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Restoration work on Swansea historic bascule bridge moves ahead

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The council says a big new step is about to be taken in the repair and restoration of an historic Swansea landmark.

It will help lead to the return of Landore’s 112-year-old Bascule Bridge.

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The structure is earmarked by Swansea Council as a key heritage feature of the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site’s bright future.

The aim is to re-install the restored 70-tonne steel span at its site crossing the River Tawe. Restoration work, in the form of detailed investigations, structural repairs and painting, has taken place at Afon Engineering, Swansea Vale, since summer 2019.

Having investigated the bridge’s timberwork that helps support the span, the council is now about to look for a specialist business to repair those wooden elements.

The bascule bridge as it stood before being removed for restoration (Image: Swansea Council)

Officers continue to work closely with Welsh Government’s historic environment service Cadw on the project.

Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “Our detailed work so far puts us in a strong position to move to the next stage of repairing and restoring this wonderful survivor of Swansea’s industrial history.

“We’re in constant contact with Cadw to ensure that the restoration journey meets their requirements.”

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Fellow cabinet member Mark Thomas said: “The timber restoration will be specialist work and we hope to start that early next year.

“In the meantime, we plan to move the span from Afon Engineering to a new short-term temporary home close to the former Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site which is undergoing regeneration.

“Work is essential at this time to prevent further decay and risk loss of this grade II listed structure and scheduled monument. Any further delay would result in the loss of this valuable heritage that forms a critical part of Swansea’s story.

“Our work on the Bascule Bridge will complement the work we are doing to develop a world class tourist destination at the copperworks; this attracted National Lottery Heritage Funding of £3.75m to restore the Powerhouse for future use as a Penderyn Distillery visitor attraction.”

The bascule bridge at Afon Engineering where it is being restored (Image: Swansea Council)
The bascule bridge at Afon Engineering where it is being restored (Image: Swansea Council)
The bascule bridge at Afon Engineering where it is being restored (Image: Swansea Council)

Wales’ Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters said: “I am pleased that we’ve been able to contribute to this important project via our Transforming Towns programme which supports the economic and social recovery of our town and city centres across Wales.   

“Restoring this historic bridge is important to the overall development of the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks as a heritage and tourism site that I am sure will attract visitors from far and wide.”

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Louise Mees, Cadw’s regional inspector of ancient monuments, said: “The Bascule Bridge was pivotal to the area’s time as the world copper capital and is a unique part of Swansea’s industrial heritage.  

“It was built in 1909 to carry materials and waste between the two copper works on either side of the River Tawe. It was hinged so that it could be lifted to allow the ships with high masts that were carrying cargo and trade to and from all around the world to navigate the river.”

A unique feature of Swansea’s industrial heritage, the Bascule Bridge was pivotal to the area’s time as the world copper capital. Its hinged steel structure would lift to allow the passage of river traffic.

The initial main work on the steel elements was part funded by Welsh Government Transforming Towns funding support together with a funding contribution from the council.

Businesses involved in the work include lead contractor Griffiths, through the Swansea Highways Partnership, and  structural engineers/consultants Mann Williams.

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Lead Image: The main span of Swansea’s Bascule Bridge at the city’s Afon Engineering where it has been restored (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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