Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Cabinet to consider three-year Community Hub programme

Cabinet will discuss a proposed programme to introduce Community Hubs in up to 10 local communities – and consider approving the first projects in Ferndale and Mountain Ash.

A report to Cabinet on Thursday, April 19, proposes the introduction of a programme of investment in community services across the County Borough, and puts forward a phased approach to develop Community Hubs across Rhondda Cynon Taf over a three-year period.

Community Hubs provide a range of citizen-based services in one, or a number of closely-located, buildings. This model has many advantages – more-fit-for-purpose buildings, a better public service offer and a more accessible and cost-effective approach. They also support a preventative approach by enabling families to access support as early as possible.

The report lists 10 geographical areas identified for potential Community Hubs based on factors including population size, natural boundaries, town centres and existing provision. They are Rhondda Fach, South Cynon, North Rhondda, South Rhondda, Mid Rhondda, North Cynon, North West Taff Ely, North East Taff Ely, South East Taff Ely and South West Taff Ely.

The report also seeks the approval of Cabinet for the first two Community Hub schemes – at Ferndale Infants’ School and Mountain Ash Day Centre.

In Ferndale, it is proposed the Council works with third-sector organisation Fern Partnership to develop a Community Hub for a range of services, including the relocation and enhancement of Ferndale Library. Fern Partnership would provide a comprehensive childcare offer while information, advice and employment support programmes would also be available. Fern Partnership would be the anchor organisation for the Hub with responsibility for supporting and developing the community network within the area.

A four-week consultation – including a survey, drop-in events and contacting 1,344 library users – was undertaken in early 2018. The vast majority of respondents agreed with the proposals, including all respondents from Ferndale Comprehensive School.

In Mountain Ash, it is proposed to develop the currently under-utilised Day Centre as a Community Hub, providing a range of services under one roof – including a relocated library which will be a similar size to the current facility, but would also include flexible community rooms – something the current library does not have. It would incorporate employment support services and a One4aLL service, as well as 13 public access computers and a community café-style food outlet continuing to serve hot and cold food. The majority of clubs and activities currently offered at the Day Centre would be continued.

A four-week consultation in early 2018 included a survey, drop-in events, emailing 1,974 library users and promotion through the Cynon Valley Older Person’s Advisory Group, the results of which will be considered by Cabinet before a decision is made.

Councillor Rhys Lewis, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Prosperity and Wellbeing, said: “On Thursday, Cabinet will consider a programme to introduce Community Hubs across the County Borough over the next three years, and will also consider granting approval for the first two projects in Ferndale and Mountain Ash.

“The innovative approach for Ferndale would see the Council co-locate its services in partnership with a third sector anchor organisation, Fern Partnership. In Mountain Ash, a number of services would be brought together under one roof, making the most of the potential of the Day Centre and retaining important features of the existing provision – including a similar sized library and a café-style food outlet continuing to serve hot food.

“In October 2017, Cabinet agreed a £500,000 investment for its development of Community Hubs, to ensure the Council can continue to provide key frontline services with less financial resources and, through targeted investment, improve the services provided to residents.

"While the Ferndale and Mountain Ash projects would represent the first two of the wider programme, the Council has already undertaken work to locate services at Porth Plaza and this will, in the future, develop into the Hub for Rhondda South. The Council has also agreed a leasehold transfer of services of St Mair’s Day Centre in Aberdare to Age Connects Morgannwg, whose £1.1m Community Hub plan has recently received external funding.”

Posted on Friday 13th April 2018
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