Cardiff has an historic opportunity to become a truly great world capital, according to Cardiff Council’s leader.
Unveiling the new administration’s five year plan for the city – called Capital Ambition – Cllr Huw Thomas said the city had become a vibrant European capital which is flourishing economically, culturally and politically and now had the opportunity to become a leading city on the world stage.
Cllr Thomas said:
“I believe we face an historic opportunity – a chance to capitalise on our potential and become a truly great world capital where the benefits of growth are felt by all our citizens, our region and our nation.”
The Council Leader added:
“Cardiff is one of the fastest growing and most highly-skilled cities in Britain. The city economy is growing, jobs and businesses are being created and unemployment is at its lowest level this decade.
“The city’s profile has never been higher and visitor numbers are growing every year.
“Undeniably, Cardiff is Wales’ strongest economic asset and the nation’s best opportunity to secure sustainable economic success for the future.”
But he warned that Cardiff was still a divided city, adding:
“For too long the gap between rich and poor has been allowed to grow and many of Cardiff’s communities are amongst the poorest in Wales. Indeed if the ‘Southern Arc’ of Cardiff, from Ely in the West to Trowbridge in the East, was considered a single local authority, it would be far and away the poorest in Wales.”
Cllr Thomas promised that tackling poverty and inequality would be at the heart of the administration.
“Too many people in Cardiff are struggling to meet their basic needs. We will hold a relentless focus on education and jobs, resolute in our belief that securing an equality of opportunity can help people lift themselves out of poverty,” said Cllr Thomas.
“And we will also ensure we get the basics right in how we care for the vulnerable and elderly in our city.
“Ultimately, I want every citizen of Cardiff to have the chance to fulfil their potential and play a full and active part in the life of our city.”
The Leader said the Council’s approach to delivering for the city’s residents would focus on four main areas:
- Working for Cardiff: making sure everyone who lives and works here can contribute to, and benefit from, the city’s success
- Working for Wales: A successful Wales needs a successful capital city
- Working for the future: Managing the city’s growth in a sustainable way
- Working for public services: Making sure public services are delivered efficiently, effectively and sustainably in the face of rising demands and reduced budgets
The Leader said the capital’s ambitions could not stop at the boundaries of the city and Cardiff’s role as the economic power of the city region and its relationship with surrounding councils must continue to grow.
He said Cardiff Council also had to recognise that growth must be sustainable and resilient and must be met with bold solutions and big ideas.
“And we must do so during a time of unprecedented austerity. The Council alone has made savings of more than a quarter of a billion pounds in the past decade and we have a budget gap of some £80m to bridge over the next three years.
“I keep reading that austerity is over, but people need to know that’s just a newspaper headline which has no basis in reality. The budget issues we face are very real however. There are tough times ahead, public services will need to adapt and reform and sometimes difficult decisions will need to be taken.”
The Leader said to succeed would require the hard work and dedication of Council officers, of Trade Unions, of teachers, social workers, road sweepers, librarians, police officers, fire fighters, doctors and nurses.
Cllr Thomas added:
“They are the bedrock of our public services and are vital in helping change happen and helping to deliver a cleaner, healthier, fairer city. But there’s no doubt we will have to continue to modernise and to change the way we work and deliver services.
“As an organisation we must move away from dealing with problems in isolation and continue to integrate frontline teams that are empowered to address the day-to-day issues we know need solving. The Council must act as one seamless team to drive improvement across the city. ‘It’s not my job’ is not good enough anymore. We need to create a culture of one council, one workforce with one purpose – to deliver for the residents of our city. “
Cllr Thomas said his commitment as Leader of the Council is to work together with partners, staff and citizens to make Cardiff a better place to live for everyone, adding:
“By doing so, we will create a capital city that is not only ambitious for the people we serve but ambitious for the whole of Wales.”