IN THE second half of the Free Press Review of The Year, we look at a number of stories which broke in Torfaen between July and December.


COSTUMES and a festival-style atmosphere kicked off the summer as several successful events took place in Torfaen.

This ranged from comic book characters at GeekedFest in Pontypool and to more than 3,000 people flocking to Blaenavon for the South Wales Steampunk Extraordinarium, to Party in the Park events in Pontypool and Cwmbran.

Hundreds of cyclists also flocked to Gwent for Wales’ third Velothon which saw widespread road closures in major roads in Torfaen.

Thousands of cyclists - including Torfaen council’s leader Anthony Hunt - took part in the set route snaking through parts of Newport, Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Caerphilly.

Work also started on the £350million Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran the same month, while support workers at Bron Afon Community Housing went strike over pay reductions.


AN INVESTIGATION was launched by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch after falling power cables at a Abergavenny train station hit Pontypool teen, Georgia Davies, on the head.

Pontypool RFC’s chief executive Ben Jeffreys bravely revealed he was checking into a treatment centre for 28 days over his long-term battle with OCD and depression.

Council fences were also erected at Talywain’s British site over public safety and vandalism concerns.

Natwest and Barclays revealed plans to pull their branches from Pontypool by the end of 2017 while history came alive at the Defence of Blaenavon Second World War re-enactment event at Blaenavon Ironworks.

A family appeal was launched for ex-Wales Dragonhearts player, Scott Bessant, who was found in a lane in the Pontypool area.

An investigation continues into the circumstances surrounding his injuries and he remains in hospital.

The same month, students collected exam results at centres across the borough.

Wider A-level results trends in Torfaen showed a 2.6 per cent drop in A* - E grades on the year before to 96 per cent - a figure below the Wales average.

Qualifications Wales stats showed GCSE results declining on the previous year with a 1.5 per cent drop to 17.9 per cent for A* - A and a 3.8 per cent drop for A*-C to 62.8 per cent.


TORFAEN council submitted plans to Welsh Government to replace three schools in the borough with a new £28million catholic centre as part of the 21st Century Schools scheme.

The plans, if approved, would affect Our Lady of the Angels, St David’s RC primary schools and St Albans RC in Pontypool.

Other news included New Inn mirror twins, Colin Frederick Jeffries and Malcolm Jeffries, celebrating their 90th birthday together and ex-Abersychan councillor and Torfaen mayor, Douglas Richard Davies, dying at 88-years-old after a battle with motor neurone disease,

A street ‘James Prosser Way’ was also revealed at a new housing complex in Cwmbran in memory of soldier from the town who died in Afghanistan.

Gwent Police’s HQ will move to a new purpose-built, £16million centre in Llantarnam by 2019 and Torfaen council also gave the go ahead to build a £30million replacement school for Croesyceiliog Comprehensive.


A DECISION to sell the site of former County Hall council offices in Cwmbran for up to £3.6million was given the go ahead by Torfaen council.

Cwmbran couple Deri Rogers-Wood and husband Ben welcomed baby boy Lotan Blue Phallon Rogers-Wood thanks to their chief bridesmaid being a surrogate mum.

Hallowe’en events swept across the borough from a ghost train at Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway to spooky themed dancers in Pontypool Indoor Market.

New mum Shannon Everett was left with brain damage after suffering a cardiac arrest in childbirth due to a rare condition.


THOUSANDS of visitors turned out for fireworks displays and remembrance day services in Torfaen while the Trussell Trust said the numbers of children using foodbanks in Torfaen is rising.

Vandals sparked outrage after poppies were pulled from a memorial site in Blaenavon and Cwmbran Sainsbury’s stalwart and devoted rugby man, Reg Buttress, died shortly after his 94th birthday. He had worked at the Cwmbran supermarket since 1981.

Pontypool RFC also revealed a pre-application enquiry - which will be submitted this year - to enclose parts of the grounds to protect them from vandalism.

An elderly couple spoke of the terrifying moment armed raiders attacked them in Croesyceiliog and Torfaen council voted to create tax exemptions for care leavers.


THE year rounded off with festive events from Pontypool’s Christmas Cavalcade to the Blaenavon Christmas Cracker.

Later in the month, blasts of wintry weather brought Torfaen to a standstill with school closures, impassable roads and up to seven inches of snow in the north of the borough.

The council decided to defer proposals to offer Abersychan’s Brynteg Nursery and Victoria Primary School to Torfaen’s social landlords for affordable housing. The plans will be discussed in 2018.

The sites are set to close this academic year following a decision by council in 2016.

Despite this, Abersychan’ s labour party submitted proposals to turn Victoria Primary into an arts and crafts centre as an alternative to housing.

Proposals for a new Aldi store near Pontypool were also rejected by Torfaen council’s planning committee over concerns it could affect traders and traffic while Big Pit National Mining Museum welcomed its first female mining apprentice.

The daughter of Pontypool woman Ray Jones, spoke of the anguish following her death in a crash between a motorbike and a car on the B4246.

John Mark Morgan was sentenced to four years in jail at Cardiff Crown Court after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

The Welsh Government approved plans to build a 1,000-place ‘super college’ in Cwmbran, effectively confirming the closure of sixth forms at Cwmbran High, Croesyceiliog School and St Albans.