Posted on 01/02/2017
Last week Councillors in RCT unanimously agreed to commit to the £1.2b Cardiff Capital Region City Deal.
This is of huge significance for the region and for us locally in Rhondda Cynon Taf as the City Deal has the potential to create 25,000 extra jobs, improve transport infrastructure through the £734m South Wales Metro and lever in to the region over £4bn additional investment from the private sector.
I welcome the support provided by Councillors of all political parties in backing this deal as it provides a huge opportunity to transform our local economy.
Many people have asked me why it is so important for RCT.
Firstly, this is not about us here in RCT giving money to Cardiff; it is about us working collaboratively across South East Wales to invest £1.2bn.
We will certainly get out more than we put in with a large part of the £734m Metro funding being spent on the Valley lines.
It’s also about us capitalising on the economic activity which already takes place in and around Cardiff and spreading that prosperity from the coast to the valleys.
How will we do this? By encouraging businesses to invest in the region, transforming the way in which we get around South East Wales and creating job opportunities. This is how all the other major city economies in the UK and Europe have developed.
Reduced or Removed Car Parking Charges
In direct response to the views expressed by traders and the opinions we received through our recent consultation, Cabinet recently agreed major reductions to car parking charges to support our local high street economy.
Significant reductions in charges were agreed for our key town centres of Aberdare and Pontypridd and charges will be removed in Mountain Ash, Tonypandy and Porth from 1st April .
It was also agreed that free Christmas parking would be in place for the whole of December in Aberdare and Pontypridd, with £1 all-day parking on a Saturday also being introduced in these two town centres all the year round.
We fully recognise that the trader environment for local shops and businesses is the most challenging it has ever been and the rationale for this decision was simple – to encourage more residents to opt to shop locally in our town centres, to improve local trade and to boost the local economy.
We will continue to complement this move through the other support we already provide such as town centre events, small business grants and the recently announced rate relief scheme introduced by the Welsh Government.
We will also shortly be considering the 2017/18 capital programme which will aim to build on the success of #RCTinvest and will continue to demonstrate our ambition to take our local communities and the services we provide and deliver forward.
While we are working to support our town centres and take RCT forward, it was hugely disappointing to learn this week that the UK Government Department of Work and Pensions has taken the decision to close Mountain Ash Job Centre as well as shutting the back office function in Porth – where nearly 100 people are currently employed.
This decision is non-sensical as it will mean that there is now only one location in the Cynon Valley for residents without employment to seek support and assistance and will leave residents, who are already struggling to make ends meet as a result of their circumstances, further out of pocket as they will now need to travel to Aberdare to visit a Job centre. I, along with our local AM & MP, will be making the case to the UK Government Minister for this facility to remain open.
Posted on 01/02/2017