Friday, 6 June 2014

Council Meeting - Cemetery and Youth Club

Someone in the County Council is planning far into the future - they want to extend the cemetery so that it will have enough space for burials for the next 90 years, even though the present extension still has room for another 20 years of use.
However, they want to take the land from the playing fields to one side, which the councillors weren't happy with. Hay Council used to run the Burial Board until it became too expensive for them, when they transferred responsibility to the County Council, and it was the old Burial Board that bought the present extension to the cemetery. And land in the field above the cemetery, which could be used without touching the playing fields.
Here we have the problem, which keeps coming up, that no-one seems to know what land the various councils actually own, and there don't seem to be any easy to access records.
Rob Golesworthy has been searching the Land Registry, and other records, but there seems to be no trace of any list of assets which were transferred from Hay to the County Council back in 1974. It's so far in the past that the farmer using the field may end up being able to sell it to the Council again! Someone is going to get in touch with Betty Maura Cooper, who was the Town Clerk at the time, to see if she remembers anything.
However, compulsory purchase of land would only be a last resort - there were mutterings about it being difficult to do because of Plan B! Apparently, the legal challenge that Plan B mounted to the building of a supermarket would cause problems for any future compulsory purchase orders from the Council. I'm not sure how that would work, and it's a pity that there is no longer anyone on the town council who could clarify the position from Plan B's side of the story.
One interesting snippet that came up in the conversation is that Hay Council still own the medieval manorial rights to Hay Common, from the time when there was a reservoir and a golf course up there.
The conclusion of the conversation was that they would go back to the County Council and say that they were not satisfied that other avenues had been investigated sufficiently, and they didn't want the playing fields to be used.

There was also some discussion of the transfer of public assets - as can be seen above, it seems to be a complete shambles, and no-one knows what went on, or what was owned or transferred. There's someone (I missed the name) who wants to do a study and use Hay as an example of the problems local councils face when dealing with county councils. One of these is the problem of the local council being expected to take over the provision of services, while losing the assets (in the form of buildings or land) which are needed.
One comment was that the County Councillors get an allowance - since their responsibilities for the provision of services are getting fewer, maybe a portion of that allowance should transfer across along with the service that is being devolved to the local council!
The problem is that different agreements about the transfers were made all over Wales. Sometimes the building went with the service, and sometimes it didn't. And no-one knows who has the authority to arbitrate if there is a disagreement between the local and county councils. One case in point would be if Hay wants to take back the running of the car park, and the County Council says no. Who would decide?
Another knotty problem is the provision of toilets - there are moves in the Welsh Assembly to make the public provision of toilets a matter of public health (why wasn't it already?) to make it a statutory requirement for the authorities to provide them.
The local council, if it wants to take over the services, has to provide a strong business case to show that they would be able to run the services effectively. Fiona Howard pointed out that the Two Towns One World budget had been £65,000, and they had managed that all right, so they should be able to make a case for other things. There is also training available from One Voice Wales (I think), so if they can get 20 people together at £20 a head, they could invite someone along to do the training day.

Meanwhile the Youth Club has finally moved into the bungalow by the school - and it's a shell. It needs a lot of work doing, including painting. The County Council were supposed to have taken out the old kitchen units and replaced them with something new, including a breakfast bar. Well, the old units went into a skip, and that's as far as it went. There's nothing in the kitchen now.
It doesn't help that, when the youth services chap came down to speak to the council, he said that a building is not necessary to provide the service - it can be done from a bus shelter if necessary! Huws Gray the builders' merchants have been approached to sponsor some of the work, but they get approached for help from all over Wales, so there's only so much they can do. It was agreed that he Recycling Fund would contribute £500, and Gareth said he would help with the painting. He's also going to take the town council's list of work that was agreed to be done on the bungalow back to the County Council and make a fuss about it.

And now, another consultation! There are so many consultation documents that need to be looked at, and they're all so long and written in such mind-bogglingly dull prose, that the councillors have broken up into pairs so that each pair can look at one document in detail and report back.
One of the documents concerns the LDP plan, which includes the building of houses in the field by Gipsy Castle - and men with surveying equipment have already been seen on the field.

And finally, the latest news about progress on a new school for Hay - Councillor Alexander from the County Council has announced that the new "strategic outline case" for the area should be submitted to the Welsh Assembly by August, which would include the building of Hay School.
So what happened three years ago? the councillors wanted to know. Hadn't it already been agreed? Haven't there been consultations galore? Did Powys ever intend to build a new school before now? The timetable at the moment is to start building in 2015 for completion in 2016 (silly us - we thought they should have started building already).

No comments: