It’s certainly been a busy time in the world of politics, and especially so here in Rhondda Cynon Taf with the recent council by-election in the Ynyshir ward.  I’d like to extend my congratulations to all four RCT MPs who were returned in our constituencies and to Councillor Julie Edwards, the new member for Ynyshir.

Following swiftly on from last Thursday came the Provisional Local Government Settlement from the Welsh Government, which will see Rhondda Cynon Taf being allocated a 4.5% (£16m) uplift in the forthcoming financial year.  After almost a decade of continued austerity, this is a welcome break for Local Authorities in Wales and, whilst it obviously does not undo the damage caused by austerity, it is nonetheless positive and represents the best settlement allocation for twelve years at a time when pressures and costs are growing.  My fellow Council Leaders and I have had frequent and honest discussions with Welsh Government Ministers and last Monday’s announcement was clearly a positive indication from the Welsh Government in viewing Local Government as a priority for funding, allowing Councils to invest in our priority services.

As part of our preparations for the forthcoming financial year, we have recently closed the first phase of our annual budget consultation process.  Our residents’ views form a crucial part of our forward planning and I’d like to thank all of those who have taken the time to fill in the surveys, respond to the snapshot polls on social media and also given their time for the face-to-face discussions as part of the roadshow events.  From the results of this first phase, I will shortly be asking my colleagues in the Cabinet to consider looking at using the additional resources at our disposal next year to invest in a number of key priority areas, including schools and education, social care, youth services and youth offending, anti-poverty measures and an extension to the recently introduced small business rate relief scheme.  This will then inform the second phase of our budget consultation process, where residents will once again have an opportunity to have a conversation with us to shape service provision going in to 2020/21 as we look to continue making excellent progress on delivering on our priorities and commitments.

On the subject of delivering on commitments, I am pleased to confirm that the Council’s free town centre Wi-Fi scheme is now available to access in Mountain Ash, following on from the pilot in Aberdare that was announced in October.  The scheme will continue to be delivered to the remaining five town centres over the coming months as we continue to provide support to our town centres.

Staying with Mountain Ash, New Year’s Eve will once again see the increasingly popular Nos Galan Road Races return to the town for the 61st year since the start of the event.

Once again we are expecting thousands of spectators to be in attendance to cheer on the record number of competitors.  Information for the event can be found on the Nos Galan website and will be promoted through the Council’s social media accounts in the run up to the 31st.

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our residents a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Posted on 23/12/2019