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".

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