Dear Phil

Dear Phil

Will you spare me a few minutes of your valuable time? I know you’re a busy guy and can’t have much room in your diary what with all those important meetings to attend: the Core Cities Group, the Severn Partnership, the South Wales Metro Project, the Capital City Region, the City Deals Group, the Great Western Cities Partnership…and once in a while you’ve got to put in an appearance at County Hall too. Incidentally butty, watch your calorie and alcohol intake at these all-expenses-paid, no-expense-spared shindigs: you’ve been putting on a bit of timber lately – and that’s so easy to do when you’ve got to subsist on a diet of Bucks Fizz, shredded duck filo parcels in plum sauce and crème brulee.

While I’m on the subject, let me quickly dispose of the calumnies put about by your enemies in the Labour party ever since you took over as leader of Cardiff Council in 2014 from…from…oh what was her bloody name…hang on while I Google it…Heather Joyce, of fond memory. They go on and on about the way you look just because you don’t dress according to some corporate middle-manager template. Don’t listen to those Old Labour reactionaries with their crawling conformity to the crackpot conventions of male power-dressing. You’ll never satisfy the type of blazered bigot who gets hot under the collar’n’tie at every small straying from an impossibly narrow definition of ‘normality’, whether it be Michael Foot’s insufficiently militaristic duffle-coat to Jeremy Corbyn’s insufficiently humble forelock-tugging in the presence of majesty. No, just carry on being yourself mun. I like the cut of your jib; you bring to mind a pleasant cove from Cowbridge I once knew, a quantity surveyor into Van der Graaf Generator and car boot sales. To hell with the proscriptive, uptight nostrums of ‘grooming’ imposed by the monolithic multinationals! Like you, I’m a natural scruff. I always look like I could do with a good wash and my wardrobe is obtained from the bin-bags in the back room of the PDSA charity shop in Albany Road. Oh yeah, I know what you’re going through brother. Listen to me: you’ve gotta reject the lookists’ oppressive agenda! Ok, you’re no oil painting (except perhaps a Picasso), but then neither am I (except perhaps an Edvard Munch) and nor is Russell Goodway (except perhaps a Jackson Pollock). And who cares how other people look except the sort of shallow idiots who watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians – none of whom vote! The only suggestion I would make kemo sabe is this: buy yourself some DIY hair clippers and shave the lot off. On £52k a year you can surely afford it – and maybe the £10 cost could even be claimed back as a legitimate allowance (emergency comb-over surgery or something).

Let’s get down to the real reason I’m writing: your Local Development Plan (LDP), “signed off” last month by the Planning Inspector. I’ve just got the one question man: who the hell are these 80,000 people who will be moving to Cardiff by 2026? I mean, going by standard birth rates and in-migration minus standard death rates and out-migration, Cardiff’s population would only increase by 5,000 in this period and you wouldn’t need to plaster the remaining countryside between the coast and the M4 with 40,000 houses – “affordable” or not. Where are these extra people coming from? What would prompt them to flood into Cardiff? Why Cardiff and not, say, Croydon? Do you know something we don’t know? Does the UK have secret plans to make the entire Middle East uninhabitable? Yes, yes, that’s six questions, don’t get finicky with me mate, you’re not fighting off another leadership challenge!

Since it’s the only sentence you seem to be able to utter off the cuff, I presume your reply would be “Because Cardiff is the UK’s most liveable city, a great place to live, work and play.”  Watch out dude, say it much more and you might start to believe it. You wouldn’t want to end up alone in Llanishen in your I Loves The Diff t-shirt watching 25 minute ads for exercise equipment on Made in Cardiff. That way madness lies – and remember it only takes two qualified psychiatrists to sign the papers and you’re sectioned. Of course I realise it’s just the usual vapid bullshit that Cardiff’s leaders seem contractually obliged to spout – who now remembers “Europe’s Youngest Capital” and “Proud Capital”? – but honestly bro, if the miserable, shabby, desecrated, blighted social catastrophe I see out of my window constitutes the UK’s most liveable city, then god help ’em in Bath…

Actually you and I are very similar blokes Baley: we’re both radical rebels kicking against the crushing conservatism of the north Cardiff suburbs that spawned us; we’re both ecstatic that Lisvane and Llanishen reservoirs have been saved from wicked developers by those nice people at Welsh Water (the only utility left that allows a little leeway with bills); and we’ve both climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Well, that last one’s not true (Kilimanjaro? I’d be hard pushed to make it to Cilymaenllwyd!) Give me a moment to Google a plausible third…got it: neither of us should ever wear stripes, checks, herringbone or corduroy. So take my advice home boy and change the record. Plenty of better Cardiff slogans can be cooked up. How about:







Any one of those would definitely get the whole world beating a path to our door (obviously not via Rhoose, I mean Cardiff-Wales Airport, I mean Cardiff International Airport, I mean Cardiff Airport, I mean the Amsterdam Shuttle – let’s just hope there are no roadworks on Rover Way). Feel free to use as you see fit droog.

Always glad to be of help

PS: What star sign are you?