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Wales airshow to return in 2022

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Some of the most exciting planes and airborne stunt shows are set to be flying high over Swansea next summer after the pandemic forced this year’s Wales Airshow to be grounded.

It means what promises to be the biggest and best Wales Airshow ever will be back on July 2 and 3, 2022.

The move comes after a string of airshows around Britain have been cancelled due to continuing uncertainty about UK and Welsh Government’s ability to give the green light for very large spectator events this summer.

Events at Rhyl, Blackpool, Weston-super-Mare and Southport have already been called off and now Swansea Council has reluctantly accepted the Wales Airshow 2021 will be cancelled for this year.

The Wales Airshow last took place before the pandemic in 2019

Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “We’ve been there for the people of Swansea throughout the pandemic and we will be there for our communities as we emerge from it.

“We were desperate to see a return for Wales’ biggest free spectator event this year and we’ve waited as long as possible before making a decision in the hope it would be able to go ahead.

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“Test events are ongoing but there is still no indication of when it might be possible to lift restrictions on social distancing, or when there may be clarity about whether it could go ahead, given more than 250,000 usually attend the event.

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Cllr Francis-Davies said: “We want to restart our amazing annual events programmes as soon as the pandemics restrictions allow. We know people want to get back to enjoying concerts, events, gigs and festivals and we are working hard to design a programme that could be activated for the latter part of 2021 and early next year.

“However for the Wales Airshow, which takes months to plan and attracts more than 250,000 visitors, it unfortunately takes place before the point where there is certainty about whether restrictions laid down by the national governments, would allow an event with such large numbers.  

“Therefore we have been forced to make a decision to cancel. However as soon as we have that certainty about the months ahead our teams will be working to confirm other events.

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“The end of 2021 and 2022 could be a phenomenal year with the opening of the new Arena, fewer or no restrictions, the return of big events, and a backlog of deferred concerts and festivals.” 

Crowds usually gather along Swansea seafront to watch the spectacular aerial displays (Image: Swansea Council)

Regarded as one of the biggest and most popular free events in Wales and attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to Swansea Bay, this year’s event was due to take place on Saturday 3 July and Sunday 4 July. 

The council’s events team is already considering a summer schedule of events that might be able to go ahead and working up plans for a spectacular November fireworks display and Christmas parade in the event that they can go ahead with these subject to guidance and other factors.

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Cllr Francis-Davies added: “If there’s one lesson we’ve all learned over the last 12 months or so it is that public safety must always be the number one priority when it comes to Covid-19.

“But as we emerge from the pandemic, restrictions are eased and the benefits of the amazing NHS vaccination programme continue to be felt, there is optimism for the future.

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“We want to be able to put a smile back on people’s faces even if sometimes the pandemic might mean they’re hidden behind masks.”

The Wales Air Show will return to Swansea in 2022 (Image: Swansea Council)

He added: “Our events calendar is a moving feast and we have been continually re-adjusting our own programme as well as that of our partners and other private sector events in an ever-evolving landscape. 

“We are still keeping a watching eye on summer and autumn with a view to both hosting and enabling events to take place in line with Welsh Government guidance.”


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Ambitious plans for city’s future unveiled

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Ambitious plans for Swansea have been unveiled by the leader of the council – including further transformation of the city centre.

Building on success stories like the Swansea arena, new schools and play areas and a £750m new deal for the city centre, the city is set to be transformed in the coming years.

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And as Swansea heads into a summer packed with major international sports, music and cultural events, they’re helping set the stage for an optimistic and vibrant future for the city.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said that plans being set out for the next five years include the transformation of Castle Square Gardens, the rejuvenation of Mumbles and the sweep of Swansea Bay and the delivery of new, exciting visitor attractions.

And he pledged that none of the city’s communities would be left behind thanks to tens of millions of pounds of investment in road improvements, street cleaning and community facilities alongside support for struggling families and the homeless.

Castle Square is due to be transformed in the coming months (Image: Swansea Council)

He said: “Swansea has always been a city of ambition. Now it is a city delivering on our people’s priorities.”

Among the highlights of the city’s ambition for the future include the delivery of a £750m city centre transformation that started with the arena, delivering a city centre community hub and a new role for the former Debenhams store.

Other pledges include making progress on the £1.7bn Blue Eden renewable energy scheme set to include a tidal lagoon, developing a new aquarium and building new hotels in the city centre and near the Swansea.com Stadium.

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The opening an outdoor adventure park on Kilvey Hill in 2025 that would include cable cars, ziplines and luge runs.

Plans for the Skyline adventure park on Kilvey Hill form part of the council’s future vision for the city (Image: Swansea Council)

The council will also build hundreds more energy-efficient council properties, while also upgrading existing homes to help reduce fuel bills.

Highways are set for investment with a £10m boost for road repairs, new PATCH road repair teams being rolled out, more electric vehicle charging points and more walking and cycling routes.

Other commitments for Swansea communities include Cleansing, littering and weeding teams dedicated to every neighbourhood,

Continued support to encourage eligible households to claim the Welsh Government £150 cost of living payment, investment in thousands more trees, our parks and biodiversity with investment also seeing play area upgrades and improved skate facilities.

Swansea Council say they will spend £10m on road repairs in the next year (Image: Swansea Council)

Cllr Stewart said the free bus travel initiative and upgrades for outdoor play areas was helping families make ends meet at a time when every penny counts. At the same time city centre regeneration spearheaded by the council was attracting millions of pounds of private sector investment.

He said: “The cost of living crisis and climate change will be among the biggest challenges any of us will face over the coming years.

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“From food banks to free bus travel, from better homes to better schools, we’ll carry on supporting families and communities who are struggling to get by.

“We’ll continue investing in major projects and community priorities like schools, children’s welfare and adult wellbeing. This combined investment enables resilience and promotes wellbeing. It creates and protects jobs and it makes Swansea a better place to live, work and do business.

“And by investing in green energy, growing our green spaces and welcoming new people, new investment and fresh ideas, we can look forward to building a better future.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Transport for Wales

New trains for Wales and Borders services go on show

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Brand new trains that aim to transform services across Wales and the English borders have been on show today at Chester railway station.

Assembled by CAF at their factory in Newport, the first Class 197 train with its ‘Made in Wales’ tag was revealed to the public today (Friday 1 July), offering a taste of what’s to come for customers in the next few months.

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TfW are spending £800 million on new trains throughout their network and the Class 197 will be the first of the brand-new stock to enter service in North Wales before the end of this year.

Providing an increase in capacity, reduced emissions and enhanced comfort onboard, these trains will allow TfW to run faster and more frequent services to key routes including services in South West Wales – Manchester to Milford Haven, Cardiff to Fishguard and Swansea to Pembroke Dock.

Offering leather seats, modern air conditioning systems, wider doors and customer information screens, the new trains will transform the customer experience. They’ve also been fitted with electronic charging points and disability features for those with limited mobility.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “I am pleased to welcome the new Class 197 trains to the rail network. These new vehicles represent a real transformational improvement on the trains that they will be replacing, providing comfortable and frequent services, encouraging people to leave their cars behind and move onto a more sustainable form of transport.”

Alexia Course, TfW’s Director of Transport Operations, said: “At Transport for Wales we’re continually moving forward with our transformational plans to improve public transport for the people of Wales and the borders.

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“The Class 197s on show at Chester railway station today will be an important part of the transformation of the Wales and Borders network, and when they enter service, they will enable us to run more services and carry more customers in comfort.

“The construction of our new trains has been four years in the making, and customers and colleagues are incredibly excited to welcome passengers onto them from later this year.

“It’s also important to recognise that these trains have been made in Wales at the CAF factory in Newport and the building of them has provided jobs and supported the local economy”.

Richard Garner, UK Director CAF said: “CAF is thrilled that the first of our Class 197 trains for the Wales and Borders network has been officially launched.

“We are immensely proud of our key role in delivering Transport for Wales’ vision to transform rail travel for passengers.

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“The manufacture of our trains is taking place at our state-of-the-art facility in Newport, South Wales. We see ourselves as a local manufacturer, supporting highly skilled jobs and bringing employment opportunities to the local area whilst focusing on sustainability issues and addressing the needs of the Welsh economy.

Our trains are being built in Wales to serve the Welsh communities”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

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Education

Pontarddulais school’s physical education department supported by Amazon

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A comprehensive school in Pontarddulais has received a £1,000 donation from the Amazon fulfilment centre in Swansea.

Pontarddulais Comprehensive School plans to use the donation to purchase new safety mats for use in PE lessons.

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They say this will allow their pupils to enjoy activities such as gymnastics and inspire more pupils to follow in the footsteps of their peers who have recently succeeded at a national level.

Christopher Law, General Manager at Amazon in Swansea, said: “At Amazon, we recognise the value of extra-curricular development, and we are pleased to lend a helping hand to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School with this donation. We wish the school well as it seeks to inspire and engage the leaders of tomorrow through both academic and physical education.”

Nigel Hughes, who is an engineer at Amazon in Swansea and put the school forward for the donation, added: “My children receive a fantastic education and genuine support at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, and it’s great that Amazon is providing this donation to help fund new equipment.”

Julie Evans, Area Coordinator for Health and Wellbeing at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, said: “We want to thank Christopher and the Amazon team in Swansea. This kind and generous donation will support us in continuing to create the high-quality facilities required for a first-class educational experience. It will be a great addition allowing us to strengthen and expand our school’s physical activity opportunities.”

The donation to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School was made as part of Amazon’s programme to support the communities in and around its operating locations across the UK.

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(Lead image: Pontarddulais Comprehensive School)

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