Latest news from Bridgend County Borough – 11 September

Changes to care home visits

Following advice from the Public Health Director of Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and an increase in the number of positive Covid-19 cases across South Wales, temporary changes have been made to visiting arrangements at all local authority and privately-run care homes as a precautionary measure to protect the health and well-being of vulnerable residents and staff. The changes will mean that until further notice, friends and family members will no longer be able to enter a care home to visit a loved one. Instead, visits will need to be pre-arranged using the outdoor areas of residential buildings while observing social distancing and hand-hygiene requirements. Virtual and online visits will also be encouraged, and allowances will be made in circumstances where residents are nearing the end of their lives and with appropriate PPE requirements in place.

 

New rules for masks and meeting people indoors

Welsh Government has confirmed that it is changing the rules on meeting people indoors to help prevent the spread of coronavirus in Wales, and that face masks must now be worn in shops and other indoor spaces. The changes come as parts of Wales have seen an increase in cases of the virus linked to people meeting and socialising with others indoors, but without social distancing. From Monday 14 September, a new limit of six people will be introduced on the number of people who can meet indoors at any one time. All six must belong to the same extended household group. Up to four households can continue to form an exclusive extended household in Wales.

 

Council considers further actions on Covid-19

As positive Covid-19 cases rise across South Wales, Bridgend County Borough Council is urging residents to take positive action and come together as one community to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Working alongside partners such as Public Health Wales and Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board, the authority is considering a range of new local measures to combat the spread of the virus, including the use of three-layer face coverings or masks within the workplace, shops and crowded public spaces, encouraging people to only use public transport where it is absolutely necessary, continuing to work from home as much as possible, and more. Further announcements are likely to be made, and more information on the coronavirus pandemic is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus

 

Free travel offer ends

Welsh Government has confirmed that its free travel scheme for key workers will come to an end today (Friday 11 September). The scheme was set up five months ago, early at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure that NHS staff and others who were identified as being key workers with essential roles to perform could get to and from work using public transport services. From Saturday 12 September, normal fares will apply on public transport once more – more details are available at the Welsh Government website.

 

‘Stay safe, stay home’ warning

Bridgend County Borough Council and South Wales Police are urging people not to travel to Porthcawl over the weekend of 25-27 September for the cancelled Elvis festival, and to avoid gathering in large numbers in the town. It follows a rise in cases of Covid-19 across the South Wales area that have already seen a local lockdown declared in Caerphilly and new changes to Welsh Government rules on how many people can meet people indoors. While organisers cancelled the popular privately-run festival last month as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus, authorities remain concerned that people may still travel into Porthcawl in large numbers and are telling people to stay safe – stay home.

 

Town centre pandemic survey

A survey has offered an insight into how the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way in which people shop and visit town centres. It follows recent changes to Bridgend, Maesteg and Porthcawl to help facilitate social distancing and encourage shoppers to support local businesses. In total, there were 764 survey completions with the majority – 78% – citing Bridgend as their local town centre. The survey highlighted that people most missed socialising, meals / takeaways and access to banking. 77% have returned to the town centre since lockdown measures were lifted. A weekly shopping visit was the most popular choice for visiting the town centre, and residents said they felt safer with measures such as hand sanitiser being available within shops, limited numbers of people being allowed in shops, one-way systems and more. 60% said they were more likely to shop locally and support businesses now than before lockdown, and 64% said they shopped more online during lockdown than before, with 39% stating that they shop online more now than before lockdown. The feedback will be used to inform the council’s ongoing response to the pandemic and future decisions throughout autumn and winter.

 

Record visitor numbers at Bryngarw

Record numbers of people have visited Bryngarw Country Park in Brynmenyn during its first full month of reopening. More than 48,000 people visited the award-winning park in August 2020, a significant increase of 68% on the same month in 2019. With special measures in place to keep visitors safe, the park is also set to benefit from a £500,000 investment in new facilities recently secured through the Welsh Government’s Valleys Regional Park initiative.

 

Virtual jobs fair

A South East Wales virtual jobs fair will take place on Wednesday 16 September between 11am-1pm. Organised in association with Cardiff Capital Region Skills Partnership and aimed at people seeking work in the Bridgend, Newport, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil areas, the event will feature live job opportunities from employers as well as details from training providers on apprenticeships, adult learning and more. You can register your attendance and find out more at the jobs fair Facebook page.

 

How to support staff who were shielding

New guidance for employers on how they can support a return to the office by staff who have been shielding has been published at the Healthy Working Wales website. During the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, clinically vulnerable staff received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer, GP or NHS consultant advising them to stay at home. As this ended on 16 August, the new guidance includes tips on how managers can supporting employees in areas such as how shielding employees may be feeling about returning to work, whether it is sufficiently safe and essential for them to return, how to undertake a risk assessment before employees return to work, and what resources are available to support their emotional and mental wellbeing.

 

Libraries to reopen

Libraries at Aberkenfig, Bridgend, Maesteg, Pencoed, Porthcawl and Pyle will reopen next week for book browsing and borrowing. Their opening hours will temporarily be from 9.15am–12pm and 1pm-5pm, Monday to Friday. Each library will have measures to support social distancing, hand sanitising stations, additional cleaning and more. Public computers must be pre-booked and will be available for 45 minutes at a time to allow for regular cleaning, while some branches will provide quiet study space for up to two hours. Printing and copying is available, but customers are advised to bring the correct change. The ‘book and collect’ service will also continue to operate.

 

£2.2m to tackle homelessness

Welsh Government is providing £2.2m to help tackle homelessness in the county borough. The funding will go towards purchasing around 30 one-bed homes to help provide homeless people with safe and secure accommodation. The Welsh Government funding is intended to support projects which ensure people do not fall into homelessness and follow a temporary increase in the notice period for evictions to provide greater protection for tenants in private rented and housing association accommodation. In July, an extra £1.4m was announced to help tenants boost their household income and manage problem debt through the Single Advice Fund, while the new Tenant Saver Loan Scheme aims to provide an affordable way to cover rent arrears, or future months’ rent, to again reduce the risk of eviction and homelessness.

 

Pandemic blood donations appeal

The Welsh Blood Service will be visiting Bridgend Field Hospital on Brackla Industrial Estate on 17–18 September. Residents who are fit, well and who want to make a donation can book an appointment at the Welsh Blood Service website – please note that walk-in slots are not available.

 

Ogmore Valley community survey

A survey has been launched in the Ogmore Valley which aims to gather the views and opinions of residents on what sort of community facilities and services are needed in the area. Produced by the Bridgend Reach Rural Development team and commissioned by Ogmore Valley Community Council, the survey is being made available online and at a variety of local stores. The survey will take place between 11 September and 2 October, and survey forms will be available from the Londis and Premier stores in Nantymoel, Wyndham Store, Nisa Local Ogmore Vale and Ogmore Vale Convenience Store, Lewistown Post Office, and Jo’s General Premier Store in Evanstown. You can also complete the survey online in English or in Welsh.

 

Rogue trader sentenced

A roofer who misled customers and took thousands of pounds without completing or carrying out work has pleaded guilty to committing fraud. Trading as RG Roofing, Robert Gooch from Brackla was charged with one count of fraud under the Fraud Act 2006 and six counts of engaging in misleading commercial practices under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. He pleaded guilty to all charges at Merthyr Crown Court on Monday 7 September 2020 and was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment, suspended for a further 24 months. He was also ordered to complete a 10 day rehabilitation course and to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work. The Shared Regulatory Service has warned that it will not fail to investigate complaints and carry out prosecutions such as this one.

 

Breakfast club reminder

The council and schools are working closely to progress the reopening of free breakfast provision at primary schools, but only when risk assessments have been carried out and controls are in place to protect staff and pupils. Following lessons learned from a pilot scheme, some breakfast clubs will open as soon as possible from 14 September onwards, and others will return in coming weeks. Individual schools will inform parents and carers directly on reopening arrangements, and the ongoing safety of staff and pupils will remain the highest priority.

 

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 talktous@bridgend.gov.uk or call 01656 643643.

 

Careers in social care

Interest in careers within social care have soared as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. People from a wide range of different backgrounds have found new work supporting the county borough’s most vulnerable residents, while others who have previously worked in this area have also come forward to offer their skills and experience. With a fast-tracked application process and rapid refresher training course available, the council is keen to hear from anyone who might be interested in finding out more. Further details are available at the job pages on the council’s website.

 

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