This was the final Town Council meeting before the elections on 4th May. So everyone is anticipating change.
Fiona Howard will no longer be mayor.
A new chap (Derek?) had been co-opted onto the council this time, and he seemed quite on the ball, asking pertinent questions from time to time.
Here's hoping that enough people stand for election to make it a contest (though town councillor is a pretty hard job these days). Rob Golesworthy has already been out campaigning (I got a flyer through my door). He's standing as a Conservative.
And at the end of the meeting, Steve Like announced that he will be stepping down, because he can no longer work with Powys County Council - who have consistently failed the community of Hay for years, he added.
Gareth Ratcliffe is standing for re-election to the County Council, and thanked everyone for their support. Several County Councillors will not be standing for re-election this time, so after the 4th May the PCC may look quite different, and maybe different decisions will be made.
But the first item to be addressed yesterday evening was the on-going saga of the bench by the BT boxes opposite the Cinema Bookshop. BT have still failed to replace the bench they moved properly (it's way too low now), so the councillors were considering issuing an ultimatum. They want to site a memorial bench to Arnold Wesker there - and were half-seriously considering siting it across the front of the BT box so that BT couldn't open it! And they're thinking of issuing a bill to BT for the re-siting of the bench, and all the time the Town Council have spent on dealing with the matter when they could have been doing something more important.
Meanwhile down at the Gliss there are four abandoned vehicles, and no authority seems to want to do anything about moving them. It seems to be down to the Town Council to take action.
"We sit here and look at problems," Fiona Howard said. "We've got to find answers."
"We're not backed up by the relevant authorities," Alan Powell added.
They were also concerned about people camping overnight down there, and discussed installing a lockable gate. Another consideration is charging for parking over the Festival - it might be possible to get someone down there to collect money for the Festival, possibly someone from one of the sports clubs, which would assist them in fund raising.
And the transfer of assets from Powys County Council to Hay Town Council is also on-going. The PCC seems to want town councils to take on more responsibilities, but seem reluctant to take the final step of signing the assets over to the town councils. And of course there is no extra money available to the town councils to take on these extra responsibilities. At a recent meeting between representatives of town councils and the PCC, all the other town councillors and clerks reported similar problems. Although they had all come individually, without talking to each other before hand, they presented a united front against the PCC representatives. In fact, the people from Llandrindod Wells said that they always had a solicitor present when discussing anything with the PCC!
Nobody is sure what will happen after this year's elections....
Some good news, though, is that the town council are applying to have more defibrillators sited around town. The Gliss was suggested, but turned down as there is no electricity supply available there, but the Co-op was agreed to be a good site, in association with Cusop Council, and possibly the Craft Centre and St Mary's Church, to serve the estates at that end of town. "They can't always rely on prayer!" Steve Like said.
The Sports Ground was also suggested as a suitable site.
Although the Chamber of Commerce sent an email round recently saying that the Festival shuttle buses through town will be returning this year, it seems that things are not that simple. Herdmans Coaches have been given the contract, but apparently the bus drivers don't want to stop outside Tinto House/Clocktower - they claim it is dangerous. However, this is the site of the regular bus stop for the Browns bus into Hereford - they don't seem to have a problem with it for the rest of the year. Clarification will be sought from Hay Festival.