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Tai Ceredigion Secures £125K European Funding

tai ceredigion logoThis week Ceredigion Housing organisation Tai Ceredigion has announced that it has secured £125,000 of funding for its new MEDRA project.

The funding will be used to provide a range of exciting new services to tennants.

Known as ‘Gwasanaethau Medra Services’ these new services will also be bringing a number of new jobs and training positions to North Ceredigion.


The scheme looks to provide Tai Ceredigion’s tennants with cleaner and safer living environments, with more help available for elderly and vulnerable residents.


The new services are being developed with help from the Ceredigion Social Enterprise Growth Fund, which is administered by Ceredigion County Council on behalf of the Adfywio Ceredigion Regeneration Partnership and is also being supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Assembly Government.


For the official press release click here.


This week I have been lucky enough to speak exclusively with Steve Jones, Managing Director of Tai Ceredigion in order to find about more about the organisations plans now and in the future, and his views on the plans for the future development of Aberystwyth as a whole;


1. What key areas in Aberystwyth do you feel require regeneration and investment and why?

“There are a number of key areas within Aberystwyth town centre and surrounding residential areas which the Welsh Assembly Government, Ceredigion County Council and other partners on the Aberystwyth Strategic Regeneration Board have identified as priority areas for regeneration. These include the area around the railway station, the promenade area, the retail area, and areas of the town that have high levels of long term unemployment and social exclusion. The SRA Board have produced a new leaflet called “Aberystwyth, Raising the Bar”, which details the five major themes of the SRA work within the town, and encourages local people and organisations to contribute their own ideas as to what should be done to improve the look and feel of the town.”


2. What role do you see Tai Ceredigion playing in this regeneration process?

“As a major landlord within these areas of Aberystwyth, and as the primary social landlord within Ceredigion, we see our role as being a community enabler and using our housing investment as a catalyst to encourage private sector investment in both commercial and residential properties. We can also work with and assist other voluntary sector organisations such as Communities First, Aberystwyth Mind, and community based groups, to deliver training and work experience opportunities, as well as providing support and advice to vulnerable persons who need it.

Tai Ceredigion is seeking to play a pivotal role in assisting the Welsh Assembly Government and Ceredigion County Council to bring empty properties back into use, to provide new homes and to improve the townscape. We have the potential to lever in and increased amount of private funding to match public funding, as well as the management expertise to redevelop and manage mixed use buildings as well as homes.”


3. Within that role, what are Tai Ceredigion’s current plans for regeneration and investment, and how are you going to deliver these plans?

“Tai Ceredigion has already been busy within Aberystwyth during the last eighteen months, upgrading the empty homes which transferred to us from the Council in late 2009 to bring them up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard. In addition we have been concentrating on piloting some low carbon off mains gas heating systems, using air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. In the last six months we have been successful in securing over £674,000 of additional energy efficiency funding from t he Welsh Assembly Government’s ARBED programme, which has enabled us to install external wall insulation to four of the main blocks of flats in Penparcau, and in villages within the Tregaron uplands area, where high levels of fuel poverty have existed for years. We have also been able to lever in additional funding from the main energy companies through the Government’s CERT scheme.

Tai Ceredigion is currently tendering for its main building contracts through the OJEU procedure, following a period of working with local SME contractors last year, and signposting them to tendering advice, and other assistance via the Welsh Assembly Government sponsored bodies and projects. A large number of local SME companies have successfully passed our pre contract qualification stage, and therefore we are hopeful that they will be in a good position to compete for the main building contracts currently being tendered. We would like to see as much of our building works contracts benefiting local companies and the local economy, so that as much as possible of the £35m we will be spending over the next four years stays within Ceredigion.”


4. What benefits will your proposals bring to local people and also the town as a whole?

“Clearly, some of our tenants within Aberystwyth and other parts of the county are already enjoying some of the benefits that our housing investment will bring to their homes, either in terms of more affordable and efficient heating systems and high levels of insulation, or the new bathrooms, kitchens and windows we have been installing over the last fifteen months. However, the vast bulk of our major housing improvements investment is still to come, and will start to be seen across the town and the county towards the end of this year. This high intensity of housing investment will then continue for a further three years, as the major electrical rewire, kitchens, bathrooms, windows and door replacement works are undertaken.

Tai Ceredigion is using the Welsh Assembly Government’s i2i (inform to involve) toolkit to ensure that its tenants have been fully consulted on the improvement works that will be undertaken, and that our main contracts include social clauses in them, which will require successful contractors to take on local apprentices and also provide work experience opportunities for local long term unemployed persons.

In Aberystwyth we will be continuing to work alongside the Welsh Assembly Government’s Strategic Regeneration Area staff and Ceredigion County Council staff to stimulate residential and commercial investment within the town. To this end, I have been appointed to sit on the Aberystwyth SRA Board, and Tai Ceredigion’s Director of Property Services, Llyr Edwards, has been appointed to the SRA Delivery Team; which will ensure that our investment work compliments and integrates with the SRA investment and private sector investment in key areas of the town.”


5. Where do you see Aberystwyth in 20 years time, and what visions do Tai Ceredigion have for their future involvement in the towns improvement?

“We have signed up to the vision laid out by the Aberystwyth Strategic Regeneration Board, which is to provide:

a) A thriving and attractive town centre
b) Improved quality of homes for local people
c) Enhancing transport i and around the town
d) Re-invigorating the seafront and promenade
e) Boosting the local economy and creating employment.”


It is quite clear that organisations like Tai Ceredigion along with the local council have huge ambitions and big plans for Aberystwyth in the coming years. The town that we know and love has undeniably suffered throughout the current recession, and with many of the problems that affllict many population centres in Wales also affecting Aberystwyth such as fuel poverty and rising unemployment it is a positive step in the right direction.


It is comforting to know that even when the local and national economy is struggling, and bad news for the town seems to far outweigh the good in volume that there are forward thinking people in the places that count that are prepared to work together towards a better future for Aberystwyth, and although for many it not may seem like it, these are exciting times in our little jewel by the sea.


With careful investment and planning the town can be vastly improved without seeing major changes to the way it looks and the way it feels. And to me personally this will be the key to any successful regeneration plans in Aberystwyth because it is the look and feel of the town has helped to create the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that has made it the popular tourist magnet that it is today.

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