CARDIFF council has come under criticism from a leading heritage group for failing to address racial inequality or the needs of children in a strategic document setting out the city’s future planning needs.
This article originally appeared in the South Wales Echo on 20 Sep 2021 and is written by MARTIN SHIPTON, Wales Online’s Political editor-at-large
Cardiff Civic Society’s housing and equalities expert Tamsin Stirling said: “Given all the evidence about existing inequalities in Cardiff that have been exacerbated by Covid, we might expect key strategic documents published by Cardiff council since the pandemic to really focus on this issue and what can be done about it.
“However, when we look at the draft Replacement Local Development Plan (RLDP) which has recently been consulted on, just one of its 11 objectives mentions addressing inequalities and this is largely set in the context of health and wellbeing.
“Search the document for any mention of tackling racial inequality and you will be disappointed.
“This omission extends to no mention of the specific housing needs of ethnically diverse households even though these are highlighted in relation to other groups such as older people and disabled people.
“I find this a totally extraordinary oversight for a city with Cardiff’s history of racial diversity.
“Another glaring omission in the document is any consideration of children and their needs, particularly strange given that Cardiff is actively participating in Unicef UK’s Child Friendly Cities initiative.
“If such initiatives are to be meaningful then thinking and action needs to be embedded across the council and all of its strategic plans.
“As the song says, children are our future and the way our city is planned should have their needs at heart.
“In the 42-page document setting out the future of our city, there is no mention of children or the need to tackle racial inequality.
“That is why I am really pleased to see the Cardiff Civic Society raise these issues robustly in their response to the consultation.
“Given that the consultation so far on the RLDP has been solely online, I think it is imperative for Cardiff council to focus now on meaningful engagement with diverse communities and children/young people so that their voices are not only heard, but really listened to, in the development of this vital plan for the future of our city.”
A council spokesman responded: “The council is fully aware of the inequalities which exist in the city and has put tackling these – and closing the gaps between our communities and the life chances of those living in them – front and centre of the work and the ambitions the council and its partners have for the city.
“We are sure the Civic Society is aware of the council’s policy docu
ment Capital Ambition, which clearly sets out the administration’s plans to tackle inequalities across the city through a wide range of positive actions, including spending millions delivering new schools and better education; bringing more and better jobs to the city; improving transport links so people can take up job opportunities; delivering the biggest council-home-building project in Wales; and driving Cardiff towards becoming a true living wage city.
“These are only a few of the key actions designed to improve the lives of all our residents, but particularly those living in our most deprived communities.
“The Civic Society accuses the council of disregarding children, voices from the ‘southern arc’ and ethnic minorities in the Replacement Local Development Plan (RDLP). Nothing could be further from the truth.
“Right now the council is working with Unicef to become recognised as
a Child Friendly City, and we are, incidentally, also carrying out work to ensure we can become recognised as an Age Friendly City.
“The RDLP – which takes three years to complete – is at the earliest stage of engagement, but RDLP work has already taken place with the Cardiff Youth Council; a child-friendly short film was created explaining the process to children; and the survey was sent out to children and young people networks. There are also plans for more consultation with children as the RDLP develops.
“This council also set up a Race Equality Taskforce, following the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, with the clear aim of addressing racial inequalities and improving the lives and opportunities of our citizens from black and ethnic minority backgrounds who have contributed so much to the city.
“The Taskforce has already submitted a series of practical recommendations to the Council and its partners.”