MORE ABOUT THE CIVIC CENTRE RENOVATIONS: I must admit that I was too quick off the mark a week or two ago when I said that the scaffolding on the Civic Centre was only half way up the building.

Since then, it has been erected right up to the top and very professional it looks too, particularly with the netting around the top to protect passers by from any bricks or things that might be dropped by the workmen when they arrive.

This job looks as though it is going to cost the earth, yet, as far as the ordinary citizen can see, there is nothing wrong with the front of the building.

I cannot imagine that anyone in the council offices will have the authority to tell Torfaen residents what is being done and why it is needed.

I have talked about this job to a number of friends and they all seem to think the same; if the council has all that amount of money to spare, why do they not spend it on another of their own properties, the indoor market.

This would benefit the town to a much greater extent and would look less like the councillors looking after their own building and their own personal interests, although I suppose they and the council officials see the Civic Centre every day, whereas they might not have any cause to patronise the indoor market to see what a state that is in.

Incidentally, I mentioned in a previous piece that I thought that the frontage was of some sort of sandstone and wondered where it had come from.

There was a phone call from Ian Williams, a local taxi owner. He said that years ago he had asked that question of one of the Hanbury Tennisons.

He was told that the stones were salvaged from the Pontypool Forge, which used to stand where the Rosemary Lane car park is now and where the Park Cinema was later. Waste not, want not I suppose.

Work seems to be going on apace on the site of the old Dancers' Club. There were some big excavators there some weeks ago and now the ground is clear.

However, when I went there to have a look the other day it was only being used as a car park, but on the other side of the road there was a lot of steelwork being erected on the back of what I should think is the old Kwik Save building.

By the way, there does not seem to be any sign of a new tenant moving into there. There is no real clue as yet as to what purpose the steel is going to be put to, but all will be revealed in due course.

STOP PRESS: Since writing this piece about the Dancers' Club, a number of my local correspondents have informed me that the steelwork is in preparation for the building of some more flats.

It seems that the clearance of the Dancers' Club site was necessary, as services for the new flats had to be laid on that area.

WHERE IN PONTYPOOL IS HANBURY GROVE?: This was a question that I asked when I received a glossy magazine called New Homes-Wales and the South West.

It is advertising houses that are available in the area around here, and the one that drew my attention was one that said that the "Countdown was Now On", and "Coming Soon was Hanbury Grove", a development of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom properties in Pontypool.

Never having heard of this place before I asked my neighbour, who knows everything, where this site was going to be.

He assured me straight away that he had been told by another neighbour that the houses were to be built on the old Gas Works site.

There was a telephone number on the advert, which I then rang. It turned out that Hanbury Grove will occupy the area that was once called Edward Street, in Brynwern.

These houses, which dated from before the Second World War, were knocked down some years ago and the place has been left bare. I think it was always intended that new houses would be built there, but it certainly has taken a long time for all the planning permission to go through and for the builders to actually arrive.

There were 70 houses in the old Edward Street, but the plans are for only 40 properties to replace them, so they will be much roomier than their predecessors.

A couple of these will have garages on the ground floor with apartments up above. There will be four others in King Street, 14 of these are to be handed over to Melin Homes, who have a public service responsibility for providing accommodation for people who have difficulty in getting on the bottom of the property ladder.

The contractor is Leadbitter Homes, a firm which I must admit I had not heard of, but which I am assured are on a par with companies like Bovis Homes. They have another local contract for a school building behind the present George Street School.

The two bedroom houses sell at £132,000, the three at £155,000 and four at £163,000. I was told that the kitchens are fully fitted with fridge, freezer, washing machine and dishwasher. The only thing a new tenant would have to buy would be a microwave.

I called up around there and the job is certainly well signposted from the bypass, both with the name of the site and that of the builder. Work is only just starting in clearing the area, but I was told that one house had already been sold.

It sounds as though Hanbury Grove is certainly going to be a welcome addition to that part of the town.

SMART SOLUTIONS RECRUITMENT: Over the last couple of weeks I have been mentioning the work that has been going on in the premises opposite Mayberry Pharmacy, that used to be occupied by Motor World and previously Hodges.

There was no name plate anywhere, but the mystery has been solved.

I received a phone call from the proprietor of the new firm, who is called Nathan Bowles. He is a local chap who lives in New Inn and has played rugby for Pontypool United and the first team.

In fact, he is seriously considering returning to the game next season when his new project has settled down.

For years he has worked in the Human Resources section for some large firms in different parts of the country and this included interviewing and recruitment. His wife still does.

His ambition over recent years has been to set up a recruitment agency. Where better than in his own home town.

So, with the ground floor of this building being available, he decided to take the plunge.

There was plenty of work to be done in renovating the interior of the rooms, so that it now looks attractive and inviting.

There was a lot of staff training to be done and a payroll manager to be engaged. Computers had to be programmed and installed.

Nathan decided that they would deal with all grades of vacancies and workers, from manuals to managers.

Finally, they opened on Monday, January 14. Despite the fact that they had done nothing in the way of publicity and the fascia board of their premises did not even display their title or business, they attracted 250 people in their first week.

They have managed to find a number of vacancies both locally and in the surrounding areas.

Attractive leaflets are in the process of being produced and their name should be up there shortly.

The people for whom they find jobs, are employed by them on an agency basis.

It seems that Nathan and his staff are ready to deal successfully with any enquiries from job seekers in the area.

Best of luck to the whole project.