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Council announces new powers to tackle city centre drug-taking and drunkenness

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New anti-social behaviour rules aimed at making Swansea city centre become a more welcoming place, kick in from 1 December.

A city centre Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) will apply to behaviour such as drug-taking and drunkenness – and everybody will be asked to comply.

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People who are vulnerable due to circumstances such as homelessness will be treated sensitively the council say, with housing and outreach services also involved.

The PSPO – part of a broader and coordinated Swansea approach to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) and street vulnerability – is designed to boost the city centre, an area that is seeing huge investment by the council and private sector businesses.

A £1bn regeneration programme is delivering eye-catching developments such as Swansea Arena, improvements to Wind Street and a greener, more attractive Kingsway.

The PSPO – which had widespread public support in a recent consultation – means that alcohol and drugs being consumed on the streets can be confiscated before the situation becomes a problem. Fixed penalty notices can be issued for ASB such as swearing and aggression. Other action could also be taken to deal with persistent troublemakers.

December 1 will be the start of a three-month PSPO trial in areas currently patrolled by the city centre rangers plus the Marina and Copr Bay coastal park when it opens next year. If successful, PSPOs could be introduced in areas such as SA1, Swansea Beach and the centre of Morriston.

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Separate PSPOs are being developed for two other locations with a history of ASB – a lane off St Helen’s Road and a tunnel linking The Strand with the High Street.

Map of the PSPO area (Image:Swansea Council / Ordnance Survey)

Robert Francis-Davies, the council cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “People are fed up with anti-social behaviour and want something done about it – the PSPO scheme will help address the issue. People should not feel intimidated or threatened by ASB.

“Our new powers – working with those the police already have – will help residents, businesses, shoppers, workers and visitors enjoy our fast-improving city centre.

“PSPOs are already in place in other towns and cities.”

Rangers will enforce the new PSPO rules (Image: Swansea Council)

Every year, hundreds of complaints about ASB are made to Swansea city centre rangers. Police records show it to be a key issue affecting the city centre.

Now, for the three months from December 1, city centre rangers will explain to people how the PSPO will work and how – by not being involved in anti-social behaviour – they can comply.

Rangers will continue to work closely with the police and outreach services so that actions are tailored to the individual. This could mean additional support for the individual.

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The issuing of fines will only begin after the trial – and only after discussions with the individuals involved. Enforcement is the last resort.

Alyson Pugh, the council’s cabinet member for supporting communities, said: “We have to do all we can to reduce the blight of anti-social behaviour in the city centre.

“There’s strong support for PSPOs from the police and business. Although a lot of work has already been done to address these problems, more needs to be done

“The council community safety team’s endeavours to address ASB issues continue to benefit from excellent work with partners – and I’m pleased that our PSPO will be operated in such a way that the most vulnerable people will continue to be treated with respect and support from our staff who are being trained so well.”

Andrea Lewis, joint deputy council leader and cabinet member for climate change and service transformation, said: “ASB exists in most UK towns and cities. We hope our PSPOs will help reduce it in Swansea whilst we continue to treat vulnerable people with sensitivity.

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“Our PSPOs aren’t aimed at the homeless or rough sleepers; people who often have complex problems and deserve our support to help them manage their lives.

“We have established mechanisms in place with the excellent outreach services that work hard to support vulnerable people.

“The council supports the homeless with medical and social care as well as finding them a place to live.”

Swansea BID chief executive Russell Greenslade said: “These new measures will be welcomed by our BID area businesses who are all working so hard to help the city centre thrive and prosper after a very testing period.

“Anti-social behaviour is an issue that is raised by businesses, consumers and visitors quite frequently and it is important that everyone with a vested interest in the future of the city centre does what is necessary to improve things.

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“Of course, there are complex issues at the heart of ASB that need to be dealt with carefully and sensitively and I know all the agencies involved will carry out their duties in a sensitive and professional way.”

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Swansea

Kevin Johns nominated for Honorary Freedom of Swansea

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Swansea icon and panto star Kevin Johns MBE is set to get Honorary Freedom of the City – oh, yes he is!

Mr Johns is being honoured for his charity work and for being one of our city’s best-known ambassadors. A report going to Full Council next week will ask councillors to endorse the proposal.

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If they do Mr Johns will follow Catherine Zeta Jones, rugby legend Alun Wyn-Jones and a host of others who’ve had the honour down the years.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said: “Kevin Johns is one of Swansea’s best-known and best-loved characters.

“Kevin has used his profile to support many local charities and promote our city to others. While he’s in the public eye a lot, there’s also much Kevin does behind the scenes to support people in need and that’s one of the reasons why he deserves this accolade so much.

Cllr Stewart said: “Kevin was panto dame at the Grand Theatre this year and he’s been the show’s biggest star for many years.

“He’s a fixture at the Liberty Stadium on Swans match days and is a brilliant broadcaster.  

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“When we celebrated our city’s 50th anniversary a couple of years ago it was Kevin who topped the public poll to name our Swansea Icon. That just goes to show how popular he is in his home city.”

Kev Johns receiving the Swansea Icon Award as part of the city’s 50th anniversary celebrations (Image: Swansea Council)

While Mr Johns is probably best-known for his starring roles at the Grand Theatre panto, he’s also played leading roles with the Wales Theatre Company and the Fleullen Theatre Company.

He was also directed by Michael Sheen in the National Theatre of Wales’s production of The Passion, appearing as the MC of the Last Supper.

As a supporter of many local charities, Mr Johns is president or patron of Swansea-based charities including the Rising Starts Theatre Company, Swansea Male Chor and Friends of Stepping Stones.

He was awarded an MBE for his services to charity in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2010 and collected his medal from Her Majesty The Queen at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

If Council approves the proposal, a ceremonial event will take place at a later stage to celebrate the honour.

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Mr Johns will follow in the footsteps of people like President Jimmy Carter, composer Sir Karl Jenkins MBE and football great Chris Coleman. Others to have been honoured include HMS Cambria, HMS Scott, The Welsh Guards and, most recently, the Swansea branch of the Merchant Navy Association.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Business

Covid grant scheme for Swansea businesses that don’t pay business rates

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photo of black cab on cobblestone road

An emergency grant scheme is now available for Swansea businesses in the leisure, tourism, hospitality and retail sectors that do not pay business rates.

Funded by the Welsh Government and run by Swansea Council, the Emergency Business Fund grant scheme is aimed at helping support businesses impacted by current Covid restrictions which are not eligible for the Economic Resilience Fund.

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Covering business impacted from Monday December 13 to Monday February 14, online applications are now open which cover two levels of grant award:

  • A £1,000 cash grant payment for hospitality, tourism, retail, leisure or related supply chain businesses which do not employ anyone apart from the owner, and do not have a property
  • A £2,000 cash grant payment for hospitality, tourism, retail, leisure or related supply chain businesses who employ staff through PAYE (in addition to the owner)

Also covering freelancers in the creative sector, both these grants are aimed at supporting businesses with an annual turnover of less than £85,000.

Businesses which may be eligible are asked to visit https://fundchecker.businesswales.gov.wales/businesssupport where the Business Wales eligibility checker must be completed before applicants are able to access the application form.

All applications must be submitted by 5pm on Monday February 14.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “It’s important all businesses in Swansea impacted by the current Omicron restrictions have access to financial support, with this latest grant scheme aimed at supporting many businesses that may not be eligible for the other support schemes already in place.

“We’re doing all we can as a council to assist our business community during these extremely challenging times, with more than £150m having been allocated to provide support since the onset of Covid.

“I’d encourage any business that may be eligible for emergency financial support to fill out an application. Council officers will do all they can to process payments for successful applicants as soon as possible.”

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A grant scheme for hospitality, tourism, retail and related supply chain businesses which are liable to pay non-domestic rates is also now live. This means these businesses could be entitled to grants of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000, depending on their rateable value.

More information, eligibility criteria and both registration and application details for that grant scheme are available at www.swansea.gov.uk/CovidNDRbusinessgrants 

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Business

Swansea Building Society appoints new non-executive director

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Swansea Building Society, ranked the most profitable building society in the UK last year, has appointed a new non-executive director – Malcolm Hayes.

Hayes comes to the role with extensive executive and board level experience gained within several major UK clearing banks, a specialist lending group, an ethical bank, and a large mutual credit union.

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After starting his career with NatWest, Hayes went on to spend over 25 years in Lloyds Banking Group, where he held senior risk and credit positions in the bank’s business and commercial divisions.

His 40-year career has seen him hold executive positions as chief risk officer, operational risk & compliance director, control function director, head of credit audit and head of enterprise-wide risk management.

Having retired from executive roles in 2019, following five years as the chief risk officer of Paragon Banking Group, Hayes currently also holds non-executive director roles at Reliance Bank Ltd and as chair of the board of directors of Citysave Credit Union Ltd.

He also has previous board experience as a director of the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation PLC and AMC Bank Ltd – wholly owned subsidiaries of Lloyds Bank PLC – and served as a board director of a Lloyds Bank subsidiary established to undertake residential property development.

Hayes’ new non-executive director role with Swansea Building Society sees him sit on the Society’s audit committee, risk committee and asset & liabilities committee.

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Malcolm Hayes, non-executive director at Swansea Building Society, said: “I’m very excited to be taking on this new non-executive director role with Swansea Building Society. The Society’s vision and ethics are truly inspirational, and the success the Society has achieved in recent years is a tribute to its customer-focused, common-sense approach to lending. I hope that the experience I bring to the role can help the society continue its success and allow it to help even more people build a better future for themselves and their families.”

Alun Williams, chief executive officer at Swansea Building Society, added: “We are delighted to welcome Malcolm to his new role of non-executive director. Malcolm has extensive experience, over many years, which will be invaluable in helping Swansea Building Society build on our success and achieve our business aims.”

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