Cardiff artists are fighting to save a graffiti walkway

More than 900 people have signed a petition to protect artwork on the Millennium Boardwalk in Cardiff City Centre.

The boardwalk has hosted artists and hip hop musicians from around the UK. Artists say there were plans in the pipeline for cultural festivals and events to take place in the area.

Graffiti artist Amelia ‘Unity’ Thomas started the petition, she says the boardwalk’s a non-threatening environment for people to get involved with graffiti culture.

“There’s so much potential with this space. It’s important for many people as well as being a draw for tourists. Graffiti culture is relevant to young people who may have had chaotic lives and disadvantaged backgrounds. It gives them an opportunity to engage with something.”

Another artist, Matt Woodward, comes from Gloucester to paint on the boardwalk. He says, “It brings colour and character to Cardiff.”

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Keiron Jones, who runs the first ever Welsh graffiti store in Cardiff city centre says there are serious messages behind some of the artwork.

Mr Jones, from Oner Signs & Leisure on Church Street, says some of the art is memorial pieces to people who have died.

Keiron Jones has been a graffiti artist for around 30 years

Memorial piece dedicated to 'Toaster'

Another significant piece of artwork on the wall is the section dedicated to victims of domestic violence. The writing lists names of women who were killed in 2016, “Most by a man they loved.”

A spokesperson from Cardiff City Council says, “It was agreed the Millennium Walkway could be used as a legal street art wall for a short period of time. This area will be used to publicise the UEFA Champions League Final in the week prior to the match on 3rd June and we are looking for an alternative location for the artists and will continue to work with the promoters on this.”

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Cardiff among the worst recyclers in Wales

Welsh Government figures show only 57% of rubbish in Cardiff is recycled, that’s 5% less than the national average.

Recycling is on the increase in Cardiff, but it’s lagging behind some other Welsh counties. In Ceredigion they recycle 70% of their waste and Cardiff City Council wants the capital to match this amount by 2020.

The Council has launched a new campaign “Recycle Responsibly” to help people understand what can and can’t be recycled .

It says some people are confused about what should go in their bins with items such as food, shredded paper  and even dead animals being thrown into green recycling bins.

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Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Bob Derbyshire, says “One of the things you notice with campaigns is people do things, but then slip back into old habits.

“We need people to consistently recycle or there will be a negative impact on the environment.

“If people think that it might be recyclable and it’s a dry item then they should put it in their recycling bags because we can always separate it later.

“The biggest problems come from wet items, shredded paper, and plastic bags being put in green bins. These contaminate other rubbish, maker it harder to recycle.”

The campaign is on going.

Mental illness affects nearly 8,000 NHS workers in Wales

Mental illness is the biggest reason for staff missing work in the NHS in Wales.

That’s according to a freedom of information request by the Welsh Conservatives.

According to the figures obtained from the seven NHS Boards in Wales staff,  staff at Cardiff and the Vale have missed the highest number of working days in Wales as a result of mental health issues.

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The Shadow Health Minister, Angela Burns AM, says, “To our horror, we found it was mental health reasons that were coming out top as the reason why people were taking long and short term absences from work. The work is very tiring, very taxing, and very physically demanding. There’s a huge amount of pressure. The results point to a lack of support to help staff through these crises.”

Cardiff and Vale Action for Mental Health says mental health problems affect one in four adults in the UK. It says mental illness can affect people in any career.

A Welsh Government spokesperson says, “NHS Wales is taking action to support staff and reduce sickness rates. This includes promoting the health and well-being of staff and providing staff with practical support to remain in work, or to return to work following an illness.”

Welsh language campaigners call for bilingual BT meetings

Welsh language campaigners are angry BT aren’t holding any bilingual consultations in Cardiff over the removal of phone boxes.

They also say it’s “totally unacceptable” for BT to only use English signage in their payphone booths.

Colin Nosworthy, from the campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, says big companies don’t see Welsh language communication as a priority.

“There are massive problems with companies like BT who could easily afford to provide things in Welsh. Their treatment of the Welsh language is insulting.”

A BT spokesperson, said: “We should have ensured that our payphone consultation was done in both Welsh and English across Wales.

“We immediately replaced the signs with bilingual notices in those parts of country with the highest number of Welsh speakers. Unfortunately, given the size and scale of the consultation we were unable to replace the signage in every payphone across Wales.

“As a business we’re committed to the promotion and use of the Welsh language. We would like to apologise for initially installing English-only signs in our payphones as part of this consultation and have taken measures to ensure that this shouldn’t happen in the future.”

It is not a requirement for BT to have bilingual consultations. But Campaigners are calling on the Welsh Government to make it compulsory for them to communicate in both languages.

The Welsh Government has been approached for comment.

A new report shows asylum seekers’ housing is ‘dangerous’

The Home Affairs Committee report looks at asylum seekers’ accommodation across the UK from the last year.

It shows living conditions in Cardiff are cramped, often with several people living in one room. In some cases, housing provided was rat-infested.

Volunteers say asylum seekers in Cardiff are living in “disgraceful” conditions.

Christine Nelms, 69, volunteers with Oasis Cardiff, a centre for asylum seekers and refugees in Splott. Ms Nelms says she collects bedding for asylum seekers and takes it to their homes. She says she regularly sees damp, mould, and leaky pipes.

“I’ve seen fire doors that are propped up against the wall instead of being fitted correctly and hazards for small children. The state of the accommodation is just so poor.”

Ms Nelms says she’s ashamed of the accommodation asylum seekers get placed in.

“It’s inhumane. It makes them ill and depressed and frustrated. They’re already going through trauma from what they’ve escaped from.”

The Home Affairs Committee are now calling for an overhaul of the system. In a statement, they say urgent action must be taken by the Home Office and contractors to deal with this issue.

“It is shameful that some very vulnerable people have been placed in such conditions.”

Moving forward, the committee say contractors should do more to address the needs of asylum seekers. In particular they say they should focus on pregnant women, those living with mental health needs, and victims of trafficking.

Riverside locals say they want action against drug dealing

Originally posted on JOMEC CJS News.

People living in Riverside say they want police to clamp down on drug use and dealing in the area with some saying they don’t feel safe walking around the neighbourhood.

Labour Councillor for Riverside, Iona Gordon, says “there are increasing concerns about the visibility of drug use, whether it’s dealers or people gathering on street corners and being noisy. People have been seen going into phone boxes to inject drugs.”

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A phone booth in Riverside

Plaid Cymru Candidate for Riverside, Xose Alvarez says his neighbours have complained about drug dealing around Tudor Street and Plantagenet Street. Mr. Alvarez says “many locals have reported it repeatedly to the police but they don’t feel like there’s been any progress.”

People living in the Edinburgh Court council estate say they regularly see young people taking drugs in the stairwells.

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The council estate Edinburgh Court on Wyndham Place

Georgina Sammut, 70, lives in Edinburgh Court. She says South Wales Police have tried to tackle the problem by installing a camera in one of the stairwells of Edinburgh Court. She says “the police are doing their best to improve the situation.”

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Georgina Sammut says she regularly sees drug users in the area

In a statement, South Wales Police said “drug dealing has a devastating impact upon communities and it won’t be tolerated. Wherever possible we will use the information that we get from the public and take action with the aim of putting drug dealers out of business and before the courts.”

 

Featured image photo: @cleanup_CF11

South Wales Police no-show at last two Riverside PACT meetings

People in Riverside say they are disappointed that South Wales Police haven’t attended the area’s last two community policing meetings.

PACT – Partnerships and Community Together – meetings are designed to let people raise issues about local crime.

They are meant to take place six times a year at the South Riverside Community Development Centre.

But local people say there hasn’t been a representative from South Wales police at the last two meetings.

The South Wales Police website says ‘this process needs your voice to ensure we concentrate on the issues relevant to your area. If you don’t say, we can’t listen!’

Iona Gordon, Labour Councillor for Riverside, said she hadn’t been told in advance the police weren’t attending.

“It’s disappointing that the police haven’t come to the Riverside PACT meetings. I made a complaint to the police.

CJS News was at the most recent PACT meeting in Riverside. Local people raised issues including worries that cannabis was being grown locally and dangerous driving around schools.

Cllr Gordon says “it’s high on the police’s agenda to call the PACT meetings and they have to be there.”

South Wales Police say “It’s rare that the police are unable to attend.”

Councillor says changing bus routes in Caerau is ‘ludicrous’

by Ciara Cohen-Ennis and Sophie Falcon

 

Labour Councillor for Caerau Peter Bradbury says Cardiff Bus didn’t warn locals before changing a route that’s popular with older people.

Capital Links, part of Cardiff Bus, has changed the route of the number 15 bus from the city centre to University Hospital of Wales and it no longer stops at Heol Yr Odyn and Cwrt-Yr-Ala. Capital Links says its buses are too big to go down these roads but Cllr Bradbury says this is not true. “We see no reason why it can go down Caerau Lane which is a narrow road, and it can’t go down these other roads.”

Locals are unhappy because this means they will have to walk nearly a mile further to get to their nearest bus stop.

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Cllr Bradbury says,

“The route is non-profitable because it’s mostly used by over sixty-fives, who are the most badly affected by the change. They’re usually people on their way to appointments at Heath Hospital or returning from the city centre carrying heavy shopping bags.”

He says more than a hundred people have now signed a petition to restore the original bus route. Several petitioners attended a meeting last week with Cardiff Bus and were told they will trial the original route but if they reinstate it, it will take 56 days.

Cardiff Bus has been unavailable for comment.