Business Consortium

Business Consortium in Neath Meets

The newly formed Business Consortium in Neath held its first business breakfast this week.

Local businesses and traders came along to listen to guest speaker Gareth Nutt who is Head of Property and Regeneration at Neath Port Talbot Council.

Council Leader, Ali Thomas, welcomed the town centre traders and set out the Council's vision for the future prosperity of Neath town centre.

Leader of the Council, Councillor A.H. Thomas

He said, "We are all proud of this unique market town and the pleasurable shopping experience it offers residents and visitors alike.

"We accept that there are things that need to be done but the overriding ethos of this business consortium is that we can all work together to tackle any issues and make the town look as good as the newly refurbished Victoria Gardens.

"This will build confidence as we move forward into this new era of regeneration for Neath."

Key speaker Gareth Nutt gave an insight into what has already been achieved and what the future holds for the town centre.

He talked about projects that make up the Neath Town Centre Framework and how the Council is confident that the bids for European funding to the Welsh Assembly will be successful and that good news was expected very soon.

Projects already completed are Church Place, Angel Square, Stockham's Corner and Victoria gardens whilst the private sector has invested significantly in such projects as the Market Chambers building on the Parade. The Council also has proposals to improve the streetscene around the Parade with plans in the pipeline for Neath railway station and Canal Green.

The Gwyn Hall will be a quality community venue which is due for completion in the new year and will hopefully open its doors in March.

Mr Nutt also gave the consortium an update on the wider regeneration of Neath town centre including the much awaited retail development. Much work has been going on behind the scenes on land acquisition so that 90% of the land needed is now in the ownership of the Council.

"We are expecting some good news shortly about funding for the scheme which would enable us to take a decision to start on phase 1, focussing on the new 600 space car park and several retail units," he said.

"These are challenging times and we must take advantage of every opportunity. The Council's overall vision for Neath town centre is one of quality regeneration which will set the tone for long term aspirations."

Recently elected Vice Chair of Neath Chamber of Trade, Andrew Lodwig, said he was very impressed with news about projects underway.

He said, "I am more aware now of what is happening in Neath town centre and would encourage more traders in Neath to join the consortium to find out more information.

"Sometimes a lack of information can cause frustration so these business breakfasts are a great idea.

"It is important that everyone works together to secure a positive future for local traders and Neath town centre."

Sally Rowlands, Manager of the Castle Hotel, added, "I see this consortium as the way forward to success and am pleased to see a lot of independent businesses on board who are passionate about the town centre.

"I call on all traders to come to the meetings and be a part of the vision for Neath which, in turn, will ensure the success of their own businesses and the town centre as a whole."

Thanking everyone for attending, the Leader emphasised that despite a worsening financial market, Neath Port Talbot Council is winning battles and goodwill between local businesses and the Council can make things happen on the ground and create the environment for good shopping.