Thursday, 31 March 2016

Ticket Holders Only for Schools Meetings

Powys County Council has announced the dates for the public meetings to discuss the plans to close/amalgamate the county's secondary schools - and has said that entrance to the meetings will be by ticket only. Tickets can be booked through the council website at The meetings will also be filmed and available on the council website.
The meeting for Brecon will be on April 19th, and for Gwernyfed on 20th April at 6.30pm. The consultation runs from April 6th to May 23rd, and the tickets for the meetings will be available from 6th April.
It's important to comment on the plans, even for people who have commented before - previous comments will not be carried over to the new consultation, and if members of the public don't repeat what they've said before, the council will assume there are no objections. To comment, go to
Rev Charlesworth has suggested that the meeting for Gwernyfed should be held at the school, where they can accommodate an audience of 900, but this has been rejected by the County Council. He also suggested that the school should handle the tickets for the meeting. As it stands, only people with access to a computer will be able to book a ticket, and the numbers will be limited. The County Council are claiming that this is due to Health and Safety.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Hurrah for the Hay Ho Bus!

I'm back from a brilliant weekend at Mancunicon, the Easter Science Fiction Convention in Manchester - and I couldn't have done it today without the Hay Ho bus. If it didn't run, I'd have had to get a cab from Hereford (more expensive than the train fare to Manchester) or stayed an extra night in Manchester (also rather expensive, even in a budget hotel!).
So the train came in shortly before 4pm, and at quarter past four the last bus of the day set off from the bus stop by the railways station, with a good group of passengers. One old chap had been swimming - 22 lengths. He's eighty, not long out of hospital, and very glad to be active again. And there was a South African girl who now lives in Hay, which reminded the old chap of being in Cape Town at the time Christian Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant.
A little further along the route, a girl wanted to get to Talgarth - which used to be possible on the Sunday/Bank Holiday bus. She decided to get to Hay and call her friends to pick her up from there.
The nice thing about the Hay Ho bus is that everybody chats, including the driver - or at least, they have every time I've travelled on it, and there seem to be a group of regulars who see each other on the bus every week.
Long may it continue!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Table

This was the scene on Lion Street earlier this evening - the Grand Opening of The Table Art Gallery. I saw them on my way home, but didn't have time to stop.

Monday, 21 March 2016

River Festival

This year, the Hereford River Festival will be on 30th April, based around the Left Bank, Bishop's Meadow and Castle Green. They plan to have raft races, fancy dress swimming and a carnival procession with drumming, as well as many stalls.
The Hereford Spring Greens and h.Energy Village will have their own area again, for discussions, food and fun (they say)! They have asked the Hay Transition Towns Group to join them.
They will also be joined by Marches Energy Agency, and there will be pedal powered invention, conversation and campaigning, big skills and forest schools, Rocket's wood fired pizzas and Orchard Origins cider, stories and advice, tomato plants and repair, renewable energy info and electric cars...

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Real World

Or is it the other way round? Is Hay more real than the rest of the world?

(Seen on Twitter)

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Small Business Saturday

Harrison & Pope kitchens, in one part of what used to be one of Hay's larger bookshops.

Archaeology at Hay Castle

There's a chance to volunteer to do some real archaeology at the Castle over Easter!
I'd be there with my trowel if I hadn't already booked to do something else.
If anyone's interested, contact the Castle at

Friday, 18 March 2016

These Boots were Made for Cosplay

My favourite boots fell apart yesterday. I'd noticed that the heels had worn down, and I intended to take them to the cobblers to be re-heeled - after I'd worn them as part of my Tardis engineer costume at this year's EasterCon. Then I noticed the way the top part had come away from the sole, leaving a three inch long gap. Rachael at work suggested UHU and pegs to stick them back together again, but I decided the time had come to take them down to the recycling bin in the car park, and find a new pair.

Of course, I was doing this just as all the shops in town are changing over to summer fashions, so there were a lot of sandals, but not many boots.
In a corner of Golesworthy's, though, there was a sale shelf, and one of the pairs of boots there was in my size - so I now have a lovely pair of black boots, with laces up the back, in real leather. My Tardis engineer will look fantastic!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Archaeology at the Castle

It may look like just a hole in the ground, but this is quite exciting for me (remembering the days when I was an archaeologist). This hole is revealing a part of the original curtain wall of Hay Castle!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

New Music Festival at Baskerville Hall

The Big Love will be taking place at Baskerville Hall on May Day weekend, replacing TroyFest. Matt the Hat, of Something Creatives, hopes to make it an annual event, celebrating the local arts and music scene, with local street food. He has around fifteen years of experience of festivals, and wants this to be fun and exuberant "with magical moments of festival fun"!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

First Signs of Canvassing for the Election in May

It being my day off yesterday, I was at home when the new Labour candidate and his local helper knocked on my door. He seems very keen - and he was wearing a lovely grey and black scarf! The local chap knows that I'm not going to be voting Labour (I'm a Green party member), but asked about my opinions on Europe anyway.
Meanwhile the Green party seems to prefer the approach of staying in one place and letting the electorate come to you. The local Green candidate will be at the Old Electric Shop on Thursday 24th March, from 1 - 3pm, and is going on to Llandrindod Wells later, where she will be at the Herb Garden from 6 - 8pm.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Small Business Saturday

Bain & Murrin's vintage clothes Emporium.

Friday, 11 March 2016

More From the Council Meeting

The councillors have agreed to accept £30,000 from Persimmon for the easement - which is the building of a pipe through the old railway bank for drainage. However, there is still some discussion over the size of the pipe. The council want it to be big enough for future needs, and Persimmon are arguing that they can't predict future needs, so are only prepared to put in a pipe which will accommodate present needs - and any future developers on that side of the railway bank will have to sort out their own drainage problems.

Meanwhile, there are still issues with traffic coming from Gypsy Castle, and though the County Council Traffic Department have been contacted, nobody has been willing to come to Hay to discuss the matter with the local councillors.

There was more discussion about re-siting the recycling facilities into the cattle market car park, and some worries about the rising costs quoted by Healthmatic for the toilets. They also agreed that there should be better awareness that there actually are night toilets at the craft centre.

The meeting at the Fire Station was a success, and there are no plans by the Fire Service to move the boat from Hay. At the moment, the Fire Brigade need to replace their landrover, and would appreciate help with the cost. They are also working on a young fireman scheme, to attract youngsters into the service.

When it got to the planning applications, several councillors didn't like the design of the awning that Shepherds want to put up over their outdoor seating area, and want them to go away and re-think it.

Finally, as the Council meeting was breaking up, Nigel the Town Clerk was talking about a homeless man who had come to him the previous week, who he had tried to help. He said he was on the phone for about an hour trying to find help for the man, who had been sleeping rough in the area. The County Council suggested he try going to Swansea to find a shelter! They had no other useful advice to give.
Finally, Nigel got onto Hereford, where he found a shelter which was willing to take the man in if he got there by 9pm, and they promised him a bed, a meal and a social worker in the morning.
I hope he made it.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Council Meeting - Schools

Fiona Howard has met the architect of the new Hay School - and she wasn't impressed.
The idea is for building work to start in January 2017, with the finish date being January 2018 at the latest.
However - remember all those plans that were in the Library, and the consultations? Remember the idea that the new community centre and the Library were going to be incorporated in a school for 240 pupils?
Well, you can forget all that, because it's not going to happen.

The present plans for the new school consist of six classrooms for 180 children. The Library will still be part of the new building, because the County Council says they have to sell the present Library site to fund the new build, but there will be no community centre provision.
Now, there are 176 pupils at the school now, and that's before we get an extra 80 houses from Persimmon and 15 on the old community centre site, so the school will instantly be too small for the catchment area. And when Fiona Howard asked the architect why there were only six class rooms, when there should be eight to accommodate all the year groups, the architect said he didn't understand what a year group was. The school will also be losing the nursery class, as children will be starting school a bit later in future to save the County Council some money.

So none of the councillors are happy about this, and it was also pointed out that Talgarth and Bronllys are due to have new schools built soon - will they be smaller than originally planned, too? So what is decided in Hay about the size of the school could have a knock on effect for Talgarth and Bronllys.

Understandably, it was the state of the primary school that was the main concern of the councillors. When they moved on to consider the situation at Gwernyfed High School, obviously they didn't want it to close, but their main concern was with the young children going through the education system now, and the uncertainty about the future of the schools they are going to. Some children have already been transferred from one primary school to another, and now face going to a secondary school which might be closed down at any time. It's not fair to the children.
Also unfair is the loss of the Sixth Form. The County Council say that Neath Port Talbot will take over provision, but they have no science labs, and sixth formers will have to be bussed to different locations to access different courses - not the most ideal situation for an education. Of course, in Hay, there is the option of heading for Hereford.

In a separate development, County Councillor James Gibson-Watt, who represents Glasbury, has pointed out that the sports facilities at Gwernyfed have been built with lottery money - and the Lottery Fund has a continuing interest in the developments their money has paid for, for eighty years. So their permission must be sought to make any changes. The County Council don't seem to have considered that at all.
There is excellent coverage of the whole Gwernyfed situation in the Brecon and Radnor Express this week.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Council Meeting - Community Land Trust, Railway Line and Future Events

I got to the Council Chamber in time for a short film show!
Two ladies from the Bronllys Well Being Park Action Group were giving a talk to the councillors, and asking for support. The film was a short introduction to the work of Community Land Trusts. These are local, volunteer run, organisations to provide affordable homes. There are now 175 groups around the country, half of them having been set up in the last two years. There's more information about them at:
Talgarth and Bronllys local councils already have a representative on the committee, and the ladies were asking for a representative from Hay, as Hay residents also use the hospital. The plans for the future of the hospital and grounds have been going on for some time - they want to transform the 65 acres (or possibly 72 acres, depending on how you measure it) into an eco-village of affordable housing, with the hospital, a community transport hub, cycle paths and solar power. Ian Crawley, the advisor to the project, is giving his services free.
Sadly, bits of the hospital grounds have already been sold off by the Health Group, including the house at the front gate and the Mansion House and walled garden at the top of the site. But this still leaves a lot of hospital buildings and grounds to work with. The grounds are registered as a historic park, so the plans for the future have to be sympathetic to the present lay out. The stroke unit there is supposed to be one of the best in the UK.
The Action Group have been liasing with the hospital League of Friends, and they will be having their next meeting on 23rd March. They can be contacted on:

The clear up of the railway line path was a great success at the weekend, and the Council wanted to say how very impressed they were with all the hard work of the volunteers who turned up on the day, and the Woodland Management Group which organised the day. Two and a half lorry loads of rubbish were moved!
Letters will shortly be sent to all the houses backing onto the railway line encouraging them to keep the area tidy.

And it's the Queen's 90th Birthday this year. When the Food Festival is on in June, the Council will be taking over the marquee one evening for a dance, and there will be a parade through the town. A commemorative medal was passed around for comment - the Tower Mint are producing them for £1.99 each for schools and councils, but there is a minimum order of 50 medals, so I don't think the Council are going to bother.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Litter Picking on the Railway Path

Here's some of the litter cleared up by volunteers last weekend - they cleared two tons of rubbish in total!

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Small Business Saturday

Shortly before Christmas, the Keeper's Pocket antique shop on the Pavement amalgamated with the book and record shop underneath La Maison, and moved into the shop by the Buttermarket which had been Bowie Gallery. Now there are interesting antiques at the front, including taxidermy, and books and records at the back.
The shop which was Keeper's Pocket is being used as an office, and the shop in the cellar of La Maison is empty, along with the main shop - the whole building, including the flat above, is for sale.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Writing Letters for Gwernyfed School

So, the County Council's cabinet have made their decision, and the plans to close Gwernyfed School and Brecon High School, and amalgamate them into one big school on two sites (until a new super-school can be built, with money that will come from who knows where?) is going out to consultation, the next stage in the process legally speaking.

The day after the meeting of the cabinet, there was a public meeting at Gwernyfed School. It was packed. At the meeting the headmaster, John Williams, appealed to parents, children and the local community to stick with the school - and said that since the plans were first announced last March none of the teachers have been looking for jobs elsewhere. So what came out of the meeting was a plan for a letter writing campaign - the County Council is about to run a consultation, so everyone with an opinion should let them know what they think. It's not just the parents of the children at the school now, but the families with younger children - some of whom have already gone through the disruption of having their primary school close. Which is a reminder that the last time the County Council had a grand plan for local education for the primary schools, they got as far as closing a few and it never went any further.

There's a page on the Gwernyfed School website with all the addresses to write to, and there was a big feature in the Brecon and Radnor Express this week, as well as articles in WyeLocal from local MP Chris Davies and county councillor for Glasbury James Gibson-Watt, both of whom are very concerned about the future of the school, as is Kirsty Williams the AM.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016