Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Phil Bale looks to dodgy English councils for ideas

Martin Shipton talks to Phil Bale 

Expectations must change about what Cardiff council can deliver, says new leader


Phil Bale makes no promises that a lab gov would restore funding - "Ed Miliband has now published the first report of [the Labour Party’s] Innovation Task Force into Local Government. That’s why the Cabinet and the council have now signed up to join the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network, which doesn’t just focus on cooperation between councils, but brings in innovation as well – how we can do things differently." 
Differently? Phil Bale puts a lot of faith in the The Co-op Innovation Network to provide services on the cheap? I don't think Rochale (1) is a council to emulate  Examples from the website ...Lambeth  - 'Just one of these pilots saw a polytunnel built to house a community food-growing scheme' other pilots a ‘jobs bike’  -  In Salford - "From a HSBC-sponsored scheme that’s giving primary school children the chance to run their own gardening club, to a community-led edible planting scheme in Eccles town centre" 
While  some of these small schemes are laudible I see no need to join this co-op network for advice.  Phil Bale should listen to the people of Cardiff. After huge cuts  in funding to Cardiff council the welsh assembly gov finds extra for community first. an organisation that has closed meetings and doesn't listen to the community it serves. This patronising way of delivering solutions to poverty and deprivation doesn't work. Phil Bale could reform this organisation first as its board s are loaded with labour party members.  instead of closing and demolishing libraries, moving day services for the elderly and closing old peoples homes. 
Today Rev Paul flowers Ex-Co-op Bank chairman in the news charged with drug  offences
Paul FlowersPaul Flowers, the former chairman of the Co-operative Bank and a Methodist minister, has been charged with possession of cocaine, methamphetamine and ketamine. Reverend Flowers was arrested in November after being photographed by a newspaper allegedly buying cocaine. West Yorkshire Police said on Wednesday that he had been charged with two offences of possession of a class A drug and of a class C one. He is due to appear before magistrates in Leeds on May 7.
The co-op group chief executive, Euan Sutherland, and an independent director, ex-Labour minister Lord Myners, both resigned. 
The Co-op Innovation Network What can we learn from these councils? Not much it seems
ROCHDALE (1) 
Grooming scandal: Rochdale council boss Colin Lambert fights off £600,000 slander claim by children's care homes  Councillor Lambert, received a High Court writ over what he said during a RochdaleCommunity Forum meeting in May 2012, after nine men were convicted of the sickening sexual abuse of more than 40 girls. Meadows Care Limited and Pathfinders Childcare Limited, who each operate children’s care homes in the borough, said the words he uttered blackened their reputation and had a devastating impact on their business.
Star date: 14th April 2014
REJECT ROCHDALE CHIEF EXEC JIM TAYLOR GETS £150K AT SALFORD 
Jim Taylor, the controversial Chief Exec of Rochdale Council, is to be appointed `Council Director' of Salford – the controversial £150,000 a year job created in the wake of former Fat Cat Chief Exec, Barbara Spicer's departure.
Over in Rochdale there was fury when the Council wanted to increase Taylor's wages by £40,000 while making cuts of £45million. Public outrage led to the Council doing a U-turn – but now Mayor Ian Stewart will formalise Taylor's Fat Cat Salford appointment at a special Council meeting tonight.

PLYMOUTH

 

Council accused of cover-up over top jobs row 

Plymouth Herald-9 Apr 2014Share
The appointments were made on the authority of Ms Lee without the approval of councillors, says the report by Plymouth CityCouncil's .
THE city council acted unlawfully when it hired 15 senior officers all earning the equivalent of more than £100,000 a year, according to a secret report.They were on pay packages of up to £840 a day, equivalent to £178,000 a year – nearly £30,000 more than chief executive Tracey Lee.In total, the pay package could have amounted to £5.86million over a full year. The appointments were made on the authority of Ms Lee without the approval of councillors, says the report by Plymouth City Council’s monitoring officer Tim Howes.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Cardiff needs a vision for pedestrians and cyclists

Where is the vision? 

Canton bridge where the council have narrowed the 
pavement to squeeze cyclists of the road to make 
room for more traffic rather than have a sustainable 
vision for pedestrians /cycling city 
I believe that lively, enjoyable public 
spaces are the key to planning a 
great city. They are what makes it 
come alive 

On busy Canton bridge
which is crowded with people in the
summer especially there is no 
opportunity to stop and look over 
the bridge or pause to admire the 
Castle, one of the most delightful 
and photographed historic features
 in Cardiff.
Cardiff Labour controlled Council
have narrowed the pavement here 
where it should be widened to 
squeeze in cyclists to allow more space for motorists on Canton bridge where traffic stopped
 altogether leaving just pedestrians, cyclists and buses running. Cardiff council has not got the vision 
to even follow the manual for streets hierarchy of road users. What
Canton bridge where Cardiff council ignored pleas to
revise the scheme and widen the pavement not narrow
it and build a cycle lane of approved width.
a mess and waste of £££  
Cardiff cycling officer who quit 
(and hasnt been replaced) 
gave 
these figures to 2013 Cyclists 
campaign AGM 
  Cycling budget
"Jo presented a spreadsheet in 
which funds from the following were
 identified: 
  •     Cardiff Council -  £625,000 in 2013, £450,000 in 2014.
  •     Welsh Assembly Government - £1,185,000 in 2013.
  •      SEWTA - £650,000 in 2014, then £900,000." 
  •     Festival - £6,000

More cash has been wasted in Canton where cyclists money was used to remove cycling 
lanes and resurface the road.Transport is a major issue in Cardiff that if not addressed will be a 
significant brake on the city’s economic fortunes, but worse, further isolate whole communities 
cut off from job opportunities and education. Cardiff council ignored The Active Travel (Wales) 
Act 2013 that is supposed to make it easier for people to walk and cycle in Wales.  
The city is over-dependent on the car, and investment in more roads and traffic 
improvements alone would not fix the problem and keep up with significant 
growth in demand. We need a better, cheaper and more effective public transport 
network in Cardiff not cuts in public transport, not more room for cars to dominate the 
street scene, polluting the air, and denying many of routine exercise. 
Now we have prospective labour candidate, Mari Willaims, for Cardiff North proposing 
meetings for her vision for a cyclists Cardiff. We suggest she works on her fellow labour
party members running Cardiff and wasting money on ill advised cycle  projects that 
Cardiff Cycling campaign vehemently opposed and support them instead of
campaigning for her own political gain. 

Canton Bridge cycle lane 'too narrow' | CARDIFF NEWS PLUS

jomec.co.uk/cjsnewsmaij/lead...4/canton-bridge-cycle-lane-too-narrow/

5 days ago - The newly opened cycle lane on Canton Bridge is 'unsuitable for pedestrians', critics say. There have been mixed reactions to the new cycle ..


Canton Bridge narrower pavement - substandard width cycle lane 







Monday, 14 April 2014

Residents object to Dumballs Road development

Object to proposed plans to develop Dumballs Road, Butetown, Cardif Sign the petition started against the development by a resident of Taff Embankment, which is unsurprising with no public exhibition or presentation planned, as normal for such large schemes.  I know they're in Grangetown but there is no consultation with the most closely affected residents. 

This petition intends to make Cardiff City Council aware of the strong objections of many local residents to the proposed development of Land at Dumballs Road, Butetown, Cardiff.

  • As immediate neighbours to the site of the proposed development, we believe the proposed plans will have a serious detrimental impact on our standard of living and quality of life.
  • We also believe the proposed development is contrary to many objectives set out in the Cardiff City Council Local Plan – which remains a consideration in the determination of planning applications until the Local Development Plan 2006-2026 is adopted.
  • We also believe the proposed development is contrary to many objectives set out in the Cardiff City Council Local Plan – which remains a consideration in the determination of planning applications until the Local Development Plan 2006-2026 is adopted.

We have written to Cllr Ahmed as we are finding it difficult in understanding this development from the over 100 documents on the Planning files, and would expect others are too.  No 'non-technical summary' has been submitted as would be normal for a major EIA-development.  Apparently the decision on EIA has not been made - just a submission on 24 March from Arup.  For no EIA they have to claim the environmental impacts are not likely to be significant (Arup use outdated 1999 guidance from the old Welsh Office), which is incredible. Perhaps you'd ask the officers to Screen it as needing EIA (which reverses a 2006 decision that's far out of date).
Second, the officers are refusing to disclose copies of documents submitted by

The National Assembly for  Wales , Planning, Environmental Statements

The National Assembly for  Wales , Highways Directorate

Health Board

Cardiff Heliport

Civil Aviation Authority - Renewal Energy Project Officer

Cardiff  City Transport Services

This refusal seems to be a new practice by the Planning Dept., that's against Freedom of Information and transparency. They've taken it my request to the Council's FoI unit which means delay for a month;  could you press them to release the documents immediately?

Another  point that alerted our concerns was the low fraction of affordable housing (12%), when the development had been touted as majority affordable housing, at least 43% with "all of the affordable housing and associated community infrastructure and other developer contributions delivered early in the project lifecycle".


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Councillor Mitchell notes Most frequently used recycling centre to close despite local opposition

Cardiff Council plan to close Waungron Road HWRC in April 2014 with the Lamby Way
HWRC closing in September 2014. This is confirmed today at the ENVIRONMENTAL SCRUTINY COMMITTEE  meeting. Here buried in their CORRESPONDENCE UPDATE – INFORMATION REPORT– (6:45 to 6:50pm) there is a summary of the consultation on household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) – Jan 2014 telling us that 
  • "Waungron Road (Household waste recycling centre) was the most frequently used site with over two fifths of respondents (42.6%) using it at least one a month
  •  At Wedal road almost a third (29.1%) of respondents stated that the main problem was traffic congestion. Less than one in 10 cited problems at Waungron  Road,  Bessemer Close and Lamby Way across all options" (Page 17)
so you might be confused that labour Cllr Paul Mitchell  totally ignores this information as does Ashley Govier (Ex) Cabinet member for Environment  in a reply  to Cllr Paul Mitchell Chair letter 19th March 2014 (1) tells us a public consultation exercise has taken place during Feb 2014 ...However, the headline results show that the majority of people are in support of the proposals  ...There will be an increase in travel distance for some, although this is anticipated to be small.  Customers will still be able to access a HWRC site within a reasonable distance of their home and the headline survey results show that the majority of people only access the service infrequently. lol - unbelievable - are we supposed to take this seriously?  

Neil McEvoy, Fairwater councillor and leader of the Plaid group, said it would be frustrating to see the Waungron Road site shut given it had recently been refurbished. “Who knows what they will do with the site in the short term but in the medium and long term they will inevitably have to spend money on reopening it or building a new one simply because of demand. “It’s a criminal waste of taxpayers’ money.”
The real reason there is an need for this department to save money 
The answer lies here in another hidden gem - Recycling is costing more than landfill. Briefly Material Recovery Facility,MRF finances are in a mess. Overspend of £1,347,536 ,   - Why - mainly because recycling is costing more than landfill...due to the poor quality, as a result of collecting mixed recyclables in the one bag instead of sorted so nobody wants it. 
They put it like this  
  • "The MRF sends out end of baled materials to an external contractor who processes this material at a gate fee cost with transport, with a high recycling rate of 90% compared to send to direct to landfill. This gate fee has increased by £40 a tonne during the year due to reduction in in the material sale markets. "   (2)
Bad management is to blame but no heads rolling for this. and these are the people who argue the dodgy business case for the incinerator? 

(1) ENVIRONMENTAL SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 8th April CORRESPONDENCE UPDATE – INFORMATION REPORT page 14
(2) ENVIRONMENTAL SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 8th April CORRESPONDENCE UPDATE – INFORMATION REPORT page 30
  

Monday, 7 April 2014

Grangetown SUDS and retrofitting Sustainable Drainage Systems

Behind the hype in the story - Cardiff suburb's streets to be transformed with green spaces to help reduce flooding is a lesson for Cardiff Cllrs re retrofitting Sustainable  Drainage Systems (SuDS)/green infrastructure is expensive. 
According to a council report, which is due to go before the council’s environmental scrutiny committee tomorrow,*** reducing the amount of runoff water that has to be pumped could help save the council up to £250,000 a year. They need to remove 155,000sqm of impermeable area 
However the council still has no plans for a policy on Run-off Management of surface waterrun-off. It is not addressed in the LDP either.   
As I have suggested many times Cardiff council should require that new driveways or parking areas over five square metres should require planning permission if they are constructed using surfaces that do not allow the water to soak through the ground. However permeable surfacing could still receive automatic permission. Surface water can be drained using permeable surfaces such as concrete block paving with gaps, porous asphalt or gravel,wheel track only paving or through installation of'soak-away'systems.  
Unless we stop people concreting over their gardens at the present rate it will cost us all dearly. Likewise new developments should be required to design in permeable surfaces using Water Sensitive Urban Design. 
council’s environmental scrutiny committee A reminder - as we all find it hard to keep up with the job hopping in Cardiff Labour party - Membership County Councillor Mitchell (Chairperson); County Councillors: Clark, Hyde, Lomax, McKerlich, Merry, Parry and 
Walsh (1Vacancy) 
*** Committee Room 3 County Hall Date: 08/04/2014 Start: 04:30 PM

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Pedestrian v Cyclist on Canton bridge

Whoops! Pedestrian v cyclist

How is the new cycle /pedestrian route on Canton Bridge working out ?? We predicted this would be a half baked scheme..and highlighted the inevitable clash with pedestrians as this path is very busy even in the early spring.. Yet Cardiff Labour supported it refusing to listen as usual.Sustrans, shamefully, also supported it Their national director

Jane Lorimer @LorimerJane  tweeted ...


 
@greengranma @SustransCymru@WalesOnline Given the constraints, Sustrans is satisfied the scheme is an improvement on the status quo
What we said on Friday, 26 July 2013

Half-baked Scheme on key Cardiff/Canton Bridge


Should have widened the footpath for pedestrians!
A bus-lane would cause “gridlock” and similar hype was the resort of Cllr Ralph Cook, when defending
his Canton Bridge scheme against criticisms at the Scrutiny Committee (Echo 25 July: Holdups alert 
as scheme for bikes agreed).
He wants an ‘experimental’ cycleway of minimum width adjacent to the footway, taking space
from the well-used pedestrian pavement.  He says it will be “segregated” by a kerb, but of course
pedestrians and cyclists have to mix at the important crossings at either end.  And segregating 
the narrow linking path from Westgate Street behind the bus-shelters is impossible.
Ralph Cook’s half-baked scheme would cause traffic delays for up to 3 months, as a road-lane 
on the north side is taken out for rebuilding the high ‘trief’ kerb on the off-side of the existing 
cycleway. Cyclists will be blamed, though Cook's at fault.  What a waste!
Cyclists who are confident enough to cycle down Cathedral Road or Cowbridge Road West into 
town regularly use the cycleway as is.  No trouble has been reported – Cllr Cook talked of 
intimidation by buses, unaware that few buses use the route over the Bridge into the centre.
His scheme came out as  both expensive and the lowest option.  Putting in a bus-lane shared with 
cycles – preferred by the Cycling Campaign - would be easy, avoid conflict with pedestrians, and 
could be trialled at low cost.  Cllr Cook’s claims of gridlock and the £150 000 being tied to his 
ill-considered scheme looked to be bluster.
Now that Cook has been replaced in the Transport-planning Cabinet position by Cllr Patel, let’s see 
a scheme of minor improvements with trialing of a bus-lane, which gives due priority to pedestrians, 
cyclists and bus-users.... more here 

Friday, 4 April 2014

From 50% to 12% disappearing Affordable housing on the Dumballs site

Initial plans submitted for Cardiff regeneration scheme atDumballs ... 

WalesOnline-3 Apr 2014
"Official plans to transform an industrial estate into a new community with housing, shops and hotels will now be considered by Cardiff council’s planning officials.Cardiff-based developer Bellerophon plans to regenerate 33 acres of the land to the west of Dumballs Road. An initial planning application for the regeneration scheme has now been submitted to the city council. This seeks full planning permission for 646 homes to be built and also for car parking and secure bike storage.The documents submitted to the council explain how the housing, inspired by the Georgian model, would contain some bold colours in some plots and that affordable housing would make up around 12% of the total number of units." 
What happened to the Affordable housing on the Dumballs site? 12% from "about half will be affordable." Now it is 12% Disgraceful - Stinks of corruption...Even if it is claimed that this is only phase one then the emphasis should still be on the much need social housing which  seems to be promises made to get the project through rather than any genuine effort to build affordable housing. It ends up being a developers charter.
The plans are here 
Is this the same development that on 20th Oct 2013 the South Wales Echo reported that Bellerophone had approached Cardiff council for assistance in delivering the housing element, of which about half will be affordable. Ex Cabinet member for housing Lynda Thorne said: “This model is a new and innovative approach to the delivery of much needed affordable housing  in an excellent central location.
6th Nov 2013 it was reported that Byron Davies, *** the former chief executive of Cardiff Council has been appointed director of strategic alliances at Cardiff-based regeneration company Bellerophon  ..
Georgian Model? Ugly and roofless little boxes
In a REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR ECONOMIC OF DEVELOPMENT AND THE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITIES, HOUSING AND CUSTOMER SERVICE  to the CABINET MEETING: 10 OCT 2013 re DUMBALLS ROAD REGENERATION SCHEME 

The Dumballs Road area forms an integral part of the Cardiff Central Enterprise Zone and Cabinet will be aware that one of the Corporate Plan commitments is to ‘deliver, in partnership with the Welsh Government and the private sector, Wales’ most important regeneration project for a generation – the Cardiff Central Enterprise Zone…Bellerophon has presented officers with a housing-led plan to redevelop the area which involves a large element of affordable housing in addition to other ancillary community and commercial uses

 *** Byron Davies, former chief executive of Cardiff Council director of strategic alliances at Cardiff-based regeneration company Bellerophon
Backstory...District Auditor Jane Jones’ full report on the shambolic actions of the previous administration in Cardiff County Council have led her to conclude that some payments made by the council have been contrary to the law. (2004) In 1999/2000 allowances paid to members of Cardiff CC were increased by some£400,000, an increase of around 56% over the level of allowances paid in 1998/99. Complaints from some council members, and from members of the public, at this increase, led to the intervention of the then district auditor, responsible for the audit of the county council's accounts.
As expected, ex-Council leader Russell Goodway was condemned, as was Chief Executive, Byron Davies. Also, as expected, neither accept any blame whatsoever, and who would have expected them to? After all, this is the twosome that gave themselves a pay rises of 77% over three years. Surely we could not ever expect any honesty and integrity from them.
Over three years, Cardiff Councillors netted an extra £2.4m between them, and so far none of it has been repaid.  In fact, Councillors that have been asked about repayment have firmly refuted it. Surely a person in a public position, receiving such enormous allowances, knowing that it has come from the public purse, must have questioned the  legitimacy of said payments?
Where is he now...Goodways mate Byron Davies, the former chief executive of Cardiff Council   Nov 2013 Byron Davies, the former chief executive of Cardiff Council has been appointed director of strategic alliances at Cardiff-based regeneration company Bellerophon which is currently redeveloping Dumballs Road in Cardiff, a 33-acre brownfield town centre site, which will create more than 1500 new homes, including at least 775 affordable homes.                                                                                                                            Lyons Commissions findings on Cardiff political leadership here