Saturday, 9 December 2017

Council Meeting - the Future of Welsh Politics?

Some good news from the Miles Without Stiles project - work will begin on the Bailey Walk in the New Year to make it more easily accessible. There was also a good meeting with the Warren Trust and the National Park - the car park at the Warren will be improved, too. The Woodland group are also happy to get involved, with things like cutting back overhanging bushes.
As ever, though, the Town Council needs to know what the County Council are doing before they can make more concrete plans....

Down at the Gliss, talks are progressing and compromise solutions have been proposed and rejected between the Town Council and residents who are all claiming the same bit of land. The Land Registry has yet to make a decision - they're even slower than the County Council.
Meanwhile, Welsh Water needs to do work soon on electrical cables which run right through the disputed area.
And while they were on the subject of the Gliss, someone asked about the plans of the Globe for a bridge across the Dulas for their festival next year - it seems this will not be built after all.

Everyone was very pleased with this years' Winter Festival - apart from various parking problems. The car park at the sports pavilion, for instance, was closed to the public for a football match, so that the footballers could park - but the sign is still there, and prevented other people from using the car park over the Festival weekend.
Attendance figures for the Turning on of the Lights were double previous years. There was a suggestion of incorporating fireworks next year - rockets over the Castle timed for when the lights are switched on would be pretty spectacular!
However, there were queries about the huge sum the County Council charges for closing roads - Castle Street was closed for the evening, and Gibbons' the butchers burger van was parked in the middle of it. Town councillors thought that the least the County Council could do would be to man the road closure to make sure cars were diverted.

The Town Council is sent a mountain of paperwork (well, email, but it's all a lot of reading) and there was a suggestion that the various subject areas could be divided up between the councillors so that they didn't all have to plough through everything - and then anything important could be brought to the attention of the others. So on Monday they were dividing up the subject areas between them. Rob Golesworthy instantly volunteered to do UFOs!
Next August, a piece of legislation, the Wales Bill, will be debated in the Welsh Assembly - and it will affect the future of town councils all across Wales. This is one of the important things that is easy to get lost in the mountain of paperwork, which Richard Greatrex brought to the Council's attention.
Richard went to a meeting organised by One Voice Wales on the Wales Bill, as a consultation exercise. Questions they were asking went right back to basics on what Town Councils should be doing - what responsibilities should they have? What is the best way for them to operate? What standards should they be held to? How will they best represent local people?
The general feeling seemed to be that Town Councils would be taking on more and more responsibilities in the coming years - Solva, in West Wales, is already running an adult care home - but town councillors are not professionals, and they aren't trained for this! Meanwhile the county councils have the staff and resources, but seem to be doing less and less....
There is a theory that the Welsh Assembly want to do away with County Councils altogether, and go back to the old system of District Authorities. So, could Hay be rid of the County Council and all those problems - or would it be a case of even more headaches in the future?
Another area which will be of great importance is Health and Social Care, considering the problems the County Council are having with funding social care at the moment. They are asking the Welsh Assembly to step in to help. There are department heads missing in the social care department of the County Council, including one who has gone on sick leave for a scheduled knee operation.
Meanwhile, the full County Council will be meeting at the end of January to debate the budget - but they need to know what precept has been set locally by the 21st January, before the town councils know what the PCC is going to be doing.
The quote of the evening came at this point: "We're finding it very difficult to get responses from Powys".
It could be the Hay motto, inscribed on all official paperwork!
And not only Hay, of course - at the meeting about the Wales Bill, Richard met the Mayor of Knighton, who said they have similar problems with Powys.

Trudi, meanwhile, has been asked to sit on a committee on how to draw up Town Plans - somebody is impressed with the Town Plan for Hay! She will also be opening the Fairtrade Fair on Saturday 16th December, and will be attending the St Michael's Hospice service on the 17th December. She will also be at the Christmas in the Trenches service at Cusop Church on Saturday 9th December, at 2pm. She will also be doing a video - in French! - in reply to the one the Mayor of Timbuktu sent to Hay for the tenth anniversary of the town twinning.

One issue came out of the Open Evening at the new school - the County Council want to use the space where the old school now stands as car parking - but as an extension to the public car park. The school wants the space to be for the school only.

After a short discussion of Affordable Housing, I was asked to leave, as the council had something secret to discuss....

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