In December 1894 with the passing of the national Parish Council’s Act ratepayers (including women) could vote for new parish council and other public offices like Rural District Councils and Board of Guardians. The first meeting was held in the National Schoolroom where a public meeting nominate a number of men. Thus the first Llanstadwell Parish Council was created it included Neyland which in those days was part of Llanstadwell.
The first chairman was Mr Anthony James who was a clerk in the employ of John Henry Coram the local entrepreneur who lived at Neyland House. The first council had a herculean job; there was no street lighting, hedges drew in High street and there was no paving. Sanitation was awful with night closets and no running water – conditions were very grim. They levied a rate and the new council got to work in getting landlords like the Picton Castle and Lawrenny Castle Estates to contribute to the infrastructure of the community. The new council made good progress they also got to grips with the Honeyborough cemetery which was first used in 1880. They loaned money from the public works loan board and built a non-denominational chapel which was opened in 1899.
Neyland was much bigger than the other villages and hamlets and soon people were pressing for a separate Neyland Council. After an enquiry an Order was issued stating that from 1 October 1900 Neyland would be an Urban District Council in its own right. Thus Neyland was official recognised as a town in its own right. Interestingly Neyland was never separate in ecclesiastical terms and event today St Clements is a daughter church of Llanstadwell.
The first meeting of Neyland UDC was held on 15 October 1900 and Mr James was again elected chairman. The first clerk was Mr John Griffiths of Kensington Road and he served 1910 – 1913 and received a princely salary of £40 per annum. In 1903 street names were officially adopted Front Street became Charles Street, Picton Terrace became Kensington Road. By 1905 High Street, John Street and others were paved and channelled and in 1908 gas lighting arrived in the streets. In 1911 the Neyland Urban District Council and Llanstadwell Parish Council along with others built Church Lakes Bridge linking the two communities together. Water supplies came in 1935 and sanitation in 1949.
There have been some legendary figures who have served on the Council. Mr Sidney Webb headmaster of Neyland National School he was elected in 1922 and continued as a member of the Council until he died in 1963. He holds the record for the most times someone has chaired the Neyland Council 6 times.
The first female Councillor was Miss E J Walker a local school teacher she was elected around 1923 but lost her seat in 1927. Decades passed before another female Councillor was elected and not until the 1970s when Mrs Berry was elected.
Neyland Council have fought for Neyland people continually through out the years in 1964 they led the campaign against the closure of the railway terminus but sadly this closed in June 1964.
The Council have had various offices in 1911 they purchased the house next to the Congregational Chapel – 107 High Street later they purchased the present building which Mr Jack Betty turned into one large building out of two terrace houses.
In 1974 the Local Government Act abolished urban and rural district councils and created County, District and Community Town Councils. Neyland became a Town Council and its property acquired by the Preseli District Council (all other councils experienced the same loss of premises). The town was allowed to elect a Mayor rather than a chairman for the first time the first Mayor was Mr F J Locke in 1974-5, the first female Mayor was Mrs L M Williams in 1982.
Neyland Town Council continues to work hard for Neyland they are involved in local and National plans. They seek to acquire funds to benefit the area and are working on a number of projects which will benefit all. Look out for updates on projects that currently being worked on and how you can be involved.