So, lockdown is easing, shops are reopening, venues and entertainment complexes are now slowly welcoming customers back and people are beginning to spend more time outside of the household, with the virus seeming to become less virulent in our local areas.
What does this mean for our bigger venues however, and what changes are needed to make them more sustainable, more welcoming and more appeasing to customers, both new and old?
There are many changes being made in and around Caldicot, with the work well underway and nearing completion of The Cross area, making the town centre more accessible, more modern and more appealing, injecting new life into the town centre.
Work is taking place around the Church Road redesign, which is a fantastic chance to improve the links between our town and what a lot of local folk would call, “The jewel in Caldicot’s town” The Castle and its grounds is in great need of investment and improvement, with a vision to create it an outstanding venue for music performances, History and the Arts along with the plethora of other events that can take place each year.
Co-Vid has put paid to that this year however, but, what Co-Vid has done, is given probably the most perfect opportunity to be able to make some real investment and change to the Castle and the grounds that is going to make a lasting difference and importance to the area, not just the Castle, but also to local residents, visitors and event organisers.
V-Dubs, Welsh Cider and Perry Festival, Caldicot Carnival and the 999 Day are just some of the events that had already been cancelled for 2020, with the high likelihood that the Fireworks display and others will be cancelled for the rest of the year.
Caldicot Castle and its grounds lends itself to becoming the perfect backdrop and an ‘must have’ venue for events if the right investment is put into it, now, while we have the opportunity with lower footfall, few events and only partial opening times.
The main investments should be in two areas in our opinion
- Car Park & Entrance – Completely turn the car parking and entrance area around, with the main entrance at the Mitel roundabout. Both Rally A & B Fields, (the ones on the left hand side, entering from the Mitel entrance) are rarely used, by replacing these areas with car parking reduces the amount of cars using Church Road, making the redesigned road look better, feel better, safer for pedestrians and residents, safer for visitors and making the link between town and castle much more accessible.
- Event Management investment – Huge events have taken place over the years in Caldicot, with some of the biggest being Little Mix, Fireworks, Hoggin The Bridge and others. The venue provides the perfect backdrop to these types of events, but with a lack of power and lighting throughout the country park, this increases costs significantly, not just for events, but also makes a difference to those who walk their dogs, spend time down the castle and puts people off using the Castle during the summer evenings.
Of course, this all costs money, but, and this is a big but, the bigger picture has to come into play here. What is the point of spending almost £2 Million pounds of public money on the Cross area and Church Road improvements, just to have tens of thousands of cars using those very roads each year, How is that improving safety? How is that making life better for residents? How is that promoting walking and cycle routes?
Now is the perfect chance, and probably one of our only chances to stand up, make the changes that are needed while the area is quiet and partially closed to be able to make Caldicot a better place to work, live and play.
Events bring a large amount of income into the local economy where they are held. Caldicot has the transport links, the space and the backdrop to create an incredible venue for the whole of South Wales, including Bristol and Monmouthshire County Council need to see its potential, invest funding now, which will be repaid by the promotion, visibility and the events that the castle is capable of holding, throughout the year, ever year, not just a one off event.
Now is the chance, lets not waste it.