Manchester, the Core Cities and the Cardiff Debate

Last week, I travelled to Manchester to visit representatives of the English Core Cities. The Core Cities Group provides a united local authority voice to promote the role of cities in driving economic growth. It’s made up of England’s eight largest city economies outside London, which are home to around 16 million people within the wider city regions – almost a third of the population of England. These core cities also generate 27% of England’s wealth which, collectively, is more than London.

In Wales, Cardiff has much in common with these core cities in terms of our importance to both the wider regional and national economy. Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan are responsible for over a fifth of the value of Wales’ economic output and between 2009 and 2012, 38% of all new private sector jobs in Wales were created in Cardiff. It is therefore important that as a city, we engage in these wider policy discussions because they can help to accelerate growth and prosperity for both Cardiff and the wider South Wales region.

Whilst in Manchester, I met with Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council and Chair of the Core Cities Group, as well as Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council. We had a very interesting discussion about successful city-regions, the moves to devolve new powers to cities and regions, as well as sustainable regeneration. There were certainly many common challenges between us and a shared view of the way forward.

I intend to continue this engagement with cities across Europe so that we can ensure Cardiff is best placed to deal with both the challenges and opportunities ahead.

On the issue of regeneration, also on the agenda was a visit to Manchester’s NOMA development.

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NOMA is a 20 acre regeneration of urban land owned by The Co-operative Group and Hermes Real Estate. NOMA’s ambition is to be more than buildings and spaces, but a new chapter in the Manchester story by creating high quality living space. The development offered a mix of places to work, live, visit, shop, eat and be entertained and my visit provided an insight into how other cities are taking forward their regeneration agenda, as well as providing an opportunity to talk about Cardiff’s own exciting development plans.

Back in June I blogged about the launch of the Cardiff Debate, an ongoing programme of engagement on the future of public services in our city. So far the Cardiff Debate has visited numerous areas across the city, attending many community events and venues, and will be visiting many more in the coming months.

Initially, residents were asked about what they thought our priorities should be for the city, as well as listening to ideas on how we can do things differently. We also wanted to know how local people and communities could get more involved in supporting these changes.

The Cardiff Debate is now beginning to hold ‘drop in workshops’ across the city. At the workshops people will be asked about the type of services they use and what matters most about how public services are delivered. Part of the discussion will also involve considering alternative approaches to delivering services.

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It’s been really interesting to read many of the good ideas residents have shared on how the City of Cardiff Council and its partners can do things differently to meet the challenges we face.

These ideas range from dimming some street lights in the early hours of the morning, to putting solar panels on all public buildings. It’s great that so many people have taken part so far, these are just the start of these conversations, and there will be further opportunities for people to get involved in the future. As I have outlined in previous posts, there are some very important decisions that will need to be made that will determine the nature of public services in the city, and the council’s current Administration is committed to involving people in this process.

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Details of the latest on-street engagement sessions and drop-in workshops can be found in Splott Library, Cathays Library, Plasnewydd Community Hall, Penylan Community Centre, Channel View Leisure Centre, STAR Leisure Centre, Central Library, Llandaff North Library, Radyr Library and Grangetown Library.

Cardiff Debate postcards and post boxes are also now located at the city centre Advice Hub at Marland House, Butetown Hub, Llanrumney Hub, St Mellons Hub, Ely and Caerau Hub, Western Leisure Centre, Fairwater Leisure Centre, Maindy Leisure Centre, Llanishen Leisure Centre and County Hall.

Members of the public can also complete the Cardiff Debate survey online at:

To find out more on the latest summer events as well as the feedback from sessions held so far, visit the Cardiff Debate Twitter @CardiffDebate or Facebook pages.