Agenda item

To receive announcements from:

(i) Mayor (or person presiding)

(ii) Members of the Cabinet

(iii) Chief Executive





I would like to thank the proprietors of the Bettws Café who went the extra yard on Christmas Eve, delivering free Xmas dinners to homeless charities and people who live alone in the Bettws area.


In the run up to the New Year, the Leader and myself attended/witnessed the marriage of Ian and Alison (now Mr and Mrs Thomas) at the Bridgend Registry Office. Thanks are extended to the newlyweds for allowing us to be there for part of their special day.


Please can I remind members about this year’s Mayor’s Charity, so that they may make a donation to this if they are in a position to.


I will be meeting with Officers this week, to consider the Mayor’s Award nominations.


And finally, for Members information the date of the Budget Cabinet meeting has been changed from 21 February 2023 (2.30pm) to 22 February at the same starting time. 


Deputy Leader


Over the last few weeks, members will have noted the extreme pressures that the health and social care system has been operating under.


Understandably, much of the media focus has been on the very visible, and sometimes harrowing, position that hospitals have found themselves in.


As we have also seen these extreme pressures within the community, I want to acknowledge and pay tribute to our social care workforce as until we resolve this issue of capacity within our communities and value the staff that deliver those community services, we will not resolve the pressures within our hospitals and avoidance of ambulances waiting outside to hand over their patients.


They have been working tirelessly not only to support people who have been discharged from hospital care, but to implement new Welsh Government guidance in a way that maintains social care values and holds at its core the ongoing safety and wellbeing of vulnerable people.


We have worked very closely with Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and remain focussed not only on the immediate response, but also on implementing strategic actions that will enable more people to receive the care and support that they need in an appropriate, timely way.


To provide members with an example of just how we are doing things differently, I would like to briefly highlight our participation with a trial scheme to manage the way in which people take medication, preventing their illnesses from worsening and needing medical interventions, and tackle the £300m cost of wasted medicines across the UK due to the mismanagement of


Traditionally, ensuring that people take their medication regularly has involved a mix of daily home visits from carers, alarm clocks, wall charts, monitored dosage systems, telecare prompts and more.


As the disadvantages of such methods range from potential costs to an inability to confirm that medication has actually been taken as required, the council and Cwm Taf have partnered with Life Sciences Hub Wales to develop a new digital approach.


Called ‘Your Meds’, this uses smart medication management technology in the form of a digital pill box.


Pods within the box are pre-filled and delivered directly to the user, and the box has built-in tech which informs care providers and families when the medication has been accessed.


Needless to say, it also contacts them to let them know when the scheduled medication has not been accessed.


As well as increasing independence and providing greater freedom for carers and family members, this new approach has the potential to save up to £3,600 per person, per year, and enables staff to undertake other work.


By reducing the number of crisis referrals, digital technology can be preventative while also providing vital information for streamlining individual care needs.


With less room for error, it means that money can also be invested into other key services.


This is just one example of the new ways of working that we are currently exploring, and if members would like to know more, I will be happy to show them where they can find further information.


Cabinet Member – Wellbeing and Future Generations


Members may wish to inform their constituents about some significant investment that has been made into new leisure facilities for the county borough.


As a result of a £400,000 refurbishment, Maesteg Sports Centre will soon feature a larger gym area with brand new cardio machines, a dedicated strength-and-conditioning space and a wellness zone.


All-new studio, training and workshop spaces have been created, and improvements have also been made to the changing room area.


A £200,000 refurbishment has also recently been completed at Pyle Swimming Pool. This has delivered a range of enhanced facilities, such as 30 new changing cubicles, accessible family-size booths, new energy efficient showers and lighting, and poolside changing facilities to offer greater support for people with accessibility issues.


The improvements are intended to support accessibility as well as benefiting both the physical and mental health of all residents and have been made possible thanks to investment from Bridgend County Borough Council, Halo Leisure, and Sport Wales.


I’m sure members will want to welcome this investment and help spread awareness about the new facilities.


If you would like to find out more, further details are available on the Halo website.


On a separate note, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the decision by the UK government to block a law which would improve the lives and rights of trans people in Scotland.


The question of constitutionality is important, but I think we can agree, human rights should not be used as a political football. The trans community remain one of the most maligned parts of our community, they face significant challenges when accessing health care, for example, as well as discrimination in many other parts of their lives. Taking the decision to transition is not one that is taken lightly but imagine having to live your life feeling you aren’t really you and that parts of your society denies your very existence.


I welcome the calls from the First Minister and the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn to receive powers that would allow the Welsh Government to improve the lives and rights of trans people in Wales. As Vaughan Gethin said yesterday “My rights, and everyone else’s, are not at risk by trans people having their rights. And it is self-evident that nobody is equal until we are all equal.”


As such, I have asked officers to undertake work in the Cabinet Committee on Equalities which I chair to look into the challenges faced by our trans residents in Bridgend and how we can help mitigate those challenges.


Cabinet Member – Regeneration


I would like to share some of our recent efforts to support jobs, employment and training with members, and how we are supporting fresh local business in Bridgend County Borough.


Firstly, following investment into venues such as Heol-y-Cyw Community Centre, the Westward Community Centre in Cefn Glas and the Pencoed Miners’ Welfare Hall, the Employability Bridgend team are setting up a series of community hubs.


These are designed to help residents aged 16 and over who are unemployed, looking to work more hours or to acquire a second or new job, and seeks to provide vocational qualifications, volunteering opportunities, the chance to develop new skills and more.


The team are already offering support at 20 different locations and are committed towards extending this further to support as many communities as possible in coming months.


Secondly, we are working alongside the Pop Up Wales initiative to provide opportunities ranging from practical training for entrepreneurs to events at Bridgend Indoor Market featuring festive workshops, live music and more.


The project enables people to ‘try out’ their business ideas by providing temporary stalls and premises and encourages them to develop their ideas and take them to the next level while also enabling opportunities for training and mentoring.


To date, the programme has matched ten pop-up ventures to empty town centre premises, and we are planning to carry out further work with Pop Up Wales throughout 2023.


Finally, the award-winning Rebel Business School is returning to Bridgend County Borough, in March to offer valuable free support to potential entrepreneurs.


Designed to help get ideas off the ground and to support existing businesses to grow, the initiative covers topics such as how to start a business, advice on sales and marketing, how to build a website, finding customers, legal issues and much more.


To date, it has supported more than 17,000 people via partnerships with local housing associations and local authorities and is sure to be a popular and well-attended event when it returns.


I would encourage members to find out more about these initiatives and to help spread awareness of their availability – more details can be found at the council website.


I have some excellent news to share with members regarding UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Funding.


We have received official notification that following a successful application process, the council has been allocated more than £21m from the fund under its themes of people and skills, supporting local business, and community and place.


The money has already been fully allocated towards specific initiatives and includes £8m for establishing an employability and skills framework package, £3.5m for setting up new centres of enterprise across the county borough, and just over £1m for health, climate and economical projects that will develop stronger and more resilient local communities.


Within all of this are projects such as the Great Glamorgan Way, a 270km network of ‘green corridors’ which will connect communities throughout the region, schemes to improve adult literacy, funding in support of new tourism events, a local enterprise support programme, new options for diversification, decarbonisation and growth, and much more.


As members know, the Shared Prosperity Fund replaces previous European structural funds, and we are grateful to colleagues in Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council as they have acted on behalf of local authorities within the Cardiff Capital Region in order to progress the area’s individual plans.


With the fund expected to be in place until March 2025, we anticipate that delivery will begin within the coming months, and opportunities to access the fund will be announced in due course.


Cabinet Member – Communities


Last week’s severe weather saw more than a month’s worth of rain fell upon Bridgend County Borough in less than 24 hours, and throughout it all, council staff were out in the thick of it once more, working around the clock to respond to incidents, keep roads open, support local residents and help keep people safe and dry.


Thanks to their efforts and also the various infrastructure improvements that have been introduced over the last few years, problems were kept to an absolute minimum and widespread flooding was successfully avoided.


Among the issues that workers had to deal with were a blocked culvert which threw mud, rocks and other debris onto the A4061 Bwlch mountain road and meant that a lane closure was necessary.


While the Dipping Bridge at New Inn Road in Merthyr Mawr had to close due to high river levels, culvert alarms in areas such as Heol Faen at Maesteg and Min Y Nant at Pencoed were all triggered, but did not overtop.


Unfortunately, parts of Ogmore Vale were affected after drainage systems became overwhelmed by the sheer amount of rainfall, so after water entered premises at Cemetery Road and Alma Terrace, council crews worked alongside the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service to pump out drainage chambers and divert water away from properties using sand bags.


A culvert to the rear of Bethania Row was overwhelmed by rainwater after becoming blocked by debris which had washed downstream, but efforts to access it were hindered due to parked cars.


After officers from South Wales Police helped alert householders and ensured that the cars were removed, council workers were able to clear the blockage, but not before some flooding unfortunately occurred at the nearby Welfare Hall.


Several units at Penllwyngwent Industrial Estate also experienced flooding due to water flowing off land at the rear of the premises, which was later diverted using sandbags.


Elsewhere in the county borough, a single tree fell across the highway near the Rockwool factory at Wern Fawr. Council workers quickly responded to remove the tree and ensure the road remained open.


Incidents such as this help to illustrate how the council works to keep people safe, property dry and roads clear. Our crews do a fantastic job, and I am sure that members will want to congratulate them for their efforts.


Cabinet Member – Resources


As we are now down to the last few days of our annual budget consultation, which opened last December, I would like to ask members to encourage their constituents to take part before it closes on 22 January.


The consultation offers residents a chance to have their say on the council’s spending priorities and help shape the authority’s budget for the 2023-24 financial year.


Just as households are facing stark financial challenges during the cost-of-living crisis, so too is the council, and we have to deal with significant additional budget pressures of at least £20m.


Despite a better than anticipated settlement from Welsh Government, we still need to save £3.5m, and are looking to develop new and innovative ways of providing the kind of services that residents want while using increasingly limited resources.


That’s why we want local residents to give us their feedback and tell us what they think of our proposed spending priorities for next year.


With full details available at the council website, you can either fill in a copy of the consultation online, or contact our Consultation team to receive it in an alternative format.


Cabinet Member – Education


I have two issues that I would like to update members on.


Firstly, you may recall that it was announced in January that our Youth Support Team would be expanding the provision of safe spaces for young people aged between 11 and 25 at its existing centres.


These are based at Coleg Cymunedol y Dderwen, Cynffig Comprehensive School and the Pencoed Youth Engagement Centre.


They also announced that they would be establishing two new centres, one in the Bryntirion / Cefn Glas area, and another in Brackla.


Unfortunately, this has led to misinformation being spread on social media over safeguarding concerns at the thought of children being allowed to mix with people in their early twenties.


I want to make it quite clear that all of our youth work takes place within a safe environment, and with full regard to safeguarding measures.


The reason support is available to everyone within that age bracket is because by law, councils are expected to provide youth support to young people aged between 11 and 25.


While this is also in line with Welsh Government’s Youth Work Strategy for Wales, in practice we find that many older young people prefer to access our targeted provision, and not our youth centres. 


All of our centres are run by professionally qualified youth workers who are well trained and equipped in matters such as safeguarding, county lines, radicalisation, sexual exploitation and more.


Furthermore, the centres will organise their activities so that different nights or times are allocated to specific age groups.


The bottom line is that the centres are run appropriately and professionally so that they continue to offer a safe space for younger people.


The second issue I want to advise members about concerns planned industrial action by the National Union of Head Teachers and National Education Union.


This has been confirmed after the NEU Cymru ballot result saw 92 per cent of teacher members vote in favour of a strike, and 75 per cent of Welsh NUHT members.


The industrial action is expected to affect schools on the first and fourteenth of February, and the fifteenth and sixteenth of March.


In preparation for this, officers are working alongside head teachers to answer queries designed to facilitate business continuity, and to help limit disruption.


Among the queries that we have been asked to clarify so far are questions on appropriate communications with staff, parents and carers, thresholds for instigating a closure, arrangements for vulnerable pupils and those in receipt of free school meals, implications for attendance figures and more.


This work is currently progressing, and I will bring you further updates as the situation develops.


Chief Executive


I have a very brief update to offer members concerning the progress of the second phase of Central Government’s Levelling Up fund.


We received official notification earlier in the week that an announcement on the outcome of the second phase of the Levelling Up fund is imminent.


We anticipate that letters will soon be sent to council leaders, MPs who have provided support, bid managers and Section 151 officers on the morning that the announcement is due to be made.


This will be in advance of a public announcement and a media release later that same day.


Members will, of course, be aware that we previously submitted two detailed bids to the Levelling Up Fund - a £20 million bid for the complete refurbishment of the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl, and a £25 million Transport Bid for the replacement Penprysg Road Bridge and removal of the level crossing in Pencoed.


If successful, both of these ambitious projects have the clear potential for delivering significant benefits for the county borough, and we remain highly enthusiastic and hopeful for a positive outcome.


I will, of course, keep you informed throughout this process, and I hope to be in a position to provide you with more comprehensive details at the next meeting of Council.