The Prime Minister at the dispatch box in the House of Commons this afternoon

In the House of Commons today the Prime Minister Theresa May has been answering questions about the government’s Brexit negotiations with the European Council – and found herself having to answer what was virtually the same question twice. 

Peter Bone (Conservative Wellingborough)

The first came from Peter Bone (Conservative Wellingborough)  who said ” I think the whole country will welcome the agreement that the Conservative and Unionist Party has done with the DUP.  The Prime Minister in her statement referred to the Brexit dividend of over 10 billion  pounds that we will save when we are not in the European superstate and I welcome the half-a-billion pounds a year going to Northern Ireland .  Is that sort of the funding that the Prime Minister thinks will happen in the rest of the United Kingdom ?”

The Prime Minister responds to Peter Bone MP

The Prime Minister replied. “What I can say to the honourable gentleman is that we do have to look at how we are going to use money that we will no longer be sending to the European Union. People voted for us not to be sending vast sums every year to the EU.   We will have to look at how we will use that, and one of the  aspects that we have already proposed here on this side of the house is this concept of a “Shared Prosperity Fund”  which will be removing disparities between different parts of the UK

Stephen Doughty (Labour Cardiff South and Penarth)

However no sooner had Mrs May completed her answer to Peter Bone, than Stephen Doughty (Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth) stood up to ask an almost identical question.

He asked . “Did the Prime Minister have a chance to discuss transitional funding arrangements for Wales at the European Council because surely she is going to have to have something to say to the people of Wales who now feel they’re being treated like second class citizens  in the United Kingdom but she can magic up billions [sic]  for Northern Ireland  but won’t  give a guarantee for Wales on future funding?”

The Prime Minister said all parts of the UK would benefit from not having to send billions to the EU

[In  fact the deal with the DUP provides not “billions” – as Doughty wrongly alleged – but a total of 1 billion in extra funding to Northern Ireland over 2 years. It was Bone’s figures which were correct.]

The Prime Minister replied. “We’ve already been very clear on various aspects of funding from the European Union in relation to funding for farmers and  guarantees that we’ve given over a period of years for that but we want to make sure that when we have money that comes back from the European Union  that we’re no longer giving to the European Union that we are able to spend that money in a way that is as effective as possible in driving improvements here across the whole of the United Kingdom.”

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The Jackal  “FS Chacal” passing Penarth Head this morning heading back home to  France

Penarth can breathe again – “The Jackal” – or perhaps we should say “Le Chacal” – has departed, without a single shot being fired. 

Anyone who was out and about this morning on Penarth seafront would have seen a mini-flotilla of 4 French warships passing Penarth after spending “Le Weekend” in Cardiff  “Pays de Gaulle”.

Just like the Royal Navy , France’s Marine Nationale also has female officers and the matelots still wear the traditional – allegedly lucky –  red pom-pom on their hats

Some may have jumped to the hasty conclusion that this was the just first wave of an EU pincer movement designed to stop we Welsh escaping from the European Union but this visit was entirely a “goodwill” affair … perhaps more than can be said for the climate in Brussels at the moment.

The Marine Nationale is still called informally “La Royale” – even though, as everyone knows, France dispensed with the services of its royal family in 1793.  The French Navy however is larger both in manpower and in the number of ships than the British Navy.

The French ensign is the similar to the tricolore – but has a darker-blue stripe

They may come in odd shapes and sizes but France has more warships than the Royal Navy

The French support Tender – in Cardiff to look after “The Jackal” and  the three other ships – visiting this weekend (Photo John Clark)

The ships visiting Cardiff were  FS LYNX  A751,  FS EGLANTINE  A771, FS LION  A755  and FS CHACAL A753  . “Chacal” , of course, is  French for “Jackal” – a name with a special resonance for fans of  Frederick Forsyth’s famous ’70s-era thriller “The Day of the Jackal” about a fictional pre-EU plot to top the then French President, General Charles de Gaulle – a politician notable for his post-war ingratitude to the British and who most definitely did not want Britain to join the Common Market in the first place.

Female matelots on the foredeck of FS Eglantine

It was allegedly Winston Churchill who – in planning his own funeral –  arranged for General de Gaulle to suffer the indignity of saluting his former war-time ally as his coffin was loaded aboard a steam-train at the exquisitely-named Waterloo Station.

However no such snub was administered to our French friends this morning as they bade “adieu” and “au revoir ” to Wales in brilliant weather which was easily a match for  the Riviera.

HMS Tyne passing Penarth Head and following the French fleet out to sea

However – just in case anyone was worried about what our Gallic cousins might have been getting up to in Pays de Galles – the Royal Navy’s  HMS TYNE was also in Cardiff Docks,  keeping them company. She departed Cardiff shortly after the French fleet.

HMS Tyne passing Penarth Pier this morning (Photo Robert Pickford)

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The three-strong crew of Penarth lifeboat walked back up the beach as the lifeboat – with the boys and their makeshift construction-bag raft aboard – were brought ashore bythe D Class lifeboat

Two 12 year old boys adrift in the Bristol channel off Penarth on an inflatable constructor’s airbag were brought to safety in a dramatic lifeboat rescue at  low tide this afternoon.

The two boys had been unable to propel the airbag back to the shore and one of them had jumped into the water and was attempting to swim and physically push the airbag to safety.

Scores of visitors on the sea front and on Penarth Pier looked on as the D Class lifeboat was launched – having to be taken down to the low water mark  to get afloat.

Penarth Coastguard officers were also called to the scene.

The lifeboat quickly rescued  the two boys – and retrieved their airbag brought them back to the Penarth Lifeboat slipway for hot drinks and chocolate. They appeared to be none the worse for their experience.

Their makeshift raft had been spotted off the yellow-and-black coloured Outer Wrach cardinal buoy – north of Penarth Pier and it’s understood alert Vale of Glamorgan Council staff on Penarth Pier had raised the alarm .

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This April’s Picnic Penarth could be the last. The event could now be subsumed into a town-wide “Food Festival”

Penarth Town Council’s new “venues committee” last night considered the future of the street-food festival “Picnic Penarth” and 4 possible options for its future – which included “retiring” the event.

Councillors were told that the event had been originally launched with a small “test event” in 2015 [ outside Gimber Motors] with funding from the Welsh Labour Government’s so-called “Town Centre Development Fund.

Seating was at a premium in April’s Picnic Penarth. People had to sit on eat at the kerbside

Since then there had been two further – larger-scale “Picnic Penarth” events  – taking up the whole of  Station Approach.

The most recent of these  [ adroitly-timed to take place immediately before the  local council elections] was in April 2017, which was attended by over 10,000 people over 2 days. One in four of those attending Picnic Penarth come from outside the town

The Picnic benches were fine – but there weren’t enough to meet the demand

Picnic Penarth – councillors heard – requires a budget of £20,000 – [allocated by Penarth Town Council using council-tax payer’s money derived from the Town Precept which now stands at a record high] .   The April 2017 event was also sponsored by a “CoverBuilder” – a trading name of a Penarth-based insurance company called Source Insurance Ltd .

The council considered 4 options:-

  1. Keeping the existing model of the event – but obtaining additional internal and external funding
  2. Developing Picnic Penarth into a much larger scale event similar to “Cowbridge Food and Drink” and the Ludlow Food Festival
  3. Ending Penarth Town Council’s involvement in April 2018 and handing it over to an “external group”
  4. “Retiring” the event at the end of the current financial year.

Alice Turner Customer Services Lead Officer at Penarth Town Council

Customer Servicers Lead officer at Penarth Council –  Alice Turner –  told the committee that the event was “highly successful in lots of ways”. It attracted people both from with the town and outside it and was a “real economic boost” to the “microbusinesses that actually come to trade at the event “and also to the wider town economy  .

Ms Turner said Picnic Penarth was an expensive event to put on.  The Penarth Town Council’s funding [£20,000] had had to be topped up by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and by sponsorship – and all that money had now been spent. She noted that the Station Approach location “does not have any of the amenities that we require to have, except that it is an open space with easy access to public transport, is central to the town and is an area which historically had been slightly overlooked or a little neglected but was now starting to have its own identity”.

Cllr Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines)

Cllr Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines) said he had been involved in sponsoring a  successful event in Caerphilly  called “The Big Cheese” which capitalised on Caerphilly Cheese as a brand.

Cllr Laura Rochefort (Labour Cornerswell)

He thought that a “Penarth Food Festival” would attract a lot of people, would  bring in extra sponsorship and  would work well. He  proposed that  Picnic Penarth should be “re-branded”.

Cllr Laura Rochefort (Labour Cornerswell) had misgivings about the current location used for Picnic Penarth – Station Approach.

She said the Picnic was held in a place which “I would not necessarily the place where I would think a picnic should be”. She suggested moving it to a different venue.

“Picnic Penarth” meant a “Picnic on the Pavement” for this familty

Cllr Liz Fahy (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Liz Fahy (Labour St Augustines)  agreed –  although she noted the importance of regeneration. She pointed out that this was an event which attracted “the family market”  but there was “nowhere for [families] to go” .

Cllr Jon Luxton (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr John Luxton (Labour Stanwell) said  in his experience something like this could become commercial quite easily . He asked whether a detailed plan had been developed and suggested this could deliver benefits to the Town Council rather than to an outside contractor – so that the proceeds could be spent for the benefit of the public.

Council officer Alice Turner said this was how the first two events had been organised, and agreed that an event like Picnic Penarth could become commercial but would take “hundreds of hours of [council] staff time” – but was not a core part of what staff were there to do.

Cllr Ben Gray (Labour Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Ben Gray [Conservative Plymouth Ward] said established events in Cardiff had all been  moved from the Cardiff Council events team to a private company. He favoured “Option 3”  – bringing in a commercial group and working in partnership with the .He thought that the aim should be an event which directly boosted the economy of the town  rather than the council coffers as a revenue collector.  Cllr Gray said a commercial company would turn it into a Food Festival – because that was the way of getting more stalls.

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Cornerswell)

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Cornerswell) suggested piggy-backing the Picnic with another event. He said that  Whitchurch had a Food Festival and a Fun Run which was very well attended . The cost of road closures could be offset with two events taking place at the same time.

Council officer Turner was asked whether there had been any discussion about combining  the Picnic with the Gwyrddio Penarth Greening Food Festival [ the independently organised GPG Food Festival was discontinued in 2016 partly because of competition from Picnic Penarth – but is to be revived in September this year. ]  Ms Turner said this had been looked at, but the council’s aim was to spread events across the year. 

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) noted that some councillors had already expressed concerns about the location for Picnic Penarth [in Station Approach] and the lack of green space  – but said that places like “The Depot” in Cardiff had a very context.  The issue was really how  the Picnic Event was to be positioned.  Organisers of The Depot were obvious people to talk to . He advocated a mix between Option 1 and Option 2 which would enable Penarth Town Council to control the branding of the event .

Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) asked whether any support from the Vale Council or the Welsh Government had been discounted.

Officer Turner said the Vale Council had been “incredibly supportive”  and had provided matched funding of the first two events and had given the maximum £5,000 for the 2017 event. Meanwhile discussions were being opened with the Welsh Government. On the location she said there was an option to use some of the green spaces the council had – but she was not in favour of Penarth Cliff Top as a venue. It was “extremely windy” and a grassy area was not ideal for that kind if event in April when it usually rained.

Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines)  said he woudl ike more information on Option 3  and suggested that potential commercial partners should make presebntations to the council on what they would wish to do. Cllr ………….said “our role in this is as a facilitator”  and proposed bringing in “external people” and then plug in all the outlets in the town  .

Cllr John Luxton said what was required was a feasibility study into the options

Cllr Martin Turner, (Cons Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner said Penarth had  now developed a reputation as somewhere to come and eat and he thought it would be very useful to have discussions with restaurants and cafes to see what their view is on arranging some sort of Food Festival at which people would be charged for attending  .  The council would be the facilitator and the umbrella organisation .

A “Task and Finish ” group is now to be set up to examine the options for the future of Picnic Penarth in greater detail and explore the potential involvement of outside companies.






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Fairfield Primary School in Penarth

The Vale of Glamorgan Council has approved the setting up of a new nursery unit at Fairfield Primary School in Penarth.

There are several publicly and privately run nurseries in Penarth and the surrounding area, but up to now there hasn’t been any Local Education Authority nursery provision at Fairfield .

A public consultation has been carried out in which no objections were received to setting up the proposed new nursery unit and the scheme will now be implemented.

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The latest crime figures for Penarth do not make good reading for Labour South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael. Not only is crime rising – but the figures are almost incomprehensible, confused and contain data for a Penarth town ward which disappeared in 1999

There was no representative from South Wales Police present when Penarth Town Council met last night under the chairmanship of the Mayor Cllr Ken Rogers to consider – amongst other matters –  the  latest crime figures for the town.

The figures for April 2017 reveal a 12.65 % increase in the number of crimes committed in Penarth compared with the same month in 2016  – whilst the May 2017 figures show an increase of 9.23% in crimes committed –  compared with the same month in 2016.


  • Violence Against a person                             35
  • Other Theft                                                       19
  • Criminal damage                                              17
  • Burglary Residential                                        5
  • Theft from Motor Vehicle                               4
  • Other Drugs Offence                                        3
  • Sexual Offence                                                  2
  • Other Notifiable Offence                                2
  • Drugs Trafficking                                              1
  • Robbery                                                               1

TOTAL  APRIL 2017                                         89


  • Violence Against a person                            23
  • Theft (primarily shoplifting)                       15
  • Burglary other                                                  4
  • Criminal damage                                            10
  • Dwelling Burglary                                            3
  • Drugs Trafficking                                             2
  • Other drugs offence                                         2
  • Robbery                                                              2
  • Theft of motor vehicle                                     1
  • Theft from Motor Vehicle                               2
  • Other Notifiable Offence                                1

TOTAL  CRIMES MAY 2017                         65

The Town Clerk Emma Boylen said the police had informed her that there had been no reports of “rogue traders or distraction burglaries” in the last three months, there had been adjustments to the way in which “Violence Against the Person” offences were categorised and that, under new Home Office rules, shed and garage burglaries were now classified as  “dwelling” burglaries .

Although Penarth Councillors had plenty of questions to put to the police [controlled by local resident and former MP  Alun Michael – Labour’s South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner]   –  no officer had been available to attend the council meeting- but if councillors had any comments, the Town Clerk said they would be passed on to the police.

Cllr Yvonne Murphy (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Yvonne Murphy (Labour St Augustines) – participating in her first full council meeting-  went straight for the jugular.  She asked the Town Clerk to inquire whether police had any comment on the fact that there had been an increase in crime in Penarth.

Cllr Murphy also wanted to know whether there was a reason that the police report was “out of sync” and quite hard to read?

[PDN Note : Perversely – since last year – the police statistics for Penarth have split the town into 3 rather than 4 Wards – ignoring long established ward boundaries , The statistics also include figures from a mythical  and entirely fictional “Alexandra Ward” – a ward which ceased to exist in the last century. In addition, crime categories are constantly being altered, making it increasingly difficult to compare year-on-year trends].  

Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) Leader of Penarth Town Council

Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) Leader of the Council said “Alexandra Ward” was a combination of St Augustine’s and Plymouth Wards  – although he said he was “not interpreting in any way” the data laid before the councillors.

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) said he had raised this issue of  “Alexandra Ward” in a previous Community Liaison committee meeting which had been attended by the police.

He said councillors might not believe it – but the reason given for the [ entirely false] categorisation of “Alexandra Ward” was that the police database management software was updated in Canada and it was too expensive to get this altered. South Wales Police, he said, used to break down the figures for the [ mythical] “Alexandra Ward” manually but the police, he said,  “don’t seem to have the resource element to do that any more”.

“Alexandra Ward“, Cllr Wilson said,  had not been an officially-recognised ward of Penarth since 1999.

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said the category of Domestic Violence seemed to have disappeared [not for the first time] from the police categories for some reason.

Cllr Ben Gray (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Ben Gray (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said he had noticed on the South Wales Police web site that “PACT” meetings [ police and public liaison meetings] had been suspended because of the local elections and the General Election, and were supposed to be being resumed, but no dates for new meetings had been given. Cllr Gray said he understood that individual ward-by-ward PACT meetings might no longer be appropriate,  but he wanted to know when the police would start having PACT meetings in the community again.

In the absence of a police representative at the council meeting, the councillors’ queries and comments will be passed on the South Wales Police for a reply







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Cosmeston Lakes Country Park’s newest resident – an endangered, specially bred, water vole – arrives to take up residence

More than 100 young water voles – one of Wales’s most endangered species  – are being released this week in  Cosmeston Lakes Country Park.

The re-stocking of Cosmeston with young water-voles –  specially bred at a hatchery in Mid Wales –  is being carried out by the Vale of Glamorgan Council in association with Wales’s envionmental organisation Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – . [The scheme was first reported by PDN here: ]

The Vale of Glamorgan and NRW have now published an on line video showing the young voles being released this week from captivity and being given their freedom on the banks of Cosmeston’s main lake.

Water voles have suffered a 95% decline since the 1960s –  largely due to a loss of habitat. To combat this, the Vale of Glamorgan Council has worked with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to develop a specially prepared environment in which they can live safely.

An NRW team is on hand at Cosmeston all this week to help the voles adjust to their  new envoronment . Food  – and the artificial nests in which the animals have been reared –  will be removed and the community of voles will be left to enjoy their new home.

Richard Davies of the NRW says “Water voles were once common in rivers, canals and ponds across Wales, and an important part of our environment. Habitat loss and predation by American mink have reduced their numbers and they’re now endangered. Our work to breed them at our hatchery in mid Wales and our partnership with local authorities, wildlife trusts and land owners to improve habitats and to set up new populations, will boost their chance of survival.”

The only threat the Cosmeston voles now face is the pending decision of the new Vale of Glamorgan Council on whether or not to scrap the previous Vale Labour administration’s  scheme to set up a commercial wake-boarding centre on Cosmeston’s largest lake.

The NRW says it will object to such a scheme.

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