Barry at War group goes into battle with council over unused building

Barry And District News: HOME FRONT: Great War living historian Wayne Gill, who has worked with Barry at War, in front of the tourist information centre HOME FRONT: Great War living historian Wayne Gill, who has worked with Barry at War, in front of the tourist information centre

A BARRY group dedicated to commemorating the First World War has gone into battle with the Vale Council over an unused building.

Barry at War, which operates the popular Glamorgan Wartime Heritage Centre at Barry Island Railway Station, has asked to loan the former Barry Island Tourist Information Centre building in which to create the Glamorgan Great War Centenary Centre.

But it said the authority, which this week approved a budget for First World War commemorative events, had not been forthcoming.

The Vale Council said it welcomed approaches and was considering options.

Barry at War chairman Ade Pitman said August 4 marked the centenary of the war in which around 750 Barry men died.

Ade Pitman said: ‘’We asked the Vale Council last year if we could use the former Barry Tourist Information Centre building.

“The council-owned building remains unused, despite being in a prime location for a tourist attraction.

“With the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War now being only six months away, Barry at War has once again requested the loan of the building for the five-year period of the Great War Centenary.”

He proposed using Heritage Lottery Great War Centenary projects funding and Section 106 money from the Pump House developers, saying visitors would learn about the conflict through interactive exhibits like the Great War trench.

He said: “The response that we have currently received from the Vale Council is less than supportive of the concept and suggests that before discussions can take place regarding the concept, that we should create a business plan.

“Our current museum is a living business plan.”

He said Barry at War had operated minus public funding for more than a year, attracting all-season tourists, and the museum was currently rated the second best attraction in Barry on Trip Advisor (Porthkerry Country Park is the top attraction).

He said the group’s campaign was supported by many local politicians and forces organisations including the Royal British Legion, Barry branch.

Ade said: “I have requested that Barry at War be allowed to present the concept to the Vale Cabinet, and should they agree to support the concept, that they offer a venue on which we can formulate a business plan, and compile a Heritage Lottery application.

“This could be a one-off chance for Barry and the Vale to create history by commemorating history.’’

Vale Council leader Cllr Neil Moore said: “We are committed to working with local heritage organisations to develop a Heritage Centre for Barry and/or the wider Vale and would welcome any proposals and a business plan that are underpinned with evidence of how they might be sustainable.

“At the moment discussion of the building’s future is premature as options for its use, either by the council itself or alternative organisations will be considered. The council is therefore currently assessing the best way forward along with how the sizeable costs of bringing it back into productive use can be met. It is intended that all options are currently being considered.”

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