Fireworks, smashed windows, and no parking spots: the troubles of Grangetown

Members of a Cardiff community speak about everyday life as difficult problems emerge.

A scene autumn day in Grangetown

Grangetown residents face many challenges and have much to say about them. The Cardiff district could be a case study for the term “melting pot.” Housing over 20,000 people of several different nationalities and economic status, nearly every corner of Grangetown exudes human life in all its diversity, charm, and flaws. As the community struggles with increasing poverty, crime, and infrastructural challenges, Grangetown residents respond to their struggles in a variety of ways and with a variety of attitudes. Here are some accounts of everyday life in Grangetown, as told by the people who live it:  

Mohamed Akram, 67, retired shopkeeper

“The biggest problem here for me is parking. Traffic has gotten much worse recently.  Otherwise I don’t like to speak poorly of Grangetown because it doesn’t tell the whole story.  We are all humans, regardless of religion or race or anything like that. I try to treat people with dignity and I’ve mostly received it in turn.”

Bridge Patel, 44, Newsagent

“The biggest change has definitely been the demographics. The past decade or so has seen a lot of Somalis and Eastern Europeans entering Grangetown and Cardiff in general. Do I think that’s the reason for the problems with the drugs and crime that you see outside? I don’t want to say that. Grangetown’s problems, from the parking to the kids outside to the homeless, are not unique to Grangetown. Go to any major city and I guarantee you you’ll see the same thing. I’ve lived my entire life in Wales and things have gotten worse, but they’ve gotten worse everywhere! It’s hard to place blame.”

Thaneswaran Thuraisa, 45, Shop owner

“Grangetown’s biggest problem? Unsupervised kids! Twice they’ve smashed my windows and thrown fireworks inside.  They caused a big fire and one of my customers got burned! I’m very nervous for Halloween because I know they’ll be out. There have always been problems with the kids but it’s gotten much worse recently. It’s been almost every day this month. My business has definitely suffered because of it.”

El Conningham (Bob), 70, Proprietor

“Life’s great here in Cardiff, especially in Grangetown; and I’m here because of Jesus. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be enjoying my life. I’ve been living in Grangetown for almost 40 years; and leaving Birmingham was a good decision. Here everyone’s nice; everyone’s friendly; it’s such a lovely environment. No issues for me here but I must say that the United Kingdom is making a huge mistake with Brexit. A huge mistake. That’s the only issue.”

Rachelle Fox, 28, Full time mom

“It’s been pretty bad around here. Drug users, theft, break-ins. I moved from Butetown seven years ago and it was much quieter. Teenagers and kids here are out of control; we’ve had problems with fireworks and with vandalism. They just throw what they have on our windows. The police have been closing the park at night, so I guess that escalates trouble our way. And we reported what has been going on to them, but they still haven’t done anything about it even though this huge issue has been going on for a while. That’s why my husband was literally trying to chase them down himself when he saw them coming closer to our house.”

Ryan Jones, 25, Groundworker

“These kids! I cannot tolerate them anymore! I’m not going to let them get away with what they’re doing. I ran earlier to chase them down, but I only managed to catch one of them. Guess he’s not the fastest one of the groups. He said that it wasn’t him, it was the others. So, then I asked them where the others went; and of course, he doesn’t know. But I told him then to follow them and bring them back here; so, we’ll see.”

Afzal Shan, 42, Chef

“The kids have been a lot to handle in Grangetown. A lot of shops and stores have been increasing their security systems because of them. Yes, they’re causing a lot of damage. And to be honest, I blame their parents. At that certain age these kids are not responsible enough to go out at that time at night. You can see nine and ten-year olds roaming around the streets at ten o’clock at night. I don’t know how parents let their children come this far. People are really being affected by them and by that situation.”