Plans for reopening recycling centres
Bridgend County Borough Council is working alongside Welsh Government and other local authorities to develop an all-Wales approach for the safe reopening of community recycling centres. Using an all-Wales set of criteria, the centres will reopen once the council and its waste partner Kier are satisfied that there are adequate staffing levels and procedures in place to maintain the health and safety of workers and residents alike. Further details will be announced soon.
Following the recent announcement from First Minister Mark Drakeford, several changes are being made to lockdown arrangements, including enabling people to exercise more than once a day as long as they stay local and do not drive to another location for this purpose. Discussions are underway with Awen Cultural Trust and Halo Leisure on how a library service could potentially resume within the county borough, again with an emphasis on maintaining social distancing, non-essential travel requirements and more. Non-essential businesses remain closed, but Welsh Government has advised that garden centres can reopen as long as they can demonstrate that appropriate and suitable procedures are in place for social distancing – this will be regulated and enforced by the Shared Regulatory Service. Work on implementing the updated advice is underway.
Drainage work on M4
With less traffic on the roads as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, the South Wales Trunk Road Agency is minimising inconvenience and disruption by carrying out urgent drainage work along the M4. The work, which will require a series of overnight closures, will take place between now and 23 May. The motorway will continue to be available during the day, and diversions will be in place while work is underway at night. No work will take place over weekends.
Support for local businesses
The council is providing a range of support to help businesses prepare for a gradual reopening. This includes online training for businesses around infection prevention and control, and potential access to products such as sneeze screens. The council is also seeking information from businesses in order to target the right business support – an online form has been set up to support this,
Pandemic advice on business
Businesses are encouraged to check the council’s Coronavirus (Covid-19) information page for regular updates on available support as well as the Business Wales, Welsh Government and UK Government websites. General business support queries can be sent to [email protected]
New business loan scheme
The UK Government’s coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme is open for applications. With businesses able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 over terms of up to six years, the Government will guarantee 100 per cent of the loan. There are no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months, and the Government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan. The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders and details are available at the Gov website.
Plans for rates relief
The council is working to implement Welsh Government plans for a new Expanded Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Relief Scheme designed to support eligible businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Under the scheme, businesses which qualified for High Street relief in 2019/20 will have their rates bills amended so that they can receive 100 per cent relief for the current financial year. Businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector that have been eligible for a grant will also be automatically awarded the 100 per cent expanded relief. Any business that becomes liable for business rates during the year, such as a new occupier, will be issued with application forms to confirm eligibility.
£26.2m support for local businesses
With 2,103 applications processed to date, more than £26.2m has been issued to local firms in business grant funding by Bridgend County Borough Council. The support is available for businesses that are eligible for small business rates relief in Wales and who occupy premises with a rateable value of £12,000 or less. It also includes those who fall under small business rates relief but who do not currently pay business rates, and retail, leisure or hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £12,001 to £51,000. Applications can be made by completing the online form.
Social care opportunities
More people are being sought to help support the county borough’s most vulnerable residents. A number of employment opportunities are available, and anyone who has previously worked in social care or who has transferable skills is invited to apply. A fast-tracked application process and rapid refresher training course are available. To apply or find out more, visit the job pages at the council’s website.
Contacting the council
The Customer Service Centre at the Civic Offices in Angel Street, Bridgend remains closed to the public. Residents are asked to use the online My Account and Oggie webchat facilities, or to email [email protected] or call 01656 643643.