Earlier this year, Bridgend Council set up a cross-party panel to help shape the county’s eventual recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following a series of meetings throughout August, the panel published its initial recommendations (pdf).
In summary, the priorities include:
The highest levels of need were said to be Bridgend town centre, Porthcawl and the Pyle/Cornelly area.
The panel expressed disappointment at the decision of Registered Social Landlords to furlough staff during the lockdown, as well as what’s described as “disappointing levels of co-operation” by the Valleys2Coast housing association.
Some ideas discussed include releasing surplus public land for modular housing developments, converting 3-bed homes into one-bed apartments and improvements to services for those with substance and alcohol problems.
Concerns about people not having anywhere to go during the day – and the impact on Bridgend town centre – were noted, as was the ongoing impact of welfare reform/bedroom tax and the policy of putting up the homeless in hotels.
Social Care & Third Sector
BCBC should press for an extension dementia-friendly programme funding (from the Welsh Government). The panel also recommended introducing a register of adapted housing.
Home care workers have continued to provide services through the pandemic through the use of PPE, though the panel discussed issues surrounding how PPE was disposed of, ensuring all frontline workers had appropriate PPE as well as the routine testing of frontline workers.
Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations (BAVO) said some charitable and voluntary groups – collectively known as the Third Sector – have struggled having taken on more volunteers and clients with less funding. There were concerns volunteer numbers will drop off as the economy reopens. The panel recommended there are no cuts to third sector funding by BCBC.
Schools, Economy & Council Services
The panel was unable to make any recommendations on schools given that they’ve already started reopening; it’s largely been left to governing bodies.
An economic task force will develop specific proposals for economic recovery and the panel didn’t want to duplicate that work.
One recommendation the panel did make was for parks, leisure and cultural services to be granted a higher priority, given the positive impact open spaces had on the mental and physical health of the population during the first peak of the pandemic.
The panel’s findings will be presented to BCBC’s Cabinet at their meeting on 15th September.