The Monthly Meeting of the Blaengwrach Community Council was held at 6.30pm on Thursday 17th October 2019 in the St. Mary`s Church Hall, Blaengwrach.
PRESENT: Councillors Carolyn Edwards (Chair); Andrew Hippsley; Julia Hippsley; Philippa Richards; Rhian Watts; Rhian Williams; Amanda Doherty & Chris Kelly.
Also Present: Clive Baker (Clerk to the Council); Inspector Matt Otteson & PCSO Andrew Jones (both of the South Wales Police) – Inspector Otteson & PCSO Jones left the meeting at 7.10 pm;
045/19 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: Councillors Menna Mortimore (Vice Chair) & Bethan Parry had given their apologies for absence;
046/19 DECLARATION(s) of INTEREST: Councillor Carolyn Edwards declared her interest as a County Councillor of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council;
047/19 CONFIRMATION of the MINUTES of the LAST MEETING as a TRUE RECORD: The minutes of the meeting held on 19th September 2019 were accepted as a true record of that meeting. Proposed by Councillor Philippa Richards & seconded by Councillor Andrew Hippsley;
048/19 MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MEETING OF 19th SEPTEMBER 2019 & AGENDA ITEMS:
a) Parking in Heol Y Felin – The Restriction Orders have been drawn up by NPTCBC, Legal Department and NPTCBC will be sending letters explaining the restrictions and the timescales envisaged in putting these restrictions into place to residents of Heol Y Felin, High Street & Cefn Gelli over the next few weeks;
b) The Welfare Park Project – The landscaping/planting is scheduled to start in November 2019. The “metal” window on the shed has been replaced in readiness for the Graffiti Project. The sides of the “dram” will be replaced in the week commencing 21st October 2019 and these will be painted black over the next two months (weather permitting);
c) Christmas 2019 Celebrations & Organisation – The Sleigh for Santa has been booked; Tesco have contacted the Chair regarding some of the food supplies; the children`s entertainer has been booked. The Clerk will liaise with some Councillors to go and pick up food supplies and gifts for Santa to distribute;
d) The Reopening of the Parish Road – There has been no updated received since the last meeting;
e) The Possibility of a Display Cabinet for Historical Memorabilia – This item will be progressed after ALL invoices have been received for the Park Project;
f) Review of Energy Prices/Suppliers – All paperwork to “switch” to Utility Warehouse has been completed & signed and an acknowledgement has been received from them. The “switch” should be completed within six weeks. NOTE: New rates of electricity are, standing charge (per day) 16.44p & unit rate 19.257kWh with SSE/SWALEC rates (see minute 052/19) being 42.42 (per day) & 19.09kWh;
g) The Pedestrian Crossing on B4242 near the Health Centre – The design of the “crossing” is still awaited but should be with NPTCBC within the next few weeks;
h) NPTCBC, Legal Department Examination of Council Leases – There is no update on this item;
i) Glynneath Town Council Skip Project – No response has been received to this Council`s questions sent to GTC on 24th July 2019 has been received and it has been decided TO CLOSE THIS ITEM;
j) Update of Welfare Park CCTV – The new system was completed on 14th October 2019 and is now fully operational. the invoice from Touch Networks has NOT yet been received;
k) Planning Application P2019/5358 (Euro Garages Ltd) – This Council sent a letter to the Head of Planning at NPTCBC, with a copy to the Chair of the NPTCBC, Planning Committee, on 30th September 2019. A reply was received from the NPTCBC, Planning Development Officer on 3rd October 2019, making the following points:
- the work undertaken outside the application site boundary is work approved in the highway under Section 278 of the Highway Act;
- These works relate to widening of the footpath to a 3m wide shared cycleway/footpath to accord requirements of Condition 14 of the Planning Permission Ref: P2018/0616 – approved on 15th February 2019;
- The approved scheme did not identify the need to remove the trees located within the highway, but as part of the authorisation for an inspection of works within the highway (under S278) relating to the approved new cycleway/footway. Officers from the Highways Team identified that the S278 works were within the root production zone for highway trees. Following initial liaison with the Council`s Tree Officer, it was determined that these approved cycleway/footway works would have an adverse impact on the health of the trees and as a consequence these trees would most likely need to be removed due to this conflict;
- Prior to any agreement being given by highway officers for their removal, and following liaison with planning officers, the applicant agreed to submit a revised landscaping plan to incorporate additional planting within the application site. These details were submitted under application P2019/5358 (quoted in your letter) and included planting of additional heavy-standard 3-4m high “Hornbeam” trees and hedgerow within the site, with the aim of reinforcing the screening between the site and the road. This plan identifies the loss of highway trees as a result of the S278 works;
- Subsequent to the above approval, following concerns from Councillor Edwards, further visits and assessments have been undertaken, including the Council`s Aborcultural Officer. The advice from our Aborist is that there is extensive root damage well within the root protection zones trees such that if these trees are retained they will go into physiological decline and for safety reasons will eventually require removal. While the trees are unlikely to last long, however, they don`t HAVE to be removed now;
- Following liaison with relevant Heads of Service, and having regard to the concerns of the local community, it has since been decided that the trees can be retained at this stage, and subsequently the NPTCBC, Aborist will arrange periodic monitoring;
- In respect to your concerns that “contractors seem to be carrying out work with regards to planning conditions before planning permission is published”, I would advise that all relevant conditions have been approved at the appropriate times. The landscaping submission referred to in your letter were an additional submission (landscaping details having previously been approved) to address the issue relating to the loss of the trees;
- You have also expressed concern about lack of supervision/guidance from my Enforcement Team. I would respectfully note, however, that we only have two Enforcement Officers covering the whole of the County Borough, and therefore, it is simply not possible for ongoing monitoring of a development throughout the course of its construction, In this case, however, a number of visits have been undertaken and we have reacted to the concerns of the local community when matters have been raised with us. I therefore consider appropriate monitoring has been undertaken and, in any event should there be any breaches of planning identified, these would be investigated and action taken should it be deemed expedient to the public interest;
l) Agenda Item – Q & A Session with Inspector Matt Otteson of South Wales Police – Inspector Otteson introduced himself and confirmed that he has been the Inspector for the Neath/Pontardawe Sector since April 2019.
He explained the sub-headings within the main headings of types of crime quoted in the South Wales Police website “monthly reported crime figures” e.g. Violent & Sexual Offences are made up of Homicide; Violence with Injury; Violence without Injury (both these categories would include any “racial or religious” crimes); Stalking & Harassment; Rape; Other Serious Offence (with minors); Other Offences (including exposure & sexual grooming) – he stated that between 1st April 2019 & 31st August 2019 there was a total of eleven (11) offences reported in the Blaengwrach/Cwmgwrach area under this heading and that three (3) were under the heading “Violence with Injury”; five (5) were “Assault without Injury”; one (1) Harassment & two (2) Malicious Communications. He then said that these were reported crimes and that although they are investigated then perhaps not all are acted upon after an initial investigation depending on the finding of the investigating officer (these is the same for all reported crimes).
The total figure for “Reported Crime” for 1/4/19 to 31/8/19 was twenty-four (24) – the eleven mentioned above; two (2) Vehicle Offences; one (1) Other Theft; six (6) Criminal Damage (one (1) to a dwelling; three (3) to a vehicle & two (2) other criminal damage); three (3) Public Disorder Offences (two (2) “causing public fear, alarm or distress & one (1) “racially or religiously aggravated public fear, alarm or distress); and one (1) “Drug Trafficking Offence. He stated that the drug trafficking offence took place on the A465 adjacent to Cwmgwrach and could only say that the person arrested was NOT from the area. This arrest was made under the “County Lines” Initiative.
He summarised by saying that the crime figures for Cwmgwrach/Blaengwrach are the third lowest in the Neath/Pontardawe Sector and it showed that the village was a very good place to live.
He was asked by the Councillors if there was anything that could be done to help the Local Police Team and he replied that he and the team would prefer that all residents telephone 999 if a serious crime is in progress or 101 if they have information/suspect any other crimes as the Police cannot act unless they are made aware of crime. He did say, however, that most of the time feedback or details of crimes being investigated CANNOT be shared with the public as doing so may cause any future potential court proceedings to be halted or dismissed and may even give those under investigation information which may be detrimental to any case being built against that/those person(s). He stressed that on many occasions intelligence information needs to be collected before an arrest can be made and that this intelligence gathering could take “several months”.
Inspector Otteson then confirmed that there has been an appointment of a new Neighbourhood Officer for Blaengwrach/Glynneath. The Officer is expected to take up the post in the next few weeks.
The Chair thanked Inspector Otteson & PCSO Jones for attending and they left the meeting.
9/10/2019 – Ref: P2019/5157 – Mr. R. Mathias, Carn Gwilym House, Cilsanns Lane, Cefn Coed, Merthyr Tydfil, CF48 2NU – Documentation relating to bank stabilisation (with a 7 page report for slope stabilisation), retaining structure calculation and house floor plans & elevations for 4 detached dwellings on land between 2 & 10a, Heol Wenallt, Cwmgwrach, Neath;
050/19 Crime and Disorder:
The reported crime figures for Blaengwrach/Cwmgwrach for August 2019 were eight (8). They were broken down as follows: Anti-Social Behaviour – 2; Criminal Damage & Arson – 2; Public Disorder – 1; Other Theft – 1 & Violent & Sexual Offences -2.
The next PACT meeting will take place on Wednesday 20th November 2019 at the Bethania Community Centre, High Street, Glynneath, commencing at 6.30pm. NOTE: THE PUBLIC CAN ATTEND ANY LOCAL PACT MEETING AND GIVE THEIR VIEWS RE: LOCAL CRIME & POLICING.
For the period 20th September 2019 to 17th October 2019:
- HMRC – Tax on Clerk`s Salary – £79.80;
- Welsh Water – Monthly water rates for Cemetery – £38.00;
- Welsh Water – Monthly water rates for Hall – £104.00;
- NPTCBC – Monthly General Rates for Hall – £421.00;
- NPTCBC – Monthly General Rates for Cemetery – £45.00;
- Staff Pension Scheme – £46.48;
- Small Plant & Machinery Ltd – Annual service & essential repairs to Honda “ride-on” Mower – £522.00;
- St. Cadoc Church – Hire of Hall for Council meetings for July 2019 to March 2020 inclusive) – £96.00;
- Refund of “Reserved Grave Plot” Fee – £270.00;
- Small Plant & Machinery Ltd – Annual service & repairs to Strimmer & Blower – £132.00;
- SSE/SWALEC – Electricity at Hall – £164.68;
- Viking Direct – Postages & Stationery – £81.48;
- Tesco – Petrol for Machines – £14.01;
- NPTCBC – Trade Waste (1/10/19 to 31/3/20) – £241.02
Income Received: Hall Hire Fees – £49.00.
- 20/9/2019 from NPTCBC – Notice of a Consultation on the County “Rights of Way” Improvement Plan (ROWIP);
- 20/9/2019 from Natural Resource Wales – Invitation to Councillors to attend a seminar (26/9/2019) on the NRW Area Statement for South Wales;
- 3/10/2019 from the Welsh Government – Notice of “Research by the Information Commissioner`s Office (ICO) relating to Community Asset Transfers by Town/Community Councils”
- 9/10/2019 from NPT Council for Voluntary Service – Invitation to the Council Chair to their AGM on the evening of 7th November 2019;
- 11/10/2019 from SSE/SWALEC – Notice of Increase to Energy Prices w.e.f 1st November 2019;
- 16/10/2019 from the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales – Annual Review of Councillor Allowances for 2020/2021;
There were no Section 137 Requests received between the 2oth September & 17th October 2019.
053/19 Matters Raised by Councillors:
There were no other matters raised by Councillors;
054/19 Set Date, Time, Venue & Proposed Agenda Items for the Next Meeting:
The next meeting will be held Thursday 21st November 2019, commencing at 6.30pm in the St. Mary`s Church Hall, Blaengwrach.
The meeting closed at 8.07pm