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Extra money to be made available to businesses in Merthyr Tydfil town centre

EXTRA money is set to be made available to businesses in Merthyr Tydfil town centre to help with their recovery from Covid-19.

A report set to go before the council’s cabinet for approval on Wednesday, February 24 on the Valleys Taskforce Covid Recovery for Smaller Town Centres shows extra funding has been provided on top of the £375,000 which was requested by Merthyr Tydfil and approved in December 2020.

There was a significant response to the grant programme with over 120 business applying for the funding and an additional funding request was made to Welsh Government which has also been approved.

Merthyr Tydfil Council identified two key projects that could be successfully delivered through the Valleys Taskforce Grant which include a grant scheme for businesses to help with internal and external improvements to aid businesses trading in response to Covid.

The second was to deliver digital solutions in the town centre to gather information on wider village areas to further enhance town centres and the council’s understanding of these areas.

Grants of up to £20,000 were available and the request for applications closed in January with all applications received having now been assessed.

The types of things the money could be going towards include:

  • The creation of outdoor trading spaces using awnings, canopies and outdoor heating
  • Outdoor tables and seating
  • Outdoor screening, bollards and planters
  • Outdoor serving facilities
  • Small green infrastructure schemes
  • Lighting for outdoor trading space
  • Courtyard and rear garden improvements
  • Internal social distancing measures such as screens.

This is not like the outdoor equipment scheme which only applied to food and drink businesses as this scheme will also include accommodation and activity providers.

Hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses were all able to apply and it covers the whole of the county borough as opposed to just the town centre.

There was £325,000 made available from the approved allocation of £375,000 including £50,000 for the digital solutions aspect, which resulted in grant awards to only 27 businesses.

The remainder of eligible businesses were placed on a reserve list which consisted of six businesses in a position to spend their grant immediately and a further 40 plus businesses, that with additional time and support, would be in a position to spend this financial year.

A request was submitted to Welsh Government for an additional £66,549.90 for the additional six businesses to spend before the end of March and a further £443,000 for the additional 40 plus businesses requiring further development and support.

Welsh Government approved the additional award and confirmed that the time-scale could be extended from March 31 to June 30, 2021, providing each project had commenced and claimed part-funding prior to the end of the financial year.

The council’s enterprise team are currently processing grant agreements and payments for all successful, eligible businesses.

In July 2020 the Welsh Government announced the redirecting of up to £5.3m from the Transforming Towns Programme, to support adaptations in town centres that could facilitate trading and public safety in response to Covid.

As part of that announcement, the Valleys Taskforce committed £3.7 million to support Transforming Towns with £3 million of that funding now having been made available to Valleys Taskforce local authorities, which includes Merthyr.

This is in addition to the redirected Transforming Towns Programme allocation and is specifically to support smaller town centres within the Valleys Taskforce boundary with their recovery from Covid-19.

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