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.


Iconoclast said...

The Town Council's approach described here meshes perfectly with the dynamic approach of the single issue action groups, like Plan B and the anti-LDP people - giving these groups the freedom of action to actually get things done. And since the action groups take the trouble to ask people what they'd like to happen, they get a clear majority mandate for their work. So issues are resolved and everyone's happy...particularly the Council (or the dinosaur elements, anyway) who don't have to lift a finger. Everyone's a winner! It's an odd way of getting things done, but perhaps a typically 'Hay' way of working...

Anonymous said...

It might be raking up old history, but may be some council members were reluctant to object to the supermarket issues because they had hidden interests........just saying

Kathleen Branagan said...

Thanks Lesley for your excellent appraisal and insight into the situation. I do agree he rather misses the point and in fact is very insulting toward Ms Campbell-Felgate who is notably active in promoting diversity . Therefore his derogatory comments in the B & R about Ms Campbell-Felgate on the issue of diversity are unjustified and make him look rather foolish. Isn't it time for change..

Anonymous said...

I think we have two new councillors, as only two stood the election costs should have been minimised.

The names of the two successful candidates are posted in the noticeboard in front of the council offices.