Saturday, 7 October 2017

Council Meeting - Transfer of Assets, Library, Town Plan, and Hay Castle's Plans

It was reported that the Annexe, behind the Council Chambers, is now empty. "We have a second building?" one of the newer councillors asked, in surprise.
The problem is, what to do with it? Should they advertise that it's for rent (they would be wanting £400 a month for it)? There are difficulties round the back, which is roped off so falling slates can't hurt anyone, and who would want to take it on when they don't know how long they will be able to stay there? It all depends on decisions about the Transfer of Assets which have not been taken yet. One flippant suggestion was to offer the Annexe to Red Van Man!
However, Powys County Council have agreed to pay for scaffolding to repair the storm damage on the roof. There's a lot more work that needs to be done up there, and councillors wondered whether they could get the contractor to do the extra work while the scaffolding was there, so they didn't have to pay twice.

I was hoping to hear something about the Library, and what happened at the school the other week - or rather, what didn't happen, as Councillor Powell the portfolio holder for libraries didn't show up for the meeting. However, Trudi just read out the email she'd got from Anita Wright, of HOWLS, saying how they felt "concern, frustration and anger" that the meeting was cancelled at the last minute, but that they still wanted to have a meeting with her to present their ideas for the future of the library, and that they also wanted to meet with the Town Council to discuss ways forward which would benefit both the Library and the Town Council.
Trudi said that she had been offered a couple of dates for a meeting - but at County Hall in Llandrindod Wells, at which she said that the councillor should come down to Hay to see the Town Council.
So that's the position at the moment....

The Chamber of Commerce has been active about the Town Plan. They are concerned about the number of empty shops in town, and are looking at ways to regenerate Hay's shopping centre. The two most important problems seem to be the high rents and the difficulty in finding the right sort of tenant for the shops, who can pass all the necessary credit checks, according to McCartney's estate agents, who seem to be handling most of the leases. So the Chamber will be working with landlords to find a way to help new tenants and businesses to start up. They will also be talking to established businesses in town, and thinking about a social media campaign to encourage people to visit Hay.

Then there was some consternation about the plans for Hay Castle! The Castle has been awarded a £76,000 grant from the Big Lottery Rural Programme - which is great news. What upset the councillors is what they intend to do with it. To quote the article in Wye Local from the Castle: "Access to arts, culture and creative learning facilities is also limited."
"In Hay?!" one councillor exclaimed, incredulously.
The article goes on: "There was an almost unanimous feeling (99% of respondents) that Hay did not have anywhere that could be called 'the centre of the community'."
Mutterings from the councillors that this was because the community centre had been knocked down by Powys County Council, who had promised to build a new one....
So, Hay Castle wants to become the community hub which is lacking in Hay, "developing a programme of activities to engage all sectors of the community, from toddlers to young farmers, families and older people." They talk about loaning art works of national importance for display, and having music, performing arts, writing workshops, bookbinding, printmaking, and other crafts that have to do with the written word.
All of which is a very laudable aim....
"I bet they won't have the Youth Club up there, though," was the general opinion of the Town Council. It was their considered opinion that some people in town wouldn't go to the Castle for community events, whereas they would go to a community centre, if we had one.
So the Town Council will be inviting representatives of Hay Castle Trust to come and discuss their plans with the council, so they can see how those plans fit in with the existing Town Plan.
One of the problems with Powys County Council that really gets the Town Council angry is the way they promised a new community centre - and have provided a room ten paces long in the new school building. That's not a new community centre, and the assurance that community groups could hire out the school hall is not what they promised to provide either. So the Town Council doesn't really want another organisation making plans in parallel to them that could spoil their chances of getting the community centre for Hay that Powys promised to provide.

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