South East Wales

Helpline for Cardiff businesses during Champions League

Dragon at Cardiff Castle Image copyright Wales News Service

A 24-hour helpline has been set up for Cardiff businesses ahead of the UEFA Champions League final next weekend.

Some businesses say not enough has been done to prepare them for the biggest sporting event ever hosted in Wales.

But the team of business owners that set up the helpline said they were concerned at the number of companies yet to plan or engage with the council.

A Cardiff council spokesman said every business had been visited and given information about the arrangements.

Hundreds of thousands of fans are expected in Cardiff when Real Madrid face Juventus at the Principality Stadium next Saturday.

There will be extensive road closures for safety reasons and to manage the volume of visitors.

Image copyright Hywel George
Image caption Andreas Leonardu and Kharl Pitman discuss the effect of the event on their businesses

Jonathan Morgan, from IT company Object Matrix, said: "We told staff they can't drive to work that week and we're not expecting any deliveries - but as a company trading internationally, if communications links aren't affected, we're happy to see the event on our doorstep."

Not all city businesses expect to benefit.

"We see it on big rugby days," said Tim Corrigan, owner of the café chain Milk and Sugar.

"Different businesses benefit from the larger events - the bars, restaurants and hotels."

Image copyright Getty Images

Businesses, like hairdressing chain Lazarou Brothers, have changed strategies.

Owner Andreas Leonardus said: "It's up to me to adapt.

"It's an amazing thing that's bringing millions to Cardiff. So what I am looking to do is to start a social media campaign to target people coming into Cardiff and staying in the hotels."

Image caption Cardiff residents are looking to rent out their homes to football fans

The hotels have been booked for weeks and there has been huge interest through accommodation websites.

"All our accommodation is full," claimed Nigel Read from Penarth-based estate agent Sea Breeze homes. "It's a very, very good time for the company."

But he added: "The council haven't come forward to tell us what's happening and they haven't given us any support."

A team of business owners, under the leadership of coach Cindy Williams and the banner Cyn-gost, is providing a helpline - 02920 107700 - "so we can communicate and understand, and make things a little less impactful".

They also have events planned for 31 May and 2 June in a bid help businesses in the last days of build-up and beyond.

Miss Williams said: "Over the past few weeks we have been concerned with the number of businesses yet to plan or engage with Cardiff council.

"We believe many are ill-informed, which will result in costly mistakes, or businesses simply failing to capitalize on the potential benefits.

"A 24-hour helpline, manned by experienced business owners, will provide expert, informed, and up to date advice."

Issues they are unable to help with will be logged to help with future events.

Cyn-gost member Jason Dunlop, from the consultancy A Critical Friend, said the legacy of UEFA was important.

"We will sit down with companies to look back at the Champions League data and then share the learnings with council, government and other stakeholders to improve the experience, when other world events come to our great city," he said.

Image copyright Cardiff City Council
Image caption An aerial view of the Champions Festival planned for Cardiff Bay

A council spokesman said a team of officers had been visiting every business across the city to give information on the arrangements since March.

"This week the council worked with the Business Improvement District and the Licensee Forum to present to 400 business representatives, with staff on hand to answer any questions," he added.

"Due to the necessary security arrangements that need to be put in place, businesses need to plan ahead so they can make the most of this opportunity.

"In our meetings with businesses across the city centre we have worked hard to ensure they are aware of this and of course we are working with businesses to help facilitate their requirements where we can within the security plan.

"If there are any businesses who feel they have not had the necessary information we would urge them to contact highwaysnetworkmanagement@cardiff.gov.uk

"Also, the Cardiff 2017 website which is updated regularly, contains essential advice for businesses residents and visitors around the event."

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