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Swansea communities recovering from pandemic to get extra cash

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A pioneering scheme helping Swansea businesses and communities recover from the pandemic is getting a near-£25m cash injection to provide more vital support in the year ahead.

Swansea Council’s Economic Recovery Fund has been targeting funds that’s seen communities benefit from free bus travel, a freeze on school meal price rises and scores of play areas get upgrades in the past year.

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Sports clubs emerging from the pandemic have seen pitch fees dropped and tourism and other businesses have benefited from recovery grants and support for initiatives including creating outdoor spaces for restaurants, cafes and bars.

Now Cabinet has approved investing millions of pounds more that will bring total spending on the ERF to almost £45m by the end of 2023.

Swansea Council say they are the only local authority in Wales which has set up a fund of this sort in the wake of the pandemic to provide much-needed support targeted to where it’s needed.

It will mean a number of existing initiatives will continue along with £5m more made available for road improvement schemes, £3.3m for business improvement grants and boosting a whole range of small-scale community projects, including extra spending on public toilets and litter clearance.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said the ERF made a real difference to hard-pressed families, businesses and communities emerging from the pandemic. He said boosting the fund for the coming year would provide further support as communities faced up to the challenges of the cost of living crisis.

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He said: “The ERF has pioneered new ideas and targeted financial support to where it’s been most needed. We’re also making sure the fund is in line with our corporate priorities and policy commitments, including road improvements, tackling littering and re-greening community areas.

“Without the ERF our communities would not have had free bus travel during school holidays and sports clubs would not have got the chance to get going again after the pandemic free of pitch fees.

“Hospitality businesses looking to respond innovatively to the pandemic by creating outdoor serving areas were supported by us with grants from the ERF and other businesses got access to other grant support as well.

“Thanks to the ERF, every child going back to school after lockdowns saw the cost of their school dinners frozen. We also noticed how important parks and outdoor play areas became a community focal point during the pandemic and that’s why we’ve now committed to upgrading every council-owned play area in the city.”

“The ERF has made a huge difference in people’s lives. That’s why it would make sense to continue it for another year.”

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The ERF has approved investment to support a community café and outdoor fitness facilities at Ravenhill Park, a new pontoon for Knab Rock and a public realm weeding hotspot team.

Cllr Stewart said: “The council has made a series of policy commitments to deliver support in the coming months to our communities that will make a real difference to people’s lives.

“Continuing with the ERF, almost doubling its funding to nearly £45m in total and targeting these resources where they are needed most will help deliver on our commitment.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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