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Chairman’s AGM – Report 2024


Another year has passed and our presence here in the Taff Bargoed valley continues to grow, albeit a little slower than many of us would like to see. However, it is important that we maintain our focus on the original goals that we set out to achieve. Contributing to the economic regeneration of these communities was and remains our primary aim. Little has been achieved economically, in recent years, in these communities to make a telling and lasting difference to the lives of so many of the people herein. Nevertheless, Taff Bargoed Development Trust has been key to the developments that have occurred to date. It was us who introduced the concept of Adventure Activities, as an economic driver, to this valley with the development of our Centre and the Welsh International Indoor Climbing Centre almost 30 years ago. Many other organisations and community groups across South Wales have pursued similar ideas with some being very successful.

History will record our failure to capture opportunities and prosper due to the trust and dependency we placed on others who failed us in so many ways and left us in a very precarious position. Nevertheless, we are still here and getting stronger as we secure a sustainable platform from which we can grow. We have seen and witnessed initiatives driven by others to regenerate these communities – some more successful than others, yet nobody hails any of them as out and out examples of success, that have effectively changed the prosperity and life chances that our citizens deserve. The idea that a profitable business would feed further development remains a model that we aspire to but alongside that we must recognise there are more ways to explore how we can help people, especially our younger population, to have aspiration and ambition that will help them achieve personal and co-joined goals to secure their futures here in these communities or further afield.

A revised Taff Bargoed Regeneration Board is imminent and led by MTBC. I am hoping that we will be involved as a key player in any initiatives that emerge which dovetail with our aims and objectives. I hope that our presence and limited resources are not going to be viewed as a means to achieve other outcomes that are equally important for these communities but outside of our ‘Economic’ agenda.  I sincerely hope that progress can be made on all fronts and I wish this revised initiative every success.

Our position remains vulnerable even though we have secured a healthy reserve to underpin our estate and its financial activity. The world changes very quickly as we have witnessed in recent years and should we be unprepared then our existence will be at risk. In establishing our current healthy situation there have been many who have contributed and therefore I must offer our grateful thanks for the parts they have played. At Taff Bargoed Centre we have several Tenants of various elements to the estate: Rock UK has been with us for many years and continue as our main tenant whilst Gibbons Travel, Hawthorne Tree Services, Thornacre Ltd. and MRAG Comms are our other tenants. Their commitment and cordial relations are welcomed and we thank them all for their presence and contribution. Each one of them is an employer of local people which we hope will continue.

We received a grant from MTBC to facilitate new LED lighting and new water heaters in each of our rental units thereby improving standards and cutting costs for our tenants. A further grant was received from Transport for Wales that allowed us to plant trees around the estate to enhance appearance and contribute to the national initiative against global warming. A further small grant was received from Welsh Water in support of our work in the community. We are very grateful for these awards.

Whilst it is always beneficial to receive grant funding it is always a pleasure to be able to offer grant funding. Our Helen Thomas Community Fund, developed through the installation of our Solar Array has continued this year with funding being afforded to: The Taff Bargoed Food Bank, Treharris RFC, Treharris Boys and Girls Club in their centenary year, The Trelewis and Bedlinog Neighbourhood Watch Activities Group and Treharris Together. We hope that our contributions have facilitated some of their activities to help and support different groups in the community.

Community is really the essence of what we are endeavouring to achieve alongside these groups and the ability to do so will enrich the way we are perceived by our citizens. Membership of the Trust now stands at 1800 plus and we now have a regular presence on social media to promote our achievements and activities that promotes the Trust and encourages new members.

Of course, none of this just happens. It has to be managed and driven by somebody on the ground. In Howard we have a great asset who has steered the ship for many years. His frugal, careful approach has ensured our stability and I’m sure that the Board will echo my gratitude for his ongoing commitment to our cause. For the past 18 months or so we have also had Sioned on board to assist Howard and learn the many facets of being a landlord. Sioned is also responsible for our social media and is doing a great job of managing that. Thank you Sioned.

The Trustees of Taff Bargoed Development Trust are a dwindling number – last year we lost Alan and none of us are getting any younger. Without Trustees we cannot function, so I am, as always, grateful for your commitment and ongoing support.

Over the years I have used many analogies in my annual chairman’s report to reflect where we were at. I think that the stability we have achieved through a successful business plan now reflects less need for analogy as inspiration should dominate our future and we should challenge and assist the young people of these communities to find their own goals and ambitions.

Jon Rees

Chairman TBDT

Chairs AGM Report – February 2023


Here we are once more at our Annual General Meeting. It’s testimony to the hard work of our manager and the commitment of our Trustees that we are here and I, as Chairman, have opportunity to review 2022 and outline our appreciation of those who continue to support us and celebrate those who have benefited from us.

We developed our Solar Array a few years ago to generate a surplus revenue for the benefit of local organisations seeking financial support. We named this the Helen Thomas Community Awards Scheme in recognition of Helen’s contribution to the Trust and to the wider community.

Approximately £5,000 is generated annually and is distributed on an annual ‘theme’ basis – Last year we targeted the activity of football – a popular and healthy sport for so many of our young people. Three local clubs benefited – Bedlinog, Trelewis and Treharris clubs each received sums of over a thousand pounds for a variety of initiatives – Ground improvement, new goal posts and new kit are examples of how those grants were utilised. We are looking forward to making 2023’s awards in the spring.

Our main income stream is derived from our present business model of leasing our estate to a variety of businesses. They are Rock UK, Gibbons Coach Travel, Hawthorn Tree Surgery, Thornacre Ltd., Step Up Recycling and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council. We are grateful to them all for their presence at the centre and hope that we can sustain relationships with them for years to come. Bea Fit was also a tenant until recently when the lease was surrendered. We thank them for their time at the centre and wish them all the best for the future.

Following the success of Rock Uk’s funding application and associated redevelopment to increase capacity and improve experiences for users at the centre a few years back and the ensuing pandemic it is encouraging to hear from them that the centre had a very busy and successful year achieving 95% occupancy.  We certainly hope that this success can be sustained every year.

We are at present working with Rock UK to resolve some maintenance issues at the Centre and it is hoped that these will be dealt with fairly and appropriately to everyone’s satisfaction.

During the year we were engaged in a planning application regarding the East Unit parking facility. Following a great deal of effort and perseverance from Howard and £6,000 investment the planning permission was granted and will secure the Tenancy of Gibbons Coaches for the foreseeable future.

Both of the above will support local employment and demonstrates the Trusts contribution to that security.

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council supported the Trust’s initiative to plant trees around the approaches to the Library car Park in Treharris with a grant of £2,800. Howard successfully secured further support from the Probation Service for the planting of the trees which will surely enhance the area and become an attractive feature in years to come.

Further community benefit was achieved by initiating the safety of an old building on the mountain road above Treharris. The building was a safety hazard and through Howard’s diligence the Council ensured remedial repairs to make the dilapidated building safe.

A donation received by the Trust was put to good use by providing funding for local school children to benefit from climbing and archery sessions at the Centre. We are grateful for that donation.

Membership of the Trust continues to grow and we now have over 1700 members. We will continue to grow our membership to demonstrate our inclusion of these communities and to support any future developments.

Trustees will appreciate my concerns over recent years that we are at risk by placing our dependency on Howard. In November we recruited a new member of staff – Sioned Rees, who will be a great support for Howard and Trustees, providing a level of continuity should Howard be indisposed. Sioned is also quite adept at social media and website management – both of which are so critical in today’s techno environment. Welcome on board Sioned.

Trustees are so essential to our organisation – we simply wouldn’t be here without you. I extend a huge thank you to you all for remaining involved and helping us over many years to battle our way back from the brink of collapse. Recruiting more trustees will be essential in the near future to maintain and reinforce our standing. This will become a focus for us moving forward.

Our manager Howard continues to deliver on several fronts. From managing Tenants – not an easy job, to promoting and enacting initiatives on behalf of the Trust, whatever they may be. Howard remains a real asset and his efforts to support all things Taff Bargoed are very much appreciated – Thank you Howard.

Thank you.

Finally, I must acknowledge the organisations who continue to value our presence and provide support. TBDT wishes to thank the support provided by MTCBC, the Probation Service, WCVA, Friends of Taff Bargoed Park, VAMT and the Wales Cooperative Centre for the support provided in the past twelve months.

Chairs AGM Report – March 2022

Welcome to the Taff Bargoed Development Trusts AGM.
The Trust experienced a difficult time last year due to the pandemic although thankfully that seems to be behind us now. We have rallied on so many occasions and it is now onwards and upwards in helping to support the community we serve.
I wish to thank the variety of tenants we have engaged with and located at the Trust that provides us with the income we need. This has resulted in numerous jobs being created within the Taff Bargoed Valley. It has also helped to generate the local economy which is one of the Trust main aims. We are grateful to Rock UK, Gibbons Coaches, Hawthorne Trees Services, Bea fit UK, MTCBC, Thornacre Limited and Step-Up Recycling for their dedicated association with TBDT.
We must also mention Air Water Pollution who no longer remain a tenant of TBDT. We wish them well in the future endeavours and for supporting the Trust over the past twelve months.
The Trust is always seeking to increase its membership, which will make a positive difference going forward and increase opportunities in receiving funding from supporting bodies. Over the past twelve months we have managed to increase our membership by over four hundred. The Trust now has over sixteen hundred members and much of the increase was achieved by working with Edwardsville School. This will also help to profile TBDT and its work within the local community.
The Trust created a solar array a few years previous in order to provide local groups with the funding they may require. This year’s theme was the environment and the three local parks all benefited from this initiative.
Treharris Park received funding to sculpture a dragon. This project has helped to attract more people to the Park and increase activity. The Millennium Park received funding to operate projects involving local school children. This endeavour will help educate the need to reduce our carbon footprint and the issues surrounding climate change. Nant Llwynog Park, in Bedlinog, was also supported by affording informative walks to teach the importance in safeguarding the environment. The Trust is very pleased to support such important issues affecting us all.
The Trust worked closely with the local authority in helping to prevent the flooding of the centre. ‘Storm Dennis’ highlighted the urgent need of encompassing a system to help prevent the flooding due to four rooms at the centre having been flooded as a result. This endangers the jobs developed onsite and also disrupts business in the process.
The local authority has since included a flood prevention system at the top of the Trusts drive and on the B4255 to alleviate future problems. Work has also been conducted on the road leading to the Graig Cemetery and on the railway line to ensure flooding isn’t a disruption in the future. This essential work will protect the Trust’s assets and the jobs created onsite and we wish to thank the local authority for supporting TBDT at this time. The total cost of the corrective work was £750,000.
Work has also been conducted on the Trusts industrial units to ensure we comply with health and safety requirements. The work will allow our tenants to work in a safe environment which is extremely important.
I wish to thank Howard, the Trust Manager, for the work he has achieved over the past twelve months. His due diligence and commitment help ensure the Trust remains ever present in the Taff Bargoed Valley when this seemed endangered some years previous.
Finally, I want to thank the Board of Trustees, your endeavour, resolve, and dedication is an example to all. Thanks to you the Trusts future is looking far more appealing and capable in supporting the community we serve.

Chairman’s report – January 2021

Welcome to a virtual AGM – the circumstances for everyone at present are not the easiest and we are being forced to utilise technology to meet our obligations. So be it – I hope everyone is well and staying safe.
Before we get into the business of annual reporting I think it is only right that we recognise the absence of two of our own, Helen Thomas and Allan Watkins. Helen was a stalwart for many initiatives and projects throughout her life and she proved a valid and committed Trustee of the Taff Bargoed Development Trust. She is being missed and will continue to be as she was so willing and proactive in everything she did. Her passing was a sad day for many. none more than her family. Allan had been a Trustee for many years and despite his commitment to his job he still found the time to contribute to our cause and was ever present throughout what can only be described as very challenging times. He too will be sadly missed by this Charity and of course his family. I would like to offer our heart felt condolences to both of their families.

The past year is unprecedented, not just at home but globally. We remain in the grip of a pandemic that has forced everyone to alter their lifestyles and habits to ensure we can beat this virus, or at least gain some control, so we can resume a modicum of normality. Everyone has been affected.
The year for TBDT has been a difficult one as you are all aware but our prudence over the last few years and our successful business plan to establish a healthy reserve means that we have sustained operations without suffering a great impact. We have seen and are seeing many charities and businesses being wound up due to the virus. This is something we are hoping to avoid and with the vaccine now on stream there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Lets hope we can ride it out and ensure our assets and trading activity can be secured.
Our main tenant, Rock UK, has been affected to a huge extent with their core business being completely wiped out for the last year. Fortunately the Welsh Government has stepped in with support that has enabled their survival to date. Similarly Gibbons Coaches are also unable to trade and they too have received financial support to help them through. We have extended rent reductions to all our tenants and have been able to tailor these according to need. Consequently, our revenue streams have not disappeared completely and we continue to receive monies from our tenants to maintain our asset so that we have a future to look forward to. Indeed, I must express our thanks to:
Rock UK, Gibbons Travel, MTCBC, Hawthorne Tree Services, Bea Fit UK and Air Water Pollution Limited for their presence and maintenance of their lease agreements. We are grateful to all. Soon we will have another tenant occupying a piece of the south yard – Step Up Waste Management, who are using a portion of the land for storage. Also, Dan Hill is embarking on a small growing project on our land to provide vegetables for the centre and wider community. We offer them a warm welcome.

As you know, our organisation benefits from charitable and government grant funding. We received over £10K from the Welsh Church Act Fund to develop the section of the South Unit that attracted an additional tenant. We also received two separate grants (totalling £7K) from the local authority, MTCBC. One was used to match fund the WCA funding and the other allowed us to self-contain the three sections of the South Unit by now having three standalone fire systems and dividing the electrics.
We also received £10K from Welsh Government to subsidise the monies lost through the pandemic and a £1K grant due to the flooding we experienced. We are most grateful for this financial support.
Additionally, we have to thank organisations and individuals who have supported us through partnership working: MTCBC, VAMT, DTA Wales, Business Wales, The Probation Service, The Bevan Foundation and Trevor Vanscombe. All of whom provided guidance and support during the year. We acknowledge this support and welcome it, long may it continue.
Recently we have seen the completion of reinstatement works to flood damage carried out to a high standard by Dale Maintenance and we are looking forward to the completion of remedial works at the top of our drive to prevent further flooding carried out by MTCBC. We are thankful to them for their diligence.
Financially we remain solvent and secure despite everything. In the main this is down to our manager Howard who has experienced a difficult time with minimum support but still manages to sustain our interests. He has brought in new tenants, negotiated with existing tenants and remains committed. Howard, we cannot thank you enough.
Finally I must thank the Board of Trustees. It’s been difficult but at least we have technology to help us. Your commitment is valued and I hope it can be relied upon in the future when we will be able to meet and catch up with things. For now though, thank you all.