The only weddings held at Cosmeston to date have been fictional – like this hippie wedding filmed for BBC TV’s politically-loaded medical soap opera “Casualty” some of whose “stars'” – it’s now revealed –  are costing TV licence-payers up to £400,000 a year.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council – now controlled by the Conservative Party – has commenced enforcement action against its own planning department in relation to scheme to allow civil wedding ceremonies to be held at Cosmeston Country Park’s Mediaeval Village .

The civil weddings scheme had been approved by  the former Labour-dominated Planning Committee in its very last meeting in April – just before the unpopular Labour  administratIon was kicked out of office in the May 4th local government elections.

Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour Stanwell) former deputy leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council advocated the Cosmeston Mediaeval Village civil weddings scheme

The Cosmeston civil weddings scheme was the idea of the council’s former Labour cabinet and was backed by its former Deputy Leader Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour Stanwell).

However it now appears that the Vale Highways department had insisted on the scheme being conditional on “highway improvements” being carried-out before any weddings could be held at at Cosmeston…..And it appears such improvements have NOT  been carried out.

Costly engineering work would have to be undertaken at the narrow entrance on Lavernock Road which leads to the Cosmeston Mediaeval Village site before Labour’s civil weddings scheme could be legally allowed to proceed…. For some reason that work has not been carried out.

Apart from the main entrance into Cosmeston Country Park there are two other entrances further towards Sully. The entire site involved in the weddings scheme is marked in red on this council map

The highway improvements at issue appear to be those shown in an amended  site layout plan which the council received (from itself) on 3 March 2017.

They appear to involve yet-to-be-implemented “improvements” to the ancillary entrances to Cosmeston which would provide more direct access to the Mediaeval Village for wedding guests than using the main entrance.

Clearly the Vale Highways Department regards these access points as being too dangerous to be used without extensive highway modifications  – and as yet there is no sign of such roadworks being started.

Actors playing “wedding guests” at a fictional  BBC TV alfresco civic marriage held at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park. Labour’s scheme to allow real civil ceremonies to be held at the park’s Mediaeval Village may well have now come unstuck

The Cosmeston Medieval Weddings scheme had been passed by the old Labour-controlled planning committee in April – as almost the last act of the committee before the May local Government elections.

After Labour was defeated in May’s council elections, Cllr John Thomas (Conservative St Athan) the Leader of the Conservative Group on the new Vale Council, had seemed to be  resigned to the fact that Labour’s Cosmeston Weddings Scheme would go ahead . He said  “Unfortunately once a decision has been made by the planning committee it cannot be rescinded other than by Judicial Review. “

However some PDN sources believe the new Conservative administration has hit on a legal way of scuppering Labour’s unpopular, controversial ( and some would say downright tacky)  Cosmeston civil weddings scheme.

The Vale Council says the alleged breach of planning permission is now under investigation.



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Gipsy Moth IV under way (Photo Mike Golding)

A father and son who both belong to Penarth Yacht Club have had the honour of crewing “Gipsy Moth IV” – the famous 54 foot yacht  which was sailed singled-handed around the world by Sir Francis Chichester.

Mike Tarver and his son Sean crewed “Gipsy Moth” on the final leg – from Dartmouth to Plymouth – of the historic yacht’s 50th Anniversary Round-Britain voyage.

Sean Tarver of Penarth Yacht Club on board Gipsy Mopth IV

Gipsy Moth (named after the late Sir Francis Chichester’s early bi-plane)  bore the famous solo sailor around the world starting out from Plymouth in 1966 and returning to  Plymouth 226 days later . Fifty years ago he received a huge welcome with live tv coverage on his arrival – becoming the first solo sailor to circumnavigate the world on the old sailing clipper routes.

The late Sir Francis Chichester (Photo Chichester Archive)

Afterwards Sir Francis said of Gipsy Moth the boat held no sentimental value for him:  “I only own the stern while my cousin owns two-thirds. My part, I would sell any day. It would be better if about a third were sawn off. The boat was too big for me. She is cantankerous and difficult and needs a crew of three – a man to navigate, an elephant to move the tiller and a chimpanzee  to get about below and work some of the gear.”

However after Sir Francis’s death at the age of 71 in 1972 – Gipsy Moth IV was put on public display but later acquired and saved for posterity by the Gipsy Moth Trust Ltd of which Mr Michael Tarver is a member.

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The General Election votes in the Cardiff South and Penarth Constituency were counted at Cardiff City Hall (Media Wales) – but there were no checks on whether anyone had voted more than once

The Prime Minister, Theresa May,  has now called for anyone who illegally voted twice in last month’s General Election to  be reported to police.

The call comes amidst growing concerns about suspected widespread electoral fraud carried out by Labour-supporting students – specifically affecting university cities and constituencies which have thousands of students on the electoral register.

The Electoral Commission requires a change in the law to institute more rigorous procedures

The Electoral Commission says it is investigating what it calls “troubling evidence” of illegality across the country on polling day. It has received more than 1,000 complaints from the public and 38 complaints from MPs.

Some students are said to have used stolen  polling cards to impersonate genuine registered voters at polling stations and there are reports that some students boasted of voting as many as 6 times in the General Election in a bid to get Jeremy Corbyn and Labour elected.

The result of the widespread fraud is a suspiciously high turn-out figure in many constituencies and an unusually high number of votes being cast for some Labour MPs .

Labour’s Stephen Doughty delivers his victory speech after an apparent 51% increase in his vote.

There has been a puzzling  increase in turnout in  Cardiff South and Penarth in the last 5 years which is not explained by the increase in the population of the constituency: –

  • 2012 Cardiff South and Penarth By-election Turnout = 19,436 (25.7%)
  • 2015 Cardiff South and Penarth Election Turnout = 46,667 (61.40%)
  • 2017 Cardiff South and Penarth Election Turnout = 50,736 ( 66.3%)

The number votes cast for the Labour candidate Stephen Doughty rose by an unprecedented 51%  between the General Elections of  2015 and 2017 :-

  • In the 2015 General Election  Stephen Doughty received 19,966 votes.
  • In the 2017 General Election Stephen Doughty received 30,182 votes .

Former Labour Prime Minister and MP for Cardiff South and Penarth James Callaghan

[ In 1983, in the same constituency, the former Leader of the Labour Party and former Labour Prime Minister –  James Callaghan – received only 17,833 votes and never  – in all his career –  received anywhere near 30,182 votes ]

Elsewhere, one MP has reported a case where two students who were out of the country and had not registered for postal votes were recorded as having voted in the General Election  – the suspicion being that their polling cards were stolen and fraudulently used by other students to vote twice . [Voters have to declare a  name and address at a polling station but are not required to produce or hand over their voting card].   

Peter Bone (Conservative Wellingborough)

Conservative MPs Peter Bone and Chris Chope are introducing a private member’s bill to halt  the currently-legal practice of allowing students to be registered to vote in both their home towns and their university city. He has told the Daily Telegraph no action has been taken so far by the authorities. [Currently students are legally allowed to vote on two different electoral registers in local council elections but double-voting (i.e. voting twice) in a General Election is illegal, fraudulent and can result in a £5,000 fine. ] 

The Labour Party – which induced students to vote Labour by pledging to scrap student tuition fees (a policy on which the party U-turned immediately after the election)  – has refused to support any ban on people registering to vote in two constituencies.


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The new signage gives an up-dated look to what is one of the oldest pubs in Penarth

Brain’s Brewery has submitted plans for a further revamp of the  exterior of “The Albion” pub in Glebe St, Penarth .

The pub will have new signage at the entrance, a new overhead sign and new “amenity boards” on the two street-facing walls .

The new signage and exeterior treatment is designed to emphasise the craft and cask ales sold by the pub.The pub is within the architectually sensitive Penarth Conservation Area.

The Albion once had a painted sign of its eponymous namesake – the Royal Navy aicraft carrier “HMS Albion” on the corner . The naval sign  disappared two years ago and no one seems to know where it is

The Albion in Glebe St last underwent a facelift in 2015 .The main entrance is being moved back to the original portal of the pub – on the corner

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May 8th 2017: Police wearing surgical gloves, Penarth Coastguards wearing blue helmets and a Fire Service officer confer on Penarth foreshore – a short distance from the location of the body

The Vale of Glamorgan Coroner has concluded a Penarth man, Thomas Cynon Davies – whose body was discovered on the foreshore beneath Penarth Head in May –  had “died from the effects of immersion in water”.

Mr Davies (36) had last been seen in the town on May 7th – the day before his naked body was discovered by a beach-walker on May 8th more than 100 yards from the  cliffs.

A police pathologist taking photographs of the body in the location it was discovered

A police pathologist  photographed the body in situ at the point where it had been discovered.

Penarth Coastguard officers and South Wales Police then recovered the body for a post-mortem examination.  The team also searched the immediate area of the beach where the body had washed ashore.

The inquest held in Cardiff yesterday concluded that Mr Davies had died from “from the effects of immersion in water” but said that the “circumstances surrounding  how he came to be in the water –  and his intentions –  are unclear” .


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The Cardiff Tidal Lagoon superimposed on an Ordnance Survey map

A so-called Environmental Impact Scoping Report on the huge Cardiff Tidal Lagoon project (which has been produced by the scheme’s own backers  Tidal Lagoon Cardiff Ltd) – says the project could :-

  • Send treated sewage from Cardiff and Penarth to the holiday beaches at Barry
  • “Impede” ships going up the Severn Estuary to Newport
  • Add to the noise in the Severn Estuary
  • Impact upon  the “significant” and “unspoiled” views out to sea from Penarth
  • Reduce the volume of visitors and tourists in Penarth
  • Increase road traffic in the Cardiff and Penarth areas

Barry’s popular beaches already have plenty of plastic detritus being washed ashore. If the  proposed Cardiff/Penarth Tidal Lagoon is built, bathers could find themselves swimming in treated sewage originating from Penarth   (Photo Nicola Selfridge September 2016 )

SEWAGE: The report says the huge Cardiff/ Penarth Tidal Barrage would so alter water flows in the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel that it could push treated sewage, (currently discharged into the sea off Lavernock) onto  the bathing beaches of  Barry.

An extract from the Environmental Impact report indicating the potential to send Penarth sewage to Barry’s beaches.

Currently raw sewage from a pumping station on Penarth Esplanade and  from a similar station in Western Cardiff is pumped by underground pipeline to Cog Moors where the sewage is  treated before being discharged out into the Bristol Channel off Lavernock below the low tide level.

The inside of the 40 foot deep shaft beneath Penarth Esplanade from which raw untreated sewage is pumped to Cog Moors treatment facility before being discharged into the sea off Lavernock.

However the Scoping Report on the power-generating Tidal Lagoon project says that the treated sewage discharged at Lavernock is “likely  to be affected by changes in dispersion” and has “potential to affect Barry Bathing waters

The treated sewage discharged at Lavernock comes not only from Penarth and West Cardiff but also from Sully, Wenvoe and part of Barry.

The much-loved view out fo sea from Penarth Pier and Penarth Esplanade  would be gone forever if the Cardiff Tidal Lagoon is built (Photo Peter Stealey)

VIEWS FROM PENARTH: The Tidal Lagoon Scoping Report admits the  Tidal Lagoon could have  an impact on the outlook from Penarth from what it calls “Penarth Registered Park and Garden with its ‘significant views’ (as defined by Cadw) looking seaward from the Welsh coast.”

[ PDN Note: In fact the huge 40 foot high rock and concrete wall of the Tidal Lagoon would extend all the way from Cardiff, past Penarth Head , Penarth Pier, Penarth Esplanade  and further south along the Cliff Walk approximately as far as a line drawn out to sea to the East from Whitcliffe Drive. It would totally obscure the view of the Severn Estuary and the Somerset Coast from Penarth Esplanade and Penarth Pier.]

The Cardiff/Penarth Tidal Barrage would impede cruise ships like Magellan (seen here on passage down-channel from Newport)  which would have to take the “long-way around” to reach  Newport if the Tidal Barrage is built

SHIPPING : The Environmental Scoping Report also admits that the barrage would “impede” ships bound for Newport. They would have to be  to be diverted East to skirt the huge barrage and probably take the longer course East of the Monkstone Lighthouse both on “inward and outward bound voyages from Newport”. [ i.e. most shipping would have to use the Bristol side of the Bristol Channel ].

One of 90 noisy underwater power-generating turbines which would be sited at the Penarth end of the Cardiff Tidal Lagoon. It’s feared they would decimate 25% of the fish passing through them

NOISE : The potential noise levels from the 90 power-generating turbines -[ all of which would be at the  Penarth end of the Tidal Lagoon]   – is also considered by the Tidal Barrage Scoping Report.  However the report attempts to assuage concerns about noise levels by making the tenuous claim that  “Estuaries by their nature (relatively shallow with large volumes of water movements) are naturally noisy environments.”  The report also refers to the land use of  popular seafront destinations such as Penarth” – thus wrongly implying that Penarth seafront itself is already noisy.

The report says that following liaison with City of Cardiff Council [ but apparently not with the Vale of Glamorgan Council ]  “automated noise monitoring” should be undertaken at “residential locations near to the landfall at Penarth Marina or Ferry Court” . [PDN Note: No noise monitoring is proposed for Penarth Esplanade or the Penarth sea-front as a whole.]

Penarth Esplanade could be devoid of tourists if the Tidal Lagoon is built

TOURISM  The Environmental Scoping Report says preliminary research into the impacts on tourism of other significant infrastructure projects has revealed that the most likely effects may relate to what it calls  Perceptions surrounding the visual impact of the [Tidal Lagoon ]  with visitors placing value on an ‘unspoilt’ local environment, together with the importance of views across the Estuary from visitor accommodation businesses, attractions and users of recreational routes”

The Tidal Lagoon Environmental Report was first issued in March but was re-promulgated yesterday

The authors of the report –   say the negative effect the lagoon could have on tourism would be mitigated by the number of construction workers coming to stay in local hotels and guest houses.

Somewhat crassly, the report lists the “positive impacts as a result of workers  providing welcome off-season business to accommodation providers, pubs and shops”  and also notes the potential negative impacts”  as a result of the “take-up of accommodation space by construction workers during the main holiday season, possibly leading to reductions in visits to local attractions.” 

[PDN Note: The report does not go on to forecast what sort of state the blighted Penarth tourist industry would be left in after construction work is complete and the huge concrete and rock-armour curtain has been erected across Penarth’s seafront.]

The report also tentatively suggests the Cardiff/Penarth Tidal Lagoon could become a “tourist generator” in its own right –  pointing out that 70,000 people a year go to look at the La Rance Estuary in France

Penarth commuter traffic could be made worse by congestion on key routes caused by the huge construction project

TRAFFIC : The report says there would be a further impact on tourism deriving from increased traffic on the local road network due to construction of the Tidal  Lagoon
Project. [PDN Note: The report does not mention the impact on road congestion during construction for Penarth commuters ] 

Local fishermen waiting off Penarth Pier for starting signal beginning of the annual cod fishing contest (Photo Peter Stealey)

YACHTING AND BOATING AND WATER RECREATION: There is only nominal mention in the report on the effects that the Cardiff / Penarth Tidal Lagoon would  have on the thousands of leisure craft and fishing vessels now operating from Penarth and Cardiff Bay and no detailed analysis of the navigational issues which would arise.

FISH KILLING : Despite several pages of the Cardiff Tidal Lagoon Environmental Impact Scoping Report being devoted to an analysis of fish stocks in the Bristol Channel the report gives no estimates of the volume of fish which would be killed by the 90 underwater turbines . [PDN Note: Natural Resrouces Wales have estimated  that 21% of migrating salmon and 25% of sea trout could be killed by the Swansea Tidal Lagoon every year – but these figures are disputed by the Swansea scheme’s backers]

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Vale Council Parks Department staff busy planting herbacious plants on the Clock Roundabout

The Conservative-run Vale of Glamorgan Council is announcing today that it is to increase the wages of some of its lowest-paid workers .

The plan has been discussed with the relevant trade unions and, when approved by Cabinet in September, would  see an immediate increase in pay levels for over 1,000 employees, including cleaners, kitchen assistants and breakfast club supervisors.

The proposed change in pay rates would set the lowest pay rate at £7.90 per hour – fixing it at above the “National Living Wage” rate which is  £7.50 per hour. The plan is to progressively move the Vale’s lowest pay rates upwards to the level of what’s called the “Voluntary Foundation Living Wage” – which is currently £8.45 per hour.

Cllr John Thomas Conservative Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council

Council Leader John Thomas ( Conservative St Athan) is also asking council officials to undertake a detailed assessment of the implications of moving  Vale employees onto the “Foundation Living Wage“. Cllr Thomas supports the idea but is stressing  the need for a properly-costed assessment before taking a final decision.

Councillor Thomas said:“This is an initial and immediate step in a journey to improving pay levels for our lowest paid workers.I want to see the Conservative-run council moving further towards the voluntary Foundation Living Wage over the course of my leadership and am working with officers to do that assessment.”

He says “This would be good for staff morale and will have a positive impact on attendance and productivity.I think that it is important to send a clear message to staff that they are valued, and if such a move is financially sustainable – which I believe it can be – then it’s a step that the Vale council will take under my leadership.”

The Vale Council’s  plans include a proposed uplift to the lowest pay point for vouncil workers from £15,014 to £15,246 in December 2017. This will be in advance of further expected pay increase in April 2018 as part of the wider local government pay review.


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