Posted: Thu 29th Jun 2023

Swansea Bay health board spends £640k renting buildings as Covid vaccination centres /
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 29th, 2023

Swansea Bay University Health Board has spent just over £640,000 renting buildings as mass Covid vaccination centres. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The figure would have been higher had Roy Thomas – the owner of Bay Studios off Fabian Way, which was the largest site to be used – charged commercial rent for the full duration. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Vaccinations against coronavirus started in the winter of 2020-21 and were delivered at scale at the Bay Studios’ Elba building, which was transformed into a field hospital, and Canolfan Centre, Gorseinon. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Jabs were also administered later at Aberafan Shopping Centre, Port Talbot. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

In a response to a freedom of information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the health board said there were £487,500 rental costs for the Elba building at Bay Studios in 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23, plus £140,630 rental costs for Canolfan Centre, and £12,019 costs for Aberafan Shopping Centre. The total figure comes to £640,149. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Thomas let the Elba building on a “peppercorn” rent basis for 16 months after the coronavirus pandemic struck in late March, 2020, with commercial rent only applied from the beginning of August, 2021, onwards.  “I was proud to do it at the time,” he said. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Canolfan Centre on Millers Drive has a cafe, a child daycare facility, a community cinema, and business space. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It is run by Gorseinon Development Trust – a charity – and was built with support from Swansea Council, the Welsh Government, the European Union and Gorseinon Town Council. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The development trust was contacted about the building’s use as a vaccination centre but didn’t respond at the time of going to press. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Chris Morgan MBE, manager of the privately-owned Aberafan Shopping Centre, said: “We were happy to have been approached by the health board and gave them a very cost-effective deal to make it a reality. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Our biggest priority was to bring a vaccination centre to the town centre, and it has proved extremely successful.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

More than 2.5 million of Wales’ 3.1 million population have received at least two Covid jabs, according to Public Health Wales. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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