Vaughan Gething, Labour Assembly Candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth, argues in a guest post for CARDIFF EAST that the Liberal-Democrat run Cardiff Council’s decision to site the new Eastern Cardiff High School on the Rumney Recreation Ground belies Rodney Berman’s verdict that after six years of Liberal Democrat rule “We’re doing just fine” in Cardiff.
Rodney Berman‘s verdict on six years of Liberal-Democrat rule in Cardiff in an interview with the South Wales Echo, “Berman: ‘We’re Doing Just Fine'”, (Read that interview here ) was as complacent as it was inaccurate.
Rumney Recreation Ground is a true symbol of Liberal-Democrat rule in Cardiff. A much loved piece of open space in the east of the city that has been used by the communities of Llanrumney, Rumney, St. Mellons and Trowbridge for close on a century is to be destroyed in an act of civic vandalism. Hundreds of people use it each day and will lose it if Cllr Berman gets his way.”
As Alun Michael MP and Lorraine Barrett AM have passionately argued the local communities support the replacement of the two local secondary schools, Llanrumney High School and Rumney High School, with a single high quality school building which is fit for purpose in the 21st century. That school should have strong links with the nearby St Illtyd’s Roman Catholic High School, and with Coleg Glan Hafren, which provides most of the post-16 education for this area and the wider east of Cardiff.
To build a high school on the open space land can only be described as an act of civic vandalism and theft of open space, which is rightly regarded as the community’s own. The citizens of Llanrumney, Rumney, St. Mellons and Trowbridge have stayed united in their struggle for three long years and remain committed to preserving the Rumney Recreation Ground for future generations. The campaign is cross-party and only the Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru councillors who run Cardiff council seem oblivious to the injustice of their plans.”
Cardiff Council has never once bid for any school capital-funding for the new Eastern High School from the Welsh Assembly Government. Their willingness to ignore local opinion clearly expressed through petition, letters and a local community poll is an illiberal act of a partisan council. Council leader Berman’s assertion that other wards in the city have to be considered when funding is considered is disingenuous. The wards of east Cardiff are some of the poorest in the capital and the council admits that the present school buildings of Llanrumney and Rumney High schools are no longer fit for purpose. What other parts are Cardiff are having their precious open space sold off to ensure that the local secondary school has a roof that does not leak?
Berman, in his interview with the Echo, stated that “…he saw his role…as one of bringing people together…” Well he has achieved that in uniting people in the communities of east Cardiff in their defence of Rumney Recreation Ground.
Alun Michael MP, has together with local residents, submitted an application that the Rumney Recreation Ground be designated a village green to protect it from further development. There was a sole objector – Cardiff Council. So much for Berman’s quoted remarks in the Echo that, “He said he would also continue to drive forward his green agenda for Cardiff.”
There will be a Public Inquiry held at the Llanrumney Library starting on the 21st September before the Independent Inspector Mr. Leslie Blohm QC. The council has an obligation to inform the public yet there is not a single mention of the Public Inquiry in the September edition of the Capital Times. Surely not a coincidence.
The people of east Cardiff know that we face long odds in the opposition from the power of Cardiff Council with a team of in-house lawyers at its disposal, paid for by us the taxpayers. Alun Michael MP will along with local residents give voice to the community’s belief that they have enjoyed the land as of right for close to a century.
Rodney Berman may think his Liberal-Democrat council is doing just fine but the people of east Cardiff are being treated with contempt by a council leader out of touch with the public that he is supposed to serve.
The LibDems nationally under Nick Clegg have abandoned every principle they claimed to stand for before and during the election. In bed with Cameron’s Tories the LibDems will now visit massive cuts that will damage recovery from the economic downturn. That shameless dishonesty nationally is matched by LibDems locally where they are strong on rhetoric but weak and dishonest when it comes to action. People aren’t going to be taken in any longer, Rodney.
Vaughan Gething is the Labour Party candidate for the Assembly seat of Cardiff South and Penarth. He lives in Butetown and is a senior solicitor and partner with Thompsons Solicitors – the largest trade union law firm in the country. He is a previous Wales TUC President and former Cardiff Councillor.