September 2016

As summer draws to a close, as is always the case in the cycle of the local government calendar, our minds focus on the imminent announcement of the Local Government financial settlement in October.

In these times of austerity of course the issue of budgets never really leaves the minds of any Council Leader, whatever their political persuasion, in whatever part of Wales. The continued focus we have placed here in RCT on seeking to make efficiencies throughout the financial year, to tackle the huge reductions in funding we have faced over the last five years, is allowing us to target one off funding to invest in infrastructure and regeneration.

While all Leaders are having the same conversations in advance of the settlement being announced, knowing how severely Wales’ budget has been cut by the UK Government, there are few if any Councils in Wales who continue to invest in the way we are; and the difficult decisions we took early on now mean that this Council is best prepared to manage the continued difficulties of austerity directed from London which we anticipate for at least the next four years.

Cabinet agreed last week over half a million pounds of investment in Rhondda Heritage Park to initiate the first phase of key improvements to re-establish this iconic facility as a key tourism attraction. We continue ahead with our investment in Leisure, with Llantwit Fardre the next facility to receive a make-over and new state of the art equipment. Our highways investment is also progressing well with improvements to the Troedyrhiw junction in Mountain Ash, which can be a bottleneck at peak times, being consulted on with residents as the next part of the significant improvements being made to the A4059 corridor.

 Many residents will have seen the coverage Rhondda Cynon Taf received earlier this month as host to the stage 5 start of the Tour of Britain. This event saw our County and the town of Aberdare receive national and international coverage. To secure this event took a great amount of effort and work by the Council and I would like to pay thanks to all the residents along the route through Cynon Valley who co-operated with the organisation of the event on the day. This event brought significant economic benefits locally and acted as a great advert for RCT.

 This is my first opportunity to congratulate all pupils who achieved success in their GCSEs and A-Levels last month. RCT has continued to improve above the Welsh average and this progress is testimony not only to the hard work of pupils and teachers but also to the changes we have made over the last decade to the way we deliver and support education in RCT. Our pupils now perform around the Welsh average in all key areas; this was not case a decade ago. Well done to all involved and good luck to those students taking forward their careers or education at the next level.

The Council this month welcomed over 30 apprentices as part of our hugely successful scheme which we have invested in since 2012. The Council is one of the largest employers locally, and we have therefore taken the political decision to invest in the creation of apprentice and also graduate opportunities as a key priority to support young people and the next generation locally.

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