'You can tell that people are really struggling for money. All we are trying to do is feed our families'

Caspar Harris of Pete's Foods in Pontypridd
-Credit: (Image: Anthony Lewis)

Businesses in Pontypridd say they want customers to have more disposable income to spend in their shops and that they need more support, with energy costs “through the roof.” A number of businesses operating in the town have spoken about the challenges they face including the cost of energy and business rates as well as the impact that the cost of living crisis is having on custom with people not spending as much in their shops.

They say that because people have less disposable income they are less likely to come in and buy things. The Local Democracy Reporting Service has been in Pontypridd speaking to local businesses about what matters to them in the run up to the general election on July 4. For the latest Pontypridd news, sign up to our newsletter here

Shannon Lloyd, who works at the No 12 cocktail bar on Market Street, said that the cost of living is a “massive” thing for them. She said that the price of business electricity is “crippling” at the moment and that costs are “just going up and up”.

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She said: “Energy costs of running a business have gone through the roof.” Shannon said that everyone has got less disposable income and their bills are going up so when businesses pass price increases on, customers can’t afford it.

She said: “We need more support for businesses.” Shannon said everything is going up including council tax, the price of food and the price of petrol, adding that “everyone is being squeezed”.

She said: “All we are trying to do is feed our families. If customers have more disposable income that means they are putting more back into businesses.” She added: “Look how many public houses are shutting.”

Businesses in Pontypridd town centre spoke to us about what the main issues are for them heading into the general election -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne
Businesses in Pontypridd town centre spoke to us about what the main issues are for them heading into the general election -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne

Caspar Harris helps run the wholefoods store Pete’s Shop on Taff Street which is a community benefit society selling wholefoods and world food, homebrew supplies and spices. He said that the cost of living, inequality and the environment are some of the key issues for him. He said: “I’m disappointed that there is not more talk about climate change.” He added he was disappointed with both the Conservatives and Labour on this.

He also said that nearby there are lot of developments happening in a very small area including at the nearby quarry and on wind and solar farms. Caspar said that people feel like they’re not being included in decisions, and while he supports things like solar farms and wind farms, big companies are coming in and people are feeling left out.

Turning to the election, he said that the main two parties “aren’t different enough”. “I feel like I don’t have a choice,” he added. “There’s not enough talk about a new voting system.”

Elisa Hsiao on Elyn Boutique in Pontypridd
Elisa Hsiao on Elyn Boutique in Pontypridd -Credit:Anthony Lewis

Elisa Hsiao works at Elyn Boutique which is a florist located on Church Street and specialises in floral arrangements for weddings. She said business is okay and that she is busy with weddings between March and October, especially at weekends. But she said: “There are not many people passing by in the week. It is much less compared to last year.” She said that the 50p flower boxes she has put out are popular, adding: “You can tell that people are really struggling for money.”

“For all businesses it’s about business rates. The council has been helping but they are more than they used to be. The economy is not getting better.” Elisa said she’s been trying to find out more about small business grants but it can be difficult to approach the right person as a small business owner.

She also raised the issue of VAT and said the more people try to push their business the more they have to pay. In terms of voting she said: “People just feel disappointed. I don’t even know who to pick.”

Osman Kazi runs Planet H on Taff Street which specialises in handmade goods. He said: “It is a difficult time for everybody especially with the cost of living increasing.” Osman said that business is a “struggle” and that he has been dishing out from his own pocket towards it, with the costs of maintaining a business also high.

He said: “Nobody is spending as much because of the availability of disposable income. People are on the road but they are not in the shops. They are not spending. People are out there but not stepping in.”

Osman Kazi of Planet H in Pontypridd
Osman Kazi of Planet H in Pontypridd -Credit:Anthony Lewis

In terms of the election, Osman he said it’s difficult to say what will happen and “there is no magic stick” to change things overnight. Osman said getting energy costs down would have a “very positive impact on disposable income.”

In terms of Wales as a whole, the business owner said there needs to be investment here for jobs so that businesses can thrive, saying they need to invite industries to invest here and set up over here. He said: “If an area is more deprived you take more interest in that area, you don’t just leave and cut it off.” Osman also said there is a brain drain happening in Wales with people moving away to places like London, Manchester and Birmingham having been educated here.

The candidates in the Pontypridd constituency at this election are Steven Wayne Bayliss (Reform UK), Joe Biddulph (Independent), Jonathan Bishop (Independent), Alex Davies-Jones (Welsh Labour), Angela Marie Gerrard Karadog (Wales Green Party), David Mathias (Welsh Liberal Democrats), Wayne Owen (Independent), William Jac Rees (Plaid Cymru) and Jack Robson (Welsh Conservative Party).

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