Biggest-ever targeted support fund approved by Swansea Council Cabinet
Swansea Council's Cabinet has approved the biggest-ever package of targeted support for city communities emerging from the pandemic.
As Wales moved into Alert Level 2, allowing hospitality businesses to open indoors for the first time in months, a £20m package of support for families, businesses and communities was agreed.
Measures range from make-over grants for shop fronts across Swansea, a freeze on the price of school meals and the suspension of pitch fees for community sports clubs and groups at council-operated venues.
Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said: "The council was there for the people of Swansea throughout the pandemic and we will be there as our communities emerge from it.
"During the pandemic we were there for the people of Swansea and we will be there for them as our communities recover.
"During the crisis we shared £130m in grants and rates relief with businesses and freelancers in the creative sector are getting more support from us via the Welsh Government this week. We built a hospital that's a vital hub in Swansea Bay NHS's vaccination programme which this week will pass the 350,000 mark for first and second jobs.
"Now we're emerging from the pandemic the council is aiming to offer a helping hand in every community in the city. Every ward will share in a package of support because we want no neighbourhood to be left behind."
Among other highlights of the package agreed by Cabinet are:
- School meal prices frozen for the current financial year
- More than 20 new or upgraded children's play areas
- Extra parking promotions for outlying retail areas
- Free wifi in communities
- More dog waste bins and extra resources to tackle littering, weeds and overflowing bins
- More investment in the council's popular PATCH road repair services
- Extras resources to tackle blocked drains and flooding in the winter
Also out of the council's £20m recovery plan will come steps to spruce up community commercial areas in places from Mumbles and Morriston to Clydach and Killay. It'll mean re-greening communities with more trees, designated planting areas, extra street furniture and removal of tired, broken-down street furniture that can't be fixed.
In addition to that grants will be made available to tidy-up shop fronts across the city from Bishopston to Bonymaen and Gorseinon to Pontarddulais.
The council will also be investigating how it can work with bus companies to provide some free services to families with school-aged children during the summer holidays. Park and Ride passengers will continue to receive discounted use for the next six months and shoppers in the city centre and Mumbles will see reduced parking offers.
The council is also putting together rapid response littering team to deal with surges in littering and overflowing bins. Unsightly litter trapped in hedgerows and roadside verges will also be tackled.
Traders at Swansea Market will get more rent relief on top of £1.3m in support they've already had to help secure their futures. That's on the back of council investment in new toilets and a new meeting area at the award-winning venue.
Cllr Stewart said: "Thanks to the incredible work of the NHS in the vaccination programme there is real optimism for the future. Wales is now at Alert Level 2 and that means a further return closer to normality.
"We all have to remember the virus is still with us and we still have to follow the rules which remain. But now is the time to launch the recovery and the council wants to help our communities lead the way.
He said: "No community should feel left behind. In Pontarddulais, for example, shops will be offered grants to improve their frontages and the children's play area will be upgraded. In Gorseinon we'll be greening the High Street further with new planters.
"In Bishopston shopfronts will get the chance for face-lift grants and improvements to the bump track. In Bonymaen we're looking at much-needed traffic calming measures and other road improvements.
"Shops in Sketty, Mynyddbach, Penclawdd and Dunvant as well as many other locations around the city will also have access to shop-front improvement grants."
Cllr Stewart said: "The past year has seen unprecedented challenges and unprecedented change. It has been hard for many families and communities.
"The recovery fund aims to play its part in a brighter, happier future for us all."