Members of Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet are being recommended today (June 30th, 2021) to co-ordinate solutions to two key issues which could benefit Upper Afan Valley residents over the next five years with the Welsh Government and the Swansea Bay University Health Board (SBUHB).
One centres on the existing SBUHB managed GP Practice in Cymmer (Cymmer Health Centre), which, although meeting operational standards, does not meet the accommodation standards of modern health care.
The other is a highways problem caused by the need to strengthen three local bridges. They include the Grade II listed Cymmer Viaduct which provides the only suitable access to the communities of Abercregan and Glyncorrwg for heavy vehicles, buses and emergency vehicles.
The viaduct is currently restricted to an 18 tonne weight limit with vehicles controlled by traffic signals restricting the road to one-way working. Ongoing deterioration of the viaduct (not helped by illegal use of overweight vehicles) means that without extensive maintenance it will have to be closed to heavy vehicular traffic preventing HGVs, emergency vehicles and public transport vehicles serving the communities.
Regarding a solution to the health centre issue, the options include a new-build health centre on a yet to be identified site in the Upper Afan Valley or the adaptation of an existing facility in the area.
The health board is responsible for Cymmer Health Centre and the council is seeking to facilitate alternative options to ensure people living in the valley continue to have access to these services in the valley.
An officers’ report to the Cabinet, which meets this afternoon, says an integral part of any changes to the delivery of health services will be public engagement and gaining the opinion of the local community.
The local Community Health Council has advised a six-week engagement exercise should be undertaken to take in the views of local people on potential relocation of the service and suggestions for a new site.
Several options have been considered for the necessary highway improvements in the area and capital investment for the design of improvements has been granted by the Welsh Government through the Local Transport Fund during 2020/21 and 2021/22. Further Capital funding will be required for the construction of the project.
A public consultation exercise will also be carried out for the highway works and will need to align with the public engagement for the potential relocation of the health facility in Cymmer.
Joint delivery of the relocation of the health facility and highway improvements will result in improved health care facilities for the community, an improved road alignment for the alternative route avoiding Cymmer Viaduct and less disruption to the community as the relocation and demolition of the health centre and the road improvements could take place concurrently.
Officers are recommending Cabinet members support a coordinated approach between the council and the health board for a joint delivery of a potential relocation of the health facility and highway improvements and that they agree for a joint meeting to be arranged with Welsh Government officials to explore the potential for this approach and financial investment, together with a coordinated approach to public engagement..