MS survey responses “show strength of feeling” about Neath future

Survey launched by local Member of Senedd into Neath shows pride in Town Centre but impact of M&S closing has town reeling

A photograph of the clock outside of the Neath M&S

Sioned Williams MS, whose constituency office has been in Neath since she was elected, says she’s “overwhelmed” by the response to her survey into Neath.

The survey, which is open until the end of May 2024 has already had responses from over 160 residents and businesses in just over two weeks, and asks questions about what people like about town, the challenges they face and the improvements they’d like to see.

While respondents have shown a clear sense of pride in Neath’s rich history and its community spirit, over half have a negative view of the town and nearly all respondents think the town could be marketed better.

The lack of positivity about the town’s future is no doubt compounded by the news that Marks and Spencer’s will close its doors for the last time on Saturday 18 May 2024, and this was partly the reason Ms Williams felt compelled to carry out the survey.

The news of the store closure prompted two residents, Coralie Phillips and Donna Roach, working with a network of local M&S customers, to run a campaign to keep the store open.

Although their campaign did not persuade M&S bosses to keep the store open, an award ceremony was held to show appreciation for staff members and their years of dedicated service to the community. Ms Williams was only too pleased to be able to award the certificates to staff and wish them well.

Sioned Williams MS stands with two members of staff at M&S Neath, together with Coralie Phillips and Donna Roach who were behind the video ‘The Heart of Neath - A Video Message’ which was a plea to M&S Neath to stay.

Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West, said:

“Neath is a wonderful town – with its fabulous and historic market, mainline train station and variety of independent shops and cafes – it’s a true hub of the community and one of the reasons I chose it for my Senedd office location.

“But the news of Marks and Spencer’s closing after 89 years of successful trading has really hit locals hard, and it’s clear that we need fresh thinking over the future of our town centre. That’s one of the reasons I launched my survey, to get the views of the people who live, work and shop in Neath Town Centre.

“The response to my survey to date has been overwhelming and really does shows the strength of feeling about the future of Neath town centre. It’s clear that people want to see a plan of action for the town, that addresses the empty shops, the need for better transport links and encourages more community events.

“We’re proud of our town, but for too long we feel it’s been sold short. I’d encourage people to fill in my survey, as this will better inform my questions to the local authority and Welsh Government in terms of grasping and realising these opportunities.”

The survey is open throughout May 2024. Have your say here.

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