Coronavirus: Wales' science centres call for £25m rescue package

Xplore! sign
Image caption Xplore! science centre relocated to Wrexham town centre in January from nearby Glyndwr University

Science education institutions in Wales have joined calls for the UK government to provide a £25m emergency resilience fund.

The Association for Science and Discovery Centres said they need support to sustain their future because of coronavirus.

Thousands of visitors have enjoyed places like Machynlleth's Centre for Alternative Technology in Powys.

The UK government said educational attractions had "significant support".

Wrexham's Xplore! was supposed to re-launch in a new location last month but work on the town centre premises was halted during lockdown.

There has been no news on when it will reopen.

Formerly Techniquest Glyndwr, Xplore! is part of the Science Centres for our Future campaign.

Manager Scot Owen said: "There has been some support from the Welsh Government in Wales, and we're grateful for the help we've received, but its long-term sustainability we're looking for."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thousands have enjoyed learning at science centres

There are more than 40 science and discovery centres in the UK.

While the Welsh Government has provided financial support to sites in Wales, the UK government is being asked to set up a £25m resilience fund to secure the future of centres across the country.

Dr Penny Fidler, chief executive of the Association for Science and Discovery Centres, said: "We're asking the Westminster government to consider funding some of the science centres because when they reopen they'll only be at 30% capacity, mostly to maintain social distancing, and 98% of them say they cannot break even when they're only at 30% capacity.

"Furlough has been great, but this is more about long-term support, so that in 18 months' time we still have science centres across our country."

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the UK government was providing "significant support" for educational attractions like science centres.

"As soon as it is safe to do so, we will encourage people to visit these attractions again," a spokesman said.

"Until that time, science centres can access the government's package of support, including the job retention scheme, VAT payment deferrals, and billions of government backed loans and guarantees".

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