Admiral, Bloomberg and We Love Cardiff!

Well in case you missed it, the latest EU Urban Audit results came out last week and attracted some considerable media interest! The survey provides an insight into what residents living in 79 European Cities really think about quality of life issues in the places where they live.

Perhaps of most interest was the survey revealed that across a number of indicators, residents in Cardiff are highly satisfied with life! Cardiff performs particularly well against other European capital cities, suggesting the City is also well placed to deliver on our vision of becoming Europe’s most Liveable Capital city.

According to the Survey, Cardiff is:

  • The top UK city – and 5th European capital city – in terms of resident satisfaction with life
  • Europe’s number 1 capital city for retail
  • Europe’s number 1 capital city for air quality and noise levels
  • One of Europe’s top 3 capital cities for green spaces, cultural facilities and efficient public services
  • One of Europe’s top 5 capital cities for public spaces, health services and sports facilities

This is in part testimony to the sustained investment in the city’s sporting, leisure and cultural infrastructure in recent years.

The survey also usefully suggests areas for improvement, and we will work with partners to address these as part of our ongoing programme of work. If the city of Cardiff is to maintain these high satisfaction rates then we will also need to draw upon a more co-operative minded approach, as we design a city for people and deliver services with people.

Last week I was delighted to meet with Henry Englehardt, Chief Executive of Admiral Group plc, which is one of the most successful motor and home insurance firms in Europe.

Admiral launched in Cardiff just over 20 years ago in 1993 and now has over two million policyholders and over 3,500 employees. It is currently the only FTSE 100 listed company in Wales and floated on the London Stock Exchange in September 2004. Admiral is also regularly listed in the Sunday Times “Best Companies to Work For”, demonstrating the strength and quality of the business (and no doubt also thanks to some pretty memorable staff parties in the Millennium Stadium from what I’m told!).

Meeting Henry Englehardt

Meeting Henry Englehardt

Henry also spoke recently at Venturefest Wales, an event which brought together entrepreneurs, investors and innovators to inspire business growth in Wales. Amongst the topics covered was his vision and values for what makes a successful company, with a strong emphasis on the culture of the organisation, something which I strongly agree with. This is why we are striving to refresh our own organisational values and to embed co-operation at the heart of our Council ethos, supporting an environment where people are more empowered to contribute towards the success of our city.

Admiral’s headquarters are based in Capital Tower, the tallest building in the city centre, and the firm continues to experience rapid growth. It has exciting plans to shortly move 3,000 of its staff into a new £60m 220,000 sq ft landmark HQ right in the heart of Cardiff’s Central Enterprise Zone. Proof, if any was needed, of Cardiff’s credentials as an attractive business destination – one where firms can thrive and go on to become major national and international success stories.

On Friday, Cardiff will be submitting its final Application to the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge Competition. I blogged about Cardiff’s submission reaching the final 21 (out of over 150 entrants) a few weeks ago.

Cardiff’s initial submission impressed the judges because it focused on increasing the productivity of Cardiff, by investing in people and delivering a programme of social innovation that enables people to address city issues.

Since reaching the final 21, delegates from Cardiff have been working with Bloomberg Philanthropies to further refine the bid ahead of final submission. Bloomberg Philanthropies was established by former Mayor of New York, Mike Bloomberg, and draws on his decades of experience as a leader in the public and private sectors to deliver real, meaningful, and lasting change around the world.

Team Cardiff working to develop our bid

Team Cardiff – with former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg- developed our bid with Bloomberg Philanthropies

As part of this work with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the City of Cardiff has engaged with a number of other European cities to help develop each other’s ideas. If you have a spare five minutes, then it’s worth reading more about some of the innovative ideas being explored here. I know the Cardiff team have worked hard on what is a highly credible submission, one which if successful, would deliver real benefits here in Cardiff as well as for other cities right across the world.

Pob Lwc Caerdydd!

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Last Thursday, I chaired a meeting of the City of Cardiff’s Cabinet, the main decision making body of the City Council.  You can find out a little more on what happens at Cabinet here:

On the agenda were a number of important items, not least of which was the Council’s Budget Strategy for 2015/16, and which following its approval will now be recommended to the next Full Council meeting at City Hall on 24th July.  The Strategy underlines the tough times ahead for local government in Wales, which for Cardiff could lead to further funding cuts of around £45 million in 2015/16 and over £120 million over the next three years.

So far the Council has had to take out around £120 million from its budget over the past five years, including £48 million in the current year – so we could only be only half way through this period of austerity.

Despite these challenges, the administration is still working hard to take the city forward.  During the same Cabinet meeting, we also agreed on the next steps to support the exciting regeneration of Central Square, building on the BBC’s recent decision to relocate to a new £170 million headquarters building, bringing 1,200 highly skilled jobs into this part of the city centre.

On the same day Cabinet approved this report, Network Rail Cymru/Wales also released new artistic impressions of how Cardiff Central train station could be transformed over the next few years, as part of a major £100m investment by them, which has the support of the City Council and Welsh Government.


The Cabinet agreed on an eight week programme of engagement with residents and other stakeholders in August/September on the proposed location and design of a new central bus interchange to replace our existing bus station, which will close by June 2015.  This will help inform a final Cabinet decision which is expected by the end of the year.  The station could be located either to the north (Marland House/NCP car park site) or to the south (Network Rail car park) of Cardiff Central train station.

As part of being a Co-operative Council, Cabinet also agreed to set up a new Social Innovation Fund to help kick-start the development of new social enterprises in the city.  Social enterprises can be invaluable as they support community development, help to tackle social problems and provide employment to those whose opportunities may otherwise be limited.  But they also need to be well run and focused to achieve their social aims. 

In addition to seed capital from the City Council, the Fund would also provide access to advice and support from a range of partners including the Wales Co-operative Centre and Charity Bank.  For more information on the Fund, please contact

Finally, we also agreed a framework for the future development of local and sustainable energy generation projects in Cardiff, including plans for a new solar farm on parts of the former refuse tip at Lamby Way.

Rising energy prices affect us all, and the trends point to prices continuing to rise in the years ahead.  That’s why ensuring affordable, sustainable and secure energy will be crucial, and the decisions taken by the Cabinet last Thursday will contribute to helping us achieve our ambition of Cardiff becoming Europe’s most liveable capital city.

Hwyl fawr,


Bilingual Cardiff and the Stuttgart Delegation

On Saturday I visited the annual Tafwyl festival in Cardiff Castle which was attended by over 16,500 people. Established in 2006, the festival celebrates and raises the profile of the Welsh language in Cardiff, and since then has gone from strength to strength.  Tafwyl is now one of the most prominent and inclusive Welsh language community festivals in the Welsh calendar.

Bringing partners together to share ideas on how we can all make a difference is central to being a Co-operative Council.

Tafwyl 2014

Tafwyl 2014

In many ways Tafwyl is a fine example of how partnership working can deliver amazing results, with the Council hosting the event, external partners such as the Welsh Government and Cardiff University providing funding and other partners such as Menter Caerdydd organising such a memorable event.

This approach was also behind a ‘Bilingual Cardiff’ conference, held in March this year. Over 40 organisations attended, as well as the First Minister and Welsh Language Commissioner, to consider how the Welsh language could be better promoted in the city. One of the most noticeable suggestions tduring the day was the idea of a Welsh language space in the city.

During Tafwyl’s opening ceremony on Saturday, I was therefore delighted to announce that the Council would now explore the potential for a new ‘Welsh Language Space’ in the heart of our capital, which I know is a shared aspiration with many of our partners and would fulfil a major commitment in our strategy to promote Welsh in Cardiff.

We are becoming an increasingly bilingual city.  Cardiff was one of the few local authority areas in Wales to see a rise in both the number and percentage of Welsh speakers in the 2011 census. In the city, well over a quarter of our children and young people in the 5-15 age group are now fluent Welsh speakers. In fact, since 1991, the number of Welsh speakers in Cardiff has doubled.

That’s why I believe we should be actively promoting the Welsh language rather than simply meeting our statutory requirements – something which I discussed recently in a meeting with the Welsh Language Commissioner.

We have also recently rebranded the City Council’s Welsh Language Unit as ‘Bilingual Cardiff,’ a move which will allow us to take on more of an advisory role for other organisations whilst continuing to actively promote awareness of the Welsh language across the city through improved collaborative working arrangements.

If you’d like to find out more about our approach or want to know how your organisation could be part of the proposed Welsh Language Space, get in touch by emailing


At the end of last week, the City of Cardiff welcomed a delegation from Stuttgart – which is Cardiff’s longest-standing twin city. Our German guests included the city’s Deputy Mayor – Dr Martin Schairer – as well as representatives from departments dealing with Foreign Affairs, Culture, Urban Development and Sport. The purpose of the visit was manifold: meetings were held with politicians and officials from a number of City Council Departments on topics which both cities are interested in, such as youth unemployment and economic development.

Stuttgart Delegation

Stuttgart Delegation

The itinerary also included a visit to the Stuttgart Garden in Bute Park which was designed and donated by Stuttgart in 2005 to mark Cardiff’s centenary as a city and its 50th year as the capital of Wales.

Next year will be the 60th anniversary of the important link between Cardiff and Stuttgart and plans are already underway to celebrate this. Both cities are also looking to develop a programme of collaborative projects and learning exchanges focused on areas of mutual interest.



Developing Cardiff and discovering the Bay’s best kept secret

As Leader of the City of Cardiff Council it’s really important to create time each week to consider the big long term issues that will shape the city over the next decade and beyond, as it can be all too easy to focus too much on what is happening today, tomorrow or in 6 months’ time.

The Local Development Plan (LDP) is one of these strategic issues.

In short, the LDP will identify where in the city new developments and communities can be built. The plan also sets the framework to deliver new transport infrastructure, schools, health centres and other community facilities as well as protecting our best environmental assets.

This LDP is particularly important because Cardiff is projected to experience such a rapid growth in population. For example, it sets out plans for 41,000 new homes to be built in the city (of which 12,000 have already been built). 

But this is about much more than just building new houses – it’s about building new communities.

Making sure that the new housing developments are designed in a way which encourages human interaction and which supports the creation of strong communities is one of my administration’s top priorities.

This week I met with the major developers looking to invest and develop these new neighbourhoods to emphasise the importance of these issues. I also emphasised the need to ensure high quality design, that the new communities are served by sustainable transport and encourage cycling, and that there is plenty of green space and room for sports and play.

Getting the design of these new neighbourhoods right from the start is incredibly important, and it will be crucial for us to achieve our ambition to make Cardiff Europe’s most liveable capital city.

The Deposit LDP covers the period to 2026 and was approved at last week’s Full Council meeting.  It will now be examined by an Independent Planning Inspector, and if deemed ‘sound,’ it will be adopted from next year.

I discovered this week one of Cardiff’s best kept secrets – the World of Boats.

Aside from containing over 40 rare boats from around the world, a ‘Boat Lab’ where boat restoration projects are constantly taking place, and an interactive tour of nautical matters it has one of the best views of Cardiff from its outdoor balcony bar and cafe.


Right next door to the World of Boats is the Dr Who Experience, and across the road the BBC Drama Production village in Porth Teigr, two prominent examples of Cardiff’s growing strength as a creative and digital capital.

Next week I will be opening on Monday morning the Digital Innovation Week Wales in the Millennium Centre. For anybody with an interest in the digital industries and how Cardiff is leading the way then click here for more details.