Porthcawl beaches get top rating for water quality while Council extends role as Valleys Regional Park host and welcomes additional investment

Porthcawl’s beaches have been rated excellent by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) for the quality of their bathing water.  Three of the town’s seven bays – Rest Bay, Trecco Bay and Sandy Bay – were tested and retained their three-star rating, the highest classification awarded by NRW.

Councillor Dr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education & Regeneration, said: “This is excellent news for Porthcawl’s beaches. As a popular destination for surfers, kayakers, paddle-boarders, canoeists and others, including those who use the town’s new watersports centre, it’s reassuring to know Porthcawl offers the highest quality bathing waters.”

A classification of excellent water quality is one of the main requirements for applying for a Blue Flag award for 2021.   While the Covid-19 pandemic saw the start of the bathing water season delayed in Wales, NRW worked hard to ensure sampling took place at all 105 bathing sites from June.

Of the 105 Welsh beaches sampled by NRW, 84 achieved the highest classification of excellent, 14 good and seven sufficient.  Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “While we know Covid-19 restrictions have impacted on our tourism and hospitality sector, these results show that Wales is still working hard to ensure the quality of its bathing waters – and we look forward to welcoming visitors to those waters as soon as we can.”


Council extends role as Valleys Regional Park host and welcomes additional investment

Bridgend County Borough Council’s cabinet has agreed to extend the local authority’s role as host of the Valleys Regional Park and to accept the award of almost £1m in additional funding.  The Valleys Regional Park board, made up of the 13 council leaders within the region, had requested that Bridgend County Borough Council remain as host.  Proposals made for funding through the European Social Fund resulted in an award of almost £1m to support work to the summer of 2023. This is in addition to £650,000 provided by the Welsh Government through the Taskforce for the South Wales Valleys.

With this funding the Valleys Regional Park partnership will work together to support:

  • A regional focus for the management of Valleys landscape assets
  • Greater use of green spaces for well-being through personal choice and social prescribing
  • An increase in visitors numbers and spend within Valleys destinations
  • Improved partnership working across all sectors and with communities, building skills and capacity
  • The influencing of public sector policy to reflect the needs of Valleys communities and the long-term improvement to landscapes across the area

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on November 17, council leader Huw David said funding from the scheme had made improvements at Parc Slip and Bryngarw Country Park in Bridgend county borough, adding: “The £900,000 investment is making a real difference to the quality of outdoor facilities available to the record level of visitors, from new natural play opportunities for children to ‘green-roofed’ bike shelters to outdoor seating areas, particularly important during the pandemic.”  Cabinet member for Wellbeing and Future Generations Councillor Dhanisha Patel said: “We appreciate the investment in our valleys areas and to people who haven’t visited – there’s a warm welcome awaiting you in our three valleys.”  The regional partnership includes 13 local authorities in the area from Carmarthenshire in the west to Pontypool in the east and Bridgend in the south to Merthyr Tydfil in the north.  In its role, the council hosts a dedicated small team that works with public, private and third sector organisations across the region to develop the partnership.  A new Valleys Regional Park website was launched in the summer and includes a map of the region with information about the 11 Discovery Gateway sites across South Wales.