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Rhondda Cynon Taf Council - Scrutiny Blog

Councillor Craig Middle - Climate Change, Frontline Services & Prosperity Scrutiny Committee - Chair's Blog

Posted on 13/04/2023

Following the Council’s AGM in May 2022, I was delighted to have been elected as Chair of the newly formed Climate Change, Frontline Service and Prosperity Scrutiny Committee.

Over the past few months, our committee has played a vital role in the decision making process, acting as a ‘critical friend’ to decision-makers as well as adding value to the policy direction for those areas under our remit.

Our Committee has grown in confidence and strength over the course of the last year, with Members continuing to work closely together in our approach to scrutinising the Council’s provisions and plans in relation to its Climate Change, Public Services and Prosperity agenda.

Members of the Committee received extensive Scrutiny training throughout June and July 2022 and our first meeting as a Committee was held on the 29th September 2022. During this meeting, Members were consulted of the Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance 2022 (WelTag) Consultation and the National Transport Delivery Plan 2022-2027 Consultation. Both consultations were conducted by Welsh Government and representatives from the Welsh Government were invited by the Scrutiny Committee to attend and provide an overview of the background information to each consultation. Committee Members used this opportunity to ensure that the well-being of local communities and residents would be considered, and that travel is convenient, quick and a fair price for people to be encouraged to use it. In line with the Council’s aim to promote the Welsh Language, Members agreed that increased use of public transport would expose travellers to the Welsh language and allow them to see and hear it being used. Members agreed that this would be a key recommendation to feed back to Welsh Government. I am delighted to say that the Climate Change, Frontline Services & Prosperity Scrutiny Committee played a vital role as consultees in such an important piece of work that will impact the well-being of residents in RCT.

Committee Members were also provided with the opportunity to scrutinise the Council’s Recycling Performance. On the 26th October 2022, Members were provided with a PowerPoint presentation by the Service Director Streetcare in respect of the Council’s progress to date in this area. The Service Director advised that meeting the targets for recycling set by Welsh Government (70% by 2024/25) and those set in Council Climate Change Strategy (80% by 2025) will require radical interventions and all available options will need to be considered. It is essential that as a Council we meet these targets, and I am pleased that Members of this Committee had the opportunity to consider further methods that can be adopted by the Council to help us all achieve these important changes going forward. Members offered several suggestions, including having recycling bins on the High Street and a scheme to collect green waste for composting, in which members of the public can go and collect the compost free of charge for their own personal use. Committee Members also visited the Bryn Pica Recycling site on two separate occasions and Members were thoroughly impressed with the efficiency of the service and with the education facilities on site. As Chair, I would encourage all residents to visit this centre to learn how our own actions as residents and community leaders play a vital role in tackling climate change and keeping our streets and communities safe and clean. I am proud of this Committee’s aim to tackle the Climate Change emergency and the dedicated and enthusiastic input from Members of the Committee.

Subsequent meetings of the Committee have provided opportunity to scrutinise important areas of work such as the Welsh Government’s 20mph Speed Limit initiative. On the 16th January 2023, Members were provided with advice on the Welsh Government’s (WG) proposal to reduce the national speed limit from 30mph to 20mph on restricted roads across Wales and its potential impact on RCT residents. The new scheme may affect buses and public transport leading to longer journey times and transport companies having to revise timetables or provide additional services or vehicles to maintain an agreed level of service. This concern was raised by the WLGA, and Members agreed that the Committee’s concerns should also be fed back to Welsh Government so that any unforeseen impacts of the change can be identified and WG funding for mitigation is considered prior to implementation.

Once again, we are working together to make Rhondda Cynon Taf a better place for all its residents. We will continue our vital role as the Council’s Climate Change, Frontline Services & Prosperity Scrutiny Committee, focusing on issues which affect local communities and concern the residents we represent. The Council is playing its part to tackle Climate Change and has set out its targets and commitments in its Tackling Climate Change Strategy 2022-25 – Think Climate RCT. Going forward, it is my hope that as a committee we will play a vital role in supporting the Council to reach its commitment and targets set out in its Climate Change Strategy and to maintain a high level of frontline services for the residents of RCT.

Posted on 13/04/2023