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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.

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.”

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

“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.

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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.

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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Education

Pupils create lasting legacy ahead of move to new school

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Pupils counting down the weeks until they can move into their new school building have created a lasting legacy to let children in the future know what school life is like today.

The children at Ysgol Gymraeg Tan-y-lan have worked with staff to gather items for a time capsule that has been buried on the site of the new £9.9m build in Clase.

The development is nearing completion and they are due to move from their existing site at Tan-y-lan Terrace in Morriston to their new home in Clase after the Christmas holiday break.

Pupils joined Swansea Council Leader Rob Stewart, Cabinet member for Education Improvement Robert Smith and other senior councillors at the new site to bury the time capsule.

It includes photos and recordings of performances along with items of news and information that will give a flavour of school life in 2021.

The new build is jointly funded by Swansea Council and the Welsh Government under the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme and is part of a £170m investment in new and improved schools in Swansea which is the largest such investment in the city’s history.

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Cllr Smith said: “The new school building and facilities are absolutely first class and I can see how excited the staff and children are about moving into their new home.

“This will give them the very best surroundings in which to work and is very different to the old outdated accommodation of their current buildings.

“The contractors Kier have done an amazing job in building this school while working safely during the pandemic and I can’t wait to see the pupils settle in. I’m really looking forward to visiting them again when it opens.”

The new build at Hill View Crescent has an increased capacity and a nursery that will help meet additional demand for Welsh medium education in the future.

YGG Tan-y-lan headteacher Berian Jones said pupils and staff were very excited about the move and said they had all worked together to create the time capsule.

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He added: “Pupils from each year group were involved in preparing USB’s filled with examples of activities, photos and performances that have been placed in the capsule.

“We have also collected items that represent the school and our ‘cynefin’ habitat – we also included items and information from current time that explain our current situation and current events in history.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Health

Health board warning flu cases leading to hospital admissions in Swansea Bay

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woman lying on bed while blowing her nose

The flu virus is already circulating and has led to people being hospitalised according to Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Director of Public Health, Dr Keith Reid.

Dr Reid said the cases, although small in number, should be a timely reminder that everyone eligible for a free flu vaccination should take up the offer.

Dr Keith Reid

“Flu was non-existent in autumn and winter 2020 as lockdowns, mask wearing and increased hand hygiene stopped it and other winter bugs from spreading from person to person,” he said.

“But we have been expecting to see flu come back this year and potentially at levels up to twice as high as a normal flu season.

“People were simply not exposed to flu and other seasonal viruses last year, so the level of immunity in the community is likely to have dropped and people will be susceptible.

“Plus we are all mixing far more now and, with the bad weather coming, we are all going to be heading indoors which will give flu and other bugs the ideal opportunity to spread.”

Flu can be fatal and research has shown that those infected with both flu and Covid are more than twice as likely to die as someone with Covid alone.

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Dr Reid said: “This will be the first winter when we will have significant levels of flu and Covid circulating at the same time, so I must urge everyone, if they are eligible for a free flu vaccination, to take up the offer as soon as possible.

“While no vaccine can offer 100% protection, the flu vaccine remains our best defence against this nasty virus.

“And remember, if you haven’t yet had your first Covid vaccination you can still do so.”

(Lead image: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com)

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Swansea

Installation of gold-coloured panels nears completion at arena

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Installation of all gold-coloured panels surrounding Swansea Arena is now just about complete.

Over 1,600 of the panels have been installed – each equipped with LED lights to enable the hosting of displays around the attraction.

It’s another milestone for the £135m Copr Bay phase one district, which is being developed by Swansea Council and advised by development managers RivingtonHark.

Construction of the district – led by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd – will be complete this year, with the arena opening its doors in early 2022.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “This is another great milestone for our Copr Bay phase one district, which will be worth hundreds of jobs and £17.1m a year to Swansea’s economy.

“Significant progress is being made every day. This includes the planting of trees and other greenery in the 1.1-acre coastal park next to the arena and major construction progress on the new restaurant in the park that will be run by a Swansea business.

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“Our arena tenants and operators – Ambassador Theatre Group – have also started announcing arena acts, helping build excitement towards the announcement of a headline opening music act.

“People walking, cycling or driving along Oystermouth Road may also have seen more greenery being introduced recently along the roadside, with a living wall soon being introduced nearby too.

“The arena is creating a stunning new landmark on Swansea’s transformed cityscape. It will combine with many other projects to ensure our city quickly bounces back from the economic impact of the pandemic.

“Copr Bay phase one has been and continues to be delivered despite the challenge of Covid, while also paving the way for phase two that will be progressed with Urban Splash – our preferred development partner for the regeneration of several key sites in Swansea.”

Other features of Copr Bay phase one include the new bridge over Oystermouth Road, which will soon benefit from a permanent lighting scheme. Apartments are also being constructed, along with spaces for more businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors.

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The arena feature of Copr Bay phase one is being part-funded by the Swansea Bay City Deal as part of the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District project that also includes the new office development soon being constructed at 71/72 The Kingsway.

The bridge over Oystermouth Road is part-funded by the Welsh Government’s Active Travel fund.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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