The winner of the Friends of Montgomery Play Park’s first ever fundraiser was announced just before Christmas as Julie Owen, who won a miniature real Christmas Tree with lights and decorated with £15 of lottery scratchcards. When presented with the tree, Julie said that it had made her day and that she was delighted to have won. The tree and scratchcards had kindly been donated by a supporter of the association and has been on display for most of December in Montgomery’s Bunners store, who helped promote it. Treasurer of the Friends of Montgomery Play Park, Mrs Phillips, said, “We are very grateful to Bunners and the local community for supporting us with our first fundraiser to improve the play park facilities in the town. The money raised is a big step in the right direction for us and I thank everyone who bought a ticket or helped to promote it.” Due to COVID-19, the raffle draw was held as a live event on Facebook at noon on Sunday 20th December. If you would like to support the town to improve its play park you can donate at paypal.me/montyplaypark and follow the group on facebook at fb.me/montgomeryplaypark
Coronavirus restrictions, and the further changes announced by the Welsh Government placing the country in alert level four, mean that Montgomery folk will not be able to gather in Broad Street to celebrate the New Year as usual. However, Montgomery residents are being encouraged to link up at midnight in socially-distanced safety from their own doorsteps, much in the way the ‘Clap for Carers’ worked earlier in the year. The plan is that residents will stand on their doorsteps, or inside at a window, and shine a light, for example from a torch, at midnight. Neighbours will be able to see each others’ lights and feel part of the community at the beginning of the New Year. Mayor Haydn Andrew said, “We wanted to start the New Year on a positive note, and lights have been used for centuries to signal and link across communities and between people. This will be something that everyone can do, even if they are isolating, and we hope that seeing the lights spread across town will lift people's spirits.” He added, “We also felt parents of small children might not appreciate singing or applauding on doorsteps at midnight, so we feel this will meet the needs of all the community!” In addition, those with internet access can watch a small film in the lead up to midnight, including a recorded countdown led by Town Crier, Sue Blower, and a few words from the Mayor. This will be available to view on social media into the New Year.
As Montgomery makes links across Europe, Town Mayor, Haydn Andrew, sent warm seasonal greetings in Hungarian to M. Zoltan, Polgármestere of Kunágota. Kunágota styles itself the most Welsh village in Hungary and, although few of the residents have ever visited Wales, they enjoy an annual Welsh concert and never miss an opportunity to sing Sosban Fach or Cwm Rhondda. Kunágota is a village about twice the size of Montgomery situated in the south of Hungary near the Romanian border. The residents of the town were delighted by Montgomery’s ‘Building Bridges’ video that was even shown on National Hungarian television. The Mayor also took the opportunity to send greetings from himself, the Mayoress, Town Councillors and Montgomery residents to the Bureau de Commerce and residents of Montgommery in the Calvados region of Normandy, France who also made contact this year and sent the town a translation of the story of the de Montgomerie family and their descendants. In return, a copy of the seminal ‘Story of Montgomery’ book authored by Ann and John Welton has been sent to France. In his Christmas and new year greetings to our own Montgomery, Hendomen and Caerhowel, the Mayor commended the hard-working businesses and volunteers who had rallied around in true Montgomery spirit and were a credit to the town. He concluded by wishing all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous and healthy new year on behalf of himself and the Mayoress.
For the final Mayor’s Notes of 2020, I’m afraid I would be fibbing if I said it has been a brilliant year. Interesting, in a very different way indeed. The people of Montgomery have rallied around really well under the circumstances we have been presented with. The shops, bars, cafés, services and volunteers have all been a credit to our Town. There have been a lot of cancelled events this year, especially after the March Lockdown and, I’m afraid, the Mayor’s Senior Citizens’ Christmas party in January 2021 is another event that will not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s hoping for a better 2021. By the time you read this, I will have switched on the Town’s Christmas Lights. Thanks to the hard work of the Christmas Festival Committee we will have a festive feel around the Town. So may I, on behalf of Jane and myself, wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous and healthy new year. Haydn Andrew Mayor
The annual commemoration for those who gave their lives in the two World Wars and all subsequent wars will have a different ‘feel’ this year, due to the Covid pandemic. There will be a brief closed service at the Town Memorial Garden on the 8th of November, together with the laying of wreaths, and The Last Post will be sounded at 11am. But in line with current restrictions, there will be no parade or Church service, and members of the public are asked not to enter the Memorial Garden at the time of the service this year, in order to maintain lockdown regulation numbers and distancing. Traffic control is kindly being organised by the Montgomery football club and anyone passing on foot at the time of the service will be asked to remain along the outer pavements of Chirbury and Pool Roads. The possibility of live streaming the act of remembrance is being looked into and further detail will be posted on the Montgomery Wales website and Facebook page if this goes ahead. The British Legion said, “Despite the changes this year, we are encouraging people across the nations to ensure Remembrance Sunday is still marked appropriately by taking part in remote and socially distanced Remembrance activity, whether that be watching the [Cenotaph] service on television or pausing for the Two Minute Silence in their home or on their doorsteps.” At 4pm on the 8th, there will be a brief ceremony at the County War Memorial on Town Hill. Unlike previous years, transport will not be provided this year. Anyone visiting the County War Memorial as part of their own act of remembrance is advised to wear suitable clothing and footwear, and to carry a torch if it’s later on in the day. Whilst volunteers will not be calling at residents’ doorsteps with poppies and collection boxes this year, these will be available in town at Bunners, the Post Office and Spar, as well as at the school for the staff and pupils, and at Llandyssil Bakery, Abermule Stores and St Llwchaiarn’s Church. At 11am on Wednesday 11th of November, Armistice Day, a short service will be held at the Montgomery Town Memorial Garden, where again people are asked to respect the distancing guidelines in force at that time.
It is fantastic to see the Market being such a success, thanks to a lot of hard work from all the people involved. Long may it continue! The support it has had from tourists and residents alike has been phenomenal. The new Autumn/Winter opening times for the Castle have been announced as 10.00am–4.00pm from 1st October, in line with CADW sites throughout Wales. I have had a lot of complaints recently about dogs off leads, and have myself been knocked off my bike near the Showfield by a dog off its lead. Please keep dogs on leads in public areas. It is, of course, disappointing for Montgomery and other communities that activities and events are so restricted due to the Covid-19 regulations, but I appeal to you all to keep to these guidelines for the good of everyone in our community. With the Covid-19 still with us, the Council continues to hold its meetings successfully via Zoom, while keeping within the guidelines set by the Welsh Government. Best wishesHaydn Haydn Andrew, Mayor
Now we are well into summer, and we are able to get out and about a little more with the easing of the Covid-19 Lockdown, we still have to be aware that this virus has not gone away and is still lurking in the background. Nevertheless, we can start to enjoy some of our beautiful countryside and local hospitality with cafés, pubs and restaurants reopening for us all to enjoy, although with some restrictions. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Venice Pugh for her dedication and hard work as Chairperson of the Crier for many years and wish her well in her retirement. Best wishes - Haydn Andrew, Mayor
Well that was a very interesting first year as Mayor, with the last three months spent in Lockdown! Montgomery Town Council have not had any face to face meetings during Lockdown, but have instead held meetings online via Zoom. I appreciate that some services have been reduced and events cancelled, but hopefully we can start to resume some normality soon. I thank Powys County Council for keeping their essential services running during this difficult time. I have accepted the post as your Mayor again for a second year and will endeavour to serve the people of Montgomery to the best of my ability. We are currently looking at ways to celebrate VJ Day in August, while at the same time staying within the Welsh Government guidelines. Details will follow nearer to the time. Take care all and keep safe. Haydn Andrew, Mayor
Here is a graphic to show where Montgomery Town Council spent money during the financial year from April 2019 to March 2020. The accounts are available annually from the Clerk once they have been audited (usually around July each year). All council meetings are open to the public. Town Council costs included the part-time Town Clerk’s salary; office and running costs; insurances and audit costs. Town Hall running costs included, for example, Council Tax, utilities, cleaning and licences. As previously reported, Montgomery Town Hall has been extensively refurbished, and most of the invoices for this work were paid during this year out of the public works loan; the costs are included in the graphic through repayment of this loan. Some scheduled works to the Hall have also been completed during the year. The Town Council is currently finalising with the Montgomery Community Buildings Preservation Trust (MCBPT) the transfer of the Town Hall over to the charity to be managed for the benefit of the community. Amenity and recreation costs during this period included regular costs, such as grass cutting and floral displays, alongside maintenance of the defibrillators, refurbishment of benches, and necessary repair work to the two children’s playgrounds in the town. Communications includes, for example, the website and providing wi-fi at the Town Hall and Broad Street. The Council also makes a contribution to The Crier newsletter. Projects include events, Destination Montgomery and work to Whitegate Pool. Note that the graphic shows proportional Council expenditure only. The Council’s income included the precept (portion of council tax), grant funding and donations, Town Hall income, event income etc. The Council also holds some ear-marked funds in reserve for particular planned spends.
Montgomery Neighbourhood Angels has been awarded funding of £500, secured through PAVO by their helpful and supportive Community Connector Diane Jones. Cllr Stephen Hayes, one of the co-ordinators of the scheme said: “We are thrilled to receive this money, as we have printed postcards which have gone to every house, and purchased a contactless cash machine to assist the Shopping Angels with cash free transactions when they have been shopping for people who are isolating themselves.” He added, “We have been working closely with PAVO and Diane, and have been happy to share our learning and ideas with other communities. We are delighted that the Angels concept has been adopted elsewhere in Powys.” The money will be used to cover costs incurred by the scheme, as the angels themselves are all unpaid volunteers. As part of the accounting process, the scheme is drawing together the statistics of contacts established and households helped by Montgomery Neighbourhood Angels, and the picture which is emerging shows the real worth of the scheme over the last twelve weeks, alongside all the good neighbourliness and family support there is in Montgomery.