USING libraries as centres to access council services has been a “lifeline” for Blaenau Gwent residents, according to council leader Nigel Daniels.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Executive committee on Wednesday, December 15, community hubs as a model for delivering services came up for discussion as part of quarterly performance report for June to September on Commercial Strategy.
The hubs, which were introduced earlier this year, are based at Abertillery, Brynmawr, Tredegar, and Ebbw Vale libraries.
Blaina and Cwm libraries as well as Llanhilleth Institute are also community hubs, but operated a more restricted schedule over the summer.
The report says that the main type of help being asked for is on council tax, benefit applications, blue badge applications, to report issues and to pay for services.
Cllr Daniels told the committee that he and Cllr Joanne Collins – who is the executive team member responsible for the borough’s libraries – had visited all the hubs across the county.
Cllr Daniels said: “That has been an absolute shining light that this administration has introduced.
“The figures are increasing week on week.
“If you read the case studies, I am absolutely convinced a huge number of people would have gone under the radar without that facility.
“They would have had to travel to Ebbw Vale.”
“This has been a lifeline for so many people.”
Cllr Daniels believes this would not have happened if the council hadn’t decided on moving to new ways of working and “decanting” staff from the Civic Centre in Ebbw Vale.
Cllr Daniels added: “I get feedback from the public and it’s one of the more welcome things this council has undertaken in recent times, particularly from the situation we are in with the pandemic.”
“I cannot speak highly enough of the staff, they are absolutely phenomenal, they have embraced the service.
“The amount of work they do as well goes under the radar and it’s good to appreciate them as well.”
The report was accepted by the committee.
The report explains that it’s expected in this quarter that the hubs would have to deal with residents who have lost the £20 temporary uplift to Universal Credit payments.
The footfall for the hubs is:
July – 20
August – 89
September – 87
July – 17
August – 54
September – 55
July – 39
August – 133
September – 110
July – 39
August – 110
September – 112
The report adds that the hubs in Cwm, Blaina and Llanhilleth have also seen an increase in visits linked to the revised schedule.