nextbike UK to double bikes in Cardiff next year

nextbike UK has announced plans to double the number of bicycles in the Welsh capital by summer 2019.

The nextbike Cardiff scheme launched in March with 5 docking stations and 50 bikes, and as of September there have been 500 bikes. A further 65 docking stations will go live next year, doubling the number of bikes.


Last month Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport at Cardiff Council, Councillor Caro Wild, revealed that in October there were over 50,000 rentals in Cardiff, and nearly 150,000 since launching.

Speaking about the schemes success, he said: “We’ve broken records in terms of the most popular scheme across the UK so we’ve just been delighted, but also delighted how it’s brought lots of different people to maybe take a bike for the first time that otherwise wouldn’t have done. 

“There’s bike hire places not just in the city centre – we’re out in some of our suburbs which have also been popular.” 

“People are sick of congestion. A lot of people don't want to use their cars but they haven’t had alternatives in the past.”

nextbike have teamed up with Cardiff Bay-based charity Pedal Power to maintain the bikes – they will grow their team to keep up with the demand.

One student from the city, Ella Walsh, said that hiring the bikes is “really easy” and that pricing was “reasonable”.

Dave Leemas is a regular nextbike user, he believes that the scheme is “great” for commutes, and believes it is “faster and more under your own control than public transport”.

In weeks to come the company will be asking their social media followers for input on where the new docking stations should be. 65 locations will be picked before the roll-out begins in 2019.

Women Connect First prepare for World Café launch

A group of refugees living in Cardiff have unveiled plans to launch a World Café.

© Niamh Colclough

© Niamh Colclough

Supported by Riverside-based charity Women Connect First, the group cook every week for locals, offering a selection of food from the Middle East. They are now seeking to officially register their space with Cardiff Council so they can set it up as a business.

Up until March 2018 the women raised £5,000 through donations to the café – a proportion of this has been spent on purchasing new equipment.

Overseeing the project is Amal Beyrouty, who has been with the women since it began. She said: “They are still in the process of learning skills, they’ve done starting a business course, but they still need the skills to run a business.”

Women Connect First has helped the women seek advice, socialise with other women and learn new skills including English and IT. The charity’s Operational Director, Maria Mesa, said: “Amal and the women were the brains behind the idea. They came up with the idea. They had a brainwave about what they wanted.

“It was quite an accident that it became such a big thing. Initially, it was just to share food and to raise a little bit of money for activities, but it’s big now. 

“Women Connect First has invested quite a lot of money, and of course the staff have invested lots of time.

“I think it’s been amazing, it’s been very successful.” 

If the World Café is a success, the women are hoping to cater for events and meetings by various organisations. They would also be looking to launch a weekly takeaway lunch service.

"Reclusive" brothers sentenced for growing cannabis

Two “reclusive” brothers have been handed a 12-month community order and ordered to stay inside their house with a curfew for growing cannabis plants.

Thomas Wilkins, 32, and Michael Wilkins, 27, were sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court.

In April a police officer entered their property in Helen Place, Adamsdown, after smelling the class B drug whilst patrolling the area.

On entering the property, the pair admitted that they were growing the plants and led the officer to a first-floor bedroom which contained 10 mature plants. An airing cupboard nearby house 17 smaller plants. They were fed by an irrigation system. Lighting and heat reflectors were also used.

The brothers said that the cannabis was grown for personal use to save money – no evidence was found showing an intent to supply.

Michael Wilkins’ defence barrister, Steven Donoghue, described the pair as being “reclusive in nature”. He said: “They can’t be separated, they live together, they do everything together.”

Before Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke sentenced the pair, she acknowledged that Thomas Wilkins had “managed to get to court, albeit with difficulty” and that he “will need support” carrying out the community order.

As the both men had admitted possessing the plants from the outset, the judge granted them a guilty plea discount of one month.

In addition to the community order, the brothers will have to complete 15 days of rehabilitation activities and have an electronically monitored curfew. They were also ordered to pay £300 between them in court costs.

Ready, Steady, Cook!

Women from 17 different communities are being brought together by their love of cooking.

The Cardiff Community Cooking Competition launched last year and was created by South Wales Police in partnership with the Riverside-based charity Women Connect First.

In a bid to break down barriers between the organisations, women from the charity are welcomed into Cardiff Central Police Station to cook a two-course meal for a panel of judges.

The competition – which this year has a tagline of ‘share a cultural dish’ – consists of 10 weekly heats, 3 semi-finals and a grand final. Countries represented this year include Yemen, Iraq and Pakistan.

Organiser and South Wales Police’s Citizens in Policing Inspector Gareth Evans sees the competition as a beneficial thing for everyone involved.

He said: “Last year we ran the competition in a professional kitchen, so having the facilities this year and having 30 ladies of the community come into a police station for a fun event, to walk away with a positive image of the police will only benefit the community. Barriers are lowered and suddenly they’ve seen a police station as not a myth or a perception that it’s a bad place.”

Women Connect First works with Black Minority Ethnic (BME) women that have moved to the Cardiff area, giving them advice and helping them learn skills to improve their lives and employability.

There is no financial profit [from the competition] but the human profit is big.
— Amal Beyrouty, Women Connect First

Project Manager Amal Beyrouty said: “It’s the confidence for them – confidence to approach the police if there is an incident. They are scared, they do not know how to go to the police station. If they must go what they do. I wanted to overcome this.

“There is no financial profit [from the competition] but the human profit is big because we really invest in people, what they’ve got and what they want to be.”

Karen Sanders was cooking alongside the women as part of the competition and has been a PSCO for the past 11 years.

She said: “It’s all about reassurance, building up trust, being seen, being visible and the ladies getting to know us. It’s good community engagement, and that’s what neighbourhood policing is all about.”

The overall winner of the competition will win a trophy, and the top three competitors will win a selection of kitchen gadgets.