Talking trash with Phil Bale, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Development

Roving reporter, Louise Clarke, bumped into a certain Councillor Bale at April’s Keep Adamsdown Tidy litter pick and couldn’t resist grabbing a cheeky interview with the leader of the council.

Inksplott: Hello!  Please tell us your name and what you do.

Councillor Bale: My name is Phil Bale and I’m leader of the City Council.

Inksplott: Why are you here today?

Councillor Bale: Today I’ve joined residents and community volunteers on a litter pick in Adamsdown.  It’s been a really good turnout, I understand one of the best that they’ve had recently.  The amount of litter that has been picked up has been phenomenal too.  It’s a really important initiative for the Council; it’s all part of our Love Where You Live campaign.  But for me, what I see is that it’s not just about picking up litter actually; there’s a real social side to this that’s really important in terms of bringing communities together.  So as much as we can do, we are trying to support those initiatives as they develop across the city.

Inksplott: Do you join them often and would you like to join them more?

Councillor Bale: I do join the ones in my own area of Llanishen as much as I can do and come along to areas like this and elsewhere in the city.  What’s really interesting is the way in which people have established these groups; often it hasn’t involved the Council getting involved at all.  People have gone on websites like Streetlife [now Nextdoor] and just asked people to join them.  Keep Wales Tidy has given support and the Council comes along and picks the litter up afterwards.  That’s what it should be like; it shouldn’t be difficult to get involved and do things like this.

Inksplott: So Keep Splott Tidy is on the 30th April – would you like to come to that one?  It’s on a Sunday!

Councillor Bale: Ha ha!  I can certainly look into doing that, yes!

Inksplott: Some say that this is the Council’s job and volunteers shouldn’t have to do this.  What’s your response?

Councillor Bale: This isn’t replacing the existing budget of the Council for street cleansing; in fact we’re putting more money into street cleaning because we think it’s very important.  I go back to the point I made earlier about this being more than just taking pride in your local community, it really also is important to bring people together.  The one I was at recently saw us invited into the local leisure centre and given tea and coffee and people were talking and socialising off the back of that.  Some take place during the working day, so you get retired people getting involved and getting out of their houses, others take place on the weekend and you get a good cross section of people too.  It’s a really important initiative and one that I want to see developed further.

Inksplott: There has been a rise in community ‘Keep Tidies’ all over Cardiff.  Why do you think this is?

Keep Splott Tidy

Keep Splott Tidy

Councillor Bale: I think it’s partly because there is a greater wish from the communities themselves to take pride in their local areas but also the Council itself is very keen to support people in doing that, so there’s a Keep Cardiff Tidy website and people can post events that they are doing there. They can work with Keep Tidy Wales to publicise it.  The other dimension to this actually is to bring on board employers and businesses too.  We’ve seen recently an event that was held with Keep Wales Tidy and Redrow that really brought extra staff on board to help in the community.  For a very small number of additional people you can make a really big impact in terms of the appearance of a local area, so the more people that get on board the more impact we can make in terms of keeping our city looking lovely.

Inksplott: There is a new food recycling centre in Tremorfa – can you tell us anything about it?

Councillor Bale:  So this is a really exciting partnership between ourselves and the Vale of Glamorgan Council and it means that all of those brown food caddies that people see around the houses with all the food waste in them are now going to a new plant down in Tremorfa, as you say, and will be converted into compost and electricity for up to 4,000 houses. It’s all part of the Council’s attempts to recycle as much as we can do.  The Welsh Government has got very ambitious recycling targets and Cardiff is actually the leading recycling core city in the UK.  I think that’s something we can take a great deal of pride in but we’ve got to keep working at it – we can’t let up; we’ve got to keep working at it.

Inksplott: Same with the increase in tonnage at the Viridor Trident Park Energy Recovery Facility.  Can you tell us anything about it?

Councillor Bale: It’s really important that we work to recycle as much as possible; that is clearly an issue of concern to the community.  It’s important that people feedback in as part of the consultation process and that will be dealt with as part of that process.

Inksplott: What’s the message you want the Inksplott readers to take from this interview?

Councillor Bale: For people to respect the area that they live in; we all have to share the same space and we all care passionately about Cardiff; it’s a great city.  Everyone I meet, whether they are from Cardiff or overseas, tells me that they really think we have a great city, but we’ve got to work to keep it looking its best.  Working with people across the city, it really makes me realise the extent to which there is that goodwill; there are the people out there that do a fantastic job and I pay tribute to all of those volunteers and community activists that are working so hard to make sure that Cardiff looks fantastic.

Inksplott: Thank you!  One more question we usually ask everyone – can you tell us a funny story about Splott or Cardiff?.

Councillor Bale: Oh my gosh!  A funny story? At the moment, with the Champion’s League final coming up, the World’s biggest sporting event being held in Cardiff this year, I keep getting asked all the time if I’m related to Gareth Bale!  The honest answer is that I have no idea but we did go to the same school, I understand, but not at the same time!  It’s quite an interesting one [having the Champion’s League final here in June] – it’s the greatest platform and greatest privilege for Cardiff to have a massive global TV audience looking at our city.  I don’t think people realise the scale of the event itself; a three or four day festival will be on and there will be a really fantastic atmosphere and hopefully everyone will take part in that and the city will look good as well.

Inksplott: Thank you so much for the interview and for joining Keep Adamsdown Tidy today!