Monday, 26 September 2016

Qs to the auditor on land-and-capital deal

to Janet McNicholas 
Wales Audit Office, 24 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9LJ

Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004, S.22 and 32.  Cardiff City and County Council
Notice of Question on the Accounts

Questions about the accounts in respect of the loss of public land in Central Square and other interests owned by Cardiff Council, principally land used for the old Bus Station, which has in effect been exchanged for a much smaller area of land for a new bus station, but badly constrained, such that the new Bus Station will be unable to use the Saunders Road access and thus unable to function during ‘match day’ closures of Wood Street.
  • it appears the ‘joint developer’ deal signed by the Council with Rightacres was used to transfer the Bus Station land without recompense.
  • as part of the deal with the BBC, the Council or the ‘joint developer’ promised the BBC some 240-250 parking spaces in the NBC car park.
  • the Council bought the NBC car park for a price of about £9 million; was such a high price justified with a lease very few years left?
  • the BBC parking spaces, being part of the carpark asset, were transferred to the ‘joint developer’, possibly at zero recompense. 
  • the Council’s Major Projects Unit agreed that the parking spaces would be re-provided in an underground carpark after the NBC car park is demolished and the site combined with the Marland House site.
  • the site plans developed by Rightacres with the Major Projects Unit of the Council put the car park access from Saunders Road (alone) with Bus access only from Wood Street, contrary to the Council/Cabinet decision that there be access to the new Bus Station during match-day road closures (ie. access via Saunders Road).
  • the value of the Saunders Road access, in terms of efficiency of Bus Station operation and for match-day access, was given away by the Council with no recompense.
  • overall, in return for the Council giving over the large old Bus Station site, the Marland House site and the NCP car park, it appears the public is only getting a pokey site under offices/hotel, with new Bus bays.  The actual Bus Station (‘Transport Interchange’) facilities are still uncertain and the financial arrangements (site purchase and construction) unknown, but costs like £12-15million have been heard.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Cardiff Labour plans 220-space car park on the 1st floor above bus interchange

There has been no formal announcement  or consultation on the new plans for Central Sq 220 place 1st floor car park above the so called bus interchange Phil Bale or any other labour Councillors. This area suffers from the worst air pollution in Cardiff. These changes haven't been to planning. Has Ruth Mosalski @ruthmosalski inadvertently spilled the beans?   

Re. Appeal to modernise rail station alongside bus site    
The new information about the desperately awaited Bus Station (Echo 23 Sept p.3) shows incoherence and minimal progress over 12 months.  Remember the Cabinet promised a planning application last December and construction of the transport interchange to begin in April (Cabinet report of 2 July 2015).

The pictures you show of the concourse and bike hub are the old fantasy drawings in the Foster & Ptnrs report (Appendix 2 of 2 July 2015).  No sign of queuing space and seating for large numbers waiting for buses or the crowds streaming to the various stops.  You write of the old “14 dynamic bus stands”, yet the operators told the Council their buses are longer than the consultants assumed – redesign is reported to leave space for only 12 stands. 

You bullet-point the old 600-space cycle hub; the public engagement “to define the nature of the new cycle hub” turned out to be a meeting run by Sustrans.  This gave answers they don’t like and they blunder on regardless.  Most cyclists will use free-parking on the rail platforms or street stands, not pay £’s per day needed in this high demand retail site.  Cyclists have other priorities for the £1000 per day subsidy it would take. Cycle hire, repair and mass parking make more sense on the south side of the station.

The new item is a 220-space car park on the first floor – yet no mention of a car park in the July 2015 plans for an interchange.   What priorities when Cardiff Council provides for car parking but excludes coaches from its “world class” transport interchange!

The worst aspect of the car parking is its access via Saunders Road by the Great Western Hotel.  Reserving this for cars rather than buses into the Bus Station means not only awkward, congested accesses onto Wood Street, but also prevents the Bus Station operating during match-day closures. 

What ridicule Phil Bale is bringing on Cardiff – boasting of a “best in class” cycle-hub that’s a commercial failure and a spanking new Bus Station that frequently closes for stadium events,  

And should we modernise a grade 2 listed railway station of which we are proud? Phil Bale and his labour cronies have no time for historical buildings in Cardiff as we can see them crumble in for of our eyes  

We cant locate the article online....strange...but here are some previous stories 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Fabricated “recycling” figures in Wales

The latest quarterly statistical release also discloses some annual figures, including the 60% figure: The local authority municipal waste combined reuse/recycling/composting rate increased to 60 per cent for the 12 months to the end of March 2016
The commentary shows they include
# rubble from an abandoned Merthyr site – presumably the rubble was used in embankment or similar
# incinerator bottom ash ‘recovered’ by Wrecsam
# it can also includes beach rubble/sweepings, but this is unmentioned.
None of these count in recycling statistics elsewhere in the UK and EU.
No mention that 2015 was the first year that recovered IBA was counted in "recycling" totals.

Almost all (20 of the 22) of the local authorities increased their reuse/recycling/composting rate, compared with January to March 2015. The largest increases were reported for Merthyr Tydfil (25 percentage points) followed by Wrexham and Bridgend (14 percentage points), and Caerphilly (13 percentage points). For Merthyr Tydfil, this increase was caused by the authority generating additional amounts of rubble due to the council clearing an abandoned waste site. A similar situation is the cause of the increased rate in Bridgend. For Wrexham, there has been an increase in the quantities of residual waste being sent for incineration and an increase in the resultingincinerator bottom ash being recovered.

You are not going to believe this... Cardiff Recycling waste service nominated themselves for national awards for recycling. You can find these people on twitter to let them know what you think of Cardiff recycling here Tweet to @apsenews 

Forgotten the Cardiff Bin Chaos 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Sewage pollution still bedevils Barry Beaches

Thinking of going for a swim? 

Sewage pollution still bedevils Barry Beaches  
The bathing water assessments from this year are given as an average over 4 years.  The Council announces they allow a Blue Flag for Whitmore Bay and a Seaside Award for Jackson’s Bay, without admitting this is worse quality bathing water.
                                                No. Samples       E Coli     IE            E Coli     IE
                                                2012-15                    95%ile                   90%ile
Cold Knap   Barry               75 75                     102.81    54.68         70.97   40.83
Whitmore Bay Barry Island 75 75                     118.4      74.79          81.51   54.57
Jackson's Bay Barry Island 75 75                     396.25 159.56       236.16  105.6

Why did Jackson’s Bay not get a Blue Flag?  The Council say – because they did not put in for it.  But the real reason is that it failed the Bathing Water standard rather badly: high levels of E Coli (95% of 400 compared with the 250 limit) and of Enterococci (95% of 160 compared with the 100 limit).  They now use statistics over the last 4 years, so don’t show the actual levels for 2015.
We do know that Jackson’s Bay failed the Blue Flag standard 4 times out of 20 samples in 2014.  The reason it’s worse than Whitmore Bay probably arises from the Cog Moors discharge swept back between Sully Island and Barry Island on the incoming tide. There’s may also some illegal discharge via the Cadoxon River [1].  Whitmore Bay still gets some of these discharges, as shown by the higher numbers compared with Cold Knap.  Whitmore Bay like Jacksons Bay failed (‘good’) in 2013 but met the Blue Flag (rBWD) ‘excellent’ standard in 2014.

There should be an off-season warning too for Whitmore Bay;  from September to March, out of the bathing season, the UV treatment at Cog Moors is switched off.  Also the storm-time bypass of the sewage works is operated more frequently.  Thus, Whitmore Bay does not meet the sewage standards for autumn and springtime water sports, or for Barry Island’s Boxing Day Swim.   This was shown when several dogs caught infections last autumn, after the water sampling had stopped.

The Council does not complain about the sewage works discharging untreated sewage during high rainfall [2], for any mention of the works being overloaded would cast a shadow over its plans for large increases in housing, without any expansion or upgrade of the Cog Moors treatment works.  They claim to be working with Natural Resources Wales to improve the bathing water quality at Jackson’s Bay [1], but don’t report this publicly.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Cardiff Bus to set up new 'low-cost operation' Vale Busline

Labour Local authority-owned Cardiff Bus is setting up a new low-cost operation which
Cllr Ben Thomas
is euphemism for cuts to pay and conditions called
 Vale Busline Ltd. Labour Councillors, many sponsored by trade unions should be ashamed of themselves. Labour Cllr Ben Thomas blames closure of the bus station and he'd be right as it is near impossible to find your bus stop and when you do you find inadequate bus shelters and cuts to services but the labour group decided to put developers needs first. Could this lead to privatisation and sell off of Cardiff Bus and the new Vale Busline? Could this lead to amalgamation with NAT? More here Cardiff Bus to transfer services to sister firm 
PASSENGERS on some Cardiff Bus routes will soon see their services switched this year to a different company – which is also owned by Cardiff council.

Vale Busline will have the same senior managers and directors as Cardiff Bus, and even use the same depot in Leckwith.
But its vehicles will carry a different livery, its drivers will probably be recruited on different terms and conditions – and they might even give change
VBL has been registered with Companies House for some years but lain dormant. It has the same directors and non-executive directors as Cardiff Bus. It has now received authorisation from the Traffic Commissioner to operate 20 vehicles from the Cardiff Bus depot in Sloper Road.
Labour Councillor Ben Thomas, chairman of Cardiff Bus, Cllr for Whitchurch & Tongwynlais was unable to say how the terms and conditions and pension arrangements for VBL staff would differ from those of Cardiff Bus. He said the decision to activate VBL was a response to Cardiff Bus losing passengers for a variety of reasons, including the closure of the city’s bus station, increased competition and bad weather. He said that some of Cardiff Bus’ old vehicles would be transferred to VBL instead of being sold or used for spares, and would be deployed on routes with low passenger footfall.  (old polluting dirty buses)

Meanwhile in York Conversions to electric buses would result in a reduction in annual operating costs for each bus of between £15,000 and £20,000, while eliminating 535kg of nitrous oxides from each bus every year. Some creative thinking needed in Cardiff.
Who's that?                                            MR GARETH ASHLEY MOLE is a SERVICE DELIVERY DIRECTOR from CARDIFF also a director of .CARDIFF CITY TRANSPORT SERVICES LIMITED -
Simon Gardener is also director of Overseas investments Ltd,  Climax Studios Limited,  Cardiff City Transport Services Limited and Vale Busline Limited He is also the Employee Director 
Benjamin Garreth Thomas's Profile The first position as a director we have on file for Mr Benjamin Garreth Thomas was in 2005 at Thomas Delivery Solutions Limited. His most recent directorship is with Unitmovements Limited where he holds the position of "Transport manager". This company has been around since 27 Mar 1997 and lists its registered address as being in Staffordshire 

Cyclists questions to Assembly candidates

Cardiff Cycling City a labour party propaganda group has organised a cycling hustings, no expense spared, Tues 5th April 2016 7-9 pm at the David Morgan Room - Wales Millennium Centre Bute Place, Cardiff Bay CF10 5AL, United Kingdom 
Cycling has lived on good-will for too long, politicians have fallen far short of their target to triple cycling over 2001.  Money has gone on a few expensive projects or been diverted to highways. Cardiff’s ‘sustainable travel city’ was given £20 million (for 2009-13), with no clear achievements apart from Pont y Werin. We need the new Assembly to take commissioning of cycling projects away from County Councils, entrusting this to new bodies of cycling-oriented professionals and voluntary groups.  These bodies could be based on the city-region and under a central Cycling Wakes commissioner, as the successful English model.
The Cycling Campaign was skeptical about the city’s proposal for a “cycling hub”.  Now it’s come out that high costs deter cyclists when run as a commercial operation. It would be highly expensive to provide cycle-parking in the purpose-built hub, rather than free parking on and around Cardiff Central station extended from the current provision.  The city’s proposal was misconceived.

The main challenge for cyclists is to secure implementation of the Active Travel Act with priority for cycling and walking networks for everyday travel.  The Minister Edwina Hart went slow on this; it’s important that the new Assembly boosts its efforts.

We suggest cyclists ask Assembly candidates

  1. Will they support renewed the commitment to the Active Travel Act and giving authority to cycling-oriented experts and interests as well as committing increasing funds with payment-by-results?
  2. Will they support commissioning schemes by central bodies with strong input from user-interests, rather than by the County Councils who have largely failed to date? 
  3. Will they support enhanced provision for cycling in the new Wales rail franchise, especially  more than the basic 2 places per train?
  4.  Would you planning and providing support for sustainable transport modes at regional level. within a national framework, and how would they ensure users are effectively involved, unlike in the old Transport consortia?
  5. Would they support changing transport scheme assessments to meet sustainable transport objectives, unlike the current Weltag that counts increased car-use as a benefit?
  6. Would you give priority to the appointment of cycling officers with clout within Cardiff and the city-region, rather than a gimmicky Cycling Commissioner for Wales?

Monday, 29 February 2016

PLAN for Cardiff VIRIDOR 70,000 tonnes INCINERATOR ASH DUMP in Barry JUDICIAL REVIEW 1st March 2016

No Barry Ash Dump 14 Robert Street, Barry CF63 3NX 
 Judicial Review of Incinerator Ash plans from Cardiff TUESDAY MARCH 1st  
From  9:30 AM Photoshoot and Interviews with the lawyers
The legal case is being taken by a leading firm in Environmental & Public Law, Richard Buxton of Cambridge. It is a judicial review in Cardiff High Court in the name of Amanda Surringer of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning approval 2015/00360/FUL of 4th Sept. 2015 (attached).
This plan is for 70 000 tonnes p.a. of ash from Viridor’s Cardiff incinerator to be trucked to Barry and processed on dockland in Barry.  
The Viridor incinerator takes domestic waste from Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan plus S-E Wales Councils from RCT to Monmouth.  VoG chiefs argued this obliged them to take Viridor’s ash, even though Viridor had promised to deal with the ash close to their incinerator in East Moors.
The legal case had sufficient merit to win legal aid, but local action group has to raise matching funding as the community’s share of our side’s costs, saysKeith Stockdale (secretary of the Action Group):
“We had success at the first hurdle.  Judge Collins granted permission to proceed to this full hearing   Collins J order granting permission 3.12.15, attached). He rejected the Council’s argument that the case was without merit, agreeing the effects of the dust from the incinerator ash are ‘highly material’ (full quote below).  Also the Judge accepted as valid all of the appeal grounds put forward by the lawyers. This after the Council dismissed objectors’ points about the incinerator dust being toxic and that high winds would carry it far from the site, to homes in Cadoxton, Castleland, the Waterfront and even further to the town centre, the Island and the Bendricks.”
The Ash Dump company (Raymond Brown Minerals & Recycling Ltd.) backed out following this preliminary decision; they will not be supporting the VoG Council in Court and do not intend to go ahead.  But the Vale Council has declined to settle out-of-court and quash their permission.  Objectors fear Raymond Brown could change their mind or sell on their Ash Dump permit**.
Max Wallis of Cardiff Against the Incinerator (CATI campaign) says:
“Cardiff Council’s permit for Viridor was quite irresponsible in failing to require plans for the huge tonnages of incinerator ash.  Cardiff first had to take the ash on their Lamby Way tip.  Since that closed last September, Cardiff has been paying Viridor £60 000 per month to deal with the ash at their incinerator site in Oxfordshire. CATI supports this legal challenge to the backroom dealing to switch incinerator ash processing to Barry^^ and end Cardiff’s payments.”
Shirley Taylor (treasurer of the Action Group) says
“Our challenge is not simply on behalf of local residents, but to save Barry from the long-term environmental threat from incinerator ash, which is high in toxic metals. Its dust will be picked up in the high winds that sweep across the open dockland.  The ash comes from Viridor’s incinerator in Cardiff.  Nearby sites in the East Moors were dropped because of the risks of pollution to wildlife there.  Choosing instead a site in Barry surrounded by homes is crazy!” 
Available on request from - 1. Order granting permission for judicial review 
2. IBA decision notice Vale of Glamorgan planning by Vale of Glamorgan Council  

The case is part-funded by legal aid (Legal Services Commission) but the Community has to raise 50%.  Most has come through collections and payments direct into the “Stop Barry Ash Dump” account**, with some on the site.  Funds are still needed – we’re seeking £1-2,000 from a major benefactor!
** Bank account with Barclays (Barry branch)
   Account name:   Stop Barry Ash Dump, sort code 20-18-27, Account 73227014)

Further Information

Judge Collins wrote
“The categorisation of the waste and the effects of dust are highly material and it seems to me to be arguable that the officer's report did not adequately inform the committee of all that was needed.”
^^ Metals are first sorted out (plans do say this is to be done by Viridor in Cardiff) then the ash processed into building aggregate and stockpiled until uses are found.  The requirement to process and make use of the incinerator ash comes from Welsh Government, but there’s little market for this toxic and poorly structured material. 
** Alun Cairns MP supports the objectors and has asked in vain for Raymond Brown Ltd to clarify their plans.  Their agent is Stephen Bowley Planning Consultancy of Tiddington, Thame, Tel: 01844 338636. @AlunCairns
**Cllr Ian Johnson Mobile: 07738 182867;

CONTACT  Stop Barry Ash Dump  

  • Legal advisor:  Max Wallis   (Friends of the Earth Barry & Vale)    07783 330956
  • Treasurer: Shirley Taylor 2 Lee Road, Barry  Tel. 01446 732637
  • Secretary: Keith Stockdale 14 Robert St, Barry CF63 3NX  Tel. 01446 734368

Sunday, 28 February 2016

More ££ POTHOLE FUND to add to £5m borrowing

NEW POTHOLE FUND to make up HIGHWAYS DEPT FAILURE -  scam over road maintenance.
Cardiff’s invention of a new budget line to cover pothole repair shows the enhanced funding over the last 3 years has failed. With no explanation or scrutiny, the Cabinet bungs another £320 000 to "Targeted Interventions for Potholes" intended to cover repairs to approximately 3,000 more potholes in 2016/17.
Pothole Cowbridge Road West Ely Bridge 
What’s gone wrong? The Welsh Government started the Local Government Borrowing Initiative for highways maintenance in 2012, encouraging Councils to borrow (£5M in Cardiff’s case) for road maintenance, paying it back over 22 years (£349 000p.a. in Cardiff’s case, £14.7M total). The Welsh government justified this huge boost in funding, continued for 3 years, as putting Welsh roads into good nick and reducing future pothole/maintenance spending. One informed blog called it “idiotic” for violating the principle that current spending should come out of current revenues.

Some Councils claimed success RCT and Pembrokeshire; Not Cardiff; they continue to spend on “Highway and footway resurfacing and implementation of dropped kerbs” from the capital budget, though at £1.22M not £5M p.a. and have now invented the further budget line.
Is this not bunging more funds to a failing department? By common observation, they are very inefficient at repairing potholes, arriving 10 days or so late, after exposed drains have suffered a pounding. Their repairs may last a few weeks only, even days in some cases, and then they return time and again. One example is the bus-
stop outside Aldi’s on Cowbridge Rd West, just short of the Grand Ave. turn. Admittedly it experiences buses including bendi-buses tracking close to the curb and causing high pressures during braking and restarts. But highway officers know this well and deal with it by specially strong construction. Its first mega-pothole appeared mid November, endangering cyclists though most cars pulled out. Council roadmen patched it and parts of the adjacent kerbside stretch some half a dozen times before the proper repair arrived some12 weeks later.
Ramesh Patel '“They have got to have a long term plan'
complaining about potholes in 2011  
One reason is that Cardiff’s pothole team book in a new job for every pothole needing repair. They can appear to be busy, even over-stretched, with a job-load twice or thrice the real one. Their strategy for securing more money for potholes evidently worked; the new budget-line bypassed normal scrutiny processes and got £320,000 out of a Council so short that it’s cutting children’s play services at £10-20,000p.a.
And no-one has scrutinized the failure of the last 3 years boosted spending intended to improve the highway assets, criticised at the outset by commentators. “Borrowing to cover the cost of something like road maintenance is idiotic. Once you start borrowing to cover revenue expenditure - without any return on investment - you start totting up large deficits, then large debts, with little to show for it”
Labour in Wales have largely avoided PFI – which has a large element of this idiocy when it rolls up running costs into the borrowing package – but has gone for this worse scam over road maintenance.
Cardiff Potholes 
These pictures show just how many potholes there are on Cardiff's roads