Penarth AM and Welsh Labour Government minister Vaughan Gething has declared himself as in favour of building the M4 relief road

Penarth Labour AM Vaughan Gething – who is one of three candidates in the running to become Leader of the Labour Party in Wales and the next First Minister of the Wales – has publicly backed the controversial construction of the much-needed M4 Relief Road.

In a Twitter message Gething – who is Labour AM for Cardiff South and Penarth and Minister of Health in the Welsh Labour Government  – has said he now backs the building of the new road.

Wanna-be First Minister Vaughan Gething says “doing nothing is no longer an option” as far as the M4 Relief Road is concerned.

In his Twitter message Gething says “Business across South and West Wales need certainty that the M4 will not be left as it is. I am determined that we will act and go ahead with an M4 relief road”

Patting himself on the back for his announcement, he’s added a hashtag to his tweet – saying “Change Takes Courage”

The M4 Relief Road “Black Route” is opposed by environmentalists

The scheme however has the run the gauntlet of opposition from environmentalists who oppose the building of the M4 Relief Road along the Welsh Labour Government so-called “Black Route” across the Gwent levels.


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Cllr Gary Allman (left) has invited Cardiff harbourmaster Andrew Vye-Parminter (right) to a public meeting with Penarth Marina residents next month to discuss the issue of floating rubbish on the River Ely – which the Cardiff Harbour Authority is responsible for clearing.

The war of words between Penarth Town Councillor Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines) and Cardiff Bay Harbourmaster Andrew Vye-Parminter (over uncleared floating rubbish on the Penarth bank of the River Ely)  has now taken a new turn.

Cllr Allman says he’s been unable to get a response from Mr Vye-Parminter about the floating rubbish which residents in his ward are complaining about [see PDN ] He has now invited the harbourmaster to meet Penarth Marina residents face-to-face on November 13th at Pier 64.

The floating rubbish includes accumulated driftwood, and scores of plastic bottles

In an email to Mr Vye-Parminster, sent last night, Cllr Allman says “I have called and e-mailed,  but you clearly do not wish to talk with myself.”

Cllr Allman tells Mr Vye-Parminter I am one of  the duly elected representatives of the St Augustine Ward, people I represent  – as a public servant – want answers and it looks like you are the man to give them.  So I would like to give you that opportunity  on November the 13th to attend a residents’ meeting at the Pier 64 where as fellow public servant you can answer the questions, much better than e-mails, I’m sure you would agree. I can even supply photos if you so require on the issue of weeks to collect floating rubbish.

Cllr Allman adds I am sure you will embrace the chance to engage with the people that live in the Marina. In anticipation look forward to your reply.”

The raft of floating rubbish , driftwood and discarded plastic is said at times to extend almost all the way across the river and has been untouched for more than three weeks

The mini-“Sargasso Sea” of flotsam even includes abandoned footballs.

The Cardiff Harbour Authority said one reason why the rubbish hadn’t been picked up is that it  is “difficult to see from a boat”….but this is what it actually looks like from a boat

There are several workboats and specialised rubbish clearing vessels in Cardiff Harbour Authority’s own mini-marina – but it’s claimed they rarely venture up the River Ely

Cllr Allman is a company director by profession who lives in the Penarth marina residential area. One of his particular concerns is the effect the floating garbage is having on the local wildlife population.

Mr Vye-Parminter is a well-connected, highly-qualified harbourmaster with a gallant record as a lifeboat helm. It is not yet known whether he will agree to attend the public meeting  .


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The Penarth commercial event organisers Genero Experiences organised the 2018  Summer Festival on behalf of Penarth Town Council . It cost council-tax-payers £30,000

The latest financial reports from Penarth Town Council reveal the  large sums of money the council has paid this year to a commercial company to organise the Summer Festival and Picnic Penarth.

These two events used to be organised in-house by Penarth Council’s own staff – with limited success – but this year they were both  farmed-out  to a local commercial event-organising company Genero Experiences – under a new “memorandum of understanding” with  the council.

Picnic Penarth 2018 (Photo : MG)

  • For organising Picnic Penarth – on Penarth Esplanade – Genero was paid £6,600
  • For organising the Penarth Summer Festival Genero was paid £30,000 

It was said that both the events seemed rather similar, as both featured a number of stalls selling street-food and alcohol – which some complained of as encouraging drinking in public open spaces.

Cllr Yvonne Murphy (Labour St Augustines)

[PDN Note: There would have been a second Picnic Penarth held  in late summer had it not been for objections raised by Cllr Yvonne Murphy (Labour St Augustine’s) who was bold enough to question the rationale of the idea].

The next major council event due to involve Genero will be the Penarth Christmas Lights Switch-On , to be held next month.

Last year’s installation of the Christmas lights in the town centre (by electrical installation company Millenium Quest)   cost council-taxpayers a total of £10,765 . The costs of the actual Switch-On Ceremony itself will be separate from – and in addition to – the cost of this year’s lights.

A Brains’ Bridge billboard hoarding –  advertising the council’s “Penarth in Bloom” initiative

Another major cost in the course of the year for the council was the somewhat ineffective and too-small-to-read  billboard advertising (by Prime Sight) which cost the council £986.36.

The benches supplied for Penarth Town Council’s “community garden” at West House came all the way from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. It’s not clear whether any local firms were invited to tender

It’s also come to light that new wooden benches which have been installed in the “Community Garden” in the front of West House came not from a local Penarth woodwork company  but from the  Haddenham Garden Centre in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire at a total cost of £1,417.50.

An unexplained item is a decision to change the locks on some Penarth Council premises . For this the council went not to a local firm based in Penarth, but to a Barry-based company – Barry Locks – who charged £534.89 .




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Binoculars like these were stolen from a house in Redland Road, Penarth , last month

South Wales Police have released details of a pair of binoculars – stolen during a burglary house in Redlands Road, Penarth on September 22nd

The burglary took place sometime between 13:30 and 23:00 – and if anyone has spotted them police would appreciate their getting in touch .

The missing binoculars are “Swarovski CL 8×25”  pocket binoculars which are sand-brown in colour.

South Wales police say anyone with any information on the burglary  = or anyone who might have been offered the binoculars – should call the police on  101 quoting reference 1800362417 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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It’s reported that PODS has been told that – at forthcoming performances at the Paget Rooms – Penarth Town Council will run the bar and keep the takings – including at the forthcoming Christmas panto –“Pinocchio”

Penarth Opera and Drama Society (PODS) –  which has always run the bar at the Paget Rooms when it’s booked the venue for its performances – is understood to have been told that, from now on, Penarth Council will be operating the bar – and trousering the takings.

The forthcoming pantomime Pinocchio is coming to the Paget Rooms

PODS is staging the pantomime Pinocchio at the Paget Rooms from Thursday December 6th to Sunday December 9th inclusive. [Pinocchio is the children’s story of a toy puppet, transformed into a boy, whose nose grows every time he tells a lie] 

Tickets for the pantomime are priced from £10.  In the past the bar takings have always been an important for the society and its amateur  members in helping meet the cost of each production – including venue hire (paid to the council) , costumes,  lighting,  copyright fees, and music rights.

However this year PDN sources say that Penarth Town Council has told PODS that the society can no longer run its own bar at the Paget Rooms when they stage shows there.

For groups that have hired the Paget Rooms in the past, that extra bar revenue has often made the difference between covering costs or losing money.

Penarth Town Council issued a statement on the new arrangements today

Today the Town Clerk, Emma Boylan, issued the following statement on behalf of Penarth Town Council :-

“This relates to a strategic management decision of the Council to run a fully stocked professional bar service.  This decision was taken to improve the services we offer the community but also it ensures that revenue achieved as a result of providing this service could be reinvested into the Paget Rooms so that the future sustainability of the venue is secured for future generations to come.  I am sure you would agree this is a positive move.”

“This arrangement is not a unique situation and many venues similar to the Paget Rooms offer this service.  I am delighted to advise you that the feedback received from those who have benefited from the bar service the Council offers have complimented the Council on offering a wide range of quality wines, spirits, beers and soft drinks, friendly bar staff, reasonably priced drinks and the knowledge that the bar service is now one less thing for the hirer to think about when organising an event.”

Comedian Owen Money MBE

In July this year Owen Money’s production company Rainbow Valley Productions pulled out of a 3-year-deal with the council; to stage pantomimes at the Paget Rooms.

Penarth Town Council had demanded a 40% per cent cut of the box office takings – double the previous rate of 20%.

Since March this year Penarth Town Council has spent £3,804 on “bar supplies” which is £2,554 more than budgeted for the full 12 month. It has set a sales target of £5,000 in bar sales for 2018/19

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Welsh Labour Government Health Secretary Vaughan Gething has been challenged about senior NHS Wales staff who are leaving Wales to get better treatment fopr their families in England

The Welsh Labour Government’s Health Minister Vaughan Gething (AM for Cardiff South and Penarth) is on the receiving end, this weekend, of yet more criticism of the way he runs – or attempts to run – the NHS in Wales.

The former Secretary of State for Wales David Jones has now told The Sunday Times it was an “error”  by the [Labour] UK Government to devolve health policy to the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay – where, ever since the Assembly was established, it’s been under the incompetent control of the Labour Party.

Former Secretary for Wales David Jones Conservative MP for Clwyd West

David Jones blames the Welsh Labour Government – and by implication the less than impressive  Vaughan Gething – for what he describes as “a  very, very bad” situation.

Mr Jones, who is Conservative MP for Clwyd West, told The Sunday Times  I see no reason why my constituents, who pay their taxes at the same rate as anybody else, shouldn’t get exactly the same service as anybody else  – and if the Welsh Government is incapable of producing that then it seems to me that there’s something wrong with the system”

Aiming a kick at Welsh Health Minister Gething – who hopes to succeed the much-criticised Carwyn Jones as First Minister – David Jones said “The whole issue of devolution of heath in Wales is deeply regrettable”  .

Top NHS Wales officer Professor Siobhan McLelland is leaving Wales to get better NHS treatment for her husband in England

It’s now emerged that a top NHS Wales official – Professor Siobhan McClelland – is moving to England to live after “losing faith” in  the ability of the  NHS in Wales to treat her husband – who suffers from prostate cancer.

Professor McClelland is the second Welsh NHS boss to leave Wales to seek better treatment in England.  She says “We have put our house on the market and are planning to move”. She says We have lost confidence and trust in the healthcare system in Wales”.

Like former Secretary for Wales David Jones, she too aims her criticism at the Welsh Labour Government and the hapless Vaughan Gething. Professor McCelland says “We have a void in the Welsh Government where robust and rigorous innovative health policy should be made”.

He’s behind you: In the Welsh Assembly this week Vaughan Gething kept his back to Plaid Cymru health spokesman as he was quizzed about Welsh NHS official Professor McLelland’s decision to leave Wales to get better treatment for her husband in England

que of Gething's

Plaid Cymru Health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth delivered a withering critique of Gething’s NHS mis-management

Plaid Cymru’s health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth also put the boot into Vaughan Gething on the matter in a question-and-answer session in the Welsh Assembly earlier this week .

Rhun ap Iorwerth reminded Gething – who kept his back to his questioner  – that Professor McLelland had said “There is neither capacity nor capability in Welsh Government to be making really good health policy.’

Rhun ap Iorweth told Gething that  Professor McClelland’s  comments had amounted to  “as damning an indictment as you could hear of your running of the NHS” .

Vaughan Gething said he was sorry  the professor had had cause to complain  about her husband’s NHS treatment

In an unconvincing performance, a faltering Gething admitted Professor McClelland had been right about the inadequate treatment her husband had received in the Welsh NHS.

Vaughan Gething said I am, of course, sorry that Professor McClelland has cause—and, from the statement made by the health board, good cause—to complain about the care that her husband has received.”

But then went on to say that he  “didn’t accept “ Professor McLelland’s criticism  and added that  an OECD review of the Health Service in Wales “did not suggest that there was a system-wide problem, as described by Professor McClelland.”





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Broken windows, a wrecked roof and the stumps of sawn-down trees mark out The Highlands in Cogan, Penarth, as it awaits funal demolition  Within two months from now it will be gone – but the coachhouse on the left will be retained, renovated  and become part of the new development.

The Highlands – the once-grand dwelling that’s been described as “the most spectacular mansion in Penarth” is now expected to be totally demolished within the next two months.

The huge stone-built arts-and-crafts era house on the escarpment above Cogan  is awaiting the completion of a further bat survey before clearance is finally given to flatten it.

The Highlands as it was before demolition began

Large sections of the original roof tiles have already been removed – leaving the structure no longer weatherproof. In left in this condition, the house would almost automatically self-destruct over time as internal floors and ceilings collapse – but in this case the entire mansion is scheduled to be flattened  anyway before the end of the year

It’s believed there may be a significant bat colony in the area with some roosting possibly within the attics of the house itself – so as second survey is being carried out to establish the position.

If bats ARE found, it’s understood that they will be “re-homed” . As a large number of trees in the immediate vicinity have now been felled, the animals will have further to fly to find new roosts

The windows in the Mock-Tudor gable wall are now broken and the interior open to the elements

The Highlands – so-called because it occupies one of the highest points of land in Penarth – was built originally by Claude Angel of the eponymous Cardiff shipping line.

Its last purchasers were the Berni family who ran a highly successful ice cream business and a chain of restaurants . The current owner, Mr Simon Berni, faced opposition from some members of his own family over his decision to demolish the building – but eventually the scheme was approved by the Vale of Glamorgan Council – only to be delayed for “bat surveys”.

Investigation of the tourelle turret showed that much of the balcony timberwork is rotten

The timberwork of the turret balcony appears to be rotten

The  spectacular turret or “turelle”  was originally a vantage point from which it was possible to see Cardiff Docks, the River Ely, Penarth Docks ( now Penarth Marina) Cogan and the countryside to the South West (where the Cowslip estate now stands .

The tourelle itself is in now bad shape. Investigations have found that much of the exposed timberwork is rotten – and the double doors leading out onto its balcony are being left wide open. Behind it, one of the main chimneys is leaning out of true.

The original art-deco stained glass windows of the main entrance still survive … just about

Scores of roof tiles of The Highlands have already been removed and several windows have been smashed –  measures which are certain to accelerate deterioration. It was estimated it would cost ast least £500,000 to restore the building to its original estate –  but that now seem immaterial with total demolition seemingly inevitable in a few weeks’ time.

By all accounts the interior of The Highlands is said to be a disappointment. Much of the original wood panelling of the main rooms had already stripped out by earlier owners . The original massive arts-and-crafts fireplaces all been replaced with smaller – 1950s style –  tiled substitutes.

Cogan – as seen from the lawn terrace of The Highlands. The lawn is to become a small housing estate. In the distance on the left hand side is the tower block of Penarth Heights

The Highlands as it was in its own secluded grounds on the highest point of land in Cogan (Google Earth image)

Highlands in earlier days with its immaculate front lawn – which is now to be a building site

During the Second World War the building became the headquarters of the Home Guard in Penarth – with further temporary military buildings installed on the large front lawn.

It’s understood that in several rooms the original turn-of-the-century ceilings had been obscured by suspended ceilings. It’s now clear that the building has gone beyond the point of no return.

The site will become a small residential estate of 8 detached homes and 3 “affordable units” and another piece of Penarth’s history will have gone.

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