Council pays Duke £5,000 over bridge's construction
TAXPAYERS have footed another bill to one of the UK's wealthiest men, to allow the construction of a new footbridge across the River Tawe.
The £5,000 bill was paid by Swansea Council to The Somerset Trust, the estate of the Duke of Beaufort, for the construction of the bridge in the lower Swansea Valley.
The money, known as an "easement payment", was paid because the Duke owns the river bed.
The payment follows another taxpayer-funded bill to the Duke, after £280,000 was handed over to the estate to build a footbridge to the Liberty Stadium.
Both figures were revealed following Freedom of Information requests submitted to Swansea Council by Mawr ward councillor, Ioan Richard.
Councillor Richard said: "Feudalism to the lord of the manor is still very much alive in Swansea, especially with some Swansea Labour councillors desperate to trash Mynydd y Gwair with wind turbines which will also enrich the Somerset Trust."
The new Beaufort Bridge has been constructed as part of a £7 million project to manage flood risks in the lower Swansea Valley.
Part of the scheme involves removing structures in the river that hold back flood flows, which is why the old bridge was taken down and replaced with a new bridge in a more strategic location, so as not to inhibit flood flows.
Swansea Council confirmed the freehold of the stretch of river bed was owned by the Duke, whose estate is run by the Somerset Trust, and that the payment was made to put an easement in place, otherwise the bridge would be illegal.
The payment was covered by funding for the overall Lower Swansea Valley flood risk project – a £7 million scheme that's supported by the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government.
The Somerset Trust declined to comment.