Concern at ‘endless’ snagging issues at Swansea Arena
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Snagging issues at Swansea’s £135 million Copr Bay development seem to be “endless”, a councillor has claimed.
Cllr Sam Bennett said he was concerned they added up to give a poor impression of the council-led project, whose centrepiece is Swansea Arena.
Council leader Rob Stewart said work to resolve snagging was taking longer than anticipated, but questioned why Cllr Bennett didn’t welcome “one of Wales’s premier venues” being in his ward.
Contractors have recently carried out repair work to the external staircase leading from the arena podium to the pavement on Oystermouth Road, but some of the handrail joints have gaffer tape on them. A couple of other joints appear rusty.
Cllr Bennett said the lift beside the staircase was out of action again, and that there was a rust patch on the Mumbles-facing side of the pedestrian bridge.
Contractors are also still working on a small section of the bridge platform near the staircase on the north side of Oystermouth Road – and work to resolve a paintwork defect at the new multi-storey car park, which isn’t open yet, is ongoing.
Snagging issues are common in all projects, and Copr Bay is so visible it’s hard not to notice them.
Cllr Bennett said: “It’s the endless list of things which seems to be problematic. The gaffer tape on the handrails is the latest.”
The Liberal Democrat councillor, who represents the Waterfront ward, said: “If we are meant to be welcoming people to the city, these little things add up to give a bad impression.”
He said he was concerned that other issues with the Copr Bay development might surface in the years to come, and that the council might at that point have to pay to rectify them.
Cllr Bennett said there was a lot of good about Copr Bay, which was built largely during the Covid pandemic, if it delivered on the significant investment by the council and generated the income expected.
“It’s about making sure the investment is a good investment and doesn’t saddle us with ongoing costs in the years to come,” he said.
The 3,500-capacity arena was the first part of Copr Bay to be completed, opening in spring last year. There has been a procession of high-profile bands, comedy acts and touring shows which normally wouldn’t have come to Swansea.
The number of ticketed events were slightly lower than anticipated for the first year but ticket sales have been very strong, and the arena has also hosted scores of other events such as conferences, business exhibitions and banquets. Managers of independent entertainment venues in the city have expressed their backing for the arena.
The adjacent coastal park is a popular spot for families, although there have been some instances of anti-social behaviour.
Cllr Stewart said Cllr Bennett and his Lib-Dem colleagues had from the outset “resented this successful development” and also the city deal for the Swansea Bay region which had provided some funding towards it.
He claimed the Lib-Dems “diminished Swansea in their eight years in power” prior to Labour taking control in 2012 and “don’t now want to see others succeed where they failed”.
The Swansea Labour leader added: “You would think Cllr Bennett would welcome one of Wales’s premier venues being in his ward, and the fantastic new coastal park, but clearly he doesn’t. He doesn’t mention how well the arena is doing or the positive impact it is having on the Swansea economy.
“It’s true we have had a longer than anticipated period of snagging issue resolution, but that is to ensure the quality of the development is as anticipated. The focus will be to resolve the remaining items as quickly as possible.”
He suggested that Cllr Bennett focused on the concerns of people in the Waterfront ward and delivered on the pledges he made before last year’s local Government election.
Asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service when the multi-storey car park with the paintwork defect and the adjacent new commercial units would open, Cllr Stewart said it was his understanding that the multi-storey would open in the early autumn with the commercial units potentially available earlier.
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