THE official residence of the Lord Mayor of Cardiff should become the home of the first minister, it has been suggested. 

That call has come from a Cardiff councillor as the row over security continues after anti-lockdown campaigners staged a protest outside Mark Drakeford’s private home. 

The campaigners, who were also in opposition to rules around vaccination, shouted “arrest Mark Drakeford” as they stood in the centre of the residential street for around 20 mintues on Saturday afternoon and also caused buses to be diverted. 

Politicians and others have since raised concerns over the security of the first minister and suggested they should have an official residence as does the Scottish first minster and the UK prime minister who has a working home at Downing Street and a country home at Chequers. 

Cardiff councillor Joe Carter said he would like to see the city’s Mansion House become the official residence of the first minister. 

The building on Richmond Road in Roath is just two miles, and a nine minute drive, from the Senedd in Cardiff Bay. The Grade II listed building has been the official home of the city’s Lord Mayor since 1913 and was originally built, in the mid 1890s, as a family home for James Howell who founded the famous Howell’s department store. 

It was restored in 1998 when world leaders visited Cardiff for a European Council summit and is presently used for some council events as well as being hired out for weddings. 

Cllr Carter, said he has long thought the house, which isn’t used as regular accommodation for the city’s first citizen, would be a more than suitable base for the first minister. 

The Liberal Democrat said: “My personal opinion is the Mansion House would make an ideal official residence for the First Minister. The grand Victorian building was built at a time when lord mayors needed accommodation. This is no longer the case and whilst it is used for civic and charitable events, becoming the home for the first minister would be a far more fitting role for it.” 

Plaid Cymru MS Rhun ap Iorweth said he was in "no doubt that Wales should have an official residence for a first minister like pretty much every other country". 

But former first minister Carwyn Jones told ITV Wales he didn’t think the position should have an official residence. He described Bute House, the Scottish first minister’s official home, an “anomaly” as neither the Welsh or Northern Irish first ministers are provided with a house. 

Jones said: “I think that would be overkill, I wouldn't have wanted an official residence in Cardiff and people would start asking questions about the cost and whether it was value for money." 

READ MORE:

Drakeford had told the ITV Wales Sharp End programme, earlier this year, the question could arise in the future. 

He said: “The day will come when the first minister will be from north Wales and that person will be needed to stay in Cardiff for lots of their working life. 

"It's one thing doing it, as I do from my own home, but it is a completely different matter if you don't have somewhere you can regard as your own base.” 

Carwyn Jones lived in his Bridgend constituency, some 20 miles away, while he was first minister and his predecessors Rhodri Morgan and Alun Michael lived on the outskirts of the city. 

Swansea East MS Mike Hedges is among politicians to have raised concerns over the police response to Saturday’s protest. 

He said police had been “complacent” and questioned if they would have taken the same attitude if a protest had been staged outside the home of the chief constable. 

South Wales Police has hit back at criticism and said an inspector had spoken with the first minister, before and during the protest, and he had no concerns for his safety.  

A force spokesman said: “The focus of the protest moved from its original location to take place outside the home of First Minister Mark Drakeford.  

“In line with existing protocols, a police officer of Inspector rank spoke to Mr Drakeford before and throughout the protest who confirmed that he was aware of the protest and had no concerns for his safety. Officers were deployed to the area and the protest remained peaceful and dispersed after a short period of time. 
 
“At no point was the safety of the First Minister at risk. The protest remained entirely peaceful and there was no threat of disorder or violence, those in attendance acted lawfully.” 

The force said it has “a proven track-record" of upholding the right to protest “while balancing the rights of others, seeking to minimise disruption and keeping the public safe”. 

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.