BUSINESS owners in Blaenavon have been having their say on ways in which the Town Council could help businesses in the area, after the council announced plans to develop a Place Plan for the town.

Generally, Place Plans are used to identify the infrastructure and investment needs within a community.

They are aimed at ensuring that the council's partners understand the local priorities within each community and that resources can therefore be targeted appropriately.

Business owners from Broad Street have identified some of the key priorities that they feel the council should consider as they look to develop the Place Plan going forward.

Marc Harris, manager of the Red Lion, said that the biggest problem facing the town's businesses is business rates.

"It’s hard in the town itself, we don’t have much in terms of footfall," he said.

"Even in the last year, the town itself has seemed quieter.

"Our biggest issue would be business rates. Our business rates are pretty much the same as in the centre of Cwmbran.

"I know it’s more of a Torfaen council issue rather than a town council one, but if the town council could offer business rate relief - that is what people round here are struggling with.

"There’s no magic cure. A lot of small towns seem to be dropping off a bit."

Mr Harris also suggested that making the town more accessible for buses would help bring visitors in to the town.

"It would be nice to open a bus car park to help bring tourists in to the town. It would be great. All the attractions are on the outside of the town so there’s no reason for people to actually come in to town.”

Paula Priestley, owner of The Card Shop on Broad Street, said that there needs to be better links between the tourist attractions outside the town and the businesses in the town.

“We need events in the town and some publicity or marketing for the businesses in town," she said. "If they are going to Big Pit, or the Heritage Centre, people should know what shops are in town. You need signage there.

“The other major issue is the one-way system. That is really affecting businesses.”

Volunteers at the newly-opened Hospice of the Valleys shop on Broad Street said that bringing tourists in to town was the main issue that businesses were facing.

Voina Parr, a volunteer at Hospice of the Valleys, said: “Without our councillors, we would’ve shut down. They are working really hard for the town.

"The main issue is that a lot of the bus drivers who take tourists to places like Big Pit take them to Abergavenny rather than in to Blaenavon.”

Judith Warren, another volunteer at the shop, said: “If the town council could find a way to increase the footfall from people that come to visit Big Pit, that would help businesses in the town.”

In a Blaenavon Town Council full council meeting last week, Mayor Cllr Gareth Davies proposed plans to develop a Place Plan.

He said developing such a plan would "allow the council to have a greater influence over the potential development in the area."

This would help protect historic buildings in the Heritage town from future development.

Further details about Blaenavon's Place Plan are expected to released next month.