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‘It makes me despair’: Concern about the loss of EU funding on Merthyr Tydfil

27 Sep 2021 5 minutes Read
Copyright Kev Griffin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.(CC BY-SA 2.0).

Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter

Concerns have been raised by councillors about the impact that losing European funding will have on the town of Merthyr Tydfil.

The post-industrial town voted 56.4% for leaving the EU in the 2016 vote, but one councillor said that he didn’t know how they would replace the money and it made him “despair”.

A report discussed by the council’s regeneration, public protection and housing committee anticipated that the implications for Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council will be “significant.”

It said that since the UK joined the EU in 1975 the council has secured “significant amounts” of EU funding to enable delivery of projects which aim to support the regeneration of the county borough’s infrastructure.

The money had supported both physical regeneration programmes and projects and programmes which helped the people of Merthyr Tydfil develop their skills, knowledge and abilities to actively engage in the local economy.

Alyn Owen, the deputy chief executive of the council, said: “The local authority has benefited hugely from the structural funds associated with the allocation from the European Union.”

Councillor Malcolm Colbran said: “Merthyr Tydfil as much as anywhere in the country has benefited from this European money.

“It’s made a massive difference to the town centre, to the villages and to the whole of the borough so how we’re going to replace this money I don’t know. It makes me despair.”

Councillor Scott Thomas said he wanted to show his gratitude and appreciation for projects that had resulted in significant qualifications and jobs.

Councillor Lee Davies said: “Losing these will be a massive loss to Merthyr. Fingers crossed something will come up soon.”

‘Huge impact’

With higher levels of economic deprivation, the majority of areas across Wales have secured a significant amount of EU funding, the report said.

This was because Wales was one of the socially disadvantaged countries in Europe and many organisations have relied on EU funds in recent years for training programmes, skills programmes and large-scale infrastructure projects.

Over the last 20 years, the projects that the council has led on that have received EU funding include Merthyr Tydfil Business Centre (Lifelong Learning Centre), Merthyr Tydfil Town Centre Regeneration Project,  Penydarren Tram-road Walking and Cycling Project, Neighbourhood Learning Centre, Merthyr Tydfil Valleys Information & Technology Centre and many more.

It has also supported but not led on projects such as North Merthyr Regeneration Partnership, Sustainable Management for Gelligaer & Merthyr Tydfil Commons, Gurnos and Galon Uchaf Community & Physical Regeneration Programme and enhanced employability training among others.

Projects led by Welsh Government which had a significant impact on Merthyr Tydfil include the Communities First programme, Jobs Growth Wales, the Taff Bargoed Regeneration Programme, the Valleys Regional Park, Communities for Work and the dualling of the A465 as well as others.

The loss of all EU funded programmes will “have a huge impact on Merthyr Tydfil and our local communities” the report said with several programmes live at the moment.

If they end fully when the funding ends then the negative impacts could include 72 experienced support staff being made redundant and a redundancy bill amounting to around £291,000.00 with EU funding not picking up the full cost of this and the council picking up around 70% of the bill.

The Neighbourhood Learning Centre (NLC) which currently houses various vocational training resources on carpentry, plumbing, plastering and ICT among other things would not run due to staffing issues.

Other negative impacts mentioned are no community based delivery for up skilling, no community based employability mentoring and support and no ability to positively contribute to driving down unemployment, the report said.

There is also the risk of the council potentially losing its EU funded staff.

‘Dilemma’

The report added that at the moment there is a distinct sense of uncertainty surrounding the future direction and priorities post EU funding in the UK and Wales in particular,

There is uncertainty regarding how UK Government will administer replacement funding and whether Welsh Government, as a devolved government, will be given finance to assist its own councils.

The council is yet to hear back from UK Government on the Community Renewal Fund bid for a possible £3m to help in the development of projects across the county borough and it is also yet to hear back about a regional employability project plan.

Deputy chief executive Alyn Owen said the only way forward is to be certain of what a new model looks like for Merthyr Tydfil.

He said: “If we concentrate on that rather than think woe is me with the loss of this money then that’ll be effort well spent.”

Council officer Chris Long said: “We really are faced with some dilemma here. Not just from a Merthyr perspective but a national one.”

He said they are still yet to understand what programmes under the Shared Prosperity Fund are going to look like and although they’ve had glimpses they are not to the scale of what is being delivered now.

He said: “We have become reliant on it and it’s going to be a colossal effort to get a programme in place to mirror the programmes that are currently being offered.”

He said the new economic recovery plan which is being developed is predicated on inward investment and jobs for local people.

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Stephen
Stephen
25 days ago

The people of Merthyr voted for Brexit…too late to complain now.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
25 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

Yes, nobody can say they weren’t warned.

defaid
defaid
25 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

It’s the 43.6% that I feel sorry for. They’re being dragged into poverty by lies, hatred and a willful gullibility.

Dai
Dai
23 days ago
Reply to  defaid

They’ve been kept in poverty by Labour for far to long

What Ismyname
What Ismyname
25 days ago

No sympathy whatsoever. Ignorant turkeys voted for Xmas; let them roast in the hell they backed.

Cofi gwlad
25 days ago
Reply to  What Ismyname

To be fair the majority of leave voters through out the British Isles were totally ignorant of the consequences of leaving the EU, all they saw was the red bus with the millions of pounds the N H S would receive. This was enough to to get them to the polling station. A vast amount of people don’t bother making in depth research to the consequences their vote.

R W
R W
25 days ago
Reply to  Cofi gwlad

Ignorance and gullibility are a poor excuse for the decisions they make.

Brian Williams
Brian Williams
25 days ago
Reply to  Cofi gwlad

I thought the vast amount of leave voters were racist bigots who wanted ‘immigrants to be sent home’ even if ‘home’ was and had been the UK for ever.

hdavies15
hdavies15
25 days ago
Reply to  Brian Williams

very true, and many of those racists self identify as “Welsh” although they have no time for things like the Welsh language !

Jeff33
Jeff33
25 days ago
Reply to  Cofi gwlad

Rubbish.
20 years of MSM and the likes of the traitor Farage was ingrained.
Every consequence of leaving the EU was publicly aired but was referred to as ‘project fear’ spun by ‘snowflakes’.

defaid
defaid
25 days ago
Reply to  What Ismyname

43% voted to remain within the EU. Do you hate them too?

Jeff33
Jeff33
25 days ago
Reply to  defaid

63% didn’t vote to leave.
Since then in two elections only c35% voted for full Brexit parties
Despite the referendum Scotland and Wales heavily support and elect pro-European parties.

Mick Tems
Mick Tems
25 days ago

I voted to stay in the EU; so did the Pontypridd constituency and the capital of Cardiff. The citizens of Merthyr have been hoodwinked, betrayed and thoroughly lied to by the fibbing fool Bonking Bozo and all his Tory thieves, rogues, scoundrels and greedy couldn’t-care-less barons; we all knew that Brexit was a complete disaster and a despicable lying scam. The Tory traitors should be jailed and the keys thrown away – it’s time for Wales to fight for independence and re-apply to EU now.

Steve George
Steve George
25 days ago

Pass me that knife. My nose is really getting on my face’s nerves!

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
25 days ago

As others have said. Merthyr voted for Brexit and sadly now will suffer the consequences of leaving the EU. We all will.

Yes, mistakes were made and Brexit was based on lies. See, Fascists are very good liars but tertible at telling the truth. Although at least now you know who to blame. Boris Johnson, especially Nigel Farage who will be worried sick from his £1.4 million penthouse in London while you visit foodbanks, your children go hungry and Wales crumbles further into poverty.

Last edited 25 days ago by Y Cymro
Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
25 days ago

A very sad case of turkeys voting for xmas 😢

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
25 days ago

When Cameron announced the referendum I dived headlong into the web to find out just what were the choices and it became blindingly obvious in a very short time indeed that the people of the UK just weren’t equipped to make such a choice. It was pretty evident that 90% of politicians didn’t have a clue what they were waffling about, on either side of the debate, if debate it could be called. I became a strong Remain supporter not because I loved the EU but because I could see no way on earth we could extricate the UK without… Read more »

Grayham Jones
25 days ago

Don’t forget it was the valleys people that voted us out in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh its time for the people of wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 to start fighting for the children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 it’s time to be free

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
25 days ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

I’m from the north, enough in the north did as well

Grayham Jones
25 days ago

It’s time the people in the valleys stopped voting for a party that been a Disgrace to the valleys kick off English party’s out of wales that’s the Tories Labour and all Brexit party’s think of your children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Jeff33
Jeff33
25 days ago

UKIP set up in the Main Street at the time of the referendum and, when campaigning to remain, I found significant anger towards remain was almost always fulled by immigration. Despite the area having incredibly low numbers of immigrants, despite Merthyr having a significant (and welcome) Italian population (‘Yeah, but they’re one of us now.”!), despite the Indian Sub-continent and Turkey not being in the EU the hatred of foreigners fuelled by the UKIP presence (almost entirely bussed in) swept away any logical agreement.
They were warned.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
24 days ago

Unfortunately what’s done is done. Wales is now beginning to take the hit, not just Merthyr. It does not look like we’ll be rejoining anytime soon with the deluded Tories in charge and even if Labour somehow got in I don’t think they take us back in. At least with independence we’d have a chance to rectify the situation.

Dai
Dai
23 days ago

The good people of Merythr should wonder why they received so much EU funding? Because Welsh Labour have held them back and kept them in poverty.
Yet they still vote Labour!

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
21 days ago

I’m reminded of a line from Animal House, after the ‘boys’ had wrecked Flounder’s brother, Fred’s, car. ‘Hey, you f****ed up. You trusted us.’ Human nature likes a change now and then, even when there’s a ‘good’ chance it won’t be a good outcome.

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