BIZWATCH: PENARTH’S “ETC…” RESTAURANT AND BAR IS SOLD

The “Etc…” Restaurant and Cocktail Bar on Stanwell Road is the one with the big flames outside

The well-known, award-winning high-end restaurant and cocktail bar “Etc….” on Stanwell Road, Penarth  is being sold for what’s described as “a significant and undisclosed sum” to new owner Konsa Micallef.

Alex Mules – who founded the restaurant with partner Julia Bakshi

“Etc…” was established by two local entrepreneurs Alex Mules & Julia Bakshi who are  handing over the reins of the Penarth restaurant to pursue new ventures .

Julia Bakshi says “We’re delighted to be handing over the business to Konsa, Alex and I have had a wonderful time at ETC. Penarth and we are both confident that the restaurant will continue to thrive under Konsa’s direction as we continue to work on new ventures.”

The new owner Konsa Micallef says  “I admire Alex & Julia’s strong commitment to modern fine dining, their devotion to quality and use of the finest, locally sourced ingredients, and can assure everyone that this pair’s dedication to delivering excellence is what I will be building on taking the business forward.”

Inside “Etc…” every table is lit by candlelight

“Etc…” opened in  March 2016 and  earlier this year scooped the Food Awards Wales 2017 ‘Best Restaurant of the Year’ for South East Wales.

 

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PENARTH AM ANDREW RT DAVIES DEMANDS ASSEMBLY MEMBERS SHOULD QUESTION CARWYN

Was he lying in 2014? Is he lying now? The Welsh Labour Government’s First Minister Carwyn Jones has called in a Scottish Government official to establish whether or not he was telling the truth in  the  “Bullygate”scandaL.

Welsh Labour Government First Minister Carwyn Jones should be scrutinised by Assembly Members says Penarth AM Andrew RT Davies – (Conservative Soputh Wales Central.

Mr Davies – who leads the Conservatives in the Welsh Assembly – was commenting on the better-late-than-never decision of Welsh Labour Government First Minister Carwyn Jones to refer himself to an “independent” third party to decide whether the First Minister lied to the Welsh Assembly about allegations of bullying in his private office.

The independent “third party” to which Carwyn Jones has decided to refer himself however, turns out to be James Hamilton – an advisor to the Cardiff-Bay-friendly SNP controlled Scottish Government

Plaid Cymru said the First Minister’s decision to refer the matter to a third party was “long overdue” and should have done much earlier.

Penarth AM Andrew RT Davies leader of the Conservatives in the Welsh Assembly

The Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said his party  welcomed “the appointment of an independent adviser to undertake the investigation into these serious allegations of bullying – something which we specifically requested from the Permanent Secretary two weeks ago.”

However Mr Davies says “It remains vital that Assembly Members will have an opportunity to scrutinise the First Minister over these allegations. We need firm assurances from the Permanent Secretary over the transparency of the pending investigation and a clear timeline for when we can expect findings to be published.This cannot be dragged out or swept under the carpet.”

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TOWN COUNCIL HEARS 3,000 PENARTH WOMEN MUST WAIT YEARS LONGER FOR STATE PENSION

A snowman on duty outside Penarth Town Council last night – where members of the State Pension campaign WASPI enlisted the support of councillors

It’s being claimed that up to 3,000 women in Penarth – all born in the 1950s – are now having to wait years longer than they originally expected to before beginning to receive their state pensions

The claim is being made by the campaigning organisation “WASPI” – [Women Against State Pension Inequality.] which last night lobbied Penarth Town Council in its drive to enlist the support of local councils across the country.

The bone of contention is the way in which the UK Government implemented a 1995  decision to increase the qualifying state pension age for women (which was then 60) to  make it the same as that of men (then 65).

The WASPI campaigners say they are “non-political” and actually “agree with equalisation” [i.e. that the pension age should be the same for both sexes]but say the changes affecting some women  were implemented in an “unfair way” which – they claim –  gave women born in the 1950s “little or no personal notice” of the impending changes  and “no time” to make alternative retirement plans.

They now want :-

  • a “non-means tested bridging pension” for all women born in the 1950s who are affected by changes to the State Pension Laws and, on top of that…
  • compensation for losses” which they claim have been incurred by women who have already reached their state pension age.

(Left to right) Kay Clarke, Celia Jones and Jocelyn Morgan – the three-woman delegation from WASPI with what they called “suffragette banners” – who last night successfully persuaded Penarth Town councillors to support them

Penarth Town Council’s policy committee last night listened to a presentation by a delegation of 3 representatives of WASPI . Councillors heard that some women had been – or could be –  affected “more than once” by successive upward adjustments in the retirement age. [An All-party Commons Committee agreed the strategy of bringing the qualifying age of State Pension for women in line with men – and subsequently agreed successive increases in the unified pension age for both men and women. The “State Pension Age”  – the qualifying age at which a State Pension can commence being paid –  is to be further increased in the future, and will be raised to 68 between 2044 and 2046].

Attending Penarth Town Council last night were Celia Jones, the co-founder of the Wales and West WASPI group, Jocelyn Morgan the co-ordinator for Bridgend and the Valleys and Kay Clarke the co-ordinator for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Ms Clarke said WASPI, [Women Against State Pension Inequality] had been started up by 5 ordinary women”.  She said hundreds of thousands of women – including 138,000  in Wales alone –  were suffering financial hardship with not enough time to re-plan for their retirement.  Women – she said – were telling WASPI that they “could not believe that their retirement age had been increased by 4, 5 or 6 years – and they did not even know about it  “. Finding work was impossible and many had to fall back on zero-hours contracts.

She claimed WASPI research had found that recommendations from the Turner Commission and from Saga give those affected a longer period of notice (15 years and 10 years respectively)  had been “ignored” . Many women reported receiving little or no notice at all.

Divorced or single women often had no other source of income, she said and women had lost their independence – relying on husbands and partners to support them. Women who had planned for their retirement were having to live on dwindling limited savings until they reached their new state pension age – when that pension would be all they had left.

Cllr Yvonne Murphy (Labour St Augustines) produced packet of paper handkerchiefs at an emotional moment in the presentation

There was an emotional moment when Ms Clarke  noted that neither her mother, her maternal grandmother, nor her great-grandmother had been “fortunate enough to reach the age of 60  resulting in contributions made by them ….” Ms Clarke might have gone on to say no pension had ever been paid to them – but the memories evoked by the message were so strong she had to pause.

A welcome packet of paper handkerchiefs was offered to Ms Clarke by Cllr Yvonne Murphy (Labour St Augustines) and the another member of the group took over the presentation.

In its way, however, the moment was a heart-felt salute to the many thousands of women of previous generations who worked hard, raised families, died early and never claimed a penny from the state.

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)

At the end of the presentation Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) asked whether the original legislation increasing the State Pension Age had included a requirement for communication with affected pensioners.  If that was the case, he asked, had any kind of judicial review had been considered?

The group said WASPI had been told by the Department of Work and Pensions that the onus was on individual pensioners to ask when their pension was due. However a London law firm was now advising WASPI to embark on a four-stage process to refer individual claims to the Ombudsman. Individual complaints would need to pass three initial hurdles and then be signed by the complainants’ MP and forwarded to the Ombudsman. He would examine whether there had been “maladministration”.

The Penarth Town Council policy committee decided to place a motion supporting WASPI on the agenda for the next full council meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

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UH-OH! …HAS THE CURSE OF THE LEANING CHRISTMAS TREE RETURNED TO PENARTH?

By the left: Penarth’s trio of freshly installed Christmas Trees seem to be struggling to stay upright

Imbibers emerging from Penarth’s many bars and local pubs may want to hang onto something solid when nearing the Piccadilly Circus of the town – the famous Town Clock Roundabout.

The newly installed trio of Christmas Trees – perhaps in deference to the political predilections of the Penarth Town Council –  now appear to have a produced inclination to the left.

The phenomenon was apparently first noticed after strong winds on Wednesday and now the three trees appear to have canted over in unison – with the Christmas lights on one of them having failed altogether  – just four days after the Christmas Lights Grand Switch-On ceremony.

Penarth’s famous 2013 leaning Christmas Tree

The sight is reviving memories of Penarth Town Council’s previous and distinctly dangerous-looking Leaning Christmas Tree which looked like an inclined missile about to be fired in the general direction of Cogan. One local said at the time “this tree scares the Bejesus out of me”. 

The current trio of Christmas Trees – which replaced the old single “Leaning Tree” –  don’t look  quite as dangerous as the old one – and – no doubt to the  relief of population of Cogan, are actually – and perhaps ominously –  pointing in the other direction ….towards Penarth Pier Pavilion.

The baby goats which were a hit with the children on Sunday are back again in Penarth at All Saints Church petting zoo tomorrow

Meanwhile, for those who can’t get enough of Christmas, there’s a “Christmas Extravaganza” being held at All Saints Church tomorrow.

Amongst the attractions at All Saints are the popular baby goats and piglets and the petting zoo which proved such a hit with local families and children last at Sunday’s Christmas Lights Switch-On in Penarth Town Centre.

The petting zoo from Sunday’s Christmas Lights event will be at All Saints Church tomorrow – copmplete with  baby goats wearing pretend “antlers” and the cuddly black piglet which many children wanted to take home

A Test your Strength machine is being installed enable everyone to check out their fitness-levels and there’s (mechanical) rodeo-style bucking reindeer to test riding endurance alopgnm with a range of stalls serving cakes, mince pies and other goodies

Santa Claus is apparently watching some rugby match or other but Mrs Claus has promised to drop in at All Saints Church, Victoria Square, Penarth, from 10am to 2pm tomorrow Saturday Novermber 25th.

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ALBERT SCHOOL HEAD HAD NOT COMMITTED CRIMINAL OFFENCES – SAY POLICE

In the wake of yesterday’s inquest into the suicide of the headteacher of Albert Primary School, Penarth, Mr Huw Jones,  South Wales Police have today issued a statement saying that their enquiries into Mr Jones “did not identify any criminal offences”  .

On the evening of January 30th Mr Jones was informed by Albert School governors that he was required to attend a meeting at the Vale of Glamorgan Council Offices the following morning (January 31st) regarding what were described in the inquest as “concerns of a safeguarding nature” .

Later that same evening two police officers armed with a warrant had searched Mr Jones’s home. They were acting on information received from South Yorkshire Police.

On January 31st the alarm was raised when Mr Jones failed to arrive at the Vale of Glamorgan Council offices for the arranged meeting. He was then categorised by the police as  a “High Risk Missing Person”.

The graveyard at front of St Lawrence’s Church , Lavernock. Mr Huw Jones’s body was found a few yards away from this point behind the church building.

The following day February 1st 2017, the body of Mr Jones (51) was found beneath a tree behind St Lawrence’s Church in Lavernock on February 1st 2017  and the inquest – held yesterday –  found that he had died by hanging.

The inquest into Mr Jones’s death took an unusually long time to arrange – whilst further evidence was gathered.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the contacts made between the police and the late headteacher and a report is awaited.

The full statement issued by South Wales Police today reads as follows:-

“South Wales Police can confirm that enquiries which continued following the death of Huw Jones did not identify any criminal offences.

Mr Jones was never arrested by South Wales Police – officers visited his address on Monday, 30 January, 2017, while making enquiries.

South Wales Police is awaiting to hear back from the IPCC after the matter was referred to them following Huw Jones’ death”.

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WALES AIR AMBULANCE IN AIRLIFT FROM PENARTH’S HEADLANDS SCHOOL

The Wales Air Ambulance taking off abnd clearing the trees surrounding the sports field at Headlands where it had landed today

The Wales Air Ambulance was called in to carry out an airlift from Headlands School in  Penarth this afternoon.

The scarlet helicopter was on the ground at Headlands for about an hour before taking off again – destination not known.

The school is run by National Children’s Homes Action for Children and  is an independent special school which offers “day and residential placements for boys and girls aged 7 to 19 who have difficulty learning as a result of challenging behaviours such as emotional, behavioural and social difficulties, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Aspergers Syndrome.”

The exact nature of the emergency has not been revealed. A member of staff said that every precaution had to be taken whenever a pupil was involved.

 

 

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CIVIC SOCIETY OFFERS HELP TO STRUGGLING PIER PAVILION COMPANY PACL

PACL plans to use Penarth Pier Pavilion as a commercial wedding and conference venue – which is not quite what the local community and the various “stakeholders” had in mind for the £4,200,000 publicly-funded re-development

The Penarth Civic Society has now made a significant offer of help and assistance to Penarth Arts and Crafts (a.k.a. PACL )  – the struggling private company-cum-charity which the Vale of Glamorgan Council allowed  to lease the Penarth Pier Pavilion for 125 years.

However – at the same time as offering a helping hand – the Penarth Civic Society also delivers a stinging side-swipe at PACL and its beleaguered board of trustees.

In the forthright statement issued today Penarth Civic Society  says “It was certainly never intended that the huge amounts of public money expended on the Pavilion would eventually result in a management strategy based on its use as a commercial venue for weddings, business conferences and private parties. The Pavilion cannot be used as a vehicle to protect PACL as a charity from the the results of the decisions of its trustees.

Today’s Penarth Civic Society statement regarding Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd is reproduced in full below:-

Penarth Civic Society’s letter head bears an illustration of Penarth Pier Pavilionj

  “A number of local residents have approached the Penarth Civic Society with the perception that the Society has distanced itself from the problems surrounding the Penarth Pier Pavilion, particularly following the recent statement from PACL regarding their future proposals for the Pavilion. We therefore felt that we should explain our position.

The Society fully understands and appreciates the special place the Pavilion has in the hearts of the people of Penarth. We know too that the cinema is much missed and it is our considered view that there is no reason it could not be successful given the right mix of film choice, performance times and effective marketing.

PACL have made significant reductions in Pavilion staffing over the past few years, both in terms of salaried employees and volunteers, and this has inevitably reduced the number and range of activities that the Pavilion can offer to visitors.

Of continuing concern are the Pavilion’s financial difficulties and the fact that, despite promises to the contrary, it has so far failed to operate profitably in any year since the building was opened in 2013.

There can therefore be no doubt that the Pavilion has been experiencing problems for some time and continues to do so.

Penarth Civic Society and other local and national organisations have on several occasions, offered help and support to the Pavilion’s management and, although to date these offers have not been taken up, the Civic Society  remains committed to do whatever we can to ensure the success of this much loved building.

We are confident that, given the right management, the Pavilion can and will ultimately achieve a stable and financially sound footing and it is this confidence that leads us to reassert our desire to offer our support for the Pavilion’s operations.”

We cannot, however, support any PACL proposals which would further reduce the community values on which the original Pavilion project was founded. It was certainly never intended that the huge amounts of public money expended on the Pavilion would eventually result in a management strategy based on its use as a commercial venue for weddings, business conferences and private parties. The Pavilion cannot be used as a vehicle to protect PACL as a charity from the the results of the decisions of its trustees.

We believe that our Society and its members could assist by working with the Pavilion management to raise funds, improve marketing, assist with the volunteer program, bring in expertise from other successful seaside pier operations, and help build a highly profitable retail operation, whilst significantly improving the services provided to the local community. We also see the permanent re-opening of the cinema with a full program of evening and matinee performances as essential to the long term success of the Pavilion and we would offer our full support to make this happen.

We now hope that the Pavilion’s decision makers will agree to meet with officers of the Society to establish if there are ways in which we could work together to achieve a new way forward and we will await their response in due course.”

The statement has been issued through the Honorary Secretary of the Penarth Civic Society Chris Wyatt who is contactable via email on enquiries@penarthsociety.org.uk

Penarth Arts and Crafts has been in receipt of considerable public funding from a number of sources  particularly from the National Lottery – for the refurbishment of the Penarth Pier Pavilion and to underwrite its initial running costs.

In addition Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd has also applied for – and been given this year –  a £126,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve its financial controls and address the calibre of its business management.

Meanwhile it’s been revealed that £100,000 of cash funding which the Vale of Glamorgan Council had committed to give to Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd is being paid to PACL in 20 instalments of £5,000 a time.

 

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