LOCAL sporting clubs, community groups, and charities in Swansea are set to get free access to use council-owned playing fields, parks, and outdoor spaces as the city emerges from the pandemic.
Under proposals being seen by Swansea Council’s Cabinet charges for using facilities like sports pitches, parks, and beaches for community football, rugby, cricket, outdoor exercise classes will be suspended up until March 31, 2022.
The move comes as Swansea and the rest of Wales eases out of lockdown in the weeks and months ahead.
Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration, and Tourism, said suspending fees for using open spaces will support clubs and charities while at the same time encourage people to use outdoor spaces safely.
Cllr Francis-Davies said:
“We all know the numbers getting out and about to enjoy exercise and fresh air has soared during the pandemic. At the same time, our city’s network of sports clubs and community groups have been a bit stranded because the rules have prevented training sessions and social get-togethers from taking place.
“Now, as we emerge from the pandemic we want to encourage people to continue to exercise more and support clubs to get back up on their feet and running in a way that’s safe, in line with the rules, and easy to do.
“It means we’ll be playing our part in supporting communities enjoy their summer and next season when – hopefully – any restrictions won’t be as frustrating as they have been so far.”
Under the plans clubs, community groups, charities, and individuals would still need to book space in council parks as they have always done. This is to ensure that there is no clash in bookings with those that have already booked the space and, importantly, to ensure that space is used in a Covid safe way for all users.
This approach also means people will not be allowed to simply turn up to use these spaces without prior booking. Those wanting to use indoor facilities, 3G pitches, and other similar enhanced facilities will still be charged.
Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, added:
“We promised to support communities as we emerge from the pandemic and the £20m recovery fund allows us to directly support sports clubs and community groups across Swansea. This fund will help reduce costs of hiring sports pitches and other park and play spaces to zero for many people.
“We recognise that the last year has been really tough and people will want to get back to enjoying organised sports and community exercise classes in our beautiful parks and open spaces. We would still ask everyone to act responsibly when undertaking activities both indoors and outdoors and in line with Welsh Government Guidance.
“In addition to this potential extra support for sports and community groups, we will also be suspending fees for non-commercial community events and activities like fetes and activity days when Government guidance allows such things to take place.
“It’s just another way the council can contribute to the recovery of community life in the wake of the pandemic. The virus has not gone away and we must keep following the rules to keep us and our families safe.
“But there are more reasons to wear smiles under the masks on our faces and the council is pleased to play its part in that now and in the coming weeks and months.”
There will be no changes to current arrangements until the proposals have been considered by Cabinet.