“You, and many others, have written to me regarding the unexpected revision to the Town Centre part of the Aberystwyth Masterplan. I will, therefore, outline for you my position on these new proposals:
1) I knew nothing of the proposed changes to the Masterplan until I read about them in the Cambrian News.2) They are very significant changes and a public consultation is, in my opinion, completely necessary before such changes can be adopted into the Masterplan.3) I am not persuaded that town centre architectural character or small independent business should be sacrificed for the needs of one UK-wide retailer. However, if town centre traders and the local community felt this was worth doing, following a widespread public consultation, then I would consider those views at that time.4) I have been told that Council officials and some councillors are suggesting in meetings held to discuss this Plan that this project is being led by the Assembly Government and that the Council is almost powerless to resist. There is no political Assembly Government decision to support and promote this change. It is probably the case that local Assembly Government officers are working with the County Council to develop proposals. I have now taken the matter up with the Assembly Government’s Minister for Economy, Ieuan Wyn Jones AM. The Assembly Government would not release major funding for projects unless they are advocated by the local County Council – and to suggest otherwise is misleading on the part of any Council official and politically expedient on the part of the councillor.
It is too easy sometimes to say ‘No’ to change, but on this occasion, there is so obviously too little information, confidence and consultation for local businesses and people to say anything but ‘No’ at this time. There is a value to local independent traders and to original town centre architecture. I do not think that should be sacrificed lightly – Aberystwyth should seek to be different and better to other places – not the same, but smaller.
Thank you for drawing your concerns to my attention on this and I’d be happy to meet to discuss further if you wish.
Elin Jones, AM”