Category: Life of a Councillor

Councillor Survey: Jayne Cowan

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

I have noticed that a number of people have changed their attitude towards the Council in more recent years. Residents are disappointed to see an ever increasing Council Tax with less services, and poorer standards of repairs such as potholes. I have noticed more people sadly living alone in isolation so I’m working closely with Age Connect and other agencies to try and pair volunteers with people in need. There is also a rise in people suffering from Dementia. I have received Dementia Friend Training which really was helpful. It helps people understand the symptoms with a view to signposting residents to services.

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

Rhiwbina Library Campaign

I was delighted to work with the community, to send a strong message to the Cabinet in County Hall that the library was an integral and essential part of Rhiwbina. This is the only Council facility in Rhiwbina, with the exception of the schools. A leaflet was sent to residents in the ward informing them of the meeting and community poll, and I encouraged people to make representations either by signing the petition or writing individual letters. Thanks to the overwhelming support from local residents, funding for the library was safeguarded until May 2017.

Use of Social Media on a regular basis

I have generated over 5000 followers on Twitter, and have more than 1100 Friends on Facebook. I thoroughly enjoy updating the feeds on a daily basis, and receive regular feedback about the information which I share. It can be from a lost dog, to a consultation on road cleansing, it is always varied. I am pleased to have a lot of interaction from local residents. Social media is a great way of sharing information very quickly and instantly. This is in addition to the regular newsletters I issue with Adrian Robson and Oliver Owen.

Casework enquiries and accessibility

Over the 18 years as a Councillor, I have helped thousands of local residents with issues which range from planning to waste, to highways to enforcement. All enquiries are very varied, and this is the most important work of an elected representative. I have held monthly surgeries at different times and venues throughout Rhiwbina and Pantmawr. I have also arranged numerous local meetings about a number of issues including planning, schools, Rhiwbina library, the introduction of wheelie bins, Local Development Plan and Rhiwbina Buses.

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Councillor Survey: Adrian Robson

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

Rhiwbina changes but also values what it already has. So the biggest changes are actually campaigns to keep Rhiwbina library, a flood scheme to protect existing properties, supporting many local business and charities to help continue and develop Rhiwbina and Pantmawr’s strong sense of community.

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

Without a doubt, the largest issue that arose was the threat to remove funding from Rhiwbina Library. The Rhiwbina and Pantmawr community came together very strongly. There were petitions and protests outside the Library and even carol singing in support of the library. I will never forget collecting the signatures to call for a community meeting, residents were exceptionally keen to sign! At that formal meeting around 1000 residents turned up (so many that unfortunately some couldn’t get in the hall). The meeting voted for a community poll throughout Rhiwbina and Pantmawr where people were queuing to vote and the result was that Rhiwbina residents overwhelmingly called on Cardiff Council to maintain funding for the library. It was a fantastic campaign, leading to the Council backtracking and re-instating the funding for Rhiwbina Library until May 2017.

The Rhiwbina flood defence scheme resulted from flooding of shops and properties along the length of the brook several years ago. Many residents will have seen the scheme included a trash screen by All Saints Church, a new floodwall in Pen y Dre and improvements to the channel upstream. I was pleased to work with local residents, as well as Cardiff Council’s drainage team, Natural Resources Wales and the contractors who installed a drop-in office by All Saints during construction. Once again, Rhiwbina residents engaged at our drop in sessions and were able to see the plans first hand.

The other achievement is continuing to strengthen the Rhiwbina community. The issues above, as well as others, unite Rhiwbina residents. They engage, give their thoughts so when in the Council chamber, at planning committee, visiting scrutiny committee or the outside bodies I’m appointed to, I know that I am representing constituents’ voices. It’s about publicising issues and events where possible and chatting to constituents at events, whether it is the local festivals, fayres or many coffee mornings throughout the ward. I always say to constituents that it is fantastic that Rhiwbina residents are so interested in what happens locally and always want the best for their community. So do I.

Councillor Survey: David Groves

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

Social care and welfare

I served as Chairperson of the Community and Adult Services Scrutiny Committee for a year, and served two additional years as a member of the committee – participating in a range of task groups on Affordable Housing, Carers and the impacts of Westminster’s Welfare Reform on the people of Cardiff. As such, I believe that we have done our very best, as a Council, to maintain the essential social fabric of social care in Cardiff, even at a time when the Cardiff Council’s budget has been savagely cut by the Westminster Government. Writing as a disabled person, I am very conscious that, changes by the Westminster Government to Employment and Support Allowance will result in a loss for new claimants of £1.560 per year; and Personal Independence Payment changes will make it more difficult for disabled people to receive the financial help and support which they need to lead dignified, decent and inclusive lives. Labour Councillors will do all that they can to protect those in need!

Cold Call Control Zones

We have successfully established Cold Call Control Zones for the whole of Tongwynlais; and the Hollybush Estate; and, worked with existing resident groups in achieving the same in Pendwyallt Road and Heol y Forlan, in Whitchurch. Cold Call Control Zones help to empower and protect residents from Rogue Traders and nuisance door-step callers. Political canvassers are not included in the restriction.

Pedestrian and road safety improvements

Amongst other things, through working with the local community, we have recently seen the new, improved, halogen heads fitted to the pedestrian crossing at the bottom of Pendwyallt Road; and following concerns about traffic speed, a Driver Feedback Sign has also recently been installed and activated on the same road.

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.

Councillor Survey: Jonathan Evans

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

The council has had to struggle to deliver an increasing demand for services against the background of a substantial reduction in resources (including, of course, staff reductions). This has inevitably had an impact on our ward, along with every other part of the city. Essential services have to be maintained and the most vulnerable prioritised. The steadily increasing demand for adult social care, for example, may be less visible than the need for street cleansing and road maintenance, but it is has to be a high priority for any councillor.

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

As a councillor one obviously aims to be a strong advocate for one’s ward, but one also has wider responsibilities to the city as a whole. A great deal of valuable and effective work is undertaken via committee work and lobbying. This is done on a cross-ward and often cross-party basis. Personally, I have devoted a good deal of my time and energy to trying to improve the position of Looked After Children (we have over 600 children in public care in the city) and care leavers. Over the last few years I have served as Chair of the Corporate Parenting Panel, Vice-Chair of the Corporate Parenting Advisory Committee and as a member of the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee. I am pleased that we have established a dedicated team to serve these vulnerable young people, raised the level of the Leaving Care grant, improved links with education, ehnanced access to stable accommodation and created an apprenticeship scheme within the council. There is much more work to be done, of course, but the direction of travel is promising.

I have been fortunate to represent a ward with three other colleagues from Welsh Labour. This has meant that we have been able to work as a team. This has made it easier to get things done: whether that be introducing No Cold Calling Zones on Hollybush Estate and in the entire village of Tongwynlais, or tackling some of the parking problems in Whitchurch (establishing parallel parking on Merthyr Road and the new car park arrangements that benefit local shoppers and businesses). The main benefit of teamwork is that we have been able to establish a consistently high standard of responsive casework for our constituents. In addition to individual appointments and home visits, we have run regular drop-in surgeries in different locations in Whitchurch and Tongwynlais. By the end of our term we will have completed 240 such surgeries. We obviously haven’t been able to solve everyone’s problems, but we have had a high success rate and done our utmost to serve our constituents.

I believe I have been fortunate to serve Whitchurch and Tongwynlais. The people of the two villages quite rightly expect a high level of service from their councillors. Equally, though, the people are keen to self-organise and work in partnership with their councillors on community issues. I have enjoyed working with numerous local community groups, Tongwynlais Community councillors and campaigns (e.g., the successful Whitchurch Post Office campaign). When the funding for Whitchurch Library was briefly questioned, we as Welsh Labour ward councillors lobbied persuasively within the Labour Group, made representations to Cabinet members and spoke in the council chamber. Crucially, though, we worked with local people in a politically inclusive way in a campaign that proved to be successful. We have since been involved in working with AWEN, a community group committed to protecting and enhancing the future of the library. The lesson is that when councillors work closely with local people, great things can be achieved; even in difficult times.

Councillor Survey: Andrew Graham

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

The restoration of the reservoirs in Llanishen but also, unfortunately, the Labour council’s endless obsession with road alterations and speed bumps.

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

Preventing Labour’s plan to move a young offenders’ centre into 150 Thornhill Road.

Obstructing Labour’s suggestion to potentially move a Travellers’ caravan site onto the site of Thornhill Farm shop.

Securing £65,000 of Council funding to improve the drainage at Thornhill playing fields on Glenmount Way.

Councillor Survey: Fenella Bowden

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

A significant increase in traffic coming through the Ward; the increase in UHW parking around Heath & the increase in the number of services being brought into UHW; less cleansing of the roads; less maintenance of roads & pavements; changes to the sizes of black bins & reduced collection of both black & green bins; more fly-tipping & litter; increased pressure for school places for local children; lack of investment in Heath Park; the planned closure of Wedal Road HWRC; the installation of more bus lanes which have caused even more problems; and councillors now being more accessible to their residents through social media.

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

Working with residents to oppose the opening of a Tesco store on the former Majestic site in Birchgrove Road.

Working with volunteers to enable the transfer of the Maes y Coed Community Centre from Council ownership into the voluntary sector under Community Asset Transfer. The journey began in 2010 & was finally completed in 2016.

Resolving issues which mattered to residents whether they be large or small. These include supporting residents with: social housing problems ; social services needs; school admissions; getting waste management issues resolved; highways problems; parking problems; fighting to keep Wedal Road HWRC open; campaigning for a Park & Ride in Cardiff North; campaigning for a 20mph zone in Birchgrove Road (and to have the railings restored); calling for better security for the derelict site on Caerphilly Road to be demolished & secured; and simply being available to help wherever I can.