Monday, 31 October 2016

Happy Hallowe'en!

Not the best picture in the world, but I have my pumpkin head to scare away demons, my bat and a flight of ravens!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Small Business Sunday

So it's goodbye to Stuart, and hello to Kieron at the Castle Greengrocers.
Kieron has, in fact, been Stuart's right hand man for quite a while at the greengrocers, and he's just taken over the ownership of the business.
Under his management, I'm sure the shop will continue to be the most photogenic greengrocers' shop in Wales (with an excellent selection of fruit and veg, of course)!

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Sir Roy Strong at the Castle

Sir Roy Strong will be giving the Winter Lecture of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust at Hay Castle this year. The date is Saturday 19th November, at 2.30pm, and the cost is £10 including refreshments.
The subject of the talk is The Quest for Shakespeare's Garden, and he'll be talking about Elizabethan gardens generally as well as Shakespeare's own garden in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Hero of the Zulu War

A book came into the shop recently called Zulu War VCs. Greg, the manager, remembered that there was a local connection, and showed me the pages relating to a local hero.
Robert Jones was a farm worker before he enlisted in the 24th Regiment South Wales Borderers - and he was at Rorke's Drift when the Zulu War began in 1878.
His job was to defend the patients in the hospital - in a desperate battle in which Robert Jones was wounded by Zulu assegais three times after he and his companion Private William Jones had run out of ammunition. They managed to get six patients to safety through a window, and Robert Jones was returning for a seventh man, Sergeant Robert Maxfield, only to see him being stabbed in his bed. The building was by then on fire, and Robert Jones got out of the window just before the roof collapsed. He was awarded the VC for his actions.
When he left the army, he moved to Peterchurch in the Golden Valley with his wife Elizabeth. They had one son and four daughters. Robert worked as a groundsman for Major de la Hay at Crossways House, and the family lived in Rose Cottage. As well as gardening, he was apparently a talented amateur poet.
However, one of the wounds Robert had recieved at Rorke's Drift was to his head, and he continued to suffer from pains in his head. In 1898, he borrowed the major's gun and shot himself in the garden.
The inquest was held at the Boughton Arms in Peterchurch, where it was decided he had committed suicide while of unsound mind. He was given a military funeral, and a marble headstone was erected, which can still be seen.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Poetry Book Launch

The Poetry Bookshop is hosting a free booklaunch at 5pm on the 5th November.
Ruth Bidgood will be reading from her new collection, Land-music.
According to the Poetry Bookshop Facebook page, Ruth Bidgood has had quite an eventful life: she was born in Blaendulais, near Neath, educated at Oxford, and worked as a coder in Alexandria, Egypt in World War Two. She has lived in mid-Wales since the mid-sixties. The author of several prize-winning volumes of poetry, she also writes local history.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Ponds, Rivers and Poultry

There's some concern about plans to put up intensive chicken sheds across the river just outside Clyro, so this would seem to be a good time to talk about the implications.

There's going to be an open meeting on 29th October, from 10am to 3.30pm, at Llanigon Village Hall, to discuss the impact of intensive poultry production in Powys on our freshwater ecosystems. It's being organised by the Brecon and Radnor Branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. The cost includes refreshment and a buffet lunch, and will be £5 for CPRW members and £7.50 for non-members, to be paid at the door.
They have invited Professor Steve Ormerod from Cardiff University, who is also the Chair of the RSPB Council and a leading expert in freshwater ecosystems. He'll be speaking in the morning along with Richard Ninnes from Natural Resources Wales, Julian Jones from Radnorshire Wildlife Trust and Kate Adams from the Wye and Usk Foundation.
In the afternoon, the speakers are Peter Powell of Severn Rivers Trust, Barbara Brown of OPAL Open Air Laboratories and Viv Green of the Countryside Restoration Trust.
So it sounds as if there will be a lot of very knowledgeable people there!

Monday, 24 October 2016

More on the Library

The situation with the Library seems to be moving quickly. Here's what James Gibson-Watt had to say on Facebook on the 21st October.

"To put it mildly it looks as though negotiations between Hay Town Council and Powys County Council over the future of Hay Library have not gone well. There is now the very real prospect of Powys CC publishing a statutory notice of its intention to close the library, unless Hay Town Council agrees to take on the running of it and fund half the annual costs by 31st October. This is akin to 'holding a gun to the head' of the Town Council and I and my council group believe the County Council's Cabinet is quite wrong to proceed in this way in Hay and also a number of other towns across Powys. There are a host of unanswered questions still to resolve, e.g. whether Town Councils can legally fund a statutory public facility to this extent and why the 50% burden should fall solely on Hay council taxpayers, since 2/3 of Hay Library users live outside Hay, many of them in England! If a Notice of Closure is issued by Powys CC a period of public consultation will follow. It is vital that as many people as possible respond to that consultation to show their support for Hay library. Public pressure worked well to help save Gwernyfed High School. Let's do it again for Hay Library. The Town of Books without a library? Ridiculous."

Meanwhile, Francoise Verger sent a letter to the Brecon and Radnor, also on the subject of the Library, but when they printed it, they left off the postscript. Here is the letter in full:

"Libraries protected by law

SO "the clock is ticking for a number of small libraries across Powys" which are threatened with closure (Letters, October 12).
Powys and other councils would be well advised to read 'Public Library and Other Stories', by the writer Ali Smith.
On page 42, it is indicated that "the importance of libraries was recognised by the Public Libraries Act 1850 and affirmed by the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964". These laws clearly mean that public libraries are a statutory service. Therefore councils have a legal duty to provide them.
On the jacket of Ali Smith's book, a quotation by Doris Lessing (Nobel Prize in literature 2007) reminds us that the library "is the most democratic of institutions".

PS This book was published in 2015 and found on the shelves of the Hay-on-Wye library."

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Day of the Dead

I'm easily confused!
There are TWO Day of the Dead celebrations this year. The first is on Friday 28th October at the Old Electric Shop, which will be a sit down feast of Mexican food, with cocktails and music. Tickets are £25, to include a drink on arrival.
And then on 4th November, at the Castle, there's another Day of the Dead celebration, with music, food, face painting and tequila! This one is organised by the Chamber of Commerce and is raising money for the Christmas Lights. The cost of the evening is £8.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Save Hay Library - Who to Contact

The new group HOWL (Hay-On-Wye Library - for the HOWLs of protest!) has shared the email of the county councillor responsible for library provision in Powys.
It is
and his address is:
Councillor Graham Brown, Deputy Leader/Cabinet Portfolio Holder, Member Support, Powys County Hall, Spa Road East, Llandrindod Wells, Powys LD1 5LG

He's the one to write to with any comments, for Hay and any of the other libraries under threat.
And it's probably best to keep copies of any communications, so they can be used again in the official consultation process.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Remembering Aberfan

Today is the 50th anniversary of the disaster.

picture taken from the Landslide blog, which has been posting about the disaster all this week.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Saving Hay Library - Live on Radio Wales!

At work, I'm often the first person to pick up the phone when it rings - and this morning I got a BBC researcher for the Jason Mohammed programme on Radio Wales, who was looking for a view from one of the bookshops on the threat to Hay Library.
So I agreed to speak, and was connected to the programme, where I could hear Fiona Howard, the Mayor, giving an extremely good defence of the library service, and why the Town Council couldn't step up to fund it. I hope I added something useful to what she said - to be honest, I was too nervous to remember what I said (though I think I sounded calm and fairly articulate at the time)!

Meanwhile, Gareth Ratcliffe has been questioning the County Council, and got a reply, which he put up on his Facebook page. Here it is:

"With regard to Hay Library, the intention is to move the library onto the new primary school site when it is built next year, which will reduce the building related costs, and we continue to work with the Schools Service on this. At the same time, we have been having discussions with town councils and others across the county, with a view to creating local partnership arrangements which would fund at least 50% of the controllable running costs of the local library. Two alternatives which we have been exploring are community delivery (where another organisation takes on the running of the local library with our support and 45% grant funding to them over a 5 year period), or a model where the library service continues to run the service as is, with a 50% contribution from a town council or other sources. We remain open to other proposals as well.
As yet, we have been unable to conclude any agreement in Hay, not least because so many of the library customers are from outside of the town, which understandably, makes the town council reluctant to pay for a service for others.
Powys County Council's Cabinet have given us the deadline of 31st October to conclude our discussions over the 2 alternatives outlined above, after which they will be withdrawn. The only option remaining for us then in Hay will be to reduce opening hours in order to make the running costs fit the remaining 50% of the budget from 1st April next. As I am sure you know, Hay Festival have been very generously fundraising for the library for the last 2 years, preventing the 20% reduction in hours which was introduced across all Powys libraries from April 2015, and we are extremely grateful to them for their support, which was agreed for a 2 year period.
This is a basic outline of the current position, and I am very happy to meet with you to discuss further, if that would help."

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Save Hay Library

Yesterday, I posted a short video of the protests outside Hereford Shire Hall, to show what's happening with libraries on the English side of the border.
Here's what it looked like in Hay Library earlier on Monday evening:

I was sitting on the floor underneath the tree in the corner.

The meeting was called by Anita Wright, who felt strongly enough to do something when she heard about the plans of Powys County Council. She is now part of the steering group of the campaign to save the library (which may be called Friends of Hay Library, or possibly HOWL - I'm not sure yet). She'd invited a member of the Friends of Crickhowell Library to talk about what they'd been doing to save their library. They were set up well in advance of Powys County Council's plans, so they had time to plan what they could do about them. We have something like two weeks before the County Council intends to run a consultation on closing the library, one of eleven libraries around the county (which will leave Powys with six libraries).

Fiona Howard was at the meeting, from the Town Council, and she told the meeting how Hay had got together with eight other local councils to form a united opposition to the County Council. Previously, the County Council have been trying to pick the libraries off one by one.
Fiona Howard also said that the County Council want Hay Council to take over the running of the library, as they have already done with the toilets and the sports pavilion - but they need to find £18,000 a year to run it. In order to do that, Fiona said, they would have to raise the precept (Hay's portion of the Council Tax) by 44% - which is illegal.

At Crickhowell, they have been fund raising for small things for the library, and they've also been drumming up support for the library, and putting on events in the library. They've also been forging links with the local primary school and, most importantly, the secondary school, which is due to take over the running of Crickhowell library shortly, bearing 50% of the costs. They are also just about the only local library in the county which has produced a business plan, which has been accepted by the County Council.

There have been plans in Hay to move the library to the new school building - but building work hasn't started yet, and that solution to the problem is a long way off. In the meantime, it's important to keep the library open - once it closes, it's gone forever.

However, there is a legal requirement for county councils to provide a comprehensive library service, in the 1964 Public Libraries Act. However, the wording is vague, so it's open to interpretation just what a comprehensive service means in practice. In Wales, there is an extra layer of legislation on Library Standards, which can be found on the Welsh Assembly website under Libraries Making a Difference. They have plans for a library card that would work in every library in Wales, for instance, and to streamline the administration across Wales instead of duplicating effort in each county. Where library use is declining in England, in Wales library use is increasing.
But again, this is some way in the future, and consultations on the future of the libraries will begin on October 31st.

The feeling of the meeting was that a library is far more than just a room with books in it - it was emphasised that what is needed is a continuation of the library service, which means the retention of trained librarians like Jayne in Hay. It's not something that volunteers can duplicate. It was also the feeling of the meeting that cutting the hours that the library is open means that large sections of the public will be unable to access the library services - anyone who has a full time job, for instance, if the library no longer opens in the evenings. At the moment, Hay Library is well used, with over 20,000 books loaned last year.
Hay Library also has a unique connection to the Hay Festival, with the annual Library Lecture, and the Festival has raised money to support the library in the last couple of years. However, local fund raising will not be anything like enough to run the library.

For the future, the Friends of Hay Library need a vision of what the library can be - it's not enough just to defend what we have. So it would be good to have a new room built onto the library for meetings and consultations, and then local groups would be able to meet at the library (such as some of the groups who used to meet in the Swan until the new management decided they didn't want that to continue).

So the new campaigning group will be doing something like the group campaigning to save Gwernyfed School did - pointing out where the County Council are failing in their statutory duties to provide a library service, and where they are failing the Welsh Library Standards, as well as pointing out the negative effects that the closure of the library will have on the local residents - all those people who rely on the library to use a computer, for instance, as well as school children (I needed my local library as a child - there was no way my parents could have kept up with my reading habits without it). There is, in Powys, no schools library service, so Hay Library is the provision for school children in the area. And running a library with volunteers and no paid staff does not meet the Library Standards.

As Hay is on the border, some of the people who use Hay Library actually come from Herefordshire - Cusop and Clifford, for instance. About 30% of library users live in Hay, the other 70% being from surrounding villages - and those community councils need to be involved in the fight to keep the library open too.

The meeting ended with the formation of a steering group, and just about everybody at the meeting signing up to recieve emails about the progress of the campaign and what they can do to help.

The contact email is

As soon as I know the details, I'll publicise the people in the County Council to write letters to, but Gareth Ratcliffe warned that the County Council will discount letters that are sent outside the formal consultation process, so people will think they have voiced their views, only to find they were not taken into account. He recommended keeping copies of letters and sending them again for the official consultations.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Chamber of Commerce - Independence Celebrations, Day of the Dead and Christmas Lights

It will be the 40th anniversary of Hay being declared an independent Kingdom next April 1st, and there will be a meeting on Tuesday evening at 6pm at Tomatitos to discuss how to organise celebrations, called by the Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is also deeply involved in raising money for the Christmas lights around Hay. This year they are holding a Day of the Dead celebration (fancy dress optional) at The Old Electric Shop, on 4th November, with Mexican nibbles on offer, and music. The price of hiring contractors to put the lights up has gone up considerably since last year.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Good News for Gwernyfed

John Fitzgerald, who has been running the petition against the closure of Gwernyfed School on Facebook (and writing to Powys County Council on the subject) posted an update on Facebook on the 13th. There's no point in me summarising it - he says it all far better:

"Over the last 18 months I have been the bearer of negative messages and general bad news about Gwernyfed High School and it is therefore wonderful to be bringing a lot of good news. The start of the new term has brought a very different picture beginning of course with Powys CC announcement to abandon the closure plan which brought so much relief. Since then good new has been coming from a variety of directions:

1. The open evening for parents and students who were considering where pupils should go next September brought in a record number of people to the school from various parts of Powys. All the good news about this year’s exam results, the incredibly improved ranking for the school by Estyn and the ending of the uncertainty had filtered through. Encouragement for the future of the school indeed.

2. The First Minister in the Welsh Assembly Government has signed off an Outline Business Case (OBC) which includes funding to rebuild Brecon HS and £6 million to develop Gwernyfed HS. Now one has to be a bit wary because Powys have not worked out a detailed plan but appear at the moment to be consulting the school. However, we know from experience that trusting this LA is not sensible (ask the people of Hay) so we will need to keep a close watch on their every step. For example, the idea of a two site, one school proposal has been removed but there is a degree of ambiguity elsewhere in the OBC so we do need to keep a close watch on this bunch.

3. Kayleigh Hughes, deputy head of the arts Faculty at Gwernyfed HS has been appointed as an Arts Champion for a joint Welsh Government and Arts Council initiative to work with schools to inspire and increase creativity in all subjects, not just the arts, and to form networks between schools and arts organisation. Kayleigh will work with schools across Mid-Wales but will retain her role at Gwernyfed HS. This is brilliant news for Kayleigh and the school so congratulations to both.

4. Following on from the above it has just been announced that Gwernyfed HS has been appointed a “a pioneer school” by the Welsh Government to support other schools implement the “Donaldson Report” which if successful will radically change for the better the way education is delivered in Wales. Again brilliant news for the school and a recognition of the quality of the staff and available education.

5. Shane Jenkins the head of science at Gwernyfed HS has just been given a fantastic award. Every year the Institute of Physics identify six teachers from across the UK as physics teachers of the year, Shane is one of the six for 2016. The citation describes him as “an inspirational, enthusiastic and committed teacher “. Isn’t that amazing both for Shane and the school?

What all this says of course is something we have known all along, the plan to close Gwernyfed HS was fatally flawed, but what is so impressive is how the school and staff have achieved all this despite the efforts of Powys CC to batter the school into submission.

We have reached a stage where we will shortly have to close the petition but I will down load contact details so that if Powys start misbehaving we can contact you again. It therefore only remains for me to thank you for all the support you have given the school over the last 18 months and wish you well."

Friday, 14 October 2016

Local Archaeology and History events

I was upstairs at the Three Tuns last night, at the History Group meeting, because they had advertised that they would be talking about the finds from the test pits that were dug in various gardens around Hay during the history weekend.
It turns out that the area around the Cinema Bookshop was more interesting than I had thought. It seems there was a flannel mill somewhere there, next to George House, and one of the test pits was in one of the gardens at the back. They also moved next door, to where the neighbour was putting up a garden shed, and dug a pit there as well! One pit provided evidence of a ditch, possibly drainage.
The finds themselves, mostly pottery and bits of clay pipe, are not as exciting as a Viking hoard, but they do build up a picture of what was going on, and the history group are hoping to add to this information over time. Jane at Berry's Cottage has offered to have a test pit in her garden when they do it again, and she has some archaeological experience herself, which helps a lot - she's got some idea of what a digger should be looking for. This time, the professional archaeologist was supervising work at the Castle, and dashing out to look at the gardens, which wasn't ideal.

More recently, there has been a small excavation in the Castle at the back of the stable block. Eventually, in the plans drawn up for restoring the castle, they want to put a patio there as part of a cafe - so first they have to investigate the bank. This was made more difficult by the roots from a nearby beech tree, which they had to dig round without damaging. They also had to cover the trenches with hessian to protect the roots before backfilling, which should be happening today. When I went up there, this is what it looked like:

The lump covered in black plastic at the centre is the spoil heap, which will be used to refill the trenches. At the nearest ends of the trenches, they didn't need to go down very far to find an earlier ground surface. There will be more information on the Hay Castle website for this and the history weekend digs.

One of the chaps who runs the model railway exhibition in Salem Chapel was at the meeting, and he reported that the chapel roof has finally been fixed! However, there is some dispute with the insurance company about paying for the work. It looks a lot better now, though:

He also said that the model railway volunteers had treated themselves to a day out on the Severn Steam Railway.

There was a fair bit of discussion about history and archaeology events further afield - Hay History Group has a good relationship with the Brecon History Forum, so it's easy to find out about things like the 350th anniversary of Penpont House, which several people at the meeting went to, and enjoyed. Many people at the meeting went to events organised for the history weekend, and brought back ideas about how Hay could do things better for future events - such as changes to the times and frequency of the Hay Tours history walks.
There's very little knowledge of what's happening on the Herefordshire side of the border, though, and everyone wanted to improve on this. The dig at Dorstone, for instance, should be in the diary of anyone who's interested in archaeology - run as a training dig for Manchester University, they've discovered some fantastic information about the neolithic. There's also a community dig going to happen in Longtown, which is a very interesting place, being a medieval planned town that failed - too high, too remote - with a pretty good castle. Work is also planned at Snodhill Castle.

The annual Smith-Soldat talk will be on abandoned houses of the Black Mountains - a chap called Christopher Hodges wrote a book on the subject a couple of years ago, and has agreed to come and give the lecture. This will be part of the Hay Winter Festival, so they do all the publicity, tickets and so on, while the History Group provide the speaker. The History Group will also need to provide bed and breakfast accommodation for the speaker this year, and were appealing for anyone with a spare bed to come forward.

Back to Hay, and one of the ideas for the future is to have a trail of "blue plaques" around town for people to follow, some of which will have historical information on the buildings ("This was the site of the Red Lion pub" for instance) and some of which would be more light hearted ("This is where Brian sits with his dog Lucy"). Other topics for consideration included the Dentist's Siege on Lion Street!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

History Group

The next meeting of the Hay History group will be at the Three Tuns on Thursday, 13th October, at 7.30pm. They'll be discussing the finds from the archaeology weekend, when several test pits were dug in gardens around Hay, as well as at the Castle.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Council Meeting - Fairtrade signs, Regional AM, Planning

Fairtrade Hay are organising signs to be put up in Hay, to publicise the fact that Hay is a Fairtrade Town. They are going to pay for the signs. The councillors wondered where the signs would be situated, and whether the National Parks and the Highways Department should be informed. They added that Hay is the gateway to Powys and the National Park, and this should be promoted - and maybe the County Council should spend a few quid on designing a suitable sign.
Meanwhile, there is the old, cast iron Hay sign, which needs to be sandblasted and painted. It's 4' x 6', and the suggestion was that it should be erected on the lawn in front of the Council Chambers.

The new regional Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, Eluned Morgan, has said she has an interest in public service delivery, and it was suggested that she should be invited to visit Hay. She has also said that she wants to strengthen the rural economy. (Rob Golesworthy protested that he hadn't voted for her - but I understand that the regional members are chosen from a list).

The plans for the new Hay School are changing - with more drainage needed in one part of the site, and the appearance of the walls to be changed from brick to render (or wattle and daub? Rob Golesworthy asked). None of the councillors were happy about the idea that they should look up the details on line - they wanted paper plans to be delivered to the Council.

Lamb House, which used to be the vets' surgery, has recently been refurbished, and now they have finished the building work on the main building the owners want to build a new house on the small car park across Wyeford Road from Lamb House. There was some concern that a fence along the boundary would narrow the lane which is used by vans towing canoe trailers, and some questions were asked about environmentally friendly features of the building, such as solar panels.

The next Council Meeting will take place on 7th November.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Council Meeting - Timbuktu and Tim the Gardener

The visitors from Timbuktu had a meeting with councillors to discuss the present situation in Timbuktu (still unsettled, with French peace keepers on the streets) and the projects that groups in Hay support in Timbuktu. They were also comparing the councils in Hay and Timbuktu, coming to the conclusion that Timbuktu council is more like Powys County Council in responsibility and powers. They are grateful that Hay has continued to support them through a difficult time - other twin towns seem to have lost touch with them, whereas Hay has maintained a constant line of communication.
One of the projects supported by Hay is building toilet blocks at schools, so that families have no excuse to keep their daughters at home, saying there are no facilities for them. Just doing that has improved girls' education in Timbuktu.
There was a suggestion that a week's taking from the Hay public toilets might be donated to this project, which would also create good publicity for Hay. (There have been a few problems with the toilets in Hay - the regular cleaners are great, but the weekend cleaners have been less good recently. Healthmatic are dealing with this, and also with the problem that some of the "validators" in the coin machines broke, despite the equipment being still quite new.)
There was also a suggestion that it might be a good idea for Hay councillors to visit Timbuktu, when the situation there is safer. The Mayor of Timbuktu would like to visit Hay, as well.
On April 1st next year, Hay will be celebrating 40 years of Independence, and ten years of twinning with Timbuktu through the Hay2Timbuktu group.

Some of the signs that were put up for the Timbuktu Trail around town need replacing, and councillors are going to contact Christina Wright, who painted them originally.

Thirteen people turned up for the defibrillator training course, which lasts about two hours, and is apparently very good. There is a defibrillator by the Clock Tower now.
The day after the course, Tim the Gardener collapsed in the car park, and there were people on the scene who knew exactly what to do because they had been to the course the previous evening! They certainly saved Tim's life. This has resulted in more enthusiasm for training, and another course will be arranged soon.
Tim spent ten days in hospital in Cardiff, but he is now back in Hay. I saw him yesterday, and though he says he has to take things slowly, he seems very well, considering. He's even been re-arranging his books at his shelves at Tinto House, bringing new stock down in his wheelbarrow.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Small Business Saturday

I've just discovered that Shepherds now have completely recyclable cups for their takeaway coffee. They have the slogan "I'm a Green Cup" on the side, and can be put in the compost after use, just like the plastic containers at the Deli for stuff like hoummus.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Council Meeting - Sports Pavilion and Library

So the Transfer of Assets of the Sports Pavilion to Hay Council is almost complete - apart from one document that needs to be signed, and the County Council have said that they will not release any money that goes with the transfer until it is signed.
Steve Like was very annoyed, and said that this amounted to bullying by the County Council. However, a special meeting will be called as soon as possible to sign the document and to inform the sports clubs that use the pavilion of the new situation.
When the document is signed, Hay Council will become liable for any repairs that need to be done, but they will also have the ability to look for grants to cover the cost of those repairs.

The County Council have also been discussing the future of the library services in Powys, and they're meeting with some stiff opposition. It was Nigel, Hay's Town Clerk, who suggested that Hay contact other local councils in a similar position, and now there are eight local councils united in fighting the cost cutting measures that the County Council is proposing. This includes closing some libraries, and getting "volunteers" to run things in other places.
At the meeting this week, the Talgarth councillor spoke on behalf of the local councils affected, as James Gibson-Watt was not available on the day.
The County Council has taken legal advice on their proposals, but they have declined to share that advice with the councillors concerned about their local libraries. It is a legal requirement that County Councils must provide a comprehensive library service. One Voice Wales has also been consulted by the local councils and they say that Powys is in the wrong on this.

On the subject of libraries, the Friends of Hay Library are having a meeting at Hay Library on Monday 17th October from 6.30 - 7.30pm. Elaine Wigzell of the Friends of Crickhowell Library will be there to explain how they set up their group and answer any questions.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Council Meeting - Police Update, Parking and Town Plan

I've been missing Council meetings, for various reasons, most of the summer, but now the nights are drawing in again I'm getting back into the swing of it. This month, the Council was only just quorate, with five councillors turning up. They are launching another appeal for more councillors - there are three vacancies at the moment - with the proviso that it only needs to be for six months, as there are elections due next year, so anyone interested could try it for a limited time to see if they liked it.
One of our local policemen was giving an update on police - and criminal - activity when I arrived. He's involved in reviving and updating the Neighbourhood Watch scheme, and also mentioned Farm Watch. Technology means that information can be shared much more quickly in these days of emails and smart phones. He's looking for volunteers to be a part of the new Neighbourhood Watch schemes. There's also SpeedWatch, for speeding motorists. Local training for volunteers will be available.
He pointed out that criminals are no longer deterred by the presence of cameras - they just put their hoodies up and carry on, and they come into areas of low crime like the Hay area from surrounding areas. Crickhowell has been having something of a crime wave recently.
He also talked about the problems with motorbikes on Powys roads - there's a death just about every week, though most bikers are sensible (and most are middle aged).

There was some concern that the Residents' Parking trial seems to be just carrying on without an end in sight. Powys County Council have now said there won't be a review of how it is working until the end of next year, and there seems to be no one in the County Council taking responsibility for the scheme. Despite this, and the fact that there are some issues with the scheme that need to be addressed, Powys wants to roll out the scheme across the county. Hay Council will be writing to the County Council to remind them that a review is needed.

The Town Plan has been officially adopted by the National Park, and will be used as supplementary planning guidance. This means that the views of local people will be taken into account, as stated in the town plan, before any planning decisions locally are made. One of the good outcomes of this is that there is a strong case for proper community facilities within the new Hay school building (as seen in the last lot of plans which are no longer being used) when the school is finally built.

Monday, 3 October 2016


Seasonal Mallyfest:

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Opening an Account with a Building Society

The Co-op Bank branch (aka Britannia Building Society) in Hereford is closing.
They sent me a nice letter telling me that I could switch to Online Banking.

I don't think so.

The reasons I opened a savings account with the Co-op were:
a) It's in Hereford, so I would have to make a special trip if I wanted to take money out of the account, thus making it less likely that I would dip into my reserves on a whim.
b) The office is manned by actual human beings, who can explain things should I need it.

If I switched to online banking, all I would have to do to access my money would be to sit down in my living room and turn the computer on, and there would be no helpful human beings to interact with.

Over the time I've had my savings with the Co-op, I've found that I don't actually have the desire to dip into the savings all that often, so I probably don't need to have my account in an office a bus ride away.
But I still want the interaction with actual human beings.

Fortunately, the Yorkshire Building Society office is just across the road in Broad Street, staffed by the lovely ladies who also work at Beales the Solicitors. Now, I'm a good Lancashire lass, and there is historic rivalry between the two counties, but I reckoned that this would be the best place for me to open an account.

So I closed my account with the Co-op, and took the cheque down to the Yorkshire.
It did amuse me that, while I was proving my identity with passport and utility bills, one of the ladies from the solicitors came in to use the photocopier and said "Hello, Lesley, what are you doing here?" But the rules are that I have to prove that I'm not an international money launderer, with specific documents, and it doesn't matter if I know the staff personally.

The other good thing is that they are a traditional building society, with an interest in charitable giving. At the moment they're running a Small Change Big Difference campaign, for members to choose a local charity, to which the Society will give £100.

I think the Yorkshire is going to suit me very well.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Book Launch

What a lot of local authors there are around Hay!
This time, it's Lynn Trowbridge launching her memoirs Random Ramblings of a Nonogenarian!
She'll be at Hay Library at 2pm today, Saturday.
She'll also be featured in the next issue of the Writing Magazine, the best selling UK magazine for writers!