Written by John Bayliss
Senior Account Executive
For many looking in, it would appear that very little has changed at Swansea Council. The local election in May saw Welsh Labour hold the authority, increasing its majority and winning areas of the city long thought unwinnable.
Although the Conservatives made gains at the expense of longstanding Independent and Liberal Democrat held areas, Welsh Labour increased its majority – winning 48 seats out of a total of 72.
In the immediate aftermath of the election, the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition with the remaining Independents to become the ‘official' opposition group. This action has locked the newly expanded Conservative group out from positions of significant responsibility, including committee chairships and the senior salary entitlements that come along with them.
Councillor Rob Stewart
Leader with responsibility for Economy & Strategy
Having personally spearheaded the recently agreed Swansea Bay City Region Deal shortly before the election, which secured a £1.3 billion investment fund for the four constituent authorities making up the region, Councillor Stewart led his Labour Group to victory in May, having taken over the leadership reigns in September 2014.
The next five years will see Councillor Stewart’s focus turning to delivering the significant projects outlined within the City Deal, including the delivery of the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District and rolling out of 5G mobile internet connectivity.
Other manifesto commitments at the top of Councillor Stewart’s list for the next five years include the delivery of “the Swansea Central and Swansea Waterfront regeneration schemes on the old St David's and Civic Centre sites. This will include a major multipurpose digital arena, digital aquarium and gallery, new hotels, offices and public squares. The developments will create over 5000 new jobs.”
In addition to this, Councillor Stewart will seek to “deliver the regeneration of the Kingsway area”, with many anticipating the construction of a new headquarters and Central Library as an anchor to attract interest and investment from the private sector.
Councillor Clive Lloyd
Deputy Leader with responsibility for Service Transformation & Business Operations
Now the Deputy Leader of the Council, St Thomas representative Councillor Clive Lloyd beat his Education Cabinet colleague, Councillor Jennifer Raynor, to replace Councillor Christine Richards as the new Deputy Leader of Swansea Council.
In the reshuffle, Councillor Lloyd becomes the Cabinet Member responsible for ensuring all services across the authority deliver against tough Welsh Government imposed performance targets, which includes the Council’s Planning Department.
Councillor Lloyd will also takes responsibility for Swansea Council’s strategic estates and property team, who are currently working to relocate the old Civic Centre headquarters, which is set to become the home of the new Waterfront Digital District, to a new location in the centre of the city.
Councillor Andrea Lewis
Cabinet Member for Housing, Energy & Building Services
Councillor Lewis, a former employee of Swansea Council, has been reshuffled into a portfolio which is responsible for delivering major public house building schemes and renewable energy projects. Before the last election, the Council began the process of building new housing stock for the first time in forty years, with each new home meeting ‘Passivhaus’ standards, and this is set to continue over the next five years.
Councillor Lewis will be specifically responsible for establishing Swansea Council’s own ‘construction and development company’ which will seek to build ‘1000s of new homes in the next five years through a combination of delivery models’. How this new arm’s length company works with the private sector in delivering this significant number of additional houses is yet to be seen, however close partnership working between the industry and this new body will likely be key in this delivery effort.
Other manifesto commitments under Councillor Lewis’ remit to deliver include:
- "using the planning system and partnership with others, [to] develop innovative ways of raising the funds to deliver an increased supply of high quality affordable housing.”
- exploring "the provision of low energy affordable homes and will commit to delivering up to 7000 new affordable homes within 5 years. This will help young people and families get on the housing ladder.”
- taking "action to address the blight of empty private properties and increase the supply of housing. Working with the Welsh Labour Government and its proposed 'Empty Property Loan Fund' it will bring more empty properties back into use over the next 5 years.”
The Labour administration, through its election manifesto, has committed itself to ensure Swansea remains ‘open for business and an attractive place for investment and development.’ Indeed, the newly reshuffled Cabinet team will be working to build on this pledge and ensure developers have the confidence to invest and develop in Swansea.
About the Author
John Bayliss, Senior Account Executive at Remarkable Group:
John was an elected County Councillor at the City and County of Swansea for five years, serving in senior positions within the Labour administration between May 2012 and May 2017.
John is a member of the Remarkable Wales Public Affairs team, and provides on-the-ground strategic advice to clients in the planning, property and development sectors based on years of direct experience at Local Authority level across South Wales. For more information on Swansea Council, it’s newly re-elected political leadership and the impact it will have on planning and development in the City please call 02921 670 468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.