Town Tidy Team members spent the time between Christmas and new year sorting out hedges and pavements in the Tan y Mur and Bishops Castle Street area of the town. 46 wheelbarrows full of debris, litter, weeds, glass bottles, hedge cuttings and ivy were collected by Rob Harper, David and Margaret Beddoes, and Mac Mackenzie (pictured), with everything being composted or recycled that could be. Their efforts revealed some significantly increased pavement width to help pedestrians stay safe, as well as a wall that neighbours commented had not been seen for years. Many local residents cheered the team on as they worked. Cllr Rob Harper who organised last week’s efforts said, “Here's to a great 2022 and more projects to get involved with. Thanks to everyone who has supported us, encouraged us and helped out, both physically and also providing us with refreshments. This is what sets Montgomery apart: its wonderful people.” The “Town Tidy Team” grew out of the Town Council-organised street sweep and litter pick, and began tidying up the town centre of Montgomery back in September. It has now become a team of volunteers who help out with litter picking, hedge cutting, and road and footpath clearing. So far they have cleared up the Town Hall area, Princes Street, Montgomery Church pathways, Chirbury Road, Arthur Street and Maldwyn Way, in addition to the recent efforts on the Tan-y-Mur footpath. Mayor Jill Kibble said, “Thanks to all the Team who were out last week. The extra width to the footpath here on a dangerous corner is a real safety bonus. They also cleared two drains - a stitch in time before any winter storms arrive.” If you can spare an hour or two, the Team would gladly welcome your help. Cllr Rob Harper said, “We are in the process of tidying up our great and historic town. With your help we can work together as a team. All you need is a broom or shovel, and some elbow grease.” You can contact Rob via email@example.com if you are interested in helping the Team.
Montgomery’s Town Hall clock chimed in the New Year for the one hundredth time this year. The first chime of the clock at midnight is usually the trigger for community celebrations in the square led by the Town Crier, but the celebrations at the turn of 2022 were more muted for a second year. The clock was added to the Town Hall in 1921 in memory of the fifteen-time mayor of the town, Nicholas Fairles Humphreys, who had died in 1917. It replaced a previous clock which had been on the front of the building. The Town Hall itself was originally built in 1748 by William Baker of Audlem in Cheshire and replaced the earlier medieval Guildhall which was located in the middle of Broad Street. Photo: Nicholas Fairles Humphreys, wearing the mayoral chain that he presented to the town in 1909. Courtesy of the Old Bell Museum, from the J.E. Tomley (photographer) collection.
None of us were quite expecting to be moving towards yet another period of restrictions this Christmas. Powys has done such a good job of the vaccination and booster programme that we had reason to hope for a return to normality with family and friends, events, festivities and the economic boost Christmas brings to our incredibly hard working and creative businesses. Whatever is around the corner, Montgomery has shown its resilience and indomitable community spirit. Every day I am grateful for the good fortune of living here surrounded by beautiful countryside, history and the warmth, kindness and friendship of this community. I am so proud and honoured to be your Mayor and, along with my consort Brett, send you the warmest of seasonal greetings and every good wish for better days to come in 2022. We look forward to the Literary Festival, plays, Show, acclaimed musicians, Open Gardens, Hungarian Day and so much more with hope and positivity. Thank you all who make Montgomery such a special place. Happy Christmas. Keep well. Keep safe. Keep smiling! - Jill Kibble Photo from a chilly Montgomery Castle, December 2021
The noted community spirit of Montgomery is well reflected by the fifty active groups and organisations that function in the town. These vary from snooker club to Friends of the School to the OUCH group for arthritis sufferers or Taste Montgomery for food producers. Hosted by Graham Evans (Mid & North Powys Network Development Officer), along with Mayor, Jill Kibble, Wednesday evening 1st December saw the first opportunity for representatives of these groups to get together to share ideas and information, and identify community needs. Some organisations are now looking to start up again having not met for nearly two years and, in some cases, are seeing this as an opportunity for a fresh start. With such a range of activities on offer the need for good communication and publicity is clear. A list is being produced detailing all Montgomery groups along with contact details and an outline of activities. This will be available shortly on the town website and will be of particular value to newer residents. The group determined to hold a Community Fayre in Montgomery on January 29th 2022, where clubs and organisations will be displaying what they have to offer. Everyone is welcome for tea, coffee and cake and to have the opportunity to talk to group representatives to find out more and how to take part. Entertainment will be provided by Monty Folk and Côr Trefaldwyn, whilst Trefaldwyn Ladies Club will provide the refreshments. More detail will be provided shortly but if you require any further information on the project or the event, please contact Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org Photo from our archive
The Town Council Town Tidy back in September really started something in Montgomery and one good day’s clean lead to another, and another. The Town Tidy efforts are being greatly appreciated by residents; particularly on a stretch of pavement along Chirbury Road. The landholder cut back the hedge then four Montgomery Town Tidy Team stalwarts, organised by Cllr Rob Harper, set to work. They spent most of a day clearing this stretch of dangerously impassable pavement of some 80 bags worth of debris and vegetation and proved that there actually is a proper width pavement for pedestrians on this side of the road. They also revealed a dry stone wall that had not been seen for many a year. The Team had planned to spend a couple of hours on the task but some five hours, a bit of encouragement from the Mayor, and a much appreciated cuppa from a kindly neighbour later and the job was done. Further workdays are planned so that, in future, a quick sweep up around the town should do the job. The School children have also been helping, going out and about with their brand new set of litter pickers. Rob Harper commented: ‘It’s amazing the difference we have been able to make with a bit of teamwork and we are delighted at the response and to be recruiting more volunteers every time we have a workday. Shovels and brooms do the job with no need for recourse to chemical sprays or power tools, in line with the Town Council’s environmental policy.’ Photo: "Town Tidy Team" members Brett, Dave, Rob and Sian at work on Chirbury Road
Montgomery Mayor, Jill Kibble, has thanked a small but keen group of residents and councillors who helped with the town tidy and street sweep at the end of September. She said, “A very big thank you. It made a real difference. Your participation was much appreciated and many people around town have commented favourably.” She added, “There was no use of weed killer, and lots of composting. Thanks also to those residents who came out and weeded and swept their frontages in sympathy and the lovely people who offered cups of tea and words of encouragement!” Councillors were dismayed by the amount of litter on the Chirbury Road, and the cumulative effect of small items of litter discarded around the Town Hall. Cllr Oliver Lewis commented, “There was more than you might think - especially cigarette butts and lollipop sticks. If you use these things, please bin them; don’t drop them outside our beautiful town hall.” Cllr Kibble added, “There are plenty of litter bins around, and a new larger one will be delivered to near the Council noticeboard very shortly.” The Mayor also thanked the Year 1 and 2 class from Montgomery School for doing an enthusiastic litter pick earlier in the week, after purchasing new litter pickers from Bunners. She said, “The class had done a jolly good job and we definitely noticed there was very little litter in the centre of town. Well done all!” Photo: Rob Harper and Dave Beddoes work hard as part of the Town Tidy Team
In 2019 Montgomery received a plaque as a gift from Hungary, in celebration of János Arany being conferred with the posthumous Honorary Freemanship of Montgomery, acknowledging the connection of the Hungarian National Poet with the town. In 1857 Arany was asked to write a poem of praise for the visit of Franz Josef I of the repressive Austro-Hungarian regime. Instead, he wrote an allegorical poem detailing the imagined slaughter of 500 Bards at a banquet at Montgomery Castle for refusing to sing the praises of the tyrannical Edward I of England. The poem is still learnt by every Hungarian school child so the tiny rural town of Montgomery is probably better known there than Cardiff. The planned mounting and unveiling of the plaque was a victim of the 2020 lockdown and the Town Council is now hoping for a Hungarian Day celebration in May 2022. In the meantime, Montgomery has made such strong links with the Magyar Cymru group, through the Building Bridges initiative, that many more people are aware of the vibrant Hungarian connection and ‘The Bards of Wales’. The town has also developed an affinity with the ‘Welshest village’ in Hungary, Kunágota. Given the interest, the Town Council determined to erect the plaque as soon as possible, in advance of a future official unveiling. The Arany plaque is now mounted in its beautiful oak frame made by Powis Sawmills. The community garden at the foot of a path to the Castle is the ideal location and the plaque is already attracting and intriguing many visitors. A short greeting to the Welsh Hungarian Cultural Association and good wishes for the upcoming Hungarian concert in Cardiff has been filmed with the plaque as the perfect backdrop, by Lydia Bassett and Jill Kibble (members of the Welsh Hungarian Cultural Association) and Sue Blower, Montgomery Town Crier. Photo (L-R): Lydia Bassett, Executive Director of Mid Wales Opera; Cllr Jill Kibble, Mayor of Montgomery; Sue Blower, Montgomery Town Crier, photographed during filming of the greeting.
As there was no Show on 21st August 2021, a small group was formed to organise a community picnic on the recreation field on the same date. Along with food and drink vendors James Peake, Dairy Dreams, Montys Brewery and Old Monty Cider, the community were invited to bring their own picnic and gazebo as required. Looking ahead at the weather forecast it was at one point looking pretty doubtful whether the event would go ahead, but as the afternoon came closer the forecast improved, the rain kept off and some 160 members of the Montgomery community turned out to enjoy some long-awaited catching up, good food and drink, and good company. Friends of Montgomery Play Park displayed information about the proposals and fundraising for the new play park and the event included a grand raffle, entertainment and games for the children. Well over £275 was raised towards the playpark and The DPJ Foundation, one of the Mayor's charities for this year. Three resourceful younger community members, Finlay, Woody and Toby, organised their own football goal game and raised nearly £40 for the playpark. Mayor Jill Kibble, who was part of the group who organised the event, said, "After all these long months of cancelled events this really felt like a fresh beginning and a return to community life. It was good to see Montgomery friends and families relaxing and enjoying themselves together. Next year will hopefully see the return of Montgomery Show and, if the Friends of the Playpark are successful in their funding bid, the recreation ground may well have a unique new playpark for the town." The Montgomery Energy Group bicycle recycling scheme brought a selection of free bikes to the recreation field, and 13 proud youngsters selected and took away a new bike from the picnic. The Montgomery Show committee and other organisers would like to thank all those that helped in making the afternoon a success and all those vendors that braved the weather and provided some good quality local produce. Show information here: Montgomery Show
Montgomery Town Council wants to run in an open and transparent way. Here is a graphic to show where the Council spent money during the financial year from April 2020 to March 2021. The accounts are available annually from the Clerk after auditing (usually around July each year). All council meetings, including those being held online, are open to the public. Town Council costs included e.g. the Clerk’s salary, admin costs, allowances and audit costs. Communications included e.g. the website, community news, and providing wi-fi. Town Hall running costs included e.g. utilities and insurance, maintenance and cleaning, and council tax, which the Council was disappointed to have to pay throughout mandated closure during covid. While the Town Hall was not available for all its usual uses, the Market took place in the hall for part of the year, and the toilets were opened as much as possible, and cleaned daily. Montgomery Town Hall was extensively refurbished in 2018-19 and the Council is now paying back the public works loan following this work. The planned transfer of the Town Hall to the Montgomery Community Buildings Preservation Trust (MCBPT) was put on hold due to the pandemic. Amenity and recreation costs included e.g. grass cutting, defibrillator maintenance, and necessary repair work to the playgrounds and at Whitegate Pool. The Destination Montgomery project was extended into this period with grant funding and no further income from the Town Council, and its expenditure was from its own bank account and so is not shown here. Note that the graphic shows proportional Council expenditure only. The Council’s main income in this year included the precept (portion of council tax), some limited Town Hall and market income, and some refunds of VAT and council tax from the refurbishment period. The Council also holds some ear-marked funds in reserve for particular planned spends. The Town Council’s income and expenditure were affected by the coronavirus situation, as were planned events and projects. Nevertheless, the Council had planned its budget looking at multiple scenarios and its contingency planning and decisions through the year were sufficient to avoid a deficit during the 2020-21 year.
Cllr Haydn Andrew has presented a cheque to Wales Air Ambulance, one of his two chosen Mayor’s charities, after stepping down from the role at this year’s Annual Meeting, and will donate an equal amount to Cancer Research UK. Cllr Haydn Andrew’s two years as Montgomery Mayor encompassed unprecedented circumstances and many challenges. Regrettably, due to Covid, he was not able to host any fund raising activities for his chosen charities. Therefore, he decided to donate funds from his Mayor's allowance. Along with partner Jane Lloyd, he presented a cheque for £260 to Wales Air Ambulance at Mid Wales Airport last week, and a cheque of the same value has been sent to Cancer Research UK. Jane said, “While it’s not as much as we would have liked, as unfortunately we were not able to hold any fundraising events, we were pleased to be able to donate some funds to the two charities and support their vital work in some way when it’s been a difficult time for them too.” New Mayor Jill Kibble has selected The DPJ Foundation, a Welsh mental health charity to support those in agriculture and rural communities, as one of her chosen charities. Her other chosen cause is the Montgomery Medical Practice Patients Association, of which she is secretary. She hopes that some events and fundraising will be able to take place during her term in office.