The news last week that the Celtic Manor is to be the location of Wales’ first International Convention Centre got a little lost in a busy news week. The announcement came hot on the heels of news that the NATO summit is to be held in Newport next September. The decision about the Convention Centre, which was backed by a Welsh Government pledge to match funding for the initial stage of the project, is a brilliant opportunity for Newport especially as the location was hotly contested by Cardiff.
The convention centre looks set to be the largest in Wales and will be designed to host national and International Conferences. The construction phase will bring a boost to the local economy and as a regular conference goer I can vouch that the spin offs for local hotels and businesses would be huge.
However, work will not begin on the new complex until after the NATO summit and the work to prepare for that event has begun in earnest. Gwent Police is already preparing, and senior officers have assured Gwent politicians they will be provided with the resources to police this huge event without it impacting on the Gwent Police budget or affecting services to residents.
It’s crucial that the event delivers the maximum benefit for Newport (with the minimum disruption) – something I’ve already stressed to the Secretary of State for Wales.
We also learnt last week of Newport Council’s exciting plans to secure the Friar’s Walk scheme. Reported in the Argus, this is an innovative move for a UK Council and will mean, if it’s agreed, that the shopping centre could be open in 2015. Nobody is suggesting that this development is the answer to the challenges facing Newport, but it is an important initiative that deserves support at a time when there are hardly any developments of this type underway outside the South East. Together with the International Convention Centre and the NATO summit, it’s an important part of the jigsaw which is all about improving Newport’s prospects.
This is all good news for the long term, but in the short term independent traders in Newport and elsewhere need our support and custom. Congratulations to the organisers of shop local Saturday in Newport who have been busily promoting the day on which we are all asked to spend our money in the local economy. So please shop local on Saturday 7th December.
Very sad news last week of the deaths of Denis and Joyce Drew from Ponthir in a road collision. Those of us who went to Llanyrafon School will remember Mr Drew as a kind and caring headmaster who always put the interests of his pupils first. We often talk about the teachers who made a real difference to us and Mr Drew was one of mine. Our thoughts are with Joyce and Denis’s family at this terrible time.