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Neath Port Talbot

More than 65 Neath Port Talbot homes benefit from free gas central heating scheme

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More than 65 homes in Neath Port Talbot have now benefited from a free gas central heating system thanks to the Warm Homes Fund.

Since launching in June 2020, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Warm Homes Fund has funded more than £280,000 worth of installations and energy saving measures across 66 homes in the county borough. 

The Fund is available to eligible homeowners to help save money on energy bills through installing a first time gas central heating system (boiler, radiators, pipework) and energy saving measures (loft insulation, draught proofing, low energy light bulbs etc.) to ensure households are heated efficiently. 

To be eligible, homeowners must:

  • Not already have a gas or oil central heating system. 
  • Own or privately rent a home in Neath Port Talbot (private landlords will be required to pay a 25% contribution towards the cost of the works).
  • Be classed as a low income household OR spend more than 10% of your household income on energy bills OR claim certain benefits OR live in a low income area as identified in the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (you can speak to a member of the team to check)

Mr Davies from Glynneath, who recently had a new gas central heating system installed, said: “My initial reaction upon reading about the Warm Home scheme was, as a working family, we would not be eligible. 

“It took one phone call to be informed that we may in fact be eligible. A simple form to fill in, identified that we were in fuel poverty. The process of applying was straightforward, with a helpful advisor on hand. 

“The installation of the gas boiler was very efficient, with minimum disruption and completed quickly.”

Mr Collins from Brynamman (pictured), another resident who successfully applied to the Warm Homes Fund, said: “I am so pleased with the new boiler system. It is much warmer. The new central heating system is more efficient and I have saved money already.  I would certainly recommend anyone that’s eligible to take up the grant offer.”

Councillor Peter Richards, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Services and Health, said: “We believe that everyone deserves to live in a warm home and as a council, we are fully committed to ensuring people are able to afford the energy they need.

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“Many of the homeowners we have helped have had their electric heaters or coal fired boilers replaced with new efficient central heating systems, saving them over a thousand pound a year on heating costs.”

“I’d encourage anyone who thinks we could help to get in touch – and for residents to think of any friends or family members who could benefit from the Warm Homes Fund.”

Homeowners do not have to pay anything towards the cost of the central heating system but the Fund cannot be used towards the cost of a gas connection to your property. However, some households may be eligible for financial support towards a gas connection through the Fuel Poverty Network Extension Scheme. 

The Warm Homes Fund was established by National Grid, and is administered by Affordable Warmth Solutions to address some of the issues affecting fuel poor households in Neath Port Talbot.

For more information and to apply, visit: npt.gov.uk/warmhomesfund 

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Neath Port Talbot

The multi-million pound new projects which the council say will help Neath Port Talbot meet the challenges of the post-Covid era

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New and refurbished schools, the major redevelopment of Neath’s town centre, the building of a self powering technology centre to attract new jobs and investment and the nearly completed Plaza Cinema project in Port Talbot.

These are just some of the projects contained in a progress report on the delivery of Neath Port Talbot Council’s £82.4m 2021/22 capital programme given to members of the council’s Cabinet in November.

Capital projects are generally major schemes which are either new build, acquisition of land or property, lease of property, the refurbishment of an existing building or the purchase of new pieces of equipment.

In the current financial year, the council has been undertaking projects including:

Progressing the council’s 21st Century schools programme:

  • Cefn Saeson Comprehensive – Completing and opening of a new replacement 11-16 School (ahead of schedule) in the Cimla area. The school was opened to pupils in June 2021.
  • Abbey Primary – Continuing the construction of a new primary school to replace the current Abbey Primary which is based across three sites in Neath Abbey, Skewen and Longford.
  • Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera Phase 3 – Progressing the addition of a new build block comprising six extra classrooms and 3G rugby pitch provision.

Continuing the council’s regeneration programme: 

  • Moving ahead with the redevelopment of Neath Town Centre including a new leisure centre and gym, modern library and retail facilities.
  • Making progress with developing Harbourside, the Port Talbot former dockland area destined to become an attractive site for new businesses, residents and visitors.
  • The Plaza Cinema – The redevelopment of the former cinema which inspired movie stars such as Richard Burton, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Michael Sheen into a community hub with a café, gym, office space, hall, multi-purpose rooms, a conference area, digital recording studio and shops.
  • The Bay Technology Centre – A self powering 25,000sq ft building of modern office and laboratory space, located on one of Wales’ premier Business Parks – the Baglan Energy Park – alongside the M4 in the heart of South Wales. Close to completion, it will host different size units for start-up companies, indigenous businesses and inward investors looking for a base to set up and grow their operations. 

The capital programme also includes :

  • Further investment of £3m into Disabled Facility Grants to assist people to live at home and investment of over £3m in Schools Capital Maintenance and Highways and Engineering Maintenance improvements. 
  • Redevelopment works at the Hillside Secure Unit in Neath.
  • Remodelling of the Council’s Waste Facility at Crymlyn Burrows as a Transfer Station with enhanced recycling capacity and facilities to accommodate the Council’s expanding recycling operation.

Cllr Carol Clement-Williams, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “It’s a tribute to all involved that these dynamic, major projects have been worked on throughout the pandemic and will now provide a major boost to our economy as we prepare to meet the challenges of the post-Covid 19 era.”

The cabinet formally gave its backing the 2021/22 Capital Programme and commended it to the full council for final approval.

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Fishpond Power: Margam Country Park turbine restoration creates renewable energy source

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The historic turbine house located in Margam Country Park has been restored to once again provide electricity for the Margam Estate.

The Turbine house was built in 1891 for Emily Charlotte Talbot, who commissioned the development of a hydro-electric scheme powered by a nearby fishpond.

The original turbine generated enough electricity to power 400 lamps. It is thought Margam Castle was the second domestic dwelling to have electricity in Britain at that time.

During the 1950s, the original turbine was removed and taken to South Africa. The replacement turbine has now been fully restored after being neglected for many years.

The restored turbine can now produce approximately 25KW of renewable energy which will be used to power the buildings on the Margam Estate, including the prestigious on-site wedding venue, The Orangery.

The hydro-electric scheme creates no emissions while in service and any unspent energy will be fed back to the National Grid. The project will bring savings to the operation of the country park, reduce the carbon footprint and provide an educational resource for local residents, visitors and schools.

The Margam Park fishpond (Image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

Cllr Peter Rees, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture, said: “This project neatly combines part of Margam’s history with the council’s modern day Decarbonisation and Renewable Energy (DARE) strategy and I’d like to thank everyone involved in bringing this valuable renewable energy source back to life.”

The turbine restoration project was overseen by Neath Port Talbot Council, with support from Cadw and the Friends of Margam Country Park who worked closely with Heidra, the company responsible for restoring the ancient turbine.

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Steve Ritchie from Heidra said: “Heidra was delighted to be asked by Neath Port Talbot Council to refurbish the 1920s hydro-electric system at Margam Country Park. The turbine, which originally powered the castle electrics before the National Grid existed, has now been upgraded with a modern control and efficient electric generator to supply both heat and clean green electricity to power the Park.”

In addition to housing the turbine, the building will also be used as a workshop and exhibition space for the Friends of Margam Park.

The turbine is open to the public to view, which will help promote and give an insight into the important development of modern-day renewable energy generators.

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Neath Port Talbot

Swansea and NPT residents urged to give someone the best gift this Christmas by giving blood

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A mother who needed in-the-womb blood transfusions during her pregnancy and a man who depends on regular, lifesaving blood donations are encouraging communities across Wales to give ‘the best gift’ this Christmas by donating blood.

The Welsh Blood Service is preparing to face Winter pressures on its services and is hoping their new Christmas campaign, ‘the best gift’, will raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and the lifesaving difference it makes.

Last December over 1,000 donations of blood and blood products were needed across Swansea to provide care to patients at Morriston,  Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospital. These donations play a vital role by supporting a range of treatments from helping recovering accident victims and patients with blood cancers to supporting mothers and new-born babies during childbirth.

Blood donations were needed during both pregnancies for mother of two, Shelley Parry (pictured top). After her own life was saved during her first pregnancy, Shelley received several more blood transfusions directly into her womb to keep her youngest daughter alive.

Shelley explains: “Receiving blood is truly the best gift we have ever received. We’re forever indebted as a family to those who have taken the time to donate. Without the generosity of blood donors, quite simply, we wouldn’t be parents. Thanks to their selfless act, we can look forward to Christmas together as a family.

“It only takes one hour of your time to donate, if you can, please consider donating.”

Also supporting the campaign is blood recipient Giggs Kanias. Since birth, Giggs has received over 1,000 blood transfusions as part of his treatment for beta thalassaemia major, a severe blood disorder. Thanks to blood donors, Giggs is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with his family.

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Giggs Kanias is supporting the campaign having received over 1,000 blood transfusions since birth as part of his treatment for beta thalassaemia major, a severe blood disorder.

Giggs said: “I am so thankful to the incredible people who give blood. When I’m in hospital, I stare at the bags of blood being transfused into me and always wonder, who is the person that has helped me?

“I know the difference these people have made to my life and I’m so grateful to each and every one of them. Without their generosity, I wouldn’t be here today, I wouldn’t be a dad, or have had the opportunity to see my daughter grow up. Receiving blood is truly the best gift anyone could ever receive.”

Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “For patients like Giggs, receiving blood will be the best gift they receive this Christmas. It truly is the best gift you can give.

“Blood products have a short shelf life and is needed by hospitals 365 days a year, including Christmas day, to help support patients in need, which is why we can’t stop collecting.”

The Welsh Blood Service provides lifesaving blood products to 20 hospitals across Wales and four Wales Air Ambulance aircraft for use in emergencies.

Alan continues: “It is critical the service prepares. We need to build up blood stocks ahead of a potentially challenging winter, where seasonal illnesses and Covid-19 may exacerbate the usual winter pressures faced by the NHS.

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“We are reaching out to communities across Wales to ask them to make a lifesaving blood donation and give ‘the best gift’ this festive season.”

Do something amazing this Christmas. Give someone the best gift. Give blood. If you are aged 17 or over, book to give blood at: http://www.wbs.wales/Xmas21 or call 0800 252 266 today.

Appointments are available in Swansea on 16 December and January 10 at the Swansea.com Stadium, 17 December in Killay, 20, 21 and 30 December in the Swansea Marriott Hotel, 7 January in Pontlliw Village Hall and 17, 18, 27 and 31 January in the Swansea Village Hotel.

Appointments are available in NPT on 13 and 14 December and January 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 26 at the Theatre Royal Port Talbot and 22 December at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport.

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