Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Council Meeting - Library and Council Chambers

I arrived at the Council Chamber in the middle of a minute's silence to remember Dai Ratcliffe, who died recently.
And then it was on to the questions from the public, which is the regular five minute slot at the beginning of the meeting. A representative of HOWLs was there, to read out a statement supporting the Town Council, which she said had been put in an invidious position by the County Council. HOWLs are demanding a proper consultation process, which has not been followed by the County Council in this case (rather like what they tried to do with Gwernyfed School). They want other options than closure to be considered.
Fiona Howard thanked the speaker, and said that the Town Council have forwarded a list of proposals to the County Council already - but haven't heard anything back yet.
The Welsh Assembly are also involved, giving extra options to the County Councils with budget restraints. It was also pointed out that libraries can be used as a first point of contact with social services, which would save money for the County Council.

Later in the meeting, the Library was on the agenda as the Town Council discussed the condition survey. Apparently, routine maintenance has not been done for years, and the Library building needs £260,000 worth of work doing, including work on the ramp, the flat roof, the gas and electricity, and more. Again, the County Council have not made any response when asked about this.
Even if this work was done, though, the County Council still wants to cut the library staff.
The HOWLs representative said that they had seen various statements from the County Council, and the figures quoted were inconsistent, and seemed to count different things in different statements for things like how much the library costs to run.
HOWLs will be putting an article in the next Wye Local explaining what the state of play is so far. The Council are also due to put an article in Wye Local, but after some discussion, they decided to concentrate on good news for Hay rather than their views about the Library.

Near the end of the meeting, Fiona was talking about the meeting she went to in Crickhowell about the library service, where she was told about the "cluster council meetings" they hold, involving all the small communities which are close to Crickhowell for issues like the library, which they all use. It was thought that this would be a good idea for Hay (rather like the old days of the Hay Urban and District Council), and could include Llanigon, Glasbury, Velindre, Gwernyfed - and across the border in Herefordshire with Cusop, and as far afield as Dorstone (residents of Dorstone come to Hay for the sports facilities).

Meanwhile, negotiations continue on the handing over of the Council Chambers to the Town Council. There have been inconsistencies and mistakes in the documentation here, too, with the public toilet block included in the plan with the Council Chambers when it should be completely separate (though the block was built on land which was originally the house's garden). There are also queries about the allotments at the back of the Council Chambers. Councillors said that the document drawn up by the solicitors didn't reflect what was agreed at the meeting they had with the County Council.
In view of this, together with the uncertainty over the future of the Library, the councillors felt that they were not in a position to make a decision about the future of the Council Chambers until there was clarification about what, exactly, was being agreed to.
It was also noted that the County Council have not yet released any of the money due to Hay Council from the car park takings, which was the agreement - and the councillors want the money due to them in the Town Council's bank account.

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