Latest news round-up from Bridgend County Borough – 10 Feb

Overnight lane closures on M4

Two overnight closures have been confirmed for the eastbound lane of the M4 motorway between Junction 37 at Pyle and Junction 35 at Pencoed. The closures are necessary for essential roadworks to be carried out by the South Wales Trunk Road Agency, which is responsible for managing, maintaining and improving the strategic road network in South Wales on behalf of Welsh Government. The first closure will be place on Thursday 11 February from 8pm until 6am the following morning, and again on Friday 12 February from 8pm-6am. Access will be maintained for emergency services at all times during the roadworks, and a diversion route will be in place via the A4229, A48 and A473.


Library to close for renovation

Porthcawl Library will undergo a small renovation next month, thanks to a grant from Welsh Government’s Cultural Service Fund. The library will be closed from Monday 1 March to allow for the works to be carried out safely. It is anticipated the library will reopen on Monday 15 March, either with a ‘book and collect’ service or for browsing and borrowing, subject to the Welsh Government alert level in place at that time. The front half of the library will be rearranged and redecorated to increase the size of the children’s library and move the public computers to a more private space. The reception desk is also being moved to alleviate the ‘bottle neck’ it often creates near the entrance, and to add space for customers to browse for books, particularly when social distancing measures must be observed.


Critical workers survey

Bridgend County Borough Council is asking parents and carers who are critical workers to complete a brief survey to help the local authority plan ahead for how it will provide future support. All parents and carers will have received a letter from schools last week asking them to complete the survey, which is available online until 12 noon on Friday 12 February. Information gathered will remain confidential, and will help the council to develop up-to-date insights into the current demand for on-site provision at specific schools and around particular year groups.

Green funding accepted for Sunnyside Wellness Village

Funding has been accepted by the Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council for a host of green features at the Sunnyside Wellness Village development. Welsh Government has approved funding of £315,268, which will be used to plant about 150 new trees across the site, a communal growing area, natural play area, protection and cultivation of existing trees and other green areas. The £23m Sunnyside Wellness Village scheme is being developed by Linc Cymru Housing Association in partnership with Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, and Bridgend County Borough Council. It will provide a brand-new mixed-use development, on the site of the demolished Bridgend Council Offices and former Magistrates Court, consisting of 59 affordable homes, a healthcare centre with consultation and treatment rooms, GP practice, specialist dental unit, and pharmacy, and associated works including landscaping and infrastructure.


‘Unsuitable’ school site could become public space

Land at Brackla Hill which has been found to be unsuitable for use as the site of a new primary school could be gifted to the local community instead. The Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council has agreed to offer to investigate if it is possible to transfer the 14-acre location over to Brackla Community Council, and to arrange to have it declared public open space in perpetuity. A comprehensive feasibility study on the location revealed the development costs for a new school would be far higher than originally anticipated due to issues such as significant cut-and-fill earthworks related to the topography of the site and problems with the proposed junction configuration off Brackla Way. The Cabinet has agreed to discount Brackla Hill as a location, and to explore new, alternative brownfield sites which have become available since the project was first put forward.


Additional learning needs funding agreement approved

Cabinet has approved an agreement for funding to support learners with additional learning needs (ALN). Welsh Government’s ALN Transformation Grant 2020-21 supports partnerships between local authorities and other agencies involved in supporting learners with ALN. Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council (RCTCBC) acts as the lead local authority on the grant on behalf of Bridgend County Borough Council, as well as Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and Vale of Glamorgan councils. A funding award of £934,562 has been made to RCTCBC and Bridgend County Borough Council expects to receive just under £70,000. The ALN Transformation Programme aims to ensure all learners are supported to overcome barriers to learning and achieve their full potential and the funding will be used to help the council deliver services to support this.


Schools receive thousands of computers

Schools in Bridgend County Borough have received more than 4,500 new devices from Welsh Government’s Hwb project since February 2020, with another 2,000 scheduled to be given out by the end of this financial year. These include new laptops, desktop computers, Chromebooks and iPads for use within schools, as well as to help digitally-excluded pupils who would have difficulty joining lessons from home. All 2,000 pupils identified as digitally excluded by schools across the county borough have now been helped by the council with each receiving the kit they need to learn from home. This includes a mixture of old and new equipment, including 500 new laptops that were purchased by Bridgend County Borough Council, 550 older laptops that were rebuilt as Chromebooks and 310 Mi-Fi dongles for home internet access, which were bought using Welsh Government funding.


More clubs urged to engage with CAT programme

More sports clubs and groups are urged to come forward to take on the running of pavilions, playing fields and pitches. Bridgend County Borough Council’s Community Asset Transfer (CAT) programme sees local organisations take over responsibility for self-managing facilities, helping to protect them for future generations. Bryncethin RFC was the first club to complete a CAT deal with the council in 2018, taking ownership of their playing field and pavilion. The county borough has about 60 clubs and 530 teams that use the pavilions and playing fields maintained by the council’s Green Spaces Section. To date, all have expressions of interests for self-management from sports clubs and town and community councils with 55 CATs being progressed at various stages. Strategic reviews of the council’s larger parks at Newbridge Fields, Maesteg Welfare Park and Aberfields, known as the ‘Planka’, are also being progressed to inform future policy and investment decisions. To read more, visit the council’s website.


Anti-tax evasion policy approved

The Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council has approved a new anti-tax evasion policy. By law, the council will be considered criminally liable and could face severe financial penalties if it fails to prevent those who act for, or on its behalf, from criminally facilitating tax evasion. Examples of where the council faces the risk of exposure include grants, outsourcing, and direct payments for care and support services. The new policy has been developed to address the prevention of tax evasion and provide a coherent and consistent approach for all employees and any person who performs services for and on behalf of the council. It is supplementary to the council’s wider anti-fraud and bribery strategy which sets out the key responsibilities with regard to fraud prevention and what to do if fraud or financial irregularity is suspected and the action that will be taken by management.


Coastal photo competition

Have you taken a beautiful photo of our coastline during your daily walk or maybe you have a favourite photo taken before the pandemic that you’d like to share? Dynamic Dunes Wales wants to turn your winning photos into postcards to send out to the most vulnerable and isolated communities in Bridgend County Borough. To enter, post your photo on the Dynamic Dunes Wales social media pages using the hashtags #makingmemoriescompetition and #Bridgend, or complete the online entry form, including your name, the title/location of your image and a short statement as to why that place is special to you. The competition closes at midday on Friday 12 February.


Young carers consultation

Young carers are being invited to an online event to share their views about Bridgend County Borough Council’s Young Carers ID card. The consultation, which will last for about an hour and a half, will ask young carers for their opinions, which will help inform improvements to the scheme. Support will be provided by the Young Carers and Young Adult Carer support projects during the meetings. Those who take part will receive a voucher to spend on themselves and their family. If you would like to take part, phone Kathy Proudfoot on 01656 643228 or email [email protected]


Rest Bay car park closes

The car park at Rest Bay in Porthcawl has been closed following a rise in the number of people driving to the coast to go for a walk or undertake exercise. With alert level four restrictions still in place across Wales and spot checks underway by South Wales Police, the Rest Bay car park joins similar closures that have already been carried out at Bedford Park and the privately-owned Newton Beach car park. People are being reminded that all exercise should begin and end at the doorstep, and should not involve driving to another location. Other council-maintained car parks located throughout the county borough will remain open, but will be monitored for compliance.


Council celebrates LGBTQ+ History Month

Bridgend County Borough Council is working alongside other local authorities under the ‘Proud Councils’ banner to promote equality and celebrate diversity within local communities. The scheme brings together local authorities across South Wales in a visible and unified way to demonstrate support, promote equality and reassure LGBTQ+ communities that we are committed towards equality, opportunity and inclusion. Visit the council’s website for a look at how LGBTQ+ History Month is being marked in Bridgend County Borough.


Support for young people during lockdown

Youth workers from Bridgend County Borough Council are available to provide expert advice and support for young people aged 11-25. The WhatsUpp Bridgend Youth Support Scheme can help you with school work, housing issues, well-being, family worries and more, and is also available if you are just feeling lonely or bored during lockdown – find out more at the council website.


Caerau heat scheme trial

Eligible households across Caerau in Bridgend County Borough can earn up to £150 by participating in a study which will monitor heat usage in homes over the winter period. If you would like to find out more about taking part, visit the council website.