St David's Hall Cardiff - photo Vashti Thomas/CC
St David's Hall Cardiff - photo Vashti Thomas/CC

Don’t cut our buses!

Joe Fathallah, Cardiff West Socialist Party

Socialist Party members have kicked off a campaign against cuts to Cardiff Bus services, proposed by the Labour council. This would mean losing vital routes used for commuting and access to community facilities.

Fares have been creeping up and up over the last few years. And Cardiff hasn’t had a central bus station since it closed in 2015.

Cardiff Bus is owned by the council, but is a separate entity, with its own management structure, and no mechanism in place to hold its board of directors accountable to any elected body. There has been a complete lack of community consultation and democratic input.

Whilst the council talks up the need to protect the environment, cuts to public transport are taking place right under our noses. The only effective way to reduce the number of vehicles on the road is to create a reliable and affordable public transport network – with full community consultation and involvement – to ensure a service which meets the needs of all the city’s residents.

The council claims that these cuts are a result of the withdrawal of post-pandemic support for public transport. However, we need councillors who are prepared to fight for the funding required for the services we need!

A large chunk of the UK government’s transport investment is being eaten up by the HS2 high-speed rail project. Current costs are over £40 billion, and some estimates project that this could more than double! We need representatives in the Senedd (Welsh parliament) willing to demand an adequate chunk of these funds.

At a local level, Cardiff Council is sitting on £134 million in reserves, or nearly £109 million, even if the ‘ringfenced’ housing fund is excluded! This could be used to buy time, whilst building a campaign for proper funding of public transport.

Socialist Party Wales calls for:

  • An immediate halt to bus service cuts – and restore services already cut
  • Bring all bus and rail services and infrastructure back into public ownership, into one integrated single-ticket bus and rail service
  • Cheaper subsidised bus fares to attract passengers and lower car usage, as a step towards free bus travel
  • A national agreement on wages and conditions for all bus workers in Wales

Save Pentwyn Leisure Centre

Jonathan Golding, Cardiff East Socialist Party

Pentwyn Leisure Centre never reopened after the pandemic. It is now threatened with downgrading to a smaller pool, with 70% of the site rented to Cardiff Rugby.

The Labour council and GLL/Better – the private company that manages the site – insist that this is the only financially viable option. That is disputed by local people.

Local people will still have to fork out £4 million, through the council, for this downgrading. So, instead, we are campaigning to get the centre fully restored.

Rhian Vernall is a local resident and leader of the Save Pentwyn Leisure Centre campaign. She obtained ‘freedom of information’ figures from Cardiff Council.

Those figures show that before Better assumed management of the centre in 2016, it was one of the most used in Cardiff, with very popular swimming classes. More recent figures are not available, because Better, as a private company, is not subject to freedom of information requests.

There is anger in the communities of Pentwyn, Llanedeyrn and Pontprennau – the main users of the centre. 180 people turned up to a meeting on 30 August, organised in response to the council’s plan.

Labour councillor Jennifer Burke and council officer Steve Morris were present, and got a ‘roasting’. The feelings of people were confirmed by a show of hands – opposition to the current plan and a determination to fight on.

Campaigner Rhian was quoted by Wales Online: “We’re almost being made [to] feel grateful for the fact that they are opening it at all. But what they are opening it with is not what people want or need. The community needs a local facility that is cost effective that will bring people together, that will allow children to engage in sport and health and wellbeing”.

Socialist Party member Katrine Williams, president of Cardiff Trades Union Council, spoke from the floor of the meeting: “Limited resources are cited by the council. So the politicians should stand with trade unionists in fighting for the funding needed for our services. They should stop wielding the axe for the Tories”. She also suggested lobbying the council’s Economy and Culture Scrutiny Committee.

There were many other speakers from the floor. A young girl, still in primary school, received loud cheers after she explained how her and her friends’ swimming classes had been disrupted by the closure and delayed opening of the leisure centre.

Our services should be based on need, not on their ability to turn a profit. Cardiff Council has over £100 million in reserves.

Some of this could be used to fund a full refurbishment of the centre. That should be linked to a mass campaign by trade unions and working-class communities to get the money that we need from both the Welsh Labour and UK Conservative governments.

St David’s Hall – Labour agree anti-union deal with privatisers

John Williams, Cardiff East Socialist Party

A community campaign fought the privatisation of St David’s Hall earlier in the year, and opposed plans to close a Cardiff library and further library cuts. Unfortunately, the Labour council went ahead with privatisation.

It’s now been revealed that the council agreed a secret anti-union deal with the new owners, when it privatised St David’s Hall.

Whilst this recent revelation is shocking, it’s not surprising. And is further evidence that the Labour council is doing the Tories’ dirty work.

Cardiff Council has scrapped more than 2,500 jobs and passed more than £200 million of cuts since 2010. And things are set to get worse as Mark Drakeford, Labour’s First Minister of Wales, is demanding that the Welsh Government find cuts worth £900 million!

The local secretary of the Unison trade union said: “Trade unions attended a meeting with the new operators of St David’s Hall – Academy Music Group – where they informed us they won’t be recognising trade unions.

“Apparently, they’ve been open about this with Cardiff Council from the start… All three trade unions – GMB, Unison, Unite – have asked for an urgent meeting”.

  • Read what we’ve said before: ‘Cardiff – Don’t sell off St David’s Hall’ at

Bin strikes

Cardiff bin strike
Cardiff bin strike

Bin workers, members of Unite, at three Welsh councils are striking over pay, including in Cardiff. The other councils are Wrexham and Gwynedd. Cardiff and Wrexham workers are striking from 4 September; Gwynedd from 11 September.