- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
PEMBROKESHIRE-based AM Joyce Watson paid tribute to Pembrokeshire Council food officer Kate Morgan in a debate about vibrant town centres in the Welsh Assembly on Wednesday (2 November) – 21st Century Towns.
The Labour AM for Mid and West Wales singled out Ms Morgan, commending the work she has done promoting Pembrokeshire Fish Week and marketing Milford Haven as a place for food lovers to visit.
“She (Kate Morgan) has flagged up Milford Haven as a place of excellence where you will find excellent fish being served and turning it into a tourist attraction,” Mrs Watson said. She added that Pembrokeshire Tourism also did “an excellent job on behalf of the private sector”.
The Assembly member, who spent the summer recess speaking to west Wales businesses – meeting over 30 individual traders, businesses, groups and trade boards, and surveying more than 50 businesses, is currently working on the Welsh Assembly’s inquiry into town centre regeneration.
In their evidence to the Enterprise and Business committee, Pembrokeshire Council said Pembrokeshire towns needed to identify clear roles for themselves, so that instead of competing against each other, they can successfully provide different types of services for residents and visitors.
“Town centres are increasingly becoming places to visit in their own right – destinations for residents and visitors to enjoy. Recent research has indicted that towns which are not regarded as “clone” towns are more resilient to economic downturns”, The council document reports.
The evidence paper goes on to identify several challenges that Pembrokeshire Council says town centres are facing. These including:
- Competition from neighbouring centres or out of town sites.
- Competition from the internet and changing consumer retailing patters – the types of uses in our town centres are changing and in many cases becoming more service based, often as certain goods are more cheaply and easily accessed online e.g. music.
- Business rates and the removal of rural rate relief (historic low levels assisted in Narberth’s development as a successful niche retail destination).
- Spend levels available from the resident population, working population and visitors.
- Planning controls – whether town centre boundaries and areas such as primary or secondary retail frontages are identified and controlled, other issues such as conservation areas or Listed Buildings.
- Transport links and the availability and price of car parking.
- Projects and grant funding available to implement townscape improvements.
- Population make up of individual town centres (socio-economic groups).