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Council invests £20k to boost community crowdfunding efforts

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A plan for new climbing equipment for teenagers and a community e-bike scheme have attracted financial support from Swansea Council.

They were selected for the boosts after they began raising funds through the council’s crowdfunding programme, Crowdfund Swansea.

Both are being created by and for their local communities as residents plan how to bounce back once the pandemic is behind us.

In Pontarddulais, the Friends of Coedbach Park are behind the plan to improved opportunities for teenagers. A key result of their £23,198 fundraising drive will be in the installation of a 2.2m-tall steel climbing frame with climbing nets, a climbing wall, ladder and rope ladder. There are rings and a trapeze bar for swinging as well as a monkey bar section.

In Mount Pleasant, the Hub on The Hill initiative is behind the plan to buy community e-bikes and to install a lockable bike shelter with e-bike charger.

Andrew Stevens, the council’s cabinet member for business improvement and performance, said: “We’re pleased to add our financial support to these schemes.

“They answer our call for ideas which put local people at the heart of the efforts to help Swansea kick on in future years.

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“These projects reimagine the way we use shared space, embed a new collaborative and connected way of living and strengthen the resilience of communities, the environment and local economy.

“I encourage anybody else with great ideas to strengthen their communities to consider using our successful Crowdfund Swansea initiative.”

“It offers the chance for anybody to chip in to help bring a local project to life, with pledges starting at £2.”

Leonie Ramondt, of Hub on the Hill, said: “Collaborative mobility and the sharing economy go hand in hand in reducing our environmental impact and increasing our wellbeing. 

“Why leave an e-bike unused for 95% of the time when it can be shared with others?

“This way many more people can access these wonderful devices and we also grow a stronger sense of community.”

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The council has a fund of around £75,000 to support a number of schemes that seek pledges through Crowdfund Swansea.

Projects crowdfunding now with the help of council funds include:

  • Coedbach Park– £5,000 from the council will help provide recreation opportunities for teenagers, other local youths and school groups.
  • E-bikes and bike shelter– £5,000 from the council will help create a bike hub for use by the Mount Pleasant community.
  • Morriston AFC– £1,000 from the council will support securing the football ground to ensure it can continue to be used by local teams and the community.
  • Copley Common – A pledge from the council will support work to create an eco-friendly community space including nature walks, outdoor adventure and a pump track.
  • Room to Grow – Nearly £5,000 from the council will support this their campaign to transform unused front gardens into food growing spaces and places in parts of Brynmill and Uplands.
  • Llangyfelach Community Gardens – A council pledge will support their campaign to attract funding to create gardens that can be used by schools and the community.

The crowdfunding campaigns are part of a joint initiative between the Swansea Council and Spacehive, the UK’s leading civic crowdfunding platform. 

And it’s not just the council offering funding to local projects. Gower Power Co-op CIC has signed up as a supporter of the programme and has identified projects that meet its criteria. 

Gower Power uses funds from the sale of green energy to provide grants for projects that grow food, improve biodiversity or reduce health inequalities. The team is looking forward to making its first Crowdfund Swansea pledge.

To help the projects hit their funding target visit Crowdfund Swansea’s Spacehive page to make a pledge: www.bit.ly/SpacehiveSx.

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Crowdfund Swansea forms part of a new approach to civic planning by Swansea Council which sees crowdfunding as a key channel to involve communities in regeneration.

If you are interested in taking part in the next funding round of Crowdfund Swansea, as a funder or to fund your own project, please email info@spacehive.com.


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Education

Council to review Swansea Valley ‘Super School’ decision made by previous administration

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A reprieve could be on the cards for Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools as Neath Port Talbot’s new coalition administration say they want to review the decision made to create a new ‘super school’ in Pontardawe.

The new administration says it wants to establish if an alternative way to bring 21st Century School standards to the Swansea Valley can be achieved, which would be more acceptable to the community.

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The decision to establish a new £22.7m English-medium 3-11 school and specialist Learning Support Centre for pupils with a statement of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Pontardawe to replace Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools was taken by Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet on October 20th, 2021.

The controversial decision triggered a process of communicating with local schools around the next steps and general planning for the construction of the new school and swimming pool.

A successful tender exercise took place to secure a contractor to begin stage one of a two stage process.

Neath Port Talbot Council say that under its own procurement rules, it says it has been necessary to approve the appointment of the contractor to undertake Stage 1 contract works only, with no obligation on the council to proceed to the second stage. Stage 1 includes developing the design information; carrying out assessments of traffic and site conditions; ground investigations; and obtaining planning approval.

The council say that this first stage contract does not commit them to the construction of the school and pool, with a further contract being entered into at Stage 2, which is the actual construction phase. 

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It adds that allowing stage 1 works to progress will ensure that the opportunities to meet the timescales of the October 2021 decision could still be realised if a review does not highlight any changes are needed to the project.

This will avoid further anxiety for the school staff and families due to unnecessary delays, particularly important for those pupils in Godre’rgraig Primary School who are currently educated in temporary accommodation awaiting the new school.

Neath Port Talbot Council say they will now start discussions with Welsh Government Ministers to establish what information they might require from the council. This will inform the consultation process which the council will undertake with stakeholders.

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Books & Literature

Carmarthenshire author’s Carmarthen Crime series hits the bookshelves

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Ferryside author John Nicholl is celebrating the re-release of his Carmarthenshire-based detective books as the Carmarthen Crime Series.

His new publisher, Boldwood Books – winner of Publisher of the Year in the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards – has repackaged the four books with a strong emphasis on the Carmarthenshire setting and covers depicting local locations including Carmarthen, Dryslwyn Castle and the Tywi Estuary.

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The first two books, The Carmarthen Murders and The Tywi Estuary Killings, are on sale now, with the other two – The Castle Beach Murders and The Dryslwyn Castle Killings to follow soon.

The books focus on DI Gareth Gravel, an accomplished, old-school policeman affectionately known as Grav, who feels out of step with the modern world as he approaches retirement.

“Grav is something of a legend within the West Wales Police Force, liked and respected by the rank and file but not so much by the top brass due to his sharp tongue and a willingness to bend the rules to get results,” says Nicholl, who lives in Ferryside.

“Grav is overweight, loves rugby, drinks too much, particularly since the loss of his wife, and is struggling with chronic health issues. The job matters to him, victims matter to him, and he often goes the extra mile to protect the vulnerable victims of crime, particularly women and children, who he has a strong inclination to protect.”

The books draw on Nicholl’s own experience as a police officer and then as a child protection officer in Carmarthenshire. He started writing fiction after his psychologist recommended it as a way to process traumas he had witnessed during his career, which left him with PTSD.

He self-published his first book and it became an online bestseller; he went on to get signed by a publisher and now has 11 bestsellers behind him. His focus is on crime and the darker side of human nature, with a strong empathy for victims of abuse.

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“The four-book Carmarthen Crime Series, while fictional, draws on my real-life experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker,” he says. “I hope this gives the stories a gritty realism readers will enjoy.”

He adds that he is delighted to see the books republished as the Carmarthen Crime series.

“I grew up, live and write in west Wales, and so I’m delighted my publisher has given the books a strong Welsh identity, with stunning covers featuring some of the beautiful locations I know so very well,” he says.

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Port Talbot

Port Talbot RNLI shop open again for business

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Following refurbishment, visitors to Port Talbot will once again be able to visit the shop located at the lifeboat station at Aberavon seafront.

The shop refit marks the start of a new era. The shop was opened in loving memory of the previous shop manager, Phil Jones, who sadly passed away in early 2021.

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Phil had kept the shop open single-handedly for over twelve years with much success. Phil’s wife and daughter kindly agreed to officially open the new shop on Sunday 12 June when many memories were shared and there were plenty of best wishes for the future.

RNLI shops started out as simple cake stalls run by volunteers to raise money for their local station. Around 1920 commemorative RNLI products were added and shops were selling souvenirs and Christmas cards, all profits helping to save lives at sea.

The RNLI now has over 170 shops around the coast and inland all of which are run by dedicated volunteers: Port Talbot is no exception.

The shop volunteer team has grown since April 2021 from a team of one to thirteen and is also involved with fundraising.

New Shop Manager Kirstee David says: “It has been amazing watching the shop team develop over the last twelve months and to see how passionate the team is about developing what we offer – and about the RNLI!”

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(Lead image: Port Talbot RNLI)

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