Cardiff Business Club Welcome New Corporate Sponsors: Cardiff BIDDate Posted: 11 September 2017
The Club is delighted to announce Cardiff BID as a new corporate sponsor for the 2017/18 season. We spoke to Adrian Field, Executive Director, to find out more about the work of the organisation and some of the key challenges - and opportunities - facing the city and wider economic region over the coming months and years.
1. What is the role of Cardiff BID?
AF: Cardiff BID was voted in by local businesses with 84% of businesses voting in favour of Cardiff BID and helped kick-start our five-year plan in November 2016.
The purpose of the BID is to encourage people to visit the city centre more often, stay longer and in turn, invest more in the local economy. By investing their time and money in us, businesses are recognising Cardiff’s potential for change.
2. It has been almost 12 months since Cardiff city centre voted in favour of being awarded BID status. How has the last year gone and what lies ahead over the coming months?
AF: The BID went ‘live’ on December 1st 2016 setting up the new company up, secure premises, banking arrangements etc and recruiting the team to start in January. It has been a frenetic first few months with lots of projects being set up including the Ambassadors, funding a scheme to install Superfast broadband in Castle Quarter, setting up a new taxi rank, supporting the Street Pastors, installing new hanging baskets and planters in the city centre and setting up contracts to deliver additional street cleansing and to reduce business overheads such as gas and electricity bills.
Looking ahead we want to enhance the Christmas offer, support the Tails in Wales trail and work with partners to tackle the issue of homelessness and begging which is the biggest single issue for our businesses.
3. What are the key challenges that business in the capital face?
AF: Much the same as any thriving city centre there are challenges businesses face when operating here, such as the large volume of commuters using their cars rather than public transport. With one of the largest urban rail networks outside London, the upgraded Metro and Great Western Mainline electrification, we hope access into the city will be even easier.
Cardiff has a significant student population, totalling 80,000 people but the city can sometimes struggle to retain these highly qualified individuals. Average graduate salaries here are among the lowest in the UK - at £23,000 they're around £6,000 lower than you could expect in London.
However, the low cost of living with low house prices and rents compared to the south east of England means your wage packet goes a lot further in Cardiff. Also, the Cardiff Capital Region has plans to provide an infrastructure that will enable growth sectors to thrive. Wales is already creating and developing globally-recognised products and by investing in these areas will help to retain local talent and appeal to graduates.
4. What impact will Brexit have on the Welsh capital?
AF: Given that Brexit is likely to be the defining political and economic issue of the next few years, for the UK and abroad, Cardiff will of course feel the impact of how our political leaders chose to manage this process.
A study conducted by Cardiff County Council, paints a picture of significant impacts on healthcare, community tension, universities and funding. During our conversations with the educational institutions in the city they have certainly echoed these concerns about appealing to international students and recruitment. Indeed, the University of South Wales has recently announced redundancies of over 100 staff and is holding Brexit to blame.
That said, Cardiff as a city is in a strong position, for example Cardiff’s financial services sector has been one of the fastest-growing among UK cities over the past 20 years. Cardiff offers a substantial pool of staff with half the city possessing higher education qualifications. Office rents that are half those in London and England’s capital will be that much closer following the electrification by 2018, bringing the commute down to less than 2 hours.
5. How do you think Cardiff is perceived elsewhere in the UK?
AF: The perception of Cardiff across the UK is a very positive one whether it be our reputation for attracting and hosting some of the world’s biggest sporting events and concerts to the levels of inward investment and build projects taking place or earmarked.
As a double-edged sword, the capital also has an excellent reputation for its nightlife, with a vast array of options available to any hen do or stag do. We have all seen photos taken on St Mary Street of people over indulging and this paints a somewhat unflattering and arguably unfair reflection of our evening economy.
Working with groups such as the Licensees Forum, the Street Pastors and the taxi marshals the BID is working hard to make sure that the reputation of a night out in Cardiff is one where people know they can come for an enjoyable time but also a safe one.
We are in the process of working towards the Purple Flag accreditation for the city, which is the industry standard for a town or city which provides a safe evening for everyone who wants to enjoy what Cardiff has to offer.
6. Changes to the Severn Bridge tolls are set to come into effect in February, how will this affect the capital region?
AF: At a cost of £6.70 the financial implications for visitors to the city can be considerable and is a literal barrier to entry for Wales and by association Cardiff. We welcome the significantly reduced cost of the Severn Bridge toll and believe it will help individually but also the wider economy.
When pitching new businesses or looking for staff the cost of crossing the bridge has acted as a serious deterrent when comparing us with our neighbouring cities such as Bristol.
One thing that as a BID working with partners, we must be wary of is the potential for our Wales towns and cities to become hubs for commuters who are looking to benefit from Bristol and Bath’s higher salaries but also from Wales’s lower rents and general cost of living.
7. What can Cardiff and the wider Wales economy do to attract more inward investment and position itself as a place to do business, work and live?
AF: We’re keen to work with partners such as the Welsh Government and Cardiff City Council to ensure that Cardiff is seen as a big player compared to our other core cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol. We’re listening to our businesses to find out what they need to make sure their businesses perform, and therefore have an insight into some of the barriers to entry there may be for bringing in new business to the capital.
An example of this would be superfast broadband, we’ve been told countless times how poor the broadband is in the city centre and how businesses are considering leaving due to the extortionate costs they are having to pay to get a basic level of broadband their business needs to perform. As a result of this feedback we’ve invested £40,000 in partnership with Openreach on a pilot project bringing superfast broadband to over 200 Castle Quarter businesses. Work is underway and is due to be completed in Spring 2018 and we know there is a considerable appetite for this to be rolled out to the wider city.
8. We are delighted to welcome you to Cardiff Business Club, what does it mean to you?
AF: Cardiff Business Club is an institution in the Cardiff and wider Wales business community. We are here for the businesses of Cardiff and are delighted to sponsor the Club so we can reach out to our businesses about the work we’re doing and to the wider Welsh business community so they’re aware of the investment Cardiff businesses are making for their future.