I was pleased to hear the Chancellor announce in the budget that Central Government has formally entered into negotiations with the City of Cardiff Council over a ‘City Deal’ for the region. This represents the culmination of a lot of hard work behind the scenes and offers an exciting opportunity for Cardiff and the wider city-region, with potential funding for key infrastructure priorities including transport, regeneration, housing and renewable energy.
This funding has been available to English cities for a number of years and last year Glasgow secured a £1.13bn funding package, the first city to have done so in a devolved nation.
The Government’s announcement opens the door for us to press ahead with further detailed discussions. Collaboration will be key to success, and we have been in positive discussions with Welsh Government about the Deal and will continue to work with local authority partners across the city region.
There is still much work to do. However, it is hoped that a formal proposal can be submitted to Central Government towards the end of this year. I will keep you all updated on progress.
Breaking the Barriers to access in Cardiff
Last week City Hall hosted a special conference entitled ‘Breaking the Barriers’, as part of the Cardiff Debate – an ongoing programme of citizen engagement and events on the future of public services in our city. The conference was organised by a number of disability organisations, including Diverse Cymru, and provided an opportunity for a range of people, including senior councillors, to listen and better understand the difficulties faced by disabled people when accessing public services.
According to the Annual Population Survey, over 18% of the working aged population of Cardiff are registered as disabled.
As a Co-operative Council, our approach is all about listening to the people who use our services, and working with them and with partners to make sure these are designed as much as possible around their needs. That’s why events like this are so important, bringing as they do, together disabled people and carers, the Council, and other organisations, to talk through the issues which are so important to them.
Great Western Cities
Last week I participated in a panel discussion organised by the Insider Magazine on our Great Western Cities initiative which was attended by over 200 of the region’s business leaders. I was joined on the panel by Cllr Bob Bright, the Leader of Newport City Council, the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson and Ben Lucas, Director of the 2020 Public Service Trust.
It was an interesting discussion – it’s not often you get three city leaders, a representative from the business community and a respected commentator on cities in absolute agreement! It makes sense for us to work together on issues which affect us all.
People often ask me if this initiative is in competition with the Capital Cardiff Region, which of course it is not. We’re working hard to strengthen our relationship with neighbouring councils here in South East Wales, and Bristol will be doing the same in their own city-region across the Severn. This is all about better connecting these two city-regions, working together to make the most of our shared natural assets, like the Severn Estuary, and creating a ‘Western Powerhouse’ as a compelling alternative to cities in England’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’.