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Swansea free bus scheme to return for October half-term

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Swansea’s hugely-successful free bus initiative is to return for the October half-term – but there’s some changes to the days of the week the scheme is running and the time of day the offer ends.

During August the scheme funded by Swansea Council saw bus use soar by more than 50% with more than 220,000 passengers taking advantage.

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Now it’s back for both weekends of half-term, starting on Saturday, October 23, for three consecutive days and again from Friday, October 29 for three consecutive days.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said feedback on the summer stage of the initiative had been extremely positive and some of the busiest routes operated on Gower saw passenger numbers increase by up to 65%.

He said: We launched #FreeRideSwansea to help families and businesses as they emerged from the pandemic. Families told me what a difference it made for them. They were able to enjoy days out without worrying about the cost of travel.

“It also gave a lift to the local economy with people travelling to the city centre and our community attractions and shopping centres. We’re doing it for October half-term so families can get on the move for free once again.”

Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment Enhancement and Infrastructure Management, welcomed the number of passengers using public transport.

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“As a council were are committed to doing all we can in Swansea to tackle climate change. #FreeRideSwansea at half-term is taking place just a week before the start of Cop26, when world leaders meet in Glasgow to consider the next steps in the international effort to deal with the problem.

“We hope #FreeRideSwansea will encourage people to use public transport more and their cars a little less for the long term, helping cut pollution and congestion.

“It was a real lift to see how popular the summer initiative was and we’re already looking at how we might be able to bring it back during the Christmas school holidays as well.”

The scheme means that people who start and finish their bus journeys within the council boundaries of Swansea on the six days of the offer will not have to pay for the service provided their trip also starts before 7pm in the evening.

The 7pm deadline change from the previous time of an 11pm finish has been agreed following feedback discussions with bus companies and will support them to provide the service during the six days of the offer.

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The initiative is part of the Council’s £20m Recovery Plan, aimed at supporting families and boosting the local economy following the pandemic.

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Clydach

Historic Clydach canal towpath given new lease of life as cycle and walking route

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Nearly one and half kilometres of historic canal tow path in Swansea has been given a new lease of life as a new walking and cycling route.

The route in the Swansea community of Clydach, has been topped with a new accessible two metre wide tarmac surface to create a new shared use path for walkers and cyclists. The path forms part of the national cycle network, known as NCN43.

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Swansea Council has completed the upgrade to the path following discussions with the Rivers and Canal Trust and after receiving funding through the Welsh Government’s sustainable transport scheme – Active Travel.

Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment Enhancement and Infrastructure Management, said: “Our aim to widen the existing path along the canal and provide an improved surface for walkers and cyclists is now complete and is a vast improvement for the many residents and visitors that use the route.

“We worked with the Canal and River Trust to make this route a safer and an even more popular walking and cycling route. The completed improvements now link up with the similar works completed by the neighbouring local authority along their section, boosting regional benefits between Swansea and Neath & Port Talbot.”

The quarter of a million pound investment in Clydach was included in a wider list of schemes after Swansea received more than £4million of funding to create new walking and cycling routes in the city during 2021/22.

Further funding (£245,000) will also help create a new 1.4 km link between the communities of Clydach and Craig Cefn Parc.

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Other routes currently under construction include a 900metre shared use path along Clasemont Road in Morriston. A new route in Townhill – known as the Ravine, is also nearing completion and zig zags along the mountainside for 1.4km.

Work has also started on further routes in Morriston and along Jersey Road in Bonymaen – all providing vital links to existing walking and cycling networks.

Cllr Thomas added: “We’re getting on with creating more accessible walking and cycling routes all across the city, ensuring these routes can provide a welcome alternative to using a car to get around, particularly on short journeys where walking and cycling can be beneficial.

“Expanding our network of walking and cycling routes so more communities are linked up is a key aim to encourage more residents to travel in a more sustainable way.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Business

Free marketing support helping hundreds of Swansea tourism businesses

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Close to 200 tourism businesses in Swansea are now being given a helping hand to raise their profile across the UK and beyond, thanks to free marketing support.

An £80,000 Swansea Council scheme means that fees will be waived again – for a third year – so tourism and hospitality businesses can continue to feature on the official Visit Swansea Bay destination website at no cost until March 2023. 

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These businesses can also benefit from a series of marketing campaigns designed to encourage new visitors to Swansea, Mumbles and Gower.

It’s one of many schemes being funded by the council’s £25m Economic Recovery Fund to support businesses and communities throughout Swansea to help them recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.

Swansea Council has also offered tourism businesses the opportunity to improve their visitor offer with a Tourism Support Fund launched in October. This fund is now fully committed after a very positive response from local operators who wished to enhance their business in order to be able to attract more visitors.

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, said: “Tourism makes a significant contribution to Swansea’s economy, so we’re determined to do all we can to support the sector during the extremely challenging times of the pandemic.

“Since we first waived fees at the beginning of the pandemic for tourism businesses to feature on visitswanseabay.com, over 70 additional businesses have signed up for the service. This means close to 200 tourism businesses are now benefitting from not just more exposure but also inclusion in our year-long destination marketing campaigns, including new social media and video on demand TV advertising referring back to the website for more information.

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“Figures show the Visit Swansea Bay website generates many millions of views a year, so this presents a great opportunity for tourism businesses to further raise their profile as we head towards the critically important Easter and summer seasons for the tourism sector.”

Businesses benefitting from the website fee waiving include the El Pescador Restaurant and Bar on Trawler Road, as well as the King Arthur Hotel in Reynoldston, Gower.

King Arthur Hotel

Carly Shapton, of the King Arthur Hotel, said: “Given the impact Coronavirus has had on hospitality since March 2020, the support from Swansea Council through waiving the Visit Swansea Bay partnership fees has been very much appreciated.  

“The weekly email updates, press and journalist visits, and in particular the ‘late availability’ section on the Visit Swansea Bay website, have been very useful. This has given our business an extra boost during what have been a difficult few years.”

Swansea Council has now committed over £13.6m to more than 50 projects as part of its Economic Recovery Fund. Other schemes covered by the fund include free bus travel initiatives, the provision of free outside public space use for businesses to expand, and the installation of extra Christmas lights in the city centre over the festive period.

Also covered by the fund is a new Energy Awareness Hub on Nelson Street. Commissioned by the council and run by the Environment Centre, the hub aims to help local people cut their fuel bills by providing free, accessible and independent support.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Business

Swansea investment management firm second award in 4 months

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Swansea-based Crossing Point Investment Management has been crowned best ESG Investment Management Firm in the UK Finance Awards 2021.

This is the company’s second award win in four months, after it was crowned best discretionary fund manager (DFM) for the South West and Wales region in the 2021 Citywire Adviser Choice Awards in September.

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Tomiko Evans

Founded in 2018, Crossing Point manages clients’ investment portfolios using various strategies. Its Green Path portfolios, which won it the award, focus on investments guided by environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

Crossing Point’s investment strategies are rooted in academic research carried out by Tomiko Evans, the firm’s managing director and chief investment officer, and Crossing Point’s investment manager Mike Buckle, who is a Professor of Finance at Swansea University.

The UK Finance Awards, hosted by SME News, champion and recognise those in the financial services sector who have shown industry excellence over the past year.

Now in its third consecutive year, the awards focus on small and medium sized companies in the sector. The winners are chosen on merit alone.

Tomiko Evans, managing director and chief investment officer and Crossing Point Investment Management, said: “We’re delighted to receive this award, which highlights our commitment to providing ethical investment options for our clients.

“Socially responsible investment (SRI) and the use of ESG investment criteria to guide investments has moved into the mainstream.

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“There is now overwhelming evidence that sustainable investment can deliver comparable returns with traditional investments and offer opportunities for outperformance based on reduced risk.

“This award recognises the importance of this growing sector, and our place within it.”

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