Merry Christmas!

Happy Anniversary Cardiff!

This weekend marked the 60th anniversary of Cardiff as capital city of Wales. After a campaign by the city council and a ballot of Welsh local authorities, on 20th December 1955 the Government declared Cardiff the new capital city. The announcement was made the next day at the entrance to City Hall and then telephoned across to the Coal Exchange, then the centre of commerce in the city. Capital city status has helped make Cardiff a world-class centre for business, sport and culture, and the transformation in the city over the last 60 years has been tremendous.

 

Budget Q&A

Last week I tried out a new way of communicating with residents via a live web-based Q&A session, based on the City Council’s latest budget proposals.

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With Councillor Hinchey ready for the Q&A session

It was a worthwhile experiment in directly engaging with Cardiff citizens and prompted some interesting questions. A full, bilingual transcript of the session will be available on the City Council website soon but here’s a sample:

QA Transcript

Remember you can also have your say about the budget plans through our online survey or at one of our sessions across the city. Details can be found here.

 

Year in Review

It’s been a busy 12 months in Cardiff with many exciting events and developments. Look out for my article for the South Wales Echo on what a year it has been for the city and some of the things we have to look forward to in 2016!

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

Merry Christmas all and a Happy New Year!

Phil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changes for Cardiff and Reducing our Impact on Climate Change

Budget

Cardiff, like all Councils across the UK, is facing some big financial challenges. Our useful budget challenge video below gives you an overview of the scale of the challenge facing the City Council – including the need to meet a shortfall of around £115m over the next 3 years.

The Welsh Government has announced its draft budget for 2016/17. Encouragingly, our budget savings will not be as severe as expected, and we are working through the detail of the budget to understand what this means for Cardiff. It should be noted that this settlement is provisional and is of course only for the next year. The Welsh Government will announce its budget each year so the amount we need to save could vary in coming years. It is clear that Welsh Government has tried to protect Local Government and that is welcome indeed.

We now need to build on this and have a frank conversation about how we can sustain services. We can use the powers available to us through devolution to chart a different path from England, where UK Government cuts have seen local councils bear the brunt of the austerity agenda. People appreciate and want good public services; they are the glue that binds our communities and we must do what we can to protect them.

A number of proposals have been put forward on how we can make savings in 2016/17 and we want your feedback on these, whether via our online survey or by attending one of our events across the city. Details on how you can have your say can be found on the Council’s budget webpages.

Consultation will take place until 12th January and I’d encourage you to have your say before a budget is agreed at the meeting of the Full Council in February.

 

Climate Change

I had the privilege of speaking at Climate Change: Commitment to Action, hosted by the Climate Change Commission for Wales. This event, coinciding with the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, brought together Welsh politicians and representatives from industry, education and community groups.

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Wales’s many environmental achievements – including high levels of recycling and energy efficiency – were recognised and we discussed how Welsh and world cities have a key role to play in helping states meet climate change commitments.

I talked about how our vision to create Europe’s most liveable capital city ties in with the environmental challenges we face. The City of Cardiff Council’s strategies include aiming to reduce CO2 emissions by 35% by 2022, protecting our green belt and generating our own energy, for example through the Radyr Weir hydro-electric scheme.

It was great to be reminded of the serious commitment there is here in Wales to addressing climate change and maintaining a sustainable environment for future generations.

 

Schools

The Cabinet recently approved plans for improvements to education in Cardiff. Following consultations and reports, proposals were agreed for future school provision in Butetown, Canton, Grangetown and Riverside, Adamsdown and Splott, and Caerau and Ely. This follows a really successful year for education in the city and is a massive investment in the future of our schools and young people in the city, in line with the Council’s priority of better education and skills for all.

The approved schemes, representing an investment of over £58m, include:

•A newly built secondary school for the West of the city, serving the communities in and around Caerau and Ely, built on the current Glyn Derw High School site and opening from September 2018

•Additional Welsh-medium and English-medium primary provision for areas in and around Butetown, Canton, Grangetown and Riverside from September 2017

•Additional Welsh-medium and English-medium primary provision for areas in and around Adamsdown and Splott from September 2017

Primary provision will be increased through a combination of building new schools and expansion of existing sites.

These proposed developments will now be put through the planning process.  Once approved they should mean modern, high quality educational facilities for both English and Welsh medium schools across the city and represent an important investment in the city’s future.

 

 

Giving young people a real voice

At our November Council meeting Councillors agreed to support a campaign to give 16 and 17 year-olds the vote as well as provide strong, non-partisan political education for pre-A Level pupils.

Meeting campaigners for votes at 16 ahead of Full Council

Meeting campaigners for votes at 16 ahead of Full Council

A recent survey showed that the majority of young people are keen to participate in democracy from an earlier age. These potential new voters also want to make informed choices – 79% feel it’s important for them to learn about politics and the electoral system.

This enthusiasm reflects what I’ve learnt from meeting a number of times with the Cardiff Youth Council (CYC), including during European democracy week, and they had a great response when they asked young people across the city to vote on what issues matter most to them.

There are around 12,000 young people aged between 16 and 18 in Cardiff, and it is great that we will be doing all we can to give them a voice at local elections.

There was a real enthusiasm ahead of last year’s Scottish independence referendum when the franchise – which means the right to vote in public, political elections – was extended to those aged 16 and 17. Decisions on voting in Wales have been devolved to the Welsh Government so the Council can now lobby them to change the law here.

Up, Up and Go Air!

Go Air is Wales’s newest and biggest trampoline park.

I was invited to officially open this exciting new venture in Llanishen and was delighted to welcome the firm to Cardiff. Having been inspired by trampoline arenas in the US, Welsh-born founder Jez James and his team have opened their first Go Air park here in Cardiff, with big plans to expand across the UK in the future.

Opening the new Go Air trampoline park

Opening the new Go Air trampoline park

The facility includes 120 interconnected trampolines, a dodgeball court, giant foam pits and a café. As well as trampolining, the centre offers fitness classes and parkour lessons, and full party and event hosting.

It was great to meet the Go Air team and we were given an impressive demonstration on the trampolines by some of the centre’s expert staff. Go Air is another welcome addition to Cardiff’s leisure offer and I know many people across the city will look forward to trying it out!

Trade Union Bill

At last week’s meeting, the City of Cardiff Council resolved to do what we can to protect union and workers’ rights and support the the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in opposing the Trade Union Bill. The Bill, which is currently being debated in the UK Parliament, contains a set of proposals that would change many things for trade unions, such as the right to strike and how effectively they can organise, as well as the Council’s relationship with the unions. . The Council will now write to the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills stating our opposition to the proposals. We will also contact all Cardiff MPs and AMs to encourage them to join us in opposing the Trade Union Bill

Diolch,
Phil