Sixth forms to be retained
Secondary schools are to keep their sixth forms and will increase blended learning techniques to deliver academic improvement and educational opportunities. A strategy will be developed to support this which will draw upon the experiences of schools in providing lessons during the coronavirus pandemic as well as reflecting latest advice and guidance. The decision follows an extensive review and consultation which began in 2017. More than 5,000 people took part in the latest phase of the process and had their say on how post-16 education should be delivered in future. In addition to retaining sixth forms, the council will also look at options such as developing a new sixth-form centre based at the Pencoed campus of Bridgend College in partnership with Pencoed Comprehensive, expanding provision at Coleg Cymunedol y Dderwen to meet anticipated future demand, and considering whether a sixth-form centre of excellence could be established in the event that other sites become available in the future – look out for more details soon.
Bringing empty properties back into use
A new pilot project is seeking to bring more empty properties back into use. The Western Valleys Empty Homes scheme offers grants to landlords to improve buildings which can then be used for social housing for up to five years. With around 1,350 properties in the county borough which have been empty for six months or more, if the pilot scheme is successful, it will offer up to £20,000 a property. The scheme is running alongside the Valleys Taskforce Empty Homes Grant, which covers the northern parts of the county borough. More details are available at www.bridgend.gov.uk
Arrangements for reopening playgrounds
Children’s play areas are being prepared for reopening with new rules and signage in place to help keep people safe and limit potential exposure to the Covid-19 coronavirus. With 110 sites to get ready, the first set will open on Friday 24 July and will include Griffin Park in Porthcawl, Maesteg Welfare Park, Newbridge Fields in Bridgend, Pencoed Recreation Ground, Victoria Street in Pontycymmer, Waunllwyd in Nant-Y-Moel and the play area adjacent to Ynysawdre Swimming Pool. All remaining play areas will then be open by 30 July.
Visiting Bryngarw Country Park
In line with latest guidance from Welsh Government, visitors to Bryngarw Country Park can use outdoor gym equipment and the children’s playground once more. All visitors are being reminded to maintain social distancing within the park, and to take it in turns to use its facilities. Swings at the playground remain out of use, and have been taped. Please use sanitiser to clean hands before and after using equipment, and feel free to wipe down areas of high-contact, such as handles. Outdoor gym users should bring their own towel and hygiene products, and wipe down the equipment after use. Please do not let consume food or drink while using playground equipment, and dispose of all litter in the park’s bins or take it home.
Temporary barriers installed at Rest Bay
Following recent issues where significant numbers of vehicles illegally parked on Locks Common in Porthcawl, the council has installed temporary barriers to prevent drivers from accessing the common. The council will be monitoring the situation and will take further action if required.
Council tax support for residents
A range of financial support is available for anyone who is finding it difficult to pay council tax as a result of the coronavirus. Council tax has not been suspended by central government during the pandemic, and the council recently issued more than 6,000 letters to advise residents of outstanding balances on their accounts. Anyone who may be experiencing issues should contact the council so that we can help them and look at options such as reductions, discounts and deferrals.
Public Service Board report
The latest annual report from Bridgend Public Services Board has been published and is available to view at its website. The website also offers information about the partner organisations which make up the board, and outlines how they are working together in a co-ordinated manner for the benefit of local residents.
14-15 year olds can now register to vote
The electoral canvass is underway and residents are being encouraged to complete their registrations online to help limit the spread of coronavirus. With 14 and 15 year olds now able to register so they can vote at 16, more than 54,400 properties will be told that no response is necessary unless they need to confirm changes to details held by the council. A further 10,684 properties are being targeted to provide details. A canvasser will visit homes that do not respond, and if this is not successful, they will leave a form and a pre-paid envelope for householders to return. Visit the elections page at the council website to find out more.