THE leaders of three major Welsh councils are calling for a comprehensive and significant support package to help cities through the pandemic.

The leaders of Newport City Council, Cardiff Council and Swansea Council say that, although direct action continues to be taken by local authorities and major investment made, cities are being particularly badly impacted by the crisis.

The challenge has been brought into sharp focus this week by the troubles of high street retail giants Arcadia and Debenhams.


Cardiff, Newport and Swansea collectively employ tens of thousands of people in retail and hospitality.

The leaders of the three councils said: “The news about Arcadia and Debenhams is a severe blow to the cities of Wales.

“These announcements could have a potentially catastrophic domino impact on other retailers who depend on the footfall created by anchor stores.

“The effect could be widespread too - if the cities struggle, everyone will struggle.

“A comprehensive and significant support package is required to help cities through the challenges.”

The leaders acknowledge that the pandemic has impacted on all communities. However, they say that:

  • The pandemic is hitting cities harder in every way
  • Its health impacts are more concentrated and severe in cities
  • The stop-start approach to the economy is having deep and damaging impacts on the retail and hospitality sectors which characterise city economies
  • Wales and its regions depend on cities as the engines of economic growth

In a statement, the council leaders said: “As councils, we have all been working with our retail partners to help them over the past months.

“Now, as cities, we are deeply concerned about the potential knock-on impacts on our retail heartlands.

“Our high streets have faced the growing challenge of online shopping – now the situation has been fuelled by the pandemic.

“We cannot allow unmanaged decline in our city centres so we are calling on the Welsh Government to use all levers at its disposal to protect our city centres.

“We would like to see the Economic Renewal Fund 4 brought forward and focused on our city and town centres.

“Our city centres are the engines of the Welsh economy. If they fail, Wales fails.”

The call by the council leaders is supported by Business Improvement Districts that represent more than 2,500 businesses in the three city centres.