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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.