A message from Council Leader Nigel Daniels

To the residents of Blaenau Gwent,

Tomorrow we will ‘come together’ to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day – Victory in Europe Day. Of course, we won’t come together physically but in spirit as we celebrate this significant milestone in history & remember the enormous sacrifice, courage and determination of people from all walks of life who saw us through difficult, frightening and uncertain times.

We are encouraging people to celebrate VE Day, but to only do so safely within your home and with your own household.

It cannot compare with the tremendous sacrifices made by those 75 years ago, but the past few weeks throughout this Pandemic the people of the UK have been asked to make sacrifices such as not seeing family and friends, and not going out to do the things they would usually enjoy. Lots of people have lost loved ones to this virus. Behind every death statistic there is a grieving family, and we must not lose sight of the fact that what we have all been doing has helped to ensure that there are not many, many more and that our health and social care services have not become overwhelmed and unable to cope.

You will probably all be aware that the Prime Minister is set to address the nation this Sunday evening, where he will set out a phased and cautious approach to unlocking some parts of the economy, and plans for other areas like schools and public transport arrangements.

In response to this we will be working closely with national & regional partners on how we adapt and re-introduce services, where possible, based on any new guidance. Nobody is in any doubt that the next few months will remain difficult and that our services will continue to look very different. However, these past few weeks have shown that we are capable of reacting quickly and adapting services and that we have the commitment and flexibility to rise to this challenge.

We already know that testing and contact tracing is a key part of the Government’s strategy to relax lockdown arrangements and we are working with partners in Public Health Wales, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and fellow Gwent councils on how this will look in the region. This is something we all need to be prepared to play our part in when it is up and running so that the effects of the virus can be traced and closed down. More details on this soon.

We are starting to see some changes in behaviour amongst residents in anticipation of a change in the current lockdown arrangements. It is a Bank Holiday weekend with fine weather forecast, and so we may see some people struggling to continue to follow the rules. I understand that the temptation is to go out, but please for now the strong message remains Stay Home, Protect the NHS & Save Lives. Please continue to adhere to social distancing rules & only go out when absolutely necessary for food and local exercise, and for critical work purposes.

For this, I thank you once again on behalf of all Blaenau Gwent councillors for continuing to help slow the spread of this dreadful virus in our communities.

We are continuing to provide critical services to residents – and are focussing strongly on supporting vulnerable people and keeping key workers in their roles through childcare options. Together with our schools we continue to support families with home learning, and we are currently asking parents for their views on this and any barriers they may have to distance learning such as a lack of technology/devices etc. Please take some time to complete the short survey – https://wh1.snapsurveys.com/s.asp?k=158818045005

We also continue to support our most vulnerable learners, offering tailored support where necessary. Our Youth Service is also helping to support over 500 children and young people with things such as online activities and learning; counselling and deliveries of essential items. These things can make a big difference to a young person’s life during lockdown – well done all!

It is also important to stress that we are very much business as usual for safeguarding concerns. If you are worried about a vulnerable child or adult and you think that someone may be at risk, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us:

• https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/health-wellbeing-social-care/safeguarding/safeguarding-adults-at-risk-of-abuse/
• https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/health-wellbeing-social-care/childrens-services/child-protection/

We also continue to support vulnerable residents and those who are officially shielding as recommended by the Government through our Locality Teams. More people have been added to the shielding list across Wales and our teams are busy contacting and supporting those. There is further information about this here - https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/emergencies-crime-prevention/local-help-support-covid-19/

I know that many people are frustrated that our Household Waste and Recycling Centre remains closed. However, I must stress that we will only re-open this when we are assured of a change in the national guidance around travel and when we have carefully considered how this will operate safely in order to maintain social distancing. We will let you know as soon as anything changes on that.

Remember, you can keep up to date with the latest Council service information here – https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/emergencies-crime-prevention/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-information/

You can also follow our social media accounts which are updated frequently with relevant information:

• Facebook – @blaenaugwentcbc
• Twitter -  @BlaenauGwentCBC

Our staff remain fully committed to delivering services, and I know that our communities are supportive of them. When I am out clapping for our health & social care staff tonight, I will be also be clapping in appreciation of all local government workers who are keeping services going, and for local volunteers who are working with us to support those residents who need it. The work of these volunteers has been invaluable to us in supporting our communities through this difficult time, and these people have been completely dedicated to helping keep vulnerable people safe and well. On behalf of all councillors in Blaenau Gwent I would like to say a big thank you to each and every one of you.

So finally, until we are advised otherwise, please stay at home and keep your family safe & well.

Thank you.

Councillor Nigel Daniels
Leader Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Please note the latest advice & guidance can be found here:

• https://phw.nhs.wales/
• https://gov.wales/
• https://www.gov.uk/