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Over 200 contracts awarded to Welsh firms as part of £1.25bn city deal

A glimpse of the new £27million leisure centre planned for Llanelli, which forms part of the multi-million Pentre Awel health and wellbeing development in Machynys

MORE than 200 contracts have been awarded to companies in Wales as part of the £1.25 billion city deal for the Swansea Bay region, according to a report.

The contracts weren’t listed but were cause for celebration among public and private sector leaders on a joint committee which oversees the city deal.

The deal is a 15-year investment in nine projects in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, which are expected to create more than 9,600 jobs – mainly in low-carbon energy, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and well-being.

Around half the £1.25 billion is to come from the private sector, with the remainder from the Welsh and UK Governments and participating councils, health boards and universities.

The joint committee was presented with an annual report highlighting achievements and milestones, but it also said that private sector investment was falling behind expectations and that construction costs were increasing.

Although the heads of terms of the city deal were signed in 2017, it took time to refine and ultimately reduce the number of projects from 11 to nine and then get full UK and Welsh Government approval for them.

The report said the entire £1.25 billion portfolio was now being delivered and that £262 million had been invested to date. Only 10% of this investment was from the private sector – a proportion which must increase in the coming years to meet the 50% contribution.

The city deal has created 542 jobs so far – again a number which will need to accelerate to meet the 9,000-plus target. The annual report said “200+” contracts had been awarded to Wales-based companies.

Cllr Rob Stewart, who is joint committee chairman and also the leader of Swansea Council, said there was a lot of positive news to convey.

“I have said this publicly many times – I put our city deal up against any other in Wales in terms of how much is in delivery and what we are actually achieving out of the money allocated and I don’t think anybody is as far ahead as we are, so that’s something I think we should continue to shout about and continue to promote,” he said.

The milestones in the report included:
– The start of work on the £200 million Pentre Awel life sciences and well-being project on the outskirts of Llanelli
– The first occupation by tenants at the £8.5 million Bay Technology Centre at Baglan Bay Energy Park, near Port Talbot
– Progress on 71/72 The Kingsway: a £50 million high-tech office development on The Kingsway, Swansea
– Continued roll-out of superfast digital connectivity to premises in the region, putting it on a par with the UK average
– Start of work on new pontoons and slipway at Pembroke Dock, where a £63.9 million marine energy hub will take shape
– The approval of several pilot education projects, including one about renewable energy which is being delivered at Pembrokeshire College
– Start of work on the £9 million Innovation Matrix office development at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s campus in SA1, Swansea.

Last November it emerged that construction costs across the portfolio had risen by some £31 million, and four new risks have been added to a risk ledger.

High build costs are one of the seven most pressing risks, said the report, along with a shortfall in private sector investment and pressure to meet key milestones.