Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Council Meeting - Water, Bench, Floral Displays, Toilets and The Car Park

So this Monday I headed down to the Sports Pavilion, which turns out to be a pretty decent place to hold a meeting apart from the noisy heater (which was essential, because it was bitterly cold outside).
When I arrived, the Council was talking about the legal requirement to test the water in the public toilets and the sports pavilion (I think for Legionnaires Disease), and how Healthmatic, who run the toilets, had failed to do the test so far - so they won't be asked to do the sports pavilion. The Council are looking for someone who will do the tests.

And there's a new bench opposite the Cinema Bookshop! This one has a wooden seat and wrought iron ends. The Agincourt bench has been taken away to be spruced up a bit, and it will be sited on Hay Bridge, and the bench there will be moved (I didn't catch where it was going to). So the Council can finally get in touch with the lady who was driving the car that ran into the original bench, as she said she would pay for the damage. Gareth Ratcliffe has the brass plaque that was fixed to the original bench, in memory of Arnold Wesker, so that can now be put on the new bench.
The Council will now go ahead with getting a bench for Bell Bank, now they know how much it costs (installation was only £55) and how easy it is.

The EU auditor has been, looking into the records of the Two Towns One World project that the Council had to take over to bring to completion - and he's mostly happy, apart from querying the fact that rent was charged for the room that the project co-ordinator was using. There was paperwork spread all over the office, apparently, but they managed to find every detail that was needed!

There will be celebrations of Hay's independence again this year, around the 1st April, and the Council will be taking part. They will be awarding the Citizen of the Year Award - there have been several nominations already - and also doing at least one workshop on making hanging baskets in the Parish Hall, as part of Hay in Bloom. They're hoping to get donations of plants and other supplies for this, and they're hoping to encourage local businesses to take part and brighten up the shop fronts.
There was also talk of a planter to be put at one of the entrances to Hay, possibly in the shape of a pile of books.
They also wondered if there was any way of linking the floral displays with the World War One commemorations later in the year.

And negotiations with the County Council about the revenue from the car park are continuing. After the County Council said that they would not honour the agreement made with the previous Cabinet, by which Hay Council would receive a percentage of money from the car park to pay for the extra responsibilities they have taken on, such as the toilets, there seems to be a bit of a change of mind. A report will now be put before the new Cabinet, with all the correspondence that passed between Hay and the County Council for the original agreement, and Gareth, as county councillor for Hay, will be asking questions of the Cabinet on behalf of the town council.
This is also linked to all the asset transfers that are supposed to be going on, with the town council taking over responsibilities from the County Council, and the outcome of the negotiations has major implications for the working of the town council.
The main problem is the public toilets. 80,000 people a year use them, and if there were no public toilets, tourism to the town would decrease. The town council took over the running of the toilets, and took out a loan to pay for the refurbishment, on the understanding that they would be able to pay the loan back with the revenue from the car park. If the money is not forthcoming, the town council may not be able to afford to continue the contract with Healthmatic.
The councillors were sure that the County Council would argue that Hay was asking for too much, since there are also ongoing negotiations about the new cemetery and community centre provision, and that other towns in Powys would think that Hay was getting something they weren't.
But Hay is only trying to hang on to the assets they have - the town council isn't asking for anything extra.
There will be a meeting soon with Liam Fitzpatrick from the County Council, and the councillors will be making sure that they have definite figures on how much they need to run the services in Hay.
There's also the principle at stake that the County Council can't make an agreement and then refuse to honour it just because there's been an election.

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