Leader's blog

Cllr Dave Poole is the Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council.

He began his political career in 2004, where he represents the community of Pengam.

He served as Cabinet Member for Performance Management between 2004 and 2006 and Cabinet Member for the Environment and Housing between 2006 and 2008, before enjoying a second term as Cabinet Member for Community and Leisure Services and latterly Deputy Leader with responsibility for Housing between 2012 and 2017.

Dave became Leader of the Council following the May 2017 local government elections.

Keep up to date with all the latest news in the Leader’s monthly blog. 

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Leader’s Christmas message – Cllr Dave Poole

The festive period is a time of reflection, and as I look back, it’s clear that 2017 has been a mixed year – of highs but indeed some challenges too.

In looking back, I must thank my colleagues – the staff at Caerphilly County Borough Council – for their professionalism and passion, and that despite challenging financial times, they continue to strive to deliver quality services for the residents of our county borough.

These challenges will undoubtedly continue over the coming years, but my colleagues and I will rise to these challenges, and together we’ll do all we can to ensure our residents continue to receive quality frontline services into the future.

As we settle down to enjoy this year’s festivities with our family and friends, it’s important that we remember that the festive period isn’t a break from work for everybody. My sincere thanks go to our social care staff, highways team and many, many others across the council, as well as our emergency services and health colleagues, who work all year round to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are protected and well looked after.

Finally, I’d urge residents to check in on relatives or neighbours that might be on their own over the festive period. Christmas can be a lonely time for those living alone, and a short call or visit can make all the difference.

As 2017 draws to a close, I wish all residents a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.

31 August 2017 blog

We’re now into autumn, and with it comes the announcement of the local government budget settlement.

Expected later this month, we’re having to prepare ourselves for the prospect of further reductions in funding for local authorities. To date, in Caerphilly we’ve achieved significant savings with minimal impact on our residents. We’ve worked hard to protect frontline services, and have not seen the type of deep cuts and disruption that some other councils have.

However, it’s becoming apparent that there are even tougher times ahead, and over the coming months, it’s likely that some difficult decisions will need to be made. It’s likely that we’ll need to make savings of up to £9 million next year, depending on the exact details of the funding settlement later this month.

It’s so important that our residents get involved by having their say as we go through the process of setting our budget for next year. Draft budget proposals will be presented to Cabinet in November, which will be followed by an extensive public consultation. Feedback from the community is critical in helping us make the right decisions when delivering savings targets.

In other news, I’m really pleased to hear that long awaited improvement works at the busy Pwll-y-Pant roundabout in Caerphilly will begin next week.  The improvement works will increase capacity at this strategic location, as well as reduce congestion and improve journey time reliability for local bus services. The works, which start on Monday 9th October, are expected to last around 12 months, and while inevitably there will be some disruption while the works are ongoing, I’m confident the result will be beneficial to all who use the route from across the area.

I was delighted to attend the official opening of the brand new multi-million pound development at Islwyn High School last week. Built on the site of the former Oakdale colliery, Islwyn High School is home to pupils from the former Oakdale and Pontllanfraith Comprehensive Schools. We were pleased to welcome the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones to officially open the facility – which boasts first class teaching and learning spaces, impressive outdoor facilities and an environment where students can fulfil their potential.

The Islwyn High School development is the latest project in Caerphilly county borough as part of the 21st Century Schools programme, and our thanks must go to Welsh Government for their support in helping us deliver such an impressive project, as well as our own in-house team who created the school’s innovative design.

Finally, recycling is very much in the spotlight at the moment as the council takes steps to reduce ‘contamination’ caused by incorrect items being placed in recycling bins. Caerphilly is consistently one of the best performing local authorities in Wales when it comes to recycling thanks to the efforts of the majority of our residents. However, contamination remains a real issue and, as a consequence, lorry loads of recycling are being refused at the council’s recycling contractor as the level of contamination is so high. The fact is that even one incorrect item placed within the recycling bin can contaminate the entire lorry load of recycling, which can then be refused by the recycling contractor. This then costs the council (and of course the taxpayer) money, which amounted to £40,000 over the past couple of months. This is the reason why we are taking additional steps to remind residents what can and cannot be recycled.

31 August 2017 blog

The summer holidays are already drawing to a close and I hope everyone had the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing break over the past few weeks. The weather may not have been very kind, but it certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of all those who enjoyed our extensive summer events programme. 

Pupils are now preparing for their return to school and there is a sense that things are about to return to normality after the school break.

Over the past few weeks we have seen the publication of our A Level and GCSE results and I would like to congratulate all the young people who have worked so hard to obtain their grades. I’d also like to thank teaching staff in our schools and colleges for their ongoing efforts to improve standards for the benefit of all our learners.

We recognise there is always room for improvement and will continue to work with the regional Education Achievement Service (EAS) and our schools to ensure we strive for even better results in the future.

September is an important month for the council as we will be undertaking a major survey to gather feedback about our services. We are always keen to hear the views of local people and feedback is very important to us as it helps shape our services in the future.

The ‘Household Survey’ will be rolled out throughout September and will help us measure levels of satisfaction with council services, as well as establishing current views on broader issues such as crime and antisocial behaviour and general perceptions about the community.

It’s really important that as many people as possible take part in the survey and have their say about these key issues. The survey will be available on the council’s website (www.caerphilly.gov.uk) and will also be printed in the September edition of Newsline which goes to every home in the area.

Finally, I’d like to welcome the ‘Velvet Coalmine Festival’ back to Blackwood in September. It’s great to see this celebration of art, music and culture put the Caerphilly county borough on the map and I would urge everyone to check out what’s on between 7th to 16th September, as there is sure to be something for everyone.

27 July 2017 blog

Welcome to my first blog. I’m planning to write one every month to hopefully keep you informed of the latest news and updates from Caerphilly County Borough Council – I hope you’ll find them interesting and useful.

The summer holidays are now in full swing, and there’s plenty on offer for young people, families and visitors to our county borough to take part in. From summer sports camps and activities at our libraries to events at our country parks and visitor attractions, there’s plenty to keep people of all ages entertained. All that’s missing now is the sun – so let’s hope for some better weather!

Speaking of things to do, I was really pleased to hear recently that six of our open spaces had received the prestigious Green Flag Award, in recognition of their excellent facilities and commitment to delivering quality green spaces.

Cwmcarn Forest, Morgan Jones Park, Waunfawr Park, Parc Cwm Darran, Ystrad Mynach Park and Brithdir Cemetery were the proud recipients of the Green Flag Award, with a further seven sites Morgan Jones Community Allotment, Roger Lewis Woodland Garden, Shingrig Road Allotments, St Andrews Community Churchyard, Trevelyan Court Resident's Group, Coed-y-Werin and Trethomas Community Allotment receiving the coveted Green Flag Community Award.

Congratulations must go to everyone involved in working to make sure our parks and open spaces are high quality facilities for the community to enjoy. I was especially pleased to see that many of our local community groups were rewarded for their dedication to making their local open spaces such pleasant places. I’m sure people from far and wide will make good use of our parks and open spaces and all that they offer over the summer holidays.

July was also Scams Awareness Month, and among other things we’ve been working to raise awareness of No Cold Calling Zones. These are designated areas of our county borough which we’ve established in order to help protect our more vulnerable residents from the potential of doorstep crime. No Cold Calling Zones aim to reduce incidents of doorstep crime by specifying areas in which doorstep callers selling goods or services are not welcome. These zones are about helping people feel safe in their community and knowing they have the support of the council and police in working to tackle doorstep crime.

Earlier this week in fact, we introduced a new No Cold Calling Zone, in Tan-y-Bryn, Risca. I hope the residents of this area, together with those covered by our other zones feel reassured that we take the issue of doorstep crime very seriously.

On another note, we’re also currently seeking views from members of the community on a consultation about air quality in Hafodyrynys. This follows part of Hafodyrynys Road being designated an ‘Air Quality Management Area’ after higher than normal levels of nitrogen dioxide, a traffic related pollutant, were present in the area. We’ve taken the feedback gained so far from local residents and have developed a draft action plan which contains some ideas and outline proposals which aim to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide within the area.

I’d really encourage you to contribute your views on the contents of the draft action plan by taking part in the consultation. The closing date for having a say is 31st August.

Finally, by the time I write my next blog, our learners will have received their A Level and GCSE results. These are as a result of a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment from our students, but also their teachers and parents. I’m sure all the hard work will pay off and I wish all learners the very best of luck in their future endeavours.