To the residents of Blaenau Gwent,
So another Bank Holiday weekend is upon us, and in Wales we remain in lockdown. If someone had told us at the start of this year that it would be the Law that we would have to stay at home on a lovely sunny Bank Holiday we’d think they were mad yet here we are all these weeks later. I’m immensely proud of the way our communities have responded to what needed to be done. It isn’t easy, but there is no doubt that your actions and following the rules has helped the frontline to fight and contain this horrible virus. Thank you all.
The Welsh Government is to review its current measures next week, but for this weekend the message continues to be to please Stay Home & Stay Safe. The forecast looks lovely yet again and it’s so tempting to want to be out and about but please we’ve come this far let’s see this through together.
There’s no doubt that the last few weeks have been a real learning curve for all organisations and businesses, in both the public and private sectors, and we’ve had to move quickly to change many of our working practices. It’s fair to say that a lot of these changes have proved to very positive and will result in new ways of doing things as we move forward. Social distancing is set to be with us for a while yet and we will need to reflect that as we move towards a ‘new normal’ as a local authority.
Schools are in the news a lot. Of course, in Wales we have no date yet or firm plans for when our children & young people will return to school. In the past week or so there has been some negative national media around teachers, with some comments that it’s time they go ‘back to work!’. I can assure you that our schools and our amazing teaching staff in Blaenau Gwent have never been ‘off work’. In fact, they have been very busy supporting our pupils with home learning; checking on the welfare and well-being of pupils and their families, and also running childcare hubs for the children of key workers and for vulnerable pupils. It was national Thank a Teacher Day this week, well I’d like to say thanks to all teachers and all our school support staff for their hard work and commitment.
We continue to closely follow Welsh Government guidance and work with national & regional partners on the plans to slowly reintroduce some of our more important services where it is possible. Our Household Waste & Recycling Centre is due to open next week and our bulky waste collection service has resumed. There are strict rules and a booking only arrangement for visiting our recycling centre, so please don’t just turn up as you will be turned away. More details can be found here – https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/story/news/new-vale-household-waste-and-recycling-centre-reopens-on-tuesday-26-may/
We know that this is a very popular service with residents but it has to be carried out safely for both residents and staff, so bear with us and please stick to the rules if you do visit.
We’re also working closely with fellow Gwent councils and public health colleagues on the arrangements for community testing and contact tracing in Wales. Getting this right is an essential part of being able to ease lockdown measures and you’ll be hearing more about this from us when details are confirmed.
We are continuing to support vulnerable residents and those who are officially shielding as recommended by the Government through our Locality Response Teams. More people have been added to the shielding list across Wales and our teams are busy contacting and supporting those. The teams have now helped out over 400 people who whilst not officially shielding have found themselves isolated and without support during this time.
June 1st is the start of Volunteers’ Week 2020 and there couldn’t be a more perfect time to recognise and say thanks to all the volunteers who have helped the people of Blaenau Gwent during this pandemic. There is no doubt that their selfless dedication has meant we have been able to fully support those who have needed it. On behalf of all councillors in Blaenau Gwent I’d like to say a massive thank you to each and every one of you for your hard work. I know that many of my fellow councillors have been working alongside you and they tell me that your enthusiasm and appetite for getting the job done is truly inspiring. Thanks also to those councillors who are going above and beyond in your communities. I’m in no doubt that in Blaenau Gwent our communities really know how to pull together when it’s needed.
There is further information about local help and support in the community here - https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/emergencies-crime-prevention/local-help-support-covid-19/
Remember, you can keep up to date with the latest Council service information here – https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/emergencies-crime-prevention/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-information/
You can also follow our social media accounts which are updated frequently with relevant information:
• Facebook – @blaenaugwentcbc
• Twitter - @BlaenauGwentCBC
For now - please continue to follow the rules and keep your families safe & well.
Councillor Nigel Daniels
Leader Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council
Please note the latest advice & guidance can be found here: