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Beddau pupils enjoy new 3G pitch as athletics track nears completion

Pupils in Beddau can now enjoy the Council’s 13th new 3G sports pitch, while finishing touches are completed to a new athletics track around its perimeter – both facilities will soon be available for community use.

On Wednesday, July 17, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Cabinet Member Ann Crimmings visited pupils at Bryncelynnog Comprehensive School – who were taking part in a Physical Education lesson on the new ‘all-weather’ pitch. Delivered by the Council through #RCTinvest, the pitch was handed over for the school’s use from Monday, July 15.

The Council is also delivering a running track around the 3G pitch’s perimeter – as investment in athletics continues across the County Borough. During September 2018, the £3m Ron Jones Stadium opened in Aberdare with state-of-the-art track, field and changing facilities – while a £500,000 scheme has recently got underway to improve the King George V track in Clydach Vale.

The running track at Bryncelynnog Comprehensive has now been laid, and the white line markings are due to be added in the week commencing July 22, weather permitting. Both the athletics track and 3G sports pitch are likely to be brought into community use in early August 2019 following completion of a separate access road.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “I’m very pleased that another one of our schools is now benefitting from the significant Council investment in outdoor leisure facilities, delivered through the #RCTinvest Programme.

“The Bryncelynnog facility follows new 3G pitches delivered for school use in Church Village, Tonypandy, Tonyrefail, Pontyclun, Aberdare, Porth, Ferndale and most-recently in Penywaun – with many of these linked to our wider 21st Century Schools investment. It also follows the new £3m Ron Jones athletics stadium in Aberdare, which pupils have been enjoying since September 2018.

“It was great to meet some of the young people in Beddau who are now using the new 3G pitch as part of their Physical Education lessons – and they will have access to the new athletics facility from September. This investment is helping schools deliver the Physical Education curriculum, and is important to encourage pupils to take part in outdoor leisure activities from a young age.”

Councillor Ann Crimmings, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Heritage Services, said: “The new 3G pitch in Beddau is the 13th to be delivered across Rhondda Cynon Taf for the benefit of local communities – and, following Cabinet’s approval in May, a 14th facility will be delivered in Treorchy. When this facility is delivered, our ambitious commitment to provide a 3G pitch within three miles of every household in Rhondda Cynon Taf will be fulfilled.

“The athletics element of the Bryncelynnog development is also scheduled for completion very soon. Through #RCTinvest, the Council has recently provided significant funding to improve athletics facilities in the Rhondda, Cynon and Taff areas. In Aberdare, the £3m Ron Jones Stadium is very well used by the community, while the King George V site in Clydach Vale is now beginning to transform, with a £500,000 improvement project recently underway.

“During our visit on Wednesday, it was fantastic to meet pupils who now have the opportunity to use the 3G pitch – not only as part of their education, but within community activities too. This latest scheme continues to show the Council delivering upon its commitment to improve its outdoor leisure offer.”


Buy with Confidence approved trader scheme now underway

Businesses across Rhondda Cynon Taf can now sign up to the ‘Buy with Confidence’ approved trader scheme – to make it easier for customers to identify them as legitimate, trustworthy and reliable traders.

In March 2019, the Council approved a delegated decision to introduce a number of discretionary, paid-for services to businesses. This included ‘Buy with Confidence’ – a national approval scheme owned by Trading Standards Services, which promotes businesses that provide an honest and dependable service. It benefits businesses by allowing them to gain an accreditation as a legitimate trader, and gives consumers confidence in using their services.

Following a thorough vetting process, approved businesses will be added to the ‘Buy with Confidence’ directory – and become available as a search result on https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/. Members can display evidence of their accreditation to potential customers as a valuable selling point. The scheme is also intended to give customers the confidence to shop locally.

The 'Buy with Confidence’ scheme is open to nearly all business sectors and, in launching the scheme, the Council is offering a first-year discount of 50% to the first 10 businesses across the County Borough to sign up.

Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Housing, said: “I am very pleased that Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has become one of the first Local Authorities in South Wales to offer the ‘Buy with Confidence’ trader approval scheme, which seeks to celebrate and promote the very many hard-working businesses across the County Borough who offer genuine and reliable services.

“There are many advantages to this – including that legitimate businesses can distinguish themselves from those who fall short of the relevant standards, through a recognised accreditation by the Council’s Trading Standards team. Successful applicants can promote their membership as a key selling point to customers, who will in turn have confidence in using local services.

“The Council continues to encourage residents to Shop Local, in order to provide a boost to local businesses which also contributes to important goals like improving Town Centres and Retail Areas. I would encourage local businesses to look into applying for the ‘Buy with Confidence’ membership.”

Local businesses can find out more details about the ‘Buy with Confidence’ scheme, and apply for it, by emailing tradingstandards@rctcbc.gov.uk.


School's out for summer. Leisure for Life's in!

Secondary school pupils are being offered unlimited Leisure for Life membership for the entire six-week summer holidays for just £20!

Pupils aged 11 and over can use Leisure for Life gyms independently*, so a sizzling summer offer has been created to encourage them to love leisure this Summer.

Buy a School’s Out Leisure for Life pass from your nearest centre now to enjoy unlimited gym sessions (including free induction), age-appropriate fitness classes, swimming (not just the set school holiday free swims), a swimming activity like lessons or rookie lifeguards and indoor sports including squash or badminton.

It’s so easy to join, simply purchase your pass for £20 to enjoy unlimited Junior Leisure for Life every day of the school summer holidays.

Cllr Ann Crimmings, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Heritage Services, said: “This is an exceptional offer for secondary school pupils – including those who finished school after their GCSEs and other exams – to enjoy Leisure for Life in the six-week summer holidays.

“It is a chance for them to see what is on offer for them across nine leisure centres, meet our knowledgeable and supportive staff and enjoy a taste of what is on offer via the Junior Leisure for Life membership.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of young people taking out Leisure for Life membership, especially for the gyms – they love the modern equipment, the helpful staff and the technology that allows them to live stream music whilst also working out.

“Because induction is free, and junior Leisure for Life membership works out at less than £5 a week, it is a great way for them to start their fitness journey and spend their after-school and weekend free time in a positive and healthy way.

“Using the gym is also a great way for young people who are involved in other sports, such as football, netball, rugby and athletics to keep up their overall fitness and all staff in Leisure for Life gyms have the expertise to help them create a gym routine that assists with their wider sporting routine.

“Going to the gym is also a great way to meet new people, spend social time with your friends and it is proven to have a positive impact on your physical and mental health and wellbeing – something we all want for our children.”

Those aged 11 or over can use Leisure for Life gyms. An induction is needed but this is free of charge.

Please note, after a certain time of day, junior members are only allowed in the gym with an adult. This varies from centre to centre and you can check timetables here:

Leisure for Life also offers classes designed for junior members or for families to take part in, such as trampolining, gymnastic and family spin – you can see more information here

Free school holiday swimming sessions are provided for all those aged 16 and under across Leisure for Life – check with your local pool for more information. Junior membership offers unlimited swimming in all sessions, as well as an aquatic activity such as lessons or rookie lifeguards.

If you like your six-week membership offer, ask your nearest leisure centre for more information on Junior Leisure for Life membership, which is £23 a month if you pay by direct debit on an annual membership.

*Gyms can be used by those aged 11 and over following induction. Induction is free of charge. Please note, the times at which those aged over 11 and under 16 can attend the gym unaccompanied varies from leisure centre to leisure centre. There are also sessions where those aged 11 plus can attend, but only if they are accompanied by an adult. Please check times.


Controversial £37 million Pontypridd school plans given final approval despite widespread objections

Controversial £37m plans to overhaul education in Pontypridd have been given final approval by councillors despite widespread opposition.

RCT Council’s cabinet agreed to implement the proposals on Thursday, July 18, despite 435 objections being sent to the council.

Two new 3-16 “super schools” will be built on the sites of Pontypridd High School and Hawthorn High School and there will be a new Welsh-medium school at Heol y Celyn Primary School in Rhydyfelin.

It will see the closure of Pontypridd High, Hawthorn High, Hawthorn Primary, Heol y Celyn, YGG Pont Sion Norton and Cilfynydd Primary.Sixth forms at Pontypridd High and Hawthorn High will also close with provision moved to Bryncelynnog Comprehensive School and Coleg y Cymoedd in Nantgarw.

The proposal to close Cardinal Newman’s sixth form will be decided by the Welsh Government.A campaign called our Our Children First or Ein Plant Gyntaf was set up to oppose the proposals.Their opposition has been based on the following:

that the consultation has been inadequate
they dispute the figures the council uses on school performance and spare places
the creation of a two-tier education system post-16 with some pupils in better-off families having access to “centres of excellence” and others not mainly because of increased travel distances
the increased distances pupils will have to travel to access Welsh-medium education which may put some parents off it and create a barrier to Welsh-medium education in north Pontypridd
the generation of extra traffic will increase pollution and the potential impacts of children going to school so close to the A470

Councillor Heledd Fychan, Plaid Cymru councillor for Pontypridd Town, said she was not against change but wanted alternative proposals to be considered.She said: “The consultation doesn’t show good practice in terms of putting the law into action

.“I urge cabinet to listen to people’s concerns and to take them seriously. The council has not collaborated and people are not involved in decisions.”

She specifically raised the issue of some parents choosing English-medium education instead of Welsh-medium education because of the closure of Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Pont Sion Norton.

“The decision should be deferred. It would be better than going ahead with flawed plans.”

Cllr Mike Powell, Liberal Democrat councillor for Trallwng, said it was “discriminatory” that only some schools will benefit.“Different levels of education are being imposed on different areas which is discriminatory and unfair.

I ask for logic and consistency.”Cllr Stephen Belzak, an Independent councillor for Cilfynydd who has opposed the proposals because of the exposure of pupils to pollution from the A470, said it will generate extra traffic and claimed the council hasn’t responded to his climate change argument.

He said: “I am not reassured. There is an air of complacency. We need to consult a public health expert.”

But Paul Mee, the council’s director of public health, protection and community services, said: “We take air quality very seriously and we have a good understanding of the air quality.”He said the current indication was that they were well within the air quality standards.

Cllr Lewis Hooper, Conservative councillor for Tonteg, focused on what he said was an attempt to “downplay” the number of people who actually objected to the proposals.He said the number of people who supported increased council tax using the budget consultation simulator was much lower than the number of people that objected to these proposals and claimed there were “double standards” at play.

But council leader Andrew Morgan said this was wrong as more than 3,000 people had supported the council’s budget proposals in total.

Cllr Morgan also said the authority had gone “over and above” with consultations on the education proposals and cabinet members have had full sight of all the responses and impact assesments.

There were three public speakers speaking against the proposals at the cabinet meeting.

The first speaker said the changes would “turn the clock back” on progress made with Welsh-medium education in north Pontypridd and claimed some children faced being alienated.

She described the proposals as “power-led and a tick box” exercise.

She said: “I implore the council to think and listen to the people. To serve the people and not just themselves.”

Another speaker said: “I was shocked to hear about the ill-thought out sixth form proposals.” She went on to praise the support she received at Hawthorn High’s sixth form which she otherwise would not have received.

Another speaker raised concerns over the pollution caused by extra traffic and that the closure of Cilfynydd Primary School would “take the heart out of Cilfynydd” as the school has been the centre of the village for many years.

But Gaynor Davies, the council’s director for education and inclusion, said there were too many small and unviable sixth forms and that retention rates were poor which impacts on school budgets.

She pointed to the strong performance of both Bryncelynnog and Coleg y Cymoedd and said they were looking to strengthen the post-16 education offer with students already voting with their feet as the current sixth forms are not retaining learners

She also said that due to the number of surplus secondary school places in RCT the council was essentially funding one too many secondary schools at the moment.

In terms of the Welsh-medium aspect she said the new school will help contribute towards the Welsh Government’s target of having a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

Cllr Joy Rosser, cabinet member for education and inclusion, said there was a “clear and strong rationale” for the changes.


Ponty's Big Weekend is to return after five years

Ponty's Big Weekend is to return to the Valleys for the first time in five years - with a headline performance from Britpop legends Ocean Colour Scene.

Previously staged between 2008 and 2014, the event will return to its home at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, Pontypridd on Saturday, August 17, for a day of live music.

Joining headliners OCS, will be fellow Britpop icons The Bluetones, and South Wales’ very own Goldie Lookin' Chain - who will bring their legends set to the park.

Showing support to the fantastic array of new Welsh bands coming through right now, local favourites Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, The Pitchforks, Al Moses and Young Garbo complete the line up.

Previous incarnations of Ponty's Big Weekend have included performances from Little Mix, JLS, Olly Murs, Alfie Boe, Paul Potts, The Blackout and Sugababes.

The date is being promoted by Orchard Live, who have a strong history with the park having promoted previous Ponty’s Big Weekend events and the Tom Jones coming home concert in 2005.
Ocean Colour Scene (Image: Just Looking Images)
The Pitchforks (Image: Publicity picture)
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Dave Driscoll of Orchard Live said: “It’s been five years since the last Ponty’s Big Weekend and we can’t wait to return live music again to this amazing venue in the Valleys.

"I have so many wonderful memories of Ynysangharad War Memorial Park and I can’t wait to build some more this summer.

"Ocean Colour Scene are one of the best live acts that the UK have produced in the last 25 years and they are sure to put on a great performance for us in Pontypridd."


The number of wards at RCT Council could be cut under new proposals

The number of electoral wards could be cut but the number of councillors on Rhondda Cynon Taf Council would stay the same under new proposals.

The Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales is reviewing the electoral arrangements of all 22 councils so that any proposed changes can come into force in time for the 2022 local elections.

In its draft proposals, the commission is proposing that the number of councillors in RCT be kept the same, at 75, which is one councillor for every 2,302 eligible voters.

Currently the ratios range from 1,399 eligible voters per councillor to 4,790 eligible voters to elector.

But its recommendations are that the number of wards be cut from 52 to 45 in a move which the commission says will result in a “significant improvement” to electoral parity in RCT.

This would mean that the most under-represented areas in terms of the ratio of councillors to electors would be Taff’s Well and Treorchy whilst currently it is Tonyrefail West.

The proposals would make Ynysybwl the most over-represented area whilst the current most over-represented area is Rhigos.

The commission is proposing 26 multi-member wards in the county including 22 two-member electoral wards and four three-member electoral wards with no changes to 18 electoral wards.

There would also be one ward which combines part of a warded community along with its neighbouring community.

The commission says it has considered responses from RCT Council, town and community councils, MPs, AMs, political party groups and residents in drawing up its proposals.

Here is a breakdown of the proposed ward changes for RCT:

Cymmer to be a two member ward with 4,222 electors with the single name of Cymmer
Graig ward boundary to be extended to include an extra 450 electors from the Rhondda ward and combine Graig with Treforest to create a two member ward with 5,204 electors called Graig and Trefforest or Graig a Threfforest in Welsh
Rhondda to form a ward with 2,780 electors and the single name of Rhondda
A new single-member electoral ward in the Hawthorn and Rhydfelen Central/Ilan area with 1,949 electors to be called Rhydfelen Central or Canol Rhydfelen in Welsh
The revised Hawthorn ward to be given the Welsh name Y Ddraenen Wen with 1,803 electors
Altering the current Rhydfelen Central/Ilan boundary to form a ward called Upper Rhydfelen and Glyn-taf or Rhydfelen Uchaf a Glyn-taf in Welsh consisting of 2,397 electors
Ynysybwl and Coed-y-Cwm to form a two-member electoral ward with 3,457 electors with the single name of Ynysybwl.
Re-align the boundary of Church Village to form a new electoral ward with 5,033 electors and include the Welsh name of Pentre’r Eglwys
Remainder of Tonteg ward to form a ward with 2,502 electors and the single name of Ton-teg.
Combine Beddau and Tyn-y-nant to form a new two-member ward with 5,581 electors and including the Welsh language name of Beddau a Thyn-y-nant.
Combine Llantrisant Town and Talbot Green to create a new two-member ward with 5,118 electors including the Welsh name of Tref Llantrisant a
Combine the entirety of the community ward of Tyle-Garw with the community of Pont-y-clun to create a three-member electoral ward with 6,612 electors and the single name of Pont-y-clun.
The Llanharry ward would form an electoral ward of 2,523 electors including the Welsh name of Llanharri.
The whole community of Llanharan (including Brynna) to form an electoral ward with 6,171 electors including the Welsh name Brynna a Llanharan
Tonyrefail West to form a ward with with 4,790 electors including the Welsh language name of Gorllewin Tonyrefail
To amend the boundary of Llwyn-y-pia to a ward with 2,374 electors and the single name of Llwyn-y-pia
The remainder of the Trealaw ward will form a ward with 2,511 electors and the single name of Trealaw
The remainder of the Ystrad ward will form a ward with 3,804 electors with the single name of Ystrad
Split the existing Pentre ward to create a new ward called Ton-pentre with 2,117 electors with the Pentre ward having 1,740 electors
Treorchy to form a ward of 5,652 electors including the Welsh name of Treorci
Combine Tylorstown and Ynyshir to create a ward with 5,372 electors including the Welsh name of Rhondda Fach Isaf or Rhondda Fach Lower in English.
Combine Ferndale and Maerdy to create a ward of 5,324 electors with the Welsh name Rhondda Fach Uchaf or Rhondda Fach Upper in English
Combine Hirwaun and Rhigos to create a ward of 4,522 electors including the Welsh name of Hirwaun a Rhigos
Combine Aberaman north and Aberaman south to create a ward of 7,111 electors and the single name of Aberaman
Cwmbach to form an electoral ward of 3,679 electors with the single name of Cwmbach
Combine Mountain Ash east and Mountain Ash west to form a ward with 5,278 electors which would result in the loss of one councillor for the area and see it named Mountain Ash or Aberpennar in Welsh.

The wards which would see no change include Abercynon , Aberdare East, Cilfynydd, Cwm Clydach, Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd Town, Porth , Tonypandy , Tonyrefail East, Trallwng and Treherbert.

Aberdare West/Llwydcoed would be given the Welsh language name Gorllewin Aberdâr a Llwydcoed and the English language name of Aberdare West and Llwydcoed.

Gilfach Goch would be given the single name of Gilfach-goch, Glyncoch would be Glyn-coch, Penrhiwceiber would be Penrhiw-ceibr, Pen-y-Graig would be Pen-y-graig, Pen-y-Waun would be Pen-y-waun and Taff’s Well would be given the Welsh name Ffynnon Taf as well as its English language name.


Empty Homes Grant Scheme in RCT to be replicated across Valleys

Rhondda Cynon Taf’s unique Empty Homes Grant Scheme will be rolled out across the South Wales valleys by Welsh Government – due to its success in helping local residents bring empty homes back into use.

On Thursday, July 18, Deputy Economy Minister and Chair of the Valleys Taskforce Lee Waters made the announcement at the Senedd, after meeting beneficiaries of the scheme in Ynysybwl alongside Julie James, the Minister for Housing and Local Government. Welsh Government has set aside £10m in order to replicate Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s scheme across the valleys.

The Empty Homes Grant Scheme launched in Rhondda Cynon Taf in 2016 – offering home buyers help with the cost of renovating an empty property they purchase. The scheme has since invested more than £2.18m across 130 grants, with applicants also contributing £541,000 towards improvements. Another key element of the scheme is that contractors utilise local suppliers.

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “Empty homes are a blight on communities and are a wasted resource – a missed opportunity to provide much-needed affordable housing for people.

“I was pleased to accompany both Ministers to a property in Ynysybwl today to see how Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Empty Property Grant is having a tangible effect in bringing these properties back into use. The property had previously been empty for two years, but thanks to the Council’s grant and additional private investment from the owners, it has now been transformed into a lovely family home.

“A significant focus of our initiative is ensuring that there is a wider benefit for the local economy, with local contractors undertaking the work and the materials being sourced from local suppliers.

“The Council is continuing to work hard in reducing the number of empty properties across the County Borough, and I am confident that the extension of our scheme across the now-extended Valleys Taskforce area through the funding announced today will have a hugely beneficial impact.”

Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise Development and Housing, added: “I welcome the announcement of £10m funding from the Valleys Taskforce to tackle this issue across the South Wales Valleys.

“Rhondda Cynon Taf will also benefit from this significant funding and this will allow us to extend this scheme and build on the hugely positive work already undertaken to date in accelerating the number of properties that we are able to bring back into use.

“Once again, Rhondda Cynon Taf is leading the way in delivering outcomes through innovative schemes that are now being adopted as good practice and extended to other Local Authorities.”

In announcing the funding on Thursday, Lee Waters added: “Through our engagement work with communities living in the Valleys we have heard concerns around the high numbers of empty homes and the detrimental impact they can often have on the wider community.

“The unsightly appearance of empty homes can cause a blight to communities and distress to residents, and can also attract crime and anti-social behaviour.

“We also know that empty homes are also often a financial burden to both to the home owners and the Council and represent a missed opportunity to provide much needed affordable housing for local people.

“For this reason I have decided to roll the successful Rhondda Cynon Taf Empty Homes Grant Scheme out across the whole Valleys Taskforce area. This will help regenerate communities, and provide more choice and suitable accommodation for residents.
“This decision will also help to boost the economies of our valleys communities. The Rhondda Cynon Taf scheme has shown us that applicants are choosing local businesses to undertake their refurbishment work. We want to support and encourage this further, while also driving decarbonisation and other energy efficiency measures.”


Big Welsh Bite is Back!

Big Welsh Bite, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s flagship Summer event, returns to Ynysangharad War Memorial Park on August 3 and 4, and is once again set to welcome tens of thousands of visitors looking to enjoy mouth-watering food and drink, entertainment, live music and more.

Thanks to event sponsors The Glamorgan Brewing Company, there will be, for the first time ever, a beer garden, where adults can enjoy the popular brewery’s delicious beers, stouts, ales and ciders - all brewed right here in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Lounge in the sun with a cold drink listening to the live music on stage or take a tour of the Big Welsh Bite arena, where you can see Llamas, Parkour and the Runner Pack duck driving; whilst there will also be a small animal petting farm – all of which are perfect for keeping the kids entertained!

In addition, to sweeten things up we are pleased to announce Great British Bake Off favourite Jon Jenkins will be joining us over the weekend, and demonstrating his incredible cake making and decorating skills – no doubt while wearing a trademark Hawaiian shirt! Catch him at regular intervals on the cookery demo stage.

Also on the menu at the cookery stage will be Big Welsh Bite regular Chef Geoff Tookey who will be showing you how to whip up delicious meals the entire family can enjoy.

Make sure you keep an eye out for Daisy and Buttercup, comedy street theatre cows who will be moo-ving throughout the event, milking the attention they are sure to get. This hilarious duo has performed at Glastonbury and Covent Garden, so it’s a treat to welcome them to Pontypridd.

Just as good as two solid days of free family entertainment is the food and drink on offer at the Big Welsh Bite.

Choose from wood-fired pizza, Welsh Beef burgers, perfectly spiced tikka wraps, cheese, churros, fudge, ice cream, candy floss, crepes, chutneys and more.

You can see the full mouth-watering list of food and drink stalls at www.bigwelshbite.co.uk – and there is a big enough range of stalls that you could easily enjoy breakfast, lunch and tea at the event! This year, there will also be a much larger range of vegan and vegetarian options.

As well as food to devour on site, there will also be cheese, meats, wine, ales, gin, cider, and much more that you can sample and then take home to enjoy later.

Live cookery demonstrations will take place throughout the day to inspire you and help you to get the most out of your newly-purchased ingredients.

Entry to the Big Welsh Bite is once again free of charge, and Ynysangharad War Memorial Park is within walking distance of Pontypridd’s train and bus stations and town centre car parks.

Councillor Maureen Webber, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Council Business with responsibility for events, said: “The Council works hard to ensure that the Big Welsh Bite gets bigger and better every year and that we continue to widen its appeal.

“It’s always been a popular event, thanks to the food and drink on offer and the free family fun, but as more and more exhibitors and entertainers come on board, it continues to attract new visitors.

“Craft beers and flavoured gins, as well as gourmet chocolates and street food from across the world – including vegan and vegetarian options – certainly added to the event’s appeal last year and we welcomed 20,000 people over the weekend.

“This year is a first for the Big Welsh Bite with a beer garden, thanks to event sponsors The Glamorgan Brewing Company. Visitors will now be able to relax outside with an award-winning beer, ale or cider.”

Get all the latest Big Welsh Bite news and information from www.bigwelshbite.co.uk or follow What’s On RCT on twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


Cabinet agrees to progress key elements of A4119 dualling scheme

Cabinet has agreed to progress a number of key elements relating to the future A4119 dualling scheme – including a proposed new access to serve the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) headquarters.

On Thursday, July 18, Members considered a report which outlines the recent progress of the scheme, which will see a 1.3km section of the A4119 dualled between Coedely and Ynysmaerdy – to increase traffic flow at peak times. In February 2019, public exhibitions were held in the two villages as part of a wider opportunity for residents to help inform the scheme’s design.

The report highlights the outcome of a Transport User Benefit Appraisal, undertaken to evaluate the benefits of a proposal to remove the existing roundabout near SWFRS. The assessment has indicated that removal of the roundabout will increase the project’s monetised benefits by 50% – helping reduce journey times and congestion, while offering best value for money.

Removal of this roundabout will require the Council to buy third-party land (or acquire it via compulsory purchase) and obtain full planning permission for works within the SWFRS headquarters.

The report adds that SWFRS has given its support in principle for the removal of the existing access, to be replaced with a new access off the Llantrisant Business Park roundabout via Sterling Drive – subject to agreeing its design, and gaining approval from the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Board.

Included in the progress update is the current work to maximise active travel provision within the development. A shared pedestrian and cycle route is included in the dualling design – while there is also the opportunity for a new link between Coedely and the existing community route, west of the A4119.

The report states this could be achieved by one of three options, to facilitate cyclists and pedestrians crossing the A4119 – with the most favourable option being the provision of a subway.

The plans also require traffic to be merged from two lanes to one just north of Coedely roundabout – with the dualling taking place south of the roundabout. To facilitate this, the existing road bridge structure must be widened.

The update also adds that negotiation with third-party land owners has commenced in respect of land purchase, while it has been confirmed that no planning permission is required for the main dualling. With the preliminary design phase now complete, the estimated cost of the project is £14m.

On Thursday, Cabinet noted the updates included in the report, and granted permission for the Council to submit a planning application for a new access to SWFRS off the A4119 – while taking steps to acquire the land required.

Members also agreed the next steps of the project relating to the provision of a subway to increase active travel provision, along with road widening north of Coed Ely Roundabout to facilitate traffic merging.

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways, said: “These are very exciting times for the A4119 dualling scheme from Llantrisant Business Park to Coedely Roundabouts, with Officers working to progress its design. Cabinet has received an update on a number of important elements to the scheme.

“Officers have reported the scheme’s Benefit to Cost Ratio (BCR) based on two options relating to the SWFRS roundabout. Removal of the roundabout would see the scheme score 4.0 on a recognised BCR system – which is very high. Without removing the roundabout, the scheme would score 3.2. To give this context, the A473 Church Village bypass – universally recognised as a vital scheme for local transport links – scored 2.0 when delivered in 2010.

“Cabinet agreed for Officers to progress work with SWFRS over the removal of the roundabout as part of the scheme going forward. The intention would be to complete this access ahead of the dualling work, to minimise disruption.

“Members also agreed, as part of the scheme’s design, to widen the highway north of Coedely roundabout to facilitate traffic merging – along with additional measures to facilitate active travel. Discussions have commenced with Welsh Government in respect of potential contributions based on the subway option.

“The Council continues to work hard to ensure this important project becomes a reality in the future – utilising #RCTinvest funding and external investment where possible. Initial indications from Officers suggest that the main works could start on site during summer 2021.”


Cabinet Members agree improvements to Flying Start provision

Cabinet has agreed to seek formal approval from Welsh Government to pilot a number of proposed changes within the Early Years system in Rhondda Cynon Taf – which will improve services to children in their early years.

On Thursday, July 18, Members agreed to support the changes, which will now be formally submitted to Welsh Government. Among the proposals is the removal of the current geographical determination of the Flying Start childcare offer – to instead be delivered universally, based on need. Cabinet also agreed a reduction in the number of weeks that childcare is offered per year (from 42 to 39), consistent with national guidance.

An Officer report to Thursday’s meeting states the proposed changes originate from a project with Welsh Government, Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB and Merthyr Tydfil CBC, supported by the Cwm Taf Public Services Board. This focused on building resilience; applying vulnerability profiling data to support targeting of services, and delivering an integrated Early Years system through improved collaboration.

Priority changes to Early Years specific to Rhondda Cynon Taf were identified by the Council – with its Resilient Families Service ideally placed to provide the framework for service delivery.

The new system in RCT would see the Resilient Families Service as the single point of access for an improved Flying Start provision, which would still deliver the four strands of Flying Start. The new provision would comprise of:

Parenting – open access to informal parenting support and formal parenting programmes (for families with children up to the age of 18) and specialist support for parents of children with additional needs.
Early Language and Communication – a targeted early intervention for children aged 21 months identified as experiencing language delay, and children up to the age of 7 who are not making expected progress.
Health Visiting – access to interventions available across Rhondda Cynon Taf for children aged 0-5 years, and their families.
Childcare – funded childcare for 2-3 year-olds as part of a co-ordinated package of support for families based on an assessed need.

Councillor Christina Leyshon, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Cabinet Members have considered a number of important changes within the Council’s Early Years system and Flying Start programme – with the aim of improving the service so we can provide the right support to the right people at the right time.

“Since the Cwm Taf Public Services Board gave direction in July 2018 to create a single approach to early intervention, several measures have been implemented towards achieving this in Rhondda Cynon Taf – including the piloting of a number of Flying Start expansion programmes. The RCT Early Years and Family Support Services have also been re-organised, along with the Community Wellbeing and Resilience Service. From April 1, 2019, the Resilient Families Service has included a new Parenting Support Team.

“These changes would remove the geographical element of the Flying Start childcare offer, which often throws up anomalies within communities based on their specific postcode – and I wholeheartedly agree with the change to a needs-based approach. Following Cabinet’s approval on Thursday, the changes will now be formally sent to Welsh Government for its determination.”

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