13 May 2011>
Leader of the Council, Cllr Lindsay Whittle's speech from the Annual General Meeting on 12th May'.
This administration has consistently delivered service improvements year on year despite the challenging financial climate we have had to operate within.
We have made considerable progress in outperforming our neighbours and have been commended by our external auditors for "strong leadership" and sound financial management.
Despite achieving efficiency savings of over £12.5 m in the last financial year, my administration was the first to deposit our Local Development Plan approved and the only Council in Wales to set a 0% Council Tax for 2011/12 and meet our targets as set out in our Service Delivery Plan.
We successfully delivered improved services without the need for compulsory redundancies, delivered significant growth in our Capital Programme, secured the Bargoed Retail Development, had successful inspections in Social Care and Education.
This administration's Forward Work Programme for the coming year is aimed at continuing this improvement and building on the strong foundations we have in place.
I recognise we cannot do this alone and will be implementing proposals for improved collaborative working in the coming year in areas of Social Care; School Improvement; Health and Safety and Information Technology in particular.
We will open the new Library Resource Centres at Bargoed and Risca and commence work on Caerphilly. Introduce new paypoint facilities, which will extend access points for people to access our services.
We will invest in reducing Carbon reduction by introducing a Car Lease Scheme for employees at no cost to the Council and also bring forward proposals for the introduction of Wind Turbines and PV panels wherever possible. We will continue to pursue strongly our Green credentials and aim to lead Wales in terms of recycling our waste.
We will invest in an additional £2 m for the benefit of our housing tenants and offer them the opportunity to choose their landlord for the future.
We will bring forward proposals for collaborative school improvement arrangements and new Welsh Medium provision in the Borough. In order to make a significant impact on educational standards, we will implement a newly developed over-arching skills strategy which aims to put the development of language and communication skills at the heart of learning and teaching across all phases of education – thus ensuring our children and young people have the best opportunity to succeed.
We will deliver, with our partners, new ways of supporting our elderly residents to remain supported in their home and look to improve our services for disabled children. At the same time, we will bring forward proposals to work collaboratively with our neighbours on social care issues to ensure funding is secured to assist in meeting the demands of the growing elderly population.
We will complete our review of our assets and bring forward proposals to rationalise our land and property holdings.
We will deliver £21.3 of capital improvements including £10 m investment in schools and an extra £1m on our highways.
We will introduce new arrangements, which will improve our engagement with the residents of the Borough by opening up new media channels and improved communication arrangements with the public.
We recently hosted the World Indoor Bowls Championship at the Islwyn Indoor Bowls facility and now look forward to not only another successful Big Cheese event, but also in welcoming 2 premier events to Caerphilly, the BBC Proms in the Park Concert and the finish of the Welsh stage of the Tour of Britain Cycle race.
We will also meet our commitment to improving the work opportunities of our youth by introducing trainee and apprenticeship opportunities for 100 of our young people.
This is an ambitious Work Programme and provides members of the Council with a snapshot of the key programme for the year. This administration will aim to do so by continuing to balance its budgets and set a 0% Council Tax for the 2nd year running, no mean achievement.
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