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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 09:03 GMT
Valley open-top bus scrapped
Tom Jones
Tom Jones took his first steps to stardom in Pontypridd
Hopes of starting bus trips around the south Wales valleys - including visits to the club where Tom Jones first sang - have been scrapped.

Pontypridd-based Shamrock Coaches wanted 25,000 marketing help from the Wales Tourist Board.

The tour would also have taken in sites such as the former mine at Rhondda Heritage Park.

But the application was turned down because the tourist board had already promised money to other schemes.

Clayton Jones, who runs Shamrock, already lays on tourist buses in Cardiff city centre. He wanted to begin a new route, starting in Cardiff, travelling through Pontypridd to Caerphilly and back.

The scheme has been frozen because of budget commitments
Wales Tourist Board

It would have highlighted places such as the club where Tom Jones strutted his stuff as well as sites like the Nantgarw Pottery and Caerphilly Castle.

Three daily double-deck buses were planned to run the route during the summer months and Shamrock said at least eight new jobs would have been created.

Mr Jones said: "We've had interest from many parties coming to south Wales, in particular those whose forefathers left these islands many years ago to live in places such as America."

He said tourists who already visited the valleys often asked to see where Tom Jones had lived when he grew up in the Treforest area of Pontypridd.

Open bus
Visitors would have had an open-top view of the valleys
Shamrock applied for money over the next three years, to get the idea off the ground, but the tourist board told him it was freezing its joint marketing scheme because of "existing budget commitments".

Board chief executive Jonathan Jones told BBC Radio Wales that 1m had been allocated to support 600 schemes, although it had applied for more money under the European Objective 1 programme.

Mr Jones said the board worked hard to try to promote links between Cardiff and the valleys.

This is a wonderful opportunity to raise the profile of the area and it is being knocked back
Clayton Jones, Shamrock

But Mr Jones said he had "deep concern" for the future of tourism in the area.

"I would make it abundantly clear this in effect kills off the project," he said.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to raise the profile of the area and it is being knocked back.

"We have worked for 18 months preparing the application and we have produced a business plan which would mean better jobs, educational opportunities and is a sustainable project.

"I'm gutted. There are so many people trying to put the area down and we are here trying to do exactly the opposite but we can't get any help to do it."

Mr Jones said many from the shops and towns which would have benefited from the tourism brought in by the tours were disappointed by the decision.

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