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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Annual town meeting deals with some hot issues

ONLY about 20 people turned up for the annual town meeting at Llangollen Town Hall yesterday (Tuesday) evening.

However, a number of hot local issues were still aired. 

The meeting is the yearly opportunity for local people to hear what the Town Council has been doing on their behalf over the previous 12 months and for them to fire questions and comments from the floor on issues of interest.
In his opening address the mayor, Cllr Bob Lube, said that over the past year he had attended 55 meetings, representing and promoting Llangollen locally and nationally.

The council’s planning committee, he said, had continued to be vigilant, its members giving their “careful and considered recommendations” on all planning applications received.
He announced that a vacancy had arisen on the council following the resignation of Cllr Jane Palombella due to work commitments.

The Friends of the Town Hall group had given attention to the fabric of the building, with work including the fitting of new lights in the main hall and lighting outside the building being upgraded.
The Town Council had over the past year given financial support to organisations such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, he explained.

In conjunction with the Cittaslow community group, there had been a World Café event at the Town Hall last November at which people were able to give their views on local issues in a relaxed atmosphere.
A crowd-funding project led by Cllr Phil Thane through Cittaslow Llangollen had successfully raised £1,000 to pay for a one-day traffic study of the town centre with a view to easing traffic problems. This would take place on May 26 and be followed by a public meeting in the Town Hall.

The project to facelift the Chain Bridge had progressed well and would see the re-opening of the historic landmark within the next few months – 31 years after the bridge was closed for safety reasons.
Cost of supporting the project to the Town Council was £6,000, said the mayor, adding: “It just shows what a small community can do when committed to a cause.”

Other schemes in hand were improvements to the cemetery, he added.
He praised volunteers from Llangollen Tidy Town Team for the many hours of unpaid labour they had put in over the year, describing their contribution as “exceptional”.

Cllr Lube also had praise for organisers of key annual events such as Remembrance Sunday, Hamper Llangollen Food Festival, the Christmas Festival, the Eisteddfod, the Fringe, the Women’s Festival and the railway’s steam gala.
“My thanks to all involved in these magnificent events,” he said.

The mayor described the Town Council’s budget for next year as “prudent” and said that its share of the council tax bill – the precept – would be £88,845 – an increase of 61p on a Band D property.
Revealing that this would be his last town meeting as mayor as his two-year term of office was ending, Cllr Lube summed up by saying: “There’s certainly a lot of activity in the community at the moment and there are many opportunities for people to get involved.”

Questions and comments from the floor began with praise from resident Phil Jones for Cllr Phil Thane and Cittaslow for organising the latest traffic study.
Cllr Thane replied that in Castle Street drivers, traders and pedestrians had competing priorities for what should be done and that all solutions were contradictory. Hopefully, he said, the consultants would come up with an answer.

A resident pointed out this would be the third traffic study done on the town centre in recent years, asking: “Nothing ever gets done, so what’s different about this one?”
Cllr Thane said this was a “grassroots” scheme by the community rather than the county council.

There was then criticism from the floor that the Town Council had not been consulted on the last county-authorised survey.
The mayor replied that the Town Council was making representations about this.

The mayor was then questioned from the floor about what plans the Town Council had for the future look of the Royal Gardens and the adjacent war memorial.
Cllr Lube responded that he had requested an artist’s impression of a possible scheme to be prepared to facilitate a debate.

He added that a working group, comprising members of the local Royal British Legion, Tidy Town Team, Civic Society, Museum and Rotary, had been formed to decide on a possible scheme. There was also the possibility of looking into whether a suitable scheme would qualify for lottery cash support.
Edwina Hart, of the Save Our Paths campaign group, thanked the Town Council for its support of its battle to save the countryside around Llangollen from “damage and trespass” by illegal off-roaders.

She added that 500 people had now signed a petition in support of the group’s aims.
Other points raised from the floor included:

* Pedestrian access to the new health centre being built on the A539. The mayor said the Town Council had made representations about this to the county council and the health board.
* Whether Sainsbury’s would ever occupy the new supermarket being built for them on the former Dobson & Crowther site on the A5. Cllr Lube said he had recently been told by the site manager that Sainsbury’s were still coming and that the completed building was due to be handed over to them in September.

* Measures to control dog fouling. The mayor said county council enforcement officers – now in plain clothes rather than uniform – were regularly visiting the town.

* Traffic lights on the A5 at the bottom of Birch Hill. Cllr Lube said he had been informed that a survey was currently being carried out to determine ground movement at either side of  the road. He added he had been told that any sideways movement detected would mean major work which would take some time to complete.
The meeting, which was also attended by eight town councillors and Town Clerk Gareth Thomas, closed after about an hour at just before 8pm with the mayor thanking all those who attended.  

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