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Archive for the ‘Cardiff’ Category

A little flavour of Cardiff in the run-up to Christmas!

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Jenny Willott, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, has confirmed she will vote against any rise in tuition fees.

Ms Willott, who is Parliamentary Private Secretary to Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, told the Guardian newspaper she will stick to her pre-election pledge to vote against any rise in fees. “I will not support an increase in tuition fees and I’m deeply concerned about increasing levels of student debt,” she said.

If she changes her mind, the ministerial code of conduct will require her to resign or be sacked as a PPS.

Earlier this week NUS Wales president, Katie Dalton, said Ms Willott should vote against the proposals or stand down from her role.  “She was elected by students and needs to reaffirm her position,” said Ms Dalton.

“We understand that Ms Willott is awaiting the Government’s official response to Browne, but NUS Wales and the students of Cardiff will be holding her to manifesto commitments.”

Jenny Willott Feb 10 no 74

Gradually scrapping fees in England and Wales was a key pledge in the Lib Dem’s election manifesto.

In the run-up to the general election, Nick Clegg visited Cardiff University and spoke passionately about his desire to scrap fees over six years. “We’ve got a plan,” he said. “Of course we’d love to deliver it overnight but that’s just not possible given how tight money is.

“What we would do is we would over six years in sort of incremental steps is remove tuition fees, so for instance in the first year, any undergraduate in their last year of study for their first degree of study would have their tuition fees removed, and then the next year, you’d move to the penultimate year.

“Then you’d cap tuition fees for part-time students. And that is, I think, a policy which I hope people would believe in.”

In an interview, Clegg told me: “Our higher education system is one of the great British success stories. We have one of the best systems in Europe, more and more people want to go. We have outstanding research. We need to stop talking about higher education like it’s a drain – it’s a great asset.”

David Willetts, the universities minister, will introduce a low fees threshold of £6,000 and a high threshold of £9,000. This is a far cry from the Lib Dems’ original plan – they had pledged not to support any rise beyond the current £3,290 a year.

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Clear, active and searchable words: these are the key components of a piece of online journalism.

In his lecture, Glyn Mottershead explained how we must get to grips with the way people read online. Most tend to scan rather than read on the web, and we do so 25% slower. Our writing must be sharp and concise, or else we risk losing the reader a few paragraphs in.

Crossroads

While online journalism requires much the same skill-set as print – concise writing, good grammar, and accuracy – it also demands an understanding of search engine optimisation. We must “plan for the machine, write for the human.” Headlines must cater for the searcher, and key words that summarise the story are crucial. A delayed drop or a witty headline won’t work, because your piece won’t appear in search results.

Internet - Good Or Bad?

As journalists we must recognise nothing is in isolation. We need to consider how text, pictures and headlines fit together. How does the page look? Can the reader search for the article? Online journalism requires clarity and accessibility, and we must make reading as easy as possible for our audience. “The old way of online is gone,” said Mottershead. “Punning headlines, beloved of the tabloid and trainee journalists, are not searchable. They simply won’t work.”

It is clear that in order to hook an online audience readers must be able to find our work quickly, scan with ease, and the page must be visually attractive. Online journalism requires a level of accessibility above that of print. Good writing, while vital, is no longer enough.

Up to speed journalism: George Orwell’s tips for good writing

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The pedestrianisation of High Street has become something of a saga. Traffic jams, inconvenient detours and a whole lotta rubble have left retailers and the public alike feeling frustrated.  And the latest twist? Cardiff Council hoped to pacify tensions surrounding the roadworks this week by announcing they will be suspended in the run up to Christmas. But just days after the announcement, they discovered retailers are claiming up to half a million pounds in compensation because the roadworks have damaged their trade.

Duke Street

The Castle Quarter Tenants’ Association, which represents the 53 shops in the Castle, High Street and Duke Street arcades, hopes to win £10,000 compensation per trader. If successful, the total damages could reach a whopping £53,000.

Retailers claim customers have been driven away by the noise and inconvenience of the roadworks on Castle Street, and the pedestrianisation of High Street.

Hairdresser Anna Constantinou, who runs the 30-year-old family salon in Castle Arcade, is organising the collective claim on behalf of the tenants’ association. Ms Constantinou told the Echo: “I really do think we have got a strong case. There’s no doubt we have lost money. We have lost our walk-in custom. The council has killed every single season for us.”

The newspaper reported 21 retailers have confirmed they back the claim or are seriously considering it, but some are unsure and others said they would not claim.

Harriet Davies, owner of the New York Deli in High Street Arcade, told the Echo the business rate rebate, which worked out at around £300 per business, was welcomed but was nothing compared to the money lost. She said each business had already proved they had been directly affected by the roadworks, winning a 5% discount in business rates.

A Cardiff council spokesman said traders had experienced “inevitable inconvenience”, but disruption had been minimised and businesses will benefit when the work had been completed.

The £2.5 million roadworks will be suspended from November 14 and will not return until January. David Hughes-Lewis, chairman of Cardiff Retail Partnership, said he was delighted with the decision. “If they had carried on with the pedestrianisation work until a week before Christmas it would have such an adverse effect on business,” he told the Echo.

Castle Street will be closed every Sunday to allow contractors to finish the new junction with Westgate Street and the new pedestrian crossing outside the castle.

Guardian Cardiff: “Another day of gridlock, but can we look beyond the roadworks?”

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As anyone who commutes into and around Cardiff will tell you, traffic congestion in the capital is a growing problem. Busy roads, slow traffic lights and long queues can leave motorists fuming, and I am sad to admit I have on more than one occasion been the victim of serious “road rage”.

Congestion has forced Cardiff Bus to extend the scheduled journey times of some of its services, to give buses that regularly ran late as a result of traffic jams more time to reach their destination.

Traffic was also a prevalent issue throughout the Ryder Cup – pupils in Newport and Cardiff even got the day off to ease congestion! And as Cardiff city centre becomes pedestrianised, numerous roads have been closed off to motorists, and drivers are often sat in lengthy traffic jams.

Plans to create a futuristic transport system of light rail networks in the capital are currently on hold. The plans envisaged an automated taxi service, taking people around Cardiff in driverless cars on a dedicated track with journeys paid by smart card. The ULTra (Urban Light Transport) project aimed to link Cardiff Bay with the city centre and Cathays Park, in a £45 million project to help solve growing traffic congestion.

On this map I have highlighted some of the spots most affected by traffic congestion and busy roads. It will be interesting to see the results of the road works on Castle street, which are due to be completed by the end of October. Cardiff council’s executive member for transport, Delme Bowen, has assured locals that traffic flow will improve once the road works are finished.

Check out my map:

“Traffic congestion in city forces bus time changes”

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