Delivering a world class bus interchange for Cardiff

I am delighted to be able to share the news with you that world-renowned architecture firm Foster & Partners, responsible for iconic buildings such as the Gherkin in London and the Reichstag parliament in Berlin, have been chosen as the preferred architect for the new bus interchange.

This will complement their existing work on the Masterplan for Central Square and a new gateway into Cardiff, as well as their design of the new BBC HQ. It will also be designed to allow for the future development to cater for the projected increase in passengers as the city grows.

In order to deliver our vision of becoming Europe’s most liveable capital city we need a new,  world class transport interchange in the heart of Cardiff city centre – linking travellers to train, bus, bicycle and taxi networks – as well as providing a much better  first impression when visitors arrive  in the city by train.


As you will see the design is simply breath-taking and will lead to a bus interchange and new gateway into Cardiff that we can all be proud of – one any European capital would be rightly proud to have.

We now need the public to play a role in developing the design– and there will be many opportunities to do so at public engagement events throughout July. These views will help inform the detailed design planning – so please have your say by talking to us at our information caravan on the following dates:

  • Saturday 4th July, 8:30am to 5:30pm – outside the front entrance to Cardiff Central railway station
  • Sunday 5th July until Friday 10th July, 8:30am to 5:30pm – at stand A at Cardiff Bus station
  • Saturday 11th July until Friday 17th July, 8:30am to 5:30pm – at the top of Churchill Way (outside the Capitol Centre)
  • Saturday 18th July to Friday 24th July , 8:30am to 5:30pm – at the Hayes
  • Saturday 25th July to Friday 31st July, 8:30am to 5:30pm – opposite Cardiff Central Train Station

The Cardiff Triathlon

This weekend, more than 1,300 athletes are expected to arrive in Cardiff Bay for the city’s first ever Triathlon.

A Triathlon involves competing in a combination of swimming, cycling and running races. With an ‘Olympic’ and ‘Sprint’ distance available, the Cardiff Triathlon is suitable for mixed abilities. Both races will kick-off with a 750m or 1,500m swim in Cardiff Bay, a 40km or 80km cycle through the Vale of Glamorgan and finishing off with a 5km or 10km run back to the finish line at Cardiff Bay Barrage.


It is another excellent example of the many exciting opportunities and events that exist for people to enjoy in Cardiff. I’m told that there will be plenty on offer for spectators too, including; a big screen and live commentary, music and a range activities appealing to all ages.

To find out more about the event and for information on road closures please visit the Cardiff Triathlon website. Good luck to all those taking part!



Celebrating Public Service Day!

Today is United Nations Public Service Day!

Great cities are built on great public service. That’s why today, in Cardiff, we recognise all those who dedicate their lives to public service and the tremendous difference they make each and every day. We’ve even had a message of support from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon himself!

I took a selfie with council staff at City Hall this morning

I took a selfie with council staff at City Hall this morning

We’ve asked public sector workers across Cardiff to get involved in Public Service Day by sending us selfies using the hashtag #publicserviceday, accompanied by a 140 character caption – similar to a tweet. Keep an eye on the Council’s Facebook and Twitter pages for examples throughout the day.

Colleagues who work to help homeless people in the city take a selfie

Colleagues who work to help homeless people in the city take a selfie

That’s why I’d personally like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to all our staff in the City Council and more widely, to all those who are working so hard to make Cardiff Europe’s most liveable capital city.

Whether by volunteering, acting as a school governor, a carer, or by becoming a councillor, there are thousands of people who contribute to public service in some way. You all make Cardiff a better place.



Local government reorganisation, a City Deal update, visitors from across the world and promoting cycling in the city

Local Government Reorganisation

The Welsh Government has announced its proposed map for local government reorganisation. The proposals will potentially lead to a smaller number of larger councils – either 8 or 9 – with the City of Cardiff Council merging with Vale of Glamorgan Council. The Welsh Government will consult on these proposals and a draft ‘Mergers and Reform’ Bill in the autumn.

Welsh Government's proposal of 8 Councils

Welsh Government’s proposal of 8 Councils

The Minister for Public Services, Leighton Andrews AM, this week provided some real clarity on the benefits of reorganisation during his speech at the Welsh Local Government Association’s annual conference.

While we in Cardiff are open to change, and recognise that the current way of working is unsustainable, the business case for making savings and delivering better public services has to stack up.

We also have to bear in mind that the financial challenges that council’s like Cardiff face are immediate and our public services will be placed under massive pressure over the next few years.   The forthcoming Chancellor’s Budget is likely to have immediate consequences for council’s across Britain.  Local government re-organisation is not going to happen overnight, and neither will it be a quick fix for the big challenges facing local public services right now.

That aside, this opportunity for re-organisation is one we are strongly committed to and one we are determined to explore with the Welsh Government and other local authorities. I think we all now need to come together and work towards delivering a new era for local government in Wales.

A City Deal Update

You may have seen a lot in the news recently about a City Deal for Cardiff and the wider region. I blogged earlier this year about the Chancellor’s announcement that negotiations were to begin on a City Deal for the Cardiff Capital Region, and what this could mean for local people.

Simply put, City Deals are all about investing to support the economy and create jobs, not just in Cardiff but across the Cardiff Capital Region.

There have been a number of city deals struck between cities and Government across the UK.  Each deal is tailored to suit the local priorities of the city and region involved, but they tend to share some things in common – significant investment in areas such as transportation, skills and housing.

For example, Glasgow recently secured a City Deal from the UK and Scottish Government worth over £1bn to invest in improved transport and skills across the city and the Clyde Valley.  A similar investment in South Wales would lead to the creation of many new jobs, and not just for Cardiff, but for local people across the wider region.

Council leaders and other stakeholders across the Cardiff Capital Region are working together, and with the Welsh Government, to develop a business case to take to Central Government by the end of the year.

I’ll update on this exciting and hugely important project over the months ahead.

Xiamen Delegation

Last August I took a private break to China, a place I had always wanted to visit. During my trip, I visited Cardiff’s twin city for over 30 years, Xiamen. This is a significant partnership as prior to this, no city in the UK had ever twinned with a Chinese city.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to meet with numerous civic leaders and even got to meet the Mayor of Xiamen, Mr Lui Keqing, an event that was aired on Chinese television.

This week, delegates from Xiamen, including Mr Lyu Can Jun, Director General of Xiamen Municipal Bureau of Agriculture, came to Cardiff to build on an already strong relationship and to discuss the potential for investment, exports, and job opportunities.

Xiamen Delegation

We have a lot to learn from Xiamen, a city that has responded well to rapid growth in population, and is also recognised as a city with a high quality of life in China. Xiamen has over 5 million people living in the city region which has demanded the development of important new infrastructure, like road and rail. The city plans to build a second airport by 2020, a new metro system and expand their popular Bus Rapid Transit Network.

The challenges faced by Xiamen in responding to growth are similar to those facing Cardiff – and it is useful to learn from their experiences and build on our relationship.

Pedal Power

Following on from a massive sporting event for the city, Velothon Wales, I had the opportunity to meet with local cycling charity Pedal Power this week. Pedal Power encourages children and adults of all ages and abilities to try out cycling and aims to remove the barriers to cycling that many people face. This includes providing adapted bicycles and trikes for disabled adults and children.

Encouraging more people to cycle, especially to work and back, brings essential benefits for the city in terms of improving health and wellbeing, reducing congestion and restricting air pollution (cars are currently one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions).

It was great to meet the Pedal Power team, hear about their future plans and discuss how Cardiff can become an even more cycle-friendly city! If you would like to find out more about Pedal Power, or are interested in taking part in their Team Spirit 2015 Cycle Ride in September, you can find information on their website.

At Pedal Power with Sybil

At Pedal Power

I’m sure the Pedal Power team, and the many others with a keen interest in improving cycling in the city, will help us in delivering our Corporate Plan commitment of developing a Cycling Strategy benchmarked against the best cities in Europe by December 2016.

There will be an opportunity to contribute to this strategy in the coming months, but in the meantime you can find out more information on the Keep Cardiff Moving website.



Honouring the Royal Welsh and hosting major events

Her Majesty the Queen’s visit and honouring the Royal Welsh

Over 500 members of the Royal Welsh regiment marched on Thursday from Cardiff Castle through the streets of the city centre and into the Millennium Stadium to be presented with new regimental flags, known as colours, by Her Majesty the Queen. The regiment were also granted the highest civic honour in Cardiff, receiving the freedom of the city of Cardiff, which was approved at full Council in May and kicked off the ceremony at the Millennium Stadium.

Alongside the Lord Mayor, Cllr David Walker, granting the freedom of the city to Colonel of the Regiment, Brigadier PML Napier OBE

Alongside the Lord Mayor, Cllr David Walker, granting the freedom of the city to Colonel of the Regiment, Brigadier PML Napier OBE

The Royal Welsh were formed in 2006 – following the merger of two great Welsh Regiments, The Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Royal Regiment of Wales. The ceremony marked a fantastic opportunity for people from across Wales to show their support and gratitude to the regiment for centuries of service for the country – and it was especially pleasing to see so many school children present to witness this historic occasion. Thanks to everyone who cheered on the regiment during the march and attended the ceremony helping to create such a wonderful atmosphere.

Street Food Awards

Cardiff recently hosted the second heat of the British Street Food Festival Awards. Located at the Street Food Circus in the city centre, 14 of the best street food traders in Wales and the West competed for the chance to take part in the final in London this September.

I’ve blogged in the past about the street food scene which is fast becoming something of a permanent fixture here, with street food traders setting up at markets, festivals and pop-up events across the city. Many of the options on offer are a great advert for locally sourced ingredients with everyone there passionate about food – which probably explains why street food has become so popular with residents and visitors alike!

 Attending the British Street Food Festival Awards at the Street Food Circus

Attending the British Street Food Festival Awards at the Street Food Circus

The Street Food Award winners will be judged by a panel of famous foodies on Sunday 27th of September in London. Two Cardiff-based street food traders won the opportunity to represent Wales and the West – Patagonia and Wild Fig – best of luck to both of them!

Velothon Wales

This Sunday 15,000 cyclists will cross the starting line in the capital for a cycling event on a scale never witnessed in Wales before. Combining a mass participation bike ride and professional road race, the first ever Velothon Wales will start and finish in the heart of the city centre.

Whilst this is exciting news for Cardiff, it will also mean road closures across the city and surrounding areas. To find out about parking restrictions and road closures please read this month’s Capital Times or visit the Velothon website so that you can try and minimise any disruption to yourself and your family. If you get the chance I would encourage you to go and cheer on those taking part, and celebrate the city hosting yet another major international sporting event.

The Big Game

Finally, I’d like to wish the Welsh football team every success in tonight’s fixture at the Cardiff City Stadium. This will undoubtedly be a challenging game against a Belgium side ranked second best in the world. That said, I have every faith that Bale, Ramsey and co can build on their excellent run of results. A result tonight would be a big step forward towards qualification. Come on Cymru!



Creating Great Public Spaces

We will all have a favourite spot in the city, but have you ever asked yourself “why do I like this part of Cardiff?”

The way buildings and public spaces look, and the way they connect with each other, have a big impact on the quality of the environment. Our ambition is to make sure that all areas of Cardiff are characterised by outstanding design. We want to lead the way on this agenda, along with other major cities in the world, such as Frieburg in Germany, who have been hailed as a “shining example of sustainability”.

We have therefore published the Liveable Design Guide which sets the Council’s expectations when a new settlement or community is being created. The guide provides planning and urban design principles for all major development sites throughout the city. This is very important, particularly with the city expected to grow significantly over the next 10 years.

Whilst the document is aimed primarily at developers to help them better understand our aspirations for our city and local communities, we hope it will help everyone engage with the development process!


New Cardiff Public Realm Manual – Have your say!

In addition to the Liveable Design Guide, the City of Cardiff is also in the process of developing similar guidelines for the design of public realms within the city. A draft guide is available for you to view on the City of Cardiff Council website.

The public realm refers to the space between buildings where people have free access, such as streets and public squares. You can find many examples of these across the city already! For instance, St Johns Gardens and St Mary Street in the city centre:

St Johns Gardens

St Johns Garden

Queen Street

Queen Street

High quality design together with high quality materials can create a great sense of place and I believe that streets can be so much more than places where we simply walk, cycle or travel through. The public realm should be attractive and enjoyable places to spend time in.

By working together to build on existing achievements we can create high quality public spaces which can enhance the quality of life within our local communities, promote business and tourism and help deliver our vision of making Cardiff Europe’s most liveable Capital City.

You can submit your thoughts on the Public Realm Manual by Tuesday 30th June 2015 (4.00pm) by emailing or writing to:

Strategic Planning
Cardiff Council
Room 223 County Hall
Atlantic Wharf
CF10 4UW

Neighbourhood Teams Trial New Service Improvement Scheme

We are working hard to make sure that Council Services can respond quickly to community needs. That is why a number of council departments- including parks, street cleansing and waste enforcement- have joined together to find new Neighbourhood Services model in the South West area of Cardiff.

Results from this trial have shown that this new joined up approach has helped deliver a reduction in litter and fly-tipping, tackled incorrect waste disposal issues and also delivered cost savings for the Council by reducing the fuel usage and travel time of Council staff. Since February of this year, areas including Ely, Caerau, Riverside and Canton have been the first to benefit.

On a recent visit to Riverside, staff told me that they were beginning to see real improvements on the ground and had a much better understanding of how they can help other Council departments address some of the issues they face.

Out with our hardworking Street Cleansing team in Riverside

Out with our hardworking Street Cleansing team in Riverside

Another major opportunity to improve the quality of our local environment involves the introduction of an ‘app’ which is designed for reporting issues instantly. This new technology shows how Cardiff is becoming a ‘smart’ city. We want to make it easier for you to get in touch with us, we want to speed up our response and we want to do all this in a more cost effective way.

The pilot will now, by using new technology, be rolled out to other parts of the city over the coming year.



Cardiff Code Clubs and launching of Youth Innovation Grant

Coding Club Launch Event

Coding is becoming an essential skill in the digital age, and is used widely by programmers and web developers, but also teaches essential skills around problem solving and logical thinking. Recent changes in Computing curriculum in primary and secondary schools, has meant that children are now encouraged to learn about ‘Coding’ from as young as 5 years old.

As a result of this, in partnership with Samsung, Code Club has recently set up a coding hub in Cardiff. Code Club is a nationwide network of free, volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. At the moment based in the City of Cardiff Council’s Digital Suite, the hub will allow local school children in Cardiff and surrounding areas to access facilities and resources to enjoy creative lessons in coding and learn essential skills.

At Cardiff’s Digital Suite, pupils from Baden Powell Primary School in Tremorfa and Y Bont Faen Primary in Cowbridge are already involved in a Code Club. At the launch event some of the pupils presented their work in an informative video to visitors from Samsung and other organisations. It was fascinating to see how computing lessons have changed since I was in school!

Pictured left to right: Partnership Manager for Samsung, Jessie Soohyun Park, Craig Thomas - Code Club Wales Coordinator and Graeme Jones, a Teacher from Y Bont Faen Primary with three of his pupils

Pictured left to right: Partnership Manager for Samsung, Jessie Soohyun Park, Craig Thomas – Code Club Wales Coordinator and Graeme Jones, a Teacher from Y Bont Faen Primary with three of his pupils

There are now almost 2,500 clubs in the UK, supported by five hubs including Cardiff. Code Club aims to increase this to include every primary school in the country. In order to do so, Code Clubs are constantly looking for volunteers to offer as little as an hour a week to run a local club. If you’re interested in volunteering in a Code Club near you, you can find more information on the Code Club website.

Youth Innovation Grant Launched

The City of Cardiff Council has launched a new Youth Innovation Grant!

We are currently developing new ways of delivering Youth Services across the city, which will meet the changing needs of young people.

An important part of our approach as a Council has been to involve the people that use the services in the decisions we take. When I blogged last May about the benefits of being a co-operative Council; this is another example of what I meant. Young people and organisations that deliver youth services have been, and will continue to be, involved in the process of shaping our youth services in Cardiff because they are best placed to do so.

The grant process is currently live and the closing date for applications is Tuesday 30th June at 5pm. Additional information, guidance and application forms are available for download from the links below:

The financial pressures facing the Council mean the next few years will continue to be very difficult, so we will need to be more innovative in approaches.