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Councillor Report – October 2018 | Uplands Labour

Councillor Report – October 2018

Student/HMO issues:

  • Mary will be meeting the police and University representatives to discuss combatting anti-social behavior by students;
  • The Council’s ‘Get it Sorted’ campaign will be targeting students, sending out information and recycling materials. Recycling officers will be on patrol visiting student residents if they fail to put out refuse correctly. Further information:

https://swansea.gov.uk/article/44641/Call-to-students-to-get-it-sorted-in-Swansea

  • The Council’s HMO policy – including the threshold above which planning applications will be refused and the methodology for arriving at that threshold – are to be included in the Local Development Plan currently being examined. Planning officers recently presented the Council’s proposed policy to Welsh Government planning inspectors, who will decide if it is ‘sound’ or viable, i.e. capable of withstanding appeals. Hopefully it will be approved so when the Council says ‘No’ to HMO applications, that refusal stays and for the first time, we have some control over HMO numbers.

 

 

Parking  and Traffic Issues

  • Problems for residents continue with inconsiderate parking by parents outside Oakleigh House School. Nick and Mary are meeting police with representatives at the school to try to find a way forward.
  • Parking problems also continue in the vicinity of Brynmill School; partly, at certain times of day, due to school drop-off/pick-up but in a more long term way due to University staff and students using Brynmill as a free car park. In respect of the latter problem, Labour Councillors have met with  University staff to try to find a way forward, working collaboratively to incentivise  students to use public transport or active travel,  cycling or walking, and not bringing their cars to Swansea.  Another idea being discussed is a suitably secure area away from Uplands where students could leave their cars in term time. However, regarding University staff we are also looking at charging for parking (pay and display), except for residents or   short stayers.

 

Other  Uplands  Matters

  • We are talking to Highways officers about installing a ‘rumble strip’ along Penlan Crescent where it borders Cwmdonkin Park to warn  car drivers not to get too close to the edge. As reported last month, the  fence  between the road and park comes and goes, the vegetation likewise, and the drop is steep.
  • We are working with Uplands Labour members on a number of other issues aimed at increasing the quality of life in the area: monitoring air quality along Uplands Crescent, increasing pedestrianisation of Gwydr Square and installing more seating in the  shopping/bars/market area.

 

 

Uplands & Beyond

Social Care

Second to Education, this area of council service takes up most of the budget.  Councils all over the UK are struggling to meet growing demand.  At one end of the age spectrum, we have an ageing population, living longer with more complex health and care needs.  At the other, research confirms the correlation between poverty and extreme child welfare concerns – it is no coincidence that many councils, including Swansea, are seeing increasing numbers of children becoming “looked after” by the local authority as cruel welfare cuts and other pressures bring families to breaking point.

Cabinet recently approved a new model for adult social care, with an emphasis on supporting people to remain in their own homes for longer.  Our approach will be to prioritise “re-ablement” – supporting people to recover from accident or illness, and respite – breaks for those providing care to loved ones at home.  We will provide residential care only for those with the most complex needs –a growing population which the council is the only provider resourced to look after adequately.

Although the new model is a positive shift, sadly it means we have to re-focus our dwindling resources and no longer provide residential care for those who do not have complex needs.  The closure of Parkway care home will be a difficult transition for the residents there and their families.  Social workers will be doing all they can to provide support. Some day services are also closing but the impact of this will not be so negative as for those saying goodbye to Parkway.  Obviously as a socialist administration we would prefer to have the resources to provide the full range of social care services in-house, but we cannot.

 

Welfare Reform

As WLGA Spokesperson on Equality, Welfare Reform & Anti Poverty, Mary hosted an All-Wales workshop at which councillors and officers discussed their experiences.  Increasingly there is concern about households who simply do not have enough income to survive.  Rent arrears are growing.  As more and more private landlords refuse UC-claiming tenants, Wales faces growing pressure in trying to prevent homelessness.  The council’s Poverty & Prevention service has a range of interventions that can help people in difficulty and Mary is trying to unblock a data-sharing issue which currently prevents the team with knowledge of households claiming housing benefit or UC, and facing significant drops in their income, from telling their colleagues in Poverty & Prevention who they are.

 

Employment

Wales currently has a high employment rate, but the highest rate of working poverty in its history.  The council will shortly be launching a new, single “front door” for anyone in Swansea seeking support to find a (different) job or re-training opportunity.  This will hopefully help more people progress into better-paid work.  More updates to follow.

 

Environment

“Green Infrastructure” means the aspects of nature that provide the foundations for a healthy and effective life: trees, plants and green/blue space provide functions such as air cleansing, natural drainage and host of benefits for health and well-being.  The council would like to see more features such as green walls, green rooves, trees and planted areas maximizing our contribution to Wales’s biodiversity.  Funding from Natural Resources Wales is being matched by the Council to commission a city centre “Green Infrastructure” strategy.  This will help the council see where and how to make the best changes in the city centre to bring the benefits of well-designed GI.  More info available from Mary.

 

Equality

WLGA council has agreed that when feedback from numerous reviews reports later this year, the recommendations will be considered and a plan will be developed to improve the representation of women in Welsh local government.  One of the reviews is the Welsh government’s own gender equality review which Julie James, our AM has been steering.  Locally, Cllr Louise Gibbard is soon to begin leading a scrutiny inquiry into Equality.  The findings and recommendations from this will feed into the revision of our corporate Strategic Equalities Plan, due 2020.