ALL that is needed is a logical and common sense approach to the problems of our county town.

An encouraging start has been made by the innovative renovation of the old Riverside market hall to accommodate the new cultural facility but this now needs to be matched by a complete regeneration of the surrounding shopping area that even yet boasts a fingerpost sign indicating a long-gone supermarket.

While there is no doubt such a project is a real challenge, it is not insurmountable given the right motivation.

It is illogical that the Welsh Assembly government continues to demand inflated rates leaving trading no longer viable due to the imposition of high rents and rates when a realistic reduction in business rates would help keep companies afloat and ensure some income to the Cardiff coffers rather than a zero return from premises standing empty contributing to yet more dilapidation.

Unoccupied business premises are exempt from rates for three months but the rules permit an extension of this time, so the cynic in me suspects a hidden agenda.

Local authorities ought to be lobbying Members of Parliament and Assembly Members to ensure a level playing field by insisting that online sellers pay equal business taxes and a sales tax as well as insisting that full VAT rates are paid by overseas traders.

And, with our forthcoming departure from the European Union in mind, they should demand that the Welsh Assembly government makes funds available to allow towns to undergo the massive overhaul they need in order to restore business confidence and a sense of pride in our towns.

Could planning laws be relaxed to enable the conversion of some premises to other uses as homes or for leisure activities and prevent empty properties from becoming blots on the landscape by owners to deliberately suffer buildings to become derelict?

The annual £91,000 on offer to a successor as economic development and regeneration officer could be put into a special trust fund for the Pembrokeshire towns that for far too long are looking so desolate and unloved.

Council tax payers may be forgiven for questioning why another head of department will be more successful than his/her predecessor who appears to have engineered not very much regeneration of our county town on his/her watch, and ask which services might be axed in order to fund this position in light of the very tight budget restraints.


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