Black Lives Matter’ in Campaign to Save Iconic Somali Cafe in Cardiff

the Paddle Steamer has been an important meeting place for local Somali and Yemeni communities, in Cardiff

Somalilandsun:.Hundreds of people have hit out at plans to demolish a community cafe in Cardiff to make way for social housing.

A petition says the Paddle Steamer in multicultural Butetown has been “a unique and essential Tiger Bay community facility for generations”.

Cardiff Council wants to replace the building with 31 family apartments.

Campaigners say a new cafe could be incorporated on the ground floor, but one local councillor says there are similar facilities nearby.

The former pub and cafe – which is currently closed – was built during the 1960s redevelopment of Loudoun Square which saw Victorian streets replaced by tower blocks and a new shopping centre.

However, some of those buildings have themselves been replaced in a fresh redevelopment costing £13m launched in 2010.

The petition, started by Reclaim Cardiff, says the Paddle Steamer has been an important meeting place for local Somali and Yemeni communities, serving halal food, and used by solicitors offering asylum guidance.

Pointing to the decision to remove a statue of slave owner Sir Thomas Picton from City Hall, the petitioners add: “Cardiff Council has thrown its support behind Black Lives Matter, but will it take real action to support Cardiff’s long-established black communities?

“All that’s needed to solve this is to modify the plans, adding ground floor space for the cafe to continue serving the community.”

The Noor-El-Islam mosque, the Somaliland Mental Health Support charity and the Tiger Bay amateur boxing club have also voiced objections.

However, Butetown councillor Saeed Ebrahim, who chairs the city’s racial equality taskforce, said he was “not concerned” about the loss of the cafe, pointing to other community facilities nearby.

“My priority is to get social housing in this ward,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service, saying 300 people were waiting for one or two-bed accommodation.

Public consultation on the demolition plan ended in September, with a decision now resting with the council’s planning committee