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European funding guarantees sought from UK Government

THE UK Government is being urged to guarantee and underwrite European funding already awarded to Swansea for the period up to 2021.

Cllr Rob Stewart

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, has written to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Brexit Secretary David Davis to seek assurances. 
Cllr Stewart is also urging the UK Government to underwrite and guarantee as a minimum the further funding applications currently being submitted to the Wales European Funding Office.
Figures show European funding to Swansea Council over the past 10 years has exceeded £106m. Projects to have benefitted include the redeveloped Swansea City Bus Station, the conservation of Oystermouth Castle and the development of the 360 Beach and Watersports Centre on the seafront.
But more than £14m worth of additional funding for Swansea is at risk, says Cllr Stewart. This includes current European Union grant funded schemes in Swansea up to 2021 that together amount to £6m, made up of £1.4 for the Rural Development Plan, £1.4m for the Workways + project, £1.6m for Communities for Work and £1.6m for Cynydd.
Also at risk are current European Union grant applications in the final design stage that amount to £8.43m. These include a £4m application for Kingsway infrastructure works and a £3.9m application for the construction of new office developments on Kingsway as part of plans to transform Swansea city centre by generating more jobs, footfall and spending there.
Cllr Stewart said: "European funding has brought and continues to bring huge benefits to both Swansea and the Swansea Bay City Region as a whole, so I'd urge the UK Government to hold good on the commitment given by senior members of the Leave Campaign that future UK Governments would make up any shortfall in projected European Union funding through direct UK Government funding.
"It's essential that Swansea receives a fair deal in respect of such funding and that there's a clear commitment to guarantee the same or better levels of funding post Brexit as we currently have via the European Union.
"The combination of current EU funded schemes and EU grant applications in progress amount to more than £14m here in Swansea. Planned schemes like the transformation of Kingsway into a business district are integral to our commitment to redevelop Swansea city centre by generating more footfall and spending, so it's vital the UK Government commits to open and effective consultation and dialogue with all those potentially affected by Brexit implications with a clear view to minimising the funding and economic consequences arising from the exit.
"This council stands ready and willing to take part in any such dialogue as quickly as possible.
"The schemes I have referred to in my letters only relate to those specifically sponsored by the council, although I am looking for similar guarantees in respect of funding applications by all bodies across the wider City Region, too. 
"It's also essential that decisions on future funding recognise economic deprivation as a key cornerstone for investment, in line with current EU principles, so I'm urging the UK Government to consult as widely as possible from the outset on any proposals that arise from the Brexit decision."
In his letter, Cllr Stewart is also calling for early and positive resolutions on the future of the Port Talbot steelworks, as well as projects including the City Deal application, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and completion of the railway line's electrification from London to Swansea.
Cllr Stewart said: "These schemes have the real potential to add significantly to the regional economy and, with respect to the tidal lagoon, the opportunity to put the UK at the forefront of tidal power technology."
Trade agreements with EU member states and countries across the rest of the world must also be quickly developed, according to Cllr Stewart.
"These deals are vital in terms of the continued development of the manufacturing, service and financial services sectors of the local economy," he said. "The steelworks in Port Talbot, although part of our neighbouring unitary authority, brings enormous regional benefits in terms of both direct and indirect employment. It's a cornerstone of our regional economy, so it's essential that early focus is given to negotiations to protect the interests of our core steel manufacturing capacity.
"This is why I'm asking for clear reporting of progress on trade agreements going forward."
The City Deal bid for Swansea Bay aims to harness the transformational power of digital networks and the asset base of Swansea Bay to help develop a world-leading centre for technological innovation.
It's estimated that the City Deal investment could lever in total around £3.3bn of output and £1.3bn of gross value added for Wales, while supporting around 39,000 jobs in the Swansea Bay City Region.


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