THREE years on since calls were made to help Ystradgynlais bounce back from Covid-19 and address historic issues of deprivation – “very little has changed” a councillor has said.

According to the Wales Index of Multiple Deprivation the town was identified as the most deprived area in Powys even before the pandemic.

In July 2020, Powys County Councillor for Ystradgynlais, Labour’s Cllr Huw Williams highlighted issues of poverty affecting the town which were mentioned in a report on by independent research organisation, Centre for Towns.

Cllr Huw Williams 2022 Powys County Council
Cllr Huw Williams 2022 Powys County Council. (Powys County Council)

In their report, Ystradgynlais, was ranked 11 out of the top 20 for “absolute deprivation,” and that Covid-19 would make historic problems worse.

Following publication of the report Cllr Williams put forward a motion to the council asking what help would be given to the authority to help the town.

He asked: “What is the council’s medium and long term strategy for Ystradgynlais, post Covid-19, to support business recovery and address this deprivation?”

His motion was supported by councillors and assurances were given by the then portfolio holder for economic development at the time Conservative Cllr James Evans, that a:  “strategic approach to town centre recovery all across Powys” would be taken.

Cllr Williams has asked the council’s head of economy and digital services, Diane Reynolds, several questions on where the investment and help is for Ystradgynlais.

Cllr Williams said: “Since this motion was placed before council very little in the town or district has improved.

“The Levelling Up fund should be the long awaited and ideal funding opportunity for the area but the application process seems to be obtuse, unclear, and unreachable with much verbal positivity but little action.

“The residents of Ystradgynlais have always considered themselves to be treated less well than other areas of Powys.

“As a councillor I defend the council’s reputation, but it gets more difficult as officers change and previous considerations and understanding are lost.

“Where is the pro-active support promised for local groups to apply for grants?

“Which officers make unprompted contact with interested groups or visit and understand the underlying deprivation inherent to the area?

“Are we suffering from the consequence of being the only post-industrial valley community located within Powys?

“Is the appetite for engagement with local people lost on the road from Brecon?"

Cllr Williams understand that outside consultants have been employed to develop town and district investment plans, but the speed of this work “is glacial.”

“It will be a welcomed piece of work which will support applications but not in drawing them up,” said Cllr Williams.

He also fears that grants are awarded on the basis of the ability to fill forms and: “not merit or understanding of the need.”