Monday, 31 July 2017

The Three Tuns

So, it's an uncertain future ahead for the Three Tuns, as it closed yesterday. The signs on the windows, and on the website, say that the owners have done this with a heavy heart, as they have too much to cope with - the pub/restaurant is just one of their interests. They also have a farm.
It's bad news for the staff, who got very little notice of the closure.
I hope that something is sorted out soon, and the Three Tuns can re-open.
(and in the meantime, Stitch and Bitch will have to find somewhere else to meet!)

Saturday, 29 July 2017

New Blue Plaques

The Warren Trust have been putting up some new blue plaques around town. This one is for St John's Well, once one of the water sources for Hay, just by the bus stop under the castle. There's one at the clock tower, too.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Hereford Hop

I went into the wholefood shop the other day to get some cheese - one of my favourite local varieties is Hereford Hop, a mild and mellow cheese with hops pressed into the surface of the cheese. When I first came to the area, I thought that this was a traditional variety of cheese - but it turns out it was first made in 1990, by Charles Martell, who is also the cheesemaker who came up with Stinking Bishop. He has a farm in Gloucestershire. An article in Beer, the magazine for CAMRA members, tells me that the hops are first roasted and then pressed into the surface of the cheese, and the variety of hop is usually locally grown Fuggles.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Celtic Evening at the Globe

It was a fine night, organised by Thomasin and with several musicians I didn't know, including a lady who sang in Scots Gaelic (Katie?) and three men who played Appalachian dance music on fiddles and guitar while two women, who I think must have been mother and daughter, did step dancing. The room was full, and I think everyone was enjoying themselves. I certainly was.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Post Office Vans

I was in the newsagents the other day, and a couple of Post Office vans were parked on Lion Street, which is the closest they can get to the back door of the Post Office, where the post is taken in and out. They park on the double yellow lines, and block the street while they're there.
Margaret was not happy about it. She sees it most days, and she'd had enough of it.
"It's not the boys from Hay," she said. "They park round the corner. It's the boys from Hereford."
So she had rung up one of the managers in Hereford to complain.
He was less than sympathetic. "There's nothing you can do if they're legally parked," he said, according to Margaret.
But the whole point was that they were not legally parked. Margaret told him exactly what she thought of him, and slammed the phone down.
A little while later, however, the vans were moved....

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Discussing the Future of Hay Library

The top area at the back of Tomatitos was packed out for the meeting called by HOWLS to discuss the future of the library. The new portfolio holder for Powys County Council, Rachel Powell, is due to meet with HOWLS shortly, and the committee wanted to make sure that they knew what the membership of the organisation wants before they go to that meeting.
At the moment the most important question to ask is - do the members want the Library to stay in the current building, or move to the school?
The meeting started with some background information so that the people at the meeting could make an informed choice. Deb Johnson, a local architect, has drawn up the plans showing the present library at the same scale as the proposed library in the school, for direct comparison. The room in the school is about a third smaller than the present library, and the present library also has a toilet and little kitchen and storage area. The room in the school is also the larger of the two rooms put aside in the plans for community use - there was a site meeting at the school for the Powys Cabinet recently, where they made that decision - there has been some uncertainty over whether the library would get the large room or the small room, and they decided on the large room, with the small room available for community use, when it's not being used to store the bookcases on wheels from the library. So much for Hay having a new community centre to replace the one that was knocked down.
However, the library room will have fixed furniture, such as a counter/desk for the librarian, and some shelves. So the school is disappointed that the room cannot be emptied completely so it can be used for things like yoga classes. However, the current library has computer terminals. It is unknown whether the library in the school will have any computer terminals, which are a necessary part of a modern library.
The access to the library and community room is separate from the access to the main school, so there is no possibility of library users wandering through the classrooms - as Rev. Charlesworth said, there are no safeguarding issues with this layout of the buildings, just as the swimming pool at the school is presently used by the public with no issues.
Powys County Council have said that, if the library remains in the current building, it can only open for 6 hours a week.
If the library moves to the school, it can open for 12 hours a week.
At the moment, the library is open for 23 hours a week.
It is unknown what will happen to the present library building if the library moves into the school.
If the library stays in the current building, the rooms in the school will be available for the school to use as they wish. The school would be paying for heating and lighting for those rooms if the library was there.
If HOWLS wants the library to stay in the current building, Powys County Council have said that they will have to put together a viable business plan by the 31st December. In the last few days, and with the help of Kirsty Williams the AM, HOWLS have got a breakdown of the costs involved in running the library, but they haven't had much time to study it yet, and it still seems worryingly vague. However, the minimum the community would have to raise would be £8,000 a year - and maybe as much as £15,000 a year. Since donations to the cause so far stand at around £200, this seems like a lot to find, especially as the Festival will not be donating any more money to the library after this year. The figures provided don't seem to include rates, either, though HOWLS could apply for rate relief if they did decide to go down that road.
According to the County Council, most of the other libraries at risk of closure around Powys have found solutions to the problem - but they weren't very forthcoming about what those solutions might be.
One question from the audience was about the library buying new books - would this be done by the county library service, or would the library have to raise money to do it themselves?
Jayne, the Librarian, was unable to comment on the County Council's plans, as an employee, but she did point out that lending books was only part of what a library does. She added that book lending has gone up significantly in the last 3 months. It was also mentioned that, since the school has started to take the children up to the library for visits, children have brought their parents along to the library - parents who may never have been to the library before. The school also saw benefits in walking the children through their community to visit the library, and it was also pointed out that the library is a safe place for children to go to - and there aren't many places like that around.
It was also pointed out that the plan of the new school is basically two sheds, with moveable internal walls - and who can say what the library's place will be in future years? Maybe the entire school will become a "learning environment" for adults and children alike, and it would be better for the present library to be in a flexible space, which can also be moved around for different styles of classroom teaching?

So everyone had post-it notes on the tables, where they could write their comments - yellow for positive comments and green for concerns and negative comments.

Once this was done, the comments were to be taken away to be collated, and HOWLS will be emailing members shortly with a digest of what the mind of the meeting turned out to be.
For the future, HOWLS are bearing in mind that it is not just the population of Hay that uses the library, but people from all the villages in the area, and it would be a good idea to get all those community councils on board with whatever decision is made about the library's future.
Hay Town Council will also be meeting with HOWLS shortly - Alan Powell was there representing the Town Council, and Gareth Ratcliffe was also there as county councillor.

HOWLS will next be meeting on August 15th at 7pm at the Library.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Visiting Cardiff, and a Tour of South Wales

This was another day out with vague plans made. The one essential feature, though, was to visit the Doctor Who Experience on Cardiff Bay. It's closing in September, and there are a few things that are only available through the official shop there, so I was on a mission to get what I could.
This meant getting up at the crack of dawn for the first bus into Brecon, where I changed for the T4 to Cardiff. It's a nice run down, and I can do it all on one Explorer ticket, which costs £7.90. In Cardiff, I paused for a coffee at the Rendezvous Café in Queen's Arcade, and then got another bus down to the Bay - there was supposed to be a bus stop by the railway station, but I couldn't find it, so I went to the end of St Mary Street and found the bus stop there - the number 6 that I caught didn't do change, but I managed to scrabble the £1.80 out of the bottom of my purse and drop it in the hopper As we went round the railway station, I saw the bus stop I'd been looking for on the other side. There were quite a few well-dressed people on the bus, including one lady in a gorgeous deep blue and gold sari - I wondered if they were going to a wedding or something similar.
The bus dropped me right outside the Doctor Who Experience, a big hangar-like building painted Tardis blue. I didn't have time to do the Experience tour, so I passed the Lego dalek, and the three daleks from the series, and went up the stairs to the shop.
I bought quite a lot....
Then I walked along the edge of the Bay, past the Norwegian church (and café and art gallery), to see a big crowd of people around the Millennium Centre. Many of them were wearing academic caps and gowns, and I recognised a couple of families from the bus ride. It seems it was graduation day for Cardiff University, and I saw students in their gowns all over the city centre after that.
I also visited Ianto's Shrine - the character from Torchwood (which had its secret base under the square on the Bay) who died in the mini-series Children of Earth. It's looking a little faded now, but still covers an impressive amount of wall space.
Then I got a bus back into the city centre from outside the Millennium Centre - a number 8 this time, which only cost £1.60 - and gave change.
Back in the city centre, I had intended to go to the Brewdog pub for lunch - but I'm not having a lot of luck with pubs at lunchtime at the moment, and they were closed. So I headed on to the comic shop, and Forbidden Planet, and did a bit more shopping around town. I ended up eating lunch from a Subway, at the bus stop for home.
Where I got on the wrong bus.
I didn't realise this until we were leaving Merthyr Tydfil, when I started noticing that this was not the route I had come by that morning. We went up through Dowlais, where there is a historic blast furnace, and a statue of the Trevithick steam engine. Then I noticed the road sign which pointed the way to Abergavenny.
I went up and consulted the driver. He said I could go to Abergavenny and get the X43 to Brecon. Okay, then. A little further on, we pulled into a modern little bus station, and I asked the driver where we were. "Ebbw Vale," he said, "and look - there's the T4 going back to Merthyr - it might be better if you got on that." This seemed like a good idea, so I ran down the bus station and caught the T4.
Fortunately I was in time, back in Merthyr, for the bus which got me to Brecon before the last bus back to Hay - and I'd done the entire mystery tour for not extra cost - all with my Explorer ticket!

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Best Laid Plans....

To be honest, the plans weren't really that best laid. I had the vague notion that I might like to get the bus to Dorstone, walk out to the castle at Snodhill to look round, and come back to the Pandy at Dorstone for lunch. And, because I grew up on the Famous Five books, I made sure I was equipped with a small backpack with fruit juice and chocolate (and an unbreakable steel goblet to drink from), like a 1930s rambler.
That plan lasted until I got off the bus at Dorstone. When I went over to check the opening times at the Pandy, they don't open on a Monday lunchtime.
Hey ho - I could still walk out to Snodhill. It wasn't that far, and on the way I bought some eggs from outside Snodhill Court Farm, from an honesty box.
The entrance to the castle had gates across it, and large notices saying that this was a hard hat area and there was no public access. At the top of the hill, the castle ruins themselves were hidden under scaffolding.
I couldn't see anyone about, so I thought I might just sneak in and take a photo, and then sneak out again.
I was caught straight away, by a very nice young man who came out of the tea hut, where the workers were having their break.
The Snodhill Preservation Trust is having work done to stabilise the stonework and stop the castle from falling into further ruin. The young man gave me a leaflet, which says that Historic England did emergency work on the castle last year, and the work this year is to clear the undergrowth, restore the standing remains and to investigate the surroundings to find out more about the medieval castle.
Surprisingly little is known about the origins of the castle - it may be built among the earthworks of an Iron Age hill fort, and may even be a rare, pre-Norman castle. The first certain information is in the time of William Fitz Osbern, first Earl of Hereford, around 1070 - he built all the early castles from Wigmore to Chepstow. He granted Snodhill to Hugh l'Asne, who held it until he died in 1100, when it passed to Robert de Chandos, who had married Hugh's daughter. The de Chandos family held the castle for the next 300 years or so, and at one point during Edward II's reign the castle was stormed by Roger Mortimer.
There are rumours that the castle was besieged by the Earl of Leven in 1645, during the English Civil War - cannon balls have been found - but after that it fell out of use, and stone from the castle was used to build nearby Snodhill Court.
The tower keep is unique - it's twelve-sided - and Historic England have started an extensive survey of the castle and its surroundings, including the nearby village and park, field systems and lanes.
The Preservation Trust are looking for Friends and volunteers to help with the work. To become a Friend costs £10 a year, for which you receive a newsletter called The Turret, and invitations to events over the year. They can be contacted at:
The Friend's Secretary,
Snodhill Castle Preservation Trust,
The Green
It's a fascinating castle, and I hope it becomes better known when the work is done - I'm certainly going to be going back next year, when it should be possible to get a better look around.
Later, I was talking to Mary Fellowes at Broad Street Books, and she remembers one of the local farms taking their pigs up to the castle for the summer!
Then, instead of going back to Dorstone, I walked on along the valley to Peterchurch, where I had a very nice half of Ludlow Gold at the Nag's Head, where the landlady told me that the people working at Snodhill came to have their site meetings. Then I caught the bus back to Hay - so it was a very pleasant morning out after all.
A few nights ago, Brian and a few friends were having a drink at Kilverts, and got talking to some other people sitting outside, who turned out to be working on the castle. If you're reading this, young man from Snodhill - take no notice of Brian - he was only winding you up! Apparently he was spinning some sob story about how I'd been looking forward to the visit to the castle for months, and saved up all my pennies to get there, and was bitterly disappointed to be thrown off the site! In fact, I completely understood why I wasn't allowed any closer, and the young man couldn't have been nicer!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Celtic Evening

I'm looking forward to going to the Globe on Friday evening - Thomasin, Justin and some of their friends will be playing Celtic music from 8pm. Tickets are £5. They're both very good musicians, so it should be a good night!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

HOWLS Meeting

Next Wednesday, the 19th July, there will be a meeting at Tomatitos, at 7pm, about the future of Hay Library.
To quote the Facebook page:

"The sole emphasis of this meeting will be to make a start on compiling a list of the pros and cons of all the options facing the future of Hay Library.

This will require HOWLS to look closely at all the options on offer so what do you think?

Is our community best served by the Library:

* Moving into the new school premises
* Staying where it is and finding a way of making up the Powys
funding shortfall
* Other? Are there any other options that we haven't thought of yet

Come equipped on the night with your own ideas and we'll add them to the list or if you can't make the meeting or simply prefer to add your opinion in writing then please contact the Secretary Melanie on and we will ensure that it gets added to the list."

If we want to keep a library which really is a library, and not just a room with a few books in it, this will be an important meeting.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Big Skill

While the Town Council and volunteer groups were in the Buttermarket, The Big Skill was on at the Globe.
This event has been on in Hay before, but it's the first time they've used the Globe - previously it's been on the fields across the river.
It was £5 to get in, but once you were inside there were all sorts of craft workshops to try, as well as crafts and art to buy, and live music through the afternoon and into the evening.
Just at the entrance was the Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees, selling teddy bears with labels describing how people had become refugees ("I fled from Syria because it wasn't safe there" and so on), and with information about their work. The refugees they support are in Swansea now, mostly from Syria.
Around the grounds of the Globe were tents with a variety of stalls. Lottie O'Leary was giving people the chance to try stone carving, while down the steps at Bridget's Scrap Bag (rag rugs and other fabric crafts), people were making flowers with a sacking back and rag petals Bridget Morgan sells her work at Talgarth Mill shop, and holds regular workshops - details available from The Bakers' Table at Talgarth Mill,
Another stall was selling jewellery from Kenya - the Brecon Molo Community Partnership, and Greenpeace were giving information about their campaign to save the rich bio-diversity of the Amazon reef, under threat from oil drilling by BP - with the help of SpongeBob SquarePants. An artist was working on a landscape, and another stall had a spinning wheel, and all the tools for spinning and weaving. Elsewhere children were building an impressive turreted edifice from clay, and a chap was wood turning. I treated myself to an annular brooch turned from Applewood. Another stall had decorative stained glass, and another had children trying needle felting.
Inside the Globe was set up for the music - it's all been recently refurbished, so the scaffolding gallery is gone, replaced with something that looks much smarter and more permanent, with a proper solid stairway up to it, and the wide benches around the edges of the hall have been rebuilt.
Bob Evans, who presides over the acoustic sessions at Baskerville Hall, was there (after I'd gone), at his second gig of the day - the first was in Brecon - though he only had a small audience.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Meet the Council Day

Here are three members of the Town Council at the Buttermarket last Saturday. Rob Golesworthy introduced me to one of the new councillors (sorry I've forgotten his name!) and said that, although he'd had issues with some things that I'd written on this blog, he had to say that I was always accurate. Which is high praise indeed, and it is what I try to achieve. (I don't always manage it, but I do try).
Another two councillors (Trudi and Alan) were over at the Woodland Group stall, looking after their display of garden and woodcutting tools and with some rather pretty mugs to sell. I'm drinking my tea from one now.
Also in the Buttermarket were Dial-a-Ride and the North Weir Trust, with a large display of plants for sale. Dial-a-Ride members can be any age, living within a 9 mile radius of Hay, and they can use the service for shopping trips, visits to the doctors' surgery, visiting friends, and more. They also run trips to places like Hergest Croft Gardens and Abergavenny Market. And they have fully accessible buses for wheelchair users. The drivers are volunteers, and one of the aims of the day was to sign up new volunteers to the various local groups.
North Weir Trust gives grants to local people for educational purposes.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Beer on the Wye

I was planning to go to Beer on the Wye this year - the thirteenth year Herefordshire CAMRA have organised it - and the night before, I got a phone call. One of my friends was going to see her mother in Hereford; her husband is a member of CAMRA and wanted to go to the beer festival, so would I like a lift? It would only be for the Friday afternoon, but that was ideal for me, because that's what I was planning to do anyway, but working around the times of the 39 bus. This way, I was dropped right at the Rowing Club, picked up afterwards, and had company to chat to while I was there. And it meant that Richard had company, too, so a win all round, although he does know several of the volunteers running the festival, and had a good chat about cricket at the bar.

A quick scan down the list of beers, and I didn't notice any from East Anglia this year - the beers from that part of the country don't make it across this far very often so that's always my first choice if there are any available, and I was wearing my Woodforde's Wherry tshirt for the occasion, which is one of my favourite beers from East Anglia.
So the first beer I tried was from the North West - Robinson's Trooper, which was named after the Iron Maiden song. Richard went for Timothy Taylor's Golden Best, always a reliable name, and a nice light beer to start with.
And we managed to get seats, on a table under the stage, where tech people were getting ready for the first band to play that evening.
Moving around the country, my second choice was Orkney Raven, a golden refreshing ale. I try to go for a beer from each category of the list if I can (my upper limit for beer festivals these days is three pints, taken as halves or thirds so I can try a variety of beers), so the next beer I chose was Mantle's Dark Heart, a ruby porter from Ceredigion which was absolutely gorgeous - and just right to finish on, as our lift arrived then and was waiting outside for us. Richard finished with some Malvern Hills Pale Ale, which he thought his wife would like.
The weather was good, it wasn't too crowded (being the first afternoon) and we got to try some very fine beers, with good conversation, so it was an extremely pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Hereford History Day

I went into Hereford sitting on the bus next to a lady I know, who had just come back from London, where she'd been staying in a hotel where some of the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire are staying. She said the hotel was making them welcome, but they aren't sure how long they are going to have to stay there.

The show was smaller this year than previous years, but the medieval group they got in - Historia Normannis - were really good. When I was there, they were explaining the economic aspects of medieval warfare to an interested group of members of the public (such as, you don't want to kill too many peasants because they're needed to grow the crops, and you don't want to kill your noble adversary if you can capture him and hold him to ransom - I'm simplifying madly, obviously). They also did a display where they attacked cabbages on sticks to show the effects of different weapons. One of the women on camp was dressed as a Benedictine nun, a costume choice that isn't often seen since nuns tended to be cloistered and not wandering around the countryside with a bunch of knights! One chap, dressed as a peasant this year, said he'd portrayed King John at a show in Swaffham last year. Apparently, King John is very popular in Swaffham, because he granted them their market charter! He's also married to someone who works for Hereford Council, so he's been involved in most of the History Days they've held. Last year, he was a Victorian gent, sipping tea and eating cucumber sandwiches in the tea tent!
The group has a website at, and they were also doing a show in Flintshire that same weekend, so it would be interesting to see the whole group working together if only half of it is this good.

Wandering around the show was this executioner:

This little dog didn't like him at all!

There were also stalls selling crafts and displays from local history groups, falcons, an archery butt, a vintage car, a medieval doctor and a scribe demonstrating their crafts, and a folk orchestra by the refreshment vans.

Later, while I was doing a bit of shopping round town, I came across these drummers, who were collecting so they could afford new drum skins:

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Library Plans

When I went to the Council meeting on Monday, I was sitting next to Anita, from HOWLS, in the audience. On the way home after the meeting we started chatting about the new school building and the plans for the library. I'd been of the opinion that the important thing to do was to keep the library open until it transferred into it's new premises at the school. I knew the room would be smaller, but in my innocence I thought that we would be more or less trading like for like in terms of library facilities.

It turns out that it's not like that at all. The "new library" in the school will be an empty room, with a storage area. The library books will be on mobile bookcases which will be trundled away into the storage area when the library is not open, leaving an empty room which can be used for other purposes.
So what's going to happen to the computer terminals which are in the present library building? Where are library users going to be able to access a computer if not in the new library in the school? Come to that, where is the librarian going to sit? Is there going to be a library counter and chair that gets trundled out each time the library opens to the public?
It also strikes me that this sort of library would be very easy to take away - all they'd need to do would be to load the mobile bookshelves onto a truck, and there would be a new empty room for the school to use, with storage area.

So what's being offered by the County Council is not a proper library, and not a proper community centre - the other empty room in the school which is supposed to be for that purpose, with no facilities for art or pottery classes, which used to take place in the old community centre, for instance.

It seems that it's more important than ever to campaign to keep a proper library, in a proper library building - and with proper qualified staff to run it.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Council Meeting - Planning Matters around Hay and Bookers Edge

In planning matters, the town council has the duty to comment on the applications, but they don't make the final decision on whether it will go ahead or not.

The first planning application the council had to deal with was for Lion Garage. It closed as a garage a little while ago, and someone bought it with the intention of turning it into a seven bedroomed house which would be used as a B&B, while keeping the external appearance the same as much as possible.
The councillors liked this idea, since it fitted with the local development plan that said the building had to continue in use as a business, but the National Parks rejected the application. Now it has been re-submitted as a seven bedroomed house which would occasionally be used for B&B, in the hope that the National Parks would accept this. There was some discussion about whether the owners should make some contribution towards affordable housing in the area as part of their application - and the councillors still preferred the original application for a B&B.

Next was The Willows in Gypsy Castle, where the owner wants to build a garage with an annexe above, separate to the main house. The owner of the house is disabled, and there was some confusion over whether the annexe was for his carer or for him to live in. Either way, they decided that this was not an annexe - it was a completely separate building, and as such did not fit with the local development plan. There had been a previous application last April, which was withdrawn, to be submitted again now in a slightly different form. Again, the council said that they should make a contribution to affordable housing if the plans went ahead.

And then there's Bookers Edge.
This is the field opposite the Co-op, so it's actually in Cusop, and Cusop Community Council have been considering the application. However, Hay has an interest because the people who eventually live in the houses will be sending their children to Hay School, and going to the doctors at Hay Surgery and so on.
The plans for the site are for 26 dwellings (the poster at the site says "bespoke houses"), nine of which are to be affordable housing. This was agreed on - but now the builders are trying to wriggle out of that agreement. They have gone back to Herefordshire Council to say that there are problems with the drainage of the field, and difficulties with the builders, so the cost of building the houses has gone up and they can't afford to build 9 affordable homes. So would the Council accept £360,000 instead to build social housing elsewhere? They would still want to build the nine houses, but sell them at market value.
All the councillors thought this was disgraceful. There is a great need for affordable housing in this area, and the reasons the developers have given for wanting to renege on their agreement are pretty feeble. The general attitude was "Tough - they agreed to build nine affordable homes, and that's what they should do." It was commented that this is a common strategy by developers, and they needed to be held to account.
Hay Council will be sending a letter in support of Cusop Council to the planning authorities, stressing that the developers should be held to their original agreement. They also noted that Hay Council should have been involved in the planning process much earlier.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Council Meeting - Loggin Brook, Disabled Access and Recycling

Meanwhile, back at the Swan....
There are plans for another Transfer of Assets from Powys County Council to the Town Council. This is the area near the church including the footpath, with the Loggin Brook and the old castle mound, and also the Swan Well. The idea is that the Woodland Group would manage the area, and make it into a picnic area - but the Woodland Group might not always exist, whereas the Town Council will always be there, so the idea is that the Town Council will take it over on behalf of the Woodland Group, which will then manage it (at this point, Trudi and Alan Powell left the room due to conflict of interests, as they are in the Woodland Group).
One councillor pointed out that the Town Council are in the middle of three Transfers of Assets already - did they really want to start a fourth? There have been huge problems dealing with Powys County Council in the existing negotiations.
But the decision was that the idea was a good one, and the area would be better managed by the Woodland Group than by anyone else, so they're going to go for it.

Josie Pearson is particularly interested in disabled access around town, for obvious reasons, and made the point that disabled access should be included in the Town Plan. At present, there is nothing about disabled access in the Town Plan, and it was agreed that this should be rectified. She also talked about a scheme called Miles Without Stiles, which is making footpaths more accessible - stiles are okay for able bodied walkers to get over, but impossible for the physically impaired. In some places, kissing gates can be opened wide for wheelchairs with a Radar Key, which is also used to gain access to toilets for the disabled. The gate to the Warren can be opened with a Radar Key, for instance, and the Miles Without Stiles scheme looks at places where kissing gates or other gates can be installed in the place of stiles for ease of access. It's been successful in the Lake District, and there are funds that can be applied for.
The first job is to find the footpaths that can easily be made accessible with modifications - it looks as if Josie will be busy trying out paths in the near future. The power wheelchair she was using at the Council meeting looks as if it can be used over rugged terrain, and she was asked how steep a slope she could manage in it - she's never tried going up the very steep lane at Black Lion Green, so she may be trying that out to see how far she gets. While checking the paths, they will also be thinking about walkers with visual impairments. Obviously, they also need to get in contact with landowners and get them involved. If this could be done, Hay would be one of the forerunners of the scheme in Wales.
And while the council were thinking about disabled access, they considered the narrow pavements and other difficulties around the town. One of the problems here is that pavements are being made narrower and more difficult to negotiate by the many shops which put signboards and stuff for sale outside their shops. This is a matter for the Chamber of Commerce to be involved in, and Josie seems to have some involvement with the Chamber of Commerce, too. They also talked about getting the History Group involved, as they have guided walks, so know the footpaths well already.
The Chamber of Commerce are starting to ask for donations for this years' Christmas Lights - they want to extend the display down Broad Street, and along to the Cinema Bookshop, and Josie asked why the Town Council only gave £1,000 last year, when previously they had given £1,500. This is because the Town Council have so many new obligations now, and only a limited budget.

And also on the theme of disabled access, Dial a Ride now have a special wheelchair which can be used in their minibus, which was paid for by the recycling fund.

Which leads neatly on to the matter of recycling plastic film, which is no longer accepted for recycling by the County Council in the red bins provided to each house. There is a company which offers to take away plastic film, including bubble wrap and plastic bags, for recycling for a small fee - £8.50 for a 1100 litre bin. The fee is because plastic film is very difficult to recycle. The same company (Caepost?) are going round farms taking agricultural plastic waste as well, which is even more difficult to recycle because it tends to get very dirty.
The councillors thought that they should be seen to be doing their best for recycling, and that this was a good idea. The fee could be paid from the recycling fund. They haven't yet decided where to site a plastic film bin - the car park seems the obvious place, but they don't want it to become too cluttered.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Choral Singing

I always enjoy listening to the Community Choir when I see them, and it seems that the same organiser is also responsible for another group, the Decibelles.
The Decibelles will be singing at Clyro Village Hall on Sunday 9th July at 7pm and the Community Choir will be at Baskerville Hall on Sunday 16th July from 7pm.
I'm not sure if I'll be able to get to either of them, but if past performances are anything to go by, they'll be enjoyable evenings!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Wings over the Wye

I don't go walking anywhere near as much as I used to when I had a dog - but at the weekend I decided to go down to the Warren. It was a grey day, but warm enough. While I was walking along the pebble beach something made me look up - a large white bird was flying along the river, towards the town. It wasn't a swan - it had a long neck, but it was tucked back, and it had a long bill.
Someone had said that they'd seen an egret down near Hay Bridge - and here it was! I got a good look at it as it swept downstream, and then turned to disappear over the trees.
Of course, I didn't have my camera with me!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Meet the Council

I was a bit late for the council meeting this week - I hadn't realised that it was being held in the Swan rather than the Council Chambers (in a room with some noisy machines whirring away at the back where the bar was, so I couldn't hear everything that was going on very clearly). The reason for the change of venue was that level access was needed for one of the new councillors - Josie Pearson, Hay's Paralympic champion, and the reason our pillar box is painted gold.
There were quite a few new faces round the table, so it was appropriate that they should be discussing a Meet the Council event during the course of the evening. They will be in the Buttermarket this Saturday, from 10am to 2pm, on a rota, along with the Woodland Group on a table manned by Mayor Trudi Stedman and Alan Powell. Trudi was disappointed that the bacon roll lady wouldn't be on the market that day - she'd been looking forward to that for lunch!
A banner has been ordered, newsletters talking about the Council's work have been printed, and there will be volunteering opportunities and the chance for people to put their names down for regular email updates on what the Council is doing. The newsletter is also planned to be a regular feature, coming out quarterly, and available around the town at the Library, Post Office and other places. One of the volunteering opportunities is to join the Community Speed watch so that they can extend the scope of their activities. They have been quite successful down Newport Street and Brecon Road already. Richard Greatrex, another new councillor, said that not enough people know the good work the Town Council does, and it's important for them to get out and meet the public.
One of the new councillors suggested that they should have an official badge to show that they are members of the council, and not just random people standing around. They will have name badges on Saturday, but something a bit more official will be looked into for other occasions - a bit like Blue Peter presenters always wearing their Blue Peter badge when on duty!
If the day goes well, they will try it again, perhaps with a table on a market day.

They were still working out what everyone was doing - Fiona was reminded that she was the council representative for the Gwynne's Almshouses committee, and the school had sent a message to say they needed a new school governor, and also someone to join the committee to run the swimming pool. Josie expressed interest in becoming a school governor, and David said he would join the pool committee, as long as he wasn't expected to come in to lock up at nights! The pool committee are looking for grants to maintain the pool, and are hoping to appoint a part-time pool manager soon.
And on the subject of the school, Richard wanted to be sure that the fire regulations had not been relaxed for the new building. The town council wants to be sure that a full fire safety survey is done by the County Council, and that there are sprinklers in the building, fire risk being very much on everyone's minds after the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The new bench was mentioned - it's on loan from the Castle until a new permanent bench can be found, which is why it has "Agincourt 600" carved on the backrest.

There was also concern about the new ATM (still having teething problems) at the Post Office. Apparently, the original idea was to move the post box next to the new ATM, but the Post Office decided that the gold pillar box would be adequate. However, the slot on the pillar box isn't big enough for large letters, or some parcels, which can only be posted now when the Post Office is open, so the councillors felt that this was not adequate at all. They weren't keen on the bright lighting around the edge of the new ATM either.

Just recently, a child impaled himself on a spiked railing round the back of the cattle market while climbing over it, so there was some concern about the safety of the railings around town. The ones by the cattle market are a relic of the old railway, but there was also the case a couple of years ago of the man who slipped and fell, impaling himself on the safety railings at the end of Castle Street, which have knobs on the spikes which are supposed to stop people getting impaled. So councillors will be checking to see where there are spiked railings on council land, and investigating ways to keep them safe - perhaps by putting a bar across the top of the spikes, or cutting the spikes off altogether, as the council does have a duty of care. Meanwhile the parents of the child who was injured have apparently said that it is the responsibility of kids not to do stupid things!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

New Bench

Gareth Ratcliffe moved fast, and a new bench was delivered opposite the Cinema Bookshop the very next day.
This one is all wood - the last one had ironwork legs and arms, and wooden slats.
Let's hope it lasts longer than the last one!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Small Business Saturday

A new business in town, next to Hey Hair - Beaubell, which is selling lingerie and other clothing.