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Neath Port Talbot

£160,000 upgrade for Aberavon Aqua Splash visitor facilities

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A modern ‘changing place’ with facilities for people with disabilities, refurbished public toilets and access improvements are on their way to the Aberavon Seafront’s popular Aqua Splash attraction.

It follows a decision to accept a £120,000 funding offer from the Welsh Government’s Brilliant Basics Scheme to carry out the Aberavon Changing Place Project by Neath Port Talbot Council’s Regeneration and Sustainable Development Cabinet Board.

Neath Port Talbot Council is providing £40,000 match funding for the project.

Brilliant Basics is a new Wales wide fund that will support public, third sector and not for profit organisations to deliver basic small scale tourism infrastructure improvements and help ensure all visitors to Wales have a positive and memorable experience throughout their stay.

Council officers first submitted an expression of interest for this project to the Welsh Government’s Brilliant Basics scheme in 2020 but applications were suspended due to Covid-19. However, the funding became available again in July 2021 and a successful application was submitted by the Council for the previously proposed scheme.

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By March 31st next year the project is due to deliver new pathways leading to Aqua Splash, refurbished male, female and disabled toilets and a new, fully accessible changing place.

Cllr Annette Wingrave, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development, said: “It is intended that once the works are complete, the public toilet provision and changing place at this location will not be subject to seasonal opening and will be open to the public all year.

“This will ensure the Aberavon Seafront remains a destination which is accessible to disabled visitors and their families all year round.”

Already a hit with families a new, improved Aqua Splash opened to the public on the seafront in July this year.

Users of the attraction now enjoy more than 30 water features including fountains, jets and a giant, tipping water bucket. New seating areas and facilities have also now been put in place around the Splash Pad site.

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Coronavirus

Health board using converted shipping containers as ‘local vaccination centres’

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Swansea Bay University Health Board say they are making it easier for older people to get their Covid-19 booster vaccinations with the use of converted shipping containers.

Three containers, known as Local Vaccination Centres (LVCs), have been located in communities across the Swansea Bay area for those who may find it difficult to get to a mass vaccination centre.

The containers build on the success and experience of the Immbulance, the health board’s mobile vaccination unit.

And they are able to free up the Immbulance to be deployed to cover new areas.

The units can be located in one place for several days and include staff facilities, which means they can stay there longer and don’t have to be driven away each night and be brought back the following morning.

Staff are providing Covid booster vaccinations for those with an appointment only and aim to deliver 60 jabs every day.

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People can then wait the usual 15-minutes after a vaccination either in their cars or in the container itself.

One of the units has been placed in Seven Sisters Rugby Club car park to serve those in the Dulais Valley and neighbouring communities.

Another of the LVCs has been placed near the Guildhall in Swansea, which has proven to be a popular location for the Immbulance.

James Ruggiero, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Assistant Head of Operational Planning for the vaccination programme, said: “This project is part of our ongoing effort to increase access to vaccinations across the Swansea Bay area. 

“These units are helping us in our aim to get as many people vaccinated as possible, particularly those who may have difficulty in travelling to our mass vaccination centres.”

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Lead image: Matthew Armstrong, immuniser; Andrea Howells, clinical supervisor; Ian Worthing, immuniser (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Health

Two new free bus routes between Bay Field Hospital, Neath and Port Talbot

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Swansea Bay health board have announced two new free bus routes to help people get to the mass vaccination centre at the Bay Field Hospital from Neath and Port Talbot town centres.

The new routes will be in addition to the existing free bus between Swansea city centre and the field hospital.

Starting from Saturday 23 October, a new service BFH1 will run on the hour from Bay 4 at Neath Bus Station next to Victoria Gardens. Return services will leave the Bay Field Hospital on the half hour. It will run between 7am and 7.30pm.

Also starting from Saturday 23 October, service BFH2 will run from Bay 7 at Port Talbot Bus Station, stopping at Bay 5 of the interchange at Port Talbot Parkway railway station. Services will run on the hour towards Bay Field Hospital, with return journeys running on the half hour between 7am and 7.30pm.

The two new services, funded by Neath Port Talbot Council, will be operated by Briggs Coaches.

A free bus already operated from Swansea City Centre to the Bay Field Hospital funded by Swansea Council. First Cymru service 9A operates every 20 minutes Monday to Saturday from Bay D at Swansea Bus Station. The service also stops at Sainsbury’s and the Fabian Way Park and Ride. Service 51 runs as required when the Field Hospital is open on Sunday’s and Bank Holidays.

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Carmarthenshire

New maps show Welsh Government plans for rail and bus improvements

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Electrification of the railway to Swansea and beyond, new rail stations and improvements to bus services are all part of the plans.

“Delivering the £1bn Welsh Metro project will be one of the most ambitious and complex programmes we’ve ever undertaken.”

Those were the words of Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with a responsibility for transport, Lee Waters as he unveiled new maps showing the enormous scale of the project.

The new maps included proposals for the Swansea Bay area in addition to the South Wales Metro already under construction in Cardiff and the valleys, and a North Wales Metro to better link border communities.

The Welsh Government say that the Metro proposals will make it the easier choice for people to use their cars less and public transport and active travel more, to significantly reduce our environmental impact and help Wales reach its Net Zero carbon target by 2050.

The new maps, made available for the first time today, illustrate the short and longer term plans that the programme will deliver.

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In Swansea Bay this includes new train stations at Cockett and Landore in Swansea as well as St Clears in Carmarthenshire which has already received backing from the UK Government.

New stations are also proposed for Winch Wen, Llandarcy, Morriston, Felindre and Penllergaer along with rail frequency enhancements.

Improvements to the South Wales mainline include extending electrification as far as Swansea and improving the line speed west of Llanelli and west of Carmarthen.

Bus corridor improvements and integration projects are also proposed.

Longer term aspirations include reopening the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth rail line, and new rail links between Swansea, Neath and Onllwyn and Cwmgrach. Links are also planned between Ammanford and Gwaun Cae Gurwen.

Plans for further electrifying the rail network as far as Milford Haven are also proposed for the longer term.

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Deputy Minister Lee Waters said: “The Metro is not simply a transport project, it’s about changing the lives of people across Wales and is an excellent example of how investment in tackling climate change has far broader community benefits.

“Improving our public transport and active travel network routes is the right and responsible thing to do for the environment – making low carbon transport options more attractive, affordable, and easier to use – enabling people to leave their car at home particularly in the more densely populated parts of Wales linking up with active travel routes to provide door-to-door journeys in an integrated, sustainable transport network.

“Next month we will be attending COP26 – the most important COP since Paris in 2015 – and we will take a clear message to Glasgow that Wales is a globally responsible nation – ambitious projects like this prove that and show how everyone here is willing to play a part to combat global warming.”

Funding for the schemes are not yet agreed however, with agreement needed by the UK Government to the Welsh Government’s proposals.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “It is critical that the Welsh Government is urgently offered a positive outcome to the two Union Connectivity Fund bids by Transport for Wales in order to progress and complete this important work this financial year. Transport for Wales and Network Rail have developed a positive delivery partnership and this will be further strengthened through this funding to deliver on the priorities for improving rail infrastructure across Wales.

“If the UK Government wishes to state a positive case for the Union it is important that the cross border transport priorities of Wales are recognised, respected and delivered, particularly with the recent changes to the proposed allocation of the levelling up fund for the Devolved Administrations straying into areas of devolved competency.”

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The Welsh Government has announced an additional £2m cash injection to expand existing plans for South East and South West Wales metros, to include new bus and rail stations and services as well more active travel routes making public transport more attractive and accessible and connecting communities.

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