At the heads of the Swansea Valley, ensconced on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, you’ll find Ystradgynlais, the second biggest town in Powys, but just a stone’s throw away, or about a mile from high street to high street to be clear, is neighbouring Ystalyfera.
Both traditional mining communities, they share shops, schools and even a postcode, but now local coronavirus lockdown means they’ll be worlds apart. And while it might take less than 30 seconds to cross from one borough into the other, local lockdown rules imposed in Neath Port Talbot have created an unimaginable and worrying problem for some.
If only to highlight it’s closeness, the Cwmtwrch recycling centre is listed on both Powys and Neath Port Talbot Council’s website as a designated drop off point, but from 6 pm on Monday, September 28, the Neath Port Talbot local authority area entered a local lockdown, meaning residents, including those in Ystalyfera wouldn’t be able to leave the county unless it was for essential journeys.
But what does this mean for its Powys counterpart, or for the people who live and work on the border?
Robert Megson is the proprietor of The Aubrey Arms, dead set between both counties and while his postcode says he’s in Powys, the official boundary of Neath Port Talbot, and lockdown, is just 352 metres away.
He said that they’re right on the border, but usually they’d be having people coming from everywhere and that the pub gets a tremendous amount of local business, as well as people from further away and that they also get a lot of people from Ystalyfera as well.
He said that the crazy thing was that the new rules meant that somebody in Builth Wells could travel there and come and eat in the Aubrey, but somebody a stone’s throw away in Ystalyfera can’t, which was madness.
And while the new lockdowns had been extremely difficult for the pub and restaurant, Mr Megson said the 10 pm curfew was the final nail in the coffin and that even before the lockdown in NPT was announced they’d seen a tremendous decline in business, about 30 per cent – even just the talk of lockdown had an impact.
And it seems that this is the only place with these travel constraints, which makes absolutely no sense and the Welsh Government has delivered no scientific proof but appears to be implementing them arbitrarily.
It makes sense that Wales should trim down their contact with others, increase social distancing, not socialise indoors, all wear masks and start contact tracing, but it makes no sense that they all have to stay in their local authority area.
But then we have lunatics running the asylum and it’s an utter embarrassing shambles that will go down in history and people are getting frustrated and furious and rightly so and something is going to give as everyone has a breaking point.
And it seems that this coronavirus is the most intelligent virus known to man – far more intelligent than the Welsh Assembly, it seems.