Interim Leader's blog - Cllr Barbara Jones
Posted on : 16 Oct 2019
I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to pen some words for inclusion in this column during what is certainly a very busy time for us at Caerphilly and across local government in general.
Later today (Wednesday) the Cabinet will consider two separate reports which focus on the council’s improvement and performance over the last year. The first, the Wales Audit Office’s Annual Improvement Report outlines that we as a council are ‘meeting our statutory requirements in relation to continuous improvement and is at a crucial pivotal point in our ambition to transform’.
Similarly, our own Annual Performance Report demonstrates that good progress continues to be made in each of our priority areas. There’s always room for further improvement; we appreciate that and will strive for this, but both reports illustrate that we’re on a very solid footing as we look to the future.
At the same meeting, Cabinet will also consider a report which would see us set aside funding to help with the acquisition of properties and the compensation package provided to residents and property owners affected by the long-standing air quality issues in Hafodyrynys.
The proposal would involve us setting aside funding totalling £268,000 to cover a potential shortfall between funding allocated by Welsh Government and ensuring our residents receive 150% of the market value for their properties. As a council, we are fully committed to ensuring our residents are not placed at any financial detriment as a result of air quality issues in this area.
I was also delighted to hear that Windy Ridge, a local horticultural project for adults with learning disabilities, has recently become the proud recipient of a Green Flag Community Award for their green efforts.
The project, which has been running for 19 years, provides vocational training and support which helps people to develop work based skills. I have had the privilege of seeing for myself some of the impressive projects undertaken over the years at Windy Ridge – which include growing vegetables to exhibit at country shows and creating carved pumpkins that are sold to members of the public. Well done to you all – a very well deserved accolade!
Over recent days I’ve also had the great privilege of attending two very different occasions. The first was a celebration of the ‘Heddlu Bach’ Mini Police scheme at St James Primary School in Caerphilly, where pupils have the opportunity to work with local police officers and become real ambassadors for their community. It really is wonderful to see our pupils taking such pride in their school environment and their wider area.
Earlier this week I was also honoured to attend the annual memorial service to those who lost their lives in the Universal Colliery mining disasters at the Wales National Mining Memorial in Senghenydd. This truly poignant occasion provided a fitting opportunity to remember all those who sadly lost their lives in mining disasters across our area and beyond in years gone by.
Finally, we’re approaching the time of year when we may begin to think ahead about starting our festive shopping (if you haven’t already that is!). I’d ask our residents to really take the time to embrace all that our local high streets have to offer over the coming months. The pre-Christmas trading period is a crucial one for our retailers and it would be great if readers really could throw their weight behind our local traders in the run up to the festive period.