Newport gives ideas on future of city centre
1:48pm Sunday 18th August 2013 in News
REOPENING the valleys rail line, introducing pop-up shops and hosting a music festival are among the things traders think could improve prospects in Newport city centre.
We asked business owners to respond to a request by Simon Gibson, chairman of the Newport business development project, who had called on residents to present ideas in a Dragons Den-style event next month.
He said the group is already working on its own projects including new education and business opportunities for the city centre, but they also want to get the wider thoughts of the public.
Traders welcomed the chance to participate, but said much of what they want has been said before.
Dean Beddis, who runs Kriminal Records in Newport Market, said: "He's asking for a brain storming session and what I would tell him is to totally ignore the council because they have messed it up already.
"It goes back over the same old ground really. It's car parking, lowering business rates and getting businesses and people back into the city centre. We need the infrastructure to welcome these people, why don't they open the old Sainsbury's up as a car park? And the valleys line should be reopened."
Mr Beddis, 48, believes Newport could also benefit from hosting a large music concert, which would attract people in the same way bringing football into the city centre has.
He said: "We need a new music venue or a large music festival every year. Brecon Jazz is world famous and Newport is a city and we got nothing like that. There's lots of bands in Newport and a lot of music heritage here but we've got nothing like that around here."
Sue Williams, who runs Elbow Room hairdressers in Friars Walk, said she would like to see pop-up shops held in the empty shops that could showcase local talent and revitalise the tired, boarded up units.
She said: "That would encourage people's skills and would create interest in the city centre.
"If you gave school children a space to sell things they have made, for example, that would bring the families in."
Jon Powell, of The Kiosk, welcomed the opportunity to contribute. He said: "I like how they say they don't want complaints some people just want to moan and run it down and I stopped that long ago, I prefer to be positive."
Ideas can be posted on the reNewport website but Mr Gibson warned the task group is not looking for complaints, only genuine ideas to boost the city centre.
A Dragons Den-style session will be held in Newport Market on September 12 where people will get five minutes to explain their plan.
Ideas will then be included in the taskforce's report to the Welsh Government in October.
Pitch your idea at renewport.co.uk