Skip Navigation

Your feedback will help us improve this website.

Latest News for Members

3rd September 2021

Message from the Chief Executive

Dear Members,

I hope you have managed to have a break during August and are keeping safe and well. There are a couple of updates in this Bulletin that I hope will be useful. I would also like to note that our Director of Finance and Corporate Services, Hywel Jenkins, retires at the end of October (although his last day in work is likely to be the end of this month as he has leave to take). Hywel leaves the Council in good financial health. There will be opportunities for Members to wish him well in his retirement over the coming weeks.

Karen Jones
Chief Executive

APSE Awards

The Council is one of seven local authorities across the UK to be short-listed for Council of the Year. The final takes place on 9th September.
In addition to the overall award, four services/initiatives have been shortlisted in individual categories. They are:

  • The access-managed cleaning service within the Education, Leisure and Lifelong Learning Directorate – this service has been key to keeping schools and related services safe and available;
  • The Cemeteries Service – despite the Covid restrictions the team have worked hard to provide a personal and compassionate service to grieving families throughout the pandemic period;
  • The Imbulance – a former mobile library was reconfigured to provide a mobile vaccination clinic. It has been instrumental in helping harder to reach groups receive the Covid vaccinations;
  • Buy Local – created during the pandemic to help local people identify shops that were offering an on-line ordering service and/or delivery service. For many smaller businesses this has given them a better on-line presence which we continue to develop to support the local economy.
    The Leader of Council, Cllr Ted Latham, has created a video to pay tribute to the workforce

Covid-19 Response

You will have seen in the media that rates of Covid-19 have risen quickly over recent weeks. At the time of writing, the seven day rolling average rate for COVID-19 was recorded as 602.9/100,000; the second highest in Wales. Of those being tested for COVID-19, 22.9% tested positive.

The increased rates we are seeing are being driven by social mixing. The removal of restrictions in the hospitality sector and festival attendance are two particular factors contributing to the increase. We anticipate rates will increase further as schools and universities resume and people return from holiday and from other summer festivals.

On a more positive note, the number of admissions to hospitals and deaths remains low compared with previous waves. The vaccination programme is clearly making a difference in that regard. However, being double jabbed does not prevent people from contracting COVID-19 and we are beginning to see cases in care homes again which in turn is making people who are already frail quite sick.

There are some particular impacts on Council services at present:

  • Adult Social Care – this sector remains under considerable pressure. We have a number of care homes with restrictions on visitors/new admissions because of COVID cases within the home; and the care sector (nationally) is struggling to recruit sufficient carers. The position in NPT is currently stable but remains fragile. Funding for residential care homes is currently under review by the Welsh Government which could have significant implications for the financial viability of some residential care homes.
  • TTP – with the increase in community transmission, this service is now operating under pressure. Immediate steps are being taken to recruit additional staff into the service on the basis we expect higher case rates to persist for some time. We are pressing Welsh Government to make early decisions on funding of this service for 2022/23, to prevent more staff on temporary contracts from leaving to take up permanent jobs elsewhere in the economy. We are also seeking clarification from Welsh Government on what national priorities are to be pursued by the Environmental Health Service as EHOs remain crucial to the overall health response.
  • Education – the Director of Education, Leisure and Lifelong Learning provided advice to all head teachers prior to the end of the summer term, regarding the basis on which schools should be planning for this autumn term. Additional advice has been provided to head teachers and trade unions earlier this week based on the latest Welsh Government guidance, including a reminder of the importance of lateral flow testing. You may have seen some press coverage of CO2/Ozone devices and school settings. At the present time there is no requirement for such devices to be deployed into our schools. The proposal remains under consideration by Welsh Government. We will provide further advice on this when the position has been firmed up.
  • Service Resilience – as well as the pressure points highlighted above, there are temporary, short term pressures affecting refuse and recycling rounds which could mean that some collections will be rescheduled over the coming weeks.

Budget 2022/23

We have commenced the work needed to develop the Council’s budget for 2022/23. Dates are being identified for Member Seminars to enable Members to input to the process over the next six months.

Let's Talk

Thank you for helping to promote the Let’s Talk campaign. We are getting a good response from a wide range of people, groups and businesses. The campaign will run until the middle of October.

There are three main areas of focus:

  • Understanding how the pandemic has impacted people and their communities;
  • Understanding what matters to people right now;
  • Understanding what matters to people as we look into the future.

The feedback will be summarised and presented to Members at the end of October/early November, and used to inform the discussions about the way the Council will develop its short and longer term recovery plans.

Thank you also to those Members who have welcomed me to their wards over the summer. I have learned a lot from those visits. There are some clear and common themes emerging from the visits as well as issues unique to each community. I am keen to continue the visits over the autumn so please let me know if you would like to me to visit you in your ward.

2022 Local Government Elections

Preparations are commencing to deliver the 2022 Local Government Elections and the associated Member Induction Programme. The Democratic Committee is assisting with the detail of the Member Induction Programme. If any Member has suggestions about the best way of supporting new or returning Members, please get in touch with Craig Griffiths, the Council’s Monitoring Officer. We would really like to hear from you.

Levelling Up Fund and Community Renewal Fund

Bids

We have not yet heard from the UK Government if the bids submitted early summer have been successful. We have also yet to receive any detail of the way the Shared Prosperity Fund is likely to operate.

City Deal

The regional Homes as Power Stations programme which is led by Neath Port Talbot Council and the Low Carbon Growth and Innovation Project (a local NPT project within the Deal) both received ministerial approval over the summer. There has been an enormous amount of work put into getting these over the line by Nicola Pearce and her team. We are now recruiting to the project teams so we have the capacity to deliver the associated programmes of work.

Skewen

The Recovery Board, chaired by Andrew Jarrett, continues to meet. The deadline for completing the engineering works at Goshen Park was not achieved by the Coal Authority, as a greater level of work has been necessary than first envisaged. Those residents who were flooded out are slowly returning to their homes, however, there are still residents being supported in temporary accommodation. It is clear that many residents are continuing to experience distress related to the incident and we continue to offer support to those that need it. Residents have also reported new problems with drainage in the area. Assessments are being undertaken to establish what further work might be needed and where the responsibility for undertaking that work rests. The Coalfields Community Trust has recently launched a fundraising page to assist those who are not insured/partially insured.

Stay safe and well everyone!