South West Wales

Swansea '10 to 15 years behind Cardiff', think tank says

Swansea Image copyright leighcol
Image caption The Swansea Bay City Region deal could create 9,000 jobs

Swansea's success as a city is 10 to 15 years behind Cardiff, the chief executive of a think tank has claimed.

Andrew Carter from The Centre for Cities said the "confused" city had "some hard thinking to do".

He was speaking off the back of Week In Week Out programme Cardiff's Growing Pains that looked at how Cardiff's infrastructure is coping with the city's growth.

Swansea council's leader Rob Stewart said the comments were "out of touch".

He urged Mr Carter to visit Swansea so he could show him work that is under way.

He added the Swansea Bay City Region deal would provide a "major boost" for the area.

In March, Prime Minister Theresa May signed off the deal and said she wanted Wales "at the forefront of science and innovation".

The plan is expected to create more than 9,000 jobs and trigger almost £1.3bn of investment in south west Wales.

Image caption Prince Charles officially opened Swansea University's Bay Campus in July 2016

But Mr Carter said the city had issues to overcome.

"The Swansea Bay Campus and expansion of the university is an undeniably good thing for the city but the question is, how do you knit that back into the city itself?

"If you go into the city centre it's still a very confused situation - what is it for?

"Creating conditions to capture new work, new activity, create living environments for some of those high-skilled workers is going to be a bigger challenge for Swansea and I still think they are slightly confused about what the city is for.

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Media captionMore courage and ambition will be needed on investment in Cardiff as the city grows, Andrew Carter says

"They are still 10-15 years behind Cardiff in thinking about what the city is for and how they respond and the policy choices they make."

The Centre for Cities gathers and compares data on more than 60 British cities.

What is the Swansea Bay City Region Deal?

  • £1.3bn of private and public money to be spent over 15 years
  • £241m from UK and Welsh governments, £360m from the public sector and universities, and another £673m in private investment
  • Four councils - Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea - taking part
  • 11 projects including: a "cloud" enterprise zone to attract data companies; using the internet to improve health diagnostics; a steel science centre

Mr Stewart said there was £6bn worth of public and private sector developments either already happening or in the pipeline for Swansea.

He pointed to the planned revamp of Parc Tawe, new city centre student accommodation development Icon 21 and the planned transformation of Kingsway.

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