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New plans for Swansea’s Palace Theatre

Thomas Sinclair

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by Doug Evans

THERE are few locations which have hosted as much drama, laughter and joy in Wales, and now for nearly 14 long years it has been sadly silent.

The Palace Theatre in Swansea, which has been closed since 2007 and suffered a fire in September 2019, has seen it all over its 133-year history.

Since being built in 1888, the iconic building has entertained several generations, with nearly all in Swansea having some story or memory they could share with you.

Stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Ken Dodd performed at the historic site, which is now being converted into a site for tech start-ups and creative businesses by Swansea Council.

Throughout its long and illustrious history, the six-storey building has been a live theatre, cinema, bingo hall and night club.

A modern office space would be quite the latest change of direction, and for many patrons with fond memories of the building, indeed a rather sad end of an era.

Since purchasing the property, progress has been slow, in part thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic which hit the country just a few months after the acquisition.

Over the summer of 2020, the council had been in talks with potential business partners and a lead tenant, but the state of the building has not made this progress easy.

In a council press release, Rob Stewart, Council Leader, said: “Progress is being made on this challenging but incredibly exciting project.

“We’re preserving this landmark city centre building for future generations and want expert partners to help us do this.

“The Palace is one of the city centre’s architectural treasures and now that it’s in our hands we’re confident in its prospects.

“Our plan will help transform the High Street area – already benefiting from many millions of private investment – and will help our exciting regeneration work across the city centre.”

Despite the focus on the new project being a modern office complex, Swansea council are considering the possibility of including a conference and performance facility, so there are hopes that the roots of the building can live on.

In the latest update, the council said that surveys had been undertaken, heritage elements had been safely retrieved, and roofing and flooring had been made safe by experts.

However, the building remains a sad eyesore currently, with scaffolding erected around its burnt out exterior for all to see.

The council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, Robert Francis-Davies, has assured locals that despite its appearance and rundown interior, the building is “structurally sound”.

Citing the £135m Swansea Central Phase One project, which also includes a new indoor arena and £12m Kingsway transformation, the location will play a key role in the “growing demand” for top class office space within the city center.

Unsurprisingly, the council is not alone in wanting to get the popular building back up and running soon, with The Friends of The Palace Theatre, Caw, The Theatres’ Trust and The Victorian Society all offering their help as well.

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Stand up for slowing down speed campaign launched

Carli Newell

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INAPPROPRIATE speed contributes to around 11% of all injury collisions reported to the police, with 15% of collisions resulting in a serious injury and 24% of collisions resulting in fatalities.

Starting on the 26th July, the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) Speed Campaign will kick off across the UK, with GoSafe and the four Welsh Police Forces participating in both engaging with the public about the risks of speeding and enforcing the speed limits on the roads of Wales.

In 2019, 60,073 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issued in Wales to drivers/riders for speeding.

Speeding is a major contributing factor to collisions on the roads of Wales. This includes both ‘excessive speed’, where the speed limit is exceeded, as well as driving or riding within the speed limit when this is too fast for the conditions at the time; for example, in poor weather, poor visibility or high pedestrian activity.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, we saw less traffic but higher speeds.  Now our restrictions are lifting, traffic volumes are up and as we are holidaying in the UK more, we are seeing more people speeding on the roads in Wales.  We want to change this, but can only do that with your help.

 Over the next few weeks you will see an increased presence on the road network of Wales as we aim to keep all road users safe and reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.

 We know that the majority of road users comply with the speed limit; but the minority of those who do not increases the risk to the safety of all road users and need to be educated on the risks to their own safety as well as to the safety of those around them. Throughout this campaign, GoSafe and our partners in the Police and Local Authorities will encourage and educate more people to reduce their speed to save lives.

Teresa Ciano, GoSafe Partnership Manager said: “GoSafe enforce at sites across Wales in order to encourage motorists to comply with the speed limits and in turn make our roads and communities safer for everyone. If we all play our part and stand up for slowing down we can make a difference, and we can save lives on the roads of Wales.”

Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Climate Change said: “I am very pleased to support this campaign. Driving at high speeds costs lives and a greater police presence on our roads will mean motorists will be more likely to drive within the speed limits, protecting lives and avoiding a speeding fine.”

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£100,000 of cannabis plants seized in west Wales police raid

Thomas Sinclair

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POLICE seized cannabis plants worth an estimated £100,000 during a warrant near Ammanford.

Dyfed-Powys Police searched a home in Garnant on Wednesday, July 21, where 100 plants were discovered to be growing in the front room and two bedrooms.

Given the number and maturity of some of the plants, officers estimate the quantity of cannabis growing to be worth around £100,000.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “This was a significant seizure of cannabis plants, which were growing in a sophisticated set-up across three rooms.

“Our investigation is ongoing into who is responsible, as there was nobody present at the time of the warrant, and we are carrying out all possible lines of enquiry to identify a suspect.

“I would like to thank all officers involved for showing great teamwork during the warrant and subsequent enquiries.”

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Quote reference: DPP/2891/21/07/2021/02/C.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org

(Picture above: File Image)

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Four charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs

Carli Newell

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Swansea.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody. They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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