A MONTH on from its formation, Neath Port Talbot Council’s new Rainbow Coalition – Clymblaid yr Enfys – has set out its initial priorities.

The council’s new Leader Cllr Stephen Hunt told yesterday’s council meeting (July 13) that the Coalition will make the improvement of towns, valleys and villages an immediate priority.

Cllr Hunt said:

“Residents want safe, clean and attractive neighbourhoods. The Coalition is going to respond to that and will be making early provision in capital and revenue budgets to improve the quality of our public realm, working with officers to review services and policies.”

Cllr Hunt went on to pay tribute to the whole of the council’s workforce and made particular mention of the strength of professional leadership across schools and social services. He pledged strong political leadership and support for services as they face up to unprecedented challenges arising from Covid-19, cost of living and wider impacts.

He said: “Giving every child the best start in life whilst also safeguarding children and vulnerable adults is fundamental to the council’s work. We understand that and will ensure these important services are prioritised.”

Beyond the immediate actions, the Coalition will be looking to accelerate progress on housing, jobs and climate change whilst also ensuring indoor leisure services are brought back under the council’s direct management as part of a fresh approach to leisure, tourism, culture and heritage.

Deputy Leader of council and Leader of the Plaid Cymru Group, Cllr Alun Llewelyn added:

“The Coalition has achieved a clear consensus on what we need to focus upon initially and how we will work together for the benefit of all residents.”

He continued,

“An important part of our approach will be to make sure we continue to hear from residents and take the time to explain how the council is responding to their needs and ideas. Improving the way we engage with our communities will be an important part of our overall approach.”

Cllr Martyn Peters, Leader of the Dyffryn Independent Group said:

“Working with partners across the community, voluntary, private and public sectors is essential if we are to make sustainable changes that benefit local people. The Coalition itself is a very diverse but inclusive group. We are keen to work with the broadest range of stakeholders.”

Cllr Helen Ceri-Clarke, Leader of the Liberal Democrat and Green Group, paid tribute to the council’s workforce, saying “We have a first class workforce that has been truly extraordinary since the onset of the pandemic”.

Cllr Ceri-Clarke continued:

“The Coalition will be providing full support to the Chief Executive and her team as we work through the transition from the pandemic. We also want to affirm our commitment to the social partnership the council has developed with its recognised trade unions. We intend to build on these strong foundations to ensure the council is seen as an attractive employer and able to recruit and retain a happy, high quality workforce.”

By Gwynoro Jones

Former MP for Carmarthenshire, Gwynoro Jones joined the team covering politics in Wales. He has a wealth of experience in politics and has been a regular commentator on radio, TV and in newspapers in Wales. Email: gwynorojones@walesnewsonline.com

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