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Written Statement - Powys Local Growth Zones Update

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport

We continue to make progress on the recommendations that the Welsh Government is taking forward from the report by the Powys Local Growth Zones Task and Finish Group.

In Llandrindod Wells, I agreed to pilot a business-led project to help develop an action plan to address the economic sustainability of the town.  A small group of local business people has been meeting for some months, led by Justin Baird Murray, owner and Managing Director of the Metropole Hotel. Their work is being informed by consultation with the broader business base and other stakeholders in the town.  The work is progressing well and it is intended that their conclusions and recommendations are presented to me during the summer.

In Newtown, my Officials are working with the Sirolli Institute and with the business and local community to explore the potential of establishing a model of community based economic development in and around the town.  Ernesto Siriolli himself addressed an audience of over 100 people in the town and subsequently further meetings have been taking place to move this forward.  

In Brecon, the FYInetwork local website has recently launched and to date has had some 11,000 hits.  It is intended that the network will enable local traders to communicate and interact with their customers to help increase trade for local businesses.  To date, the service provides information including latest stories, shops and services, eating out, community, what’s on, culture, sport, motors, history, a business directory and public information.

The Business.Wales service has been operational since January of this year, with offices located in both Newtown and Brecon.  The service, together with the support provided via our sector teams and our business start-up services, is seeking to address the needs of businesses and assisting jobs and growth in this part of Wales.
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The Group highlighted the importance of an efficient and modern transport infrastructure to the development of the local economy in Powys and, in particular, one of the key transport recommendations in their report related to the Newtown by pass. In my recent Statement on transport priorities, I announced that I intend to continue to progress the A483/A489 Newtown by pass.  In addition, I also announced that I will be addressing smaller targeted improvements to tackle pinch points and improve the efficiency of the network across Wales.  This includes improvements to address the A483 Newtown town centre congestion which will be delivered over the next two years.

I remain committed to the deployment of next generation broadband to the Powys Local Growth Zones and BT Openreach are continuing to progress with this work.  BT Openreach teams continue to undertake the significant task of planning the deployment of the Superfast Cymru programme actively planning and surveying the key settlements within the Powys Local Growth Zone.  Given the scale of the programme, and the various technical dependencies, this is an essential key piece of the work.  

The report contained some 40 recommendations in total, many of which were for the Local Authority to consider and take forward.  Progress on delivery of these recommendations is therefore a matter for Powys County Council to report on.

Finally, I have extended the concept of Local Growth Zones to the Teifi Valley and  recently announced the creation of a Task and Finish Group to explore the concept in that area.  I will provide a further update as the work progresses.