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					Merthyr Tydfil Town Centre Partnership

Minutes 55

Orbit Business Centre, Merthyr Tydfil. Tuesday 13th January 2009
Start time: 15:00 End time: 16:50 Present: John Croad, Chair - (Fountain Dental Care) Cllr. Jeff Edwards - (Leader MTCBC) Beverly Owen - (Head of Regeneration MTCBC) Gavin Lewis - (Physical Regeneration Team Leader MTCBC) Rhian Prosser - (Town Centre Manager, MTCBC) Inspector Andy Evans - (South Wales Police) Jo Horton - (Wales and West Housing Association) Gail Scerri - (Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association) Christine Powel - (CYTUN) Carol Evans - (VAMPT) Dave Robbins - (Tydfil Training) Graham Davies - (Merthyr Tydfil Heritage Trust) Robert Holdaway - (Independent Retailer/Chamber of Trade) Les Byard - (St Tydfil Shopping Centre Manager) Viv Wendes - (Stagecoach) Andrew Mogford - (Regeneration Assistant MTCBC)

1.0 Apologies Huw Lewis - (Assembly Member) Jill Shuker - (Director Corporate Centre MTCBC) Michelle Powell - (Communities First Town and Park VAMT) Sue Cousins - (Safer Merthyr Tydfil) Nigel Roberts - (Wales and West Housing Association)

2.0 Minutes of last Meeting 2.1 The minutes of the last meeting (Number 54) are a true record of events.

3.0 Matters Arising 4.0 River Taff Corridor Phase 2 update given by GL. MTCBC are awaiting tender submissions, construction to commence in February. LB

7.3 LB pointed out that he will pursue the issue of organising business breakfasts to be held at the Orbit Business Centre. BAO will raise this idea at relevant meetings.

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3.1

(January 2009) JE raised the need for the Chamber of Trade to create constructive dialog with similar groups and larger companies. JE has met with companies regarding invitations to the Chamber of Trade.

7.4 VW referred to the TCP visit to Blackwood Bus Station and mentioned how impressed he was with the design and fabrication of the station. VW stressed the importance of using the positive aspects of the aforementioned station during the design phase of the proposed new Merthyr Tydfil Bus Station. JC described the design of Blackwood Bus Station to AE (SWP), outlining the atmosphere created by such a design. GL informed the Partnership that ‘Capita Glamorgan’ consultants have been appointed to undertake the Town Centre Strategic Review, in which the Bus Station project will be evaluated and a site recommended. A final report is expected in April 2009, with an interim report being submitted prior. Following this, the report will be presented to the TCP. AE (SWP) will invite the relevant officer to the TCP and suggests that he keeps in close consultation with the consultants. Anti vandalism measures discussed. JC pointed out the police presence at Bridgend Bus Station. 6.2 (July 2008) Town and Park Communities First raised that they are working with a detached youth team and British Transport Police to organise street dance programs and workshops, with the aim of deterring ‘free-running’ and vandalism of Merthyr Tydfil Railway Station. RP informed the partnership that Merthyr Tydfil Railway Station is a manned station and has slightly different implications to similar Railway Stations in the local vicinity.

AE (SWP)

4.0 Street Market - Rhian Prosser (MTCBC) 4.1 RP provided an update regarding Merthyr Tydfil Street Market. RP has met with M&B Markets (the market company currently at Merthyr Tydfil) and the Estates Department (MTCBC). The importance of arrival and departure times of the market was stressed by RP. An arrival time of 7:30am and departure time of 5:30pm being agreed. This is addressed in the contract and will be enforced. The bollard system in place controls movement of traffic through the town centre. Stall size and vehicle access were also discussed. RP explained that litter from market stalls is to be removed by market traders when vacating the town centre. RP updated on the tendering for the market, saying that M&B Markets have a six month period to consolidate their position. Lower High Street will be included in the tender application process. RP stressed that there is little interest from market companies in locating a market at Lower High Street mainly due to the area not being large enough to hold a market.

4.2

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LB expressed how clean the town centre was over the Christmas period compared to previous years. LB pointed out that the street market still locates too close to the gates of St Tydfil’s Shopping Centre thus limiting access. JE questioned the enforcement of sanctions regarding street market violations. RP explained that the Estates Department (MTCBC) oversee this process. JE requested a presentation on this subject at a later TCP Meeting. Aesthetic nature of street market stalls addressed. DR questioned the safety of the market stall design. JE stressed the need for cleansing in the town centre. RP explained weather conditions hamper the use of a ‘Grimebuster’, utilised to cleanse the public realm.

RP

4.4

RP

4.5

5.0 Sustainable Regeneration Fund - Gavin Lewis (MTCBC) 5.1 GL updated the TCP on the SRF. Applications regarding this were be submitted in September 2008. The Soar Chapel project is hampered by land ownership problems. The structures on the Ty Gwyn site have been demolished with landscaping planned for the site. Planters are being purchased by MTCBC for the High Street, RP said she would pass on the link enabling viewing of the planters if requested. LB gave details of the plants and planters used in St Tydfil Shopping Centre. Design, maintenance and exact location for the planters discussed. JC raised the issue of trees and other unwanted vegetation growing from vacant buildings within Merthyr Tydfil and asked for their removal. JE explained that MTCBC would require Liability Insurance to remove such vegetation from buildings and this is not currently viable. Various methods of removing vegetation from buildings discussed. GD pointed out the unsightly nature of the former Castle Cinema site. JE explained that Town Improvement Grants are currently on offer for property owners in the town centre, the grant is 50% of grant eligible works on the outside of a building that can be viewed by the public. It was agreed that property owners would be more inclined to opt for such a grant if a greater percentage was offered.

5.2

5.3

5.4

6.0 Built Heritage Strategy - Gavin Lewis (MTCBC) 6.1 GL explained that this strategy has been approved by Council, with Councillor Derek Games being appointed as Heritage Champion. The consultants commission has been extended to undertake the conservation area designation of the town centre which can then enable a Townscape Heritage Initiative to be developed for

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the town. GL agreed to bring a copy of the Built Heritage Strategy to next TCP Meeting. 6.2 GS explained the Living Above Shops Scheme and clarified that MTHA own Flooks (Pontmorlais), and it is proposed that the ground floor will be used for retail and above residential. JE highlighted the need for clear dialect between architects working on property refurbishments within the proposed conservation area and MTCBC. The Built Heritage Strategy was clarified by JE and updated the partnership regarding HLF funding available to see schemes through to their conclusion. Initiatives regarding the town centre explained. GL outlined that the B.H.S. recommended that the town will benefit from a Pontmorlais conservation area. Due to grant assistance becoming available for the conservation area, JE pointed out ways to maintain the character of town by utilising modern materials.

GL

6.3

6.4

6.5

6.6

DR expressed concerns about the current aesthetic nature of the former labour exchange. JH (WWHA) voiced concerns regarding Pontmorlais as a conservation area in connection to current physical developments. WWHA agreed to update the WWHA partnership regarding works at the former labour exchange site. JC requested an update on the Old Town Hall and the Art Centre Development. JE explained that a final decision regarding the use of the Old Town Hall as an Art Centre has not yet been made. JH explained that CADW are satisfied with plans for the Vulcan House scheme. JH raised a setback regarding a culvert and sewage problems at the Vulcan House site. HOV aid questioned. JE advised further discussions between relevant parties should take place regarding this issue.

6.7

6.8

7.0 Events and Marketing Programme - Rhian Prosser 7.1 LB forwarded a notion of thanks to MTCBC for allowing free car parking in the town centre on the weekends leading up to Christmas. LB said that this was of great benefit to the town. JE explained the decision and said similar initiatives would be considered in the future. RP gave a rundown of the Christmas Events program for 2008 and expressed the opportunity to build on the success of these events. LB agreed that the events in Merthyr Tydfil worked well throughout the Christmas period. LB explained that he will rearrange expenditure concerning advertising and running of Christmas Events for 2009.

7.2

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7.3

RP reported approximately 500 members of the public visited the ‘Icetravaganza’ run by MTCBC. Positive feedback has been received by MTCBC, GL emphasised the importance of such events. RP explained that the Lower High Street site is smaller (in workable area) than the square outside the Civic Centre. However, the event attracted more users than at the Civic Centre. RP went on to describe upcoming events, namely: Farmers’ Market (6th February 2009); Continental Market (Easter Holiday period) and Fair Trade Fortnight. JE addressed the annual events program, RP explained current budgeting indicates a lack of funding for an events program for 2009. Concerns expressed regarding lack of funds for town centre marketing and the financial viability of the Farmers Market. It was agreed that RP should write an events program in the eventuality of funding. JE stressed the importance of a yearly financial plan for the events program. Closure of businesses in the town centre and advertising of the town centre discussed. RP explained that eight businesses have closed in the town centre between November 2008 and January 2009. The proposal of marketing national dining week throughout the Heads of the Valleys area, prior the Christmas 2009, forwarded. It was suggested that this proposal could link regions, aid in marketing and encourage members of the public to visit the town centre. LB briefly described the St Tydfil Shopping Centre Christmas Events program 2008. He explained how shoppers appreciated the ‘give away day’ prior to Christmas Day. LB stressed the need for Merthyr Tydfil to offer shoppers a unique experience when visiting the town and explained the importance of marketing and town promotions. Marketing and town centre events were discussed further.

7.4

RP

7.5

7.6

8.0 AOB 8.1 Venue of future TCP Meetings discussed. RP asked partnership members if they could contact her with any suggestions regarding hosting future TCP Meetings. RP distributed a draft proposal of dates and venues for TCP Meetings. Vandalism of windows at the Parish Church in Lower High Street reported to AE. RP requested crime figures from AE. AE explained that these are available on the SWP website but will forward them to RP at a later date. GS explained the need for encouraging people to live above shops in the town centre. Discussions were held regarding grants and improving the image of buildings in the town centre with the aim of drawing people into the town for shopping and living. RP updated on the Hong Kong Alley Artwork Project. Youths of the town attended workshops where they designed and fabricated a mural to be erected at Hong Kong AE (SWP)

8.2

8.3

8.4

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Alley. The project targeted multiculturalism and what Merthyr Tydfil means to young people. VW questioned media coverage for the unveiling of the project. 8.5 RP raised the issue for the need of wider representation on the Fair Trade Steering Group. JC volunteered his attendance. JE elucidated MTCBCs economic status with the possibility of 1.5% cuts to balance finances. The authority will ask relevant employees to take voluntary redundancies. WAG funding and increase in Council tax discussed. It was explained that MTCBC will endeavour to be economically efficient and cost effective. JC thanked VW for organising the TCP visit of best practise to Blackwood bus station. RP explained that letters have been written and sent to relevant parties. AE pointed out that a march from the Hover Factory Merthyr Tydfil to the Civic Centre is planned for 13:30 Friday 16th January 2009.

8.6

8.7

8.8

9.0 Date and Venue of next meeting 9.1 3pm Tuesday 10th February 2009, Venue: Orbit Business Centre

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