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Ballot Success for Swansea BID begins ambitious five-year plan launched to aid recovery

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Swansea BID (Business Improvement District) has been successful in securing a Wales record breaking 4th term ballot, and the company, which looks after the interests of 800-plus city centre businesses, will now launch its new a five-year plan to aid recovery in the city centre in August. 

The ballot was counted on 24 July and Swansea BID won a yes vote by a 77.4 percent yes vote.

Swansea BID Chief Executive, Russell Greenslade

Swansea BID Chief Executive, Russell Greenslade, said: “We are very pleased to be able to continue the work we do within Swansea city centre via the BID and our Big Heart of Swansea consumer-facing brand, and we are grateful for this vote of confidence from our businesses, particularly during what has been a very tough year for us all.

“It has been a privilege to support BID area businesses during this difficult time – and for the past 15 years – and it is important now to focus upon the bright future ahead for Swansea city centre. The very impressive ongoing regenerations is one of the most visible signs of this futures, as is the large number of ambitious business owners who have set up in Swansea in the past year.

“We are going to be central to this story of growth and success. Our plan for the five years ahead includes: 

  • Continuing to promote businesses through our free BID and Big Heart of Swansea social media channels, websites, marketing campaigns and events. We will revamp and invest in new technologies for our discount/loyalty Big Heart of Swansea card and brand also
  • We will scale up our work with partners to promote the city centre to visitors and create new opportunities for our members to showcase their business, including exciting seasonal experiences, and campaign activities to help attract more visitors and residents into the city centre
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  • We will look to deliver further cost-saving schemes and cutting costs off the bottom line, and we will use BID’s buying power to negotiate favourable rates on an array of services and products. We will work towards reducing businesses costs even further and cutting bottoms line costs
  • Working with partners we will aim to launch a civil notice exclusion scheme denying criminals access to BID area businesses helping reduce crime, losses and improve workers and customers security. In addition, we will continue to support the Public Service Protection Order that we have worked closely with partners to instate in the BID area. We will also continue to facilitate businesses signing up to the BID areas reduced cost digital radio system and radio system training. We will support the further development and updating of the information database (DISC) and build its capability to share information to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour
  • We will provide support and management of recognised accreditation platforms for businesses to work towards, such as our Best Bar None scheme and our key partner support for national accreditation kite mark Purple Flag, which we were the first city centre in Wales to secure in February 2015 and have worked hard to maintain ever since
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  • We will use our mature relationships with our city’s universities and colleges to gather informed intelligence of what the student demographic wants and needs, and work to recruit and maintain them after graduating through projects such as our Creative Bubble with The University of Wales Trinity St David’s, that has already delivered hundreds of events and supported thousands of students since its inception 
  • We will look to offer new support services to businesses, such as a dedicated Big Heart of Swansea Gift Card aimed at keeping money in the BID area and a new BID lead business information centre
  • We will represent, and champion business needs in local matters such as council service delivery and infrastructure and the areas exciting redevelopment/regeneration led by our key strategic partners, The City & County of Swansea. We will continue working with the area’s developers and investors as part of the city centre new stimulus and recovery plan”
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Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS said: “Our town centres have faced one of the most difficult periods they will ever have to face as a result of the pandemic. Transforming towns across Wales continues to be a priority for the Welsh Government, but we all need to work together to encourage more people back to the high street. That’s why I am delighted that businesses in Swansea are continuing to support the Business Improvement District, to regenerate local areas and help our town and city centres thrive once again.”

Russell adds: “Thanks to this positive vote for Swansea BID we are continuing our work uninterrupted, and we begin by launching the Independents Month campaign – with consumers being encouraged to support some of our most characterful, resourceful and welcoming businesses across our high streets – our independents – throughout July. Let’s all do our bit to help Swansea city centre recover and thrive.” 

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Business

Two more Barclays Bank branches to close in Morriston and Tenby

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Banking giant Barclays have announced the closure of two more South West Wales branches, this time in Morriston and Tenby.

The Enterprise Park branch in Morriston will close on Friday 9 September, with the Tenby branch closing on Wednesday 16 November.

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The Barclays closure notice leaves Tenby with just one bank branch following the latest announcement. The move leaves Barclays with just one branch in Pembrokeshire at Haverfordwest.

Morriston saw its Woodfield Street Halifax branch close on 18 July and it’s Lloyds Bank branch, also on Woodfield Street close on 4 August.

Barclays closed its Gorseinon and Port Talbot branches in February.

The nearest Barclays branch for Morriston customers is now on Oxford Street in Swansea City Centre or on The Parade in Neath Town Centre.

Tenby Barclays customers who need to visit a branch are being directed to Haverfordwest or Carmarthen.

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Barclays are blaming the closures on changes in the way people use banking facilities, with more being done online and fewer customers visiting branches.

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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New Swansea axe throwing venue to include a ‘rage room’

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A 24-year-old business owner is hoping to make his new leisure venue all the rage in Swansea

Matthew Griffin, 24, opened the first Lumberjack Axe Throwing on Catherine Street, Cardiff in July, 2019 aged just 21.

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Now, thanks to a £35,000 micro loan from the Development Bank of Wales, Matthew has opened a Lumberjack site on Dilwyn Street, Swansea.

As well providing a venue for axe throwing – an increasingly popular indoor sport – the new venue will see the addition of Wales’ first permanent “rage room”, which gives customers the chance to work out their stresses by freely smashing up crockery and other items, which Matthew plans to open later in the year.

Matthew, who won Businessperson of the Year at the Cardiff Business Awards 2020, spotted the gap in the market for an axe-throwing venue in Cardiff and took the opportunity to open his first site while continuing to work as a self-employed carpenter and working towards his university degree.

At the Cardiff venue, which was the first urban axe throwing centre in Wales, guests have the chance to test their physical and co-ordination skills and compete against one another by throwing axes at targets, under the supervision of trained members of staff.

After opening in mid-2019 and successfully navigating the business through the difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic by working in the Nightingale field hospital in Cardiff, Matthew set his sights on expanding Lumberjack in late 2021 and discovered a suitable site on Dilwyn Street in Swansea city centre.

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The £35k micro loan from the Development Bank allowed him to keep the business stable during renovation work for the new site, with the development also supported by Swansea City Council’s Property Enhancement Grant.

Matthew added: “Working with the Development Bank was a breeze – I’d always thought coming for a loan would mean a cycle of refusals as being a young person can have its limitations, but this was proven to not be the case and I can’t praise the Development Bank enough.

“I was funding Cardiff by myself and it took all my personal savings at the time to get it off the ground. The loan has assisted massively in ensuring the Swansea construction doesn’t have too much of an impact on the cashflow of the company as a whole.

“As you can imagine, running a company while trying to construct a premises twice the size of the one bringing in the revenue can majorly drop capital reserves, risking the whole company and making the project almost impossible after the years of economic uncertainties that we have had.”

“The process was straightforward, and investment executive Donna Strohmeyer was always on hand to explain things when needed, which I can’t be more grateful for. They took the stress out of it completely. I will always approach the Development Bank for any future funding I may need.”

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Matthew plans to host tournaments for the sport at the new site, as well as continuing existing relationships with hospitality partners Smoke Haus, who work alongside Lumberjack Axe Throwing to provide food and entertainment packages for customers.

Donna Strohmeyer, a micro loans investment executive at the Development Bank, said: “We’re very pleased to have worked with Matthew in helping him to secure new premises in Swansea, allowing him to expand his existing business and bring this exciting new sport to a whole new customer base.

“It’s great to see the Swansea site completed, and we wish Matthew the very best as he brings Lumberjack Axe Throwing to a new city.”

Bethan Cousens, new investments director at the Development Bank, said: “We’re keen to work with promising young entrepreneurs like Matthew, who might not think they have a strong base from which to look for investment.

“We can help check their suitability for any investment, and guide them through every step of the way, giving them the chance to make their business dreams a reality.”

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Lead image: Matthew Griffin, Lumberjack Axe Throwing, and Donna Strohmeyer of the Development Bank of Wales.

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Energy intensive industries could get further relief under new Government proposals

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High electricity using businesses like steel and paper mills could see further relief under new proposals to help subsidise their electricity costs.

The UK Government is consulting on the option to increase the level of exemption for certain environmental and policy costs from 85% of costs up to 100%.

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This reflects higher UK industrial electricity prices than those of other countries including in Europe, which could hamper investment, competition and commercial viability for hundreds of businesses in industries including steel, paper, glass, ceramics, and cement, and risk them relocating from the UK.

The proposal would help around 300 businesses supporting 60,000 jobs in the UK’s industrial heartlands. Looking at ways to reduce the cost of doing business for key industries would help secure the future of domestic manufacturing and maintain a competitive business environment in the UK, ensuring economic growth and protecting thousands of jobs across the country.

The Energy Intensive Industries Exemption Scheme provides businesses with relief for the costs of renewable levies, including Contracts for Difference, the Renewable Obligation and Feed in Tariffs, in their energy bills.

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “British manufacturers are the lifeblood of our economy and central to our plans to overcome this period of economic uncertainty.

“With global energy prices at record highs, it is essential we explore what more we can do to deliver a competitive future for those strategic industries so we can cut production costs and protect jobs across the UK.”

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Director General of UK Steel Gareth Stace said: “The publication of this consultation is a significant step forward in delivering competitive electricity prices for the UK steel sector and should provide some much-needed relief in the face of extremely challenging circumstances at the current time. While there remain difficulties, this announcement demonstrates that UK Government understands the challenges of British industry and continues to support steelmakers and steel communities across the country.”

(Lead image: Gareth James / Geograph / Creative Commons 2.0)

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