Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet is being asked to approve an ambitious capital spending strategy worth more than £140m over the next three years to give the local economy a major boost as it starts recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The injection of money for the financial years 2022-23 to 2024-25 will go into a wide range of projects including stepping up the council’s impressive 21st-Century Schools programme – providing modern, stimulating teaching and learning environments – and pressing on with the redevelopment of Neath Town Centre.
The Neath Town Centre renewal project will also help to deliver on the council’s commitment to creating vibrant town centres for all to access and enjoy, and will cultivate the conditions for more secure, well-paid and green work in the area as outlined in Recover, Reset, Renew – the council’s draft corporate plan.
Also included in the strategy is an allocation of £1.5m over two years to fund Covid recovery works to “catch up, clean up and green up” communities and places across the country borough.
Budget allocations to education, leisure and social services provide important investment to maintain buildings, infrastructure including roofs, heating and lighting etc. The investment in highways and neighbourhood improvements will maintain transport, bridges and other vital structures.
Major investment initiatives included in the spending programme include:
- Building a new £10.495m single-site primary school in Longford replacing three separate sites of Abbey Primary. An additional £555,000 childcare offer has been also been awarded, taking the total investment to £11.05m.
- Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera Bro Dur Phase 3: the addition of a £9m new build block comprising six more classrooms and 3G rugby pitch provision.
- The council has been awarded £4.140m to support additional childcare facilities over fouryears (2019-20–2022-23). Facilities have already been developed at three schools (Abbey Primary, Rhos Primary and Waunceirch Primary) along with a facility in the new Neath Town Centre Development. Work is scheduled to start at YGG Blaendulais and Cwmavon in 2022-23.
The council continues investing significantly in regeneration projects with the next phase of the re-development of Neath Town Centre due to be completed in June this year. It will provide a new shopping and leisure and swimming pool complex plus a modern library on the site of the former multi-storey car park.
The UK Government has approved Neath Port Talbot Council’s Business Case for Supporting Innovation and Low Carbon Growth (£58.8m) and Homes as Power Stations (HAPS)(£505m) as part of the Swansea Bay City Deal. The City Deal projects the council is leading on are expected to make a significant contribution to the climate change agenda locally focusing on how carbon emissions from domestic properties and industry can be reduced.
The City Deal is based on four main projects: the energy-positive Bay Technology Centre at Baglan Energy Park providing office and laboratory space for the innovation, ICT and R&D sectors – interest is currently high from potential tenants; the National Steel Innovation Centre (slashing the carbon footprint of the steel/metals industry in Port Talbot and Wales); Decarbonisation of the City Deal region; and Industrial Futures (addressing the gap between demand and supply for businesses and available land in the Port Talbot Waterfront Enterprise Zone).
Cllr Carol Clement-Williams, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said:
“This council places great emphasis on the importance of capital investment as a means of regenerating our communities and providing modern and safe buildings and infrastructure. It will also help our recovery after the effects of the Covid pandemic.”
Council Leader, Cllr Ted Latham, added:
“Capital investment on this scale not only provides improved facilities and the delivery of council services but also helps create and sustain jobs for our local economy.”
The council’s Capital Strategy sets out the planning process for its capital programmes.
Cabinet members, who will be asked to approve the Capital Strategy and Capital Programme (2022-23 to 2024-25) when they meet on 28 February, have been told in a report: “Members will note the council is investing £70.415m in 2022/23 and more than £140m over the next three years.”