Neath survey prompts meeting with Welsh Government

“While shops lie empty and anti-social behaviour persists, concerns about Neath town centre will continue” Sioned Williams MS warns Welsh Government

A photograph of Victoria Gardens Neath, with the bandstand in the centre of the photograph

Following the publication of the initial results from her Neath Town Centre survey, Sioned Williams MS has met with the Minister for Social Partnership to raise some of the key asks from residents and traders.

Ms Williams’ survey on the future of Neath town centre was open during the month of May, for residents, traders and visitors to the town to have their say. Nearly 400 people completed the survey, 57% of whom visit the town more than once a week, and nearly 1 in 5 of respondents say they visit every day.

After Sioned Williams MS shared initial results from the survey in the Senedd, the new Minister for Social Partnership, Sarah Murphy MS, called a meeting with the Plaid Cymru MS for South Wales West to find out more about the responses, which included suggestions for how to improve the town - such as loyalty grants for small businesses, parking discount schemes and making it easier to hold events in the town centre.

Ms Williams was also able to raise concerns over empty retail outlets, anti-social behaviour, and the effect of the loss of anchor stores such as Marks and Spencer.

Ms Williams will now write to the Cabinet Secretary for Local Government to further explore ideas to support  Neath’s historic market.

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

“The results from my survey were clear – while locals have much to be proud of when it comes to Neath town centre, there is a lot of negative feeling at the moment, and there are genuine concerns over the town’s future.

“I was really pleased that the new Minister for Social Partnership has taken an interest in what my constituents have to say. She has previously expressed concerns that there is an onus on local people to use their town centre regularly, so I was quick to point out that over half of respondents to my survey are people who use the town centre multiple times a week.

“It was reassuring to hear that conversations are happening between Welsh Government and the Local Authority’s town regeneration team, and I also raised with the Minister the need to keep our streets safe, but it’s clear that effect of Welsh Government strategies around town centres are not being felt by residents and they need to see some of these plans enacted.  While shops lie empty, and anti-social behaviour persists, it will be hard to persuade people otherwise.

“An important part of my campaign to support Neath town centre will be to ensure that I keep the conversation going with local people and businesses and share what I have found out with them as well as continuing dialogue with the Welsh Government to ensure Neath town centre can benefit from support. I’m keen to hold a public meeting for this reason, but would encourage residents and traders to get in touch with me in the meantime if they have any further suggestions.”

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