The Oystercatcher in Penarth Marina

The Oystercatcher in Penarth Marina

The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s licensing committee has ruled that children can be admitted to what were previously “adults only” areas of the Oystercatcher pub in Penarth Marina .

Five local residents had submitted formal objections to the council and 38 people had signed a petition against the proposals to grant the pub a licensing variation which would allow children access to all public areas on its premises – provided they are accompanied by what is described as a “responsible adult”.

The Oystercatcher in Penarth Marina

The Oystercatcher in Penarth Marina

One objection  from a local couple, claimed that – even under the existing licence –  children ” run around screaming and shouting, jumping on the furnishings with hardly an adult in sight. This is, we presume,the market Green King [the pub owners] are trying to attract “.

Another letter says if children were allowed access to all areas of these premises then the licensing objective -“preventing of children from harm” – would not be met.

Despite  the objections the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s  Licensing Sub-Committee has now agreed to the pubs request to change its licence so that it would read “all children must be accompanied by a responsible adult,” which would allow them into the restricted “over 18s” bar.

Kids used to be restricted to the Oystercatcher restaurant area - but not any more

Kids used to be restricted to the Oystercatcher restaurant area – but not any more

Andrew Daniels, general manager at the pub, said “When the dining area is very busy I want parents and their children to be able to wait in the bar until a table becomes available. This would not take long and would normally only happen on Saturday and Sundays.”. He says the Oystercatcher is a “family-friendly pub” but said he did not want children in the bar for prolonged periods.

David Stallard, business development manager at Greene King said: “This is a very busy pub and sometimes we have to turn customers with children away because there is nowhere for them to sit and wait until a table becomes available”.

The pub will also be now able to sell alcohol from 9:00 am

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The merger will enable Vale councillors to hang on to their salaries for a further year - without having to stand for election

The merger will enable Vale councillors to hang on to their salaries for a further year – without having to stand for election

The Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council which – without any public consultation – has submitted an Expression of Interest in carrying out a merger with Bridgend County Borough Council,  is now struggling to explain why it’s failed to ask the people most affected by the merger – local council-tax payers.


Sir Paul Williams - and the controversial report urging council mergers.

Sir Paul Williams – and the controversial report urging council mergers.

In January this year the Williams Commission Report recommended the reduction in the number of local authorities in Wales from the present 22 down to 12 or even 10. These proposals became the basis of a Welsh Government White Paper issued in July .

At first the Vale Council insisted it could circle the wagons and continue on its own as a self-standing authority without merging with any other council .

Vale Council Labour Leader Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward)

Vale Council Labour Leader Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward)

Eventually however, after months of agonising in the corridors of the council’s red-brick Barry blockhouse,  the realisation dawned on Leader Neil Moore (Labour, Cadoc Ward Barry) that his council was going to have to merge. For the council, it then became a matter of – at all costs – avoiding a merger with Cardiff.

Without any public consultation whatsoever, the salaried Vale councillors chose the option of a “voluntary” merger with their neighbouring authority – Bridgend –  rather than endure a forced merger with Cardiff.

Just within last month’s deadline –  the Vale Council issued a formal  “Expression of Interest” in carrying out a merger with Bridgend. That triggered the start of procedures which could mean that all Vale councillors will enjoy another year of salaried employment and will serve an unprecedented six-year term-of-office without having to facing the electors . The May 2017 local government elections could be postponed for a full year.


Now however, awkward questions are being asked as to why the views of the council-tax-paying public are not being sought on the proposed merger.

Mark Hollis

Mark Hollis

Local resident – and business change expert –  Mark Hollis wrote to the Vale Council asking why – when the council makes great play of its “consultations” with the public on issues like the public libraries and the designs of local play areas (in Barry) – it wasn’t finding out what council-tax payers think about a far more fundamental question –  the choice between merging the Vale with either Bridgend or with Cardiff.

Mr Hollis received a reply from Vale official Robert Jones who said the “Expression of Interest” document had explained that “while it will not possible to undertake a programme of engagement on a potential merger within the very small space of time that councils were allowed to prepare any expressions of interest, the submission was informed by evidence gathered during other recent consultation projects.”

Mr Jones also went on to say that “The Expression of Interest also makes clear that the views of residents across the two counties will be one of the key factors that determines the future of local government in the region”.

The results of the Vale Council's public consultation" on St Paul's Church, Penarth was ignored, the result1

A previous Vale Council “consultation” on St Paul’s Church, Penarth last year. The result was ignored by the council

[PDN Note: Mr Jones was responsible for carrying out last year’s controversial postal public consultation on the future of St Paul’s Church in Penarth (see above)  – the result of which was ignored by the Vale Council]

Mr Hollis –  who holds a degree in Public Administration – has told the Vale’s Mr Jones he finds his explanations “less than satisfactory” . He says :-

  • The Vale had plenty of time between January and November to carry out a public consultation – but had adopted a “head-in-the-sand” posture.
  • The Vale Council has not provided balanced public information on the respective cases for merging with Cardiff or Bridgend.
  • The merger is “something far too important to be driven forward by a handful of people in VOG Cabinet without proper consultation with, and obtaining a clear mandate from, the people of the Vale”.
  • There should be a referendum to be held on the issue before  the Vale Council goes any further or spends any more money.
  • Mr Hollis also reminds the Labour-run council that “to pursue the option of merging with Bridgend & exclude further exploration into the Cardiff option without any reference to the will of the people is undemocratic”.

The Vale Council’s reply is awaited.


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The new "Shore" shop at Windsor Court - where the signage is already in place

The new “Shore” shop at Windsor Court – where the disputed signage is already in place

Vale Councillor Maureen Kelly Owen – (Conservative Plymouth Ward) has “called in” a planning application for a  shop-front sign which has already been installed on the frontage of the new “Shore” retail premises on the ground floor of Windsor Court on Penarth Esplanade.

Vale Cllr Maureen Kelly Owen (Conservative Plymouth)

Vale Cllr Maureen Kelly Owen (Conservative Plymouth)

Normally an application for this type of advertising sign would be decided by the council planning officer dealing with the application. An internal planning report for the planning committee recommends granting consent.  However  Mrs Kelly Owen – who is a professional architect by profession – has criticised the new sign as “crude” – and has formally called it in for consideration by the entire planning committee.

Cllr Kelly Owen says she has “looked at the new sign from a design point of view” and –  pointing out that the sign is in the Penarth Conservation Area –  says she considers that  “the actual design is too heavy and overbearing for the rest of the area ” .

The "Shore" logo incorporates the slogan "Life is better the beach"

The “Shore” logo – on a fake drift-wood background – incorporates  the slogan “Life is better …at the beach”

Mrs Kelly Owen says she is not objecting to the size of the sign but says “In my personal opinion it just looks a somewhat crude way of advertising that shop . I also think that the whole of that area has been greatly improved quite sensitively and I feel this one is just too loud a statement”.

Cllr  Kelly Owen says this is her “personal opinion as a ward member with a duty to respect the character of the area”  but it is for the planning committee to decide.

IMG_0042Penarth Town Council’s planning committee has already supported the application  but a resident of Windsor Court’s apartments – above the shop – has objected on the grounds that building is “primarily a residential unit not a commercial unit, therefore signage of this nature is inappropriate.” and that the signage will “not be appropriate to the area in view of the extensive heritage and renovation carried out to the pier buildings and sea front” and “will encourage other businesses to display external advertisements therefore damaging the external view of the sea front”. The objector also points out that no local consultations have been carried out.

The application will now  come before the full planning committee of the council at 18:00 hours on Thursday night – the night on which the Vale of Glamorgan is inaugurating its new live webcast service.

Mrs Kelly Owen is not a member of the planning committee herself – but any councillor can take action to “call-in” a planning application for consideration by the full planning committee if they wish.

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The Vale Council wants to scrap the Falcon Grove portacabin polling station at Lavernock . Local residents will have to cross the busy road to Cosmeston Country Park to Cosmeston Country Park to cast their vote.

The Vale Council wants to scrap the Falcon Grove portacabin polling station at Lavernock . Local residents will have to cross the busy road to Cosmeston Country Park to cast their vote.

A controversial Vale of Glamorgan Council report which proposes to axe the portacabin polling station at Falcon Grove, Lavernock  (and install a replacement polling station on the other side of the busy B4267 Lavernock Road at Cosmeston Country Park instead)  is to be debated by the full council on Wednesday December 17th .

The plan to force electors to cross the heavily-trafficked road – on which there are no pedestrian crossings – to cast their ballots was reported by PDN on November 14 2014 (

The proposal to remove the Falcon Grove polling-station (on the western side of the road adjacent to local housing estates)  and provide replacement polling facilities at Cosmeston Country Park’s Ranger’s Office  instead,  has already been criticised by community councillor Michael Garland.

Cllr Garland  says The decision shows a total disregard for Lavernock voters’ health and safety He says “To access the Country Park voters will have to put their lives at risk in attempting to cross the busy Lavernock Road with its speeding traffic and no pedestrian crossing.”

Cllr Garland also says the decision will ‘deter people from voting’ – especially in the hours of darknessas they will have to negotiate their way through the unlit, tree-lined tracks and car park area of the Country Park to get to the polling station, notwithstanding the threat of being the victims of vehicular accidents, anti-social behaviour or other criminal offences in this area.”

Cllr Garland says the  Lower Penarth Community Centre [ which is at the southern extremity of Plymouth Ward]  is preferable location for Lavernock voters.

The Vale of Glamorgan’s council’s Returning Officer, Debbie Marles, says there were “two consultation exercises” about moving the Falcon Grove polling station to the Ranger Office at Cosmeston Country Park . She says “local equality groups were consulted and the proposed move was the subject of an equality impact assessment scoping exercise.”


Three of the four wards of Penarth are Labour controlled - but Plymouth Ward is the largest

Three of the four wards of Penarth are Labour controlled – but Plymouth Ward is the largest

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Penarth Town Councillor Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) has already castigated the Labour-run Vale Council’s septennial review of polling stations. ( See PDN

The Plymouth Ward is geographically the largest ward in Penarth but has only two polling stations (compared with ten across the other three wards of Penarth).

Cllr Ernest had told Penarth Town Council that  many  Plymouth Ward voters who were  elderly and infirm were unable to make the “long and arduous trip to these existing stations, which are not accessible by public transport” – and that this effectively disenfranchises them.  [PDN Note: Plymouth Ward is traditionally a Conservative-supporting Ward and all its councillors are Conservative]

In advance of Wednesday’s Vale Council meeting, its Head of Legal Services  has now corrected an incorrect reference in the council’s official report which referred to “polling stations within the Plymouth Ward and said it should read “polling stations for the Plymouth Ward.

The council has now acknowledged that All Saints Church Hall and Stanwell Road Baptist Church Schoolroom which it originally – and wrongly – claimed were within Plymouth Ward are , in fact,  outside the Plymouth Ward but claims nevertheless that “this had been taken into account when arriving at the proposals”.

The council says Plymouth Ward voters can use these polling stations (even though they’re outside the ward ) and is not proposing to install a third polling station within the Plymouth Ward.

A detailed map of Plymouth Ward is on


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Llandough Hospital

Llandough Hospital

Penarth fire-fighters and local police were called to Llandough Hospital near Penarth last night when fire alarms were triggered in the building.

The incident happened just after midnight . The South Wales Fire and Rescue Service says  “A male threatening hospital security staff deliberately smashed a fire-alarm glass call point at Llandough Hospital” . Police were called in to ensure the safety of the staff and to investigate the incident.

Such incidents are relatively unusual at Llandough Hospital as there is no Accident and Emergency facility there.

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Stephen Doughty Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth and supporters pose for a  "selfie" of themselves doorstepping in Penarth yesterday on "Twitter".

Stephen Doughty Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth (left) and supporters pose for a “selfie” of themselves doorstepping in Penarth yesterday and posted it on “Twitter”.

It’s  been another weekend of hectic campaigning for Penarth’s Labour and Co-operative MP Stephen Doughty – who posted a selfie of himself and his  team of supporters on Twitter hard at work going from door-to-door in the town yesterday.

Local voters may well be puzzled as to why – with more than 140 days to go before the General Election – the Labour Party is electioneering so early in Cardiff South and Penarth – a seat previously regarded as one of the safest Labour strongholds in the country .

The latest YouGov Sunday Times poll published this morning

The latest YouGov Sunday Times poll published this morning

However this morning the Sunday Times has published a UK-wide YouGov opinion poll (above) showing Labour and Conservative parties are now level-pegging across the UK as a whole with Conservatives on 32%, Labour on 32%, UKIP on 16%, Liberal Democrats 7% and Greens  7% . ( In fact some commentators say it is to the Greens that Labour support has been leaching away this month) .

This month’s ComRes online poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror – also published this weekend –  records a reduction in Labour’s lead from 4% to just 1% over the Conservatives.

nsnewlogo_2014Meanwhile, less than helpfully, the respected political journal NewStatesman has recently published a table of what it describes as Britain’s “most illegitimate” MPs –  placing Cardiff South and Penarth’s Labour MP Stephen Doughty at the head of it.

The NewStatesman's  "Illegitimate MP" rankings

The NewStatesman’s “Illegitimate MP” rankings

The magazine poses the question “Are some MPs more legitimate than others?” and says an analysis of by-elections since 2010 show that eight Labour MPs  – including Doughty – were elected by less than a fifth of their respective electorates.

The NewStatesman has placed Stephen Doughty at the top of its rankings of Britain’s “most illegitimate” MPs –  having attracted the votes of only 12.3% of electors in Cardiff South and Penarth – a lower support-percentage than any other MP in the UK. [PDN Note : The NewStatesman has used the number of electors on the electoral roll in each respective constituency as  the basis for its calculations and therefore includes those who could have voted – but didn’t.]

The NewStatesman article is on . NewStatesman points out that there is no MP in Parliament who is supported by the majority of electors in their constituency. The highest rating is that of the LibDem MP Tim Farron who received support from 46.2 per cent of the voters in his constituency .

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An ambulance team attend to the casualty on arrival at Blackweir, Cardiff

Ambulance and Coastguards attend to the casualty on arrival at Blackweir, Cardiff

Penarth Coastguard’s trained volunteers setup, a landing site at Blackweir, Cardiff  this afternoon for an RAF Rescue Helicopter bringing an injured man from Breaksea Point for medical treatment at the University Hospital at the Heath.

Barry Coastguard & Llantwit Major CRT had handed the embarkation of the casualty at Breaksea Point from where he was airlifted by the helicopter from RAF Chivenor.

Further details are awaited

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