Thursday, 31 October 2013

Going to the Dentist Can be Frustrating

Last week, I went for my six monthly check up at the dentists.
I've had minor trouble with my gums for years, and this time the dentist recommended that I see the hygienist.
So I came out and booked an appointment with the receptionist.
Then I noticed the sign on the desk. The hygienist is a Private service (I'm NHS) and costs £36 a session. Neither the dentist nor the receptionist mentioned this until I saw the sign and asked about it.
I decided to go ahead with the appointment anyway, and got the time off work to go.
So - I went in today, and I waited, and waited and waited, and after 25 minutes I got up and put my coat on and came away. I have no idea where the hygienist was or what she was doing, but I wasn't prepared to hang around any longer.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Gone to Glasbury

The Old Electric Shop is now empty again - it took most of yesterday to move all the vintage stuff out. They're not going far, though - only to Glasbury, where they will be open by appointment at The Grange.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Totally Locally

I've been seeing these signs in shops around town - and not only shops. I think the first one I saw was in the Swan Hotel. It seems there's a national campaign to encourage people to shop locally, and keep their money circulating in the local economy instead of having it sucked away by big business. There's a website for the national campaign at, and a local website for Hay at They can also be found on Facebook.
There will be a public meeting on Wednesday evening at 7pm at the Swan to talk about the campaign and how it can help Hay's local shops. Andrew Williams from Eighteen Rabbit, the Fairtrade shop at the Castle, is organising it.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Caemawr Studio

Now I don't have a dog to walk, it's surprising what I miss! The last time I came down the Offa's Dyke Path opposite the castle, this building wasn't here! There was an old brick building instead, which was always locked up. When Islay was still mobile, I used to put my washing in the launderette, and come down here every week. We walked across two or three fields up the Dingle, and got back in time to take the washing out of the machine and put it in the dryer. But I never took her down here in her trolley, because it wouldn't fit through the kissing gate, and she's been dead for nearly two years - so it must be at least four years since I last came this way.
And now here is this lovely little artist's studio, with the most wonderful views up Cusop Dingle from those corner windows. That's where the new exhibition space is, with Georgina Fussell's studio above, and that's where I was yesterday morning, Bucks Fizz in hand, admiring the art work and chatting. I loved the mask for Fantastic Mr Fox by Cassie Rendle, and the industrial landscapes with birds which were upstairs - I came away with a card showing a high building somewhere in Bristol with a flock of pigeons against a grey sky. There were some very good portraits too - and I'm sure the picture of two dogs sharing a cushion must be Hartley and his little friend Daisy from Bull Ring Antiques.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Small Business Saturday

Red Indigo Indian restaurant - they do very good meals there.
The part of the building nearest the camera was once a chip shop, and later the XOX Organic takeaway. The main part of the building was once the Wine Vaults hotel, and for a while it was a restaurant called the Penny Bun.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Exhibition on the Offa's Dyke Path

Caemawr Studio is just down the Offa's Dyke Path opposite the Castle, and from 26th October they will be staging an exhibition of several different local artists' works. Tracy Thursfield knits, Sarah Putt is a painter and also works in other media, Cassie Rendle is the maker of masks which were recently featured in the Sunday Times, and they are joined by Francesca Kay and Gaynor and Georgina Funnell. The exhibition will last until 21st December and will be open from 11am to 5pm from Thursdays to Saturdays.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Transition Town Meeting

The Transition Town group will be meeting tomorrow night (Thursday) at the Hub in the Castle, which is the meeting room that Hay Together organised. They will be talking about the plans for the new school, safe walking and cycling paths to school, the Local Development Plan and Hayfield Garden.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Living on the Border....

...can be a disadvantage.
It seems that Powys County Council and Herefordshire County Council don't talk to each other.
This can be a problem.
At the moment there is a lot of concern about the proposed 83 houses at the Gipsy Castle end of town - in the Powys area. It seems that this is not the only proposed house building around Hay, though. Just over the border in Herefordshire, there's a plan to build 20 houses near the Co-op, and another possible 28 in Cusop. And then there is the Community Centre site - a possible 25 new houses, and another ten near the doctors' surgery.
In Llanigon there are plans for 20 houses by the Diggedi Brook and another possible 10 on the site of the present school.
That's an awful lot of houses, and some local residents are concerned that this has not been taken into account while planning the size of the new school, for instance, because Powys County Council wasn't aware of the Herefordshire plans.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Good News for Hayfield Gardens

Hayfield Gardens have been given a grant by Environment Wales to make the area easier for disabled people to get access to - they are going to be able to make paths at the top of the garden leading to raised beds so that people in wheelchairs can do some gardening. They're also going to be able to create a new pond, both for plants that like wet conditions and as part of the irrigation system for the gardens.
However, they also need help. This isn't the usual call for volunteers (there are so many calls for volunteers to run this and keep that going) because this is something that can directly benefit the volunteer. Anyone coming along to help with the garden gets to take fresh vegetables home when they're grown. They need people to make the tea as well as do the weeding - and participants don't need to commit to regular hours; it's very informal.
It's an organic garden, and it has been running successfully for some time now. Between now and 31st March, they need help with driving a mini digger, making raised beds, installing plastic water tanks and making some paths. If they can't get the work done, they will have to send the money back.
There is also a garden plot of 130 x 40 feet which is to rent for £30 a year, in which an organic gardener can grow their own food - and sell the surplus if they wish. It would also be possible to split the plot into two halves at £20 each.
They are also hoping to run some countryside skills courses and horticultural courses.

Anyone who's interested in any of these things should ring Ros Garrett on 01497 821520

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Whovians in Hereford

Any excuse to dress up!
This is me as a Tardis Engineer, on the day of the Doctor Who event in Hereford. It was organised by BBC Hereford and Worcester, and we had an interesting chat with the lady from the radio station, who once worked for the Doctor Who Magazine, and who had interviewed several of the actors from the series. I met up with Si from Drudion, the medieval re-enactor group I belong to, while I was there.
I wasn't the only person in costume - there were several Doctors, a very good Cat Nun, a Weeping Angel, a Clockwork Man from The Girl in the Fireplace (one of the Tenth Doctor episodes), and an early Cyberman, among others. They'd gathered around the Tardis, which you could go in - but it obviously wasn't the real one, because it wasn't bigger on the inside. There was a real Dalek (called Derek!) and a couple of fan-made ones, and some Dalek toys for the kids to drive around. It was a very good day out for the kids, with colouring in of face masks and making Tardis models. Some fans had brought their collections along to show as well.
The main hall of the Shire Hall is up a long flight of stairs, and I did wonder how the children in wheelchairs that I saw in the entrance hall were going to be able to get up there. I hope there was a back way up there.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Small Business Saturday

Jones' Hardware Shop - cookware on one side, gardening and DIY on the other. They've never let me down, no matter how odd my requests have been!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Stitch and Bitch

We were in the back bar of the Swan last night because it was so busy. On the first Thursdays of the month, we book a space, but we leave it to chance in the middle of the month and last night Hay2Timbuktu were meeting in the little lounge by the front door, and someone else was in the meeting room - there was a big property auction going on, and halfway through the evening a lot of smartly dressed men came into the bar for a drink. The back bar has been changed around since I was last in there - there used to be a pool table in the middle of the floor. That's gone now, and has been replaced with tables, but the lights that used to be over the pool table are still there, so that's where the best light for knitting and stitching is.
Tracy brought some polystyrene heads along to give back to Emanation. She used them to display her hats over Herefordshire Arts week, and sold them all, so she's now busily knitting more.
Jan was knitting a baby jacket for her grandchild - the family are visiting from Thailand, so he'll only wear it while he's here. She was taking a break from cooking for twelve - Organic Paul at Primrose Farm is running a course involving gongs and sound therapy, and she's doing all the cooking for the participants, some of whom have very complicated dietary requirements.
Emanation brought her crocheted skirt to show everyone. She's been doing a crocheted poncho as well, and is hoping to do more to order - she's got a picture of the original one posted on etsy.
I was plaiting lengths of lucetted cord which will be woven into a rug - a lucet is a medieval wooden tool shaped like a cresent on a stick, which was used to make things like bootlaces and drawstrings, but it can also be used to make a looser cord, which I'm doing, so it feels nice and scrunchy under my feet when I have it as a bedside rug.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Getting Comfortable

Here's the elderly little dog belonging to the CD stall on the market, curled up in the most comfortable place it could find.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Great Gate Concert

Hay Castle has what is reputedly the oldest castle gate in Wales. It dates to the twelfth century. It's also in a poor state of repair.
When I first came to Hay, over twenty years ago, I was involved in organising the wooden prop which holds up the gateway. By that time, my husband and I had been working for Richard Booth for a while, so when the contractor said he could do a job which would last for one year, five years or twenty years, we knew that Richard would go for the cheapest option. So we took the chap to one side and explained that, although Richard was paying for the one year option, could he please make it as strong as possible, because it would probably have to last twenty years.

Here we are, twenty years later, and the Hay Castle Trust now want to do something about the gate.
So they're holding a dinner and concert in the Castle, to raise money to conserve the gates. It will be on November 8th, and the tickets cost £50 - £25 of that is a donation to the gate fund. For that money, the diners will get dinner at Richard Booth's Bookshop, while serenaded by Sarah Newbold on flute, Katherine Thomas on harp, Marcia Crayford on violin, Susie Meszaros on viola and Moray Welsh on cello. They will be playing music from Mozart, Saints-Saens, Tournier, Beethoven and Francaix.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Change at the Catholic Church

It was the funeral today of Father Tim Mahoney, long serving priest at St Joseph's Catholic church on Belmont Road. He died in Bronllys Hospital after a short illness.
It was a big funeral - they had awnings with chairs under for the overflow congregation on the grass at the front of the church, though it was such a beautiful sunny day that they hardly needed protection from the weather.
One rather confused visiting priest came into the shop to ask where the cattle market was, as it had been opened up as a car park for the funeral, and then needed directions to the church. The burial took place at Hay Cemetery.
So I assume that the local Roman Catholic bishop will need to appoint a new priest now.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Problems with the Plans for the New School

Now that there has been consultation, and a lot of people have looked at the plans for the new school, it seems that a few problems have come up. Some of this came up at the last Council meeting (see my post for last Wednesday), and here are a few more details.
Both Ellie Spencer, on behalf of the Beavers, and Gaynor, on behalf of the Youth Group, are concerned about using a room in the school for their activities - for a start, it's one more thing that the children are going into the school building to do, and it would be better if they could go elsewhere once in a while. And it's uncertain whether these groups will be able to put their artwork up on the walls, as other groups will be using the rooms, and so will the school during the day. There's also a storage problem - where will the Beavers or Youth Group be able to store their equipment? And will they be able to move furniture out of the way for their activities? And will they be able to kick a ball about in the hall?
Then there's the problem of the kitchen facilities. Will the Beavers - or, indeed, the WI - be able to have cooking activities, or a demonstrator coming in to do a talk involving cooking? It's also unclear how one would get from the school kitchen to the hall on the plans, and whether it would be possible to use the kitchens for tea and coffee making for different groups using the hall and meeting room.
Louise Christie has written a report about this, raising all the possible problems for so many different groups using the same space. For instance, she estimates that about 100 people can be accommodated in the hall. Are there enough toilets available for all these people, and is there a disabled toilet accessible to the library? Will the library be available in the evenings? And will the hall be used for jumble sales, or discos, or concerts? Will the hall be available for yoga classes during the day, or other similar groups?
The large meeting room is shown on the plans as having sofas, a meeting table and a pool table - but how can that space be used for U3A lectures, or for concerts, or talks - surely stackable furniture that could be used more flexibly would be better? And will groups like the Youth Group or U3A have access to the IT facilities within the school?
So it seems that there are some quite serious issues here that need ironing out before building starts, or Hay will end up with a new school, but unsuitable facilities for other groups that also need accommodating.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Raising Money for the School

The Hay School PTFA are having an eBay auction, at this very moment. They're raising money to pay for school trips, sports and play equipment, and IT equipment and software. They persuaded famous artists and writers who were at the Hay Festival to doodle for them, or draw small works of art, or give autographs, and they are now auctioning 24 of them off. The eBay auction can be found by looking for "Hay School PTFA" (that's Parent Teacher and Friends Association).
They really have got some good stuff - Johnny Vegas and Rowan Williams (ex-Archbishop of Canterbury) have both contributed, and so have Quentin Blake and Anthony Browne (famous for Gorilla and other picture books), Cerys Matthews (who used to sing with Catatonia) and Kevin Crossley-Holland, who has donated artwork from his children's novel Arthur: The Seeing Stone. All the sketches are mounted. Not many primary schools are lucky enough to get this quality of donated gift, and they deserve to do well with the auction.

And then on Friday 18th, when the eBay auction has finished, there will be an auction of promises at the Three Tuns, at 7.30pm. These include an hour's ride on a motorbike, a pick-up truck full of logs delivered, a cake a month for a year, a belly dancing class for four, a sailing lesson - and swimming lesson, pictures, jams and chutneys - and a haunch of venison, a visit to the Children's Ward of Hereford Hospital to meet a doctor and nurses and look at an X-ray machine, half a day's Landrover experience, tickets for an event at the Globe and a film at Booth's Cinema, and a day's canoe trip - and more.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Small Business Saturday

The Old Curiosity Shoppe at the Castle, which sells vintage clothing and linens and lots more.
When I went to the Steampunk Asylum in September, in Lincoln (which I wrote up in my other blog, Morwenna's Tower) one of the costumes I wore came from this shop. I was a Steampunk Alice in Wonderland....

That's a (probably) 1950s corset over a Victorian nightdress.

In other business news this week, FJ Williams hardware and builders' merchants, on the edge of town, has just been taken over by Huws Gray, who are keeping on all the existing staff.

Packaging Co-ordinators Inc. are taking on 50 new staff. According to the Hereford Times: "The company, formally AndersonBrecon UK, is a leading global supplier of pharmaceutical commercial packaging solutions and clinical trials services.... Hywel Lucas, director of human resources and organisation development at PCI, said the jobs span from packaging operations through to quality assurance, engineering and project management."
So that seems to be what is known locally as Brecon Pharmaceuticals. They also have premises at Treforest and Talgarth locally.

Marina, who runs The End, a tiny shop on Castle Street that sells vintage - well, stuff, that can be quite bizarre - is one of the proudest mothers in Hay this week. One of her daughters is a talented maker of puppets and masks, and her work has been featured in a photo shoot by the Sunday Times! When I popped in to buy a little potted white rose I saw outside, she had the magazine there, next to a giant fish head her daughter had made, to show everyone.

And finally, Castle Greengrocers is now on Facebook!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Council Resignations in the B&R

The story was on the front page, and page two, of the B&R this week, with Sue Campbell-Felgate and Rhona Muirhead explaining why they have resigned from the Town Council, together with a response from Mayor Rob Golesworthy.
I did feel that Rob Golesworthy had rather missed the points that they were raising. He seemed to think that the rudeness of the councillors who had been there for a long time was a matter of someone using the 'F' word during Council meetings, whereas the new councillors were talking about a general attitude of unhelpfulness and unwillingness to discuss new ideas.
He also seemed to think that the problem was one of not keeping to the point during discussions, whereas the new councillors were talking about important discussions about the future of Hay that were just not happening at all.

At the council meeting on Monday, there was a point, during the report of the Fisheries and Estates sub-committee, where the sub-committee was referring very simple and basic decisions back to the full council for a vote - such as whether they should ring up the County Council to get the railings on Broad Street mended. That's the sort of thing that makes the Council meetings go on for so long, and they can spend as much time on these small matters as they can on really major matters.
The resigning councillors also said that there is a culture of not challenging the County Council - a letter may be written, but time and again there is a slow or non-existent response from the County Council. That's why Plan B came into existence, of course. At the very first public meeting, in Booth Books, Mary Fellowes, who was a councillor at the time, stood up and attempted to defend the Council's inaction on the matter of the proposed supermarket replacing the school building, and eventually had to agree (after much argument with members of the audience) that the Town Council would write to the County Council. Before that meeting, the Town Council were going to accept the County Council's plans (because they wanted a new school at any price), and it was only Johnny Kramer's objections that started the public awareness of what was going on.
More recently, the anti-LDP group has formed because the Council have not been proactive in working out the Local Development Plan, and so the plans for 83 new houses on the edge of town have been added to the plan without any real discussion with the local representatives.

On the positive side of things, Fiona Howard's plans to build more affordable housing in Hay have shown what can be done when the Town Council is proactive and willing to engage with outside groups - there is an Affordable Housing committee which is not part of the Council, and which produced the report that is going to be forwarded to the County Council to show what it is that the people of Hay want from the Planning Department.
Most of the new councillors have said that they want to see the Town Council engaging with outside groups - and making their work more public generally, which is why they are starting to take out a column in WyeLocal regularly.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Bits and Pieces from the end of the Meeting

A bit of a mixed bag now, of all sorts of different things:

Hay Luncheon Club, which used to be under the banner of Community Support, has applied for a grant from the Council - and are going to be told that they need a business plan now, and when they have that they can apply to the recycling fund.

A pedestrian was hit by a vehicle's wing mirror while he was walking along the pavement near Red Indigo. This is a problem with narrow pavements and fast moving traffic, especially the big lorries that pass through Hay, and the Highways Department will be asked what can be done about it in the way of possible traffic calming measures, or a pedestrian crossing.

Also on the roads, the bus timetable for the 39 will be changing slightly from 22nd October, in the mornings so that the service meets up with the T4 service to Llandrindod Wells. There may also be a need for a new bus stop in Brecon Road. Meanwhile the perspex in the bus stop by the Castle needs replacing and this is a job for the Council as they own the shelter. There's still no chance of an evening bus into Hereford though.

Going back to the closure of the Community Centre - councillors were asked to consider where a Polling Station would be when it had gone.

Cheryl Davis of Gipsy Castle has won the best vegetable garden in Powys - and this is the first time she's entered the competition!

Hay Together will be holding a public meeting on 13th November, and One Voice Wales will be meeting in Talgarth on October 18th.

At the Dial-a-Ride AGM, there was a bit of excitement, as they were given a donation of £20,000 to go towards a new minibus! Dr Ainsley Rice gave the money in memory of his mother, who died recently.

The Youth Club will not be moving into the bungalow by the school yet - there are still some issues with the County Council to clear up.

Hay School, meanwhile, is getting ready for an Ofsted inspection.

At the other end of the age range, there is a new Dementia Cafe which meets in Cusop Hall once a month for dementia sufferers and their carers. Training is available from the Alzheimer's Society for people who may have to deal with people who suffer from dementia, and Gareth said that he'd be interested in doing that, as he has occasionally gone round to see people who called him, only to find that they'd forgotten what they wanted to see him about when he got there. Several other councillors were also interested, and apparently the Alzheimer's Society are trying to train people so that communities which are supportive to people suffering from dementia can be created.

The Cheesemarket has been given listed building planning consent by CADW, for the renovations they want to do, so they're all ready to go on that. They are hoping to complete the work by April next year. They estimated that they had 650 visitors during the Hay History Weekend, and most (if not all) of the places that had a poster up explaining what the building used to be used for, have kept the posters on show.
John Evans of the Chamber of Commerce wants to use the Council Chambers to talk to 150 school children soon, about local history (in several groups! They'd have to stack them up in piles to get 150 kids in there all at once!)

Les, who has been setting up the market stalls for many years (apparently the correct term is "market toby"), has now stepped down, and a lady called Claire has taken over. The market equipment is being kept in a lorry which is parked at Henderson's factory.

And at that point, the three members of the public who had stayed right through were asked to leave, so that the councillors could discuss the matter of the new councillor's eligibility to remain on the Council.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Twinning and Planning Matters

To start with some good news, the visit by the midwives and teachers from Timbuktu was a success.
The midwives visited Brecon and Hereford hospitals, and the teachers went to Hay, Talgarth and Gwernyfed Schools. On the last day, they had to get up for 6am, and Fiona Howard drove them in a minibus all the way to Heathrow!
Two Towns, One World seems to be on track for 'delivering the project' by December under the leadership of Sandra Skinner, and they are organising an event at the Globe during half term for children, around the theme of Timbuktu, and there is also a Timbuktu Trail walk included in this weekend's Walking Festival.

And now to the Planning.
There will be an open meeting about the Local Development Plan on 16th October, from 5pm to 6.30pm at Hay School. However, the National Parks have said that it will have no chairman, and no agenda - basically, it will be like the one they did for the school plans in the Parish Hall some time ago, with officials standing around boards with plans on them, chatting to anyone who comes in. There was a strong feeling in the Council that this was not acceptable, because comments and questions would be lost in the chatter, and not followed up. Gareth volunteered to go along and chair the meeting, but it was felt that the National Parks ought to be the ones doing that. There was also some doubt about the point of the meeting, when the final decision on the Meadows development will be taken on 18th October. The National Parks have also failed to publicise the meeting, and refused to take out an advert in the B&R about it. Therefore, councillors have been running their own posters off all this week, in an attempt to alert everyone in Hay to the meeting. The school is also going to put it in their regular newsletter that goes to parents, so that should inform another 150 families.
What the Council want is a proper meeting, covering all the plans. Gareth remembered going to one in 2009 (the LDP has been rumbling on since 2007), and one in Crickhowell in 2011 - and there was also one at the Castle Hotel in Brecon, but all of those were before this January. The National Parks have said they have informed the Council about the Meadows development since then, but no-one sitting round the table could remember it happening. There was a meeting in Sennybridge, but there were no details about developments in Hay then, and the emails they have sent to the Council have included links that need to be followed to obscure corners of their website to make sense.
All of the Council want to be there to question the officials, especially about how they came to the decision to put 83 new houses on the edge of Hay.
The LDP protest group have employed their own traffic engineer to write a report about the local roads around the proposed development, and he says that the roads are not suitable for such a large development.

The plans for the new school are causing some concern, too, chiefly about the "add-ons". Rather than this being a combined school and community centre, it is going to be a school with extra bits added on. For instance, there will be a Community Room, but it will not be available during school days, because the school will be using it. They also didn't like the idea of the Registrar and the Town Clerk sharing an office. Also, there was the problem of Council meetings, if the Council was to be expected to share the hall with all the other local groups, like the Youth Group, that might want to book it in the evenings. The area of the building designated for community use will be smaller than Llanigon Hall, although it will be serving a much larger population. A report has been written on community facilities, by Louise Christie, and Ellie Spencer wanted to send it to Sarah Jowett of the County Council, as she had asked for clarification of the Town Council's concerns.
What the Town Council really wants is to be able to stay in their present building, and not move to the school at all. What they need to do is produce a business plan to argue for their retention of the present building, though they would probably have to move Council meetings downstairs to be more accessible for the disabled. Fiona Howard is going to produce a business plan for them.

And then there's the threat to the public toilets. Glasbury Community Council have written to Hay Council to get them to work together to keep the local toilets open. The Mayor of Llandrindod Wells has also emailed all 109 local councils in Powys so that they can prepare a combined response to the County Council's closure plans. He points out that tourism will suffer in the area, as it did when the tourist information offices were forced to close. He has also been in touch with One Voice Wales, which has offered its support.
In 1974, he pointed out, local councils handed over certain of their assets to the County Councils so that they could be managed more effectively. It was done in a "decent and professional" manner. Now that the County Council wants to offload the assets back to the local councils, it is being done in a piecemeal and ad hoc fashion. He sent a short questionnaire, so that all the local councils could combine their answers, which basically came down to the fact that they are not happy with the way the County Council is dealing with this.
Peter Lloyd said that he'd been phoned up, on a related note, by someone doing a survey for the County Council, in which they asked if he would prefer lots of top quality facilities collected together at one town, or mediocre facilities spread throughout Powys - there seemed to be no way of recording an answer of "good facilities spread out".

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Full House at the Council Chambers!

I sat on the floor for the first part of the meeting! The place was packed out. There were people there from the Affordable Housing group, and from the Local Development Plan group, as well as a chap who wanted to know if the Council planned to do any work on the overgrown riverbank so he could go fishing.
The answer to that one was that Rob Golesworthy had gone down with a brush cutter last year, but had been advised that he shouldn't have been working alone (Health and Safety) and that, as the river bank is an Site of Special Scientific Interest, it's probably best not to go down there hacking at the undergrowth at random. There was a suggestion that the people who are contracted to cut the grass should be asked to do it in future.

Liz Meres and Tim Organ then spoke about the Affordable Housing scheme. The Council wants to adopt the document that the group put together, and make sure that it is taken into account by the County Council when they are considering housing in Hay - unlike the document that came out of United Hay, some years ago, which kind of got lost. It puts the case for the need for affordable housing in the area very well, and looks at places where new housing could be built. They had hurried to get it put together before the Community Centre was knocked down, because that area is one of the ones they have looked at as a potential building site - but now the demolition has been postponed, so they have more time to think about it.
They also looked at the area in Gipsy Castle near the electricity substation, and suggested that the four housing plots there should be made available for people who want to self-build. The Affordable Housing group would handle all the necessary documentation for planning, and if necessary they would also raise the fees of around £1,000 for the planning applications. Tim Organ asked for the Council to write to the County Council to endorse the scheme and the report. At the moment the group are talking to the County Council direct about the need for affordable housing, and to the Highways Department about access to the substation. While this was being discussed, Gareth Ratcliffe declared an interest, as he lives close by on Warren Close.
All of this is separate from the Local Development Plan proposal for 83 houses further along the Brecon Road.
Gareth suggested that the site at Forest Road, which was at one point going to be where the new school was going to be built, should also be looked at as a potential site for new housing, with a new community centre handily available for the football pitches - but Fiona Howard warned that, if two proposals were on the table, it would only muddy the waters and they could end up with nothing.
Steve Like added that it was not only affordable housing for families that was needed - he would support the plans if they also included housing for the elderly, which is also needed locally.

And so to the Hay Welcome sign. Gareth said: "It'll be up at some point. If you see me with a drill..."

In the absence of a response from Dr Riley about the surgery (after a meeting took place between representatives of the Haygarth Practice and concerned local people) the report about the surgery is going to be forwarded to the County Council.

Recently, PAVO contacted several voluntary groups in Hay about taking over responsibility for volunteer services in the area from Community Support, which has now closed down. There was some annoyance that the Council had not been consulted, or even informed, that they were doing this, but PAVO said that they were only contacting groups that used volunteers directly, and the Council doesn't do this. However, the Council has been a major funder of Dial-a-Ride and Community Support, so the thought that they should have been at least informed still stood. The other groups that were contacted by PAVO were the Community Cupboard, which is still only setting up, and Hay Together, which seemed to be the best fit to take over from Community Support. The Council will re-visit this issue when they get a request for a grant, and they also complained about being given only four days to find someone who might be willing to be a trustee on behalf of the Council to sit on the PAVO board. The closing date for nominations is noon on Friday 11th October.

Then it was "Not another form!" as a questionnaire about rural policing was passed around. There were some copies left over, and these were offered to any members of the public who wanted them.
Hay has a new PCSO, as the last one has finished. Helen Scott comes from Milford Haven, and is an experienced officer. There was a request that she should start off her duties by going round to introduce herself to all the local retailers, so they knew who to get in touch with in case of problems.
In November, Inspector Scrace will be attending the Council meeting to bring them up to date with what's happening.

And finally for this instalment, the matter of Councillor Vacancies. Ellie Spencer mentioned the letter she had put together calling for an election, with 49 signatures, and Nigel the Town Clerk said that the posts had been advertised. Gareth pointed out that the cost of holding an election would be £1500, so if anyone else wanted to resign, they'd better do it now, so there only had to be one election. He was thinking of stepping down as a Town Councillor himself (he would continue as County Councillor) but he hadn't made a final decision yet.
At the end of the meeting (by that time there were only three members of the public left in the room - it was ten past ten) the room was cleared so that the councillors could discuss the official complaint about the appointment of David Gittins to the Council last month, and his eligibility for the position. So the number of vacant seats at the Council table is uncertain at the moment.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Local Development Plan

There's going to be a meeting in Hay School on Wednesday 16th October, from 5pm to 6.30pm, where people from the National Parks can discuss the Local Development Plan with local residents. This will include the proposed 83 houses at the Gipsy Castle end of town. This plan has been formulated and updated since 2007, with many changes, and it seems to have the potential to have a considerable impact on Hay when it is eventually finalised.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Small Business Saturday

Eighteen Rabbit, at The Cobbles by the Castle - a pop up shop that stayed. They sell Fairtrade gifts from all over the world.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Dr Who Day

Here's something else I'm going to enjoy this month:

I'm going to wear my Tardis blue jumpsuit, with a tool belt (including my sonic screwdriver, of course) and become a Tardis Engineer for the day!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Black History Month

There's a LOT going on this month!
As well as the Walking Festival and the Sustainable Energy week, it's also Black History Month, and Hay's own Marva Jackson Lord is organising a few events for it.
So there'll be poetry at Tomatitos on the 16th October, and a free DJ workshop at the Globe on the 25th October (bring your own laptop and mixing software!). A DJ Reggae legend will be appearing at the Baskerville Arms on the 25th October, too - Festus Coxsone, with DJ Reverend Dub and Vapor (I know nothing of reggae but I'm sure it'll be very good). Festus Coxsone has been to the Baskie before, in August.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Sustainable Herefordshire Week

It almost seems as if Herefordshire has a split personality. On the one hand, the County Council are busily building a shopping centre no-one seems to want, shutting libraries and public toilets and chopping trees down against the wishes of the inhabitants - and on the other, events like h.Arts and h.Energy are being organised.
h.Energy, or Sustainable Herefordshire Week, is happening from 12th to 20th October, so there's an overlap with the Walking Festival (presumably why one of the walks in the Festival is on a sustainability theme). It's the fourth h.Energy week, and this year the theme is water.
So there are open houses all over the county, powered by solar energy and other alternative technology.
Cartridge World appeals to everyone to give their printer a second chance - they might be able to revive it, and if they can't, they can strip it down to its recyclable parts to save it from landfill. They can also recycle printer cartridges.
There are events promoting walking, cycling and bus travel, a Camera Obscura, art and apple juicing. Lots of events are organised by The Big Apple,
There's storytelling at Hereford Library and the Rocket Cafe in Hereford.
There's green woodcraft, metal working workshops and stone carving. There's a fungus foray and foraging fun, and information about veggie boxes and organic food. Arkstone Mill organic smallholding in Kingstone is open for a day, where they pack vegetable boxes for customers around Hereford. The Cafe at All Saints is providing a locally sourced menu.
There are pub quizzes - Wye Valley Brewery is one of the sponsors of the event - and an open day at the brewery.
The Courtyard is hosting a day of events aimed at local businesses which want to reduce their energy bills and increase energy efficiency. There's also planning guidance for people who want to build ecologically friendly buildings at Hereford Library and a tour of an anaerobic digester at Barrett's Mill, Ludlow.
There's also a tour of the hydro-electric generation scheme on the River Arrow in Kington, and a walk around the sixteenth century water management scheme in Vowchurch.
There are workshops on "upcycling" garments and there's a giant water-powered cuckoo clock in Pembridge!
Repair Cafes are popping up across the county, providing tools and materials - and help - to repair clothes, household goods and bikes.
The Quakers are looking at the concept of simplicity at the Friends' Meeting House in Hereford.
There are films - Trashed with Jeremy Irons, and Chasing Ice with James Balog, a photographer for National Geographic.
There are village markets at Bredwardine, Dilwyn and Stoke Lacy.
There's music - a ceilidh at Canon Frome Court and a Greenpeace gig at the Steiner Academy at Much Dewchurch.
Nearly all these events are free, too!
I picked up the leaflet giving details of the week's events from Hereford Library, and the events are co-ordinated by New Leaf, who can be found at