The turbulence of the Brexit negotiations shows no signs of abating and it is fair to say that it remains to be the single dominant issue in British politics and a defining moment of our generation. I think that whilst the country clearly has a divided opinion on the right course of action, we are virtually all united by a desire to see some form of solution reached.
Despite the front pages seeming to rarely feature anything other than daily Brexit updates, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the other major issues facing us. Although the severity of funding pressures on local authorities was less pronounced for the 2019/20 financial year, it still represented a continuation of public sector austerity into a ninth consecutive year and did precious little to ease the immense strain caused by the harsher cuts handed down over preceding years. It is therefore absolutely critical that the UK Government’s promised Spending Review recognises this and allocates the necessary funding to local authorities.
Council Leaders across Britain have repeatedly made calls for austerity to end and it has been made abundantly clear to the UK Government what damage and effects the continuation of this policy will have on the key frontline services like social care and education.
It is therefore necessary that the much-anticipated Review avoids the easy option of outlining a minimum one year plan for public spending, but instead seeks to provide a comprehensive outlook for the next three years so that a range of public sector departments and bodies can strategically plan accordingly. On top of this, it must also realise that providing sufficient funding for local government is essential in easing pressures on other priority services like healthcare. Anything less than this will, I am confident, see a number of local authorities - particularly in England, where they are not able to benefit from a degree of protection from the Welsh Government - reach breaking point, leading to the failure of statutory services. We have already seen this developing, particularly in Northamptonshire.
A positive, comprehensive and forward thinking Spending Review will hopefully allow local authorities to begin investing in services, rather than managing cuts and will also provide much-needed relief to local communities.
The Bank Holiday weekend is now upon us and as always, we have plenty going on across Rhondda Cynon Taf. Our flagship attraction, the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty will be fully entering the summer season on Saturday, meaning that it will be open every day until Sunday, September 1st. I am extremely pleased to announce that the Lido Ponty has recently been awarded a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor for the consistently excellent reviews the facility receives from those who attend. I think it’s fair to say that our decision to invest in bringing it back into use was the correct thing to do and the annual increase in visitor numbers suggests that it is going from strength-to-strength.
In addition, we also have the free-to-enter annual Aberdare Festival at Aberdare Park (11am to 5pm) on Saturday, with plenty of fun guaranteed for all of the family! Little Al, the animated dinosaur and a number of tribute acts will be just two of the attractions at this year’s edition. If you are planning on visiting, then why not book in to use the boats on the lake?
If you’re looking for something a bit more historical, then why not sample a taste of life underground with the Black Gold Experience Tour at the Welsh Mining Experience at the Rhondda Heritage Park? The attraction remains a popular choice during the school holidays and there are a range of activities and fun things to do on the site!
For those after something a bit more leisurely or scenic, then we have the beautiful Dare Valley Country Park and Barry Sidings Country Park. Both beautiful parks are guaranteed to provide epic views and plenty of opportunities to explore the Valleys’ countryside.