(i) Mayor (or person presiding)
(ii) Members of the Cabinet
(iii) Chief Executive
Firstly, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Councillor Chris Davies as a new representative of the Caerau ward to his first Council meeting.
Since the busy schedule of Christmas the start of the year has been relatively quiet and on that note I would like to wish everybody here today and throughout the County Borough of Bridgend, a happy safe and healthy New Year.
The Mayors Citizenship Awards nominations are now closed and there have been in excess of 30 nominations submitted that are now being assessed, with the format of the presentations to be agreed in due course, depending on the situation with any restrictions due to Covid. However, it is envisaged this will take place in March 2022.
Next week on Thursday 27 January it will be Holocaust Memorial Day. One Day is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 in the hope that there may be One Day in the future where genocide will no longer take place. People are being asked to light their own memorial candle at home this year to remember those lost or permanently scarred by the effects of genocide. Due to there not being any formal gathering taking place, I will be lighting a candle on behalf of the County Borough in the Council chamber which will be recorded on video.
On the Mayor’s charity fundraising front there will be a Wales 3 Peaks challenge taking place on 2 April 2022. with an early morning ascent of Pen-y-Fan, then moving on to Cader Idris and finally an afternoon ascent of Snowdon, with it all being completed within 24 hours. If anybody is interested in taking part and helping to raise funds for Lads & Dads and Bridgend Carers Centre, then please contact me by the end of this month so that final numbers can be confirmed.
Finally, please note that if you are aware of anybody who may be due to celebrate their 100th. Birthday (or 100 +), or may be celebrating a special wedding anniversary then please get in touch via Mayor@Bridgend.gov.uk where arrangements can be made for a visit from myself and the Mayoress. Even if a home visit cannot be made due to Covid restrictions then arrangements can still take place to send a card and gift.
Members may be interested to know that together with our waste partners Kier, we are trialling an all-electric refuse collection vehicle this week.
Known as an ‘eCollect’, the new lorry started its rounds on Monday and is being used to record vital information that will support future decisions on the increased use of ultra-low emission vehicles.
The eCollect is being put through its paces to explore its ability and range.
In particular, we are monitoring how it performs while collecting waste from our valley communities, and in transporting it to the Materials Recovery and Energy Centre at Jersey Marine.
The vehicle, which is manufactured by the company Dennis Eagle, has already been assessed for its durability and performance on different road surfaces and under various conditions.
This trial offers a great opportunity as part of our commitment under the 2030 Zero Carbon agenda and joins other recent efforts such as our moves to install more charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, the use of electric taxis for fleet operators and more.
I hope to be able to bring Members more news on this innovation very soon.
Cabinet Member – Social Services and Early Help
Members will already be aware of the extreme pressures that we are continuing to operate under, it was already exceptionally difficult even prior to the pandemic, and the impact that this is having throughout the region on recruitment to the social care sector as a whole.
As part of our ongoing response to this, the next phase of our recruitment drive is about to be launched.
With a focus set firmly on why choosing a career in social care is a strong and rewarding choice, the campaign will incorporate a mix of videos, news releases, features, social media posts and graphics to reach as many potential candidates as possible. I’ve been fortunate to have a preview of some of these videos. It was inspiring to note that this is considered a career by them and not just a job.
The campaign will enable existing staff to talk about how they started out as social care workers and were supported by the council to progress and develop their careers further.
Wales Online will be interviewing some of our staff as part of this, and the campaign will offer a realistic insight into what it really means to work within social care and the dedication required to make a difference to our vulnerable residents.
There will also be a recruitment event held within Bridgend town centre as this proved to be especially useful in previous phases of the recruitment campaign.
The campaign will build off the success and popularity of similar recruitment drives launched by Welsh Government and Adult Social Care and will include a heavy emphasis on why staff find working in social care to be both professionally and personally rewarding and satisfying.
The campaign is due to be launched later this week, and I hope that members will do all that they can to support it, and to help publicise it across all of our local communities.
Cabinet Member – Future Generations and Wellbeing
Member may not be aware various activities are taking place between now and the end of March as part of the Winter of Wellbeing programme.
Designed to build upon the previous Summer of Fun, the programme is supported by Welsh Government and seeks to provide young people with opportunities to remain active, safe, healthy and well.
With a huge range of events taking place at local leisure centres, swimming pools, libraries and more, the initiative is being delivered through numerous local organisations such Halo, BAVO, Bad Bikes, KPC and Boys and Girls Club in Bettws, Nantymoel and the Wyndham
In addition, the Urdd are developing creative arts workshops, rock band taster sessions and a weekend residential stay
The pandemic has been a real challenge for many young people and their families, and the Winter of Wellbeing seeks to provide them with support, guidance and opportunities for lots of fun.
Details are available at local venues as well as the council website, and I hope that Members will support the initiative by encouraging their constituents to find out more.
Cabinet Member – Education and Regeneration
I’d like to briefly draw attention towards some recent innovations at Penybont Primary School which have been benefitting pupils.
Year Two learners were recently visited by Rylie, a border collie therapy dog who joined their reading groups as part of an exercise designed to help their literacy skills develop and progress, ease anxiety and help children who have special needs.
Rylie provided a calming influence and supported the children’s confidence and enthusiasm as they were encouraged to read aloud. Needless to say, Rylie was hugely popular and the visit was a big success, so plans are being explored to extend the scheme to other schools across the region.
Penybont Primary has also installed a unique vending machine that is offering pupils not snacks or drinks, but books.
Each week, one lucky winner from each class receives a token to reward their reading efforts, attitude and progress. The winning pupil can use the token to select a new book from the special vending machine.
I’m sure Members will agree that both of these innovations offer an excellent incentive for children to read more and to improve local levels of literacy.
The school deserves to be commended for these efforts, so well done to all involved.
I’d like to advise Members that we have received official notification that the Bridgend Youth Justice Service will be inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation next month.
The inspection will be carried out between 14 and 18 February 2022.
The inspection team will review the work of the Youth Justice Service before delivering a report on the effectiveness of the service, and on our efforts to prevent young people from offending and re-offending.
The HMIP inspections are designed to promote excellence within youth offending services across Wales, and to ensure that we are meeting our responsibilities as effectively as possible.
We will share further information with Members in due course.