A DILAPIDATED area of Ebbw Vale has been given a facelift with a new open space for people to enjoy their town centre.

Bank Square’s new layout was made possible after an £11.5 million injection of cash from the Welsh Government and the EU.

The square, at the end of Bethcar Street, officially opened yesterday morning, with a four metre-high stainless-steel dragon unveiled to tower over pedestrians.

South Wales blacksmiths Sam Pask and William Holland created the beast which forms part of the Heart of the Furnace, including a new stone screening wall with artwork and specially-designed railings.

Children from Ebbw Vale Scouts, All Saints Primary and Blaen-y-Cwm schools, who contributed to the artwork, were given certificates during the unveiling ceremony hosted by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council.

Welsh Government finance minister Jane Hutt, who attended the event, said: “I’m delighted to see yet another positive example of how Welsh Government and EU Funds are benefitting the region. The square will play an important role, acting as a key focal point for the community and complements the wider regeneration of the town, supporting businesses and boosting the local economy.”

In future the square will be used for public events and performance art, the council said.

Next steps will include improved links between the town centre, residential areas and The Works regeneration project on the former steelworks site.

As well as children from local schools, Ebbw Vale Male Voice Choir and the Mayor of Blaenau Gwent, Councillor Bernard Willis attended the opening.

Councillor Hedley McCarthy, leader of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, said: “This is another important step in the transformation and regeneration of the town.”