Efforts across Neath Port Talbot to sustain critical services and support those most at risk during the Covid-19 pandemic were “extraordinary”.
That is how the Deputy Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Cllr Leanne Jones, has described the response of the council, its partners and local communities to the coronavirus crisis as she presented the council’s Corporate Plan Annual Report (April 1st 2020 – March 31st 2021).
The report available here : https://www.npt.gov.uk/19450 has now been approved by the council.
Cllr Jones said:”We began 2020/2021 in emergency response mode as part of a national effort to respond to Covid. Efforts across the county borough to sustain critical services and support those most at risk were extraordinary.
“In June 2020, this council was part of a multi-agency response to the major incident in Seven Sisters caused by a propane gas cylinder. The support from the community was nothing short of remarkable. Then, in January 2021, we faced a third emergency due to a “blow out” at Goshen Park, Skewen. The resulting flooding was extensive and destructive but the partnership response ensured the safeguarding of all residents affected.”
Cllr Jones added in her address to the council: “I want to pay tribute to our fantastic workforce. Over recent days, those of us involved in the Member Panel have had an opportunity to reflect on what has been happening since this pandemic started and of course we are not out of the woods yet by any stretch of the imagination.
“I know that all political parties share an immense pride in what our workforce is achieving – it is truly remarkable and on behalf of all members of council I would like the formal record of this meeting to reflect our appreciation and the pride we all have in our staff.
“The last year was extraordinary and challenging. However, I’m confident we have the determination not only to rise to any challenges ahead but also to see and embrace the opportunities in front of us.”
The Corporate Plan Annual Report summarises the council’s achievements over the previous year. Cllr Jones said despite the extreme challenges it faced, the council’s achievements during the year included:
• Continuing an extensive programme of regeneration work including the redevelopment of Neath Town Centre with a new leisure centre, swimming pool and modern library, the energy positive Bay Technology Centre in the Baglan Energy Park and the Plaza Cinema refurbishment project in Port Talbot.
• Issuing Chromebooks to 9,500 pupils to support their learning at home.
• Delivering business support to 67 valley based companies.
• Securing permanent accommodation for 258 homeless individuals or households.
• Increasing its recycling rate.
• Preparing a planning application for the £150m Global Centre for Rail Excellence (GCRE) project based at the top of the Dulais Valley and South Powys with conditional planning approval secured in July 2021. The project will create high quality jobs with additional employment from large contracts during construction.
The Annual Report provides an account of progress made against the Council’s current three well-being objectives, improvement priorities and steps set out in the Corporate Plan 2019/2022 for the period 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021.
The Annual Report makes it clear the council is now focused on the development of its Corporate Recovery Plan which will be published in 2022. That Plan will set out a revised vision and a set of updated well-being objectives and priorities for delivery over the next five years which the Council will be consulting on in the New Year.
The Plan will be shaped by the council’s Let’s Talk Campaign - an opportunity for those in Neath Port Talbot to set the agenda and influence what the council does going forward.