PENARTH LIBRARY FACES OPENING-HOURS CUTS, FEWER NEW BOOKS AND DELAYS IN REPAIRS

Penarth Public Library

Penarth Public Library

The Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council is to consider a report next week which calls for a reduction in library opening hours, buying fewer new books, and the postponement of badly-needed repairs to Penarth Public Library.

The Council claims it needs to cut its expenditure by £20,609,000 over the next three years – and wants £500,000 to come out of its library services – including Penarth’s.

As previously reported by PDN, this involves slashing library opening hours and getting  unpaid volunteers to run the libraries in St Athan, Dinas Powys, Sully and Wenvoe (but not Penarth)  under what the council calls “the development of community supported/managed libraries”.

The ground floor of Penarth Public Library

The ground floor of Penarth Public Library

Penarth would continue to be run by full-time staff but with reduced opening times. However all Vale libraries are to have what are called a “Friends Group” established  to “increase opportunities for the library service to be further embraced by the community” - which, some say, is a backdoor-way of bringing in unpaid help.

Late-night library opening hours may be cut back

Late-night library opening hours may be cut back

On opening hours, the Vale Council says Penarth Library is currently open for 60 hours a week but in all its libraries it claims “the start and the end of the day are the least busy times” and that “comparatively  few” people now make use of  evening opening ( Thursdays in Penarth). The council wants library opening hours to be adjusted to “more closely track library footfall”.

Across the Vale  the “book fund” which funds the acquisition of new books  is to be cut from £220,000 to £195,000 a year.

Meanwhile cleaning costs are to be reduced by 20% and charges for the use of  some library services are to be increased with immediate effect.

The library clock is already one of the casualties of Vale council cuts.

The library clock is already one of the casualties of Vale council cuts.

The condition survey report suggests that Penarth Library has the “greatest need for investment“. Damp in Penarth Library is to be tackled at a cost of £88,000 – but not until the year  2015/16.

It’s clear from the report that the public petition  in Penarth and the response of Penarth Library customers to the Vale’s public consultation – or “survey” as the council calls it-  has been effective in staving-off even more draconian cuts.

The council admits customers of Penarth Library provided 40% of all responses it received across the entire Vale (1002 responses came from Penarth ) . In addition it acknowledges the public petition demanding that Penarth Library remain open and “in its current location”

FIGURES IN THE REPORT INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING : The total annual budget for Penarth Library is £314,244 a year. Staffing of Penarth Library costs £229,557 a year. The premises cost £45,190 a year. “Supplies and Services” to Penarth Library cost £56,132 a year.

Further information is expected on the report in the next few days. The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s ruling “cabinet” is due to discuss the report on Monday next week.

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“DELIVERY FOR SOMMERIN – BEACHCLIFF”: CUTTING IT FINE ON PENARTH ESPLANADE

Traffic on Penarth Esplanade was held up as contractors carefully manouevered the Maestro cooker through the entrance of Beachcliff

Traffic on Penarth Esplanade was held up as contractors carefully manoeuvred the French-made Maestro cooker through the central entrance of Beachcliff

A double-glazed window unit had to be removed to widen the entrance

A double-glazed window unit had to be removed to widen the entrance

The brand-new, stainless-steel, professional, top-of-the-range French-made electric cooker was glinting in the lunchtime sunshine on Penarth Esplanade today looking well-worth every penny of the thousands of pounds it’s cost.

There was just one small snag…

The massive Bonnet Maestro Range with its ceramic hobs was just too big to get through the entrance of  Beachcliff for fitting in the new James Sommerin Restaurant – nearing completion on the ground floor of the Beachcliff development.

Next job was to slice through steel scaffolding that was in the way.

Next job was to slice through steel scaffolding that was another obstacle to getting the cooker in.

The idea was  to try to get it through the main entrance at the centre of building which will serve both as a portal into the new hotel and also into Mr Sommerin’s new up-market restaurant.

A side window had to be taken out and steel scaffolding sawed away with a disc-cutter before the entrance was wide enough for the massive cooker to get through.

Cutting it fine? James Sommerin's restaurant website today.

Cutting it fine? James Sommerin’s restaurant website today.

With all adjustments completed, the huge unit was  carefully raised on an extending fork-lift, eased through the enlarged aperture and deposited safely on a heavyweight trolley to be taken into its new home – the kitchen of the James Sommerin Restaurant.

The restaurant – according to its website – is still scheduled to open in “late April 2014″ – but it appears to be going right down to the wire. Some customers say they’ve had April bookings cancelled and postponed until May.

The fitting-out of the restaurant is being carried out by the Michelin-starred chef’s own contractors.

…But as of today, April 23rd 2014, Mr Sommerin at least now has something to cook on.

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“PENARTH YOUNG CITIZEN AWARD” TO BE INAUGURATED BY MAYOR

The Mayor of Penarth Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell)

The Mayor of Penarth Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell)

The Mayor of Penarth Cllr Neil Thomas, now nearing the end of his term of office, has proposed the establishment of a “Young Citizen” or “Young Person’s Award” for Penarth.  

Cllr Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) has told fellow councillors the idea is to “recognise a young individual who has worked closely with people from all walks of life and culture to help build bridges and to achieve an improved society and/or celebrates and outstanding act of bravery, a regular selfless act for others or for overcoming and leading to adapt to a registered disability”.

A report to Penarth Town Council says young people nominated for the award “would be making a positive endeavour to take part in community or voluntary activities, or regularly providing care support to a relative or friend”. Young people who have “made a significant contribution to the residents of the town , achieved educational success or overcome personal difficulties” would also be potential nominees .

It’s envisaged the award itself would comprise a certificate and a “small monetary award”. Certificates would also be awarded to runners-up. Penarth Town Council is setting up a committee to consider age limits, award criteria, and who would nominate potential candidates.

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) asked whether a budget should be set up. Cllr Thomas proposed the monetary sum should be around £100 [to be drawn from council resources].

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WELSH ARE BETTER AT SMALL-TALK THAN ENGLISH – PENARTH EXPERT FINDS

Now, at last, we know why nobody talks on the London Underground whilst virtually everyone in Wales is happy to chat on a bus with total strangers.

Penarth speech therapist Sasha Bemrose

A Penarth speech and language therapist Sasha Bemrose of Redlands Road has discovered  people in Wales enjoy indulging in small talk far more than their counterparts in England.

Research carried out by her for the “Big Lunch” – a project to encourage people to eat lunch with their neighbours – has found that 65% of people in Wales enjoy small talk whereas only 14% of people in England do so.

IMG_8096Wales Today weatherman and Penarth Xmas Lights officiator Derek Brockway, who is an ambassador for the project, admits he’s a very chatty person himself and “loves starting conversations with pretty much anyone”. Hardly surprising, bearing in mind that 56% of people talk about his specialist topic – the weather.

The survey shows that virtually everyone in Wales – 97%  – are “are comfortable” making small talk with anyone – compared with only 72% in England. Ms Bemrose says it could be something top do with having smaller closer-knit communities in Wales; 77% of people in Wales consider their neighbours as friends compared with only 10% in England.

 

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VALE SAYS FURTHER CLIFF FALLS ARE EXPECTED BUT PENARTH BEACH IS “SAFE”

The cliff fall of April 13th

The cliff fall of April 13th

The Vale of Glamorgan Council has issued a statement is claiming that the beach below the area of April 13th’s 1000-tonne landslide  is “ safe to use so long as visitors use their common sense and walk at a safe distance from the base of the cliff” .

However, the Vale statement doesn’t actually say what that safety-distance should be.  [PDN Note: Coastguards have advised that beach-walkers should use the height of a cliff as the horizontal safety-distance from its base. In the case of Penarth Head that's 200 feet.]

The Vale Council’s Director for Visible Services, Miles Punter, has released a statement saying  “It is likely that the cliff in this area will continue to suffer from some minor falls for a short period of time” The duration of that “short period of time” is not stated.

The warning notices are out of sight inside the Welsh Water compound

The warning notices are out of sight inside the Welsh Water compound

The bleak safety warning - in three languages - can no longer be seen by the public

The bleak safety warning – in three languages – can no longer be seen by the public

Mr Punter also says ” There are warning signs at both ends of this section of beach.” – but does not mention that the warning notices at the Penarth Esplanade end of the beach can no longer be seen by the public because they now within the  fenced-off Welsh Water construction-campus.

Some critics say the council appears to be attempting to  absolve itself from responsibility for the lack of sea-defences around Penarth Head where there is no sea wall at the base of the cliff. (There is along the cliffs to the south).

Sir Ian Botham - accompied by supports walk the Welsk Coast Path through Penarth Head Park - owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council

Sir Ian Botham – accompanied by supporters -  walks the Wales Coast Path through Penarth Head Park – which is owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council

The statement from Mr Punter  says “the land at the top of the cliff is privately owned and responsibility for its upkeep lies with the landowner”.

He fails to mention that both the Kymin and  the land at the highest point of Penarth Head (Penarth Head Park) actually belongs to the Vale of Glamorgan Council itself. The Kymin is “licensed” by the Vale Council  to Penarth Town Council .

Penarth Head Park also contains the highest section of the Wales Coastal Path which was walked last year by cricketer Sir Ian Botham in his marathon fund-raising walk for the NSPCC.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council and the Environment Agency are both members of the Severn Estuary Coastal Group  which is committed to a  “Hold the Line” policy to stop erosion at Penarth Head. Sea defences around Penarth Head – which should have been built under the terms of the  Cardiff Bay Barrage Act – were never installed.

The Vale Council , Mr Punter says, “undertakes annual inspections of all cliffs along the Vale’s coastline to assess any potential safety issues” but doesn’t say what, if anything, the Council does about them.

Meanwhile the Penarth Town Plan presentations by Bristol-based consultants White Design have suggested that the pier  should be “connected” to the Cardiff Bay Barrage by what they describe as a “tidal pedestrian causeway” – presumably similar to the one which  links Sully Island to the mainland.

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POLICE DOG PARTNERS HELICOPTER IN PENARTH PAGET ROAD ARREST

The police helicopter spotted the suspect. A police dog did the rest.

The police helicopter spotted the suspect. A police dog did the rest.

 A police helicopter and a police dog worked in co-operation last night – mounting  a pincer operation in Penarth’s Paget Road in the early hours of the morning to apprehend a suspect.

Police teams were called in to search rear gardens in the Paget Road area after a local resident found his garage had been broken into and burgled.

The alleged suspect was spotted from the air by the helicopter using infra-red heat seeking cameras as he was attempting to hide.

The services of a police tracker dog were then called upon to encourage the suspect to come quietly. The alleged burglar was taken into custody.

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‘DAME SHIRLEY’ OFFERS CRUISES FROM PENARTH PIER

Dame Shirley sets out on a gentle evening cruise off Penarth.

Dame Shirley sets out on a gentle evening cruise off Penarth.

“Dame Shirley” the red pleasure boat based in Penarth Marina is now offering cruises from Penarth Pier  – providing a  much-needed boost for the pier’s status as a pleasure-boat terminal.

Dame Shirley has been operating in Cardiff Bay and in the Bristol Channel for some years – but now she’s offering regular cruises from Penarth Pier around Flatholm island and back.

Dame Shirley approaches Penarth Pier to embark passengers for a round-Flatholm cruise

Dame Shirley approaches Penarth Pier to embark passengers for a round-Flatholm cruise

Her cruises commence at her base at the Cardiff Bay Graving Dock near Mermaid Quay at 11.30am   and pick up passengers at t Penarth Pier at 12.30  before heading off around  Flatholm return to  Penarth Pier at 2.00pm and finally docking at Cardiff Bay at 2.30pm . These cruises operate  every weekend between April and October subject to weather.

All “Dame Shirley” cruises are subject to tide and weather conditions and don’t actually land on Flatholm but they do provide a welcome opportunity to take a cruise from the pier opportunities for which have been restricted since the withdrawal of the pleasure vessel MV Balmoral from service and the reduction in sailings of the paddle-steamer Waverley.

Full details are on http://www.cardiffcruises.com/

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