It has certainly been a busy last few weeks here in Rhondda Cynon Taf with a number of Council and Cabinet meetings taking place as Members look to put the finishing touches on the preparations for 2019/20, including the approval of the detail for the Highways and Education capital programmes for the year ahead. 

Once again, we are set to build on the significant investment that we have allocated to these areas over recent years with a Highways Capital Programme of over £25m and an Education Programme totalling in excess of £26m for this financial year.  These respective investment allocations will allow us to continue to expand the delivery of our improvement programme to more streets and schools across Rhondda Cynon Taf, and I am sure that residents will have already noticed numerous examples of our investment in and around their communities through our wider #RCTInvest programme.

As part of our total Highways Programme for 19/20, over £15m will be spent on continuing to improve a range of road elements, including the resurfacing of carriageways and footways, further upgrades to our structures, and carrying out additional road safety schemes.  Our sustained investment to date, which goes considerably over and above our statutory duty, has seen the overall condition of our roads improve greatly - the percentage of all classified roads requiring maintenance has dropped from 15.7% in 2010/11 to just 4.8% in 2018/19, and these statistics compare favourably with other Local Authorities across Wales.  On the topic of highway repairs, I’d like to thank all of the Council staff and contractors who worked around the clock to ensure that the void discovered under the A4058 in Hopkinstown was repaired swiftly.  In a worst case scenario, the location of the void could have meant a period of significant disruption, but I am pleased to confirm that the issue has now been rectified and the road was fully re-opened ahead of Monday morning’s rush hour.

Staying with our highways network, we will also be allocating further funding over the course of this financial year to progress a number of the key strategic infrastructure projects that the Council has committed to delivering over the course of this term, including £2.389m for the Mountain Ash Cross Valley Link, £1.633m for the Llanharan Bypass and £2.611m for the dualling of the A4119 between Coed-Ely and Ynysmaerdy.  These are all ambitious major infrastructure projects that will have a tangible effect on our highways network and will make a significant difference to residents and commuters in the respective areas.

Crucially, we are also allocating over £1.4m to increase capacity at Park and Rides across the County Borough as we look to prepare for the rollout of the South Wales Metro by late 2022, which will not only improve public transport facilities, but also vastly increase the frequency of travel and consequently encourage even more people to use public transport to commute.  Following last year’s investment, over £1m of work, which has been funded by the Welsh Government, to deliver an additional 310 spaces at the Abercynon Park and Ride facility has now finished.  This significant scheme has brought vacant land into use, whilst also satisfying the current demand and enabling the facility to cope with the expected increase as the Metro development comes into effect over the course of the next four years.

At last week’s Council meeting, I announced that we will be rolling out free town centre Wi-Fi at seven of our principal town centres over the course of this financial year on the back of upgrading CCTV cameras in a further effort to support our high streets.  Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course, but we are aware of a number of issues that we must consider in delivering on this, but again I am sure that it is another move that the Council is taking that will be welcomed by traders and customers alike.  I am pleased to confirm that we will be retaining our free/reduced car parking arrangements in 2019/20 and we are also building on the success of our popular Town Centre Maintenance Grant by expanding its availability to three town centres - Porth, Ferndale and Aberdare - to improve the visual appeal of shop fronts in the retail areas.

Posted on 04/04/2019