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The BID speak with new Trivallis Chief Executive Ian Thomas

  • By James Payne
  • 25 Oct, 2017

Congratulations on the new position, how excited are you to be part of Trivallis?

I’ve never been so excited about a job, this will enable me to bring my previous experiences into one role. It will be a huge challenge but, I knew that when I came into the interview the position felt right, and really suited me.

Could you tell us a bit about your background?

I’ve held roles in housing previously, there’s been a lot of discussion around the fact that I’ve come from the third sector. I’m the current Chief Executive of Age Cymru and have also worked as the Director for Wales for the Alzheimer Society in 2005. My background is, mixed; started off in community development and worked as a teacher and youth worker.

I also worked in education. At the Open University for 26 years. I’ve held two previous roles in housing, I was the Head of Supported Housing at United Welsh Housing Association, which was a big job. For six years, prior to that I worked for Hafod as a Community Care officer, partly responsible for bringing patients in the wards back into the local community. 

How do you feel your experiences will help you at Trivallis?

I have a lot of business experience, there is a misconception with the third sector that we do not run the organisations as businesses. This is untrue, however, as many are multi-million pound organisations. When I was at The Alzhiemers Society I oversaw 2,000 staff with a £60 million budget, spread over Wales, England and Northern Ireland. 

I have experience in governments. I was in an advisory group to Westminster for personalisation and I’ve worked with the Welsh Government. I’ve worked in difficult communities and I’ve worked with a lot of tenants in housing associations which will obviously help me in this role.

How important is the local resident and business community going to be?

My focus is the community, the people in the houses, the wider communities and regeneration. Housing organisations have a large role to play rather than just bricks and mortar, in helping the community.

Trivallis has won various awards in the past, is this part of what attracted you to the role?

I wasn’t actively looking to change the job but, I was aware of Trivallis. I was interested in what the organisation does and my wife told me to apply for the job as I have the same characteristics as those who represent the company. 

The job application was jargon free, which I welcomed after coming across a lot of corporate speak over the past 28 years. I was fully committed towards the application and turned down other offers during the process. If I was going to work in housing, this was going to be the only role for me. 

What do you see in the future of Pontypridd town?

First off, it has best rugby team in the world.

There’s a lot of regeneration in the town, especially with the old precinct site. There’s a lot that businesses can do for the town, I spent a lot of time in Pontypridd as a youngster, visiting Rainbow Records in the Old Precinct.

The town needs alternative thinking, it was traditionally a market town and while there are aspects of the past that can be revived, the focus needs to be on the future. It’s important to look at other regeneration projects that are being done. It would be interesting to see more people actually living in the town centre, as this would make Pontypridd more vibrant.

Diversification of businesses is important. Work needs to be done with social enterprises, the planning needs to be right – a lot has been taken out of city and town centres – take FforestFach in Swansea for example, the focus should be on bringing back the attraction to the town centre.

What’s the priorities for the next 12 months at Trivallis?

Stabilising the ship, Interim Chief Exec Adrian Barber has done a great job, and has put us on the right path; I’m indebted to him for that. Governance is something I feel very strongly about that; it’s a challenge that doesn’t frighten me.

Other priorities should be maintaining our links with the Welsh Government and ensuring they are the right links. Consolidate where we need to consolidate – bringing it back home to the community – serving the people, reviewing our current portfolio and obviously getting to know the teams here, it’s a very professional organisation.

Do you know what a Business Improvement District is?

Ian: It’s the coming together of a lot of local businesses with a common goal.

James:  The Pontypridd Business Improvement District, is defined by a boundary in the town centre. Each business in that boundary that has a rateable value over £5,000 pays a 1.2% levy into a pot of money, there are three groups including Marketing and Promotion, Welcome and Access & Business Support.

Welcome and Access is improving accessibility to the town, how we deliver a better experience for workers, residents and shoppers – improving the towns appearance, working to reduce anti-social behaviour, working with the local authorities to discuss projects and town centre improvements.

 Marketing and Promotion involves general promotion of businesses, celebrating the stories of the businesses and promoting them via video, social media, print advertising, radio advertising – encouraging businesses to participate in events, and be open to new ideas.

 Business support – encouraging businesses to use social media, and giving them general advice to help them grow their business, help them get in touch with the right contacts for ideas/projects they may have, it’s also about talking to the businesses and seeing how they can attract more customers and helping them reach out to local and business community.

Ian : That sounds very exciting, and a very interesting package. The purpose is key to promote the interest of the town, it’s important to make the use of your assets and resources as there is fierce competition.

  How do you think Trivallis and the BID can work together?

Ian : Trivallis is embedded in the community, and should play a large role. We will do what we can to support the economy and infrastructure in any town we serve, as we are based in Pontypridd – it will be the case of working together with the businesses as much as we can.

James: Many thanks Ian, for your time today. We look forward to working with you in the future, and we wish you all the best in your new role at Trivallis.

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