M.V. BALMORAL TO RECEIVE CONTROVERSIAL DONATION FROM PENARTH COUNCIL

Balmoral at Penarth Pier in 2012

Balmoral at Penarth Pier in 2012

M V Balmoral Fund Ltd –  the company set-up to preserve the vintage passenger motor-ship “Balmoral”  and bring her back into operation in the Bristol Channel in 2015 – is to receive a controversial £1,000 donation from Penarth Town Council .

The Balmoral Fund – which has now raised a total of £250,000 –  had originally  made a request for financial support from the council earlier this year ( see PDN http://tinyurl.com/nyo43zh).

When the Council’s Policy and Finance Committee had considered this in September  Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) had wanted to see a commitment from the Balmoral Fund on the number of days it was planned to sail from Penarth in 2015 .

 Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines)

At the same meeting Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) wondered if the council had received “value for money” from the £1000 it had previously donated towards the  cost of  Waverley and Balmoral . He had hardly seen the Waverley this year – “it was expensive wasn’t it?” he said.

Former town mayor and mayoress Cllr Neil Thomas & Mrs Thomas (left) and Penarth Council Leader Cllr Mike Cuddy with Penarth MP Stephen Doughty  boarding Waverley with her captain for a civic cruise in 2013

Former town mayor and mayoress Cllr Neil Thomas & Mrs Thomas (left) and Penarth Council Leader Cllr Mike Cuddy with Penarth MP Stephen Doughty boarding Waverley with her captain for a civic cruise in 2013

When the chairman Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) had pointed out that councillors had been entertained on a trip aboard “Waverley” in 2013,  Cllr Roberts had retorted “You have just made my mind up chair- with respect. If they want to try and sweet-talk councillors  – this is public money –  Penarth people’s money” . Cllr Roberts said he did not think sufficient value had been given to commit more money at this point.

A decision on a donation was deferred whilst the Town Clerk  sought further information about the proposed pattern of sailings and the constitution of the MV Balmoral Fund Ltd.

Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) Leader of Penarth Town council is a professional planner

Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) Leader of Penarth Town council is a professional planner

In a Penarth Council meeting on  October 1st this year the chairman, Cllr Mike Cuddy, (Labour StAugustines) had asked Cllr Roberts about the  “pointed remarks” made in the Policy and Finance committee and asked him if he had now “reviewed his position“.

Cllr Roberts said he had been expressing those views “in respect of the knowledge I had at the time.” – but that after a casual discussion with a representative of the MV Balmoral Fund he had  “changed his view”   and now proposed Penarth Council should invite the chairman of the Balmoral Trust – who lives in Cardiff – to address the council and  update them on  Balmoral‘s situation.

A briefing on Balmoral  and the MV Balmoral Fund was duly made in a special closed session of the Policy and Finance Committee this week and afterwards, in open session, councillors again debated whether or not to give financial support to the MV Balmoral Fund – the benefit being the restoration of a summer “pleasure steamer” service from Penarth Pier in 2015.

MV Balmoral at Penarth Pier

MV Balmoral at Penarth Pier

Cllr Roberts said the Balmoral Fund presentation had been “very enlightening and almost heart-warming in terms of the enthusiasm  of what they want to do”. Cllr Roberts said the Fund members also appeared to have “quite a sound business plan” which would ensure that once Balmoral was sailing it would be a viable – if not profitable – business . Balmoral, he said would be based in the Bristol Channel and the company “saw Penarth as the key port for it”.

Cllr Roberts recommended that the Policy and Finance Committee should support it to the tune of £1,000 and also proposed the Council should “give any other support that we can give them in terms of going to other funding sources such as  the Welsh Government, the Vale of Glamorgan Council or any other unitary authorities who may be able to support this “.

Penarth's Mayor Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Penarth’s Mayor Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) wholeheartedly supported what Cllr Roberts had said – adding that Balmoral should be “encouraged to be around” when Penarth held its Summer Festival . There would be benefits all around to Penarth  he said.

Cllr Anthony Ernest, Conservative Plymouth Ward

Cllr Anthony Ernest, Conservative Plymouth Ward

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) noted that the Balmoral Fund representatives and told the council that night that they had now raised £250,000 – which “ is a very substantial sum of money”. The Fund had also already spoken to the Welsh Government “at the highest level”. However he felt that Penarth Council’s £1000 donation should be taken out of “general balances” rather than the council’s tourism fund . It was essential he said that “Penarth should be able to meet the challenges of more visitors coming here and be able to look after them” .

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said Balmoral would be an “extra attraction – another reason why people will come” and agreed with Cllr Ernest that all the money should not come from the tourism budget.

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) proposed deferring implementation

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell)

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) proposed taking half of the amount from the financial assistance budget and half from the tourism budget  which would leave £1000 still in the tourism budget – using the general reserves “pot” as a back-up if needed at the end of the year .

The proposal was carried and MV Balmoral Fund Ltd will receive a £1,000 cheque and a letter  of support from Penarth Town Council.

Posted in Penarth Daily News | 1 Comment

PENARTH TOWN COUNCIL DEFERS REVISED WELSH LANGUAGE SCHEME

Penarth Town Council offices at Wett House

A bi-lingual sign outside Penarth Town Council’s offices at West House – but no one inside uses the language.

Despite pressure from the Welsh Language Society, Penarth Town Council’s Policy and Finances Committee has deferred the implementation of its Welsh Language Scheme pending   proposed new changes in the Code of Practice that will apply to town and community councils in Wales.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Cymraeg – the Welsh  Language Society  – contends that  Penarth Council is failing to observe the provisions of the Welsh Language Act by not publishing public information in Welsh as well as English – as they claim it is legally required to do .

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) said the Welsh language had damaged Wales

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) had told an earlier meeting he would regale members with his thoughts on the Welsh language and the damage it does to Wales

The Welsh Language Society has heavily criticised the council for not publishing its Summer Festival Brochure in Welsh and it took Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) to task for saying in a Penarth Council committee meeting that “I don’t feel we actually have need to develop the Welsh language further here” and asserting the Welsh Language had damaged Wales. (http://tinyurl.com/n3fkwwt) Cllr Roberts claimed later that he had been “misreported”  but afterwards refused to meet Welsh Language Society representatives face-to-face.

Penarth Council – which has no Welsh-speaking councillors nor any Welsh-speaking staff – does have an existing ‘Welsh Language Scheme’ – but the  Welsh Language Commissioner has now suggested a number of changes to that scheme with a view to their being introduced before the publication of the new Code of Practice. These include:-

  • Promoting and facilitating the use of Welsh wherever possible and implementing the policy of equality fully at every opportunity.
  • Consulting the Welsh Language Commissioner regarding proposals that would affect the scheme
  • Ensuring those formulating policy are aware of the scheme and of the Welsh Language Act of 1993.
  • All circular and standard letters to the public will be bilingual
  • The Town Clerk will be responsible for translating correspondence
  • The council’s official letterheads are to include a statement in both languages saying correspondence is welcome in both Welsh and English
  • The council’s “corporate identity” will be bilingual
  • The council will receive a brief annual report on the implementation of the scheme which will be displayed locally,circulated to the press and sent to the Welsh Language Commission.
  • The council is to invite local residents to offer their views on the service and how it could be improved.
  • The council is to outline its timetable for implementing the scheme in writing to the Welsh Language Commissioner and compliance with the timetable will then be “compulsory“.

When Penarth councillors considered these interim amendments last night however, they opted to not to implement them – but rather to wait until the new Code of Practice is published.

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) proposed deferring implementation

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) proposed deferring implementation

Cllr Neil Thomas said “I genuinely support the move to improving the Welsh language within Wales” and had done so for many years .  However he thought it was “premature to adopt this”  given that the Commission was looking at current practice again,  and proposed that the committee should wait for the publication of the new Code of Practice.

Town Clerk of Penarth Shan Bowden

Town Clerk of Penarth Shan Bowden

The Town Clerk Shan Bowden said the council had been advised it had to have a scheme in place but the Commissioner was suggesting that the existing scheme needed modification.

Cllr Thomas said  “I would oppose it. We’re anticipating the new Codes of Practice coming in“. He did not think the council should change the scheme now and have to change it again very soon afterwards which “might make it more expensive than it needs to be.”

Cllr Tracey Alexander (Labour Cornerswell)

Cllr Tracey Alexander (Labour Cornerswell) told the council she has her children educated in the medium of Welsh

Cllr Tracey Alexander (Labour Cornerswell) told the council that her children were being educated through the medium of Welsh and she had “full support for the language” . She suggested a council sub-group or task and finish group be set up to look at it.

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) –  looking at the provision which would require all circular and standard letters to the public to be bilingual – agreed with Cllr Neil Thomas’s observations and noted this would pose major problems for small community councils. He said  “I think we should wait for the definitive legislation to go through“.

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) also advocated waiting until the definitive Code of Practice was to hand. He said the council had taken steps to get some idea of costs involved – for example estimates on getting the Christmas Festival booklet translated and it would be as well to wait to see what sort of uptake there was for the Welsh-language version.  He also reminded members that “this is likely to be law and the council would have to comply with whatever the Welsh Language Commission says we are required to do as a council “ .

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) said “There is very soon going to be a new Welsh Language Scheme which will  have to adopt and comply with. To change a long-standing scheme now – when there are going to be further changes very soon –  it just  doesn’t seem sound business sense.  It has nothing to do with what our thoughts are of the language or what the cost is” .

Ex-Mayor of Penarth Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines)

Ex-Mayor of Penarth Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines) said  “a lot of the pressure was coming from the pressure groups on the outside”. He said he fully understood their position and was sure the council wished to “adopt a conciliatory approach towards them”.   Part of that approach, Cllr Rapier thought , would be to “make them aware of what had just been said”.  He said the First Minister in the Welsh Assembly [Carwyn Jones]was personally leading on Welsh Language matters but Cllr Rapier thought that in the “bureaucracy” there was a “lack of awareness  of town and community councils’ dilemma in implementing his own policy” .

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)  told members the Vale Council had wanted to sell-off Penarth Pier.

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) noted the delays in the building of the Cardiff Barrage caused by the need to translate documents into “32 languages” and said “I wonder where this stops? ” .

Cllr Williams said “when you are spending public money  you want to get as many details as you can before making a decision” and he “totally endorsed” Cllr Neil Thomas’s proposal

Cllr Thomas’s proposal was  was seconded by Cllr Gwyn Roberts .

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PENARTH LIBRARY CUTS SUPPORTED BY LABOUR COUNCILLORS

At Penarth Library the lights are on - but there's no one there on Thursday evenings - councillors heard.

At Penarth Library the lights are on – but there’s no one there on Thursday evenings – councillors heard.

At last night’s meeting of Penarth Town Council’s Policy and Finance Committee Labour councillors  endorsed proposals by the Vale of Glamorgan Council to slash the cumulative opening hours of Penarth, Barry, Cowbridge and Llantwit Major libraries by “at least 40 .5 hours per week”  .

At the beginning of the discussion the town clerk, Shan Bowden, set out the background. She explained that “owing to cuts in public sector funding” the Vale Council had undertaken a “programme of public engagement” on proposed changes in Vale library services. She also noted that more people were accessing books on-line resulting in an “ongoing reduction in the number of library users”.The aim of the 2013 review – she said – was to introduce a viable library service for the future.

The views of the public are being sought on a further three proposals one of which specifically affects Penarth  –  an “adjustment” of library opening hours which would “more closely track library footfall”. [Currently Penarth Library is open six days a week from 09:30 - 18:00 but stays open until 20:00 on Thursdays and closes at 17:00 on Saturdays] .

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell)

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell)

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) said he would like to “generally welcome the strategy  in that it confirms that the Vale remain committed to keeping Penarth Library going” - including the repairs being carried out to the building to stop leaks. He saw the proposed change in opening hours as being “pragmatic“.  On Thursday evenings, he understood Penarth Library “got hardly any people in at all”.

Cllr Rosemary Cook (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Rosemary Cook (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Rosemary Cook (Labour St Augustines)  – who said she had been a “lover of libraries” all her life, supported Cllr Thomas’s comments. She said library services were “absolutely vital ” but “some compromise” had got to be found and thought “one of the days of the week should go –  rather than just half a day” .

Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines)  thought  the Vale report was “contradictory”. Most newspapers, he said, were available to be read free on-line – “yet go into the library and it’s littered with newspapers” . ‘The Times’ alone, he said  “is costing the library £315 per year”. He asked how the  Vale Council could be – on the one hand – “advocating technology” whilst, on the other, not be instructing library newspaper-readers to access newspapers on-line? Cllr Rapier also noted that the library’s copy of the Penarth Times was put “under-the-counter” by the librarians “for fear of theft” .

Cllr Rapier suggested that members of the library staff should come to address the council to say for themselves what the impact of reducing hours – or even extending or varying hours – would be on “the literacy and the community spirit of the Penarth public “.  he emphasised the benefit that children had after school. Cllr Rapier also noted that the Vale report did not say how many new books had been purchased but suspected the number had been reduced. People could not borrow books, he said, that “aren’t there”.

DSC09113Cllr Tracey Alexander (Labour)  proposed setting up a “partnership group” for the library which could for example apply for funding for maintenance.

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said in the business world, if budgets were cut,  it was necessary to look to where savings could be made. The library already had to cover the overheads of the building, lighting, heating and staff. He said he would be looking to see  what other services could be put in the library – like an information office – to maximise the use of the available assets. Rather than cut the opening hours he would be open for longer periods and provide other facilities - “perhaps people could go there to pay bill for example”.

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) noted the situation in Sully and Dinas Powys which were being “faced with having a community library”. The Vale was – in effect –  asking members of the public to give up their time to act as volunteers for an unspecified number of hours a week.   They would need support and training – incurring costs . He wondered how many people would want to give up 2, 3 maybe 4 days a week  to act as a volunteer librarian in a quite busy library. “What you are asking is unpaid buck-shee staff” he said .”Some of us may take the view that the Vale should find the savings elsewhere “

Cllr Rosemary Cook said she too echoed what Cllr Ernest had said about the volunteer aspect.  There were specialist areas which required trained librarians. Penarth Library had already made substantial savings with regard to magazines she said. She also noted that the Book Fund [which is used to buy books] was being reduced by £25,000 to  £195,000 a year.

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) said “I get really angry listening to this“. He asserted that “the Vale Council has not on a whim  decided to cut the services of the library.  This council is a Socialist council . It actually believes that education is the route out of poverty and we should entirely support libraries . Meanwhile the Westminster Government is slashing funds”.

Cllr Roberts said “It’s all very well to say go and find the money somewhere else –  until you identify something else “. He said “The way cuts are coming into Wales from the Westminster Government who are determined to reduce the size of the Public Sector at all costs means we have to be inventive”. The Vale Report was  – he claimed –  a “huge attempt to keep the libraries going without any money” .

Referring to Cllr Rapier’s suggestion of having only on-line newspaper-access at Penarth Library Cllr Roberts said that he “quite liked” going to the library to read newspapers. “Penarth” – he asserted “has done better than almost any other part of the Vale”. The Vale Council he said was not trying to cut the libraries  – it was trying to keep them going in what he called “times of unprecedented austerity”.  

Cllr Williams said there were many areas of Vale Council expenditure like social services and education which could not be cut because they were mandatory  – so only the “fringe things” could be cut . 80 or 90% of the Vale Council’s revenue was already spoken for he said.

Cllr Ernest said it was “interesting to hear the  attacks that have been made on the government of the day “. He said “the opportunity was there for the Welsh Government in Cardiff Bay to raise additional funds but the Welsh Government had said it was not prepared to take on additional tax-raising powers.” .

Penarth Council’s views –  as expressed at the committee meeting – will be “made known” to the Vale of Glamorgan Council .

Meanwhile a Public “Drop-In Session” about the proposed cuts in library services in Penarth and the Vale  proposals is to be held in Penarth Library on November 19th between 15:30-19:00.

 

Posted in Penarth Daily News | 17 Comments

THE BEACHCLIFF SCULPTURES: IT’S OFFICIAL – THEY’RE NOT “LEAVES”….THEY’RE FISH!

All five of the panels are now in place on Beachcliff

All five of the panels are now in place on Beachcliff

All five of the stainless steel sculptured panels for the new balcony of the Beachcliff development on Penarth Esplanade were being put in place today  – and now those eagle-eyed PDN  correspondents who described the motif as  “fish”  – rather than  “leaves” – have been vindicated.

All five panels are beign interspersed along the full length of the balcony by grey railings

All five panels are being interspersed along the full length of the balcony by grey railings

The five panels, are being spaced out along the first floor balcony of Beachcliff interpersed with grey-painted railings .

The intricate panels – made in highly polished marine grade stainless steel – were manufactured by a local company with strong Penarth connections Ad Hoc Designs – based near City Road in Cardiff .

Installation of the  full run of panels is expected to be complete by the end of today – and is certain to be a talking point amongst visitors and residents enjoying today’s relatively balmy weather .

Meanwhile it will be down to the regular fishing enthusiasts on Penarth Pier to pin-point the precise species of fish represented by the panels.

Posted in Penarth Daily News | 8 Comments

TESCO TO PAY ONLY £5,000 A YEAR TOWARDS PENARTH BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT

Tesco at Penarth Haven

Tesco at Penarth Haven

In a special deal, the troubled retail giant Tesco –  the largest trader in Penarth – would only pay £5,000 a year towards the operation of a “Penarth Business Improvement District”  – an initiative designed to boost trading and the business environment in the town.   

On Monday next week members of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s ruling ‘cabinet’ will consider a report recommending the council should support plans for setting up a ‘Penarth Business Improvement District’ ( known as a “Penarth BiD”)

The Penarth BID logo

The Penarth BID logo

The proposed “Penarth BiD” scheme would run for five years and would be funded by a ring-fenced surcharge on all local businesses which pay National Non Domestic Rates  (NNDR) , which are based in premises which have a Non-Domestic Rateable Value in excess of £5,000. The Penarth BiD surcharge would be set at 2% of their normal NNDR. [PDN Note: The scheme does NOT affect domestic Council Tax-Payers in any way. However local charity-shops and council premises would be charged the levy]

Checkouts at Tesco

Checkouts at Tesco

The Tesco superstore at Penarth Haven would only pay a levy capped at a maximum of £5,000 a year based on a “negotiated agreement that disproportionately large units will benefit from a ceiling“.

[PDN Note: Tesco is  the third largest retailer in the world and not only operates the Penarth Haven superstore but also Tesco Express in Herbert Terrace and controls the franchise for the local 'One Stop' convenience stores.]

Before the Penarth Business Improvement District can be set up, all local businesses which are “qualifying NNDR payers” in the town are eligible to vote on the proposal.  The ballot would be arranged by the Returning Officer of the Vale of Glamorgan Council. To be successful, more than 50% of votes cast must be in favour of the ‘Penarth BiD’, and a ‘yes’ vote must represent more than 50% of the aggregate rateable value of votes cast.

The Vale Council’s ‘cabinet’ is being  recommended to stump-up – towards the costs –  £4,500  from its regeneration scheme, a further £5,000 towards ballot costs, and – if the scheme goes ahead – £4,000 a year over the next four financial years .

Every business in Penarth  which pays business rates can vote on setting up a Business Improvement District

Every business in Penarth which pays business rates can vote on setting up a Penarth Business Improvement District

If it goes ahead,  the Penarth Business Improvement District would be managed and operated by a not-for-profit company run by and for its members and would operate for 5 years. It’s expected that the scheme could raise around £67,000 a year – all of which would be spent on improving the business ambience of Penarth

Penarth Town Council's official flag

Penarth Town Council’s official flag

Penarth Town Council has offered to contribute up to £5,000 per year towards the costs of collecting the revenues from local businesses although it could itself have to pay an annual levy of up to £640 per annum . However the council would recover up to £10,000 from the levy in the first year to “reflect part of its investment in the development process”.

If the Vale Council approves the recommendation, the Business Improvement District ballot in Penarth would be held in 2015 –  and if the outcome of the ballot is “yes” then it would take an estimated three months to set-up the scheme.

 

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Posted in Penarth Daily News | 2 Comments

“FINANCIAL CHALLENGES” ARE PENARTH PIER PAVILION’S MAJOR RISKS – SAYS REPORT

Can Penarth Pier pavilion stay afloat? That's the question troubling the trustees.

Staying Afloat: The £4,100,000 renovation has been fully-funded – but can Penarth Pier Pavilion pay its way in the future? That’s the question troubling the trustees of the Pavilion leaseholders Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd.

The “major risks perceived” for Penarth Pier Pavilion are the “financial challenges and the difficulty of building up reserves” - according to the latest annual report of the trustees of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd.

Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – also known as PACL –  is the registered charity/not-for-profit company which holds a 125 year lease on the renovated Pavilion.

The report of its trustees (published this week for the year ending December 31st 2013)  says “a key objective of the charity will continue to be to attain a self-sustaining funding position by December 2014″.   [ PDN Note: That gives the board just over a month from now to achieve this objective].

PACL says it wans to  protect Penarth Pier Pavilion so that it will "never again be allowed to decline and be unavailable to the people of Penarth"

Protecting the Pavili0n: PACL’s report says the trustees want to protect Penarth Pier Pavilion so that it will “never again be allowed to decline and be unavailable to the people of Penarth”

The trustees also say they want to “develop sufficient reserves to meet six months’ running-costs without the need for bank borrowing”  – but say that “to date the charity has not generated sufficient surpluses to make this possible” . They concede in the report that this may take “several years” to achieve .

Cllr Ian Courtney (Labour Cornerswell) is Penarth Town Council's representative on the board of PACL

Cllr Ian Courtney (Labour Cornerswell) is Penarth Town Council’s representative on the board of PACL

In March this year Cllr Ian Courtney – who represents Penarth Town Council on the board – told the council that the PACL trustees had inherited a position that “wasn’t the most enviable in terms of financial stability”  and the most pressing problem was  “cash flow”.

Cllr Courtney had then warned that the Pavilion had a “very aggressive set of financial forecasts for 2015″ which would be very demanding for both the staff and for the trustees to meet.

However, earlier this month, Cllr Courtney told Penarth Council that PACL had “a number of strategic choices going forward” and he was prepared to say “on public record”  that the company had “nothing of a financial nature to be concerned about”.

The PACL Trustees’  Annual Report, which has been placed in the public domain this week, also reveals that all newly-appointed trustees are now being “required” to attend training sessions developed by Professor Paul Cantrill, Development Manager at Wales Cooperative Centre . There is also now an annual  “counselling and appraisal system for each trustee”.

The report also notes that amongst the income received by the Pier Pavilion from various benefactors in 2013 was £7,148 from the BBC’s  “Children in Need” appeal – to support the main programme of educational activities.

Posted in Penarth Daily News | 6 Comments

THE SCHOOLS INSPECTORATE ANNOUNCES IT’S TO STOP “MONITORING” ST CYRES

Now empty - St Cyres School Penarth awaits demolition. The pupils will begin moving into the new Penarth Learning Centre  on November 6th

Now empty – St Cyres School Penarth awaits demolition. The pupils  begin moving into the new Penarth Learning Centre on November 6th – and they and the teachers will no longer be under the constant scrutiny of Estyn inspectors

St Cyres School, which was placed under  “formal warning procedures” following a highly-critical inspection report by “Estyn”  – the Government Inspectorate for Education in Wales –  is now off the hook.

Today Estyn has published the text of a formal letter it has sent to St Cyres saying that it has now been “removed from the list of schools requiring Estyn monitoring” .

The Estyn letter sent to the school has been published today

The Estyn letter sent to the school has been published today

In 2013 Estyn had carried out an inspection of the school which had found that:-

  • “Performance in key stage 4 in the indicators that include mathematics is below expectations, especially when compared with the performance of similar schools”;
  • “A minority of pupils, particularly the more able, do not make as much progress as
    they should”;
  • “Pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills are underdeveloped; and”
  • “Attendance rates in the four years to 2013 do not compare well with those of
    similar schools.”

However after a further review carried out this month (October 2014) Estyn says St Cyres Comprehensive School is judged to have made “good progress in respect of the key issues for action” and that no further inspection visits are to be carried out in relation to the 2013  inspection.

Headteacher Dr Jonathan Hicks with some of his many  successful pupils at St Cyres who's exam performance indicated the school's performance was being turned around

Headteacher Dr Jonathan Hicks with some of his many successful pupils at St Cyres whose exam performances indicated the school’s performance was being turned around.

This year the GCSE results turned out to be the best-ever in the entire history of St Cyres. The school’s benchmark “Level 2 Plus”score (which comprises the percentage of pupils getting at least 5 GCSE passes including English and Maths) rose from only 49% last year to 61% this year – an increase which the school described as “truly phenomenal” .

At A Level the results at St Cyres exceeded nationally-set targets with 41% of students receiving grades between A Star and A, 83% of students achieving results between A Star and Grade C , 98% of St Cyres sixth formers being  awarded the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate and 99% of pupils achieving  results in the range from A Star to Grade E. As Grade E is a pass grade, it meant  only 1% of the non-selective school’s roll had failed.

On Monday next week the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s ‘cabinet’ will be told that St Cyres is “making very good progress” and is “no longer subject” to the warning letter the council had sent to the school last year.

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