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New playground for West Cross and 25 other city parks due upgrades

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A brand new play area for West Cross and upgrades for at least 25 others are in the pipeline for communities across Swansea.

Work is due to begin on a new play area this month at a site near the seafront at West Cross, while improvements for existing council play areas in parks from Bonymaen to Ynystawe are also in the pipeline.

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Plans for improvement projects at 12 other locations have already gone out to tender and work is due to start on them as soon as final arrangements have been agreed. On top of that at least another nine council-owned play areas have also been earmarked for upgrades.

The planned work is the latest round of improvements planned for community play areas that has already seen transformations at 43 other locations around the city over the last year or so.

Plans for the new West Cross playground (Image: Swansea Council)

Andrew Stevens, Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure, said the work is part of a multi-million pound commitment to give every council-owned play area a makeover in the coming two years.

He said: “The pandemic demonstrated just how important free outdoor play areas were for the wellbeing of our children and young people.

“During the crisis they became one of the few places where children could get their exercise safely and friends and families could see each other for a socially-distanced chat.

“So far we’ve committed £5m to our play area fund and communities from Craig Cefn Parc to Loughor and Melin Mynach have seen the benefits.”

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Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, said feedback about the play areas initiative has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Those who’ve benefited so far have told us what a difference it makes and their reaction and that of the children who love the new equipment in their neighbourhood has encouraged the council to continue with its investment in the coming years.

“At West Cross, construction of a new play area on the green between Alderwood Road and Mumbles Road is due to start in June and should be ready for use towards the end of the summer school holidays.”

The new or improved play areas that have been springing up all over Swansea feature equipment chosen in collaboration with local communities.

They range from traditional swings, slides and roundabouts to trampolines, zipwires and climbing frames. Facilities have also been introduced for children with disabilities.

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Those sites to have gained new or improved play areas already include Mayhill, Uplands, Llansamlet, Gorseinon, Golden Grove, Heol Frank, Ravenhill Park, Weig Fawr, Cwmbwrla and Coed Bach Park.

Those places where improvement projects are planned include Garnswllt, Heol Tir Du in Morriston, Dunvant Park and Dunvant Meadow, Brooksby Road and Bonymaen Park in Bonymaen, Swansea Point playground, Maesteg Park in St Thomas, Hafod Park and Highmead playground in Mumbles.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Ambitious plans for city’s future unveiled

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Ambitious plans for Swansea have been unveiled by the leader of the council – including further transformation of the city centre.

Building on success stories like the Swansea arena, new schools and play areas and a £750m new deal for the city centre, the city is set to be transformed in the coming years.

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And as Swansea heads into a summer packed with major international sports, music and cultural events, they’re helping set the stage for an optimistic and vibrant future for the city.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said that plans being set out for the next five years include the transformation of Castle Square Gardens, the rejuvenation of Mumbles and the sweep of Swansea Bay and the delivery of new, exciting visitor attractions.

And he pledged that none of the city’s communities would be left behind thanks to tens of millions of pounds of investment in road improvements, street cleaning and community facilities alongside support for struggling families and the homeless.

Castle Square is due to be transformed in the coming months (Image: Swansea Council)

He said: “Swansea has always been a city of ambition. Now it is a city delivering on our people’s priorities.”

Among the highlights of the city’s ambition for the future include the delivery of a £750m city centre transformation that started with the arena, delivering a city centre community hub and a new role for the former Debenhams store.

Other pledges include making progress on the £1.7bn Blue Eden renewable energy scheme set to include a tidal lagoon, developing a new aquarium and building new hotels in the city centre and near the Swansea.com Stadium.

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The opening an outdoor adventure park on Kilvey Hill in 2025 that would include cable cars, ziplines and luge runs.

Plans for the Skyline adventure park on Kilvey Hill form part of the council’s future vision for the city (Image: Swansea Council)

The council will also build hundreds more energy-efficient council properties, while also upgrading existing homes to help reduce fuel bills.

Highways are set for investment with a £10m boost for road repairs, new PATCH road repair teams being rolled out, more electric vehicle charging points and more walking and cycling routes.

Other commitments for Swansea communities include Cleansing, littering and weeding teams dedicated to every neighbourhood,

Continued support to encourage eligible households to claim the Welsh Government £150 cost of living payment, investment in thousands more trees, our parks and biodiversity with investment also seeing play area upgrades and improved skate facilities.

Swansea Council say they will spend £10m on road repairs in the next year (Image: Swansea Council)

Cllr Stewart said the free bus travel initiative and upgrades for outdoor play areas was helping families make ends meet at a time when every penny counts. At the same time city centre regeneration spearheaded by the council was attracting millions of pounds of private sector investment.

He said: “The cost of living crisis and climate change will be among the biggest challenges any of us will face over the coming years.

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“From food banks to free bus travel, from better homes to better schools, we’ll carry on supporting families and communities who are struggling to get by.

“We’ll continue investing in major projects and community priorities like schools, children’s welfare and adult wellbeing. This combined investment enables resilience and promotes wellbeing. It creates and protects jobs and it makes Swansea a better place to live, work and do business.

“And by investing in green energy, growing our green spaces and welcoming new people, new investment and fresh ideas, we can look forward to building a better future.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Swansea shows rise in business growth despite fears high streets are empty

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Swansea BID (Business Improvement District) are celebrating the opening of the 60th new business in Swansea City Centre since January 2020.

According to a recent Federation of Small Business report on Welsh towns, only 3% of people feel their town centres are thriving; but given the impact of Covid-19, Swansea BID have continued to see businesses opening since the pandemic began. 

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High Street Giants Replaced by Independents

Since January 2020, 66 new businesses have opened in the city centre. In the same period, only 27 have closed, with over half of these businesses citing the pandemic as the reason. As many large high street names such as Debenhams, Disney, Topshop and Pizza Express have closed, the rate of smaller, independent businesses opening has increased.

“We have seen strong growth in start-up businesses over the last few years. I think excellent customer service and experience is a key factor in their success,” said Russell Greenslade, Swansea BID Chief Executive. “We have also seen sharp growth in the hospitality sector, independents and more sustainable businesses.”

Responses to the FSB survey showed that 67% of people in Wales feel that their town centres are ‘bad’ or ‘bleak’. The Vision for Welsh Towns report makes a series of recommendations to support and grow businesses in town centres, many of which Swansea BID actively do; including helping to reduce business costs and directly supporting businesses. 

A new independent restaurant has opened at the former Pizza Express chain next to Swansea’s castle

The High Street is Resilient 

Simon Kendrick, Director of the Games Emporium on Swansea’s High Street said the business is likely to renew their lease for another 10 years thanks to their confidence in the developments happening in Swansea.

“We’ve enjoyed growing with the High Street, it has been fabulous to see the once run down and talked down part of town continue its transformation towards a vibrant part of the city’s cultural life,” he said.

“Swansea BID have been helpful in driving some of that change with initiatives like the Big Heart and city-wide treasure trails to drive shoppers our way, as well as more behind the scenes support like advocating reductions in street-table rates for local cafes. 

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“Currently, the BID is assisting us (and many other businesses) with applying for grant funding to renovate our shopfront, which will further enhance the appearance and character of the High Street,” said Kendrick.

Swansea’s High Street has seen massive transformation over the last few years

Investing in Regeneration

With £1bn set to be invested in regeneration projects over the next few years, the landscape of Swansea is set to transform. 

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Investment and Tourism said, “The growth is encouraging. It shows the combination of our business talent and the work the council and its partners are carrying out to regenerate Swansea to create a modern, confident city that’s attracting more and more businesses to invest.

“We’re doing all we can to create an environment where businesses can thrive, such as the £135m Copr Bay district and our work to transform the look and feel of The Kingsway and Wind Street.

“Much more is planned too, including a revamp of Castle Square Gardens, a state-of-the-art office at the former Oceana nightclub site, and the work our development partners Urban Splash are leading on to transform parts of the city centre, including the old St David’s Shopping Centre.

“Our business community, residents and visitors have lots to look forward to.”

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Aldi responds to call to #GetOnARoll by including cancer symptoms on toilet roll packs

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white toilet paper roll on toilet paper holder

Aldi is to add signs and symptoms of bowel cancer to all its packs of own brand toilet roll in response to Bowel Cancer UK’s #GetOnARoll campaign.

Bowel cancer is the UK’s fourth most common cancer and the second biggest cancer killer. Yet almost half of adults around the UK could not name a single symptom of bowel cancer in a recent survey.

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Red flag symptoms include changes in bowel habit and bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo, which can all be noticed while people are on the toilet.

Knowing the symptoms to look out for, and acting on them, can lead to bowel cancer being diagnosed at an earlier stage when it is easier to treat and even cure.

Now, Aldi has teamed up with Bowel Cancer UK to include the potentially life-saving information, together with a QR code for customers to find out more, on over 70m packs of toilet rolls every year.

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying, at Aldi, said: “It’s shocking to learn that almost half of all adults in the UK cannot name a single symptom of bowel cancer. When we heard how powerful it could be to simply print the signs and symptoms on loo roll packaging – so they are there when people most need to see them – we were really keen to get involved.

“Spotting signs early is so important, so anything we can do to raise awareness of what people should look out for, and signpost them to Bowel Cancer UK to find out more, is crucial.

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“We’re delighted to be the first retailer to announce we’re getting on board since the launch of the #GetOnARoll campaign and we’re calling on all other retailers and loo roll brands to follow suit.”

Genevieve Edwards, CEO at Bowel Cancer UK, added: “We are delighted to partner with Aldi to raise vital awareness of bowel cancer symptoms with people all over the country. It’s the UK’s fourth most common cancer, with someone diagnosed with the disease every 15 minutes in the UK. 

“Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early, but 60% of people are diagnosed at later stages when it is much more difficult to treat. Part of the problem is low awareness of the red flag symptoms of bowel cancer that should prompt people to contact their GP.

“It’s such a simple idea to share this vital information on loo roll packaging. It could help us reach millions more people every year, and will undoubtedly help save lives. We want to thank Aldi for taking this step and encourage all other retailers to follow suit.”

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