Get motivated to take enthusiastic action that will help you turn that dream into reality. One step at a time and you will surely achieve anything.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Carrie me and Support Swansea

Hi everyone! I'm Carrie and I'm looking for  businesses who want to promote themselves locally. I'm planning to be around town telling shoppers about what's in store for them. 

I'll have about 10,000 Carrie keyfobs ready to give away in a few days and once you are signed up for free you'll begin to get regular special offers by e-mail. Download and print off the vouchers for interesting deals.

Yes! We tried to lanch this a few years ago  and I've now come out of the Creative Ideas store-room and have been dusted down and re-branded because several traders have asked us to do so. I've changed my outfit and attitude. Last time shoppers paid for me but now I'm free. I'm a giveaway.

You've all seen Groupon and perhaps have taken advantage of the daily deals they have. Well I'm different. I don't take half of the deal price and my deals last longer than a day. I want you to discover new shops and products, new services and entertainent and I want to to try them out and come back time after time.

Swansea has much to offer and I'm looking to help knock down any barriers. I want you to come to town and have a great shopping experience. Worried about parking? The new bridge system is almost finished so there will shortly be little in the way of traffic delays there or along Oystermouth Road now.

PARKING is free for the first hour in the NCP car parks except Sundays. And there is plenty of room.

BUT BETTER. Parking at the High Street multi-storey car park after 10am is just £1 for up to 4 hours. And with the recent police initiative it is safer to walk down the High Street. 

AND ALSO St David's car park is now just £2.40 for up to 4 hours, although yo may not know this as there are no banners up or any other signs apart from an article in the Evening Post.

Watch out for new developments

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Swansea Card is coming


Chugging along

I mentioned that charity collectors are allowed to work the city centre free of charge. I totally agree that charities should be allowed to collect without being charged a fee by Swansea Council but the charity collectors, after referred to as chuggers, are paid and they can be intimidating. There have been nummerous articles about them right across the UK. 

It is understood that they might earn a basic pay of around £7 per hour but can be on bonuses giving them considerably more. If they are agency employees then the agency apparently earns a percentage of the direct debit that the giver signs on the street with the charity collector.

It will be interesting to see what it costs some of these charities to have collectors on the streets. In Scotland it is understood that Shelter pay out some £3m to chuggers and gather in £11m. That is a pretty high cost and just consider how many donations they may be losing where people find themselves offended by being accosted. I'm not saying that this might be the case in Swansea but it does leave a question mark. 

I see that the Evening Post posted my article last Thursday about the comparative cost of distributing leaflets in the city centre compared to other cities such as Cardiff and Newport. The council spokesman said that a fee waas charged to cover costs of controlling this activity.

Here is my response in a letter I have sent to the Evening Post. I hope they publish it.

"I do agree that it is necessary to have some control over the distribution of leaflets but why should there be such a high cost? I mentioned in my interview that both Cardiff and Newport do not charge local businesses and encourage them to advertise freely.

It is worth noting that both cities do control leaflet distribution and have guide-lines and application forms to complete. Neither charge as they told me that they consider this a valuable service to local businesses: one that they feel they should support.

Swansea council seem to seek ways to stealth tax local businesses wherever possible, and this hasn’t just applied during the recent cuts in their budgets. The charge for leaflet distribution goes back several years. I note that the Swansea spokesman claimed that charges start from £36 but this was not mentioned when I contacted the City Centre management team asking about charges. They only mentioned that charities can canvass free of charge (although I understand the canvassers are paid a commission) and certain bodies who claim freedom of speech such as political parties. It is also interesting to note that the Big Issue sellers do not pay. I was told that there is a maximum of 4 but it does sometimes feel that there is one on every street corner! I have nothing against Big Issue sellers and in fact after being around 40 years getting people on the first rung of the jobs ladder, they do a good job, but with a small city centre footprint more than two sees overkill.

Come on Swansea Council. Don’t be penny pinching skin-flints. I understand that you aren’t here to make money for local businesses but to ensure the infra-structure is there for businesses to succeed or fail dependant on their products, plans and management. How do you feel you are succeeding? Have you put in place that infra-structure?

A little bit of help would be most welcome by local independent businesses, particularly during these difficult trading times. You know that the high rents and business rates are crippling so here is your chance to help in a small way."

Change of ideas  I wonder how long social media will be the in fad? All I hear about is how important Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are. I am already beginning to feel that it takes a lot of time to reap small rewards. Maybe I am getting old!! But it seems to me that I am being attached on all sides by useless information that I don't need, personal facts that are too personal, friends that I've never met but want to tell me about their new car, fabulous holiday or party. Very few have comments added. Who do we write for. 

When we meet up with friends or meet business colleagues we have two-way conversations and are interested in each other. Facebook is very impersonal. And for many it seems to be like writing a personal diary - except I always thought diaries were private. 

What do you think?

Be successful with your Business.


I mentioned that charity collectors are allowed to work the city centre free of charge. I totally agree that charities should be allowed to collect without being charged a fee by Swansea Council but the charity collectors, after referred to as chuggers, are paid and they can be intimidating. There have been nummerous articles about them right across the UK. 

It is understood that they might earn a basic pay of around £7 per hour but can be on bonuses giving them considerably more. If they are agency employees then the agency apparently earns a percentage of the direct debit that the giver signs on the street with the charity collector.

It will be interesting to see what it costs some of these charities to have collectors on the streets. In Scotland it is understood that Shelter pay out some £3m to chuggers and gather in £11m. That is a pretty high cost and just consider how many donations they may be losing where people find themselves offended by being accosted. I'm not saying that this might be the case in Swansea but it does leave a question mark. 

I see that the Evening Post posted my article last Thursday about the comparative cost of distributing leaflets in the city centre compared to other cities such as Cardiff and Newport. The council spokesman said that a fee waas charged to cover costs of controlling this activity.

Here is my response in a letter I have sent to the Evening Post. I hope they publish it.

"I do agree that it is necessary to have some control over the distribution of leaflets but why should there be such a high cost? I mentioned in my interview that both Cardiff and Newport do not charge local businesses and encourage them to advertise freely.

It is worth noting that both cities do control leaflet distribution and have guide-lines and application forms to complete. Neither charge as they told me that they consider this a valuable service to local businesses: one that they feel they should support.

Swansea council seem to seek ways to stealth tax local businesses wherever possible, and this hasn’t just applied during the recent cuts in their budgets. The charge for leaflet distribution goes back several years. I note that the Swansea spokesman claimed that charges start from £36 but this was not mentioned when I contacted the City Centre management team asking about charges. They only mentioned that charities can canvass free of charge (although I understand the canvassers are paid a commission) and certain bodies who claim freedom of speech such as political parties. It is also interesting to note that the Big Issue sellers do not pay. I was told that there is a maximum of 4 but it does sometimes feel that there is one on every street corner! I have nothing against Big Issue sellers and in fact after being around 40 years getting people on the first rung of the jobs ladder, they do a good job, but with a small city centre footprint more than two sees overkill.

Come on Swansea Council. Don’t be penny pinching skin-flints. I understand that you aren’t here to make money for local businesses but to ensure the infra-structure is there for businesses to succeed or fail dependent on their products, plans and management. How do you feel you are succeeding? Have you put in place that infra-structure?

A little bit of help would be most welcome by local independent businesses, particularly during these difficult trading times. You know that the high rents and business rates are crippling so here is your chance to help in a small way."

What do you think?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Buskers and entertainment galore in Oxford Street, Swansea


Started the day with a healthy sized slice of luxury victoria sponge. Healthy size but not healthy for my body, but perhaps I'm past that anyway.  
 
I always spoil myself when I go to First Call Coffee  in either the Orchard Street or High Street branches. They have such a great selection, any of which are made by Tony George on-site. As a qualified barasta he's pretty good with coffee too. And a little know fact is that he was the winner of the best cup of tea in the UK Tetley Tea competition about 4 years ago.  There's a great team at both branches and I'd highly recommend a visit.

Then I walked across to Oxford Street to see Disruption presented by the Elysium Gallery in Cradock Street. 


26 Artistes presented a range of entertainment that had the town laughing and enjoying themselves.  Some are shown here and include Frances race and her Cleaning Ladies cleaning up Swansea.Ten people dressed as old fashioned stereo-type cleaning women obsessively cleaning the street, two people dusting, two with sweeping brushes, two with vacuum-cleaners, two spraying the benches, another cleaning the cash point and another picking up rubbish. 





An opportunity to make comments by writing on the pavement with chalk was taken up by many passers-by. How lucky the Elysium Galley was to have such a sunny dry day for their disruption event
Sean Puleston and Erin Rickard presented Big Enough for Both of Us?  This was a conumdrum that neither could answer but they did pose other questions.




Elena Videnova danced as she transformed into a butterfly in a representation of shedding skins, shedding cultures and re-birth It provoked the audience to see the possibilities of transformation.

Elena gave out home crafted butterflies as a momento





Yes! A giant corset. And right next to La Senza presented by 4 Queens inviting the public to participate and interact with their own feelings and ideas that they could write on cotton strips using s felt-tip pen and then hanging on the giant corset









A straightforward busker? I' not sure. Watch this space.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Walk through Swansea with Council Leader Cllr Chris Holley

Saturday morning was sunny and bright at 6am. By 10.30 it was raining!! Council Leader Chris Holley was waiting in the car park opposite the Grand Theatre, brolly open.

We started our walkabout and I stopped a young couple to introduce us and asked what they thought of the City Centre. "The Quadrant Shopping Centre is fine but walk outside and everything looks tired and tawdry" they told us. 

Moving on we entered a children's clothes shop and asked again. Immediately a woman customer told us exactly what she thought about shopping in Swansea. "Car parking should be free otherwise everyone will go to nthe out-of-town shopping centres or Trostre at Llannelli. There is a good range of shops there and parking is free and nearby."  Cllr Holley explained that there is subsidised parking at the NCP carparks for one hour and that the High Street car park offers 4 hours for £1 after 10am but this was countered by the shopper who said she'd not park down there as she thought it not too safe an area. It is a difficult situation. On one hand the local council are promoting park-and-ride to keep traffic out whilst BIDs are encouraging people to drive into town.

In the Market we spoke with a trader who explained that he thought the market had become isolated for many older people who found it difficult to walk from the market to the bus station carrying their shopping. He went on to tell us that it was only just a few years ago when the Market was just so much busier. He thought it was a combination of reasons including the fact that most people were now struggling so they didn't have the money to spend. He suggested that some buses should pass the Market and be able to set down and pick up passengers. Although there were a couple of pick up spaces by the market this was insufficient. Cllr Holley said that the Market is the jewel in the crown as far as the city is concerned and is the reason many come into Swansea.

We called at a couple more shops but as the staff were serving we moved on. We stopped off at the Ole Coffee Shop in Oxford Street and had a welcome coffee, out of the rain. Speaking to the owner, Ali,  we were told that  trading was very difficult and that council actions were not helping. Ali said that he and many others he had talked to had little faith in the council employees where one department didn't know what another was doing. A major problem for the Ole Cafe was the high business rates. Cllr Holley explained that the Council were concerned with this but that the Welsh Assembly Government were responsible and it was they who levied the rates. He realised that this was a bitter pill to swallow and that the council  had made representations to WAG.

Ali also mentioned the changes in the streets and local junctions. Oxford Street now narrows at the end so there is only one lane, thus reducing traffic flow, then turning right towards the Kingsway the lights appear out of sync so there are hold-ups.

These views support the feed-back that I've had when I've been out on my own talking to shoppers and traders. A big concern is the one-way system and the fact that traffic is usually gridlocked on Kingsway at any but the quietest times and this does deter people from visiting Swansea. The roadworks over recent months have had a real impact of visitor levels as people are help-up a few times then decide not to bother anymore, so the city has lost footfall that will be difficult to bring back or replace.

Several have thought that the Kingsway is now a health and safety hazard with half the road being one-way whilst the other (for buses and taxis) is two-way. It is confusing even for regular shoppers and must be a cause for accidents. How many have there been in the last 123 months? Before long one will be fatal. If the extra space is needed for the bendy buses then how do they manage so easily en route to the overnight parking areas?

A common comment has been that Swansea has so much to offer, both in the city centre and out of town. Whether culture or action Swansea has it all. We should concentrate on a complete package but certainly it is time to shake the city centre up.


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Ferry Company Sinks

THE FASTNET Line Group of companies has been placed into lnterim Examinership by Justice Peter Kelly at a sitting of the High Court.

Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton has been appointed Interim Examiner.

The Cork to Swansea Ferry, operated by Fastnet, will discontinue its full published service with immediate effect.

All booked passengers will be contacted in the coming days, with full refunds been issued.
 
A further hearing date of 15th November has been set by Justice Kelly upon which the Interim Examiner will present a report on progress to the court.  

Mr.McAteer is hopeful that this Examinership will be resolved as quickly as possible.


About Fastnet Line:

The Fastnet Line companies are owned by the West Cork Tourism Co-Operative Society Limited which was formed in April 2009 and has over 400 members that have individually invested funds into the venture.

This is very sad news that after just two years and support from the Welsh Assembly Government  the Fastnet Ferry Company has sunk. This could have been a solid li9nk between Cork and Swansea bringing in visitors for short breaks and longer. It is understood that the exit from the ferry was planned to run through the city River Tawe entrance that would have shown visitors more of the city. It is hoped that this venture can be saved and runs again from April next year.