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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 March 2017

Save Cardiff's live music venues

Womanby Street, Cardiff photo Save Womanby Street

Womanby Street, Cardiff photo Save Womanby Street   (Click to enlarge)

Scott Jones

Cardiff, Wales's capital city, is also Wales's capital of 'going out'.

And if you're into live music, then Womanby Street, wedged between the castle and the Millennium Stadium, is the place to go. Particularly since other live music venues in the city have been forced to close.

But now Womanby Street is threatened too.

The street is full of live venues such as the legendary 'Clwb Ifor Bach', important to both music fans and Cardiff's Welsh-speaking community - and Fuel, Cardiff's only permanent rock venue (where I used to DJ when it was in a different location).

In the middle is a huge Wetherspoon's pub, which has applied for permission to turn its upper levels into a hotel. A petition against this has over 7,000 signatures - the concern is this could threaten the existence of music venues due to noise issues.

Other live music venues in Cardiff have been forced to close for similar reasons, either due to hotels or luxury flats opening nearby. One pub which put on live music at the end of Womanby Street has closed already in favour of a trendy sports bar.

Hardly anyone lives near Womanby Street, and other hotels are a fair distance away.

The 'Save Womanby Street' campaign is lobbying the council to recognise it as an area of cultural significance for music.

Late alcohol licensing and live music are vital to the venues' survival. Campaigners are calling on Cardiff Council to designate Womanby Street a "cultural night-time economy area" as part of the its local development plan, which designates the usages of different parts of the city.

On the weekends, Cardiff's bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants are home to not just people from the city itself, but also Newport, Bridgend, even some from Swansea, but especially the Valleys. Coming from Blackwood in the Gwent Valleys, going "out out" always meant heading down to Cardiff for the night.

Millions of pounds have been spent redeveloping Cardiff in recent years. However, at the same time the council has cut essential public services and facilities, and attacked other cultural institutions such as the library. Now the council is coming for our fun as well.

Instead of inappropriately placed hotels, Cardiff needs suitably placed affordable housing. But zero council houses have been built either.

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