Welcome for Ebbw Vale motorsport centre plan
12:10pm Thursday 16th August 2012 in News
PEOPLE in Blaenau Gwent are welcoming the proposals for a £250 million motorsport centre at Rassau which would see not only the creation of 9,000 jobs over three years, but also a 3.5-mile race circuit, international kart track and motocross tracks.
Unemployment across Blaenau Gwent stood at 15.5 per cent in March this year, double the Welsh average. The county has the second highest unemployment figure in Wales after Merthyr Tydfil (15.6 per cent).
Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies said the project could put the area back on the map, while local MP Nick Smith described it as a “game changer”.
Retail units, a medical centre, racing academy and lowcarbon credentials at the centre could swing the bid for the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, who will submit a planning application to Blaenau Gwent Council this autumn.
The aim is to get the development up and running by 2015, the company said.
The Circuit of Wales, as it would be called, is set to be twice the size of Pembrey Circuit in Carmarthenshire, and has been welcomed by the industry and local politicians alike, as well as local ‘petrol heads’ and motoring enthusiasts.
Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith said: “This development will be a top-class facility and a game changer for Blaenau Gwent.
“I met the secretary of state for Wales, with the chief executive of the Heads of the Valleys Company in July. We outlined the tax incentives required to get the project under way. “Everyone needs to play their part to deliver this remarkable motorsport and research complex.”
Hedley McCarthy, leader of Blaenau Gwent Council, said that members are “seriously interested” in any such proposal, adding that Ebbw Vale has a range of projects on the cards which could boost the area – including multi-million pound regeneration site The Works, government plans to make Ebbw Vale an Enterprise Zone, the dualling of the Heads of the Valleys road, and the electrification of the Ebbw Valley railway line.
The dualling of the A465, from Abergavenny to Neath, is due to be completed by 2020, with the stretch between Brynmawr and Tredegar to be finished by 2015.
Executive council member for regeneration, Brian Scully, said the proposed development would position Blaenau Gwent as a “worldclass centre” for international motor sports events, as well as low-carbon motor technology.
He said: “This is an exciting proposal for a massive capital investment programme, which could bring high-quality jobs to Blaenau Gwent and create compelling opportunities for local people. It would generate substantial economic benefits here and across the wider region.”
Council member for Rassau, John Williams, said: “At the moment it looks very promising, let’s hope it continues. It’s just nice to think that there’s something in the pipeline, a ray of hope.” Fellow Rassau councillor David Wilkshire added: “We are a high unemployment area and a very deprived area at the moment, and I am excited on behalf of the young people and the good quality jobs this could bring. Hotels, restaurants, it could bring so much good.”
The world-class circuit would be designed to host international motorsport events, such as MotoGP, World Superbikes, World Motocross and Touring Cars. Michael Carrick, chief executive of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company and the man in charge of delivering the project, described the Rassau site as “outstanding” and said they intend to create an “automotive cluster”, which could be positive news for existing car businesses in the area.
Project leaders have already lined up some private sector funding to get the scheme off the ground but say access to the money is dependent on planning approval.
They are unable to say how much money is available at this time.
Gwent rally legend hails plan as ‘nothing but good’
RALLY car co-driver and motorsport businessman, Nicky Grist, hailed the Rassau development as “nothing but a good thing for Ebbw Vale”.
Born in Ebbw Vale, Grist, who won 17 World Rally Championship rallies alongside legendary driver Colin McRae, said he was “delighted” for the region and told the developers, “build the right track and the events will come”.
“If you think of the infrastructure they will need, things like hotels, it is going to be brilliant for the whole area,” he said. “I just hope they really go for it, the best safety, the best circuit and facilities possible and they will have no trouble attracting events as racing and karting are pretty vibrant at the moment.
“Certain events are linked, so say if they get the British Touring Car Championship to come there, you get the Porsche Cup and Formula Renault too, so you are starting to build up a busy day out for spectators.
“If they build a great race track then the events will follow, there is no reason why it can’t be a great success.”
Grist now runs his own motorsport business providing specialised racing helmets and kit, and said he would be interested to see what plans if any the developers have for accommodating businesses such as his.
“At Silverstone they have a sort of motorsport industrial park next to the circuit, I don’t know whether they are planning on having the same thing here, we will have to wait and see,” he said.
“But if they did, in principle why not open a store there?” Darren Warren, owner of Car Care Discounts in Armoury Terrace, Ebbw Vale, said he wouldn’t ruling out taking on more staff if turnover increased as a result of the centre.
“It’ll certainly be good for prosperity and employment,” said Darren, who has supplied car parts and spares in Ebbw Vale for eight years. All feedback will be reviewed and considered before the final planning application is submitted, developers said.
See the plans for the Motorsport centre
A series of public exhibitions will be taking place throughout the area giving the chance to talk with key members of the project team. Exhibitions will take place at the following locations:
Monday 20 August - Rassau
Rassau Community Hall, Summerfield Road, Rassau
Tuesday 28 August - Brynmawr
Brynmawr Community Centre,
Orchard Street, Brynmawr
3.45pm - 6.30pm
Tuesday 21 August - Garnlydan
OAP Centre, Keir Hardie Close, Garnlydan
4pm - 7pm
Wednesday 29 August - Tredegar
Unit 8 (former Estate Agents), Gwent Shopping Centre, Tredegar NP22 3EJ
4pm - 7pm
Wednesday 22 August - Abertillery
The Met, Mitre Street, Abertillery NP13 1AL
4pm - 7pm
Thursday 30 August - Blaina
Salem Chapel, High Street, Blaina
4pm - 7pm
Thursday 23 August - Six Bells
Ty Ebbw Fach, Six Bells, Abertillery NP13 2ND
4pm - 7pm
Friday 31 August - Beaufort
Beaufort Theatre, Beaufort Road, Ebbw Vale, NP23 5QQ
4pm - 7pm
Friday 24 August - Ebbw Vale
Ebbw Vale Institute, Church Street, Ebbw Vale NP23 6BE
4pm - 7pm
What you think of the scheme
Mark Sidoli, 58, owner of Sidoli’s Café, from Beaufort, Ebbw Vale
“The visitors and money it would bring to the area through the hotels and restaurants, as well as the development itself, would be great. It’s something the town really needs, and it could really put Ebbw Vale on the map.”
Rose Sainsbury, 57, waitress at Sidoli’s Café, from Beaufort, Ebbw Vale
“I think it’s brilliant, Ebbw Vale needs jobs. Working in the café, you see more and more kids just hanging around the town because they can’t get a job. It’s a good idea, even if a lot of the jobs are just part-time.”
Jan Sidoli, 50, owner of Sidoli’s Café, from Beaufort, Ebbw Vale
“If it’s going to bring new jobs to the area it will be a massive boost. Unemployment in the area is dreadful at the moment, and ever since the steel works closed the town has been dying. I can’t really think of any negative points to the new development.”
Mark Baldwin, 48, bus driver, from Llanelly Hill
“The area needs jobs, I think it would be a massive boost to have that sort of development here in Ebbw Vale.”
Anthony Baldwin, 18, unemployed, from Llanelly Hill
“I think it’s a really good idea, I’ve just left school and am unemployed as there are no jobs about. The only option I have at the moment is to join the army.”
Tracy Baldwin, 45, unemployed, from Llanelly Hill
“I’ve just been made redundant, so I’m looking for work but there’s no jobs. I think if the development can bring any jobs to the area, then it’s a really good idea.”
Bob Stannard, 59, a betting shop worker, from Ebbw Vale
“I think it would be a good addition to the town, because there’s absolutely nothing here in terms of employment at the moment.”
Nicola Townsend, 34, a Youth Worker, from Rassau
“I live in Rassau and I have no problem with the development going ahead. I don’t know much about the sport itself, but the town is in dire need of more jobs. It would be a massive boost to the area.”
Eleanor Law, 64, is retired and from Blaina
“I think it’s an excellent idea as long as the jobs go to those people who live in the area and really need jobs.”
Lynne Kelson, 64, is retired and from Blaina
“It’s a poor area and it has not got a lot of jobs for people. This new development, as long as it’s fair to the people in the area, would be a huge boost.”