Port Talbot traders urged to fight amid M4 shake up fears
TRADERS in Port Talbot are being urged to stand and fight together amid fears that closing M4 slip roads will kill off the town's shopping heart.
Aberafan Shopping Centre boss Steve Redmore is spearheading moves to resurrect Port Talbot Chamber of Trade — warning livelihoods in the town are facing their biggest threat yet.
Mr Redmore said the first item on the agenda of a regenerated chamber would be the prospect of two of Port Talbot's motorway junctions being closed.
Minister for Local Govern- ment and Communities Carl Sargeant has agreed for his officials to undertake studies into potential improvements between junctions 38 and 42.
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Options to improve traffic and prevent accidents include the closure or partial closure of junctions 40 and 41 at Taibach and Pentyla and the installation of an average speed camera.
But Mr Redmore said that, as Aberafan Shopping Centre manager, he would want to be involved in the studies right from the start.
"We don't want to wait until it happens — it will be too late then," he said. "We need to be proactive because it would be disastrous for the town if it happens.
"It would kill off the town centre. It would kill retail in the town centre. If people have the option of going around the town instead of straight through it, they will just drive past. That will be devastating."
Mr Redmore is now going to try resurrecting Port Talbot Chamber of Trade, which was once an active force in the town but which ceased to exist many years ago, calling for anyone interested to get in touch.
"There is a need for a chamber of trade here," he added. "As a group of businesses and retailers we need to stand together and voice our concerns when there are issues that affect us.
"The slip road is just one of them but there are other issues outside the town centre. Closing the library in Sandfields and moving it to the Lido will have knock-on implications for traders on the estate.
"If we can get enough people together to form a chamber of trade, I would willingly agree to act as president for the first year while it finds its feet."