Don’t for­get about us!

Fears that the Cynon Val­ley could miss out as ma­jor in­vest­ments go else­where in the Val­leys:

Cynon Valley - - FRONT PAGE - TOM HOUGHTON tom.houghton@waleson­line.co.uk

AM­BI­TIOUS projects in south­ern parts of the South Wales Val­leys have led to fears north­ern ar­eas are be­ing left be­hind.

It comes fol­low­ing re­cent news such as plans for the am­bi­tious Taff Vale de­vel­op­ment in Pon­typridd be­ing ap­proved.

The com­plex will fea­ture a li­brary/leisure hub as part of an of­fice-led project, while the head­quar­ters for the City Deal are to be based in Tre­for­est.

It has also been an­nounced that a moth­balled en­gi­neer­ing fac­tory is to re­open, cre­at­ing 130 jobs in Bed­was. It will sup­ply ma­te­ri­als for a fac­tory pro­duc­ing London black cabs.

Last Wed­nes­day, Assem­bly Mem­ber for the Cynon Val­ley, Vikki How­ells, raised con­cerns that ar­eas like Aberdare in her con­stituency, Merthyr Tyd­fil and more, could be miss­ing out.

Speak­ing at the Na­tional Assem­bly on Wed­nes­day, she sought as­sur­ance from Car­wyn Jones that north­ern parts of the Val­leys would share in any growth in pros­per­ity and job op­por­tu­ni­ties that may be gen­er­ated in the re­gion.

She wel­comed the Welsh Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to a new re­gion­ally-fo­cused model of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, adding that it was par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in the face of Brexit.

But she added: “How- ever, in re­cent an­nounce­ments on the de­vel­op­ment of a net­work of re­gional growth hubs, these seem to be pri­mar­ily lo­cated in the south­ern-most reaches of our val­leys — places like Pon­typridd, Tre­for­est and Caer­philly.

“How will the new re­gional fo­cus as­sist the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the north­ern-most reaches of our val­leys — places where we know that poverty, workless­ness and ill­health re­main stub­bornly high?”

Ms How­ells said that, as a pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate for the foun­da­tional econ­omy, she was pleased to note the strat­egy’s men­tion of sup­port for lo­cal busi­nesses and that more sup­ply chains had been cre­ated.

She asked Mr Jones: “What ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion can you give on how the Gov­ern­ment will en­able small busi­nesses to grow and flour­ish, to fill the miss­ing mid­dle and cre­ate sus­tain­able, good qual­ity and above all lo­cal em­ploy­ment?”

Mr Jones said the is­sue of where growth hubs can be lo­cated in the north­ern val­leys is a mat­ter be­ing con­sid­ered by the Val­leys Task­force – the group aimed firmly at em­ploy­ment and eco­nomic is­sues af­fect­ing the South Wales Val­leys.

He told Ms How­ells: “We un­der­stand the im­por­tance of be­ing able to look at growth hubs, es­pe­cially around the Heads of the Val­leys road, which we know has been hugely im­por­tant to un­lock­ing eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in Merthyr, as one ex­am­ple, but other com­mu­ni­ties as well.

“We know that more and more peo­ple are self­em­ployed, so them be­ing able to ac­cess ad­vice is hugely im­por­tant.

“We have in place a suite of mea­sures that are able to as­sist peo­ple to look for fi­nan­cial sup­port where that’s ap­pro­pri­ate and to look for ad­vice where that’s ap­pro­pri­ate.”

A com­puter-gen­er­ated im­age of the Taff Vale de­vel­op­ment in Pon­typridd

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