President of Ireland’s Official Visit to Cardiff
Last week, Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins, made his first official visit to Cardiff. The visit attracted plenty of media attention in Ireland and I was honoured to welcome the President at a reception at the Mansion House.
As part of the visit we had an opportunity to meet with our Irish colleagues and discuss some of our shared challenges and aspirations. It is remarkable how connected our two countries have been over the years, and they told me that in 1861, one third of Cardiff’s population were Irish. Cardiff has always been a city connected with the outside world, drawing on the talents and contributions of people who have chosen to make Cardiff their home.
We also discussed the great enjoyment our nations derive from sports. Legendary boxer Jim Driscoll, known as ‘Peerless Jim’, was a Cardiff born son of two Irish Catholics. He grew up in an area of the city know then as Newtown, or ‘Little Ireland’, and you may have seen the statue of him in our city centre.
Today, it is perhaps during rugby internationals that the Irish are most visible in Cardiff. I am pleased that the city offers such a warm welcome and a lively destination for visitors, but this is also important for the city’s economic performance. Work undertaken by Cardiff University suggests that, of all the major events the city hosts, the biggest economic impact is when the Irish provinces visit Cardiff for European Rugby Cup Finals.
It was a real privilege for Cardiff to host the President and I look forward to building on the strong links between our two countries.
As part of the City of Cardiff Council’s approach to supporting and empowering communities, Cardiff is working with Space-Hive to develop a crowd funding platform for the city.
Crowdfunding is a way of raising finance for a project, initiative or idea by asking a large number of people to each contribute a small amount of money. Those seeking to raise funds will summarise their project on a web-site to explain what they want to achieve and encourage people to donate funding. This is often referred to as a “crowdfunding platform”, and will be promoted through social media and more conventional means.
Spacehive were the world’s first civic project funding platform and have developed a reputation for making crowdfunding an easy and accessible process for communities. Projects that have received crowd funding have sought as little as a few hundred pounds whilst others have generated millions. In the UK more than £3,500 is being raised every hour through crowd funding and since the beginning of 2014; more than 6,561 projects have been launched.
Over the next few weeks we will be promoting this opportunity with communities across Cardiff and inviting people to come forward with project ideas. Cardiff’s Crowdfunding initiative will be launched early in the New Year but please get in touch with us about any ideas you may have that could be crowd funded!
The Cardiff Convention
Last week the City hosted the Cardiff Convention. This event brought together some of the leading thinkers in city development to Cardiff, and gave us an opportunity to learn from the best. The event was chaired by Tim Williams, director of think tank The Committee for Sydney, who recognised the contribution that Cardiff makes to Wales and the opportunities that a thriving capital can bring to both city residents and the wider region.
It is crucial that as a city we reach out to those at the forefront of city policy, and to work with partners to help us deliver our vision of becoming Europe’s most liveable capital City.
Cardiff is well positioned to deliver this. We are one of the fastest growing cities in the UK, and have established a reputation on the world stage as a great place to visit and an event better place to live. This has been achieved on the back of sustained investment in the city’s cultural and leisure infrastructure, and on the knowledge and hard work of the people of Cardiff. We also know however that we can’t stand still.
All the evidence shows that cities represent the UK’s great economic opportunity. As one of the UK’s Core Cities, I am determined that Cardiff is at the forefront of this agenda, and it is therefore essential that those who understand the most about our city are at the heart of what we do.
The Cardiff Convention was an opportunity for us to build new partnerships, and to think more creatively about how we deliver our vision. There is much to be proud of about our city, but we are now writing the next chapter of success.
The Two Cities Debate
I recently participated in a “Two Cities Debate” with the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson. It was the first time that the Leader of Cardiff and the Mayor of Bristol have engaged in such a public setting.
Chaired by Douglas Friedli, Editor of Wales Business Insider, we discussed many of the key issues facing our regions, most notably our position as one of 6 ‘power-house super city regions’ upon which the British economy will rely.
I have previously discussed the strategic collaboration opportunities between Cardiff and Bristol with George, and the case is compelling. The total economic output of the Cardiff-Bristol City-Region is just over £66bn, almost £20bn higher than the total output for Wales, and substantially larger than any other major conurbation in the UK except London.
The West, as a region, is more economically productive than Greater Manchester, Merseyside and any of the northern regions and, with 2.5million people, we are bigger than all but one of the other city-regions in the UK (excluding London).
Our partnership must focus on the key strategic priorities- connectivity and energy- so that we deliver the big infrastructure projects that will drive forward economic growth for our regions. The recent announcement on HS3 in the North of England highlights the importance of having clear investment priorities for our region. Bringing the rail travel time between Cardiff and Bristol down by 20 minutes would be transformational for the success of the two cities- and the success of the UK economy. We can’t afford to be left behind in the high-speed rail debate, and Cardiff-Bristol being HS6 is simply not an option.
That’s why it is important that we are very much influencing the debate so that large scale investment from the UK Government is secured for South East Wales. As a city, we must be pushing for the right powers and investment for our city so that we can deliver on behalf of Wales and the wider UK economy.
31 October 2014 – 1st UN World Cities Day
31 October 2014 also marked the UN’s inaugural World Cities Day. World Cities Day encourages people and organisations to raise awareness of the challenges affecting cities and consider the opportunities they face. This is timely, particularly in view of the policy agenda being taken forward across the UK.
Over half the world’s population now live in cities. They are centres of energy and innovation that bring forward solutions to some of the prevailing issues that we face. They are also recognised drivers of economic growth and prosperity, and as we discussed at the Cardiff Convention it is crucial that we work in partnership with Welsh Government and other UK core cities to ensure Cardiff has the funding and flexibilities to deliver on behalf of Wales.
To celebrate World Cities Day, Guardian Cities and UN-Habitat also announced the World Cities Day Challenge, where people from cities around the world were invited to share their city’s most pioneering idea for other cities to adopt.
World Cities Day 2014 also marked the conclusion of the UN’s Urban October. Urban October promoted participation, sharing knowledge and international engagement in a New Urban Agenda.