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Proposed reconfiguration changes to Community Meals Service

Cabinet Members will next week consider proposed changes to improve the production of the Council’s Community Meals Service.

A report to the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, January 25, proposes a number of operational changes to the Community Meals Service across the County Borough, which will have no affect on the existing levels of provision and present no change for customers – while saving the Council £258,000 a year.

Due to the reduced uptake of the service, fewer meals are now produced at the Council’s three production kitchens (a drop by 29% on weekdays and 66% for weekends over the past five years). As a result, it is proposed that the number of production kitchens is reduced to one – retaining Ynyshir only.

The service will continue to deliver freshly-cooked meals on weekdays, but will deliver frozen meals for the weekend rather than ‘blast chilled’ meals. The provision of frozen meals will enable a greater menu choice for our clients improving the variety on offer.

County Borough Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Catering Services, said: “The Council is proposing a reconfiguration of Community Meals Service production – which would see no changes to existing levels of provision but would make considerable savings for the Council. It would therefore support the Council’s Corporate Plan – to find new cost-effective ways of delivering our services efficiently.

“I’m confident that the proposed changes to Community Meals would not be felt by customers, as this is only a change to the production arrangements. Frozen meals have already been delivered on weekends as a necessary course of action on occasion in the past – and the service received no complaints from customers. The proposed changes would see the Council continue to offer a community-based service that is efficient, effective and represents good value for money.

“The operational changes also include reducing the number of community kitchens to one, with Ynyshir the facility best-placed to serve the whole County Borough going forward.

“That change, if agreed, would result in the kitchen at St George’s Day Centre in Tonyrefail no longer required. St George’s is a former chapel that is in a very poor condition, has low usage and an outstanding backlog and essential maintenance of approximately £578,000. Cabinet have therefore been recommended to consider the future viability of this facility.”

St. George’s Day Centre currently houses a production kitchen which will no longer be used if the Community Meals changes are agreed.

Also taking into consideration the building’s poor quality, the low usage of the Centre and its close proximity to Gilfach Goch Day Centre, where there is a better environment and greater opportunities for social activities, the report recommends that, if the Community Meals changes are agreed, an eight-week public consultation process is undertaken over the permanent closure of St. George’s Day Centre. If agreed, the open access day service would be transferred to Gilfach Goch Day Centre.
The Community Meals Service also provides meals at St. Mair’s Day Centre in Aberdare and Mountain Ash Day Centre. Another proposed change would see the provision for St Mair’s being transferred to Age Connect, a voluntary organisation as part of a community asset transfer, and Mountain Ash transferred to Community Services, which manages catering staff at the five other Day Centres in the County Borough.


New proposals to further boost recycling in Rhondda Cynon Taf recycling

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council will consider new proposals in a bid to further boost recycling rates, following excellent progress made in recent times.

Recycling in the County Borough has increased significantly of late – with 64% of overall waste being recycled in 2016/17. That was an all-time high in Rhondda Cynon Taf when it was first achieved in the 2016 calendar year, and that performance was maintained for the 2016/17 financial year.

However, while that performance is above the Welsh Government’s current statutory target of 58%, further improvements must be made if the Council is to hit the 70% target by 2024/25 – and avoid significant fines in the process.

Therefore, a report, which will put forward changes targeting non-recyclers, will be considered by Cabinet and the Council’s Public Service Delivery, Communities and Prosperity Scrutiny Committee in the coming weeks.

The proposals would not affect the Council’s valued, current arrangements, as weekly (recycling) and fortnightly (residual waste) collections would remain. While the number of recycling bags per household would remain unlimited, the proposals would introduce:

A ‘no side waste’ rule for households with fortnightly bin collections (primarily in Cynon and Taff). Black bag waste would need to be contained within wheelie bins, with the general rule that the bin’s lid must shut.
A ‘two black bag limit’ for fortnightly household collections without a bin (primarily in Rhondda). This would reduce from four bags currently.
A reduced green waste collection service from weekly to fortnightly between November 1 and March 1 each year reflecting the decreased demand during this period. Outside of these dates, in the summer season, the service will retain its weekly arrangement.
A Fixed Penalty Notice for residents who continue to place recyclable material or items in black bags. This would be a last resort for the Council, targeting residents who fail to recycle following awareness-raising exercises and notices issued by enforcement officers.

If agreed, the Council would run an awareness campaign prior the new rules being implemented, to ensure residents are fully-aware of what is expected of them.

The new rules would also be rescinded over the busy Christmas and New Year period and there may be other exceptions in certain circumstances, subject to agreement, such as for households disposing of ash which cannot be recycled or for large families.

Councillor Ann Crimmings, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure, said: “Significant progress has been made in recent years by the Council and residents – working together in order to recycle more and more, and ensuring Rhondda Cynon Taf is one of the best performers in comparison to other similar Local Authorities in Wales.

“While 64% of overall waste was recycled last year, representing fantastic progress, more than 35,500 tonnes of residual material was not recycled. It is estimated that around 25,000 tonnes of that could have been recycled or composted. If a quarter of that figure was recycled, it would take our overall rate to 71%.

“The proposed changes to be considered by in the coming weeks would not penalise residents who engage with our recycling message, but target those who don’t make the effort. The changes would make it clear to residents that they have a choice to make – either recycle to contribute to a greener Rhondda Cynon Taf, or face enforcement action.

“There are very few materials that cannot be recycled, and the Council makes it easy for residents with its one-bag-for-all system, excluding food and other contaminates, such as nappies, which have complementary dedicated services.

“The Council also provides residents with all the things you need to recycle free of charge – from food waste caddies to clear recycling bags.

“I’m confident that if these changes were implemented, the Council would be in an excellent position to hit the Welsh Government’s future targets.”

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