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Construction begins on Neath Town Centre redevelopment

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Building work has begun on the multi-million pound Neath Town Centre redevelopment scheme.

The project will deliver a major leisure, wellbeing, shopping and learning zone for Neath’s town centre featuring a swimming pool, gym, health suite, retail floorspace and a modern library.

The scheme, being built by construction firm Kier, is designed to have a major beneficial impact on the town centre, increasing sustainability, vitality and footfall.

It will also drive the recovery of the town centre post COVID-19, bringing new uses into the centre of Neath to increase vibrancy and visitor numbers helping the delivery of a commercially viable redevelopment at a time of uncertainty for Britain’s traditional town centres.

The Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Cllr Rob Jones, said: “This redevelopment will bring new activities and investment to the town centre, strengthening its commercial core and supporting more people to lead a healthy lifestyle while improving wellbeing facilities for the town and surrounding areas.

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“The swimming pool, health suite, gym and library will attract many thousands of additional people into the heart of the town centre, including many families, every week.

“We look forward to welcoming them.”

The following floorspace will be created by the redevelopment:

  • Commercial / retail units (6) – 1,354 square metres.
  • Leisure Centre – swimming pool, gym, health suite – 5,631 square metres.
  • Library – 600 square metres.
  • High quality public space.

Construction is due for completion by Kier at the end of April 2022.

The scheme is being part funded by The Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns fund.

The Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn said of the Neath Town Centre project: “The regeneration of Neath Town Centre is a prime of example of how we are supporting and securing the future of Welsh towns through our Transforming Towns programme.

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“This project will not only boost sustainability, footfall and economic growth but will have a beneficial impact on the wellbeing of the local community. I look forward to seeing the redevelopment when it is complete.”

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)


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Cricket

Council leader welcomes news Glamorgan to bring first class cricket back to Neath

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The Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Cllr Steve Hunt, has congratulated Neath Cricket Club on its success in attracting senior Glamorgan matches to its Gnoll Ground for the first time in more than 20 years.

On a visit the club’s ground, Cllr Hunt heard from Neath Cricket Club officials how first class facilities, pitch management and other factors led to Glamorgan staging two one day matches in Neath in August.

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Glamorgan will play Lancashire at the Gnoll on August 17th and two days later Hampshire will be the visitors to the Neath town centre ground.

Both matches, expected to draw big crowds, will be 50-over games and both are part of the Royal London Cup competition.

Cllr Hunt said: “It means a lot to have first class cricket played once again in the centre of Neath at the Gnoll – it really puts Neath on the map.

“I want to congratulate the team at Neath Cricket Club for achieving this success. It will bring big crowds into the centre of Neath where the building of the new Neath Leisure Centre has just been constructed.”

Glamorgan usually play their matches at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, however a limited number of matches are played at other Welsh grounds.

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Earlier this year the club announced that they would no longer play at Swansea’s St Helens ground due to the condition of the pitch and the poor operational infrastructure.

Announcing their fixtures at the beginning of the season, Glamorgan’s head of operations, Dan Cherry, said: “Regrettably, we are unable to play at St Helen’s this year, with the facilities no longer able to support the hosting of domestic cricket at the venue.”

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Education

Specialist training provider opens new Neath office to support 16-18 year-old unemployed learners

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Specialist Wales-wide training provider, Itec, has opened a new office in Neath to support 16 – 18 year old unemployed learners in the area. 

The 1765 sqft space in a Grade II listed building on Wind Street will be home to five permanent members of staff and provide facilities for up to 60 learners.   

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The centre hopes to create new jobs within the local community and attract young people in Neath and surrounding areas who may be at odds with their future.  

Itec, a leading Wales-wide training provider for 40 years, provides life-changing opportunities to young people and aims to get thousands of teens into work through the Welsh Government’s Jobs Growth Wales+ programme in the next five years.  

The new Neath office will be used as a space for local learners to access to learn new skills and gain qualifications and employment opportunities such as retail, hairdressing and barbering, customer service, childcare and business and IT.  

The brand-new facilities at the Itec centre include: a chill out room where learners can spend time to relax and socialise, two large training rooms and a dedicated room for one-to-one coaching for learners and their tutors. 

The centre will be led by former international rugby referee and Itec area manager for Neath, Hugh Watkins, who has joined Itec to help grow the organisation across Neath, Swansea and West Wales.  

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Hugh said: “Mental health and wellbeing is at the forefront of the design of the new space in Neath as evidence is showing that after two years of living through a pandemic, this is what our young learners need most, alongside helping them take the first step on the career ladder. 

“We’ve had an amazing reception from learners since we announced we were creating a base in Neath and are looking forward to helping of them on their journey into the world of work, making a real difference to employment prospects and opportunities in the area. 

“Whether a young person knows what they want to do or needs the support to help them think about taking the next steps, we can build a tailored programme of support that is individual to them. That might be helping them build their qualifications, organising work experience or even offering the support they need to start thinking about career opportunities and what comes next for them.” 

Jobs Growth Wales+ gives 16-18 year olds living in Wales, the skills, qualifications and experience they need to kick start their career, with support to get into learning at a higher level, an apprenticeship or employment. 

Julie Dyer, ITEC Skills and Employment’s head of operations, said, “Our new Neath centre is the start of what will be a life changing development for young people in the area – creating real opportunities for their future. 

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“We’ve been really impressed by the response from local businesses with employers from across the area already actively engaged with the centre, showing the demand for young people to fill vacancies and train with local companies – it’s an exciting time for the area.” 

Itec employs 180 people across 15 offices in Cardiff, Newport, Cwmbran, Blackwood, Pontypridd, Bridgend, Swansea, Monmouth, Barry, Aberdare, Brynmawr and Neath. 

(Lead image: Wales News Service)

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Neath

Neath teenager’s tragic death inspired her mum to degree success and a new career

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A mature student who suffered a devastating family tragedy during her degree course has now successfully graduated and dedicated her success to her late daughter.

Megan Jones was just 15 when she lost her battle with leukaemia in February 2019.

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Her mum Emma Tamplin was in the second year of a BSc in Business Management at Swansea University’s School of Management when Megan’s condition began to deteriorate. She put her studies to one side and devoted herself to looking after her daughter.

“But I made it my goal to come back to University, not just to keep me going in life but also a tribute to Megan because it was the last thing, she remembered me doing and she was so proud of me,” said 41-year-old Emma, from Neath.

And her determination has paid off as she has just graduated with a 2:1 and has gone on to launch her own business in the wellness sector.

Now Emma has paid tribute to the University staff and her fellow students who helped her on her journey.

“The university was so supportive, financially and when it came to my wellbeing. I couldn’t be more grateful to be part of such an institution. It provided care during my bereavement and the support that allowed me to return to my studies after Megan passed away.”

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Keen photographer Megan was a talented footballer before she was became ill in 2015. After her initial diagnosis, she responded well to treatment, getting the all-clear in July 2017.

However, the following year she fell ill again and, despite specialist care in Cardiff, her condition deteriorated, and she died surrounded by her family.

Emma said: “I returned to university six months later. Many people told me that it was too soon, but I wanted to finish my degree for my daughter. I also wanted to show people that however hard life is you can achieve anything. Even in your darkest times there is always a light and if you keep looking at it, will eventually get brighter.

“Megan’s legacy of determination and strength lives on through me and everyone who knew her.”

Emma originally chose her course to expand her knowledge of digital marketing and business management in general.

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She said: “When I decided to become a mature student, I set out to get the most out of the course. I also wanted to fully immerse myself in university life, so I joined the Entrepreneurship Society and made some wonderful friends.”

She said the high standard of teaching and the learning style offered by the course was particularly enjoyable.

“I have been an entrepreneur since the age of 22 and seeing the investment the School of Management puts into that side of the course was inspirational.”

Nicki Suddell, Assessment and Awards Officer at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, said: “I would like to send huge congratulations to Emma for her incredible success with her degree outcome. Emma’s hard work and determination has paid off and I am delighted that we were able to support Emma throughout her studies and she has been able to achieve her goal.

“The University offers a variety of help and guidance, and it is fantastic when students fully engage with the support offered. I wish Emma all the best for the future.”

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Now Emma is looking to the future, thanks to her degree. “To help me cope with my grief, during my final two years at Swansea I trained to be a yoga teacher and coach so I can support other women going through similar struggles to mine and inspire them to achieve their dreams and goals.

“Through the knowledge gained at university, I now help women all over the world put strategies in place to create a fulfilling work and family life.

“A lifelong passion is finally a reality for me, and I wouldn’t have achieved it without the nurturing care and support of Swansea University.”

(Lead image: Swansea University)

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