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Ministry of Furniture unveils new Neath HQ amid growth

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Ministry of Furniture has officially moved into a new, much larger, headquarters as the business seeks more space and room for further expansion, including the creation of new jobs, as it reaps the rewards of the investments it has made in the business in recent years.

The company has moved into new premises in Milland Road Industrial Estate, Neath, known locally as the Metal Box Factory, an iconic and historic building.

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It has taken almost 8,000 sq ft of space over two floors initially, on long-term lease from Neath Port Talbot Council, which will be used for offices and a showroom.

It has plans to take a further 40,000 sq ft of manufacturing space in the future, supporting further expansion and as many as 100 new jobs in the next three years.

The move does not impact its manufacturing factory, based in Ystalyfera in the Swansea Valley, but it does mean that it can integrate a number of showrooms featuring its best work and designs into the larger space it will now operate from.

Ministry of Furniture’s new HQ at The Metal Box Factory in Neath

Some 30 of its office-based staff including its teams of designers and fitters have moved from its existing headquarters in Ministry House, Baglan. Mirroring what the business has helped many of its clients achieve since the pandemic, it is embracing a hybrid, flexible working model whereby its people will have a choice of desks or a range of different working environments to choose from.

The company has complemented the move by also investing in a new state-of-the-art communications VOIP-based system, a new customer relationship management (CRM) system, being built to the company’s bespoke specifications, and a new range of furniture and fittings.

The move also allows the company the room for future growth. During the pandemic, it expanded and changed its offering while also investing in training its staff in the way they use technology and embrace the principles of the circular economy.

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This includes the use of remanufactured furniture and upcycled materials, techniques popular as companies are increasingly assessing and monitoring their carbon footprint and want a full understanding of where materials are sourced and the nature of supply chains.

Graham Hirst, Managing Director, Ministry of Furniture, said: “This move to what is an iconic building in the area represents a pivotal moment in the company’s history as we eye a bright future based around further developing the business and expanding our offering around some of the remarkably talented people we have.

“Our new headquarters represents the perfect space for a company like ours, allowing us the room and flexibility to create and showcase our work in many forms. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the new premises and literally showing them what we can offer.”

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Education

Neath Abbey Welsh medium primary school given go-ahead

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Neath Port Talbot Council’s new Rainbow Coalition Cabinet has agreed to move forward with plans to open Neath Port Talbot’s first ever Welsh medium primary “starter school” at Neath Abbey.

The new Welsh medium starter school in premises previously occupied by Abbey Primary School at St John’s Terrace, Neath Abbey, could welcome its first pupils next January if fully approved.

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Part of the council’s strategy to increase Welsh medium education across the county borough, the Cabinet agreed to move the starter school plan to its next stage – publication of a statutory proposal to establish the new school.

The starter school model is used when establishing a new school, gradually allowing the facilities and staff to be used efficiently while the school grows to its full potential.

Under the plans, £200,000 would be set aside for refurbishments and improvements including the provision of learning walls and digital equipment ensuring the school can deliver the new curriculum.

Cllr Nia Jenkins, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Training, said: “This council has a ten year target to increase the number of Year 1 children taught through the medium of Welsh from 16.8% in 2020/21 to 31% (460 pupils) by 2032 and this proposed new school will help reach that target.

“It also complements the national vision for the Welsh language, to have a million Welsh speakers by 2050.”

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(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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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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Education

Plans for Neath Port Talbot’s first Welsh medium primary ‘starter school’ to be discussed by new council cabinet

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Plans for Neath Port Talbot’s first ever Welsh medium primary “starter school” at Neath Abbey are to be discussed by the Council’s new Rainbow Coalition Cabinet, who will meet for the first time this week.

The new school is part of the council’s strategy to increase Welsh medium education across the county borough.

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At the meeting on Wednesday (29 June) the Cabinet will be asked to approve moving to the next stage in the council’s plans to establish the new Welsh Medium Starter School in premises previously occupied by Abbey Primary School at St John’s Terrace, Neath Abbey.

If fully approved, the first pupils could move in next year.

The starter school model is used when establishing a new school, gradually allowing the facilities and staff to be used efficiently while the school grows to its full potential.

A consultation exercise regarding the school has already taken place with most people broadly in favour but with some concerns aired over traffic and the age of the school building.

Under the plans, £200,000 would be set aside for refurbishments and improvements including the provision of learning walls and digital equipment ensuring the school can deliver the new curriculum.

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Traffic would be monitored around the site and the school will not be fully occupied on opening but will grow year on year. Full occupancy is not expected until 2029.

Neath Port Talbot’s new rainbow coalition cabinet (Image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

This will be the first cabinet meeting of Neath Port Talbot’s new Plaid-Independent led Council, after the Independent, Plaid Cymru and Dyffryn Independent groups made an agreement to share power.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats and Green Party members will support the coalition via a confidence and supply agreement.

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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