The recent findings from the Independent Review Panel into maternity services at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board showed that whilst some progress has been made in rectifying the failures of services, there is still a long way to go before the full extent of the problems are fully addressed. 

It is clear that the level of change that we all want to see isn’t going to take place overnight, however it is encouraging to see that action is being taken to steer the services in the right direction, with the panel finding that 8 of the 11 urgent recommendations have been addressed so far.  It is absolutely imperative that the progress is maintained to accelerate the delivery of these improvements so that residents can access functional health services that they can have confidence in.  As part of this, I will continue to hold regular meetings with the senior management of the Health Board and have the frank and honest discussions necessary to ensure that services and the change process itself are effectively scrutinised.  

At the next meeting of Full Council on Wednesday, October 23, senior representatives from Cwm Taf Morgannwg Heath Board will return to address Members, following their initial attendance on Wednesday, June 19, where Councillors from across the Chamber engaged in a robust and challenging session with the Health Board.  I’m sure that this meeting will be equally engaging and Members will no doubt be eager to hear what the senior Health Board management see as the next steps in improving services.

The Welsh Government’s draft budget for 2020/2021 is now just a few short weeks away and this is always a time of uncertainty and anticipation for Local Authorities as we await an indication of the level of funding we can expect in the forthcoming financial year.  I, along with other Council Leaders from across Wales, have been lobbying the UK and Welsh Governments for extra funding throughout the year, making the case for them to provide Local Authorities with the resources necessary to protect and enhance our frontline services.  Whilst the harshness of previous budgets seems to have eased, there is no question that almost a decade of austerity has placed an enormous strain on our major statutory services like education and social services, which continue to face a growing demand from inflation and an ageing population.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) have been clear for some time that unless Local Authorities are passported the necessary funding from both the Block Grant and additional resources passed down from Westminster, then it will be extremely difficult for Councils to absorb additional pressures through pension increases and other concerns.  

Finally, I was pleased to see that the Council’s free-to-access Town Centre Wi-Fi initiative has now been piloted in Aberdare.  This now means that we have are now making excellent progress in the delivery of all of our commitments to residents following the start of the current Council term in 2017, and I am sure that this will be an extra incentive to draw visitors and residents into our town centres to shop local.  The scheme is being delivered on the back of improvements to our town centre CCTV network and I look forward to further progress being made in the delivery of this scheme across the remaining six town centres, with Mountain Ash the next to benefit.

Posted on 21/10/2019