ONE in ten of all shops in Pontypool is a charity shop or not-for-profit organisation, according to figures collated by Torfaen council.

The figures, obtained by Plaid Cymru AM for South East Wale, Lindsay Whittle, following a Freedom of Information request, showed that 17 shops in the town were now home to not-forprofit business.

That was almost 12 per cent of all retail units in the town.

Torfaen council said Cwmbran had 16 charity or nonprofit organisations, while there were five in Blaenavon, representing 7.7 per cent and 8.2 per cent of total retail properties in the towns.

“Just over a year ago the Welsh Government argued that only the most adaptable, innovative, creative high streets would survive and thrive in the global marketplace and it was clear that our town centres needed to diversify and retail could no longer be the sole driving force for our towns,” Mr Whittle said.

He praised the work of charity shops, but said it was evidence of changes in our town centres. Torfaen councillor for the Pontypool ward Mike Harris said he was hugely frustrated by the town’s decline, but said it was down, primarily, to poor planning and a lack of parking.

“Pontypool used to be the town in this area for people to go to, but now it is Cwmbran,” said Cllr Harris.

“There’s nowhere to park in Pontypool and when Tesco was put where it was, with that car park, it ripped the heart out of the town.”

Lewis Jones, vice-chairman of the Pontypool Regeneration Partnership, said: “We are actively seeking ways for empty properties to be brought back into use.

“There is former retail upper-floor space that is being converted to residential use and we recently worked with the University of Newport Wales to use retail properties as a base for an exhibition by photographic art students.

“We also assist property owners with grants through the Townscape Heritage Initiative that help in bringing vacant and dilapidated properties into use.”