Local Government Minister Lesley Griffiths AM at the new Abercynon Community School with Cllr Eudine Hanagan, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning
Local Government and Government Business Minister Lesley Griffiths AM has been on a tour of Rhondda Cynon Taf.
The purpose of the visit was to see how, against a tough and worsening financial climate, Welsh Government funding is supporting the Local Authority to build a collaborative and innovative approach to service delivery.
She was accompanied on her visit by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Deputy Leader, Cllr Paul Cannon; Cllr Eudine Hanagan, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning; and Cllr Andrew Morgan, Cabinet Member for Frontline Services.
During her tour, the Minister visited a range of projects across the County Borough which showcased how collaboration, partnership and co-delivery are helping to minimise costs, lead to improved facilities and support a smarter approach to the delivery of services.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Deputy Leader, Cllr Paul Cannon, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Local Government and Government Business Minister to Rhondda Cynon Taf.
“We face having to make many tough decisions in the months ahead as a result of UK Government austerity measures. Here in Rhondda Cynon Taf we have to bridge a budget gap of at least £56m over the next four financial years.
“We were keen to highlight all the good work we are doing throughout the County Borough for the benefit of all of our residents and it was pleasing to hear positive comments from the Minister.”
The first stop during the visit was the new multi-million-pound Abercynon Community Primary School, where the Minister saw how Welsh Government Funding has helped to deliver the £9m project, which will replace three Victorian schools, a dilapidated Adult Education Centre and the village Library.
The school, which opens at the start of the new academic year, caters for children aged 3-11 and includes facilities for a dedicated Special Needs Unit for pupils with Autism, a library, an Adult/ Community Education centre and a Youth facility all situated in the heart of the Community.
The project has reduced the Council’s maintenance costs in schools by over £3m, released revenue savings of over £430,000 that have been reinvested into the new facilities, removed 78 surplus places from the existing schools and reduced energy and carbon emissions.
The Minister then visited the Bryn Pica Waste Management site in Llwydcoed. The site consists of a Material Recycling Facility, a landfill site, a mattress recycling facility - the only one of its kind in the UK - an Education Centre and a gas engine plant which turns the methane from the landfill site into power which is then sent to the National Grid.
The final stop on the Minister’s visit of Rhondda Cynon Taf was the Cold Calling Control Zone in Porth. One of three across the County Borough, the Cold Calling Zone was established in April in a bid to tackle doorstep crime rogue trading.
It aims to discourage unwanted traders and criminals from cold calling on residents by displaying signs on street furniture advising that the Zone is in force and breaches will be reported to Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Trading Standards and South Wales Police, who will attend.
Local Government and Government Business Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “The wide variety of services and facilities I saw during my visit are examples of the excellent work being undertaken by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and clearly demonstrates the benefits of public services and Local Authorities working together.
“I am proud Welsh Government Funding is helping to support them.
“We are entering an unprecedentedly difficult financial climate and public services will need to take radical action to work within reduced resources.
“The temptation for blanket cuts to services must be resisted and fully weighed up against the wider impacts to the community.
“Collaboration and joint working will be a vital part of the solution, so I was delighted to see the excellent projects already operating in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
“The Bryn Pica Waste Management site and Abercynon Community Primary School show just how much an innovative approach can achieve, whilst the Cold Calling Control Zones shows how partnership working across public services can improve the lives of residents by reducing fear of doorstep crime.”