St David’s Day Agreement, Renewable Energy and Digital Success

Last Friday marked some interesting announcements on potential new funding arrangements and powers for the Welsh Government – including the establishment of a ‘funding floor’, i.e. a minimal level of funding, for Wales. This formed part of the so-called ‘St David’s Day agreement’, and it will be interesting to see more detail on what these proposals will mean for Wales in practice.

We know that a fair funding agreement for Wales needs consideration. The work of an independent commission concluded that, under the current arrangements, Wales is underfunded by some £150 million per year according to the most recent estimates.

In Cardiff, we have been working hard to build the case for a city growth deal, in order to lobby for additional infrastructure investment for Cardiff and the wider city-region. We will continue to work hard to push for further funding and to identify what the implications of the St David’s Day agreement might be for Cardiff

Tidal lagoons, renewable energy and Cyd Cymru

Plans for the World’s first tidal lagoon power plants to be hosted in Wales were recently released to the press. Whilst there are significant steps to be taken before any of these projects could become a reality, we should welcome the growing interest in Wales as an international centre for new sources of renewable energy. I have blogged previously about Cardiff’s Great Western Cities initiative with partners in Bristol and Newport. One of the key reasons for us to work together is to unlock the potential of the Severn Estuary, which has one of the largest tidal ranges in the World, and is a potential source of renewable energy on our doorstep. A memorandum of understanding is being prepared by local authorities bordering the Bristol Channel to collaborate in the development of marine energy, with Bristol, Cardiff and Newport playing a lead role.

On the topic of energy, it is worth noting that the next round of the Cyd Cymru collective energy switching scheme closes on the 22nd March. This scheme has previously saved those taking part on average £185 per year on their energy bills. The scheme helps promote a fairer Cardiff, so why not register and see whether you can save money on your bills?

Following a redesign of the Council’s web-site last year the site has now received a maximum 4-star ranking and been recognised as one of the top 20 local government sites in the UK following a review by professional IT organisation, SOCITM. This is a significant improvement on the 1-star ranking achieved last year and it is only the second time a Council has jumped from having a 1 to a 4 star website in a year. The Council’s digital offering is hugely important in providing responsive, efficient services. My thanks go to all involved in this project!

We will need to continue to improve our website and online services in future, giving people the opportunity to do more online, so please get in touch and let us know if you think there are things we can do better.

Finally, many of you will have read about the difficult budget setting process last week. A budget has now been set for next year and work will now start on preparing for the £119m budget shortfall from 2016/17 – 2018/19, holding conversations about what this will mean for the city.