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Swansea Council leader David Phillips blog: A summer full of local delights

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: May 22, 2014

There are plenty of summer activities to enjoy here on our doorstep.

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IT'S going to be a big summer in Swansea and it starts this weekend with the Whitsun half-term and (hopefully) a week of bright sunshine.

I'm a big fan of the idea of days out on your doorstep, not least because in Swansea there's never a shortage of things to do or places to go. Sometimes — simply by virtue of the fact we live here — we forget how rich the opportunities are to re-discover vaguely-remembered places or enjoy a journey off the beaten track.

So when you're thinking of what to do with the children next week, don't forget there's plenty of options within a few miles of your own home, as the Evening Post has been recently pointing out — and most of them free! We've got four Blue Flag beaches (again), the 360 Beach and Watersports Centre, the Blackpill Lido opening for the summer, miles and miles of wonderful Wales Coast path. I could go on and on.

For me summer means more opportunities for fair-weather cycling. I was a keen cyclist until my arthritic knees put anything other than the flat or downhill beyond me! I think I will have to get an electric bike as I miss some of my favourite routes in Swansea and across Gower. Not only do you see things differently from the saddle of a bike, you see different things too. Things you'd miss behind the wheel of a car.

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One of the great bonuses of cycling is that I get a different perspective on my own back yard, so to speak, and it's always a good thing. That's because I believe that if we want to make the most of this great, distinctive city of ours then we have to think differently and get a fresh perspective about what we want from it in the future.

The tourism stats tell us Swansea Bay is bucking the trend: last year we had more visitors than the year before and they were spending more cash here too. Last week's figures on outdoor tourism in Wales also tell a good story about the magnet that is South West Wales when people are thinking about surfing, walking, riding (bikes or horses) camping or climbing.

It is great news but we can't afford to stand still. Our city needs to continue to improve but, at the same time, progress should not be some kind of headlong dash for the latest (ie. soon-to-be outdated) fad or one person's perception of what modernity looks like.

In Swansea it's the people who live here who make our city what it is and it's those same people who should be having an influence on the character and shape of this ugly, lovely place by the sea in the years to come.

From my experience we're an eclectic bunch with lots of overlapping, sometimes contradictory, ideas and we're not shy of speaking up when asked.

That's why local experience is featuring so prominently in this summer's consultation on Creating the City of Culture, our review aimed at transforming the city centre into a major cultural destination.

Of course we could do what other cities have done and relentlessly chase the high street chain stores and create just another shopping centre you could find anywhere else in the world. But it wouldn't work in the long run and whatever it turned out to be, it wouldn't be Swansea.

We want to harness the distinctiveness that already exists in our city and think about how we can use it to inspire an environment where shopping, residential communities, office workers, cultural activities and just 'hanging out' rub along together. If we can do this we'll have a unique year-round attraction that is uniquely us, a uniquely, memorably Swansea.

We want as many people as possible to join in the consultation and debate. Schools, artists, architects and designers, residents with ideas — we can all join in the discussion on what out city centre should look and feel like.

Come the autumn we'll have a good idea of what people think and a two-day conference to consider the feedback and the next steps. We'll also report back to you on what we did with the ideas you offered.

So, as I say, it's going to be a big summer and it starts here. Now where did I put the Voltorol?

David Phillips

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  • Gowerview  |  May 25 2014, 7:05PM

    If there was a league pyramid for the vibrancy and amenities offered by city centres Swansea might be lower than the conference (thats Division 5 folks ) The local authority leader and regeneration heads (Huw Mowbray & Phil Holmes) appear to be believing their own spin. Unfortunately It doesn't look like there's the necessary ambition or will there and you wonder if they are currently walking the city centre to see the 'third world' poor state of it. Shame, little investment and falling visitor numbers. As for Hammersons, the developers who were supposed to champion a 'step change' regeneration of thye city centre. They are no longer involved with the council in the city centre. (Although they want to invest in Parc Tawe). Quite simply it's a mess and the sooner this situation is highlighted within the corridors of Parliament/Senydd tthe better. AM's and MP's ...now they'll surely be interested in reviving the 'WELSH' economy. ??? Why the Swansea council leader continues in office is a mystery There's no developer on board for the city centre regeneration and the last 20 years look to have been wasted

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  • jack101  |  May 24 2014, 9:10PM

    Major large quality city centre office buildings to get people into the city centre is desperately needed along with all weather eye catching shopping developments. The present city centre is otdated and poor at best. Also pedestrianise wind st with a tree lined middle section and include some modern art in there this will then naturally link the city centre to sa1 and the waterfront. These things need to happen asap as our towns and cities are leaving us behind.

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  • SAswan  |  May 22 2014, 9:22PM

    Swansea is more like a city of car parks than culture. Visitors can always take a stroll along the seafront and visit such wonderfull attractions like the closed down observatory, the slip bridge with no bridge or oystermouth square potholes.

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  • Gowerview  |  May 22 2014, 8:07PM

    Strange how towns like Carmarthen are thriving by encouraging an ambitious retail /leisure/food led regeneration scheme. Mr Phillips and his regeneration team have failed . In 5 years time they'll turn out the same spin and 'let the people decide' rhetoric. The public have decided. It's time to answer the questions . What are the regeneration office doing ? Why hasn't there been a landmark development of the city centre for thirty years ? They have succeeded in turning visitors,tourists and investment away from the city centre. The economy needs a huge boost , the city needs jobs and investment . They've had enough spin and pointless schemes involving questionable design housing and boulevards. There's little ambition and urgency within the county hall and there's no regeneration equals no confidence . Unfortunately, that same apathy runs across the political spectrum . The city centre in Swansea needs to come into 21st Century - who has the will and ambition to kickstart this is anyone's guess. Could he tell the public what Hammersons have contributed to the regeneration of Swansea ? There is a planning policy backed by a Welsh government Spatial Plan. It states Swansea needs to become a regional hub. Better employment opportunity and greater investment are needed in the city. It recommends a landmark regeneration of the city centre - a step change in the amenities offered by the city centre . What have your regeneration managers delivered vs the ambitious urban design plans advocated?

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