Agenda item

To receive announcements from:

(i) Mayor (or person presiding)

(ii) Members of the Cabinet

(iii) Chief Executive





And other dignitaries, as follows:


As this is the first meeting of full Council since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the solemn occasion.


Queen Elizabeth II was our longest-reigning British monarch, and while her passing is an enormous loss to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, she leaves behind a lasting legacy of strength and inspiration.


As soon as we learned of her passing, the authority expressed its heartfelt sympathies to His Majesty, King Charles, and the Royal Family.


Flags were flown at half-mast outside our civic buildings, and as a mark of respect, the Civic Offices, Grand Pavilion and Maesteg Town Hall were all illuminated at night in purple, the late sovereign’s favourite colour.


Books of condolence were quickly made available to enable the local community to record their personal messages, and an area below the flagpole at the Civic Offices was reserved for the display of floral tributes that many people wanted to offer.


We observed a series of formal events as part of the period of national mourning, including the Royal Proclamation ceremony which was held outside the Civic Offices.


To ensure that we could all participate in the state funeral, a huge number of council services were rearranged which included schools, council offices, libraries, leisure centres, waste, recycling and more.


On behalf of all Members, Officers of BCBC and the citizens of the County Borough, I would like to thank staff and managers for their efforts in accommodating all of this, and for arranging the wide number of events that took place during the period of national mourning which ensured that the people of Bridgend County Borough were able to pay their respects in an appropriate and effective manner while still benefitting from essential services.


I would particularly like to thank the Democratic Services team for the support that I received personally as Mayor. This was first class in every respect, and I am very grateful for their ongoing efforts.


During the Queen’s funeral, the nation fell silent as we all observed a minute’s silence, and I would like to invite members to join me now in observing a further minute’s silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth.


Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member – Social Services and Early Help


I would like to draw members’ attention to a new initiative which has been launched as part of the Bridgend Young Carers Service. 


It is designed to help children and young people in Bridgend County Borough who act as unpaid carers for a relative, neighbour or friend, and provides them with direct support as well as practical advice, guidance and more.


Operating out of a new centre on Five Bells Road, it looks after the health and well-being of young carers, and includes opportunities for them to gain new qualifications, develop important life skills and take part in issue-based workshops as well as signposting them to further support.


The service also provides a youth club with various social activities, and a home transport service that ensures the service and its facilities remains available to all young carers on a weekly basis.


Run in partnership between Whitehead-Ross Education, Welsh Government and Bridgend County Borough Council, the service forms part of the Families First programme, which as you know supports the most vulnerable children and adults within our communities.


This fantastic new service is already proving to be a major source of support, and I hope that members will help spread the word about it.


More information is available at the council website alongside further support and advice for unpaid carers of all ages.


As it is National Adoption Week, I would also like to briefly mention that there are a wide range of activities taking place to mark the occasion, including an informative series of podcasts called ‘Truth Be Told’ which are available to view online.


These follow a set of adoptive families and the children they care for, and as they offer a true insight for anyone who may be considering adoption, they are highly useful if members are aware of any individuals, couples or families within their wards who may want to find out more.


You can view the podcasts and find out more about the National Adoption Week by visiting their website at


I would also like to say thank you to all foster carers who I spent the day with discussing any concerns that they have as individuals, as well as issues relating to new policies and the implementation of these. Also subject of discussions, was the increase in allowances, their 2 week respite provision that will be paid and our Foster Carers Charter, as examples.


I have received numerous emails since the above, thanking me for the engagement here and expressing how valued they feel now we are developing our provision.


Whilst we are acknowledging the challenges in our social care provision, our Corporate Parenting Event with our stakeholders throughout the County Borough proved fruitful, as this not only developed their understanding of the corporate parenting responsibilities, it also involved listening to the voices of our care experienced children and very definitely realised the opportunities that their organisations can offer to those children, in order to enrich their young lives.


Cabinet Member – Resources


I have no doubt that members will all be following the ongoing difficulties that are currently taking place within UK Government.


In the fallout of the mini-budget, newspapers such as the Financial Times are already talking about the return of austerity measures, and new chancellor Jeremy Hunt has warned us to expect harsh decisions on spending and tax.


Against this backdrop, it should come as no surprise when I tell members that our own forthcoming budget consultation for 2023-24 must also carry a very stark warning.


Based on current predictions, it looks likely that we may have to make budget reductions. Our current financial modelling is showing a £20m shortfall in the revenue budget for the coming financial year, and we are going to have to make some tough decisions of our own in order to meet our legal responsibility of delivering a council budget that is fully balanced.


This is, of course, in addition to the budget reductions that we have already made over the last ten years, reductions that add up to a massive sixty-two million pounds.


Making further reductions is not going to be easy at all. We already face increasing demand upon many of the 800 different services that we provide, including unprecedented numbers of referrals to our social services teams and record numbers of homeless people seeking temporary accommodation.


When you take into account the ongoing recovery from the pandemic, the current cost of living crisis, rising inflation and rocketing energy costs, the council’s finances are under massive strain. 


That is why it will be so important for everyone taking part in the forthcoming budget consultation to maintain a realistic view.


We need to be very clear that the council will have no choice but to make extremely difficult decisions over the next few years.


While these decisions will always seek to protect the most vulnerable members of the community, we will inevitably have to look at reducing services and streamlining our operations.


This is also why feedback on budget setting from our local communities is so important.


We want to ensure that we can make realistic, workable decisions for our county borough, and we want to achieve this by working closely together.


The budget consultation is currently being finalised, and members can expect to receive more information on it very soon.


Cabinet Member – Future Generations


I’m sure that members will have noted that a few weeks ago, the council and our partners successfully found alternative accommodation for thirty-nine homeless residents in the space of four day, who had previously been accommodated at two seafront hotels in Porthcawl as part of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


This was a positive result from a less than ideal situation that was placed before us with little warning, and I would like to send my thanks to the BCBC housing team and everyone who helped to ensure that the accommodation could be found so quickly.


Now, with the weather starting to turn colder, I would like to ask members to remind residents that they can report anyone they think may be a rough sleeper to the housing team and help us to ensure that they can access support and help.


The easiest and simplest way of doing this is to visit the Streetlink website where you can provide details including a rough sleeper’s location and a description. The website can be found at


This information is then shared with the local council team and homelessness agencies so that appropriate support can be offered to them.


Thankfully, the number of rough sleepers who are in Bridgend County Borough at any one time is relatively small.


The individuals in Bridgend are generally well known to the services who continue to try and help them, and to balance their often complex needs with those of the wider community.


We work closely alongside a number of partners to ensure that anyone who is homeless or who is at risk of becoming homeless can receive comprehensive support.


The council’s own website features a wide range of information on what we do to prevent people from having to sleep rough, and if you haven’t already done so, I would strongly recommend familiarising yourself with the details.


Cabinet Member – Education


Members may want to let their constituents know that applications are now open for admissions to secondary schools in September 2023.


Parents, guardians and carers of primary school pupils who are currently in Year 6 are being advised that the fastest and easiest way of submitting an application is by filling in an online form which is available in the ‘My Account’ section of the council’s website.


The website also features a school admissions page which offers information about applying for a space at a local secondary school, including catchment area maps and more.


The deadline for submitting an application will be 4pm on 20 January 2023, and notifications will be issued on 1 March 2023.


Please note that as there is no automatic or guaranteed admission to any secondary school in the county borough, applications that are not submitted by the deadline 20 January deadline risk missing out on a preferred school.


This covers all schools apart from Archbishop McGrath Catholic High School, where a slightly different process is in place.


Anyone seeking to apply to this school should contact them directly to request an application form.


Cabinet Member – Regeneration


I was delighted to attend the recent opening of a new support hub for jobseekers in the Porthcawl area.


Run by Employability Bridgend and based at the Old Portway Surgery, the service offers local people expert advice, support and mentoring across all aspects of training and developing new skills, seeking new jobs, and securing new employment.


The hub is available on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays between 9:30am and 2:30pm, and is also planning to hold monthly coffee mornings for Ukrainian refugees and their host families.


It follows the opening last summer of another support hub for jobseekers, this time based at T? Llynfi in Maesteg, which is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30am to 3:30pm.


Both hubs are equipped with training rooms, a job club, ICT access and more, and I hope that members will help to spread the word about their availability.


Since 2016, Employability Bridgend has supported more than five thousand individuals, including 740 young people.


They have provided training to 1,800 individuals, have helped 360 secure volunteering posts, and have supported 1,740 into new jobs.


These new hubs offer people an opportunity to benefit from expert advice and support, and I would like to thank the Employability Bridgend team for their efforts.


Cabinet Member – Communities


I am sure members will have noted the recent incidents where heavy rainfall caused sewage to be discharged off the coast of Porthcawl.


This prompted a 48 hour precautionary ‘no swimming’ order to be issued, and understandably drew widespread concern from local residents.


Following the discharge of the waste, we wrote to Dwr Cymru to seek clarification on why it happened, and to enquire whether any action is being taken.


Their response has explained that the problem occurred because much of the current drainage system has its origins in the Edwardian or Victorian eras, so some drains that are designed to carry surface water also feed into the foul sewage system.


This means that during periods where there has been particularly heavy rainfall, the storm overflows may discharge in order to prevent homes and businesses from being flooded.


This may have been acceptable when the system was introduced, but it is clearly not suitable now.


However, Dwr Cymru is also carrying out work to tackle all storm overflows which have been identified as causing environmental harm.


With more than £840 million invested into wastewater management between now and 2025, the company has expressed its commitment towards mitigating the impact of overflows on beaches and watercourses.


Working with environmental regulators to prioritise investment in areas which have seen the most adverse impact, the company has made a further commitment on its storm overflows to Welsh Government and has plans in place to invest an additional £130 million through ‘financial headroom’.


Its Drainage and Wastewater Management Plan, which is currently out for consultation, sets out how Dwr Cymru intends to work alongside local councils to deal with issues such as flooding, climate change, removing surface water from the sewer network, improving the environment and more.


I’m sure that members will welcome this commitment, and I will keep you updated on further developments.


Can I also briefly advise members that as a result of urgent remedial works taking place at the Brackla One car park in Bridgend town centre, the Shopmobility service will be temporarily unavailable.


Users of the service have already been informed of this temporary measure, which is necessary to ensure their ongoing safety, and every effort will be made so that it can resume as normal once the works have been completed.


Chief Executive


I have a very brief update that I think will be of interest to members.


You will be aware that as part of the local authority’s Future Service Delivery programme, a significant amount of work has been carried out in support of our aspirations to adopt new ways of working and providing services.


An important part of this has involved ensuring that our meeting rooms are properly equipped to support the introduction of hybrid working, including within the council chamber and the main committee rooms.


I’m please to confirm that this is now in place, and that the upgrade has been completed.


Members will shortly receive a new schedule for meetings where you will be able to attend either virtually or in person.


The initial schedule will cover the remainder of the current month and the whole of November, and you can expect to receive further schedules thereafter.