Agenda item

To receive announcements from:

(i) Mayor (or person presiding)

(ii) Members of the Cabinet

(iii) Chief Executive





I have had the recent honour of meeting recipients of this year’s Mayoral Awards. There were too many people to mention, but I would just like to say that these are honest, decent folk going about their daily business, to help those less fortunate than themselves.


Together with other key members, I recently met with the Senedd member, Huw Irranca Davies to welcome the First Minister to a Maesteg based company that specialises in fire prevention, Sideris, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fire prevention technology in tall buildings. The company has expanded, with a £6m investment, doubling their production capacity in recent years. I am sure members will join me in congratulating the company and in wishing them well in their future endeavours.


I have also attended many St. David’s Day Concerts, listening to the various choirs both within our schools and concert halls, which was a privilege. The Deputy Leader and myself also attended the High Sheriff’s Award ceremony in Pencoed with other dignitaries, where it was also a privilege to witness incredible achievements undertaken by young people, with the top award going to the Bridgend Young Carers.


Additionally, our Youth Deputy Mayor Gwynllian Williams recently collected an award for raising awareness and promoting LGBT+ and I would like to congratulate him for this.


Last Sunday I attended Nolton Church, Bridgend, to witness the blessing of the new Standard for the Ogmore Branch of the Welsh Guards. In attendance was the Kings representative for the High Sheriff, Professor Peter Vaughan, the Lord Lieutenant, together with the Bridgend Town Mayor, Councillor Tim Wood.


Finally, can I thank you all for supporting the Mayor’s Charity. The Lonely Dragon sits in the Members lounge waiting to be named. Those who wish to guess its name need to commit a £1 to the Charity, for this purpose.


Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member – Social Services and Early Help


I was fortunate enough to see our children’s social care workforce this morning, as we launched our practice model, Signs of Safety. I would like to reassure members that we are taking strides to address our challenges here in Bridgend and you will be receiving further information on this in due course


Bridgend County Borough Council has been marking New Family Social and LGBT+ Fostering and Adoption Week once again by encouraging members of the local community who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or other to consider adopting or fostering children in the county borough.


This time, we have been encouraging people to consider how many children they could adopt, and whether they might be able to accept sibling groups.


In Wales last year, there were more than 7,000 looked-after children, but finding adopters and foster carers for children who are also siblings can take a long time.


The service continues to welcome enquiries on fostering and adoption from the LGBTQ+ community, and in 2022, one in four applications came from same-gender couples.


This is a significant increase when compared to 2017’s figure of one in eight, and it is good to see that more children who are waiting for adoption are finding permanent families.


Bridgend Foster Care and the Western Bay Adoption Service both provide extensive information about who can adopt and foster, as well as the process of adopting and fostering within the county borough.


We are looking for people aged 21 and over who do not have any cautions or convictions against them involving children, who can demonstrate a commitment towards keeping children and young people safe, and who can offer a loving and safe environment.


With plenty of support and advice available, by acting as a foster carer or adopter, you can also help to keep local children within Bridgend County Borough instead of them having to relocate to a different area elsewhere.


For further information on how to foster or adopt in Bridgend County Borough, visit W-W-W Dot Bridgend Foster Care Dot Wales, or W-W-W Dot Western Bay Adoption Dot Org.


I would also like to say well done to Ollie Malin, Ffion Jenkins and Charley Evans for their success at the High Sheriff of Mid Glamorgan’s annual Youth Awards.


As ambassadors for Bridgend Young Carers Network, all three were nominated in the group category and won a top prize of £1,000.


As well as being a lot of fun, the award has recognised all of the hard work that they have put in to promote the network, and to drive it forward.


As a result of their efforts, the number of young carer ambassadors has increased from three to eleven in less than a year.


More than 280 young carers have also been supported and supplied with the National Young Carers identity card.


The award also draws greater attention to the role that young carers play within the local community, and I am sure that members will want to join me in congratulating them and wishing them well.


The High Sheriff’s Youth Awards ceremony also saw Deputy Youth Mayor G presented with the Ann Morgan Community Award.


G was chosen to receive this award for his fantastic work on developing trans awareness training, and his dedication towards making Bridgend County Borough a better, safer, more inclusive place.


This was a well-deserved accolade, and members will no doubt once again want to offer their congratulations.


Finally, I would like to give my unreserved thanks to our staff who support our Young Carers and the Bridgend Youth Service, which in turn, gives them the support they need in order to take their own agendas forward.


Cabinet Member – Communities


Members may want to let their constituents know that the council’s optional garden waste collection service is now open for registration.


This year, the service will run between Monday 13 March and Friday 17 November, with collections taking place every two weeks. 


Those who sign up for the service will receive two sturdy green sacks which can be used for the disposal of typical garden waste such as plants, flowers, weeds, grass cuttings, leaves and hedge clippings.


The service offers a convenient way of having your green waste collected and disposed of from the kerbside, and costs £46.01 per household or £41.73 for pensioners.


This year, Kier will also be offering a random selection of participants a free subscription to the service, which has become increasingly popular since it was first launched in 2013.


Last year, almost 8,000 residents signed up to the service and more than 13,000 tonnes of garden waste was diverted and recycled instead of being disposed of as landfill.


Residents also have the option of disposing of garden waste for free by using a community recycling centre.


More details are available at both the council and Kier websites.


Cabinet Member – Wellbeing and Future Generations


Members may want to let their constituents know about a free event that is taking place tomorrow which aims to offer expert advice and support on how residents can deal with the ongoing Cost of Living crisis.


The event ‘Help for Households’, it has been organised by Employability Bridgend and will be available between 10am and 2pm tomorrow at Bridgend Indoor Market.


A wide range of partner organisations will be participating with the event, including Citizens Advice, the Bridgend Repair Café, Welsh Water, the Childcare Team, and Baobab Bach Community Pantries.


Examples of the type of advice on offer includes help with household bills, tips on the best energy deals, suggestions for ways to save money on food, advice on whether people may be eligible for additional benefits and support, and much more.


Each participant who calls in to the event will also receive a free bag featuring cost saving items, which will be tailored to each individuals needs.


The event represents our commitment as a council towards helping residents meet the challenges of the ongoing Cost of Living Crisis, and it provides an opportunity for people to access specialist advice that is relevant towards them and their own personal circumstances.


I hope that it will have a positive impact, and that members will help let people know that it is taking place.


Cabinet Member – Resources


I previously updated members on how the Welsh Government Fuel Support Scheme had successfully made more than 15,000 payments to eligible households and had provided much-needed support totalling around three million pounds.


While that scheme has now closed, the Energy Bills support scheme from UK Government is still running and will remain open to applications until 31 May.


However, the number of people applying for this support remains very low across Wales, so I would like to ask members for their support in ensuring that as many local residents as possible are aware of the scheme.


To be eligible, applicants must meet a number of criteria. The dwelling where they apply for the support must be their sole or main address, and they must be responsible for paying for energy used within the dwelling as part of a service charge, rent or some other arrangement.


The household must not be eligible for or already in receipt of payments from the energy support scheme, while the household must not double as a business premises or other form of non-domestic property.


This would be applicable to, for example, residents of park home sites such as the one at Happy Valley.


UK Government is also offering additional support via an Alternative Fuel Payment fund. This provides a £200 payment for households that use alternative fuel sources for their heating instead of mains gas.


Again, criteria applies, but it is aimed at someone who uses oil or bottled gas as their main source of heating or who does not pay for electricity by direct debit, such as those who live in rural areas or at remote spots in the county borough.


Applications for both schemes must be made online at GOV DOT UK, and there is also a freephone telephone number for anyone who cannot get internet access – 0808 1753 287.


I am sure that members will want to help make people more aware that these schemes are available, and I am grateful for your support in doing so.


I am aware of recent correspondence between the Mayor and others, so if I may offer further comment regarding Bridgend’s position within the StatsWales table for council tax.


In Wales, there are 9 Council Tax bandings (A – I). Council tax bands are based on property values in April 2003.  Under the current system, local authorities can only set their council tax levels for Band D properties - with lower and higher bands charged a fixed proportion of that.


In terms of Bridgend, we have a higher percentage of properties in lower bands than the all-Wales average.


Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre has reported that councils with more low-band houses tend to set their Band D rates higher to compensate" for their lower tax base.


In Bridgend, 68.14% of our residential properties are in Council Tax Bands A – D with 50% being in Bands A – C. Therefore, 50% of all households who pay the full Council tax will pay less than the Band D level in the coming financial year.                  


Cabinet Member – Education


I am sure that members will be aware that the National Education Union has postponed the two days of industrial action that were scheduled to take place on the 15th and 16th March.


The union has announced that constructive talks with Welsh Government have resulted in a new pay offer, and that its members are currently considering the deal on offer.


In the event that this latest offer is rejected and that further industrial action is announced, the council will once again work closely alongside local schools to make necessary preparations, and will prioritise the health, safety and wellbeing of pupils.


In other news, I welcome Welsh Government’s announcement that free school meal provision will continue to be available to children from lower income families across the Easter and Whitsun school holidays.


More than £9m has been invested to help councils across Wales offer nutritious meals to eligible pupils up until the end of the May half-term holiday.


This includes all bank holidays during this period, and I will bring you further details in due course.


I would like to briefly remind members that residents have until 24 March to apply for full-time nursery places in time for the start of the new school year in September, while applications for part-time places must be submitted by 31 August.


You can find out more and apply online through the council’s My Account service, which is accessible by visiting the corporate website.


Cabinet Member – Regeneration


Two informal consultation events are set to take place in March which will ask people how they think new public open space planned as part of Porthcawl’s ongoing regeneration should be used.


With the first session taking place at the Grand Pavilion today until 7pm and again between 9am-5pm on Thursday 23 March, the sessions will showcase a number of potential options as well as designs for how public open space could be developed to benefit residents and visitors alike.


Potential ideas range from skateparks, pump tracks and water-based facilities such as a ‘splash park’ to community gardens, green walking routes and outdoor gym and multiuse game zones.


We have already received a number of excellent ideas, such as an open-air amphitheatre and performance venue, or space suitable for staging seasonal events such as visiting speciality markets, Christmas ice rinks and more.


We want to capture all of these views so they can be properly analysed and investigated.


Once the drop-in sessions are complete, the exhibition boards will be made available to view online at the council’s website, with comments sought over a further three-week period.


All feedback received by 7th April will help shape and inform an open space concept design, and to capture a shared vision for the look, feel and use of key open spaces within the regeneration area.    


Organised by Bridgend County Borough Council in line with the Placemaking Wales Charter, businesses and residents are being encouraged to visit one of the drop-in sessions, view exhibition boards, speak to regeneration staff and give their thoughts on the proposals.


We want to ensure that the open spaces within the planned regeneration area respond to the needs of current and future generations alike, and I hope that residents and visitors will take full advantage of this opportunity to have their say.


Finally, can I take this opportunity to wish all the best to Sean Warrington, from the Communities Directorate, on his new job – he had been head hunted for his expertise - he will be a great loss to BCBC. I would like to personally thank him for the support he gave me as a new cabinet member.


Chief Executive


Members will be aware that we recently carried the 2022 staff survey, which provides valuable information on our employees’ opinions and attitudes across a wide range of work-related issues.


Such surveys are an important part of our approach to staff engagement and building a motivated workforce, they help to inform our working practices, and enable us to make progress as an organisation.


We have now completed the analysis of the results, and I would like to briefly share some of the key outcomes with members.


Overall, 42 per cent of all council staff responded to the survey and shared their views across seven specific themes. This represents a 9 per cent increase on the previous 2021 staff survey.


At 85 per cent, the majority of respondents stated that they enjoy their role, with 66 per cent adding that they feel valued at work.


Sixty-seven per cent of respondents told us they are satisfied with the council as an employer and that they are also aware of our priorities, while 88 per cent said they were satisfied with our seven proposed new objectives.


Eighty-four per cent of respondents stated there are opportunities for two-way communication where ideas and issues can be raised and discussed.


In relation to staff wellbeing, 68 per cent of respondents said they are comfortable with their work demands, and 73 per cent stated that they are aware of the support the council makes available for the workforce in relation to health and wellbeing.


Seventy-three per cent agreed that they are satisfied with the new Flexitime working hours staff flexi time scheme 83 per cent said they can work productively within their remote working environment.


Staff were asked to share their views across seven specific themes: Culture, the council’s priorities, work performance, communications, knowledge and skills, employee wellbeing, and hybrid working.


Across all seven themes, 65 per cent of staff delivered a positive result, 25 per cent remained neutral, and 10 per cent were negative.


One area that we were particularly interested in was how staff had received the new hybrid working arrangements. It was pleasing to note that 76 per cent of all respondents provided positive responses and indicated that they were satisfied with the new interim Hybrid Working policy.


While 71 per cent said that they keep up to date with latest council news via their work email, only 35 per cent said that they always read the weekly Bridgenders email, and 25 per cent indicated that they will always read the quarterly staff newsletter as long as it contains something of interest.


This is obviously just a flavour of the results from the staff survey, but I think that it has clearly highlighted a number of encouraging views and has helped to highlight some of the areas which we will need to look at going forward.


Work will now take place to study the results in closer detail, and to see how they can be best applied to deliver further improvements for the council, both as an organisation and as a good employer.