Economy Minister defends multi-million investment into Swansea cable car and zip-line

  • By ITV Sharp End Producer, Guto Llewely

Wales' Economy Minister has defended the Welsh Government's plans to use public money to invest £4 million into a Swansea tourist attraction, that would see a cable car and zip-line built at Kilvey Hill.

Speaking to ITV Wales' Sharp End programme, Vaughan Gething backed the Welsh Government's record on funding major private sector projects.

“It’s all about looking to grow different parts of our economy in different parts of Wales. We’ve got an investment proposition with someone who’s got a good track record in the sector and it aligns with what the Swansea Bay City Deal want to do and indeed Swansea Council.

“And our investment has helped to unlock not just this part of it but a broader set of regeneration action in that part of Swansea. The ultimate end game is to have more people visiting Swansea, more people in employment. It’s a part of what we do to try to have a proper vision for an economic future.”

However, a petition has been launched by residents, opposing the project, believing it will negatively impact those living nearby and the hill’s natural environment.

Questions have also been raised about the £34 million project’s viability.

Several other attempts to invest in major visitor attractions across Wales have ended unsuccessfully.

More than £1 million was invested in a hotel in Llangollen which was set to be turned into a leading martial arts centre but the plan never got off the ground, with the Senedd’s Public Accounts Committee saying money was wasted due to procedural failures by the government.

The Wales Audit Office criticised the Welsh Government’s £3.4 million investment in a Bala heritage centre called Canolfan Cywain, which closed within three years of opening.

Earlier this year it was revealed that the Welsh Government was unlikely to recoup £7 million it had invested in the failed Circuit of Wales project, which was meant to result in the construction of a world class racetrack near Ebbw Vale.

The Conservatives have criticised the Welsh Government, claiming far too often, public money is needlessly squandered.

The Economy Minister said: “Every time we look to invest in an economic development project there’s always a risk, whether it’s a low or medium risk.”

Part of the plans to create the Zip-line in Swansea.

Referring to the Circuit of Wales he added: “The challenge there was how we quickly get to understand, is this an investment choice we want to be part of. We said no. We probably could and should have done that earlier.

“It’s all about the learning for where things go wrong as well as where things go right.”

Mr Gething said he is confident the Swansea project will pay dividends, and projects like these are key to strengthening the economy.

The scheme is being driven by Skyline Enterprises Ltd, which has a number of similar attractions in its native New Zealand, as well as others in Singapore, South Korea and Canada.

The company’s international development officer, Danny Luke, said: “The topography lends itself to the adventure tourism attractions we bring to our destinations.

“We’re in the business of having fun and creating smiles. We’ve got a perfect opportunity here in Swansea to bring that to this region and to Wales.”

Kilvey Hill overlooks the city, with stunning views across Swansea Bay. If the attraction goes ahead it’s expected to create around 100 jobs.

You can catch up with the latest episode of Sharp End on ITVX. Click for more.

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