Hello there. Hope you’re feeling well today.Well after about a year and a half Bridgend Labour Council have got their way with regard to Maesteg Town Hall and have received lottery funding to turn it into a “cultural hub” (oh how I hate that term).
To explain the background to new readers the town hall was used as centre for performances and the basement as an indoor market (which had been around for 135 years). When however the council discovered that the repairs needed for the town hall were just too much they decided to turn it into the aforementioned “hub” and apply for funding. They had fancy grandiose ideas with all modern glass and also merging two libraries in the area and placing them where the market was. They wasted no time and effort in destroying it and although some stallholders fought and some moved to places nearby the council relatively quickly got most of what they wanted and the 135 year old market was no more (one stallholder stayed until April I understand – but by then it was all over).
Thing was though there was the issue of financing. They first went (via the Welsh office) to get it from the European Union (yes I know). That was turned down. Then they tried the National lottery. That was turned down and only after a revised,cheaper less grandiose plan is put is it given the go-ahead. A year and half’s struggle and that’s before actual hard work is done.
Personally I feel genuinely conflicted by all of this. One part of me wishes it well, as should it work then there would be a knock-on benefit to the town, and we can all approve of that.
On the other however. I cannot forget the brutal way the council treated the stallholders in the indoor market. Should there be problems in the refurbishment or it doesn’t live up to expectations when completed (Bridgend council preferring remember the grandiose than using all the money it spent on these bids on the services that it intends to cut in the next few years) then the period of goodwill will be extremely short.
But as I’ve said before, whatever people think of what has happened, and whether successful or not you cannot deny it’s a strategy for Maesteg. Which again leads us to the question what is the council’s strategy for the urban tragedy that is Bridgend Town?
Until the next time.