Residents get the chance to meet Eisteddfod bosses

It’s all happening here in the first week in August, you know, Wales’ premier cultural event The Eisteddfod. Not that you’d know if you lived within 100 metres of the big tent and all that it brings because the Eisteddfod and Cardiff Council have been decidedly coy about meeting the locals – let alone engaging with them.
This Thursday 3rd July (at the Scout Hut in Fields Park Road Car Park at 7.30pm) Betsan Williams the Marketing Secretary and Alan Gwynant, Technical Director of the Eistedfodd will face the residents together with Paul Carter the Cardiff Council Operational Manager.
I suggested to local councillors a year or more ago that it would be a good idea that such a meeting should take place: Pontcanna, Canton and Riverside – who will be affected along with Gabalfa ward – has one of the largest populations of Welsh speakers in the country. It’s also media land. And an area blooded over the destruction of Sophia Gardens by the building of the electricity substation that now doubles as a cricket pitch (you know, the Swalec Stadium!).
So you would have thought, maybe, that they’d engage early on: encouraging us to fund raise; to put welcome posters in our windows and in the local shops; for the Council to put great big welcome banners on the main roads; even make us a special offer for admission to make up for all the hastle it will cause.
Hastle – you mean like parts of Poncanna Fields being behind a security wall for months and out of action until April 2009; like noise and light pollution from the all day events in our back gardens (yes literally for many) going on well into to the night; the joy of a Tented Youth Village in the middle of the town; no parking (everyone will park and ride, of course) which means no room for residents and often no access to our own homes; serious concerns about emergency access to the site. And then there’s restitution of the Fields to their former state. We’re assured that the Council has more than enough money in hand to do this.
Then there’s the cost of saying Croeso. Cardiff Council has, of course, made a generous grant. To which is added the £300,000 plus of temporary works and restitution. And there was a budget for new access at Western Avenue (essential for the Eisteddfod and the cricket stadium we are told). Oh, and the plan to spend £1M plus on a new bridge in Bute park – equally essential. And it costs £70,000 or so every day there’s a major event in Cardiff – for clearing up – so that might be an issue. And park and ride. And policing.
So, whatever the bill – and it could be millions depending on what you count –  Cardiff residents will pick up the tabs, and face a long recovery from something they’ve clearly not been invited to. This is bad marketing (they need our footfall), bad pr for the Welsh language, and very bad local politics that is still only driven by Cardiff getting headline events at the same time destroying assets like the Heritage Parklands.
Yes, they will claim an economic benefit to the area of £6.5M. That’s a nigh on £40 spend by every visitor from 2 to 90, every day they are here. Going into the ‘local’ economy, not the franchises on the maes. Likely?
It might just be an interesting meeting.

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