Demolition soon to start on former police station

Demolition of the former police station in Bridgend town centre is due to start soon with the site earmarked to house a new Bridgend College campus.

The contractors Cardiff Demolition are due to begin demolition in the week beginning Monday 20 March with work expected to take up to 12 weeks.  Access to Cheapside and local businesses will be maintained during the demolition, although there will be some temporary narrowing of the carriageway and minor alterations to pedestrian crossing points. The contractor will be contacting local businesses before demolition starts to advise on the programme of works.

The site, at Cheapside, forms a significant part of Bridgend County Borough Council’s regeneration plans for the town centre.

Once the building is demolished, the site, together with the former Cheapside multi-storey car park site will be leased to Bridgend College, enabling the relocation of the Cowbridge Road campus to the new town centre location.

The college plan to create a net-zero carbon building, with 21st century learning and teaching facilities for post-16 education in Bridgend, with community benefits including a 200-seat theatre space, a coffee shop and flexible meeting spaces.

It represents a £50 million investment into the skills and training of the young people in Bridgend and members of the community who need opportunities to retrain and gain valuable employability skills. This investment is part funded by the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning programme.

Cabinet Member for Regeneration Cllr Neelo Farr said: “The new college campus which will cater for at least 1,000 staff and students will be a catalyst for the wider regeneration in the area, increasing footfall and supporting local businesses.

“Meanwhile our plans for developing enhanced public transport will make it easier for people to access its facilities.”

 

 

Nantyffyllon street to be adopted by council

An unadopted street in Nantyffyllon will become maintainable by Bridgend County Borough Council with work soon to start on bringing it up to standard.

Maes-y-dderwen will see the replacement of all kerbs and pavements, with the road also being resurfaced.

The cul-de-sac is one of thousands of streets across England and Wales not adopted and maintainable by highway authorities and, as such, responsibility for its upkeep rested entirely with residents and property owners.

The Cabinet Member for Communities Cllr John Spanswick said: “This £20,000 scheme is part of a wider programme with work continuing to review ownership of other unadopted roads in the county borough, and establish the upgrade required to bring them up to an adoptable standard.

“While there will be some disruption to the residents at Maes-y-dderwen as we work on the improvements, we will make every effort to keep it to a minimum.

“In bringing the street up to a standard where it can be adopted by the council, it will then benefit from regular future maintenance.”

 

Council budget 2023-24: What it means for Communities and Regeneration

Budget proposals for 2023-24 have been endorsed by the Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council to ensure the local authority can continue to provide essential services and meet some of the most difficult challenges that it has ever faced.

If agreed when it goes before Council for a final decision on 1 March, the budget would mean that the authority will spend £30.55m on essential services provided by the Communities directorate next year.

In terms of capital investment, a total of £30.3m will be invested in 2023-24. This includes more than £1.7m to upgrade children’s playgrounds, £1m for the refurbishment of highways, and £2.9 million for the Porthcawl regeneration project. The Cosy Corner project will also receive more than £520,000.

The council has previously spent £500,000 on playgrounds in 2022-23 and this has enabled improvements such as inclusive equipment being installed to cater for a range of disabilities. This further investment will now allow even more playgrounds to be upgraded right across the county borough.

Other investments include, £1.5 million for the Maesteg Town Hall Cultural Hub development and £400,000 for the 2030 Decarbonisation Programme which will play a key part in helping the council meet its target of achieving net zero carbon status by 2030.

Savings of £375,000 would be made by switching to LED street lights, renting out two wings at Ravens Court to partner agencies, closing recycling centres for one weekday per week, charging blue badge holders for parking and increasing charges for bulky waste collection and garden waste recycling.

 

Cllr John Spanswick, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “This has been a very difficult process, but thankfully, we have been able to avoid the worst-case scenario and have been able to protect some hugely popular services such as supporting the RNLI in Porthcawl and continuing with our waste enforcement, with the intention of also increasing our fly tipping activity.

“It is also good to see that we are committing to significant investment into important services like highways and children’s playgrounds. This will also allow us to build on our existing work and keep the momentum going with regards to making play areas more inclusive than ever before.

“Inevitably, we have had to make some savings, but these decisions have been taken with our residents at the forefront of our thinking and we are determined to make sure our communities continue to thrive for everyone in Bridgend County Borough.”

 

Cllr Neelo Farr, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Although the budget has presented the council with many difficult decisions, it is really pleasing to see further investment allocated to many key regeneration projects which all have a long-term vision to make sure residents benefit for many years to come.

“The budget also demonstrates the council’s commitment to all areas of the county borough by continuing to invest into the Porthcawl regeneration project and Maesteg Town Hall redevelopment. Funding will also be allocated to the Town and Community Council fund.

“One of the main aims of this budget is to prioritise the wellbeing of our residents and all of the council’s regeneration plans will play a part in doing just that.”

The council’s budget for 2023-24 will be discussed by all members at full Council on Wednesday 1 March before a final decision is taken.

 

Council budget 2023-24: What it means for finance and resources

Budget proposals for 2023-24 have been endorsed by the Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council to ensure the local authority can continue to provide essential services and meet some of the most difficult challenges that it has ever faced.

 

Cllr Hywel Williams, Cabinet Member for Resources, believes that while it represents the toughest budget that he has ever worked upon, it also prioritises people’s wellbeing and reflects the reality of the unique situation facing the UK right now.

He said: “This budget has been set against a backdrop of huge increases in demand for essential council services, an unavoidable need to make savings of £2.6m, a massive 10 per cent rise in inflation, increasing difficulties in sourcing materials and resources including staff, and the ongoing impact of the cost of living crisis upon us all.

“The council is not immune to any of this, and while householders have been rightly concerned about pressing issues such as rising food and energy bills or how they can afford to heat their homes, the same issues have affected our day centres for adults, our homes for looked-after children, our residential care facilities and more.

“When you consider that we have already covered a £72m shortfall since 2010-11, setting a fully balanced budget which enables us to meet these increased costs while also continuing to provide important services has been truly challenging.

“What we have done is to finely-tune this budget, making sure it is as fair as possible to the taxpayer while also remaining realistic and fit for purpose, all while focusing upon maintaining the ongoing health, safety and wellbeing of the people we serve.”

 

To help guide their decision-making, Cabinet developed a set of principles outlining their aims which have underpinned the budget – to protect the most vulnerable people in local communities, to focus upon preserving and protecting services by limiting growth for the coming financial year, to review all budgets and identify savings, to prioritise reductions against back office functions, to anticipate future budget pressures, and to consider whether schools are able to contribute towards the overall savings after having been protected from cuts for more than a decade.

 

Councillor Williams said: “In addition to applying these principles, we have learned from best practice at other local authorities, have both lobbied for and received a fair settlement from Welsh Government, and have taken the proposals through multiple meetings of the all-parties Budget Research And Evaluation Panel, the scrutiny committee process, Corporate Management Board, a wide-ranging public consultation and more.

“All of this has resulted in a gross revenue budget of £485m, a net budget of £342m and a capital investment programme of £69m.

“At 4.9 per cent, we have kept council tax as low as possible, reducing it down from the previously suggested 6 per cent in order to fund additional budget pressures and cover a funding shortfall of £8m. This works out as being the equivalent of an extra £1.50 a week for an average Band D property.

“We have also been able to avoid proposed cuts for home-to-college transport, fly-tipping enforcement and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution while investing money such as £1.8m for upgrading children’s play areas, £1.75m on grants to provide disabled facilities in people’s homes, £1m on refurbishing local highways and much more.

“This is a budget that prioritises wellbeing, and I look forward to seeing it go before full Council on Wednesday 1 March for a final decision.”

 

Cllr Williams also addressed two of the most commonly asked questions around the issue of setting the council budget.

He said: “We are often asked why we do not use council reserves when faced with having to make cuts, but the clue really is in the name – it is money which has already been reserved for specific purposes, and which is subject to regular audit to ensure that it is maintained at the right level.

“Similarly, while some have suggested that the council gains extra revenue by charging council tax on new housing developments, this isn’t true – before providing councils with their funding allocations for the year, Welsh Government first deducts the amount of council tax that each area is expected to raise.”