Merry Christmas

I’d like to start this week’s post by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. While Christmas is a time of joy and happiness for many, it can be a difficult time for others. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank people across Cardiff for their efforts to volunteer, fundraise and help others going through hard times over the past year.

Each year, the Lord Mayor selects a charity for the council to support. The charity which the Lord Mayor, Cllr Margaret Jones, has nominated to support during 2014/15 is Tenovus which brings support and treatment to the heart of communities for cancer patients and their families. Over the course of the year a lot of work has been done to help raise funds for Tenovus and to inform more people about their work. The Tenovus ‘Sing with Us’ Choir recently performed at a wonderful Christmas carol service in County Hall.

If you would be interested in donating to Tenovus directly – please visit the Tenovus website.

One Voice: The Tenovus ‘Sing with Us’ Choir in action at County Hall

One Voice: The Tenovus ‘Sing with Us’ Choir in action at County Hall

One member of staff, Cheryl Evans, is actually going even further to raise money for Tenovus and will be both cycling from Cardiff to Paris and running the London Marathon next year. I’m sure you will join me in wishing her the best of luck. You can donate and find out more about these plans on her Just Giving page.

People around the city also do much more to support charities and the vulnerable. This includes everything from donating food to local food banks, holding cake sales, selling charity Christmas cards, and collecting unwanted toys and gifts to give to young people leaving care. Thank you once again to all those people across the city who help others – it really does make a huge difference.


The recent events in Glasgow have stunned us all. It’s only one year since the city suffered a similar tragedy when a helicopter crashed into the Clutha Bar killing 10. When news broke that six people were killed in the city centre when a bin lorry ran into crowds of Christmas shoppers, I was lost for words.

Glasgow is a great city and one with which Cardiff has many connections. Its people are strong and resilient and they will gather around each other at this terrible time to offer comfort to everyone affected. Our thoughts and prayers are with them too.


I will also be thinking of the ordinary people of our twin city of Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine. I have received messages from Cardiff based relatives of Luhansk residents telling me about the plight of people in that city.

Cardiff has been twinned with Luhansk since 1959, a relationship that reflected a shared industrial history. During the mine closures in South Wales of the 1970’s, the miners from the Luhansk region donated money from their own pockets to help support miners in South Wales who had lost their jobs.

The conflict in Luhansk has created the need for significant humanitarian support. Many of the sick and elderly will be without access to medication and adequate food, water and power this winter.

A number of international organisations are delivering vital aid, offering crucial support to the people affected by the conflict. If you would like to support any of these organisations who are helping the people of Luhansk and many others in difficult situations, you can do so by donating to:

Book of Condolence for victims of the Peshawar massacre

A book of condolence has been set up over the past week in City Hall and many people have taken the opportunity to pay their respects. I’d ask that you spare a thought for the people of Peshawar at this time.

The Book of Condolence for victims of the Peshawar massacre at City Hall

The Book of Condolence for victims of the Peshawar massacre at City Hall

This will be my last post this year. My fondest memories as I look back over 2014 are of the people I’ve met and, more than anything else, the overwhelming sense of pride that people feel in the city.

I think the Echo captured this feeling best with the headline ‘We Love Cardiff,’ which was in response to residents voting our capital one of the best cities in Europe for quality of life.

I’m looking forward to working with you all to make our city even better in 2015!

Nadolig Llawen,



Festive Visit to Royal Mail

I’ve blogged about how we are working hard to attract more high quality jobs into Cardiff by supporting local businesses and attracting investment. That’s why I have welcomed the opportunity to continue my conversations with some of Cardiff’s major employers over the last few months.

Festive Visit to Royal Mail

Here i'm stood with a Postman from the delivery office in North Cardiff

Visiting the Royal Mail delivery office in North Cardiff

I recently visited the Royal Mail’s delivery office in North Cardiff. It was great to meet postmen and women at the delivery office and see first-hand all the work that goes into delivering post!

Our postal workers do such an important job and help to bring Christmas to many people and families in our city. I would like to thank them for their efforts and wish them all the best over the busy festive period.

Panasonic’s 40th Anniversary

I was delighted to be invited along with Wales’ First Minister, Carwyn Jones, as guests at Panasonic’s Manufacturing UK’s 40th Anniversary celebrations at City Hall recently. Based in Cardiff since 1974, the plant employs over 500 members of staff.

I was particularly interested to hear about the work of their highly skilled workforce as well as hear the positive comments made about the city of Cardiff from senior executives from Japan – many of whom previously lived in Cardiff. They talked about the warm welcome they had received from Cardiff’s communities and how the city offers an excellent quality of life for their staff and families. Indeed the firm was even talking about the next 40 years in Cardiff – which in a rapidly changing global economy is a significant vote of confidence in both the city and its partners. This is further evidence that our vision of becoming ‘Europe’s Most Liveable Capital City’ builds on the strength of the city and will help deliver a number of well paid jobs.

British Gas

British Gas

To my right is Lynda Campbell, Regional Director of British Gas in Wales

I also visited British Gas’ flagship customer services office in Cardiff’s Central Enterprise Zone. The 1,200-strong Customer Services Team won a number of awards at the recent European Call Centre Awards, including the prestigious award for best contact centre in Europe. The team were also named the best to work for, the leading large contact centre, and gained praise in the customer services category.

I was kindly hosted by Cardiff-born Regional Director for Wales and General Manager of Customer Services, Lynda Campbell who updated me on a number of developments within British Gas’ Cardiff offices. It was great to hear about their forthcoming expansion which includes a Processing Centre that will create an additional 180 jobs.

After talking to Lynda it became apparent that there is a big focus on staff training and development which has involved working with the university sector in Cardiff. They are also working with Wales’ leading training provider, ACT on an apprenticeship scheme that identifies young people that are not in employment, education or training and guarantees them a job if they successfully complete the 12 month programme. As part of British Gas’ work with National Energy Cymru, they are also working on a Community Action Partnership to tackle fuel poverty in partnership with the City of Cardiff Council.

Nadolig Llawen,


Cardiff Central Station – Results of Public Consultation

Cardiff Central Station – Results of Public Consultation

I previously blogged about the opportunity to have your say on the proposed site for the new Integrated Transport Hub.

A number of locations were proposed and following a detailed consideration of the issues, including the consultation feedback, the City of Cardiff Council’s Cabinet will on Monday consider a proposal to locate the new interchange at Central Square, on the site currently occupied by Marland House and an NCP Car Park.

It is proposed that the new interchange will form part of an enhanced gateway to Wales at Central Square, providing a world-class gateway into our city, interlinking travel by train and bus, as well as providing pick-up and drop-off areas ensuring easy access for cyclists, taxis and pedestrians.


Pop-up Shops

Pop-up Shops

(To my left is Samantha Fenwick from BBC Radio 4 and stood with her is a representative from ‘Drone Boy’, a pop-up shop in Morgan Quarter, Cardiff)

This week I was invited to talk on BBC Radio 4 about pop-up shops in Cardiff.

Pop-up shops or flash retailing is about opening short-term sales spaces in vacant areas and a recent survey placed Cardiff as the number one location for pop-up retailers in the UK. They are excellent examples of “Meanwhile” use of space, as people creatively use empty buildings and areas of the city. It’s estimated that Pop-up shops contributes £2.1bn to the UK economy every year.

In the survey conducted by economists from Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) and communications giant EE, Cardiff was found to make good use of vacant retail units, which reflects the creativity of the city, and the energy of people who live here.

The interview will feature on BBC Radio 4 on 22nd December at 12.15pm.

Cardiff Unscripted

Along with the Cardiff Business Council, WalesOnline and local filmmakers, the City of Cardiff Council has been involved in supporting an innovative film making project. “Cardiff Unscripted” is all about a series of unique short films which capture the distinctive character of our city. Each film focuses on different aspects of Cardiff, such as the diversity of our communities, as well as its sights and sounds.

The five films which will be produced over the course of 9 months include; a comedian’s A-Z tour of the city, a profile of a funky pop-up restaurant business, a short documentary of the revived Butetown Carnival, a young singer who is destined for big things and a modern dance piece. Below you can see one of the videos where Gareth Jones, CEO of Welsh ICE makes presentation at Ignite on why he loves Wales’ capital city.

This is a great example of our co-operative values at work. The voices of people and communities are coming together to tell Cardiff’s story whilst at the same time contributing to the branding of the city.

Not only will these stories be shared across Wales and the UK, they will also be viewed by people in other European Atlantic Arc Cities, such as Dublin, Faro, San Sebastian and La Rochelle as part of the AT Brand project.




Stepping Up for Cardiff

Stepping Up for Cardiff

We are continuing to consult on our budget proposals for 2015/16 which will help inform the budget setting process in February 2015 and those in future years.

As a Co-Operative Council, this is a fundamental commitment. However, as well as consulting with people we want to meaningfully engage residents and communities with service delivery. We are therefore taking steps to get local people involved in providing services or running local facilities that meet their aspirations. That is why we have, with our partners, developed the “Stepping Up Toolkit”.

stepping up

The “Stepping Up Toolkit” is structured so that each section builds up a picture of the process, from the very first step, which may include the formation of your organisation, through to the stage where you are given the green light to proceed.

Contained in the document is supportive information on:

  • Exploring your idea and preparing for the issues that may follow
  • Community Asset Transfer (CAT) – This is about taking over the management of a community service or asset that may have been run by a public body
  • Exploring traditional and new ways to fund your idea
  • Case studies and recent examples of projects already adopting these approaches
  • Toolkits and templates that will help develop a Feasibility Study and Business Plan

This is all part of our commitment to working with people, empowering communities and helping to deliver a fairer Cardiff. If you would like to get involved you can do so by registering an interest at

Get involved in Volunteering

The Stepping Up Toolkit covers a variety of ways in which communities can play a greater role in delivering local public services. Perhaps the easiest way of making a difference is to volunteer.

The benefits of volunteering are huge. Estimates suggest that, if paid minimum wage, those volunteering in Cardiff would contribute around £190million to the city economy. However the value of the volunteer to the person living alone who has no other companion or to the young person who is disengaged from society goes beyond financial value.

I recently visited staff and volunteers at the Night Shelter, which is part of the Wallich, a charity that provides emergency accommodation and support to rough sleepers in the city. They work in partnership with the City of Cardiff Council Outreach team to provide the Rough Sleeper Intervention Team service, also known as ‘the Breakfast Run’.

The team give just a few hours of their morning to search and support those who are sleeping rough in and around the city centre. Their objective is to engage with rough sleepers, find out their circumstances and provide suitable intervention. They also provide warm food and a hot drink to make sure they can stay healthy while having to endure such difficult conditions. There are a range of volunteers involved with the service from paid staff already working in homelessness who volunteer additional hours, people working in other industries, the retired and even the unemployed.

Those I spoke with told me that before they worked/volunteered within the homeless sector, they were not aware of the extent of the difficulties experienced by rough sleepers. They recognise that their involvement has made a positive change not only in the lives of the people they meet but also in their own. Some volunteers do as little as a few hours every few months but still very important to the continuation of the service and makes a considerable difference to service users, particularly during cold winter months when the service is needed the most.

If you would like to get involved in volunteering across the city please contact Voluntary Community Services (VCS). It is the UK’s oldest volunteering bureau, which reflects the city’s strong tradition of social justice and community cooperation.