CONCERNS over public safety and the risk of further vandalism has prompted Torfaen council to put up fencing around a number of listed structures at the British.

Last year, the council agreed a £3.7million proposal to re-develop and revitalise the “largest site of industrial dereliction remaining in south east Wales”.

However, the Talywain site has been blighted by anti-social behaviour over the past 30 years and one councillor feels that the arrival of the fencing is too late.

Cllr Gwyn Jenkins, who was elected to sit as the Snatchwood member in May’s local elections, is confident the fencing will make a difference.

“The fences are 30 years too late but they will stop further vandalism. The fences are really strong and high,” said the Independent councillor.

“They will protect walkers from the dangers of falling masonry.”

The fencing first appeared at the British towards the end of July and Cllr Jenkins is confident that it will deter vandals while acting as the last line of defence for the ageing and dilapidated structures.

“It is a very strong fence which surrounds all of the buildings and parts of the watercourse,” he said.

The leader of Torfaen council, Cllr Anthony Hunt, added the fence was important to protect the “rural gem” of the British, while assessing the immediate health and safety risks.

“Our first priority on acquiring the British was to assess and address the immediate health and safety risks,” said the council leader and Panteg member.

“We have installed new fencing around the former engine house and National Coal Board buildings, which have long been safety concerns and hotspots for antisocial behaviour.

“We have also been investigating the water culvert network and carrying out urgent works where required.

“The British is a beautiful, rural gem and we want to create an environment that is safe for people to visit and explore.”

In October, it was agreed that the council would acquire the 1,185 acre former industrial site from current owners HSBC for £300,000, as well as contributing up to £2million from its capital programme, funded mostly through prudential borrowing.

Just days after councillors approved the proposals for the site, a stolen car was dumped and deliberately set on fire at the British, while in March, an area of the size of two rugby pitches was set alight near the Big Arch.

Cllr Giles Davies, who represents the Abersychan ward, welcomed the fencing and is impressed by the progress of the scheme since it returned to public ownership.

“After many years of neglect and vandalism, it’s reassuring to see robust new fencing protecting not only the safely of the public, but the very fabric of these listed buildings from further vandalism,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to the next stage of ownership where the officers, councillors and British Liaison Group will work out the detail of how to address the other hazards on site, such as mine shafts and flooding issues.

“As a seasoned campaigner for more than 30 years to bring the area into public ownership, I am very pleased with what I’m witnessing under the direction of David Leech, the project manager working with Torfaen County Borough Council.”