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Cardiff scores highly in survey of European cities’ quality of life

(Adobe Stock)

Cardiff has scored highly in a major new EU survey assessing the quality of life in major European cities – and been declared the best of all for families with young children.

The survey, by the European Commission, is the result of extensive polling of at least 839 residents in each of 83 cities in 36 countries – 71,153 interviews in all – on issues, including:

  • Safety
  • Jobs
  • Transport infrastructure
  • Culture
  • Health, and
  • Quality of local administration

Since the last survey, carried out in 2019, overall levels of satisfaction across most European cities have declined as events like the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have taken their toll and put pressure on healthcare systems, economies and reduced tourism.

Yet the survey showed that between 91 and 93% of people in Cardiff agreed that they were satisfied living in the city, on a par with people in the Tyneside conurbation and higher than the other UK cities in the survey – Glasgow, London, Manchester and Belfast – and far higher than major European capitals like Rome, Athens and Belgrade.

In two categories, Cardiff outperformed all 83 cities, including all of Europe’s principal capitals:

  • A good place for families with young children to live, and
  • A good place for immigrants to live

It was also placed in the top 10 in other categories:

  • A good place for LGBTIQ people to live (fifth)
  • Satisfaction with green spaces (ninth), and
  • Satisfaction with noise level (10th)

Cardiff Council leader Cllr Huw Thomas said: “It’s good to see Cardiff score so highly in several areas of this report. Cardiff is a great city to live in and I welcome these independent findings which back that up.

“As a council, we have worked hard to earn Cardiff its status as the first UK city to be given UNICEF Child-Friendly status and, of course, we have a long tradition of tolerance and welcoming immigrants to the city.”

In other categories, Cardiff outscored the other UK cities, including the main category, satisfaction with cultural facilities (more than 90% of respondents), satisfaction with public spaces (85%), air quality, cleanliness and the time it takes to get a request solved by the council. It also had the lowest percentage of people in the UK cities surveyed who agreed there is corruption in the council (c.36%)

The city performed less well in perception of its transport infrastructure, compared with other cities, with one of the highest levels of car use in Europe (58%, behind Tyneside and Manchester) and the lowest level of public transport use, and walking, in the UK.

Said Cllr Thomas: “The Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis, which is still affecting us in Britain today, have placed a tremendous strain on the council’s ability to push forward with plans to make Cardiff a stronger, fairer, greener capital but it’s great to see the progress we have made recognised here and we are determined to do everything we can to improve our city for our residents, workers and visitors.

“We also recognise – as the report points out – that more people are using cars here than in many other cities across Europe. We know this causes air pollution and congestion which is why we are building cycle lanes and improving walking routes, while also looking at new ways of funding improved public transport options.

“We all know that public transport options across the city need to improve if we are to encourage people out of their cars. We have never hidden from that, but we will need to find a way of funding what is required, and we will need open and honest conversations with residents and our neighbours on how we do that.

“But this report is good news and shows us all that Cardiff is on the right track and is a great place to live.”

In its summary, the European Commission said: “Having a tool able to reveal how people evaluate quality of life in their city offers valuable insights for policymakers at the European, national and city levels, guiding strategies for cohesive urban development and fostering improved living conditions across Europe.”