Saturday 13 July 2013

Census 2011 : A Changing Bridgend

In this final look at the 2011 census data, I'm going to look at Bridgend down to ward level to see how the county's changed between 2001 and 2011. I've used an ONS data table tool to compile this.

If you have no idea which ward is which, here's a map :
Map of Bridgend Council wards
(Click to enlarge)

Population & Population Density

Change in population 2001-2011
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Population density per ward in 2011
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The population of Bridgend County rose by ~10,500 between 2001 and 2011, from 128,645 to 139,178. Most of that can be accounted to housing developments. Brackla and Cornelly's population rose by over 1,000 each, while in Bryntirion, Laleston & Merthyr Mawr it rose by a whopping 4,417 – almost certainly due to the Broadlands development – and more than doubling the population of the ward (+102% increase).

Brackla remains the most populous ward overall, with a population of 11,749.

Coity will likely see the biggest increase between 2011 and 2021, with the Parc Derwen development likely to add at least 2,500 people.

Not all wards experienced population rises. The Maesteg and Caerau area, Cefn Glas and Litchard/Pendre areas all lost more than 4% of their populations, with Pendre experiencing the sharpest drop of 11.9%, closely followed by Cefn Glas (-11.8%).

Population of major settlements in Bridgend County
  • Bridgend (including Penyfai, Coychurch Lower & Coity wards) : 49,404
  • Bridgend "Urban Area" (including the Aberkenfig/Sarn area & above) : 60,824
  • Maesteg (including Caerau and Llangynwyd) : 20,612
  • Porthcawl : 16,005
  • Pyle/Cornelly : 14,464
  • Pencoed : 10,054
In terms of population density, the second map clearly highlights major settlements. At least 43% of the county live in Bridgend town itself and its immediate surroundings, with Morfa (40.2 people per hectare), Porthcawl West Central (37.8) and Brackla (36.6) being the most densely populated wards, and Blackmill (1.5), Aberkenfig (1.7) and Bryncethin (1.8) the least densely populated.

There's also the prospect, depending on how other towns have changed, that Bridgend is now pushing to be in Wales' top 5 urban areas by population.


Mean age per ward
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% of the resident population aged 65+
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Porthcawl is a significant pocket of wards with a higher average age compared to the rest of Bridgend county, while the younger wards tend to be the suburbs of Bridgend itself – Brackla (mean age 35.5), Coity (37.9) and Bryntirion, Laleston & Merthyr Mawr (35.1). Bettws also has a younger than average population (36.6).

This could reflect the housing market. Brackla and Broadlands attracting younger families, for example, while Porthcawl and suburbs like Litchard are known to be popular with retirees or older, stable families. It could also reflect reduced average life expectancy in deprived wards north of the M4.

There's a similar pattern reflected in the percentage of residents of pensionable age. Porthcawl is once again way out ahead of the rest of the county in terms of over 65s, with Nottage (30.1%) and Rest Bay (36.6%) having the highest percentage of pensioners in the county, closely followed by Coychurch Lower (35%). Cross reference this with the religion, national identity and limiting illness figures and you'll see a pattern.


% of the population describing themselves
as "Christian" in 2011
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Change in % of non-religious 2001-2011
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The dominant organised religion in Bridgend is – surprise,surprise – Christianity and its denominations, with 55.1% of people describing themselves as such. The second largest organised religion is Islam. Bridgend had 529 Muslim residents in 2011, or 0.4% of the population. "Other religions" are the third largest group, closely followed by Buddhists and Hindus (0.4, 0.3 & 0.2% of the population respectively). All of these smaller religions saw growth in numbers between 2001 and 2011. 43.7% of people were irreligious or gave no religion.

What's clear is that Christianity is strongest in the Porthcawl and Maesteg areas, and the leafier suburbs and villages surrounding Bridgend (Litchard, Cefn Cribwr, Pen-y-fai and Coychurch). Compare that map with the one for over 65s further up and that perhaps explains why. It also corresponds roughly with where religious-affiliated primary schools are.

In terms of the non religious, there's a uniform rise across the borough, echoing national trends, with a few exceptions – notably Pendre and Coychurch. Pendre has a very committed community church in the ward, and shares its neighbourhood with the Princess of Wales Hospital, becoming a popular  base for Filipino nurses. Filipinos being amongst the world's most devout Catholics, and Bridgend also has a large Polish contingent.

National Identity

% of residents giving some or
exclusive Welsh identity in 2011
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% of residents giving some or exclusive
English national identity in 2011
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There's a very clear north-south split between a strong Welsh identity in the valleys, and a still strong, but weaker, Welsh identity in Bridgend constituency and Pencoed.

The strongest Welsh identity is in the upper Llynfi valley - all wards above 85%. The weakest is in the eastern half of Bridgend – Coity (66.8%), Brackla (68.5%), Coychurch Lower (67.9%) - and Porthcawl.

It almost flips to the exact opposite when it comes to English identity, with stronger English identity south of the M4 – almost exactly mirroring the figures for Welsh identity. However, the English remain a relatively small minority, with only 7 wards having an English population above 10%, with the largest in Coity (14.8%).

British-only identity is weak across the county, with the strongest being in the southern half – in particular Porthcawl (averaging around 18%) - and the weakest north of the M4, with several wards recording single figure levels of "Britishness". The average is around 13.5% per ward.

Place of Birth

% of residents not born in Wales in 2011
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Change in % of residents not born in Wales
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There's another clear north-south split, with more people in the southern half of the county being born outside Wales than the valleys. There's an average of 17% per ward, but it's higher than 20% in 11 wards – all of them in Bridgend town and Porthcawl. The lowest percentages of people born outside Wales are in the Maesteg area, with around 7% in Caerau, Maesteg East & West.

In terms of how it has changed since 2001, there's no clear pattern, but the Bridgend area, Garw Valley and Ogwr Valley have seen the biggest upward change. Nantymoel surprisingly saw the biggest increase at 6.3%, closely followed by Oldcastle (3.8%) and Cefn Glas (3.5%).

Penyfai saw the sharpest fall at -2.7%, with Litchard the next closest at -1.2%. There's a bit of a surprise that Bryntirion, Laleston and Merthyr Mawr has seen a fall (-0.8%), as you would've expected the executive homes in Broadlands to have attracted English migrants in particular. Similarly the Porthcawl area.

Similar to national trends, the raw numbers indicate the increase being mostly down to European Union migration since 2004 enlargement, with the English-born topping it up.

Qualification Levels
% of residents with no qualifications in 2011
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% of residents with at least a degree-level
qualification in 2011
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Another clear north-south split. The big cluster of high numbers of people with no qualifications are the three valleys, with Bettws (48.5%), Caerau (44.5%) and Sarn (39.5%) all possessing exceptionally high levels. The average for wards north of the M4 appears to be in the low 30s, while south of the M4, only Morfa (31.4%) stands out as particularly high.

So there's a clear, indisputable link between poor education and deprivation, illustrated graphically on the map, as the wards with high levels of the unqualified are amongst the most deprived wards in the county.

On the flipside, wards south of the M4 generally have the higher proportions of people holding at least a degree level qualification. The highest in Rest Bay (39.4%), followed by two other Porthcawl wards – Newton (35.4%) and Nottage (34.5%). Bryntirion, Laleston & Merthyr Mawr (36.6%) and Coychurch Lower (30.4%) also had high percentages. This points towards the executive homes in Broadlands being popular with the professional middle classes, and migration of retirees holding degrees.

Most people in Bridgend fell "in between". However, on average in each ward, those with no qualifications (30%) outnumber those with degrees (22.5%). The general trend is a rapid move towards a better qualified population, like the rest of Wales.

Limiting Illnesses

% of population with a limiting
illness in 2011
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Change in % of population with limiting
illnesses 2001-2011
(Click to enlarge)

There's no set pattern across the county in terms of the proportion of people with limiting disabilities (describing themselves as in bad or very bad health). The ward average was 26.2% in 2011. The valleys, Porthcawl and some suburbs of Bridgend appear to be the areas with more disabled or ill compared to the rest.

As to how this has changed, there's a surprise in store. It appears as though the health and well being of people north of the M4 is improving – especially in the Ogwr and Garw valleys (and Cornelly). Ynysawdre saw the sharpest fall of 5%.

However, the health of people in the southern half of the county, especially Bridgend and Porthcawl, appears to be getting worse. This reflects the national trend where "wealthier" areas have seen declines in overall health compared to the stereotyped valleys. Coychurch Lower, for example, saw an 8% rise in limiting illnesses compared to 2001.

When you cross reference this with the age figures you can see that not only are long-standing problems with disabilities apparent, but it also highlights the impact of an ageing population, with "older wards" like Nottage, Newton, Rest Bay and Coychurch Lower having higher percentages of those with limiting illnesses compared to "younger" wards like Brackla.

Welsh speakers

% of over 3s who can speak, read or
write Welsh in 2011
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Change in % of over 3s who can speak,
read or write Welsh 2001-2011
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Bridgend has never really been a hotbed of the Welsh language, being one of the more Anglicised parts of south Wales. However, there are pockets of strong Welsh-speaking ability – in particular the Maesteg area. Llangynwyd had the highest percentage of Welsh speakers aged over 3 in the county at 18.9%. What is a bit of a surprise though is that both Penyfai (15.1%) and Bryncethin (16.7%) also have quite strong figures.

Overall though, Bridgend county remains well below the national average for Welsh speakers, with an average of 13.5% per ward.

Like national figures, the trend has been downwards since 2001. Although Llangynwyd was the only ward with a 20%+ percentage in 2001, there were several other wards in the high teens at the same time. Across the county, the Welsh speaking population fell on average by 2.5% per ward, with sharper declines in  : Coity (-7.4%), Litchard (-4.9%) and Oldcastle (-4.6%).

Only two wards saw a rise – Bryncoch and Bryncethin (both +0.3%). The numbers also held up relatively well in Pencoed and the western half of Bridgend itself – in particular Bryntirion.

Taking the two figures together, it hints that future demand for Welsh medium education is likely to come either from the Ynysawdre/Sarn area, or western Bridgend (Penyfai, Broadlands, Bryntirion).


  1. Due to a distant family connection I checked on the figures for Nantymoel. How do you account for the startling increase in the English born element of a former mining area well north of the M4 that is not attracting (better educated) commuters?

  2. There are lots of cheap private rentals in the village, as well as cheap properties overall, I suspect that's one answer. I don't think there are any social housing estates in the area, the biggest one is further down the valley at Lewistown. There's also a big care home/sheltered housing complex in the area too. There have been a few executive homes built with scenic views over the mountains too, but nothing much.

    In all honesty I can't explain it and it's a bit on an anomaly. It's still the southern half of the county where the big changes are.

  3. This is all well and good but why haven't you commented on the expenses yet? Been told to keep quiet by Pladi HQ is it?

  4. I take it you mean the concert thing, Anon 15:21? I thought it was a bit of a non-story and haven't really been following it. I take it people are getting their knickers in a twist over it?

    I'm not a Plaid member, so they have no influence on what I write or don't write. If you think it's so important that your post is a "request", then I'll do something for next week. Judging by your tone and what I know of it so far, I think you had better prepare for disappointment - no offense.

  5. Here are some random household stats for Nantymoel that might help us understand what's happening there.

    Households containing dependent children: 34.0% (Bridgend 31.7, Wales 26.9).

    Lone parent households with dependendent children: 9.2% (Bridgend 7.2, Wales 7.3).

    Rented from council or housing association: 5.1% (Bridgend 14.4, Wales 17.9).

    Privately rented: 11.2% (Bridgend 8.5, Wales 7.4).

    These figures are from the council website, last updated 07/12/2006. I suspect these trends have continued.

    Given the marked increase in English born and English identifying in Nantymoel in 2011 it suggests to me that cheap property prices have encouraged renting to benefit claimants, many from outside Wales, and many not working.

  6. Thanks, Jac.

    The dependent children and lone parent figures aren't a total surprise, and I'd imagine fairly typical for a valleys town.

    I'm not sure how many private landlords take in "DSS claimants" - even in Nantymoel, but I suspect you're right. It doesn't seem too popular with private landlords as there's not much money in it. However, if they bought up a load of cheap terraces and couldn't shift them to private tenants then they would have had no choice.

    Those figures suggest there aren't many people living in social/housing authority housing either. As I said yesterday, there aren't many social housing estates in Nantymoel.