Agenda item

To receive announcements by the Leader


Firstly, I would like to congratulate and welcome Councillor Christopher Davies to his first meeting of full Council.


Also, our best wishes to Councillor Giffard who has been in the Princess of Wales hospital having his gall bladder removed. I know he has been very complimentary about the doctors, nurses and all the NHS staff that have treated him there.


My group are presently carrying vacancies on CO&SC, SO&SC 1 and SO&SC 2, due to Councillor Gebbie formerly sitting on each of these bodies but now no longer being able to, as a newly appointed Cabinet Member.


Therefore, the Labour replacement members on each of these Committees are as follows;-


CO&SC – Councillor N Burnett

SO&SC 1 – Councillor S Smith

SO&SC 2 – Councillor N Burnett


Members will have noted the success of the pandemic arrangements that have been in place since Boxing Day and been pleased to see that infection rates have continued to fall.


Welsh Government has now confirmed that restrictions are to gradually ease further as Wales moves back towards alert level zero.


The move follows latest public health evidence which show that positive coronavirus cases have decreased while more than two-thirds of people aged 12 and over have received either a booster or a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.


This does of course have a number of implications for Bridgend County Borough.


While the full move to alert level zero will be dependent on the public health situation continuing to improve, the number of people who can gather at outdoor events has now risen from 50 to 500.


From 21 January, there will be no limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities.


Crowds will be able to return to outdoor sporting events, and outdoor hospitality will be able to operate without needing to introduce additional reasonable measures.


However, it should be noted that the Covid Pass will still be required for entry to larger outdoor events.


If the downward trend continues, all indoor activities will move to alert level zero from 28 January.


This will mean that nightclubs will be able to re-open, and that while working from home wherever possible will remain important, it will no longer constitute a legal requirement.


Businesses, employers and other organisations will still need to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and put reasonable measures in place to minimise the spread of coronavirus, and the Covid Pass will still be required for entry to nightclubs, events, cinemas, concert halls and theatres.


Table service, the ‘rule of six’ and two-metre physical distancing will no longer be required, but self-isolation rules for people who test positive for Covid-19 and rules on face coverings within most public indoor places will remain in force after 28 January.


You may have also seen that Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board is to offer walk-in vaccinations against winter flu, for two and three year old children.


This follows concerns that children who have been off school may have missed their regular school vaccination programme and will be at risk during the final few months of winter when influenza is more prevalent.


Administered by way of a nasal spray, the walk-in clinics will be available locally at the Ravens Court vaccination centre between 9am and 4pm this Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 January.


In other developments, an all-new lateral flow test is being piloted in Wales which people can use at home.


Branded as Flowflex and described on the packaging as being ‘a SARS-Cov-2-Antigen Rapid Test,’ the new tests dispense with the throat swab, and require you to only undertake a nasal swab.


Mobile testing also remains available for anyone experiencing symptoms of coronavirus. Drive-through testing is available at the former Revlon site in Maesteg and at Coity and Litchard Community Centre between 9am and 5pm.


You can also access the walk-through testing centre at the Bowls Hall car park in Angel Street, Bridgend between 8am-8pm.


Please note that booking remains essential across all three sites, and that this can be arranged by visiting the Welsh Government website, calling 119, or, if you have hearing or speech difficulties, 1800 1119.


While the measures taken just before Christmas have limited the spread of coronavirus and have enabled us to start back towards alert level zero conditions, we must do so in a sensible, phased way, and should not let our guard down.


Covid-19 remains a very real threat, and our best defence continues to lie in ensuring as many people as possible receive a full round of vaccinations.


I hope that members will continue to promote this within their local wards, and I would like to thank you for your ongoing support in helping to promote these very important measures.


Finally, in related news, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses in Bridgend County Borough can now register for Welsh Government funding to ease the impact of the Omicron variant during the period 13 December 2021 to 14 February 2022.


A total of £120 million is being made available, and eligible businesses who pay non-domestic rates will be able to claim a payment of either £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000.


To benefit, businesses will need to re-register their details in order to receive the payment, but can do so quickly and easily online at the Council website.


Since the start of the pandemic, Welsh Government has provided over £2.2 billion of support to businesses throughout Wales to help them manage their way through difficult circumstances.


The fund will go some way towards strengthening resilience, expanding business opportunities, and safeguarding jobs.


I am sure that Members will want to help ensure local businesses are aware of this support, and more information, including frequently asked questions, support guidance and an eligibility checker, is available at the Business Wales website.


Finally, there was an Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting this morning, I understand there was questions about the attendance of the Deputy Leader and myself at the meeting. I can confirm that I sent my apologies because I was paying my respects at a funeral. The Deputy Leader was late because his daughter had been involved in a serious car accident. I am pleased to confirm that his daughter is safe and luckily was not seriously injured. Thanks to Members for their concerns.