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Swansea County Council taking action to support rough sleepers at Arena

A SMALL group of rough sleepers have been bedding down in the covered car park by Swansea Arena.

Six people were said in a Swansea Council report to be sleeping there, but two of them have been found accommodation.

Two tents were tucked away in an alcove-type area in the arena car park at lunchtime on January 31. A couple of empty Pot Noodle cartons were left outside, but no-one was in.

Swansea Arena and the car park (right) alongside (pic by Richard Youle)

Councillors attending a scrutiny meeting were told that efforts were being made to resolve the matter and remove the rough sleepers while offering them support.

Huw Mowbray, the council’s development and physical regeneration manager, said: “That needs to happen – it is causing issues.”

He added that that weren’t any events currently at the flagship entertainment venue alongside at the moment.

The scrutiny report also cited antisocial behaviour issues at the car park area and, following the meeting, a council spokesman said it was taking action.

Inside the two-level Swansea Arena car park (pic by Richard Youle)

He described the antisocial behaviour as small but growing.

“We are taking preventative action to offer help and support to those vulnerable individuals who have been gathering near the arena car park and resolve issues for the benefit of visitors and car park users,” he said.

“Our city centre rangers, other council staff and South Wales Police officers have mobilised to resolve issues, offer support where appropriate, and deter antisocial behaviour.”

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Letters have been handed to a small number of people, he said, encouraging them to take up the council’s offer of a place to live and extra support to help them manage any health issues they may face.

The spokesman added: “We feel encouraged that two people we’ve worked with there have already accepted the offer we made and are now living in suitable and safe accommodation. We’re continuing to work with those we’ve given the letters to support them and resolve issues in the area.”

The arena, two-storey car park and coastal park above are within a defined city centre area where fixed penalty notices can be issued for antisocial behaviour, with other sanctions applicable for persistent troublemakers. It follows the introduction of a public spaces protection order in December 2021. The order covers the city centre from High Street railway station in the north, Parc Tawe in the east, West Way and Dillwyn Street in the west, and part of Swansea Marina in the south.

The next major event at the arena, which is nearly a year old, features Brit Award-nominated band Bad Boy Chiller Crew on February 24.

The arena is the focal point of a £135 million development called Copr Bay, which includes the coastal park, the car park, the yellow pedestrian bridge across Oystermouth Road and new flats, commercial units and multi-storey car park the other side. Parking charges at the arena and elsewhere in council-owned car parks are going up in April.

The scrutiny panel was also told that the spiral staircase at the front of the arena was having to be re-done because of “ponding” and other issues, but that a glass lift from the podium area down to pavement level was now in operation.

The largely council-funded Copr Bay scheme is one of several in the city, and Mr Mowbray said a heads of terms agreement was being finalised for a tenant to occupy around a third of a new Kingsway office development called 71/72 The Kingsway at the former Oceana nightclub site.

The completion date for the £40 million project was expected to be October this year, he said, but the contractor has advised “there may be some minor delays”.

November, meanwhile, is the completion target for the £8.5 million redevelopment of the Palace Theatre, High Street. Mr Mowbray said it was a difficult project due to its age and the condition it was left in by the previous owners. He added that a start-up group called Tramshed Tech would take over the listed building and that it was keen to set up elsewhere in the city ahead of the move.

Another council-led project is the transformation of historic buildings at the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site, and Mr Mowbray said the powerhouse building will be handed over to whisky distillers Penderyn next month to kit out.

“The whole of the powerhouse is looking fantastic,” said Mr Mowbray.