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.

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