CCR City Deal signed and a new home for Cardiff Devils

Cardiff Capital Region City Deal Signed


Last week was a momentous one for Cardiff and the people who live here with the signing of the £1.2 billion Cardiff Capital Region City Deal which has the potential to unlock significant economic growth across the region.

As Leader of one of the ten local authorities making up the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) I fully expect the deal I signed last Tuesday to deliver as many as 25,000 new jobs, and £4 billion of private sector investment across the region.


Cllr Bale signs CROPPED

Deal highlights are:

  • An Investment fund to deliver the South East Wales Metro, including the Valley Lines Electrification programme.
  • The creation of a non-statutory Regional Transport Authority to co-ordinate transport planning and investment in partnership with the Welsh Government.
  • The development of capabilities in Compound Semiconductor Applications. The UK Government will invest £50 million to establish a new Catapult Centre in Wales. The CCR will also prioritise investment in research and development.
  • Creation of the Cardiff Capital Region Skills and Employment Board to ensure skills and employment provision is responsive to the needs of local businesses and communities.
  • A Cardiff Capital Region Business Organisation will be established to ensure that there is a single voice for business to work with local authority leaders.

We have worked long and hard to bring a City Deal to the Cardiff Capital Region and I’m delighted that this hard work paid off and we’ve been successful. Financially we have secured a bigger deal for our residents than the Glasgow City Deal, but the real work starts now.



We want this Deal to make a real difference to people’s lives, improving prospects for all our citizens. Today’s signing means work can begin on creating a more inclusive and prosperous region.

I want everyone to know we are determined to deliver better opportunities for all our residents. Securing the City Deal can help us do this. We want to create better job opportunities for people and we want to enable them to take those job opportunities when they arise. At the end of the day we want to improve everyone’s chances of enjoying a better future.

Ice Arena Wales opens and the Devils win

I was delighted to attend the Cardiff Devils’ first game at their new home Ice Arena Wales. City of Cardiff Council is an arena partner and I truly believe that this new 3,000 seater stadium will be a glorious addition to Cardiff’s rich sporting tradition.


The atmosphere as Cardiff Devils beat Belfast Giants was absolutely fantastic and I encourage everybody to attend Cardiff’s latest sports attraction. It is important to remember that Ice Arena Wales is open for the public to use as a skating rink. So if like me you remember skating on the old National Ice Rink in the city centre – or in the Big Blue Tent – you must check out this great new facility.










Volvo Ocean Race comes to Cardiff

Cardiff to welcome yachting’s finest for the Volvo Ocean Race

Once again Cardiff is proving to be one of the most attractive cities on the planet for attracting global sporting events and the economic benefits that go with them. Last Thursday I welcomed the announcement that the city would host the transatlantic leg of the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race when it returns to the UK for the first time in 12 years in 2018. Here’s a short video I made shortly after the official announcement at the Cardiff Marketing Suite in Cardiff Bay:

It was a great pleasure to officially welcome the announcement alongside the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart and Adolfo Rodriguez from the Volvo Ocean Race.


The race – which lasts nine months – starts in Alicante in September next year and crews are expected to arrive in Cardiff between the 26th and 31st of May 2018. Follow @volvooceanrace on Twitter and let’s see if we can get the hashtag #volvooceanraceCDF trending!








Budget Approved, Audit Office Report and Welsh Language Centre

Budget Approved

The City of Cardiff Council approved its budget for 2016/17 at a full meeting in City Hall last Thursday. Whilst the city received a better than expected settlement from the Welsh Government, it was still a reduction in cash terms which has meant that difficult budgetary decisions have had to be made. That is why having 4 key priorities is so important because they provide focus when it comes to making decisions on funding local services. We have therefore chosen to spend the settlement on our key priorities which are:

  1. Better education and skills for all
  2. Supporting vulnerable people
  3. Creating more jobs and better-paid jobs
  4. Working together to transform services

The harsh reality is that this year’s settlement will prove to be the exception rather than the norm and therefore we have to make sensible and well-costed plans for the future. The highlights of our budget are:

  • Reducing the proposed Council Tax increase from 4.5% to 3.7% (a rise of 73p a week to a Band D property)
  • Protection for the arts – cuts to grants for Artes Mundi, Cardiff Singer of the World, and community arts grants have been removed from the budget
  • Adding £1.9m to Disabled Adaptations Grants
  • Giving schools growth an extra £1.6m, fully funding the impact of the removal of contracting out rules on Employer’s NI for schools
  • Establishing a £500,000 fund for NEETS/looked after Children/Apprenticeships
  • Targeted interventions for fixing potholes – an extra £320,000
  • Additional funding for street cleaning services – an extra £320,000BudgetCouncilTax

Welcome news from the Auditor General for Wales

I welcomed last week’s report into how the Council is run by the Auditor General for Wales Huw Vaughan Thomas. It concluded that the Council had become “more cohesive, have improved engagement with members and staff, and have put in place a clear strategic direction for the council”. It also states that the Council’s leadership and management have improved the culture of the organisation encouraging greater openness and self-awareness of the Council’s weaknesses and strengths.

I believe that we are on the right path, that we have laid the foundations and shown the leadership required to drive our Council forward through these uncertain and difficult times.

There is still much to do and there can be no room for complacency but I want to assure everyone that we are and will continue to deliver for the city of Cardiff.

Two years ago, just before I took over as leader, the WAO found the Council suffered from weak performance in key service areas because of fragmented leadership and management. This is clearly no longer the case.

Over the next few months Estyn and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) will be sending us their evaluation of the Council following recent inspections and I hope that they too will also recognise the progress that has been made.

We are also working hard to deliver a City Deal which could assist with transforming the economic prospects of the Capital City Region. There is much to do and a long way still to travel, but there are clear signs we are getting things done, and getting things done the right way.

Welsh Language Centre is opened

I’d encourage everybody to visit Yr Hen Lyfrgell – the new Welsh Language Centre in the city centre that opened last Thursday. Alongside our partners we funded this exciting new development in Cardiff via a Welsh Government capital investment fund and I was very impressed with the end-result when I spoke at the official opening.

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Yr Hen Lyfrgell – which means The Old Library in Welsh – is now home to a number of Welsh-language organisations and will host a variety of events and opportunities for visitors, young people and Welsh learners in particular. The City Council has worked with external partners to realise the ambition of creating a unique language and cultural centre which will deliver a wide range of economic and other social benefits to the city. It is also worth highlighting that the new Welsh Language Centre has created over 40 bilingual jobs.

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The centre will create a ‘one-stop’ attraction which provides visitors with an insight into the Welsh language and culture as well as allowing them to learn about the history of the city as it sits alongside the Cardiff Story Museum.  There will also be a drop-in crèche facility in the building run by Mudiad Meithrin which is ideal for those with childcare commitments who want to attend a Welsh lesson at the centre or just go around the city centre shops. My thanks go to our core partners who worked with us on this key project – Cardiff University, Clwb Ifor Bach, Mela Media, Menter Caerdydd, Mudiad Meithrin and Menter Caerdydd.