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Neath Port Talbot

Free parking in Neath Port Talbot Town Centres in August

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Parking in town centres in Neath Port Talbot will be free for the month of August 2021 to give support to town centre based businesses whose trade has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Members of Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet approved the idea at their meeting on Wednesday, July 28th  where it was argued as well as helping businesses, the move could also give some assistance to families suffering hardship during the pandemic.

Neath Port Talbot Council Leader, Cllr Ted Latham said: “Unfortunately the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on businesses with many surviving but a number closing down.

“This has not only involved small independents it has hit household names across Wales and the UK and while we can’t influence these commercial decisions we can support our town centre retailers by making them a more attractive destination.”

The council provided a range of support during the pandemic including: administering financial support schemes; promoting ‘Buy Local’ to encourage residents to spend money in their local economy and providing advice on the application of Covid restrictions during the lockdown and opening up phases.

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Following the reopening of non-essential retail in July 2020, the council introduced a number of measures to make its town centres more attractive and safer places to visit, supporting traders to implement safe operating procedures, providing access to safety signage and bringing in safe queuing measures

These measures were also supported initially by town centre rangers providing advice and guidance to traders and the public. In addition the council provided free car parking in town centres until the end of August 2020. Again this was intended to encourage increased visits to the centres.

A report by the council’s Director of Environment and Regeneration, Nicola Pearce, said: “The provision of free car parking for a restricted period does demonstrate to retailers, town centre visitors and the public, that the council has confidence in its town centres and is supporting its retailers with a range of local initiatives to reinforce the attractiveness of our town centres.“

The report added that among the initiatives to reinforce the attractiveness of town centres were multi-million pound bids to the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund which, if approved, will see a series of public realm improvements and major investment in commercial properties.

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Education

Council to review Swansea Valley ‘Super School’ decision made by previous administration

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A reprieve could be on the cards for Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools as Neath Port Talbot’s new coalition administration say they want to review the decision made to create a new ‘super school’ in Pontardawe.

The new administration says it wants to establish if an alternative way to bring 21st Century School standards to the Swansea Valley can be achieved, which would be more acceptable to the community.

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The decision to establish a new £22.7m English-medium 3-11 school and specialist Learning Support Centre for pupils with a statement of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Pontardawe to replace Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools was taken by Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet on October 20th, 2021.

The controversial decision triggered a process of communicating with local schools around the next steps and general planning for the construction of the new school and swimming pool.

A successful tender exercise took place to secure a contractor to begin stage one of a two stage process.

Neath Port Talbot Council say that under its own procurement rules, it says it has been necessary to approve the appointment of the contractor to undertake Stage 1 contract works only, with no obligation on the council to proceed to the second stage. Stage 1 includes developing the design information; carrying out assessments of traffic and site conditions; ground investigations; and obtaining planning approval.

The council say that this first stage contract does not commit them to the construction of the school and pool, with a further contract being entered into at Stage 2, which is the actual construction phase. 

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It adds that allowing stage 1 works to progress will ensure that the opportunities to meet the timescales of the October 2021 decision could still be realised if a review does not highlight any changes are needed to the project.

This will avoid further anxiety for the school staff and families due to unnecessary delays, particularly important for those pupils in Godre’rgraig Primary School who are currently educated in temporary accommodation awaiting the new school.

Neath Port Talbot Council say they will now start discussions with Welsh Government Ministers to establish what information they might require from the council. This will inform the consultation process which the council will undertake with stakeholders.

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Port Talbot

Port Talbot RNLI shop open again for business

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Following refurbishment, visitors to Port Talbot will once again be able to visit the shop located at the lifeboat station at Aberavon seafront.

The shop refit marks the start of a new era. The shop was opened in loving memory of the previous shop manager, Phil Jones, who sadly passed away in early 2021.

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Phil had kept the shop open single-handedly for over twelve years with much success. Phil’s wife and daughter kindly agreed to officially open the new shop on Sunday 12 June when many memories were shared and there were plenty of best wishes for the future.

RNLI shops started out as simple cake stalls run by volunteers to raise money for their local station. Around 1920 commemorative RNLI products were added and shops were selling souvenirs and Christmas cards, all profits helping to save lives at sea.

The RNLI now has over 170 shops around the coast and inland all of which are run by dedicated volunteers: Port Talbot is no exception.

The shop volunteer team has grown since April 2021 from a team of one to thirteen and is also involved with fundraising.

New Shop Manager Kirstee David says: “It has been amazing watching the shop team develop over the last twelve months and to see how passionate the team is about developing what we offer – and about the RNLI!”

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(Lead image: Port Talbot RNLI)

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Neath

Body found in search for missing Neath man

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A body has been found in the search for missing man Mathew Scott who was last seen on Saturday 4th June in Neath.

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Owens from South Wales Police said: “Officers, following up on information sent into us by members of the public, forced entry to an address in Windsor Road, Neath, yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 28th June) and found a body inside.

“Formal identification has taken place and Mathew’s family have been informed.

“Detectives are continuing enquiries to ascertain the full circumstances behind his death. A 44 year old man from Neath is assisting officers with their investigation.

“I’d like to thank everyone who shared our appeal and provided us with valuable information.”

(Lead image: South Wales Police)

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