THE summer holidays have drawn to a close and I hope everyone had the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing break over the past few weeks.

The weather may not have been very kind, but it certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of all those who enjoyed our extensive summer events programme.

Pupils are returning to school and there is a sense that things are about to return to normality after the school break.

Over the past few weeks we have seen the publication of our A-level and GCSE results and I would like to congratulate all the young people who have worked so hard to obtain their grades.

I’d also like to thank teaching staff in our schools and colleges for their ongoing efforts to improve standards for the benefit of all our learners.

We recognise there is always room for improvement and will continue to work with the regional Education Achievement Service and our schools to ensure we strive for even better results in the future.

September is an important month for the council as we will be undertaking a major survey to gather feedback about our services.

We are always keen to hear the views of local people and feedback is very important to us as it helps shape our services in the future.

The ‘Household Survey’ will be rolled out throughout September and will help us measure levels of satisfaction with council services, as well as establishing current views on broader issues such as crime and antisocial behaviour and general perceptions about the community.

It’s really important that as many people as possible take part in the survey and have their say about these key issues.

The survey will be available on the council’s website ( and will also be printed in the September edition of Newsline which goes to every home in the area.

Finally, I’d like to welcome the Velvet Coalmine Festival back to Blackwood in September.

It’s great to see this celebration of art, music and culture put the Caerphilly county borough on the map and I would urge everyone to check out what’s on between September 7 and 16, as there is sure to be something for everyone.