The independent group, appointed earlier this year by Mrs Hart, were asked to develop innovative proposals submitted by Powys County Council for Local Growth Zones and look at specific issues affecting the key market towns of Brecon, Llandrindod Wells and Newtown.
The report makes two broad and over-arching recommendations that are supported by 38 related and more detailed recommendations.
- The Welsh Government takes forward the proposal for Local Growth Zones to help encourage and support jobs and growth in Powys.
- Support is given to the development of business-led initiatives - including the appointment of champions - in each of the three towns, to work up and implement action plans, working closely with Welsh Government, Powys County Council and other partners.
For the three key towns specifically, the report recommends:
- Supporting and funding the establishment of a business-led initiative which will develop Newtown town centre’s role as a service centre.
- Supporting and funding the establishment of a business-led initiative to more fully develop Llandrindod Wells’ role as an event and conference centre, and its role as a heritage tourism centre
- Supporting and funding the establishment of a business-led initiative to more fully develop Brecon’s role as a tourist centre, and its role as a boutique or niche shopping location
Thanking the Group, chaired by Justin Baird-Murray, owner and managing director of the Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells, for their work, Mrs Hart said:
"This report provides us with much to consider in addressing the challenges facing rural areas and market towns in Powys, and indeed throughout the rest of Wales. I wish to consult more widely on the recommendations and will consider the findings over the summer recess and would welcome any further comment on the conclusions."
Mr Justin Baird Murray said:
"The Group has concluded that the concept of Local Growth Zones has much merit in a rural county such as Powys. They should be focussed on key population and service centres in order to deliver jobs and growth which will benefit all areas of the county.
"The group took evidence from a wide section of the business community and concluded that there is some urgency to take action to address the issues that towns and businesses across Powys are facing, the Group has focussed on activities that can be taken forward within the short to medium term in order to make the most impact on the county."
The members of the group are:
- Justin Baird-Murray – (Group Chair)
- Janet Jones – Federation of Small Businesses
- Hannah Barrett – Chair of Mid Wales Manufacturing Group
- James Gibson-Watt – local business person and retailer
- John Gallagher – Control Techniques Ltd
- Wynne Jones – business person and member of Powys County Council
- Sue Balsom – a member of the Micro Business Task and Finish Group with an advisory role in regard to the work of the Local Growth Zones Group