How do they communicate?
Residents can get in touch with their councillors in a number of ways, and ask to meet in person if they prefer.
They hold weekly surgeries, and attend local PACT meetings (both restricted during Covid). Important news from the council is placed on our Facebook page and we produce a quarterly newsletter that goes to every resident in the ward. They often attend meetings with community organisations or groups of residents to discuss certain issues as they arise, or to update residents on council plans.
They also pride themselves on being proactive about communication with residents, the councillors all live in the ward and spend time most days around the ward.
How much are they paid?
Councillors receive what is known as an honorarium (as they are not strictly speaking council staff) of approximately £13,500 per year. They claim minimal to zero expenses. There are no stringent rules on how much work you are expected to do, some do it as their main ‘job’, some do it alongside other work or roles. Caro also receives an additional £20,000 per year for his cabinet role, which is in effect a full-time role.
What about schools?
The council takes great pride in the performance of the three local primary schools in the ward. Working closely with pupils, teachers, governors and staff this Council has consistently seen raised performances in schools over the last decade, especially in inner city areas like Riverside.
Your councillors are consistently fighting for resources and high standards at these schools and all sit as Governors to support the schools as directly as possible.
Kitchener Primary (Kanaya)
Severn Road Primary (Iona)
Str Mary’s RC Primary (Caro)
The local Welsh medium schools are Ysgol Treganna, Ysgol Glantaf and Ysgol Pwll Coch. These schools are also performing really well. Whilst these are not in the Riverside ward we try and keep in touch with these schools and are always happy to raise issues via their staff or council on behalf of residents in Riverside.
The main local English-medium high school is Fitzalan High School. A school that has shown dramatic improvements over the last decade. A brand new school is being built to allow the school to grow and create a world-class learning environment for pupils. It will be the most expensive school in Wales and is due to open in 2023 https://www.cardiffnewsroom.co.uk/releases/c25/25251.html
What is their role with planning?
Nothing creates more frustration than unwanted development near people’s homes.
The city had to provide 40,000 homes as part of its current Local Development Plan. Cardiff is a fast growing city and Riverside has lots of brown-field land in a sustainable location near to the city centre.
When plans come forward residents are given the opportunity to object, and your councillors may also ask the planning department to push developers for improvements to their proposals or to scale back the plans.
They have had some wins and some losses.
Their powers in this matter are somewhat limited by the planning committee process which is quasi-judicial and non-political (i.e. Political groups are not allowed to influence the decision-making process). Decisions are overseen by the Planning Inspectorate who can overturn committee decisions upon appeal.
Where they do have some powers is through planning policy. In the last few years we have seen a whole raft of new planning guidance documents to help ensure better developments. The council have also started the process of replacing the Local Development Plan, which will allow the city to set new policy for the next 15 years. Your councillors will be pushing hard to ensure these changes see environmental issues placed at the very heart of all planning policy.
What about the politics?
Iona, Kanaya and Caro are all Labour Party members and are part of the Labour ‘Group’ of Councillors who work together as Labour councillors across the city to agree on policy. Labour has a narrow majority on the council so is considered ‘in power’. As Labour has a majority of councillors it also selects the leader, currently Cllr Huw Thomas, who then selects a Cabinet.
Locally the Labour party has a strong and active membership. The Riverside branch forms part of the Cardiff West Constituency Labour Party (CLP), which has one of the largest memberships in the UK (and has provided 2 out of Wales’ 3 First Ministers: (Rhodri Morgan and current Member of the Senedd, Mark Drakeford).