Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Council Meeting Part One - Finances and Co-Opting

As ever, after the summer break, there was a lot for the council to work through in the meeting. There were also a lot of spectators - about a dozen members of the public lining the room. I found out why later.
The meeting started with a minute's silence for an ex-mayor of Hay, Malcolm Smith, who died recently. He lived in the big house next to the Cinema, and was also involved with Plan B and the original local history group for Hay.

There has been a meeting with Dr O'Reilly of the Haygarth Surgery, after various complaints about the way it is run from members of the public, and the doctor seems to be coming round to the idea of having a Patients' Forum to deal with complaints. He also suggested that part of the new school building should be a "community hub" with access to Health, Social Services and Community Support information all in the same building - which led to the comment: "It's going to be a very big school building!"

And then we came to one reason why there were so many people in the room - Ros Garrett, who was Deputy Mayor, has resigned over the summer, and the Council needed to co-opt a new member. Three people had put their names forward, though only two of those had turned up. The councillors voted by putting slips of paper with their preferred name on it into a milk pan from the kitchen, and David Gittins came out as the clear winner.
"But he doesn't even live here!" came a voice from the corner - who turned out to be the other candidate. Rob Golesworthy, the mayor, pointed out that he didn't live in Hay either, and that Mr Gittins did have business interests in Hay, which made him eligible to stand. Having cleared that up, several of the spectators, and the disappointed candidate, left.

The next item on the agenda was the public liability insurance that the Council has to take out. Nigel the Town Clerk has found a deal which saves the Council money, but it is a five year contract, and there was some concern over whether this was a good idea if the Council Chambers had to be vacated in the next couple of years. It seems that the insurance will cover the Council wherever they meet and have offices - but this all ties up with the new school building, which is where they will be re-locating eventually.

This was followed by appeals for grants from Dial-a-Ride and St Mary's Toilet Appeal. Dial-a-Ride get a grant from the Council every year, but usually the money available is split between them and Community Support. This time, though, the Community Support office is closing down at the end of September. The Council will be sending an official letter to Sandra Havard, who has been running the office for 27 years, to thank her for all her hard work.
Meanwhile, PAVO, the organisation that deals with voluntary groups in Powys, has been in touch with Hay Together about forming some sort of replacement for the Community Support office. There was some annoyance that PAVO had not also been in touch with the Council on the subject (and indeed, the Council had not been officially informed that the Community Support office was closing - they'd picked it up from the WyeLocal). One suggestion was that the County Council should get rid of PAVO if they wanted to save money, rather than really useful organisations like Community Support. As County Councillor, Gareth has already been in touch with PAVO, though, and a councillor will be attending a meeting between PAVO and Hay Together on September 13th.
St Mary's Church was advised to apply to the recycling fund (the money the Council makes from the recycling bins at the bottom of the car park) for a grant.

Back to Council finances, and the quest for a cheaper electricity supplier. Hay Together are looking at collective bargaining on gas and electricity for community groups so that they can get a better deal. Another suggestion was that a group of local town councils should get together and bargain with the suppliers in the same way. There isn't much time to think about this though, as the contract needs to be renewed by the middle of October, and any deal for the Council Chambers may be short-lived because of the possibility that the Council will be moving out.


Kathleen Branagan said...

Thanks Lesley for your tremendous service to the public by sharing your account of our town council's meetings. I also attended the meeting and would like to add the key fact that Mr Gittens resides in the town of Hereford whereas Mr Golesworthy lives within a few miles of Hay and could readily then be viewed as local. Mr Gittens apparently met the criteria for applicant for co-option as he 'runs a business in Hay'. It turns out that Mr Gittens, in fact, rents a house out in Hay. He is a landlord! This is at best a remote business which can easily be managed from afar. The public of Hay have a right to know how the new non - elected member of Hay came to be viewed by members as suitable. I have written to council to question their interpetation of this criteria i.e. running a business in our town and will be happy to inform you of their response. At times such as these, when our towns future is in the balance, due to the crazy local development planning for our town, we need proper public representation on our town council, and our town needs to know what is going on within the council chambers. Please refer to our facebook site Hay LDP action group for more information and to get involved in whatever way you can. Again, much thanks Lesley, good wishes, Kathleen

Anonymous said...

It was inevitable that David Gittens would get on the Town Council. He's been on before and is part of the Old Cronies group that dominates Hay Town Council. No wonder there's so much opposition and dislike of the Council. It's run by the same old faces year in, year out. it's high time they got rid of at least four of the councillors (you know who you are) and got some fresh blood in. They tried to do it at last years elections but with little success. I undestand the remaining councillors from the new faces of last year have a struggle to get anywhere with all the proposition from the Old Cronies.

Kathleen Branagan said...

Thanks Anonymous, would you like to join our group. We need strong outspoken people in Hay. Look up Hay LDP Action Group

Ex-student said...

hear hear! Out with the Dinosaurs!!

Anonymous said...

Sad to hear about Sandra Havard and Commununity Support closing down. I was Treasurer for HCS & Dial-a-Ride for a while in the late 90's and Sandra was always cheerful even though money was always tight - even then...

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