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Torfaen Council wants a ‘Communities Approach’ to how it delivers public services

The Civic Centre in Pontypool
Torfaen Council's Civic Centre

TOWN and community councillors should be better involved in a plan to support communities across Torfaen, borough councillors have said. 

Torfaen County Borough Council is drawing up a ‘Communities Approach’ to delivering public services which it says is to ensure it works more closely with residents, community groups and community councils as well as other public bodies in designing and delivering services. 

David Leech, the council’s chief officer for communities, said authorities have “traditionally” failed to engage with communities in running services which support people and address issues such as poverty and wellbeing. 

He said the council has now outlined its “initial thinking” on how it to plans to work with others, from local volunteers through to the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, and has six objectives ranging from increasing community involvement to coordinating information. 

Examples given by the council include how Henllys Community Council, in Cwmbran, is looking at how it can help older people get together as a demonstration of how communities can better influence local services.

Requiring warm hubs to register with Torfaen’s Connect Network is cited as way of ensuring information is available to make communities “more resilient”. 

It’s also hoped that ensuring information is shared with groups will mean people can get help without having to contact the council, and that information is also available online, and that people can be referred to support from groups operating in their communities. 

Work already taking place with Torfaen Voluntary Alliance, to coordinate volunteer placements, is also seen as meeting the goal to make volunteering easier while a project is already in place, with the health board, on an “integrated wellbeing network” which is given as an example of working with other bodies to implement the ‘Marmot principles’ that by reducing inequalities health and wellbeing can be improved. 

The council’s healthier communities scrutiny committee, which has been briefed on the plan, has said it would like to see the Torfaen Voluntary Alliance and town and community councils invited to a members seminar when the proposals will be explained in depth to councillors. 

Abersychan Labour councillor Lynda Clarkson said the plan would be “very much a joint effort” and that she would welcome closer working with community councils: “I’m very mindful in previous years there’s not been a lot of joint working.” 

The committee will ask to see an update on the plan in the summer before it goes before the full council. 

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Torfaen Council wants a ‘Communities Approach’ to how it delivers public services