Cardiff bus station area to be spruced up, for now.

In a bold move, one of their biggest decisions since coming to office, the Labour administration has actioned plans to do over the area at the front of Cardiff bus station, on Wood Street.

I’ve received details from Grangetown councillor Ashley Govier which include works to remove the awful purple hoardings and “contractor area” which has blighted any rail and bus users entrance to Cardiff since the terminal building was demolished in mid-2009.

Works will start tomorrow, Saturday 23rd June to remove the boards and turn the area into one big paved piazza. I don’t expect it to be piazza-ish, but anything is better than what is there right now.

To make sure that the city is looking its very best, with particular focus on the surrounding area of the stadium, resurfacing and improvement works will begin from this weekend 23rd June 2012. The results of the works will provide a more attractive and pedestrian friendly area for residents and visitors to relax and enjoy.

The release goes on to say that the taxi rank, an area that I have long been complaining about, outside Central Station will be “improved”. At the moment this taxi rank is a hazard to the public, I personally have almost been hit by cars or taxis while walking on the pavement there on more than one occasion. I have seen up to 24 taxis waiting at this stand, which has only 6 allocated taxi waiting spots, so any improvement will be greatly received by everyone who uses Cardiff Central Station.

In addition, works are due to start on Monday 25th June to improve taxi rank facilities outside Cardiff Central Station, which will ease the level of congestion and obstruction. These improvements will certainly help make the area safer for both pedestrians and taxi drivers, especially ahead of the Olympics Games, where the visitor figures for the city are expected to increase.



Why taxi drivers striking would be dangerous

“The Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association, which says it represents about 700 of the city’s 950 drivers, said its members would strike as part of a dispute with the council over fares.”

This is what the South Wales Echo (WalesOnline) reported this week. The report goes on to explain exactly when taxi drivers in Cardiff are proposing to strike;

“Mathab Khan, the association’s chairman, said the industrial action – between midnight and 4am next Saturday and Sunday – would cause “total havoc” in the capital.”

So here we have the chairman of an association threatening to cause “total havoc” – excellent. What a man.
Striking from midnight to 4am on a Saturday night, and not just any Saturday night – a night when the city is hosting a sold-out international football match and a Kylie Minogue concert.

Speaking from experience, taxis can be hard enough to get on a weekend night around kicking-out time as it is – or at least, it was before structured taxi ranks were introduced, now there is a long wait at best.
But under the previous system, where you near-enough had to stand in the middle lane of Castle Street to attract the attention of a car arriving back into the city from the suburbs, there were times when I had to admit defeat and to walk home.

I lived in Tremorfa then, and to get there you have to walk through areas with some of the highest crime rates in Cardiff. Roaming gangs, speeding cars, drug dealers and prostitutes were all things that I encountered and had to deal with on these walks home.

Luckily I never got into any trouble, through being street smart – avoiding streets that I knew were bad news or poorly lit, but mostly this was down to plain luck; I’m sure of it.

Making hundreds of people have to seek alternative routes home at that time of night, most of whom will elect to walk, is just plain irresponsible. With horror stories of sexual assaults in Cathays and others, can Mathab Khan and his members really go ahead with a strike with a clear conscience? Do they serve the people or Cardiff, or do we serve them?

The Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association is trying to make a point, but using vulnerable people as pawns. Could they justify their strike if a person got stabbed, raped or assaulted – because they had to walk home when they would usually get a taxi?

I suppose the advice has to be – if you cannot get a taxi home that night, arrange to walk home in a group, or at least in a pair. Be safe everyone.

Taxi drivers split over strike action [WalesOnline]

So, the snow defeated Cardiff Council pretty easily

After our “blizzard” of Friday morning which left about 4-inches of snow in and around central Cardiff, and then with the sky pouring white stuff most of the day on Friday, Cardiff Council seems to have retreated and called it quits. I haven’t seen a council vehicle in days, the roads are a mess, nothing has been cleared since the snow dropped and this is causing chaos – with cars getting stuck, unable to move at junctions and all normal services (buses, mail, rubbish collections) seemingly cancelled or on a limited service (with regard to buses).

Of course, all of this stems from the single point of failure, and that is that if you don’t clear roads and pavements, nothing else can function – and this leaves the burden firmly on Cardiff Council’s door. The repercussions of them not doing their job, and making roads passable, means that all other efforts are doomed to fail, it’s simple really.

I was at Penarth Road this morning, just after the snow started falling, watching buses with “Sorry, not in service” on their signs and returning to the depot. The picture this afternoon is pretty grim for anybody that has to travel around Cardiff – their Facebook page is being continually updated with service cancellations, because the state of the roads is making many routes undriveable.

Snow at Penarth Road & Clare Road, Grangetown, Cardiff. 20/12/2010.

Here is a picture I shot at the intersection of Penarth Road & Clare Road in Grangetown today – this is one of Cardiff’s main roads, and it hasn’t had any attention at all since the snow first fell – a clear example that Cardiff Council do not have the equipment to handle large scale snowfall.

Many council’s across the UK are hiring snow ploughs, a rental service that is available in South Wales, but Cardiff has clearly opted not to do this – and I’m sure many people would like to know why.

Update: Cardiff Council have tweeted that they currently have 4 gritters working the city, 3 of which have ploughs. The questions that must be asked now then are,

a) Why have they not been deployed before? It snowed 3 days ago.
b) Why are there so few for such a large city?
c) What do they class as a “strategic route” and “principal road”? I would have thought Penarth Road & Tudor Street would have been, considering the trunk traffic that the former takes and the bus routes that rely on the latter.

Update: Cardiff Council have pointed me to this map on their website (beware, it’s not very user-friendly) which shows all of the routes that are to be salted (doesn’t say anything about ploughing, salting won’t do very much over the sludge) during winter times. If there are currently only 4 gritters out at the moment, they won’t even touch a portion of these routes – they have 12 available, according to this page on their website, where they boast about having “26 gritter drivers and loader drivers trained to City and Guilds Winter Service Operations 6159 standard are scheduled to be on a rota.”. So where have they been until now, or do they have weekends off?

Update: The page that Cardiff Council pointed me towards has some information on footways, and the salting plan for pedestrian walkways; and as far as I can tell none of the plan was executed. I walked through the City Centre yesterday and nothing had been salted or cleared, and the snow was forecast. See the details here.

How the leak of diplomatic cables will free us (but not really)

At the time of writing, Wikileaks has released 842 of the 251,287 US diplomatic cables that it has come into possession of by way of a leak from within the US Army.

So far it has been revealed that;

  • None of the governments involved in the conflict in Afghanistan are confident that the war can be won against the Taliban or that it can be turned into a viable democracy
  • Both the current and previous US Secretary’s of State have authorised “spying” on UN officials, including the Secretary-General.

These are just two points, there have been hundreds more and still there will be hundreds of thousands more revalations.

Of course, because the Americans are so involved in almost every country in the world, these cables also include quotes from prominent figures within these countries. Such as a William Hague, now First Secretary of State in our own United Kingdom, Ali Abdullah Saleh, President of Yemen and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabi, to name but a few.

What all of this means is that over the course of the amount of time it takes to release all of these cables (months? years?) we will slowly start to see how our governments really operate and what they really think, or at least, what they have said to the Americans and/or what the Americans perceive.

Of course, we all know that governments operate in secrecy from the electorate and what they say is not always what gets done or what they really think, but for the first time we can really get a broad view of what has been going on – where it concerned the United States at least.

What we won’t see is very much insight into domestic policy; I doubt that the US Ambassador wrote back to Washington concerning student top-up fees for example. What we will see is how they actually are concerned with international policy and action – for example how it is now becoming apparent that there have been secret US air strikes in Yemen – ordered by the Yemeni government.

We will start to see a different side to the US and other worldwide governments, one that we know is true and is not just “conspiracy theory”, and we should be thankful for that.

Having said that, I can see some potentially horrendously damaging cables still to come out; otherwise why is Hilary Clinton so worked up about the whole thing? I believe that we’ll see a lot of cables that conflict directly with US foreign policy and will cause the Obama administration to have to answer some very awkward questions at a very critical time.

Of course, there will always be things that we will not know, that is going on in government and affects us, but it has been chosen that it is to be kept from us, but at least from this we can get a clearer insight to guide us in the right direction in the future.

Popular venue The Point to close

The Point, Cardiff BayThe Point Cardiff Bay Limited, trading as The Point have today filed for voluntary insolvency.

The popular live music venue and club night host has been open since 2004 and has been largely successful, despite being located away from the city centre.

Since opening The Point has played host to many popular artists and bands including the Stereophonics, Cerys Matthews and Feeder. The venue also played host to the popular fortnightly rock night Bogiez, which moved there from The Engine Rooms.

The venue closed in late 2008 to undergo soundproofing after complaints from neighbouring residential buildings.
The bill for this work, in addition to factors owing to the current economic climate have made it necessary for the directors to file for insolvency.

This is not the first time that this venue has been hit with problems. It was previously known as MS1 until 2003 when insolvency brought about a buyout by a partnership that was to become the Point Cardiff Bay Limited. 

Future gigs and events have been cancelled and ticket holders have been advised to contact their credit card companies for refunds, this unfortunately will not cover customers who have paid for tickets using debit card or cash who will unfortunately lose the money that they have spent on tickets.

There is currently no news on whether scheduled gigs and club nights will be moved to other venues.