Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Council Meeting - Timbuktu and Police Report

The meeting had started so well, too.
Over the past three years, there has been a project running called Two Towns, One World, forging links between Hay and Timbuktu with various activities. It got off to a rocky start, and got through two co-ordinators before it was extended for an extra year, but Sandra Skinner was there at the council meeting to present the final report on what the project had been doing, and what it had achieved.
A lot of their work was educational, with materials relating to world development issues developed for primary and secondary schools, which are now available for other schools to use. Linked to this was the visit last year of several teachers and midwives from Timbuktu. This also helped break down stereotypes that some people had about Africa, because they could actually meet and talk to real people about what was happening there.
Several things started in Hay that would not have happened without the project, and the initial injection of EU money - like the Drover Holidays Cycle Club, and the Telling Tales project in schools which looked at legends around the world. The Globe hosted events for musicians and drama and dance, and the Mali Consul came to Hay Festival last year to take part in a debate on Channel Four.
There's now a Timbuktu Trail round Hay, linking buildings here with buildings there, and two CDs have been produced to raise money for the people of Timbuktu as well.
Sandra said that it was difficult to tease apart what had been achieved by Two Towns, One World, and what had been done by the other links with Timbuktu in Hay, like Hay2Timbutu and Medics4Timbuktu.
The recent conflict in Mali was an unexpected set-back to the project, throwing many things (like education for girls) into disarray, and communication with Timbuktu is still not as good as it could be. Another set-back was the death of Roger Hammond, whose idea it had been originally, before he saw the work completed.
The organisers are also still in communication with the EU about some of the funding for the project, which was okayed (so they spent the money) and then the EU changed their minds one day before the project came to an end!
However, they had a target of getting four other councils in Wales interested in doing something similar, and they actually have ten other councils interested, and people in Hay (according to the survey they did) are much more knowledgeable than the general population about Africa and Timbuktu.

PC Ffion came to give his update on the state of crime in the area. He's been doing a lot of cross-border work with West Mercia police, because one of the problems they are trying to tackle is that of "travelling criminals" who drive a distance to commit their crimes by night and then quickly leave the area again. There was an attempted break-in at Bronllys Garage by people who were travelling in a car from the Midlands, for instance.
They've also been holding a speed awareness campaign for car drivers, and have been dealing with a number of dangerous dogs, and dogs which have been worrying sheep.
One odd theft was of a granite block from the cemetery. As the weather improves, the police will be turning their attention to shed thefts, poachers and suspicious vehicles.

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