Headlines: January 16th, 2009

Nineteen Welsh local councils are to get a share of more than 25 million pounds to invest in areas that have regneration potential but which need assistance. The cash will go to 36 housing renewal areas across the authorities, each of which has its own action plan to improve housing and other facilities as a means of kick-starting wider investment.

The Welsh Assembly Government’s Deputy Housing Minister, Jocelyn Davies, said the programme would improve the quality of life for thousands of people and would help to restore confidence in towns and villages that were in need of regeneration. “Many of these projects span several financial years providing longer-term employment opportunities. It’s therefore vital that local contractors are involved in these bigger projects,” she said.

The local councils will make spending decisions in line with their own priorities and will be able to use the money in a number of ways to support long term sustainable improvements to communities. Jocelyn Davies pointed to the Sandfields East and Aberavon renewal area, declared in August 2004, as an example of what could be achieved. It contains 2,249 mixed tenure homes and the council has introduced a Home Maintenance Survey Scheme for residents. It works with other agencies such as Care & Repair, the Fire Service, Crime Prevention Services and Energy Efficiency advice.

It has also appointed a dedicated Keep Wales Tidy Officer for the area and through partnership working he has assisted in the removal of more than 300 tonnes of waste from the Renewal Area. The council has carried out an environmental study of the whole area and a range of environmental activities have taken place.