With snow forecast across much of Wales and a yellow weather warning in place, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board has confirmed that all four of its community vaccination centres were temporarily closed on Sunday 24 January.
The vaccination centres, which are based at Bridgend, the Rhondda, Abercynon and Merthyr Tydfil, were closed as a safety precaution as up to 3cm of snow had been forecast to fall in most areas, with more expected on higher ground.
Appointments have either been brought forward or are being re-arranged, but anyone who was booked to receive a vaccination shot on Sunday and who may have a further query about the new arrangements can contact the number provided as part of their appointment letter.
The health board website also features a dedicated section within the Frequently Asked Questions page on its corporate website, https://cwmtafmorgannwg.wales/covid-19-vaccine/
The situation is being monitored closely and further updates will be issued as the situation develops.
More than 10,600 residents to be vaccinated
Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board has confirmed that more than 10,600 Bridgend County Borough residents will have received their first shot of the coronavirus vaccine by Sunday 24 January. As part of the roll-out, the Llynfi Valley has also been selected as the location for a pilot scheme which is testing how GP surgeries can work together to receive, supply and maintain doses of the vaccine and maximise the benefits to the community. The first groups to be vaccinated are people who are aged over 80, care home staff and residents, and frontline health and social care staff. Residents are being contacted directly when it is their turn to receive the vaccination and will receive full details of where to go – to avoid tying up resources and to support the roll-out, please do not enquire about the vaccine at pharmacies and GP surgeries in the meantime.
Teachers to decide 2021 grades
Following further disruption to face-to-face learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Welsh Government has announced that the exam results for 2021 will be awarded based on work that students have completed throughout their courses. Education Minister Kirsty Williams has stated that this year, learners studying for Qualifications Wales-approved GCSE, AS and A-Levels will receive grades determined by their school or college, and that these will be based upon coursework and other evidence such as mock exams. The announcement followed recommendations from the Design and Delivery Advisory Group, which is made up of head teachers and college leaders. Visit the Welsh Government website to read the minister’s statement in full.
Newton Beach car park
The private operators of Newton Beach car park in Porthcawl have confirmed that the car park will now be closed while alert level four restrictions are in place. Council-maintained car parks will remain open, but will be monitored closely.
Club to take on management of sports facilities
Cefn Cribwr Athletic Club (CCAC) will take over the management of some sports facilities at Cae Gof Playing Fields under the community asset transfer (CAT) programme. CCAC will take over the management of the bowls pavilion and green, two rugby pitches and tennis courts, which will result in long-term savings on maintenance for the council. The club has been awarded funding of nearly £160,000 from the council’s CAT and Change Management funds to extend the bowls pavilion and bring rugby changing facilities up to Welsh Rugby Union standards, as well as improving drainage on the pitches and purchasing maintenance equipment. Cefn Cribwr FC has expressed an interest in completing a separate lease for the main pavilion and two football pitches and discussions are ongoing.
Improvements at Bryngarw Country Park
A sculpture heritage trail and other improvements will be established at Bryngarw Country Park after additional Welsh Government funding was accepted by Cabinet. In 2019, a £500,000 Valleys Regional Park Discovery Sites Capital Grant was awarded by Welsh Government develop a new education centre, re-develop the visitor centre, establish facilities to promote active travel, plant trees and create a wildlife pond. Now, an additional £147,000 grant has been secured by Awen Cultural Trust, the registered charity which operates the park on behalf of the council. It plans to use the new funding for a sculpture heritage trail, renewing more boardwalks through the park, improving toilet facilities, making improvements to the car park, and installing solar panels on buildings.
Cabinet discusses energy schemes
The Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council has discussed a series of energy reports, including the ‘Bridgend 2030’ decarbonisation strategy, the Bridgend Town Heat Network, the Caerau Heat Scheme, and a Welsh Government Domestic Energy Efficiency Programme. Welsh Government has committed to achieving a carbon-neutral public sector by 2030 with energy, transport, buildings and open spaces as the initial focus areas. In 2019, Bridgend County Borough Council developed a Smart Energy Plan, which includes the planned heat networks in Bridgend and Caerau. Other opportunities involve renewable power schemes on council buildings, smart metering, electrification or hydrogen fueling of the council’s fleet of vehicles, and rapid expansion of community electric charging. The council would look to jointly produce the 2030 strategy with the Public Services Board to co-ordinate efforts across the county borough. Now that work to develop the strategy has been approved, a draft will be prepared for public consultation in the summer. Cabinet also agreed to undertake an options appraisal for the Caerau Heat Scheme to determine the viability of alternative delivery methods.
Support for residents told to self-isolate
Local residents are being reminded that if they have any coronavirus symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and book a test. The main symptoms of Covid-19 are a new or continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in your senses of smell or taste. If you have symptoms or test positive for coronavirus, you and your household must self-isolate for 10 days. A contact number for the Cwm Taf Morgannwg self-isolation helpline will be given out to those who are contact-traced or who test positive for Covid-19. Operators can help with advice about the latest guidance, and signpost to further information or assistance. Residents on low incomes who are unable to work because they have been told to self-isolate by the TTP team are able to apply for the Welsh Government’s £500 self-isolation payment. Parents and carers of children who have been asked to self-isolate by the TTP service are also eligible if they lose income due to being unable to work while caring for them. Visit the council’s Self-Isolation Support Payment webpage for further information about eligibility and how you can apply.
Bus funding to continue
Emergency financial support will continue for bus operators in Bridgend County Borough who have been affected by coronavirus restrictions. The second phase of Welsh Government’s Bus Emergency Scheme is being launched to support the sector through the crisis, and also sets out the intention for further discussion about the long-term future of networks. Between April and December last year, more than £3m of funding was paid to bus operators for services in Bridgend County Borough. Under the terms of the agreement, operators will be required to continue to provide bus services that meet local needs. Since the start of the pandemic, Welsh Government and local authorities have stepped in to support the sector and funding has been assembled from monies that would otherwise have been paid via the Bus Services Support Grant, mandatory concessionary fare reimbursement and the My Travel Pass scheme.
Testing for key workers
Key workers in Bridgend County Borough are reminded that if they or a member of their household is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, they can request a test at a community testing centre via a dedicated phone number. A wide group of occupations are classed as key workers, including NHS and social care staff, council workers, teachers, prison staff, emergency services and armed forces personnel, charity and volunteer workers, financial services, food and other key goods supply, funeral industry, justice and probation, private waste management, public service broadcasting, religious staff, utility company staff, Post Office workers and telecommunications and data firm employees. If you experience a new, continuous cough, high temperature or loss of or change to normal sense of smell or taste, you must self-isolate and book a test. If you are a key worker, or a household member of a key worker who needs to access a test, approach your manager or employer and ask them to provide details of the dedicated phone number. Tests can also be arranged via the Gov.uk testing webpage.
Vaccination scam warning
Be alert for scammers trying to take advantage of the free Covid-19 vaccine roll-out. Remember that the vaccine is free to receive – the NHS is not delivering the vaccine door-to-door and will never ask for your bank details, payment or copies of personal documents. Forward suspicious texts and emails to 7726 or [email protected], and if you’re contacted by phone, hang up and block the number.
Bus timetables amended
First Cymru Buses Ltd will be running an amended timetable across the county borough from Sunday 24 January 2021. It will maintain services for essential journeys and key workers. Residents are reminded that under the current alert level four lockdown restrictions, you must stay at home and only travel for essential purposes. This includes travelling to and from work if you’re unable to work from home, for caregiving purposes or for essential medical or food needs. For full details of service frequency and timetables visit the First Cymru Bridgend, Maesteg and Porthcawl Services webpage.
Warning over unsafe food
The Food Standards Agency has warned consumers to look out for lamb, goat, veal and beef products which have been sold over social media sites by an unregistered and unapproved Wiltshire-based vendor. The products have not been produced in accordance with food safety and hygiene legislative requirements, are not compliant with food hygiene, safety, labelling and traceability requirements, and have been deemed unsafe for consumption. For more details, visit the Food Standards Agency website.
Our Creative Place
Creative Cardiff is working in partnership with the Arts Council of Wales to commission a creative practitioner from Bridgend County Borough who can produce a piece of work that expresses what it means to be a creative here. Awen Cultural Trust has teamed up with nine other local authorities or arts organisations working with Creative Cardiff on the Our Creative commission project. This is a paid commission (£1,000 per practitioner) for self-employed creatives to celebrate where you live and work. It could be a performance of a new piece of writing, an animation, a short film, a digital artwork, an object made and photographed, a piece of music set to visuals. Apply at the Creative Cardiff website by noon on Monday 8 February 2021.
Make 2021 the year you start your fostering journey
With almost 400 children and young people in foster care across Bridgend county borough, the council is encouraging residents to consider fostering. A range of foster carer options is available, including short-term placements. Virtual information sessions are being held on Wednesday, 27 January, at 6pm and Sunday, 31 January, at 10am with a chance to meet some of the Bridgend Foster Care team and hear the experiences of a foster carer. If these dates are not suitable or to join one of the sessions, email [email protected] or call 01656 642674. Foster carers are offered full training, a financial allowance, extensive support and access to other foster carers, including support groups.
Temporary road closure
A temporary road closure will be in place on the A4061 Frithwaun Bridges between Blackmill and Pant-yr-Awel from midnight on Saturday 6 February to 11.59am on Sunday 7 February to allow new bridge beams to be installed. A diversionary route will be in place for the duration of the works.
Support for carers
Carers Trust South East Wales (CTSEW) is offering a range of additional mental health and wellbeing support, available free of charge for carers of all ages in Bridgend until the end of March 2021. A range of options are available, from online workshops to counselling sessions. For further information or to book a space, visit the CTSEW website.