Audit Wales report highlights pressures and trends facing town centres and calls for a review of nondomestic rates
Audit Wales report highlights pressures and trends facing town centres and calls for reviews of nondomestic rates to ensure that the system better reflects town centre conditions.
Senior council members will receive the Audit Wales review of Town Centre Regeneration when they meet later this month.
They will be asked to note the recommendations and approve the proposed responses to Audit Wales.
Audit Wales published a review of town centre regeneration in September 2021.
It summarises the pressures and trends facing town centres in Wales and actions undertaken so far by the public sector to respond.
It also includes recommendations for all levels of Government which Audit Wales has asked local authorities to review and provide a response.
The six recommendations are broadly that:
- Welsh Government (WG) reviews nondomestic rates to ensure that the system better reflects town centre conditions.
- WG works with local authorities to review transport challenges (including car park charges) facing town centres.
- WG consolidates funding schemes to reduce bureaucracy by streamlining processes and rebalancing investment to help councils address staff and skills shortages.
- Councils use existing enforcement resources and powers to make more effective use of existing skills and resources to achieve good outcomes.
- WG sets out how it plans to deliver “Town Centres First” in practice, its expectations of partners and practical steps so that it can become a reality.
- With town centres changing, councils should self- assess current approaches to identify improvements needed.
The Council has welcomed the opportunity to respond to this review and has formulated responses to recommendations 2, 4 and 6 which we have been asked to comment on. We have also set out our views on the other recommendations.
Flintshire’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Councillor Derek Butler, said:
“For recommendation 2, active travel and sustainable travel options is already a priority for us as we look to increase levels of walking and cycling and enable other alternative and sustainable methods of travel.
“We would very much welcome Welsh Government support on tackling empty and problem properties. We already have powers, but these can be time consuming and costly.
“Regarding recommendation 6, we have already done a self-assessment which has identified a number of areas for further development. Some of these are already in hand and recruitment of staff to deliver is already underway.”
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