Speculation that the Tata steel board will not approve a rescue package for the Port Talbot plant has underlined the urgent need for the Welsh Government to build on the new Enterprise Zone by setting up an urban regeneration company for the area, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has said.
Mr. Black called for such a company to be set up shortly after the announcement of 750 job losses at Tata in Port Talbot, however little progress appears to have been made by the Welsh Government on this. When the steel works closed in Newport in 2003, the Welsh Government had acted decisively by setting up Newport Unlimited, an Urban Regeneration Company, to help counter the impacts of the decline in heavy industry and manufacturing. Mr. Black asked the Minister in the chamber to actively consider a similar response to job losses in Port Talbot.
"During the ten plus years that Newport Unlimited was in place it contributed to attracting £230 million of private investment to the area and] was credited with the transformation of the city's river frontage and attracting the Ryder Cup golf tournament to Newport in 2010," said Mr. Black. "It is my view that a similar initiative could make a massive difference in helping to revitalise Port Talbot. It is now urgent that the Welsh Government act on this.
"The new Enterprise Zone for Port Talbot is very welcome, but I believe that we need to go the extra mile and that the additional funding and focus that an urban regeneration company can bring to the area could make a huge difference.
"The Welsh Government needs to put its money on the table by investing in Port Talbot through such a company and by providing the business rates relief that Tata needs to reduce its costs and to help it become viable."