WORK being done to revive the fortunes of a major Powys town has been explained by a senior council officer.
Earlier this summer, Labour County Councillor for Ystradgynlais and Abercraf, Cllr Huw Williams asked Powys County Council’s head of economy and digital services, Diane Reynolds, for details on where the investment and help is for Ystradgynlais.
Ystradgynlais is a post-industrial South Wales town that is at the top of the Swansea Valley.
According to the Wales Index of Multiple Deprivation the town was identified as the most deprived area in Powys even before the Covid-19 pandemic.
In July 2020, Cllr Huw Williams highlighted issues of poverty affecting the town which were mentioned in a report on by independent research organisation, Centre for Towns.
In their report, Ystradgynlais, was ranked 11 out of the top 20 for “absolute deprivation.”
Following publication of the report Cllr Williams had a motion asking the authority to help the town approved by councillors.
But in the ensuing three years, Cllr Williams said that progress has been “glacial” and that “very little has improved.”
In response to Cllr Williams’ questions Ms Reynolds has listed the help and grant funding that has been given to the town in recent years.
Ms Reynolds said: “In round one of the (UK Government) Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF), Ystradgynlais received funding for two projects: Town Centre Wi-Fi and Developing Digital community learning.
“SPF was awarded to fund a Town Centre Liaison Officer partly covering Ystradgynlais town centre.
“Following a recruitment process, the officer commenced in role on June 1.
On help for local groups to apply for grant funding Ms Reynolds said: “Officers continue to liaise with businesses to proactively offer advice and support, make referrals to funding opportunities such as grants and Development Bank of Wales loans.”
She added that a “Powys Business Breakfast” was held on April 27, at the famous Craig y Nos Castle just to the north of Ystradgynlais.
“This was to engage with local businesses in the programme of business events, said Ms Reynolds.
Ms Reynolds also explained that employment mentors are providing one to one support and frequently meet clients in Ystradgynlais library.
Cllr Williams had asked a question on the work of consultants brought in to produce a “town and district investment plan.”
Ms Reynolds said that the plan cost £14,883.
Ms Reynolds said: “Owen Davies were commissioned to develop town plans to support the vision and priorities for the future of the Ystradgynlais area to
help attract and shape investment and support the vitality of the town and its
recovery from Covid-19.
“The plan has a town centre focus whilst taking into consideration the importance and influence of the opportunities found within the wider area, including Cwmtwrch and Abercraf.
“This has just been completed.”
Ms Reynolds has also pointed out that the £150 million Global Centre of Rail Excellence which is being developed at the nearby former Nant Helen opencast coal mine. is actively supporting development in the town.
“Ystradgynlais is not forgotten,” stressed Ms Reynolds.
The funding awarded to businesses and organisations in the town is:
Just over £67,0000 from Transforming Towns Placemaking Grant has been awarded to improve a property in the town centre.
In 2021 a £10,000 grant was awarded to Kindle House and £3,679 to Treasured Moments Photography Ltd,
Between 2014 and 2017 just under £60,000 was awarded to support maintenance work at Ystradgynlais Welfare Hall.
In 2020 Ystradgynlais received £46,572 from the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) to allow town centre businesses to make adaptations such as outside eating areas to deal with Covid-19 health measures.