(i) Mayor (or person presiding)
(ii) Members of the Cabinet
(iii) Chief Executive
Over the past few week’s I have been visiting a number of individuals and groups to present them with their Mayors Citizenship Awards and it has been a pleasure meeting them all. There are still a number to be presented and will all be completed in the next week or so.
Next Monday I will be officially opening the Miners Memorial in Nantymoel adjacent to the site of the now demolished Berwyn Centre and I am sure this will be one of the highlights of my year as Mayor. Having grown up in Nantymoel it will be an honour to return to mark this special event and pay tribute to the many miners (my father being one of them) who spent many hours each day in the darkness underground but were the real building blocks of the valley.
It has been an experience and a pleasure the Chair these Council meetings over the past year, even if a little disappointing that we have not managed to get back into the Council chamber on a hybrid basis, but hopefully this will change soon. I would like to thank you all for not giving me too hard a time at these meetings, but I suppose we have not got through today as yet so who knows what may be in store.
As this will be the last Council meeting before the election I thought it worth just asking you all once more to make a donation to the two groups I am raising funds for this year - Lads & Dads and Bridgend Carers Centre. I will be participating in the Welsh 3 Peaks challenge on Saturday 2 April along with 21 other people who have signed up and we are all looking to try and raise funds for these two groups. The event will start around 4.00am on the Saturday and its likely we will be completing the event at Snowdon in the dark but all within 24 hours. Please make a donation via the BCBC Website on the Mayors page if you are able to and many thanks in anticipation of your support.
Finally, as Members may be aware, the following Committee meetings have been cancelled due to the pre-election period commencing on 21 March 2022:-
Democratic Services Committee – 24 March
Standards Committee – 29 March
Governance and Audit Committee – 31 March
The Governance and Audit Committee has been brought forward to the 15 March at 2pm with the agreement of the Chairperson. Regulatory Committees are permitted to be held within the pre-election period.
Democratic Services staff will remove the above appointments from Members and Officers calendars accordingly. The revised date for the Governance and Audit Committee has already been placed in Members/Officers calendars
Members may wish to warn their constituents that we are once again receiving calls from worried householders who have been targeted by scammers.
These criminals are issuing emails and are making direct phone calls to wrongly tell people that they are entitled to big pay-outs and rebates on their council tax.
The scammers then offer to arrange for the money to be paid back to residents in exchange for a fee of around £140.
This is a scam, and householders are being advised to remain alert for it.
You can find out more about how the council handles council tax payments and refunds at the corporate website or via My Account.
Cabinet Member – Communities
There is a project underway in South Cornelly which I am sure will be of interest to members as it is set upon creating the first low-carbon village in Wales.
Launched by Bridgend County Borough Council in association with Challoch Energy, NuVision Energy Wales ltd, Passive UK and Welsh Government, the project comprises of a pioneering initiative that aims to share green energy between local homes.
This is achieved by fitting houses with a combination of solar panels, solar ventilation and energy batteries, all linked together so that the energy can be distributed throughout the community.
The scheme is one of many projects that the council is working on as part of our overall Bridgend 2030 decarbonisation strategy.
If the trial continues to deliver positive results, we could soon start rolling the technology out to other communities within the county borough.
Cabinet Member – Social Services and Early Help
As this will be the last meeting of full Council until after the May elections, I want to make members aware that we will shortly be opening a new centre where our East Hub early help and children’s social services teams will be based.
The creation of our hubs date back to 2015 when we established three multi-disciplinary teams capable of sharing skills and resources to provide more effective support for local children and their families.
Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen provided a suitable home for the North Hub team, and the West Hub team were set up within Pyle Life Centre.
The Civic Offices has served as a temporary base for the East Hub team while we have searched for appropriate accommodation.
Thanks to the efforts of our partners and especially the head teacher, staff, pupils and governing body of Brynteg Comprehensive, an all-new detached single-storey building has now been designed and constructed within the grounds of the school and stands ready to welcome not only the early help team members, but also our locality team for children’s social services, too.
Both teams do sterling work for the community, and the new building will bring together experts in family, parenting and engagement support, educational welfare, psychology and counselling, police community support and liaison, safeguarding, health and more.
By co-locating them together, this creates excellent opportunities for enhanced joint working between our statutory safeguarding teams.
The East Hub is going to be a fantastic new facility which will have a positive impact upon the lives of local people, so well done to everyone who has made it possible.
Cabinet Member – Future Generations and Wellbeing
Young people aged 16-18 who live in the Ogmore, Garw and Llynfi valleys can take advantage of 8 weeks of free gym membership as part of the Winter of Wellbeing initiative.
Funded by Welsh Government and provided by Halo Leisure and Bridgend County Borough Council, the programme is designed to encourage young people to live active and healthier lives.
To find out more information, you can visit the Halo website or call or visit one of the participating venues before the deadline of 31 March 2022.
Cabinet Member – Education and Regeneration
I’m sure that members will be pleased to note that Bridgend College has now formally submitted a pre-application planning proposal for establishing a new, multi-million pound campus at the heart of Bridgend town centre.
As you know, the proposal is part of the council’s Regeneration Masterplan which identifies a series of ambitious and deliverable projects over the next 10 years that will support future economic growth and secure greater benefits and opportunities.
The college wants to develop an all-new learning and skills campus at Cheapside using land currently occupied by the town centre police station, which has already been purchased by the council for this purpose, and the nearby former multi-storey car park which had to close in April 2021 due to serious structural faults.
With police activities at the site moving to alternative town centre premises and their main offices on Cowbridge Road, we are working closely with the college as this new learning and skills campus promises to act as an anchor project within the regeneration plans, and to make Bridgend town a unique destination for state-of-the-art learning and training opportunities.
Taking advantage of parallel plans for developing enhanced public transport links within the town centre which will make it easier for people to access its facilities, the new campus is intended to support local businesses and generate fresh investment by significantly increasing footfall.
Ultimately, this proposal seeks to bring higher and further education into the town centre where it will be closer to retail, leisure and transport hubs, and represents a cornerstone of our regeneration strategy which promises to deliver longstanding positive change.
The masterplan ambition and vision is that Bridgend is a true County Town. This aspect of the masterplan confirms Bridgend as a place for technical education, a place for skills and lifelong learning and, in effect, a university town.
I am sure that members will be very aware that this is the last meeting of full Council before the local government elections take place in May.
As Chief Executive, I have always valued the constructive working relationships that we have in place here at Bridgend County Borough Council, and of the mutual respect that is in place between officers and members.
I know that some of you have already made the decision not to stand at the forthcoming elections, and politics being what it is, we may also see other new faces the next time we meet in this chamber.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of all officers for your efforts, your commitment and your dedication towards the communities which you represent.
I would also like to wish Members all the very best of luck and good wishes in the future.