Monday, 30 March 2015

Powys School Re-organisation - Gwernyfed Meeting

I was on holiday last week, so of course all sorts of things have been happening!
One of the most important, to the families in Hay, was the sudden proposal from Powys County Council that they wanted to close Gwernyfed High School and Brecon High School and build a new "Brecon Learning Campus" in Brecon (I really can't understand why they always seem to have money for building works). This would cost around £50 million, and would mean high school pupils from Hay would have farther to travel. And if they want instruction in Welsh, they'd have to go all the way to Builth. There are also plans to re-organise Builth Wells and Landrindod Wells schools.
So there was a meeting last Wednesday at Gwernyfed, chaired by the head of the governers, Ian Charlesworth. It was standing room only, and they are determined to save their school.
Apparently there will be a consultation period after the General Election in May - so it's very important that anyone with any connection with the school makes their views known. Of course, this is right in the middle of exam season for the school, when everyone is at their busiest. Gwernyfed is a thriving school with a good reputation academically - and they're only just going through changes to their sports facilities so that they will be cheaper for the County Council to run. If the school closes altogether, so will those sports facilities, which are open to the wider community. The school has also been fundraising for a new minibus.
More information can be found at the school website

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Small Business Sunday

Flow, which sells clothes on one side, and upstairs, and retro kitchen accessories and other small, gifty things to one side.
I always get my candles from there.
The shop used to be Fields' greengrocers.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Live Opera at Booths

Or at least, live opera singers.
It's not really my cup of tea, but I saw a couple this evening looking at one of the posters for the event next week, and they looked really interested.

So, on Tuesday 24th March, at 7.30pm, at Booths Bookshop, soloists from the chorus of the Welsh National Opera will be singing a selection of songs from:

Offenbach,Verdi,Lehar,Gilbert & Sullivan,
Sondheim,Gershwin and others...

Tickets are £12, and there are still some available.

And looking forward to the end of next month, when the First Hay Chamber Music Festival is on:
Some tickets are still available for Friday April 24 in St Mary's Church
The Fitzwilliam String Quartet & friends play
a Schubert String Trio,a Haydn String Quartet and
Mendelssohn's Octet.
Tickets £15.00 from Richard Booth's Bookshop.

The concerts on April 25 and 26 have sold out.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Small Business Saturday

Focus, another clothes shop on Castle Street.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Changes to the Market

There are more stalls round the Clock Tower than there used to be on a Thursday, so the end of Lion Street that leads down to the Clock Tower is being closed to traffic for the day in future. Up until now, shoppers at the stalls were co-existing with the cars trying to get through, which was fine when there were only a few stalls, but now there are half a dozen or more.
It actually looks a lot better, with the stalls being set up across the wide space where Lion Street meets Broad Street, and round the edges, and it's nice to see the market expanding.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Gwernyfed Meeting

Just in case people miss the comment under the post about secondary schools, Ian Charlesworth, the Chair of the Governers of Gwernyfed School, says there is a public meeting at the Drama Studio there, at 7.30pm on Wednesday 25th March, to see what can be done about the County Council's plans.

And in a last minute article for Wye Local, Lisa Marie is looking for comments about the County Council's plans from anyone who might be affected - and that doesn't just mean parents of pupils. Closing the school will have all sorts of knock on effects for the wider community. The magazine's going to print very soon, so she would like comments of up to 50 words sent to by Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

New Plans for Secondary Schools

I walked into the middle of an animated debate in the newsagents this morning. The subject was the front page headline in the B&R - "Gwernyfed and Brecon High to Close".
The County Council wants to completely re-organise the secondary schools in the county, and as part of this grand plan, they want to close both Gwernyfed High School and Brecon High School and move them both to a new "Brecon Learning Campus" in Brecon - on the site of the present Brecon High School. At the moment, Gwernyfed is rated "effective" by the Welsh Assembly inspectors, and Brecon High is in special measures.
They also want to merge Llandrindod Wells and Builth Wells schools, and move all Welsh medium teaching to Builth - which is a heck of a long way to go from Hay every morning if you want a Welsh language education for your children.
The plans for the schools would also finish off a plan to re-develop the Brecon leisure centre, which is next door to Brecon High - and which is going to be transferred to a private contractor later this year.
The councillor in charge of schools says that there aren't enough pupils in Powys, and that's why they will have to start merging schools.

Needless to say, the two ladies discussing the plans in the newsagents thought the councillors were all mad.
"I bet they won't have thought about the cost of bussing all those kids half way across the county," one said (I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it).

The new Campus would cost £50 million, and not re-developing the Leisure Centre would save £70 million. And then they'd have a spare site at Gwernyfed to dispose of, as well.

We've seen grand schemes like this before, though, and not so long ago. The grand plan for primary schools was to shut the small village schools and consolidate the pupils in larger schools. One of those larger schools was supposed to be Hay. Some of the smaller schools have, indeed, closed, but there's still no sign of any building work in Hay to accomodate the extra children, or the existing children who have been waiting for a new school building for years. They don't seem to have mentioned any of these plans to the schools before they were announced publically, either. The headmaster of Gwernyfed said the whole school was in a state of shock, especially since they had been doing so well.