The Welsh Labour Government is helping to make our towns vibrant and viable with a £10 million fund to help bring empty, underused sites and premises in town centres back into use. The scheme works on a recyclable loan basis which means that once it is repaid, it is used again to fund new loans elsewhere. I’m delighted to say that Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, and Powys are amongst the Local Authorities to benefit this time. It has long been Welsh Government policy to help town centres regenerate, working with willing communities to make a positive difference. Since the recession, we’ve all noticed empty shops and premises falling into disrepair.
The scheme is looking to address those issues by creating affordable town centre homes or tourist and leisure attractions. As well as making town centres more attractive places to live, the loan scheme will help encourage investment into these areas and support the local economy. Pembrokeshire will receive £1,000,000 towards the redevelopment of the former Victoria Filling Station in Milford Haven and the Grade II listed Quay Stores into a cultural centre.
While it was undoubtedly good news earlier in the week that there’ll be new jobs at BT in Swansea with support from the Welsh Government, there’s obviously a need to do much more so we have new, better jobs here in Mid and West Wales. It was therefore welcome that the Economy Secretary said the Government are working hard to continue this momentum and to safeguard and attract quality jobs to communities right across Wales. I’ll be holding him to this. I also asked the First Minister in the Assembly this week whether he agreed the City Region model was not necessarily one relevant or appropriate for rural Wales. Whilst Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire are part of the Swansea Bay City Region, as he explained it’s important that it’s not seen as an urban-rural divide, nor a one-size fits all model.
Something else that’s new is the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) which will be the first non-ministerial government department created by the Welsh Government. The headquarters will be based in Treforest to begin with, although the Government will review its location once it is fully operational. The WRA will also have a presence in Aberystwyth and Llandudno.