You can imagine my anger and frustration at the Welsh Government’s announcement last week that Barry will not receive the £15M funding needed to regenerate the town. The Welsh Government Minister, Carl Sargeant, has confirmed that the bids for 11 council areas were being progressed to the second stage and that Barry and the Vale had not been successful.
As Barry & District readers will know I have been championing for financial support for the regeneration of Barry since being elected. I have reported in previous columns my hopes for the town and the level of work carried out by organisations such as Pride in Barry to bring redevelopment to the town.
This culminated earlier this year when all councils in Wales were invited to bid for part of the £90M made available by the Welsh Government to regenerate communities under its ‘Vibrant and Visible Places’ programme. All 22 local authorities submitted bids, with the Vale seeking £15M to regenerate Barry.
This is a slap in the face for Barry. I simply cannot believe that we have been left out. We are already one of the poorest funded council areas in Wales and this was one of our changes to gain extra cash.
We had so many hopes for Barry Island and other parts of the town. Nell’s Point has so much potential. All that was needed was a little funding to pump prime redevelopment. There were also plans for a marina, an aquarium and a multi-purpose family facility on the Island that could be used for fetes and exhibitions all year round.
These hopes have been dashed. The consolation is that over the next three years, the Vale can be one of 7 councils that can share £5M. This is hardly worth having!
The Welsh Government has some serious explaining to do and I have asked to meet the Minister. When I met his predecessor last year, I was told that Barry was ideally placed to benefit from their policies. They were supposedly targeting town centres, coastal communities and parts of Wales included in the Communities First anti-poverty scheme as a priority. As the largest town in Wales, that enjoys both a town centre and a coastal community, we were ideally placed to be one of the chosen designated areas for funding from the £30m pot. This has been thrown back at us and I therefore have to question the quality of the bid from the council. I hope they will join a campaign and be open to get to the bottom of why Barry has been rejected.
The Vale is already short changed by £25M a year by Cardiff Bay. I hope people will sign the petition on my website calling for a fair funding settlement – the matter cannot end here.