Launching the Cardiff Debate and exciting changes at Cardiff Airport

Cardiff has a fast-growing and ageing population. These trends are driving a rising demand for our public services at a time when we have much less money available from central government to fund them.

In order to meet this challenge the way we deliver public services will need to change.

In leading this change, we need to understand what services matter most to you and your family. That’s why we’ve launched the Cardiff Debate.


We want to hear what you have to say. So get involved in our events or let us know what you think on Twitter or on our facebook page.

I attended Cardiff Debate sessions last week at the Llanrumney Festival and at the Sbectrwm community enterprise in Fairwater. It was great to have an opportunity to visit the Sbectrwm centre, which is a fantastic example of co-operative working in action.

The inspirational centre is part of Vision 21, a charity which offers realistic work based opportunities for people with learning needs.

Meeting staff and students from Fairwater Pottery

Meeting staff and students from Fairwater Pottery

I’m pictured in the working garden at Sbectrwm with students and staff from Fairwater Pottery who are based there and produce some amazing pottery which is on sale there as well as their shop on Albany Road.

Vision 21 will be holding their annual festival day at Sbectrwm on July 9thfrom 10-3 which is free to enter and looks like it will be a lot of fun. So go along and see what is on offer. Further details can be found at

I believe Cardiff as the capital city must act as the connecting point between Wales and the world, bringing the best of the world culture, sport, investment, businesses and talent to Wales and providing the platform to showcase the best of Wales to the world in return.

For this to happen, international connectivity will be really important. Meeting with Cardiff Airport Chief Executive Jon Horne this week I was reassured that things are moving in the right direction. In 2007 Cardiff Airport served over 2 million passengers, but last year, before the Welsh Government’s investment, this had fallen to just over 1 million. Something clearly needed to be done.

Recent months have seen investments in a new café, retail and drop off areas. In fact, the whole arrival and departure experience has been significantly improved. The range of routes has expanded: British Airways’ low cost carrier, Vueling, flies to destinations in Europe; carriers such as KLM, Cityjet and Aer Lingus continue to fly to Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam for a broader range of onward international connections; and Citywing also operates regular 1 hour domestic flights to Ynys Mon/Anglesey in North Wales. It was also good to hear about more recent new destinations including Dusseldorf in Germany, operated by Germanwings. With more new routes expected over the year ahead – the return of Ryanair the most obvious – I’m confident that Cardiff, as the capital city of Wales, will soon have the airport it deserves.



Co-operating for change

Last week I attended two important conferences on the future of local government.

Firstly, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) Annual Conference in Llandudno brought together Council Leaders from across Wales to discuss the challenges facing public services in Wales and, more importantly, some potential solutions.

The most high-profile proposal on the table is local government reorganisation. Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Local Government and Government Business, made clear that local authority mergers are going to happen and that a map of the new boundaries will soon be published, with a likely reduction in numbers from 22 to 10 or perhaps 12 as outlined in the Williams Commission report  earlier this year.

As for timescales, the indications are that Councils will be encouraged to merge voluntarily, and for those that do, they will hold elections in 2018. For Councils that choose not to follow this path, elections will take place along the lines of the current boundaries in 2017, with mergers implemented at a later date.

There was some debate at the Conference on whether a reorganisation can deliver the economies of scale and savings that would be needed. The discussion has so far mainly centred on boundaries and potential merger costs, both important issues which require further clarification, but there is a growing consensus that the immediate focus must be on how to respond to the more pressing funding challenges faced by Councils in Wales over the next few years.

Even before any mergers can take place, Cardiff City Council will have to reduce its budget by over £90m over the next three years, in addition to around £120m that has already been cut over the past five. If these kind of figures are to be achieved, it will require substantial changes to the number and nature of services currently provided by the Council.

That’s why we have launched the Cardiff Debate, a three year programme of events and consultation on the future of public services in our city. The Cardiff Debate will visit your local areas to discuss priorities for the city so if you want to get involved, or stay updated, you can follow us on twitter. Alternatively have a look at our Facebook page. 

In Cardiff, as I’ve touched on in previous blogs, we have set ourselves the challenge of becoming a much more ‘Co-operative Council’ at the heart of a well networked international capital city.

Put simply, as a Co-operative Council we will need to develop new ways of working which enable us to work more closely and in an equal partnership with our city’s residents and other partners in the future.

That’s why events, such as the second conference I attended last week in Plymouth, are so important and why it is proving very useful to share experiences amongst other member councils in the network. During a series of themed workshops, such as co-operative energy projects, we heard about successful initiatives taking place right across the United Kingdom, including several collective energy switching schemes (including Cardiff’s own CYD Cymru initiative), which have been one of a number of ways in which councils have helped residents cut their high energy bills.

Other examples include the new Plymouth Energy Community Co-operative which raised over £650,000 from local residents and investors a year ago and is now using this funding to help the city reduce its energy use by putting solar panels on buildings and giving support and advice to people struggling with their bills.It was a timely discussion, as my Cabinet will be considering a report next month on how we can fully explore the potential for renewable energy generation in our own city in the years ahead. More on that next month!

I blogged in April about the exciting news that fast-growing US cyber-security firm Alert Logic has chosen to establish their Headquarters for Europe, the Middle East and Asia in Cardiff.

Meeting David Howorth & Marty McGuffin from Alert Logic

Meeting David Howorth & Marty McGuffin from Alert Logic

This week, the company established their base in one of the City Council’s technology spaces, part of an expansion that will ultimately see around 130 people employed in their Central Enterprise Zone office.

For me, this investment is a clear demonstration that Cardiff has the skilled people and right environment to attract the best global companies.Marty McGuffin, Senior Vice President of Global Operations for Alert Logic, told me that above all else, what has impressed him most are the people the company have been able to employ in Cardiff. As Marty put it:

“We have been impressed with the level of talent we have found in Cardiff for all the different roles we have available, and have been in the enviable position of being able to choose the very best to join us.’



BBC Boost for Central Square

The City of Cardiff received a great boost this week with news that the BBC have chosen to relocate their HQ to a new purpose-built media centre in Cardiff’s Central Square.

The 150,000 square foot building will be designed by world-renowned architects Norman Foster and Partners and will be rated to a BREEAM Outstanding standard.  It will also form the heart of our plans to create a new transport gateway into our Capital City, with the BBC development acting as a catalyst for wider regeneration of a new business district. 


BBC Cymru Wales’ new HQ from Central Station

In addition to housing existing BBC staff and services, the Welsh Language broadcaster, S4C has also expressed an interest in co-locating some services with the BBC at the new location.

The BBC’s investment reinforces Cardiff’s emergence as a leading centre for creative industries in Europe, with new and existing world class facilities in both the city-centre and the Cardiff Bay waterfront.

Central Sq from above

A new Central Square from above

The wider Capital Square development will also help to transform public transport facilities in this part of the city-centre, with a new bus station helping to enhance connections to the rest of the city, the wider region and to Cardiff Airport, London and beyond.

It is one of the most exciting developments in the capital for a decade, and is expected to be the first of many new investments into Cardiff’s Central Enterprise Zone over the coming years.

In further signs of growing investor confidence in the City of Cardiff as a business location, we were boosted by confirmation that a new internet exchange – one of the major intersections of the internet – will be created in Central Square, immediately adjacent to the new BBC development.

Currently, all internet traffic – every tweet, every email, even if it’s to the person sat next to you in the office – must travel to London and back. 

This creates delay and causes cost, and for businesses can be an important resilience issue.  The creation of an internet exchange will connect Cardiff directly to the internet, making the Welsh capital one of the UK’s most digitally connected cities. 

For an explanation of what this all means click here

Just around the corner from Central Square, in Callaghan Square, you may have noticed a ‘Big Top’ tent over recent weeks. 

This was because Cardiff’s own No Fit State Circus were back in town with their latest show, Bianco, following a triumphant sell-out run at the Perth International Arts Festival. 

Over the last 25 years, No Fit has grown into one of Europe’s most dynamic and exciting performing arts companies.  With a cast of local and international performers, as No Fit say themselves, the company ‘brings the best of the world to Wales, and takes the best of Wales to the world.’ 

This is a circus like you’ve never seen it before and if you haven’t seen them yet, make sure you go next time they’re back in town – it really is a special experience!

For those who can’t wait till then No Fit run classes for all ages and levels in juggling, aerial hoops and the flying trapeze at their beautiful new home at Four Elms in Adamsdown, Cardiff.

Hwyl fawr am nawr!



Make a Big DIFFerence

Social workers and those who work within the field of social care are often our hidden heroes.

There are very few other professions which allow you to have such a positive impact on the lives of other people – be it helping to protect the vulnerable from harm or abuse or supporting people to live independent lives.

It’s an area of high pressure and responsibility and requires total commitment, with no room for complacency.

I want to take time out to commend the amazing work done by social workers in my own organisation and across the city every day.  We need more people like you.

That’s why this week we have launched the ‘Cardiff Cares’ campaign to promote the city as a great place for social care professionals to work and live.  In addition to the Capital Times and City Council website, we will also be using street advertising, radio and other effective channels to promote our key messages more widely.  You can follow the campaign on Twitter #CardiffCares

Cardiff has a number of exciting career opportunities within our busy and dedicated Children’s Services team, which offers vital services for those most vulnerable and most in need across the city.

So, if you are (or know) a qualified social care professional or someone who can make a positive difference to Cardiff’s vulnerable children and young people then we want to hear from you!

Get in touch with the City of Cardiff’s Children Services team on 02920 873622 to find out how you could make all the DIFFerence.

Continuing the theme of people making a difference, on Sunday I attended the launch of Volunteers Week in Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan.

There is something quite brilliant about people willingly giving their time to help others, or to improve their communities. It reflects incredibly well on Cardiff that we have so many volunteers in the city and it is only right that their contribution is recognised.

And the city has a long tradition of volunteering. In 1964 a Volunteering Centre opened its doors for the first time in Cardiff, the first volunteering bureau in Britain!  50 years on, Voluntary Community Services Cardiff are still welcoming volunteers and supporting volunteering right across the city.

It is a remarkable achievement, and reflects one of the city’s greatest strengths – its people.

Children and Young people are an important part of our city. There are over 130,000 people aged under 25 living in Cardiff – over a third of the population – so it’s important that we understand what matters to them.

That’s why I was pleased to meet representatives from the Cardiff Youth Council this week to discuss their priorities for the city. As part of being a Co-operative Council, we need to engage people more in decision making, ensuring that people and communities have a clearer voice and are enabled to do more

Meeting Cardiff Youth Council Reps

Meeting Cardiff Youth Council Reps

One way our co-operative approach is working can be seen through the Council’s process for training young people to act as ‘young commissioners’.  This will enable them to be part of a new £5m commissioning exercise, helping to decide how we shape future training provision for 14-19 year olds in Cardiff.  This shows how seriously the City of Cardiff is about trying to get more people involved in shaping the services they receive.

To get involved with the Cardiff Youth Council, click here, or alternatively you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter: @CardiffYC

Another important aspect of our co-operative approach involves empowering local communities to achieve their ambitions for their area.

That is why we have recently made a new Neighbourhood Partnership Fund available to the six Neighbourhood Partnership areas across the City. The community based aim of the fund is to encourage solutions to local priorities.

When we talk of using the energy and creativity of communities, I understand that the City of Cardiff and our partners have an important role to play. The purpose of the fund is to help you get your ideas off the ground, because we know that, with a little bit of support, we can all make a significant difference.

We want to encourage and support communities to develop innovative projects or services that support early intervention and prevention, community engagement or that trial new ways of delivering services. The fund may also be able to help unlock other funding opportunities or could be part of a wider fundraising effort, perhaps as part of a “crowd funding” project.  Internet sites such as Spacehive  (, the world’s first internet funding platform for civic projects, have opened up new opportunities for communities and entrepreneurs to raise funding for project ideas.

Bids can be made for between £250 and £2,500 though, in exceptional circumstances, consideration will be given to applications of up to £5,000. Any application will need to be ‘sponsored’ by a local Councillor in the area where you want to deliver your project.

Our Neighbourhood Partnership Fund offers a chance for communities to bring forward ideas which help to make a positive difference in our city.  For more information on how to apply, please visit

The closing date for the next bidding round is 14 / 7 / 2014.

Pob Lwc!

Good Luck!