Cardiff joins the Core Cities

Cardiff has now officially joined the Core Cities Group, a network which contains ten of the largest cities in the UK outside London.   The Group was established in 1995 and until recently consisted of the eight largest cities in England outside London.

blog 26sep

In recent months, both Cardiff and Glasgow have joined the network, the first cities from outside England and so it has now been renamed Core Cities UK.

Last week, I joined other leaders from major British cities for Cardiff and Glasgow’s first Core Cities Cabinet meeting in Manchester.  In wide ranging discussions, we considered how the UK’s cities can best support sustainable economic growth and new jobs.

When it comes to creating jobs, and rebalancing the British economy away from London and the South East of England, our cities are vital.  The 10 Core Cities deliver 28% of the English, Welsh and Scottish economies combined!

Over the last ten years Cardiff has seen the highest growth in private sector employment of all the major UK cities except London, and for every three net new jobs created in the city-region, two of them were created in Cardiff.

In an increasingly competitive global economy the UK’s big cities are central to the country’s long term prospects.

And yet, we can do more.  Although our cities contribute a massive share of the nation’s wealth, they largely underperform by international standards – with the evidence demonstrating this is because cities have too long been subject to centralised control.

Post-referendum, a programme of devolution to Scotland has been set out, and this will have implications for Wales.

In a region where far too many people are still suffering from the decline of our heavy industries, Cardiff can draw investment in from outside Wales, to the benefit of Wales.

But to do so we will need investment into the city and the wider city-region – particularly into transport infrastructure and services – and we will need more freedom, to decide things like how more of the taxes raised locally can be spent locally.

Our membership will ensure Cardiff’s voice is heard in these powerful national debates, and that the capital city secures the investment and the freedoms it needs to carry on creating jobs, not just for the people of Cardiff, but for people across South Wales.

Become a Dementia Friend

At a meeting of the full Council on Thursday 25 September, a motion to Council was unanimously supported which resolved to work towards making the City of Cardiff a dementia supportive community.

We’re growing older as a society.  According to figures published by the Alzheimer’s Society in 2012, over 44,500 people in Wales are estimated to be living with dementia and this is predicted to rise to almost 56,000 people by 2021.  Dementia is one of the biggest health challenges facing us today, and as we grow older and live longer as a society, it will only rise in importance.

The Council will continue to work jointly with partners from the statutory, voluntary and independent sectors to develop and improve services for people living with dementia and their carers.

People with dementia rely on the help of their family and friends, and so it was agreed that each elected member will sign up to registering as a Dementia Friend.  If you’d like to make a difference and help people living with dementia in your community, you could sign up too.

As part of this commitment, the Council also agreed to create and appoint an elected member to the position of Dementia Champion and appoint a lead officer for dementia to help tackle this important issue for the city.



Have YOUR say on the new bus station!

Have YOUR  say on the new bus station!

Exciting plans for re-developing Cardiff’s Central Square are currently out for public consultation. The Capital Square development will see BBC Cymru Wales relocate to a new BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rated headquarters building designed by world renowned architects Norman Foster and Partners.

The project will also help transform public transport facilities in this part of Cardiff, with a new bus station to enhance connections to the rest of the city, the wider region and to Cardiff Airport and beyond.

These are exciting times for Cardiff, and in line with our co-operative values, we want to give everyone an opportunity to have a say on the proposals. Engagement began in August, and members of the public will have a further opportunity to engage at two events next week.

The events will be held at the east and west end of Queen Street and on Churchill Way between 10 am and 4 pm on Tuesday 23rd and Thursday 25th September. Surveys on handheld computers and forms will also be available for people to complete and an online survey is also available via the Capital Times.

We have had a positive response to the proposals from our previous engagement activities, with well over 2,000 responses received so far.

This is a major project which is being brought forward by the city’s  administration and it is a vital part of the city’s infrastructure development. It will play an important role in accommodating growth, creating jobs as well as promoting the use of public transport.

I would encourage everyone to take two minutes out of your time to fill in the survey which will be online until October 3. The results will be considered by Cabinet later this year and will help to shape the re-development of Central Square.


Last week, Cabinet approved a new strategy for future Community Hubs provision in Cardiff.

As a Co-operative Council, the City of Cardiff Council is increasingly looking at new ways to connect with local people and partners to help co-design and deliver services.  Our network of Community Hubs across the city’s six neighbourhood partnership areas is a great example of this approach.

Hubs are essentially a ‘one-stop shop’ for local services and make better use of buildings and services, providing a range of services in one, easily accessible location.

We have already opened five Hubs across the city. The first two opened in St Mellons and Llanrumney in Autumn 2011 and since then Hubs have opened in Trowbridge/St Mellons, Loudoun Square in Butetown and the city centre Advice Hub at Marland House.  The most recent hub to open was in Ely and Caerau, which I blogged about recently.

The Cabinet report identifies a small number of new hubs which are under consideration (in Fairwater, Llandaff North, Llanishen and Maelfa) which would help complete the city’s hub network.  These hubs would be the subject of a separate consultation process and Cabinet decision should they proceed further. This is in addition to the planned investment in a new STAR (Splott, Tremorfa, Adamsdown and Roath) hub which is featured in October’s edition of Capital times.

Each hub is different to reflect the specific needs of the communities they serve.   Our experience in Cardiff has been that they provide an effective and sustainable way of bringing together important Council and Partner services, such as libraries, housing and advice services.  Community Hubs also provide more opportunities for people to use our services in a more cost-effective way.

This approach has therefore allowed us to improve and extend face to face services in Cardiff at a time when less resources has meant we must better target and deliver our local services differently.



Smart Cardiff, Successful Wales

Smart Cardiff and Successful Wales

Smart Cardiff

This Wednesday I attended an event where we undertook work to visualise the future of Cardiff out to 2040. The aim of the workshop was to consider how the current trends and pressures might play out in the future and what decisions we need to make to help us to better manage the city of the future, particularly in the context of rapid population growth and severe financial pressures.

Part of the work involved discussing what liveability really means, what would be the consequences of inaction and understanding how technology and integration of infrastructure could help ensure that Cardiff remains a city that offers the highest quality of life.

A number of speakers, each with expertise in different areas of city management and development, were in attendance, supporting over 50 attendees. For instance, the digital and utilities sectors were represented, as well as transport providers, a range of public service delivery partners and importantly the Youth Council. We were also delighted to have Mark Watts, Executive Director of the international C40 cities share good practice with us.

The adoption of smart technology has the potential to make an important contribution to reducing Cardiff’s carbon footprints, ensuring more efficient use of resources and improving connectivity. All these are important in shaping a liveable city. Many examples of good practices from cities across the UK and internationally were considered and work was agreed to develop some very interesting proposals for Cardiff with key stakeholders like the health board, youth council and Cardiff Business Council. The principles and ideas will also feed into the Cardiff Convention.

Commonwealth Games Homecoming

Following on from Wales’ success at Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, Thursday saw our Welsh Sporting Heroes receive the recognition they deserve at their Homecoming Ceremony. It was a real pleasure to meet some of the extraordinary athletes who have dedicated so much of their team in the pursuit of sporting excellence.

Team Wales

Team Wales Homcoming

A video package highlighting the efforts of the Welsh team was broadcast on the big screen in Cardiff Bay, and we all listened as we were reminded of the 36 medals- 5 gold, 11 silver and 20 bronze- won by the athletes at the Games. Families, friends and officials were all in attendance, and it was good to see that so many of Cardiff’s residents had made the effort to travel to the Senedd to cheers on Team Wales.

The success of the Games in Scotland demonstrates how important these events are in promoting cities and helping to draw talent and investment into the area. Cardiff’s own track record of success in hosting sporting and cultural events has established the city on the world stage, and we aim to build on this

As I’ve mentioned previously, we are continuing to explore with the Welsh Government and Sport Wales the potential for Wales to bid for a future Commonwealth Games. Wales is also bidding to host the UEFA European Football Championship tournament in 2020. Euro 2020 represents the third largest sporting tournament in the world- after the summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Becoming a host city would be a huge boost to Cardiff, potentially bringing an estimated benefit of £40m to the city and region economy.

Further Devolution to empower Cardiff

In less than a week’s time Scotland will be going to the polls to make one of the most important decisions in the country’s history. Regardless of the outcome, a further devolution of power and responsibility will follow. So what does this mean for us in Wales?

The RSA’s City Growth Commission recently published a report entitled ‘Powers to Grow: City finance and governance’. The report sets out a case for devolution and the rebalancing of the UK economy away from London and the South East of England in order to make cities more successful.

It’s not hard to understand why. Cities already account for 80% of global GDP and, looking ahead, growth won’t be wholly concentrated in global centres like London and New York, or in the emerging mega-cities of Asia, as many people assume.
In fact, medium sized cities are forecast to generate 19% of all global GDP growth through 2025. Cities like Cardiff.

In Cardiff we have an impressive track record of success. Around 62% of the net new jobs created in the Capital Cardiff Region were created here, in the city. Put simply, for every 3 new jobs created in South East Wales, 2 of them were created in Cardiff.

In a region where far too many people are still suffering from the after-effects of deindustrialisation, Cardiff must be seen not as a competitor for scarce public funding from the Welsh Government, but as an opportunity to draw investment in from outside Wales, to the benefit of Wales.
In England the important role that cities play has been recognised by central government.

City Growth deals worth billions of pounds are being struck between metropolitan business and political leaders and the Treasury. Given the importance of this agenda, we in Wales can’t be left behind.

Best quality of life – Cardiff beats all other major cities

A study by website MoneySuperMarket ranked Cardiff as the best UK city for Quality of Life. This supports the findings of the latest EU Urban Audit Survey which I blogged about a few weeks ago.

According to the report, based on range of key economic indicators such as; house price growth and rental costs, salaries and disposable income growth, living costs, unemployment rates and “life satisfaction”, Cardiff scored well.

This demonstrates that Cardiff is well positioned to deliver our vision of becoming Europe’s most liveable capital city.



Cardiff welcomes the world


Cardiff last week acted as the host capital for the NATO Summit 2014.

It has been a privilege to host such a high profile event attended by some of the most recognisable world leaders. The issues discussed will have a significant impact on global affairs, and South East Wales can be proud of its role in hosting the NATO delegates.

The summit has also showcased Wales and Cardiff to the world and provides further evidence that the capital city region can deliver on a global stage. The image of world leaders gathered below the historic keep of Cardiff Castle on Thursday night shows that Cardiff is a genuine player on the international stage, and goes some way towards explaining why so many people feel such pride in the city.

As part of our approach to building on Cardiff’s strengths, a marketing campaign was launched during the Summit to promote the city. The campaign focuses on providing a clear message to financial and professional organisations about the city’s credentials as a business location and its standing as a leading quality of life city. The message throughout the week was that Cardiff is open for business.

Visual 01 - CWL lightbox

The city is a youthful and vibrant European capital which has much to offer those who chose to live, work or invest here. Having made significant investment in new sporting and cultural attractions over the past two decades, we are now focusing on the city’s credentials as a world class liveable city. I have no doubt that the Summit will have gone a long way towards showing people what the city is all about and builds on recent events including the Extreme Sailing Series, One Day Cricket International and the Super Cup.

Of course, hosting major events like NATO is no small feat. That is why I must thank the residents of Cardiff, as well as local businesses, for their patience during the lead up to the Summit. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to everyone involved with the NATO preparations. All the hard work has ensured a successful event with as little disruption possible.

Lessons learnt from Wales Audit Office Corporate Assessment

The Wales Audit Office has committed to working with Cardiff to tackle the challenges we have identified.

The report from the WAO, which follows a review undertaken in March of this year, makes a number of very important points and clearly lays out the areas we must focus on as an organisation. It also emphasised the importance of the Council’s new three-year Organisational Development Programme to reshape the way the Council operates.

As an organisation we are committed to working hard to deliver services for our communities.  We are under no illusion about the task facing us and it is clear a great deal of work needs to be done to ensure the Council can keep delivering for communities during a time of unrelenting financial pressure.  This means we need to think differently about how we design and deliver our services in the future, and work with our partners and communities. We are already starting to do this in some areas. For instance, we have formed a partnership between Sports Cardiff and Cardiff Metropolitan University to help deliver sports provision.

The programme of organisational development agreed by my Cabinet is now driving forward a much more customer and community focused agenda. This will allow us to respond positively to the challenges forecast over the next few years. We have also launched a major consultation programme, the Cardiff Debate, which I blogged about recently. This is a genuine opportunity for people to put forward ideas for improving the city.

It is important that the Wales Audit Office has recognised the significance of this work.

The Council has also established a Challenge Forum which draws together experts in local government service delivery to test, challenge and support our approach and ensure the rapid improvement that the city of Cardiff needs and deserves. The Council is now looking at how we can learn and share better practice both nationally and internationally. Again being part of the Co-operative Councils Network will play an important role in helping us face the challenges that Cardiff faces.

2K Family Fun Run and Cardiff 10K

People from all over Cardiff took to the streets to take part in the 2K Family Fun Run and the Cardiff 10K on Sunday. Runners at all levels set off from City Hall and made their way through Cathays and Roath, returning to a warm welcome at the finish line. I also took part in my first ever 2K run! Well done to everyone who took part and thank you to those people who came out to support us.

Mayor’s Dinner at the Mansion House

Mayors Mansion House

Last night I attended a Dinner at the Mansion House with the Lord Mayor Councillor Margaret Jones and five Mayors from the across the U.S.A (Compton, Santa Fe, Syracuse, Newton and Irving). The mayors at this Dinner have been chosen to represent smaller US cities, comparable in size to Cardiff.

The purpose of this Dinner was to build relationships, to share best practices and innovative solutions to common issues.  It was also an opportunity for Cardiff to develop a close relationship with influential individuals heading up cities in key US states. The visit presents the possibility of future business opportunities in terms of joint events, trade missions and business development.



Xiamen Visit

Over the Summer I took a private visit to China and in particular to the city of Xiamen. In 1983 Cardiff became the first city in the UK to twin (or ‘sister’ as they call it) with a city in China and over 30 years later the relationship has remained strong.


During my visit, I was delighted to be able to meet the Mayor of Xiamen Mr Lui Keqing which was even broadcast on Chinese television!  As a result, we have agreed to explore new ways in which we could develop the long standing friendship between our two cities further.  My visit was also an opportunity to learn more about how the city has responded to the rapid increase in its population (with over 5 million in the wider city region) as well as several major new infrastructure projects. These include a second new airport to be completed by 2020, a new metro system and continued expansion of a popular Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network. The scale of the transport network was very different to our own city, with 2.5 million passengers carried a day by the Xiamen Public Transport body compared to around 100,000 a day on Cardiff Bus!  Yet many of the challenges faced by both cities were similar. 


Xiamen is a pioneer in ‘Free Trade’ as one of the four special Economic Zones set up in China in the early 1980’s to promote trade and investment in the country. It is also a major tourist destination (one of the top 5 in China) with over 2 million visitors every year – a figure the city would like to see grow further.

Traditionally, twinning relationships between major cities have focussed on cultural or school exchanges. Indeed, Cardiff University has had a longstanding partnership with Xiamen University and I know several local schools, including; Lansdowne and Ysgol Pencae have sent pupils to Xiamen as part of Cardiff University’s China-Wales Schools Project.

However, these links are also increasingly important as platforms for more mutual trade, investment and research opportunities.  Large and growing markets for Welsh goods and services, like China, therefore offer real economic benefits to the wider Cardiff City Region and can support jobs. That’s why Welsh Government have for some time targeted China and also why the Cardiff Business Council ( has recently opened a new office in the capital, Beijing in partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University.


It’s also why my visit could not have come at a more opportune moment. I’ll keep you posted on any developments of course, but in the meantime if you’d like to experience our ‘sister city’ for yourself it’s possible to fly direct to Xiamen from Cardiff Airport via Amsterdam with KLM.

Ely and Caerau Hub launched!


I recently attended the launch of the new ‘hub’ community centre in west Cardiff (Ely and Caerau). This project is part of a wider council strategy across the city to provide services in a smaller number of buildings, with a wider range of support, not just from the council but from other organisations as well.

In Ely and Caerau the community were consulted on a variety of options which led to the library and housing offices opposite the new hub being relocated into the hub building on Cowbridge Road West (next to Ely Fire Station).  The results are impressive with a new café and an increase in the number of residents accessing the services, including the new library.

This project will also release the two other sites for much needed affordable homes in the area.

Staff at the hub told me that the residents on the whole are happy with the significant investment that has been made in these new facilities, which has been possible because the running costs of running fewer buildings are much lower.  This will help the council to sustain services in this area at a time when we will have much less money available.

You can contact the Ely and Caerau Community Hub by visiting or calling 029 2087 3800.

AT Branding Project

The City of Cardiff Council is participating in a European funded project called ‘AT.Brand’ which brings Cardiff together with the cities of Dublin, Liverpool, La Rochelle and Faro as well as the Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities to identify and explore innovations in city and place branding.

It’s widely recognised that traditional approaches to city branding which concentrate on visual identity without a thorough examination of the narrative supporting a brand can severely limit that brand’s effectiveness. AT.BRAND seeks to address this issue by calling on partner cities to come up with innovative local actions that support integrated city branding.

In Cardiff the aim is to capture the essence of our city by engaging with people who work and live here in Cardiff with the view to shaping our city’s brand for external audiences. To achieve this Council officers are working closely with Cardiff Business Council and Media Wales to develop a digital platform to capture stories, ideas, images and endorsement from local communities which will be used to create a vibrant, dynamic and authentic view of Cardiff.

AT.BRAND operates at the heart of Cardiff’s communities, providing a unique insight into community engagement and making the place brand really live within our city.

The project is supported by European funding and runs up to June 2015.

Cardiff Debate

The Cardiff Debate events will continue throughout September.


To keep up to date with the latest developments, you can email the team at or follow our Facebook and Twitter pages @CardiffDebate and #CardiffDebate.