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Market shoppers enjoy taste of market’s new attraction

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City centre shoppers are enjoying a sociable and relaxing new experience in Swansea Market.

The iconic venue has just become yet more welcoming.

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The Market Garden – a new area at the heart of the venue – is a new place where people can eat, work and enjoy themselves. They take food and drink there having bought it from nearby market stalls.

Its launch was welcomed on Saturday, December 4, with a visit by Lord Mayor of Swansea Cllr Mary Jones.

Gwaun Cae Gurwen Brass Band helped usher in the new era, there was more music from singer-songwriter Ailie Kenna and there was fun with festive characters Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, The Grinch and Elf on the Shelf.

Lord Mayor of Swansea, Cllr Mary Jones was at the official opening (Image: Swansea Council)
Music from singer-songwriter Ailie Kenna (Image: Swansea Council)

The market’s Christmas-themed best dressed stall competition was won by Janet’s Café, with Arlene’s Sweetie Jar and Nonna’s running the winner close.

The green-themed Market Garden, developed by Swansea Council, features more than 170 plants together with an assortment of comfortable, garden-style tables and chairs for visitors to enjoy food and drink bought from a wide variety of market stalls.

The new young plants will grow to make the space more green, any plants struggling to bed in will be replaced and seasonal flowers will also be added at appropriate times.    

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The new attraction’s name celebrates a previous era when the centre of the venue was traditionally home to a flower market.

The new Market Garden at Swansea Market (Image: Swansea Council)

Operated in line with latest Covid guidelines, it has power charging facilities, recycling bins and a water station to refill water bottles. Free public Wi-Fi is planned.

Highchairs are available to those with young children. There are warmers for baby bottles and food – and there’s a toddlers’ play table.

For the first time, dog lovers can take their well-behaved pets to the market. Dogs can enjoy a bowl of water at Swansea Jack’s kennel – as long as they follow the market’s new “doggie rules.”

Bakery stallholder Jan Evans said: “The Market Garden is a fantastic addition to the market in an area that was previously not very heavily used. 

“Visually, it’s a huge improvement and it’s wonderful to see our customers enjoying using this new facility already. 

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“I’m really looking forward to having new events there and I’m sure it’ll prove to be of benefit to everyone in the market.”

New seating area at Swansea Market (Image: Swansea Council)

Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “The market will play a key role in Swansea’s great future, being led by our £1bn regeneration scheme.

“Its Market Garden is part of a £440,000 improvement programme at this wonderful venue. It’s accessible, inclusive, well managed and will bring new footfall for traders to benefit.

“It’s designed for the benefit and enjoyment of all customers – for meeting friends and family, catching up on work and enjoying the fantastic range of food available from the market.  

“It’s set to become a popular destination and is a flexible space that can also host events and exhibitions which will help attract a broader audience.”

Music and fun at the opening of Swansea Market’s new Market Garden (Image: Swansea Council)

The market, run by the council, attracts more than four million shoppers a year in non-pandemic times and is the permanent home to more than 100 businesses.

The Market Garden, which is close to the famous cockle stalls, is visible from every direction due to its 7.5m-high pergola, the shape of which mirrors the market’s monumental domed roof.

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The new attraction’s design and name were decided by the public as part of a consultation exercise this year. Traders had an input too.

Key for the traders was maintaining sight lines across the market. This was achieved by designing an open pergola without any walls but onto which decorative features can be hung to add greenery and create atmosphere.

The Market Garden stands on a formerly under-used and relatively unattractive space in the centre of the market. It previously had tables rented by the day by casual traders.

They have ceased trading in that area but will remain in the market, hiring other space. They have the option of using a smart new area a few yards away, next to the world-famous stalls that sell cockles, laver-bread and other delicacies.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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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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