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Swansea

Libraries to reopen as lockdown restrictions relaxed

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City libraries, ParkLives outdoor activities for young people and RNLI beach patrols are set for re-opening in Swansea as lockdown restrictions continue to ease.

Council library services have been operating a hugely-successful click and collect service for book lovers since they closed in December as part of measures designed to tackle Covid-19.

They will be open again from Monday, March 29, following the announcement today (Friday) of some further easing of restrictions.

In addition to that council-funded RNLI beach patrols will resume tomorrow (March 27) for the Easter holidays at the busy beaches of Langland, Caswell Bay, Port Eynon and Swansea Bay.

ParkLives, the council’s free outdoor initiative for children and young people will also be providing safe, socially-distanced activities at a number of parks over the coming school Easter holidays.

Tracey McNulty, head of service for cultural services, said all the services being offered will adhere to the continuing Covid-19 restrictions.

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She said: “The council wants to encourage people to safely enjoy activities which are now permitted following the easing of restrictions. If you are visiting a library you will need to wear a mask indoors, keep your distance from others and listen to the advice from our staff who are there to help keep everyone safe.

“Anyone who wants to join in with our outdoor ParkLives activities will need to book in advance so that our teams can manage numbers safely.”

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She added: “Gower beaches are busy destinations at Easter which is why the RNLI is working with us to re-introduce beach patrols at four of our beaches over the holiday period.

“But visitors still need to adhere to the restrictions which remain in place by keeping their distance from others and wearing masks indoors.

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“We’d also urge people to take their litter and other rubbish home with them rather than leave it behind for others to clear up, especially if bins are full.”

Lifeguards are returning to Langland, Caswell Bay, Port Eynon and Swansea Bay for the Easter holidays (Image: Swansea Council)

Chris Cousens, RNLI Water Safety Lead for Wales, said: “The RNLI lifeguards provide beach visitors with invaluable support, helping to keep those going in the water safe.

“RNLI lifeguards are fully trained in all aspects of beach safety so anyone with any queries should always approach a lifeguard, who will be more than willing to help or offer advice.”

If you’re a parent and want advice from the RNLI about staying safe by water this summer go to: https://rnli.org/pages/beach2020

Full information about accessing services at our re-opened library services can be found here: Swansea – Libraries

Those who want to participate in ParkLives activities will need to book in advance. Details of events and booking information can be found here: https://www.swansea.gov.uk/parklives

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Technology

New report reveals Swansea would see ‘very high benefit’ from full 5G rollout – but Government policy and regulation changes needed first

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Swansea features in a new report that identifies 58 local authority areas which would see a high or very high benefit from a good investment environment for 5G – and which would fall further behind if investment continues to be limited to major cities.

The new Vodafone research shows that current regulatory and policy environment around full 5G could see UK missing out on £7bn worth of economic benefits.

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Failure to make the UK attractive as a place for investment in future 5G technology will cause the UK economy to miss out on up to £7bn a year. Towns and smaller cities will be the ones to miss out most in the current regulatory and policy environment, according to new research commissioned by Vodafone.

The benefits of full 5G – developing high capacity, standalone infrastructure rather than building on top of existing 4G equipment – are enormous, especially for industrial uses such as smart factories, and public services such as hospitals which will require ultra-reliable and ultra-low-latency communications.

However, this all depends on significant investment across all parts of the country, and the report warns that the difference between an attractive and an unattractive investment environment is worth £7bn a year to the UK economy by 2030 – most of it seen outside London and other major cities.

The biggest cities, which have the biggest populations and are most commercially attractive to investors, previously saw the fastest 4G roll-out and are now well-positioned to attract investment in 5G. But smaller cities and medium-sized towns are at risk of missing out if the changes aren’t made quickly.

The report makes a series of recommendations which would help to support investment in full 5G across the UK, including:

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  • The Government should publish an updated 5G strategy which sets out specific ambitions for the roll-out of full 5G networks.
  • Ofcom should be open minded about market consolidation when it publishes its review into the mobile market this summer.
  • Government should use its procuring power to create market demand in 5G related services. For example, the installation of smart energy management systems in all public buildings would reduce emissions in those buildings, expand interest in, and the market for, these systems elsewhere, and save money on energy bills.
  • Planning rules need to be set in such a way that they do not stop 5G infrastructure from being rolled out where it is needed and wanted.
  • The business rates system needs to avoid deterring investment in high-value infrastructure.
  • Net neutrality regulations should enable mobile operators to maximise demand by offering consumers attractive propositions that make use of the full technological capabilities of 5G.
  • The approach to annual spectrum fees needs to change so that fees can be reinvested in network deployment instead of being ripped out of the industry.

Ahmed Essam, Vodafone’s UK CEO, said: “5G technology enables both massive innovation and operational efficiencies, especially for industrial uses such as smart factories, and public services such as hospitals which will require ultra-reliable and ultra-low-latency communications.

“But the benefits of this will not be felt equally across the UK in the current regulatory and policy environment – we have to ensure the UK can attract investment in future technologies.

“5G roll-out can be a major boost to Levelling Up, or it can leave some places falling further behind: it all depends on getting the investment environment right.

“As our research reveals, there is a £7bn a year difference between getting this wrong and getting this right. The UK – and in particular our smaller towns and cities – risks missing out on the incredible benefits that the 5G revolution can deliver.

“It’s not too late to create an investment-friendly environment, so we can all benefit from this powerful technology.”

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Fitness

Tyson Fury comes to Swansea as Ware-house Gym celebrates first anniversary

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“Gypsy King” Tyson Fury is making a special appearance at Cwmdu’s Ware-house Gym as the venue marks its first anniversary.

Is he retiring or does he have plans for making another comeback?

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Chris Ware, one of the owners of Ware-house Gym says he’s looking forward to the boxing legend’s live and unscripted visit, which promises a great night of entertainment and maybe even a song or two from the people’s champ himself.

Chris said: “It’s amazing to have such an iconic sports man coming to Swansea. Not only has he inspired so many people through sport but also the way he has battled his own mental health problems.

“His story is amazing on so many levels. He appeals to so many people, and it’s a privilege to have him in the gym.

“Between world class dance brands and now one of the biggest sports stars in the world is coming to Ware-House Gym Swansea, it’s been a great first year.”

The gym opened last year during the height of the pandemic, but despite it’s difficult start the venue has gone from strength to strength.

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It even hosted a pop-up nightclub as Sankeys, one of the UK’s most recognisable club brands announced the opening of their first Welsh venue at the gym.

The Cwmdu venue is now attracting national attention, as the gym became finalists in the UK Active awards for “New Concept, Build or Design of the Year.”

Staff at Ware-House Gym with owner, Chris Ware (centre)

Chris added: “We have pushed and stretched ourselves to provide a 5 star facility that everyone is welcome in.

“When we look back at our plans, we have nearly ticked off every little detail we aimed for. It has been exhausting and stressful but the support of our members and professionalism of our staff has helped us keep the standards so high.

“We have set the bar and we want to move forward as the best gym in the UK.”

Tyson Fury is at Ware-house Gym on Saturday 16 July, with tickets available from Warehouse’s website.

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Swansea shows rise in business growth despite fears high streets are empty

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Swansea BID (Business Improvement District) are celebrating the opening of the 60th new business in Swansea City Centre since January 2020.

According to a recent Federation of Small Business report on Welsh towns, only 3% of people feel their town centres are thriving; but given the impact of Covid-19, Swansea BID have continued to see businesses opening since the pandemic began. 

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High Street Giants Replaced by Independents

Since January 2020, 66 new businesses have opened in the city centre. In the same period, only 27 have closed, with over half of these businesses citing the pandemic as the reason. As many large high street names such as Debenhams, Disney, Topshop and Pizza Express have closed, the rate of smaller, independent businesses opening has increased.

“We have seen strong growth in start-up businesses over the last few years. I think excellent customer service and experience is a key factor in their success,” said Russell Greenslade, Swansea BID Chief Executive. “We have also seen sharp growth in the hospitality sector, independents and more sustainable businesses.”

Responses to the FSB survey showed that 67% of people in Wales feel that their town centres are ‘bad’ or ‘bleak’. The Vision for Welsh Towns report makes a series of recommendations to support and grow businesses in town centres, many of which Swansea BID actively do; including helping to reduce business costs and directly supporting businesses. 

A new independent restaurant has opened at the former Pizza Express chain next to Swansea’s castle

The High Street is Resilient 

Simon Kendrick, Director of the Games Emporium on Swansea’s High Street said the business is likely to renew their lease for another 10 years thanks to their confidence in the developments happening in Swansea.

“We’ve enjoyed growing with the High Street, it has been fabulous to see the once run down and talked down part of town continue its transformation towards a vibrant part of the city’s cultural life,” he said.

“Swansea BID have been helpful in driving some of that change with initiatives like the Big Heart and city-wide treasure trails to drive shoppers our way, as well as more behind the scenes support like advocating reductions in street-table rates for local cafes. 

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“Currently, the BID is assisting us (and many other businesses) with applying for grant funding to renovate our shopfront, which will further enhance the appearance and character of the High Street,” said Kendrick.

Swansea’s High Street has seen massive transformation over the last few years

Investing in Regeneration

With £1bn set to be invested in regeneration projects over the next few years, the landscape of Swansea is set to transform. 

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Investment and Tourism said, “The growth is encouraging. It shows the combination of our business talent and the work the council and its partners are carrying out to regenerate Swansea to create a modern, confident city that’s attracting more and more businesses to invest.

“We’re doing all we can to create an environment where businesses can thrive, such as the £135m Copr Bay district and our work to transform the look and feel of The Kingsway and Wind Street.

“Much more is planned too, including a revamp of Castle Square Gardens, a state-of-the-art office at the former Oceana nightclub site, and the work our development partners Urban Splash are leading on to transform parts of the city centre, including the old St David’s Shopping Centre.

“Our business community, residents and visitors have lots to look forward to.”

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