Wales: Committee minutes, March 2023

Wales: Committee minutes, March 2023

Minutes of the meeting held in the Council Chambers of the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth Thursday on 16 March 2023 from 10.30am.

Members:

  • Denise Lewis Poulton (Chair)
  • Sally Edwards
  • James Davies
  • David Robinson
  • Malcolm Smith
  • Shaheen Sutton (virtually)
  • Abigail Tweed

Observing:

  • Pedr ap Llwyd
  • Caroline Crewe-Read

Attending:

  • Simon Thurley
  • Anne Jenkins
  • Andrew White
  • Julie Hughes
  • Stephen Barlow
  • Sara Shiel
  • Christina Nash-Jolliffe
  • Rebecca Ball
  • Lloyd Jones
  • Rob Palmizi
  • Amanda Feather (virtually)

There were no apologies.

Committee Business

Welcome

The new Chair, Denise Lewis Poulton, welcomed everybody to the fourth and final meeting of the year for the Committee for Wales. Andrew White welcomed Denise as the new Chair. Denise thanked everyone for the very warm welcome she had received since beginning her term in office. Thanks were also made to Pedr ap Llwyd for hosting the Committee in the National Libraries of Wales, one of Wales’s cultural jewels.

It was noted that this meeting would be the last for Jamie Davies and Sally Edwards. Thanks were given for their service and contribution to Wales’s heritage. Caroline Crew-Read and Pedr ap Llwyd shadowed the meeting before joining the Committee formally at a later date.

Minutes from the last meeting on 24 November 2022

The minutes were approved as a true record for the meeting.

Chair’s Report

Denise would be attending the official launch of the Broadcasting Archives at the National Library for Wales after Committee and attended her first Board meeting in Cambridge. Denise also attended the official launch of the Heritage Fund’s new strategy at St Bart’s Hospital in London. Denise noted the success of the launch and how it gives the Heritage Fund the opportunity to look at heritage through a more holistic lens and seek new collaborations.

Denise enjoyed meeting the staff at the new office in Cardiff, getting to know the processes and work of the Heritage Fund and met the committee online. Denise is looking forward to meeting more of Wales’s stakeholders at the Welsh strategy launch at Amgueddfa Cymru in April.

Denise also noted that it is important to recognise we are facing challenging times on many fronts that is reflected in the applications for consideration. Though through due diligence, Denise is confident the Heritage Fund can meet the needs of the projects and continue to support heritage in Wales

Finally, Denise extended a thank you to all those in the Wales team that helped create the committee meeting.

Corporate update

Anne Jenkins, Executive Director of Business Delivery, provided an update on corporate activity. Key points noted were as follows:

  • The Board gave a grant increase to Groundwork UK for the Jubilee Project including paid placements for young people in the nature sector. The project has been a huge success and the increase was needed to meet demand.
  • The Committee enquired as to how many organisations were taking part in National Lottery Open Week. There were concerns about the ability of those with restricted means accessing sites and what the Heritage Fund could do to help.

Strategy and Place

Amanda Feather (Head of Built Heritage and Regeneration Policy) and Andrew White provided an update on the Heritage Fund’s approach to place. They presented a report to committee outlining the central role of place-based funding in the Heritage Fund’s new 10-year strategy. They sought approval for the Heritage Fund’s recommended places to prioritise for additional investment and focus in the first three-year delivery plan: Neath Port Talbot, Swansea and Denbighshire.

Andrew thanked Amanda and her BII colleagues on the amount of work done and noted the report’s importance as a discussion starting point. Both stressed the approach was about taking a more holistic view of place-shaping with cross-sector partnership working.

The Committee noted:

  • Pleased to see a place-based initiative following the success of the Townscape Heritage Initiative as well as a focus on partnership working. Using data to inform decisions was welcomed.
  • Choosing the right places could see a lot of potential and make people think differently about heritage as well as see inward investment.
  • Focusing on local authority boundaries is a concern. Natural heritage does not easily fit onto them. It could hinder partnership working and some areas of local authorities are more deprived than others. It is important to always focus on who will benefit from the investment.
  • The presentation felt too focussed on the built environment without embracing Wales’s natural heritage. There is a hierarchy of locations that must be considered.
  • Use of Cadw’s At Risk Register and the Welsh Government’s Active Travel considerations could help.
  • Concerns about the optics of investing in areas the Heritage Fund has invested heavily in such as Swansea.
  • Is there potential to link place-based funding with the investment priorities to make a bigger impact? Also, whether it would be beneficial to look at how closely this policy aligns with that of the Welsh Government.

During the discussion the committee were told that focus on the built environment was only a part of the new strategy. The Heritage Fund’s open programme will continue as normal. That place-based working does not mean having to work across the entirety of a local authority, the ability to work hyper-locally will be possible.

The Committee voted in favour of choosing Neath Port Talbot.

Director’s Overview, including budget

Andrew White thanked Sally Edwards and James Davies for their work on the Wales Committee. Vacancies for the replacements are now live on the Heritage Fund’s website. Committee were updated with the latest staff situation with the post of Senior Business Manager still to be filled. Plans for the Welsh Strategy launch in Amgueddfa Cymru were re-iterated.

An update on those projects with ongoing issues were given. Stori Brymbo had passed its Permission to Start. Tredegar Townscape grant increase was awarded. Yr Hen Golleg had also passed its Permission to Start with a grant increase likely to come. It will also host the Wales Board meeting in June 2023.

Julie Hughes, Head of Investment, presented the budget paper. There is money available outside of the Wales budget to award all projects up for discussion and decision. The decision for a grant increase for Newport Transporter Bridge would be going to Board but Committee were asked for their recommendations and comments.

Declarations of Interest

There were no conflicts of interest declared.

SFF Delivery round applications for discussion and decision 

NL-21-00028 The Trinity Centre – Sanctuary for All

Applicant: Cardiff Methodist Circuit

Project: renovate, reorder and improve facilities at a vital and much-valued community hub providing essential support and services to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in one of the most disadvantaged localities in Britain.

The committee noted:

  • Very supportive of an important project with a well-used building and an active and grounded organisation. Noted the positive work done with refugees and those seeking asylum.
  • There would be an instant benefit to the local community.
  • A slight concern as to whether the salaries will be competitive enough, the cash flow of the organisation and whether they will have enough in the budget to cover increase costs such as heating.

Committee members considered that through the delivery phase, the project should:

  • Look to ensure there is no overtly religious recruitment or advertising through the project lifecycle in line with the Heritage Fund’s policies.
  • Strengthen its business case as the funding comes to an end. Ensure that there is sufficient plans in place should there be a shortfall in match funding.

The Committee for Wales AWARDED a grant of £892,000.

HE-15-01729 Hafod Morfa Copperworks Powerhouse (grant increase)

Applicant: City and County of Swansea

Project: transform the 12.5 acre Hafod Morfa copperworks site for use by Penderyn as a working whiskey distillery and historically themed visitor centre.

The committee noted:

  • The incredible transformation of the site since the start of the project, the coordination of the works and the impact it will have on other buildings in the proximity.
  • The grant increase should be supported in line with the Heritage Fund’s wider resilience support.
  • That the work has dragged on for a long time. Disappointing that Penderyn had dragged their feet on signing the lease, however the cost increases seem to enhance Penderyn’s expanded plans.
  • Questioned whether enough was done to investigate and promote the industrial archaeology on site. It deserved to be recognised with greater importance.
    • It was noted to the Committee that ongoing and future archaeological work is  fully costed into the project plan.

Committee members considered that through the delivery phase, the project should ensure:

  • A plan is put in place for potential other tenants for the building, should Penderyn pull out or go bust.

The Committee for Wales AWARDED a grant increase of £1,428,119.

HG-17-05879 Newport Transport Bridge – Bridge, Restoration and Interpretation (grant increase for discussion)

Applicant: Newport City Council

Project: restoration of Newport’s Transporter Bridge, one of only eight left in the world, as part of a wider strategic development of Newport and the social and economic rejuvenation of one of the most deprived communities in Wales.

The committee noted:

  • The unique importance of the project and the potential of the iconic structure to drive regeneration of the city.
  • However there was concern over the need to request grant increases and whether more could be done to cut costs elsewhere on the project (such as spending £250,000 on lighting).
  • Whether Newport Council were as committed to the project as they say.
  • Whether there was potential for the café and revenue generating parts of the project to impact on other local businesses.
  • The risks involved in granting an increase are outweighed by the potential for economic sustainability of the area.

The Committee for Wales agreed unanimously that the grant increase of £485,791 for this project should be taken to Board for consideration.

SFF Development round applications for discussion and decision

NL-22-00064 Tylorstown Welfare Hall and Institute

Applicant: Tylorstown Welfare Hall Limited

Project: repair, restore and transform access to an important community heritage asset, securing its use for future generations and become a beacon for all in the Rhondda Fach.

The committee noted:

  • This project had been previously awarded a grant but weren’t able to deliver. That it was an important project to the local community. It is an incredible project that deserves a chance to succeed.
  • The potential for increased or significantly different costs and whether sustainability could be factored in – could they be given support to increase fundraising or pay transport costs for volunteers and to increase social mobility.
  • There was a worry that there was not enough expertise or staff capacity to take on such a large project.

Committee members considered that through the development stage:

  • expert advice and support is given on their governance, collaboration and further fundraising opportunities
  • whether there is potential for the project to explore co-production
  • explore the potential for sustainability where possible

The Committee for Wales agreed the application represented a HIGH PRIORITY for support and AWARDED a development grant of £286,388 (91% of total costs) with a potential delivery grant of £4,272,802.

NL-21-00240 Shire Hall Museum Monmouth           

Applicant: MonLife, Monmouthshire County Council

Project: create a vibrant new museum space within Monmouth's historic heart which will engage and inspire residents and visitors and make the heritage, collections, and stories accessible and appealing to a wide range of people.

The committee noted:

  • That the type of interpretation offered is a little unclear and whether the staff are happy with the re-configuration. Whether this is a copy-cat of the Picton exhibition at Amgueddfa Cymru. Are there enough ethnic minorities in Monmouth?
    • Committee were told that Shire were focussing on re-interpreting their Nelson collection in collaboration with Race Council Cymru.
  • Despite cuts, this is one of the best museums in south Wales housed in a very important historical building.
  • Enquired as to the overall accessibility for children, families, those who are hard of hearing or neurodivergent. Whether they can be part of the warm space initiative.
  • There was a worry that with the high street failing, the business case was strong enough.
  • A concern about what will happen to the current market hall, how to make it useable for people, whether MonLife will struggle to sell the building while we fund the new one.

Committee members considered that through the development stage:

  • there needs to be a sustainable plan for future use of the market hall building
  • ensure there is enough space for the collection
  • whether the focus will be on decolonisation or more contemporary interpretations – perhaps scope for dynamic collections
  • more work to be done to include more organisations re decolonisation such as the Sub-Saharan African Society and more black or youth led organisations

The Committee for Wales voted to AWARD a development grant of £349,928 (73% of total costs) with a potential delivery grant of £1,849,928.

Prioritisation

The members voted to AWARD all the considered projects.

Additional reports

Wales Environmental Growth Fund overview

Members received an update on grant in aid funding for the last quarter.

Communications report

Members received the overview report on recent press communications.

Heritage 2033 Strategy

Members received an overview of the Heritage 2033 Strategy.

Any other Business

Reflections were given by the two outgoing Committee members Sally Edwards and James Davies.

Sally reflected on the incredible experience and encouraged the Committee to visit more completed projects and see the benefit of our funding. Sally finished by thanking the staff and recognised their hard work.

Jamie reflected on his time as a volunteer on a funded project at Llyn Maritime Museum, through to Committee and noted the impact our funding has. Noted his favourite projects, the support the Heritage Fund had given organisations through coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it looks to empower young people. Jamie finished by thanking the Heritage Fund for the opportunity.

The next meeting will be held on 08 June 2023.