Cardiff is de­scribed as a city of op­por­tu­ni­ties and inequal­i­ties in new re­port

South Wales Echo - - NEWS -

A CITY where peo­ple love to live, with a grow­ing econ­omy, but huge in­equal­ity – that’s the true pic­ture of Cardiff.

A re­port de­tail­ing the city’s strengths and weak­nesses has been re­leased.

A first look of Cardiff’s Live­able City re­port is out to­day, and has months of con­sul­ta­tion ahead of it.

In it, the coun­cil’s leader says Cardiff has a “good story to tell” but that there are “weak­nesses and the threats we face in the fu­ture”.

The doc­u­ment draws upon re­ports from a num­ber of bod­ies and cov­ers ev­ery­thing from health to the econ­omy and safety.

The re­port is a re­quire­ment of the Fu­ture Gen­er­a­tions Act and has been drawn up by the Pub­lic Safety Board – made up of mem­bers of the coun­cil, emer­gency ser­vices, health boards and char­i­ties.

Pos­i­tives in­clude the growth of the city, which is pro­jected to be one of the fastest grow­ing in the UK. But it says that the city’s econ­omy is not be­com­ing more pro­duc­tive. The re­port found that peo­ple across the city “love liv­ing in Cardiff” but that to keep it that way, “high lev­els of cit­i­zen sat­is­fac­tion” need to be main­tained.

While Cardiff is per­form­ing well eco­nom­i­cally, and is higher than other places in Wales, it is rel­a­tively low com­pared to other UK cities.

The re­port reads: “These fig­ures sug­gest that while jobs are be­ing cre­ated, the city’s econ­omy is not be­com­ing more pro­duc­tive.

“De­spite the jobs cre­ated and the in­vest­ment in the city cen­tre, many of the poor­est com­mu­ni­ties in Wales can be found in its cap­i­tal city. The large dis­par­i­ties in lev­els of un­em­ploy­ment, house­hold poverty and work­less house­holds closely align with health, crime and ed­u­ca­tional inequal­i­ties across the city,” it reads.

When it comes to crime, the re­port says that Cardiff is a “com­par­a­tively safe city” and there has been a fall in crime over the past decade.

“There has not been an equiv­a­lent fall in fear of crime.”

Health­wise, the city is “health­ier than ever” but there is a “sig­nif­i­cant and grow­ing” gap in life ex­pectancy.

Re­gard­ing ed­u­ca­tion, school stan­dards are on the up, and the three uni­ver­si­ties welcome 60,000 stu­dents.

Trans­port is an is­sue, with high lev­els of car use and more than 60% of res­i­dents say­ing trans­port in the city is a “se­ri­ous or very se­ri­ous” prob­lem.

We asked peo­ple on the streets of Cardiff their thoughts on key ar­eas and put their con­cerns di­rectly to coun­cil leader Phil Bale.

Nana Pokuwaah, 59, is a train user: “The train service is good, much bet­ter than the bus. The bus takes a lot longer as it goes around the city. The train staff are al­ways in­for­ma­tive and very help­ful. The trains are nor­mally on time, only when they were do­ing en­gi­neer­ing works have I ex­pe­ri­enced them be­ing late.” Coun Bale re­sponded: “Trans­port in Cardiff has been de­prived for a long time. We know there is a pro­jec­tion for pas­sen­ger growth. Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment needs to pro­vide a lot of in­vest­ment in the cen­tral sta­tion oth­er­wise the con­ges­tion and prob­lems will only get worse. Even though we don’t own the sta­tion, we can be strong and ad­vance that view on be­half of rail users, res­i­dents and busi­nesses to lobby for in­vest­ment.”

Peter Walsh, 35, is a cy­clist: “Cy­cling in Cardiff is an oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ard. There’s no in­fra­struc­ture; there are pot­holes ev­ery­where and cy­cle lanes are of­ten full of cars. It’s a night­mare. In the town cen­tre there is no in­fras­trucutre for cy­clists ei­ther, look at Queen Street; there’s noth­ing for cy­clists. They need to make it more ac­ces­si­ble. Drivers in Cardiff are also very ag­gres­sive, but I have also seen bad cy­clists as well. Con­sid­er­ing we all pay road tax they should im­prove the roads for all users; im­prove cy­cle lanes around the city. It re­ally needs a re­think, cy­cling in Cardiff doesn’t com­pare to Hol­land and other Euro­pean coun­tries.” Coun Bale re­sponded: “We have been very am­bi­tious in terms of a cy­cling strat­egy. We have set a tar­get to be the UK’s lead­ing cy­cling city and it’s a strat­egy that’s go­ing to be cov­er­ing a range of things. It is about recog­nis­ing there are prob­lems with the coun­cil some­times and its bud­get that frus­trate cy­clists.

“It’s about how we can al­lo­cate ded­i­cated fund­ing pots to keep re­pair­ing pot­holes, how we en­sure peo­ple who are pas­sion­ate about cy­cling work bet­ter to­gether to col­lec­tively en­sure that we are one of the best cy­cling cities in the UK”.

James Wil­son, 26, drives in Cardiff: “Driv­ing in Cardiff is shock­ing, there’s so much traf­fic. The roads are only clear at about 3am, and there are road­works ev­ery­where. I

have to cy­cle, al­though some­times there is glass in the gut­ter which should be cleaned. I used to have to park in Grange­town and walk, park­ing in the city cen­tre is too ex­pen­sive as it’s about £30 a week.” Coun Bale re­sponded:

“The an­swer is that we need to per­suade more peo­ple onto other types of trans­port. Cardiff is a very small city com­pared to oth­ers and we don’t have the road space to ex­pand our roads to ac­com­mo­date the in­creased traf­fic. We need to make sure we work with Gov­ern­ment.”

Lewis James, 23, uses the city’s sports fields: “They are ab­so­lute garbage, all in all just pretty aw­ful, and es­pe­cially at this time of the year. 90% of my foot­ball games at the mo­ment are called off be­cause of the pitches, it’s pretty ap­palling. It can be quite danger­ous at times with rocks on the pitch.”

Coun Bale re­sponded:

“We have tried to work cre­atively in part­ner­ship with GLL [Green­wich Leisure Lim­ited, which man­ages the city’s leisure cen­tres] and with Cardiff Met on sports de­vel­op­ment.

“As the coun­cil has to re­duce its costs, in or­der to con­tinue to pro­vide ser­vices we need to work with oth­ers. But 10 of our parks were awarded green flags in 2010”.

Coun Bale on the re­port:

“This re­port tells a story about Cardiff in 2017. It sets out our city’s strengths and op­por­tu­ni­ties – and there are many – and is hon­est about the weak­nesses and the threats we face in the fu­ture.

“When I took the role as city leader I set out a vi­sion to make Cardiff Europe’s most live­able cap­i­tal city. I be­lieved that we needed to take a broad ap­proach to think­ing about and de­vel­op­ing the city, not sim­ply a nar­row fo­cus on GVA and eco­nomic growth at all costs.

“A strong econ­omy and a fairer so­ci­ety have for too long been pre­sented as be­ing in con­flict with one an­other. In truth, you can­not have one with­out the other. And so, first and fore­most, eco­nomic growth is only good if the ben­e­fits are felt by all our cit­i­zens. It’s fair to say that this hasn’t al­ways been the case, lead­ing to the en­trenched and grow­ing inequal­i­ties across all as­pects of life that, for me, are the most pow­er­ful find­ings of this re­port. This needs to change.”

AN­DREW JAMES

Cardiff’s Live­able City re­port has found that res­i­dents love liv­ing in the city but say there is still work to be done

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