Alun Davies, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language
The Ministerial Taskforce for the South Wales Valleys will today publish its high-level action plan, Our Valleys, Our Future.
The plan sets out the taskforce’s priorities for the future, based on extensive engagement with people living and working in the Valleys. It is also based on evidence the taskforce has taken over the course of the last year.
Our Valleys, Our Future has been developed around 3 key priorities:
- good-quality jobs and the skills to do them
- better public services
- the local community
It is the taskforce’s ambition that by 2021 the employment gap between the South Wales Valleys and the rest of Wales will have been closed. This will be achieved by helping an additional 7,000 people into work and creating thousands of new, fair, secure and sustainable jobs in the Valleys.
Our Valleys, Our Future sets out a range of actions to achieve this goal, including creating six new strategic sites in specific areas across the Valleys where we will look to focus spending to provide opportunities for the private sector to invest and create new jobs. The taskforce will work with local communities and local authorities to develop these hubs further to ensure their focus reflects the opportunities in each area.
The 6 sites are:
- Pontypridd/Treforest, focusing on residential, office , industrial and retail development
- Caerphilly/Ystrad Mynach, focusing on residential, office and industrial development
- Cwmbran, focusing on office, industrial and residential development
- Merthyr Tydfil, focusing on office, industrial and residential development
- Neath, focusing on industrial, residential, digital and energy development
- Ebbw Vale, focusing on a new automotive business park
We will also be looking to ensure more public sector jobs are relocated into the South Wales Valleys, including at the 6 strategic sites, where appropriate.
Over the course of the many public meetings and conversations held with people living and working in the Valleys, people told us that public services are not as joined-up as they could be.
Our Valleys, Our Future outlines work underway in 3 Valleys communities to identify barriers that prevent community action from reaching its full potential. The learning from these pathfinder projects in Llanhilleth, Ferndale and Glynneath and Banwen will help to drive change within Welsh Government and across local services.
The taskforce heard a wide range of opinions about the Valleys themselves, including about the natural beauty of the landscape but also concerns about accessibility. The plan includes a commitment to explore the development of a Valleys Landscape Park, which will support local communities to work with the public, private and third sectors to make the most of their area’s natural resources and heritage.
The people living and working in each community know these areas best. We will therefore look to them to design and develop proposals which will meet their specific needs.
The establishment of the Ministerial Taskforce for the South Wales Valleys presents an exciting opportunity to focus efforts and resources across government to make real and lasting change. The next step is to turn these high-level priorities into specific actions.
The taskforce will work with people across the South Wales Valleys to develop a delivery plan, which will be published in the autumn.
I will update Members as the taskforce’s work progresses in the coming months.