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Swansea City Centre Conference welcomes 2,500 to hear big announcements for the city

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The first business conference and exhibition to be held in the new Swansea Arena took place on March 17, bringing 2500 people, 125 exhibitors and 20 speakers together to celebrate and showcase the best of Swansea City Centre.

Big news released at the event included council leader Rob Stewart’s announcement of plans for a new aquarium on the seafront and a potential hydrogen ferry link with Devon and Cornwall, and an announcement from Penderyn Whisky director Nigel Short that his housebuilding company, Short Brothers Homes, is setting up a new charitable foundation for the city – The Swansea Bay Foundation.

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Carrying the strapline It’s Your Swansea, the City Centre Conference was organised by community interest company 4theRegion, in partnership with Swansea Council. 4theRegion is a membership alliance working to bring about positive change in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

Its first Swansea City Centre Conference, in 2019, brought together over 600 people to celebrate Swansea and discover the plans for the city’s future.

This year’s event more than quadrupled those numbers, bringing together council leaders, businesses, social enterprises, charities, investors, community groups, government representatives and members of the public to discuss the projects currently underway in the city, hear from thought leaders and decision makers, and help shape the vision for a vibrant and successful city.

The City Centre conference was the first event of its type at Swansea’s new Arena (Image: Adam Davies / 4TheRegion)
Exhibition stands at 4TheRegion’s City Centre conference at Swansea Arena (Image: 4TheRegion / Adam Davies)

The event, whose sponsors included Coastal Housing, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea BID, Swansea.com, the Swansea Bay City Deal and Pobl Group, featured five exhibition zones: Creative and Digital, Development and Investment, Energy and Environment, Destination Swansea and The Regional Zone.

Presentations included the latest plans for the tidal energy lagoon in Swansea Bay, now led by Bridgend-based firm DST/Batri, and updates on other major projects in the area, including the proposed leisure development on Kilvey Hill by New Zealand-based Skyline.

Independent local changemakers also presented their work, including David Toft from Fresh Creative, which supports community groups to create colourful murals on unloved walls across the city; and Angela Bettany from the Room to Grow project, which promotes community food growing initiatives.

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Council Leader Rob Stewart set out his vision for the next phase of city centre regeneration, alongside presentations about a new co-working space in the redeveloped Palace Theatre by Tramshed Tech, and new energy efficient homes at Gwynfaen, led by Pobl Group and Coastal Housing.

Swansea Council Leader Rob Stewart at the City Centre Conference (Image: 4TheRegion / Adam Davies)
Rob Stewart outlines plans for the city’s future (Image: 4TheRegion / Adam Davies)

Local organisations discussed a renewed focus on growing their local supply chains in order to strengthen the local economy, and their commitment to investing in zero carbon technologies to address the climate emergency.

Dawn Lyle, founder and chair of 4theRegion, said: “A huge thank you to everyone who attended, exhibited or spoke at this year’s conference. It was an amazing day, showcasing and celebrating all the people, projects, businesses and organisations that make Swansea what it is – and it saw some very exciting announcements about future plans for the city.

“Our mission is to create a sense of positivity, collaboration and empowerment across Swansea and South West Wales, and this year’s conference went a long way towards achieving that. It brought together all those who are ambitious for the future of Swansea – the entrepreneurs, the creative people, the visionaries and the campaigners who are making change happen. It has helped to change the way people think about Swansea and tell the story of its emerging future.”

(Lead image: 4TheRegion / Adam Davies)

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Transport for Wales

New trains for Wales and Borders services go on show

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Brand new trains that aim to transform services across Wales and the English borders have been on show today at Chester railway station.

Assembled by CAF at their factory in Newport, the first Class 197 train with its ‘Made in Wales’ tag was revealed to the public today (Friday 1 July), offering a taste of what’s to come for customers in the next few months.

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TfW are spending £800 million on new trains throughout their network and the Class 197 will be the first of the brand-new stock to enter service in North Wales before the end of this year.

Providing an increase in capacity, reduced emissions and enhanced comfort onboard, these trains will allow TfW to run faster and more frequent services to key routes including services in South West Wales – Manchester to Milford Haven, Cardiff to Fishguard and Swansea to Pembroke Dock.

Offering leather seats, modern air conditioning systems, wider doors and customer information screens, the new trains will transform the customer experience. They’ve also been fitted with electronic charging points and disability features for those with limited mobility.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “I am pleased to welcome the new Class 197 trains to the rail network. These new vehicles represent a real transformational improvement on the trains that they will be replacing, providing comfortable and frequent services, encouraging people to leave their cars behind and move onto a more sustainable form of transport.”

Alexia Course, TfW’s Director of Transport Operations, said: “At Transport for Wales we’re continually moving forward with our transformational plans to improve public transport for the people of Wales and the borders.

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“The Class 197s on show at Chester railway station today will be an important part of the transformation of the Wales and Borders network, and when they enter service, they will enable us to run more services and carry more customers in comfort.

“The construction of our new trains has been four years in the making, and customers and colleagues are incredibly excited to welcome passengers onto them from later this year.

“It’s also important to recognise that these trains have been made in Wales at the CAF factory in Newport and the building of them has provided jobs and supported the local economy”.

Richard Garner, UK Director CAF said: “CAF is thrilled that the first of our Class 197 trains for the Wales and Borders network has been officially launched.

“We are immensely proud of our key role in delivering Transport for Wales’ vision to transform rail travel for passengers.

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“The manufacture of our trains is taking place at our state-of-the-art facility in Newport, South Wales. We see ourselves as a local manufacturer, supporting highly skilled jobs and bringing employment opportunities to the local area whilst focusing on sustainability issues and addressing the needs of the Welsh economy.

Our trains are being built in Wales to serve the Welsh communities”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

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Education

Pontarddulais school’s physical education department supported by Amazon

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A comprehensive school in Pontarddulais has received a £1,000 donation from the Amazon fulfilment centre in Swansea.

Pontarddulais Comprehensive School plans to use the donation to purchase new safety mats for use in PE lessons.

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They say this will allow their pupils to enjoy activities such as gymnastics and inspire more pupils to follow in the footsteps of their peers who have recently succeeded at a national level.

Christopher Law, General Manager at Amazon in Swansea, said: “At Amazon, we recognise the value of extra-curricular development, and we are pleased to lend a helping hand to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School with this donation. We wish the school well as it seeks to inspire and engage the leaders of tomorrow through both academic and physical education.”

Nigel Hughes, who is an engineer at Amazon in Swansea and put the school forward for the donation, added: “My children receive a fantastic education and genuine support at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, and it’s great that Amazon is providing this donation to help fund new equipment.”

Julie Evans, Area Coordinator for Health and Wellbeing at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, said: “We want to thank Christopher and the Amazon team in Swansea. This kind and generous donation will support us in continuing to create the high-quality facilities required for a first-class educational experience. It will be a great addition allowing us to strengthen and expand our school’s physical activity opportunities.”

The donation to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School was made as part of Amazon’s programme to support the communities in and around its operating locations across the UK.

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(Lead image: Pontarddulais Comprehensive School)

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Lifestyle

Swansea man’s delight as he scoops combined £37,000 cash-and-car prize

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A Swansea man who was feeling lucky during the working week was left in a state of delighted disbelief on finding out he had won a combined £37,000 cash-and-car prize with online competitions company BOTB.

Anthony Brain from Swansea could not believe his luck when BOTB’s Christian Williams picked up the phone to let him know he was the winner of its Midweek Lifestyle competition.

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Anthony, who works for Swansea-based automotive products company Marelli, scooped a brand new BMW 128ti, as well as a cash prize of £2,000.

After recovering from his initial shock, Anthony said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable – I’m over-the-moon and still on a real high from it. It’s rare that I take part in the Midweek Lifestyle Competition – I think I’ve only entered it once or twice before – but I was feeling lucky during the working week, so thought ‘why not?’ When I got the call to say I’d won, I was stunned.

“Being a car enthusiast, I’m really excited about winning the car but the cash is brilliant too. We’ve already booked some holidays with some of the winnings, including to Italy and Florida. It’s nice to have something to look forward to.”

Anthony said his prize win has prompted colleagues to throw their hat in the ring and give BOTB’s competitions a go.

He added: “The thing is you’ve got to be in it to win it – and I think once you know someone who has won, you feel more hopeful that you could be in with a chance. I’d encourage anyone thinking about entering to try it for themselves.”

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Other recent winners have bagged a motorbike, a luxury holiday to Barbados and £15,000 in cash. 

The company, listed on the stock market, was founded by William Hindmarch in 1999 and has given away more than £47m worth of cars so far. 

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