Walsall needs to look to Rhyl for cultural inspiration - councillor

Walsall should look to towns like Rhyl for inspiration as it seeks to boost the borough and enhance its cultural offer, a councillor has said.

Councillors want to give Walsall town centre a cultural boost
Councillors want to give Walsall town centre a cultural boost

Members of Walsall Council’s economy and environment scrutiny committee welcomed work on “exciting” multi-million pound plans to revamp Walsall and Bloxwich centres as part of the Town Deal.

One of the projects being considered is to create a new performing arts centre in the middle of Walsall town centre as a way of encouraging more footfall.

But, while the proposals are getting cross party support, members said they expected cynicism from people on social media.

Councillor Lee Jeavons said: “You go to other places and they have got a cultural capital.

“There’s people on Facebook that are already sharpening the keyboard. ‘Walsall a cultural capital?’

“But we’ve got to create something there to create interest, to bring people in. People go on about Walsall having nothing and then say ‘you’ve got to invest? Forget that!’

“I think the performance space is a really good thing to do. Some years ago, I was on Rhyl seafront on a Bank Holiday.

Rhyl. Photo: Google.

“They’d got an outdoor performance space, they’d got a cycle route, they’d got walking routes and it brought people into that zone you want people to come and buy things, stop and eat, to trade. That’s the way to create a buzz about the town.

“The thing with regeneration is, it doesn’t happen overnight. I know a lot of people think it does but it doesn’t. This is the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of officers over a number of years. It’s great we’ve got the money to do it.

“I think this is really exciting, I welcome it. Walsall is a blank canvas.

“When you look at things like Facebook, Walsall people are very good at being down on Walsall. We had a report recently that Walsall isn’t the best place to live – that comes out every year.

“But you know what? Walsall is a place with a lot of potential as well. So let’s be proud of it.”

  • What do you think? Are you a fan of Rhyl? Have your say in the comment box below.

Walsall Council deputy leader Adrian Andrew said: “One of the driving factors behind (the performing arts centre) is getting activities in the town centre that aren’t just based on retail.

“Making the town centre a destination for leisure activities which should then lead on to others.

“That will be I am sure one of the most closely looked at projects. There is lots of excitement around it but I’m sure in some quarters, there is a lot of criticism and suspicion.”

Walsall and Bloxwich have been allocated £25 million each from the Government’s Town Deal with the aim of transforming transport, broadband, skills and new jobs.

Other projects in Walsall and Bloxwich will include enhancing cycling and canal footpath routes, enhancing green spaces, creating a digital hub and providing a construction skills academy.

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