefore does not find this an acceptable excuse so has decided to run in the Community Councillor elections and if successful will use that position to change their minds. The Lakes are important to people.
Priority No.2 – Provision of Mental Health Services
There is a drug and alcohol misuse problem in Pontycymer and the Valley so Neil has met with various mental health services with a view to providing outreach services to Pontycymer. One of the main problems services like this face is finding free premises that will accomodate mental health services. Neil’s solution is to either buy a Portacabin like the one the Garw Valley Railway have, or convince the the Garw Valley Railway to allow outreach services to use their cabin. Neil has spoken with the Halo Leisure Centre opposite who are happy to be custodians of the key and to ensure that only verified organisations use the space. The Garw Railway are open on Wednesday and Saturday.
To support the Garw Valley Railway Neil would like the Community Council to approve an annual Summer Fete that would take place at the bottom lake in Pontycymer which will coincide with the Garw Valley Railway Summer Bank Holiday Open Day. Unfortunately, this year, the residents of the valley witnessed the last Garw Valley Carnival so it only seems proper that the Community Council should endeavour to help create an event to follow in their footsteps.
Priority No.3 – Fixing the Community Council
- Both the Welsh Assembly and Parliment are video recorded and made available online. Neil wants the Community Council meetings to be recorded and made available online via YouTube because not everyone can make the third Monday of every month at 7pm due to family and work commitments and for the disabled attending these meetings can be a challenge. Neil’s background in IT will set this up at zero cost, or £100 if the Community Council want to support this project and invest in a quality microphone.
- He would also like to see a 30 minute open meeting where Residents can speak with the Community Councillors directly. At the moment the only method of communicating with the Community Council is via letter or email and resolution can take months.
Both of these initiatives will increase Community Council transparency and accountability.
- Neil also wants the Community Council to commit to a 25 year plan for the Valley. As Neil understands it there is currently no plan. You cannot build a future for the Valley without a plan.
This is only a brief introduction of what Neil Allcock wants to acheive in Pontycymer and the Valley.
Please check out the #Allcock4Pontycymer Facebook page for a more detailed conversation of what he wants to acheive and how.
(Promoted by Neil Allcock, Bethal Court, Oxford Street, Pontycymer. CF32 8DD)