Councillor Survey: Ben Thomas

What are the biggest changes in your ward over the last 5 years?

  1. Strengthening the community spirit within our community has been the largest change in the past five years.
  2. We have worked with several local community groups in the past five years and supported them into becoming strong independent community groups.
  3. AWEN, a charity made up of local residents and committed members to ensure the smooth running of the village library.
  4. Securing funding for the Whitchurch Christmas lights, which will now run for the next five years at a cost neutral basis.
  5. Working with organisers to continue the Christmas Reindeer run and 5k fun run for local charities.
  6. Continue to promote Whitchurch and Tongwynlais summer festivals.
  7. Working with Friends of Forest farm and friends on Whitchurch library gardens.
  8. Successfully lobbying to have Whitchurch and Tongwynlais promoted on “Visit Wales” website as a destination for visitors across the U.K. and the world.
  9. And ensuring the our business in the heart of the village remain vibrant within our community.

Describe three achievements that you were instrumental in implementing and that benefited the community.

I became the Chair of Cardiff Bus in 2012 and along with other duties as a councillor have worked to ensure that Cardiff as a city has the best possible public service we can provide. While working with the local council, Welsh Government and local community groups, we have been able to implement more bus measures and priority lanes in the past five years than in the last 20. We have maintained regular services from Whitchurch and included a direct service to the Heath hospital. Recently we have introduced a £1 short hop fair for residents living in Rhiwbina, Pantmawr and Whitchurch. The company still is the crown jewel in our service to this city and will continue to work to reduce congestion and improve air pollution.

I have been fortunate to have been elected with three other Labour colleagues which has allowed us to work closely together over the past five years. We committed to running a local advice surgery every Saturday and we have done just that. We have used the library, community centre, ARARAT and Bethesda church to provide this service. We have never failed for one of us to be there, and over the years we have had regular constituents come to visit and dealt with some very serious issues. Collectively, the four of us have our own areas of expertise and experience and I have been able to call on my colleagues for help and advice when required. We estimate to have handled around 500 local cases bought to us by residents.

Labour was voted to run the administration in the election of 2012. Shortly after I was elected to Chairman of the Cardiff administration. These duties have taken me to the heart of politics in the city, and while meeting with back benchers from across the city I have had the pleasure of working with two leaders of this council and their cabinets. This position has enabled me to bring issues bought up to us by local residents straight to the people that can help resolve issues. The cabinet member responsible for Highways, environmental services and housing have made regular visits to Whitchurch and Tongwynlais. They have met with residents and business owners alike to get to the heart of issues and how best to tackle them. This link between local government, council officers and councillors has seen more money put into our roads, waste collections and housing repairs. It has helped keep all residents of Whitchurch and Tongwynlais feeling proud of where the live and safe to bring up their families or set up a local business.