Once the land was terrorised by fierce monsters with names like Clomper, Chomper and Stomper. They ate everything they came across and excreted disposable nappies and litter. Thus was Swansea formed.
Then, one day, a fleet of flying saucers landed, killed the monsters and installed a rudimentary version of local government. After billions of years of Darwinian adaptations to huge existential threats, it remains a rudimentary version of local government.
Then the Covid creatures came. They fed exclusively on common sense, consumed it all, excreted fear, then donned masks and hid in plain site. And that’s where we’re at right now. Pray for us.
Swansea has a legacy problem – the council planning department – and a current problem – industrial amounts of litter.
The planning issue is an aesthetic one. Swansea is beautifully located above a bay; if it were part of London, only millionaires and billionaires could afford to live here. In such a beautiful setting, the design and distribution of houses, the street layout, should rise to the same level. We would all get a boost from living in beautiful surroundings, and there would be no extra cost involved: the cost of the building materials would be more or less the same whether they are used to make something ugly or something beautiful.
The designs selected were generally appalling. Light bounces in from the bay only to hit a grey wall of squat housing flecked with tiny, tiny windows designed to exclude life and light. They convert that light and warmth into internal dinge. More recent housing, especially to the west, features picture windows, colour and space, but the damage in the centre is locked in: any changes – extensions and other modifications – must be carried out in the spirit of the original misconceived brutal style so as to preserve architectural consistency. It’s only the planning department that thinks that consistency trumps beauty.
Fly tipping and litter blight the area, further depressing the gaiety of the Swansea nation. The people who throw the stuff down are the villains, but they are aided and abetted by a council that makes no serious attempt to tackle the problem. It should not be that difficult to come up with a plan and some resources – bins, wardens, communication, enforcement etc – and make a huge difference, but the will does not appear to be there. We’d all chip in and rally round – businesses, residents, the civic-minded – if only there were something to rally around.