Tag Archives: jazz

Bridgend Town Council: A better building, and better democracy

The Town Council’s move into the old library building at Carnegie House has helped to reinvigorate local democracy in Bridgend. Dyfrig Williams visited the Council to find out more about the new building and how it’s also being used to give a boost to the arts in the town.

A photo of Carnegie House

Carnegie House

Until their recent move, Bridgend Town Council had been based in the former Bridgend Urban District Council’s offices at Glanogwr. In 1987 the offices were converted into elderly persons’ units and the Town Council moved out into the newly vacated former Ogwr Borough Council’s Architects Department (also at Glanogwr), where they remained until January 2014. But when their tenancy agreement was coming up for renewal, the time was right to make a move. With serendipitous timing, Bridgend County Borough Council’s library moved to a shared facility with other resources. The Town Council embraced the opportunity to move to the centre of town and in to the heart of the community.

An external group was also looking to provide an arts centre for the town at the same time as the Town Council moved into the Town Centre. Carnegie House has much more space than the previous building, so the Town Council decided to develop the ground floor into an arts centre and to use the first floor to home the town council.

How did they do it?

A photo of the Town Council Chambers inside Carnegie House

The Town Council Chambers at Carnegie House

The Town Council obtained the building on a freehold basis for £1, which meant that the County Borough Council were able to offload an unused building. It also meant that the building was kept as a community facility, which the Town Council was able to make the most of after it held a consultation evening to hear from the community about what they wanted from the project.

The Town Council recognised that it would have been impossible for the full council to take responsibility for the move, as it would not have been able to be responsive to the changing events and requirements. So they set up an independent group of 6 councillors as a relocation group who dealt with all aspects of the asset transfer.

A good relationship with Bridgend County Borough Council was key to the transfer’s success. The County Borough Council often went the extra mile during the process by providing assistance through their conservation officers, architects and surveyors. This positive relationship also allowed the Town Council to take over the building under licence in the first instance. This meant that what they would’ve paid in rent was used to refurbish the building. The Town Council wouldn’t have been able to afford to do both, so this reciprocal approach really helped the process.

The collaborative approach between the two councils also meant that the Town Council could make the most of the County Borough Council’s service level agreements for things like maintenance. The County Borough Council already has agreements in place, ones which the Town Council would struggle to match due to its scale. This means that the Town Council gets better deals and can, for example, use the County Borough Council’s telephony and intranet systems.

Heritage

A photo of the town bell that was donated to the Town Council with clippings about it

The bell  from the original town hall that was donated to the Town Council

The Town Council have made a concerted effort to revamp Carnegie House in keeping with the history of the building. They’ve adopted Edwardian colour schemes and worked with the County Borough Council Conservation staff to develop the space. They have also had items donated to them from the community, including the bell from the original town hall in the 18th century, and a memorial board from a local school, for which the Town Council held a dedication ceremony. Previously there was no community space for civic events as there was no town hall, but now local people are actively engaging with the council to help preserve and remember their history.

The Town Council itself has also grown, as its location within the town centre means that there’s much more awareness of its work. The relocation has been the catalyst in getting the Town Council further into the public domain, and now members of the public are observing Town Council meetings on a more regular basis. The expanded facility has also meant that the staff team has expanded from 1 person to 4 part-time staff. This increased staff capacity is important as it’s come at a time where the Town Council is taking over more non-statutory services.

The Arts Hub

The Town Council applied to the Arts Council of Wales for funding to work on the ground floor. The first year’s programme of activity ran from March to November 2015. By the end of that time, around 1700 people had attended events in the hall, including poetry nights, concerts and jazz nights. Last year’s programme was trial and error, but this year the Town Council will be building on what it’s learnt by running a series of events with both Jazz and Classical music.

Some extensive work is taking place as the building itself is a listed building. They’ve received a Heritage Lottery grant (with match funding from both the Town and County Borough Councils) as the stonework has crumbled, and the old artificial ceiling is being stripped back to improve the acoustics. The Town Council has also bought a PA system, and they now have a website up and running for the first time.

What does the future look like?

So the future looks bright for the Town Council, and any surplus made from the Arts ventures will be ploughed back in for equipment and to invest in the programme. As the adult and community learning provision has disbanded, the Town Council is looking to develop independent classes on arts and culture (like sewing, painting and ceramics) as an opportunity for local people to get involved with the building.

I learnt so much from my visit to Carnegie House, not least the importance of being flexible and thinking outside the box. It’s obviously an incredibly labour intensive process, but by working in collaboration with the County Borough Council, the Town Council have been able to make the most of the opportunities that have come their way from the asset transfer. In a time where resources are so tight, it’s great to see organisations working together to make sure that they deliver the best possible public services for the people in their area.

Cyngor Tref Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr: Adeilad gwell, democratiaeth gwell

Cafodd democratiaeth leol ei adfywio ar ôl i Gyngor Tref Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr symud o’i hen adeilad i’r llyfrgell yn Nhŷ Carnegie. Ymwelodd Dyfrig Williams â’r Cyngor i ffeindio allan mwy am yr adeilad newydd a sut mae’n cael ei ddefnyddio i roi hwb i gelfyddydau’r dref.

Llun o Dŷ Carnegie

Tŷ Carnegie

Roedd Cyngor Tref Pen-y-bont wedi ei leoli yn hen swyddfeydd Cyngor Dosbarth Trefol Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr yng Nglanogwr nes iddynt symud yn ddiweddar. Yn 1987 cafodd ei gyn-swyddfeydd ei droi’n unedau henoed a symudodd y Cyngor Tref i hen adeilad Adran Penseiri Cyngor Bwrdeistref Ogwr (a oedd hefyd yn Glanogwr), lle wnaethon nhw aros nes fis Ionawr 2014. Ond pan ddaeth eu cytundeb tenantiaeth i ben, roedd yr amser yn iawn i symud. Yn ffodus roedd llyfrgell Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr yn symud i gyfleuster arall ar yr un pryd. Manteisiodd Cyngor y Dref ar y cyfle i symud i ganol y dref a’r gymuned.

Roedd grŵp allanol hefyd yn edrych i greu canolfan gelfyddydau ar gyfer y dref ar yr un pryd. Mae gan Dŷ Carnegie lot mwy o le na’r adeilad blaenorol, felly penderfynodd y Cyngor Tref i ddatblygu’r llawr gwaelod i fod yn ganolfan gelfyddydau ac i ddefnyddio’r llawr cyntaf i gartrefi’r cyngor tref.

Sut wnaethon nhw wneud hynny?

A photo of the Town Council Chambers inside Carnegie House

Siambrau’r Cyngor Tref tu fewn i Dŷ Carnegie

Prynodd y Cyngor Tref yr adeilad ar sail rhydd-ddaliad am £1, a golygodd hyn bod y Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol yn gallu dadlwytho adeilad doedd ddim yn cael ei ddefnyddio. Roedd hyn hefyd yn golygu bod yr adeilad yn cael ei gadw fel cyfleuster cymunedol, ac fe wnaeth y Cyngor Tref y fwyaf o’r cyfle trwy gynnal noson ymgynghori i glywed o’r gymuned beth yn union roedden nhw eisiau o’r prosiect.

Byddai fe wedi bod yn amhosib i’r Cyngor Tref i gymryd cyfrifoldeb llawn am symud swyddfeydd achos byddai fe ddim wedi gallu ymateb yn ddigon cyflym i’r gofynion. Felly cafwyd grŵp annibynnol o 6 chynghorydd ei sefydlu fel grŵp adleoli a wnaeth delio â phob agwedd o drosglwyddo’r ased.

Mae perthynas da rhwng y Cyngor Tref a’r Cyngor Sir wedi bod yn allweddol i lwyddiant y trosglwyddiad yma. Mae’r Cyngor Sir wedi bod yn help mawr yn ystod y broses drwy ddarparu cymorth drwy eu swyddogion cadwraeth, penseiri a syrfewyr. Mae’r berthynas gadarnhaol hefyd yn caniatáu i’r Cyngor Tref i gymryd drosodd yr adeilad dan drwydded yn y lle cyntaf. Mae hyn yn golygu bod yr hyn y byddan nhw wedi’i dalu mewn rhent yn cael ei ddefnyddio i wella’r adeilad yn lle. Ni fyddai’r Cyngor Tref wedi gallu fforddio gwneud y ddau, felly mae hyn yn rhoi hwb mawr i’r broses.

Mae’r cydweithrediad yma hefyd yn golygu bod y Cyngor Tref yn gallu gwneud y mwyaf o gytundebau lefel gwasanaeth y Cyngor Sir am bethau fel gwaith cynnal a chadw. Byddai fe wedi bod yn anodd i’r Cyngor Tref cael yr un gwerth o’i gytundebau oherwydd dyw e ddim gweithio ar yr un raddfa a’r Cyngor Sir. Mae hyn yn golygu bod y Cyngor Tref yn gallu cael bargeinion gwell ac mae’n gallu defnyddio systemau teleffoni a mewnrwyd y Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol.

Treftadaeth

Ffoto o gloch Neuadd y Dref a gafodd ei roi i'r Cyngor Tref

Tŷ Carnegie

Mae Cyngor y Dref wedi gwneud ymdrech i ailwampio Tŷ Carnegie yn gydnaws â hanes yr adeilad. Maen nhw wedi mabwysiadu cynlluniau lliw Edwardaidd ac yn gweithio gyda staff Cadwraeth y Cyngor Sir i ddatblygu’r gofod. Maent hefyd wedi derbyn eitemau o’r gymuned, gan gynnwys y gloch o neuadd y dref wreiddiol yn y 18fed ganrif, ac mae yna fwrdd coffa o ysgol leol a gafodd ei roi mewn seremoni ymroddiad. Doedd dim gofod cymunedol ar gyfer digwyddiadau dinesig o’r blaen achos does dim neuadd yn y dref, ond erbyn hyn mae pobl leol yn cysylltu gyda’r cyngor i helpu nhw i warchod a chofio eu hanes.

Mae Cyngor y Dref ei hun wedi tyfu, gan fod ei leoliad yng nghanol y dref yn golygu bod llawer mwy o ymwybyddiaeth o’i waith. Mae’r adleoli wedi bod yn gatalydd i symud y Cyngor Tref ymhellach i mewn i’r parth cyhoeddus, ac yn awr mae aelodau’r cyhoedd yn gwylio cyfarfodydd y Cyngor Tref yn fwy rheolaidd. Mae’r cyfleuster newydd wedi rhoi hwb i gapasiti y sefydliad, ac felly mae’r tîm staff wedi ehangu o 1 person i 4 aelod o staff rhan-amser. Mae’r capasiti hyn yn bwysig mewn cyfnod ble mae’r Cyngor Tref yn cymryd drosodd mwy o wasanaethau anstatudol.

Yr Hwb Celfyddydau

Mae’r Cyngor Tref yn gwneud cais i Gyngor Celfyddydau Cymru am gyllid i weithio ar y llawr gwaelod. Cafodd rhaglen gweithgareddau’r flwyddyn gyntaf ei redeg rhwng Mawrth a Thachwedd 2015. Erbyn diwedd y rhaglen, roedd tua 1700 o bobl wedi mynd i ddigwyddiadau yn y neuadd, gan gynnwys nosweithiau barddoniaeth, cyngherddau a nosweithiau jazz. Roedd rhaglen llynedd yn siawns i brofi a methu, ond eleni bydd y Cyngor Tref yn adeiladu ar beth mae’n ei ddysgu drwy gynnal cyfres o ddigwyddiadau cerddoriaeth glasurol a jazz.

Mae lot o waith yn cael ei wneud ar yr adeilad gan ei fod yn adeilad rhestredig. Mae grant Cronfa Treftadaeth y Loteri wedi cael ei roi ar gyfer y gwaith (gydag arian cyfatebol gan o’r Cynghorau Sir a Thref) gan fod y gwaith cerrig yn dadfeilio, ac mae’r hen nenfwd artiffisial yn cael ei dynnu i lawr i wella’r sŵn yn y neuadd. Mae Cyngor y Dref hefyd wedi prynu system PA, ac mae ganddynt wefan am y tro cyntaf.

Beth mae’r dyfodol yn edrych?

Felly mae’r dyfodol yn edrych yn ddisglair i Gyngor y Dref, a bydd unrhyw arian dros ben a wneir gan y mentrau’r Celfyddydau yn cael ei ail-fuddsoddi ar gyfer offer ac yn y rhaglen. Mae’r ddarpariaeth dysgu oedolion a chymunedol yn y dref wedi dod i ben, felly mae’r Cyngor Tref yn edrych i ddatblygu dosbarthiadau annibynnol ar y celfyddydau a diwylliant (fel gwnïo, paentio a serameg) fel bod pobl leol yn cael y cyfle i wneud y fwyaf o’r adeilad.

Dysgais gymaint o fy ymweliad â Thŷ Carnegie, yn enwedig ynghylch y pwysigrwydd o fod yn hyblyg ac i feddwl tu allan i’r bocs. Mae ailwampio’r adeilad yn amlwg yn broses llafurus, ond drwy weithio ar y cyd â’r Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol, mae Cyngor y Dref wedi gallu gwneud y gorau o’r cyfleoedd sydd wedi dod atynt i drosglwyddo’r ased. Mewn cyfnod lle mae adnoddau mor brin, mae’n wych gweld sefydliadau sy’n gweithio gyda’i gilydd i sicrhau bod nhw’n darparu’r gwasanaethau cyhoeddus gorau posibl i bobl eu hardal.