Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Council Meeting - Sunday Buses and the Bowling Club Pavilion

At the beginning of the Council meetings there is time for questions from the public, and yesterday there was a chap there from Rail for Herefordshire, which also campaigns for bus services, who was there to bring the councillors up to speed on the Sunday bus situation. The service will be stopped at the end of August between Brecon and Hereford.
However, in an attempt to show the support for the service along the route, Rail for Herefordshire are trying to get local councils and businesses to pledge a total of £4,000 and invite Herefordshire County Council to match fund the amount - £8,000 would be enough to run a service between Hay and Hereford for three round trips. It may be possible to do it with a 16 seater coach. They are starting off the pledges with £200, so need 19 other bodies to chip in the same to get their total (or more, of course!). The fare would be the same as it is now, and they would be looking at starting the service at 9am in Hay to get to the railway station in Hereford for about 10am, rather than around 1pm as it is now.
It would be more difficult to try to keep the whole route through to Brecon, partly because all the Beacons Buses are being cut as well, apart from the T4 to Cardiff, so there is less reason to go into Brecon on a Sunday. It would also mean dealing with Powys County Council as well as Herefordshire County Council.
Rail for Herefordshire have also been conducting surveys to see who actually uses the service - last week, for instance, 7 people with all their luggage took the journey to Hereford railway station from Hay on the first bus of the day.
Nigel the Town Clerk said that he had been trying to get in touch with the chap whose responsible for the public transport in Herefordshire County Council - and when he finally got hold of him, he was told he was too late and the decision had been made the week before! A grudging apology was finally given, but it means that Hay Council have been kept out of the decision making process. There was also a suggestion that the route might be viable in the summer months but not over the winter - and a year's trial run, as suggested by Rail for Herefordshire, would test this. There was a rumour going round that Herefordshire County Council had met Hay Together on the subject rather than the Council, but this does not seem to be true!
When the Rail for Herefordshire chap had gone there was some further discussion, and the councillors decided that they would ask them to apply to the recycling fund for the £200 they were asking for, as it would be for the benefit of Hay. Fiona Howard is also going to meet with the Chamber of Commerce to discuss the pledges, as lack of the bus service will impact on the local businesses in Hay as well.

Another visitor to the Council Chambers was Stephen Butcher from Powys County Council, who is responsible for the handover of sporting assets from the County Council to the local councils or sports clubs of Powys. He's actually working his way out of a job, which led Nigel Birch to say that the County Council soon wouldn't need that big building of theirs, because they will have got rid of so many employees!
The County Council want to pass over responsibility for the sports facilities in Hay either to Hay Council, in which case it would be a transfer of assets, or to the sports clubs that use the facilities, in which case it would be on a 25 year lease. There were several sour comments about the responsibilities being devolved down, but the County Council would still be collecting the same amount of Council Tax from everyone, and the local councils would have to increase their precept - meaning that every tax payer will have to pay more - to cover the new responsibilities they're landed with. It was noted by Steve Like that the people of Hay had bought the sports grounds originally, and the County Council had agreed to maintain them, and now they were going back on that historic agreement.
"They won't give up the car park, though, will they?" said Nigel Birch. "They want us to take on all the rubbish and they keep the good stuff."
The Cricket Club seem to have been going through a few difficulties lately, though rumours that they are about to fold are not true. They are just taking a year out of the league, and will just be playing friendly matches for a while. The bowls club are keen to take on their part of the pavilion, which is also used by the cricket, football and tennis clubs. There is a £5,000 one-off grant available to help with the costs, or the equivalent in mowing machinery. Further grants might be available to the sports clubs from various sources later. If neither the clubs nor Hay Council are willing to take it on, the building would have to close down. The asset transfer includes the children's play ground. Steve Like wanted a complete breakdown of what the County Council spends on the maintenance, in detail, because previous figures that have been given are far too vague. Stephen Butcher said that the County Council had spent £2,469.97 on cutting the grass, picking up litter, trimming hedges and sweeping leaves off the tennis courts - the cricket club maintains the square between the wickets, and the bowling club maintains the bowling green already.
There has been a hold up in the whole transfer business while the issue of the extension of the cemetery (which is next door) is sorted out. The councillors believe that the field above the cemetery has already been bought, some years ago, for use as an extension, but there is some confusion about this, and about whether the ground is suitable for graves.
And in an added twist, the sculpture group want to rent the garage on the little car park attached to the Pavilion, though there's nothing formally agreed yet.
The Council has until January to think about whether they want to take on the responsibilities, though the actual asset transfer could take eighteen months.

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