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Flood alleviation work to start at Mostyn Street in Abercwmboi

The Council will shortly begin a local small scale flood alleviation scheme at Mostyn Street in Abercwmboi, using Council and Welsh Government funding to upgrade the existing infrastructure and reduce the risk of flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.

The £95,000 scheme will deliver a series of improvements – including upgrading the existing culvert inlet grille, installing a debris catcher, upgrading the existing brickwork wall, installing a new debris screen and increasing the inlet size. It will also include vegetation clearance from the existing open channel.

These works will be delivered over a six-week period from Monday, January 17, and Hammond ECS Ltd is appointed as the contractor to deliver the work. Local residents have received a letter informing them about the scheme.

The work requires a small road closure at the top of Mostyn Street, outside numbers 15 to 17. This will reduce the parking area available to residents. Pedestrian access to residents’ properties will be maintained at all times.

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways and Transportation, said: “The upcoming flood alleviation work at Mostyn Street is the latest local scheme targeted to reduce the risk of flooding. The work will deliver a series of upgrades to existing infrastructure at this location over the next six weeks – thanks to important funding from Welsh Government secured by the Council.

“It follows on from drainage work nearby at Glenboi, off B4275 Aberdare Road, which started last week to replace the existing highway drainage pipes – in advance of an upgrade of the pumping station planned for later this year.

“The Council will work closely with its appointed contractor to carry out the work at Mostyn Street with as minimal disruption as possible. Residents have been informed that the top section of the street will be subject to a road closure, which will reduce the area available for parking. Thanks in advance to the community for their cooperation while we deliver this local scheme.”


RCT Virtual Careers Fair 2022

In partnership with Vfairs, the Council will be hosting its third FREE Virtual Careers Fair on Wednesday, February 9, 2022 (10am to 5pm) following its success in its two previous Virtual Careers Fairs in 2021.

The event will coincide with National Apprenticeship Week and attending organisations will have a range of apprenticeship and graduate posts available alongside live employment vacancies.

Anyone wishing to take part in the online RCT Virtual Careers Fair on Wednesday, February 9, 2022, will need to register their details prior to the event at www.rctcareers.vfairs.com

Over the last few years, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Virtual Careers Fairs have grown in popularity. During the previous Virtual Careers Fair, held in September 2021, over 2000 people registered to attend the event which hosted over 1000 job vacancies.

Once again this year, the Council is inviting the public to join and take part online and view the exciting new apprenticeship, graduate and employment opportunities on offer across Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and further afield. Online visitors will be able to engage with employers and find out more information from the comfort of their own home.

For the first time, the Careers Fair can also be accessed for free via the new Vfairs mobile event app, available for Apple and Android users. The app will act as an extension to the existing immersive virtual platform and seamless navigation. Attendees will have access to exhibitor booths within the app, plus the option to contact booth reps, browse documents, and more.

The Virtual Careers Fair will also feature a number of pre-recorded webinars which will provide insight and information on some of the organisations and the opportunities available, along with Webinars that support application form writing and interview techniques.

RCT Council's Virtual Careers Fair will offer attendees the opportunity to:

Explore employer information and opportunities to find your best career fit.
Learn and interact with organisations about their available roles.
Gain a competitive advantage by learning more about the participating organisations from recruiters.
View and apply for jobs from companies.
Engage with recruiters through one-on-one text and audio/video-based conversations during the recruiter session.

There are a huge range of local and national employers already signed up for the event, such as EE, Welsh Pantry, South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, South Wales Police, Office for National Statistics, Willmott Dixon, many more, all of which are actively recruiting.

Councillor Maureen Webber, Deputy Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, said: “I am delighted that the Council will once again be hosting its Virtual Careers Fair, providing opportunities for job-seekers to speak to so many company representatives about their latest vacancies.

“During these uncertain times, an online event is the safest option, and I am pleased the Council is able to deliver its Careers Fair via an online platform following its success in 2021.

“RCT Council remains committed to attracting high-quality jobs to the local area and helping our residents into sustainable, reliable and well-paid employment, and our Virtual Careers Fair is one way in which we are all working to accomplish this.

“Residents will once again have the chance to interact with businesses, discover vocations they may not have considered, and potentially get themselves an interview.

“I would encourage anyone who is actively seeking employment in 2022, considering a career change or returning to work to register to take part in our latest Virtual Careers Fair.”

The event will be live for one day only on Wednesday February 9 (10am-5pm). However, the event will be available to view on demand for 30 days following the event until March 10, 2022.
To take part in the RCT Virtual Careers Fair 2022, please register online in advance at: www.rctcareersfair.vfair.com


RCT Libraries Update

Important Customer Notice in response to COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. The following restrictions return to all

Social distancing of 2m between all library users
One-way systems whilst in library building.
Quarantining of returned library materials (Items to be placed in green recycling bins at entrance of library for 72 hours).

We remind library users that you must wear a face covering when in the library unless medically exempt and that you must sanitise your hands on entry.

Limited numbers will be allowed in the premises at any one time and please be aware you may be asked to wait to enter the building by a member of library staff.

Please note that the ‘Order & Collect’ system is still operational.

Any changes to these new rules will be advertised in our libraries and on the Council’s social media accounts and website www.rctcbc.gov.uk/libraries


Penrhiwceiber War Memorial Restoration

Work continues to restore the Penrhiwceiber War Memorial to its former glory as part of the Council’s ongoing commitment to its Armed Forces community.

The focal point of the community for many years, the Penrhiwceiber War Memorial, a Grade II listed building by Cadw, also serves as the village clock. But in recent years its condition had deteriorated and the clock no longer worked.

However, in the last few months, and in time for the 2021 annual Armistice commemorations, the clock tower and its inscribed brass panels, commemorating the Fallen from the village of Penrhiwceiber, were cleaned and restored and uplighters repaired and restored to enhance its beauty at night.

Scaffolding has now been erected around all four sides of the tower and the clock faces have been removed for the final part of the major restoration project.

The clocks will be returned to their fittings in 2022 and will once again keep time for all local people to see, enhancing the beauty of the War Memorial and the surrounding area.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Deputy Leader and Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Maureen Webber, met with local ward Members and Council Officers on site to discuss the plans.

Made up of stone from the old Aberdare Canal, the monument commemorates the residents of Penrhiwceiber who died in action during the First World War (1914-18), the Second World War (1939-45) and the Korean War (1950-53).

The restoration of Penrhiwceiber War Memorial is being co-ordinated between ward members, the Council and its Armed Forces Veteran Service.

Councillor Maureen Webber, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Deputy Leader and Armed Forces Champion, said: “We owe so much to our veterans, past and present and I am delighted to see the progress being made at the Penrhiwceiber War Memorial.

“So many people were lost during the two World Wars and other conflicts and keeping their memories alive by restoring the war memorial in the village of Penrhiwceiber is the least we can do to honour them.

“The Clock is the centrepiece of the local community and holds so much meaning to local residents, and that was clear in my recent meeting with the local ward Councillors.

“This Council is committed to supporting its Armed Forces community, both veterans and their families, and we have a dedicated Armed Forces Veterans Service offering them advice and support. We must never forget what these people sacrificed for our future.”

There are also plans in place to site commemorative street furniture in the vicinity, such as seating and litter bins, along with a memorial planter at the foot of the clock tower, as well as a general cleansing of the surrounding location.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council was one of the first Local Authorities in Wales to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant in 2012, a commitment that was reaffirmed in 2018.?

The Council’s Armed Forces Veterans Service offers a wide range of assistance on subjects such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Housing, Adult Social Care, Benefits, Finances and Employment.?
Providing?FREE, impartial and dedicated information, advice and support, members of the Armed Forces, past and present, can speak to dedicated officers strict confidence. Call 07747 485 619 or by email: VeteranService@rctcbc.gov.uk


Preparing for Rhondda Cynon Taf to host the National Eisteddfod

Cabinet has received an update on the work currently being undertaken in preparation for Rhondda Cynon Taf to host the National Eisteddfod in 2024, with focus being placed on community engagement.

A report to the Cabinet meeting on Monday, December 13, has outlined the approach being adopted and the activities being planned within local communities to ensure the Eisteddfod is successful – not only before and during the festival, but also to ensure a significant positive legacy.

The Council appointed a project officer in 2019, to work closely with National Eisteddfod Officers in promoting the festival and engaging with communities. National Eisteddfod Officers have been successful in applying for funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a project that will pilot a community engagement strategy in RCT. The strategy will focus upon the themes of culture, language and heritage to bring people together via the Eisteddfod – while showcasing the unique history of Rhondda Cynon Taf. The project, which includes the appointment of a Community Development Officer, will develop a series of community events and activities to engage local people.

Phase 1 of the project will target young people aged 16-25, making the Welsh language and the Eisteddfod relevant outside of the classroom, while older people will also be engaged. Five events celebrating our heritage, language and culture will be held during the first half of 2022.

Phase 2 will see the delivery of five more events later in the year, feeding into the Eisteddfod’s new national Community Strategy.

Further activity to date has included the establishment of a community forum, with its inaugural meeting held on November 3, 2021.

Presentations by the National Eisteddfod’s Chief Executive Officer and staff to the Council’s Welsh Language Steering Group and the Strategic Arts and Culture Committee have also been well-received. There was a clear commitment by those involved to work with a wide range of officers, Elected Members, and organisations to ensure engagement with different communities and groups.

Partnership working between the Council’s Eisteddfod Officer and National Eisteddfod Officers to date has included researching and sharing information on community groups, and working with the Youth Engagement and Participation Service (YEPS) on how best to engage young people.

The Officers have also organised meetings with Council services over a wide range of considerations (including an Infrastructure Group, which has its first meeting in December 2021), linking with community members who are keen to promote the Eisteddfod, and contacting Officers in other Local Authorities (such as Monmouthshire) to learn from their experience of hosting the festival.

Councillor Rhys Lewis, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being and Cultural Services, said: “Cabinet received an important progress update on Monday in relation to the current work going on behind the scenes, as we make the best preparations for hosting the 2024 National Eisteddfod here in Rhondda Cynon Taf – as we aim to reach as many people as possible before, during and after the festival.

“One of the key elements of our approach is community engagement, and while progress has been disrupted in engaging directly with communities due to social distancing restrictions, key preparatory work and discussions have continued. If restrictions continue to allow, five community events celebrating Rhondda Cynon Taf’s heritage will be held by April 2022, forming the first phase of the National Eisteddfod’s National Lottery Heritage Fund project.

“The Cabinet report also discussed the aim to create a lasting legacy in Rhondda Cynon Taf, focusing on several key themes. It aims to create a community legacy by encouraging more Welsh and bilingual events locally, a cultural legacy by promoting the Rhondda Cynon Taf’s story on a national platform, and a linguistic legacy with more people choosing to learn Welsh. There is also an inclusivity legacy to strive for, with people of all backgrounds – and whether they speak Welsh or not – feeling more confident about the Welsh language and culture, which belongs to everyone.

“I’m immensely proud that we are hosting the National Eisteddfod in 2024, bringing the celebration of culture and the Welsh language to the County Borough for everyone to enjoy. Cabinet will receive several progress updates in the coming months over a range of subjects in relation to hosting the Eisteddfod, and I’m looking forward to seeing further progress made.”

National Eisteddfod Chief Executive, Betsan Moses, added, “We’re delighted to be working in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area, and are very much enjoying getting to know local people and finding out the type of events they want to see happening in the community in the run-up to the National Eisteddfod.

“The pandemic has forced us to postpone the festival twice, but the great news is that we’re back, and looking forward to working with everyone to create a memorable and amazing Eisteddfod in Rhondda Cynon Taf in 2024.”


Rhondda care homes on “war footing” because of Covid crisis

Care homes in Rhondda Cynon Taf are on a “war footing” because of desperate staff shortages caused by the skyrocketing Covid infection rate.

According to Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales, the sector is facing its worst ever crisis with reports that 75 per cent of staff were off work in some homes, either because they had contracted Coronavirus or they were self-isolating.

The situation is so bad that as a last resort homes were introducing “firebreaks” to temporarily restrict visiting as the highly infectious Omicron variant tore across Wales.

Domiciliary care companies were also struggling badly and were often unable to provide the usual level of care.

Mr Kreft warned that the situation was only going to get worse before things got better.

So much so, that some care homes were likely to be forced to declare an NHS-style “critical incident” because they were unable to cope.

But he feared reinforcements might not be available because statutory organisations like local health boards and councils were also short of staff.

Mr Kreft said: “The scale of the challenge is one we have never faced before. It’s really, really tough out there.

“The First Minister reminded us in 2020 that the social care sector was in a fragile state before the pandemic because of its precarious finances and the shortage of staff.

“After two year of this, the pressures have been building up and now we’re facing a completely different challenge because the Omicron strain of Covid is so prevalent and so transmissible.

“As a result, we’re seeing problems we’ve not encountered before.

“Care Forum Wales members have been reporting being down by up to 75 per cent in terms of staffing shifts. We’re on a war footing.

“The social care workforce has been heroic right through this pandemic. It’s taken a pandemic for people to realise how essential these workers are – just in the same way as the NHS and other services.

“They are rising to the challenge but it’s incredibly difficult and it’s probably going to get much worse before it gets better.

“It’s quite possible that some care homes will have to call on the statutory services. There are plans in place and we have been working with Welsh Government and our colleagues in health boards and local government.

“We may have to declare what the NHS would call a critical incident and in that case the only place you can go is the statutory agencies.

“The trouble is that we all know they are suffering like everybody else at the moment so whether there would be people available to alleviate the crisis, I don’t know.

“What we are talking about is making sure that people are as comfortable and as safe as they can be.

“This also applies to our domiciliary care workers who are facing similar challenges, so the visits to people’s homes may not be as long or as often as they might have been until we get through this.

“Nobody understands the importance of care home visiting better than those that run and work in care homes. It’s essential to people’s wellbeing and we’ve had decades of open house visiting without any appointments.

“The last two years have been incredibly challenging and I think people need to understand that safe visiting currently also requires a staffing input which makes it even more difficult if you are short of staff and don’t have the capacity to ensure safe visiting.

“I don’t think there have been any situations where people haven’t been allowed to visit for people in very extreme circumstances.

“I think what we’ll see is firebreaks or temporary pauses in terms of visiting individual care homes.

“The responsibility is clearly with the registered manager and the organisation running each setting.

“All the registered providers have legal responsibilities towards their residents and they also have responsibility for the health and safety of their own staff.

“I think what we’ll see – and we’re starting to see it already - is that visiting will be restricted for a period of days or a week or so because quite simply there will not be the staff to ensure safe visiting.

“The other added complication is that care homes are now unable to secure insurance against Covid-related claims so they really cannot afford to take any risks.

“But as soon as we and ensure safe visiting again, we will revert to that. That’s what people have been doing over Christmas and New Year. All I would ask from people is understanding because it is such a difficult time.”

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