FURTHER DELAYS TO REFURBISHMENT OF PENARTH LEISURE CENTRE

Repairs have been delayed because only one firm responded to an invitation to tender for the refurbishment contract

Long-overdue repairs to Penarth Leisure Centre – which has been awaiting refurbishment to several areas for many years – have been further delayed.

Repairs to the centre were continually postponed by the 2012/2017 Labour administration in the Vale of Glamorgan Council  – but when the Conservative administration took over the council last year they initiated a plan for a major make-over for the Leisure Centre .

The pool at Penarth Leisure Centre as it was before the fire.in 2014

The Conservative run Vale council invited 6 companies to submit tenders to carry out the work – but only 1 of those companies responded. However now the council is to re-tender for the work on the Leisure centre via the Sell 2 Wales website and a wider group of companies will be contacted.

Vale of Glamorgan officers say they were “disappointed” at the response to the initial invitation to tender – but say there is now “an expectation that future tenders would be more satisfactory.”

There was repair work done to the Leisure Centre after the disastrous fire in February 2014 – but Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council only refurbished the fire-damaged areas l

There was a disastrous fire at the Penarth Leisure Centre on February 23rd  2014 which destroyed the so-called “Wellness Suite” and sauna and put the swimming pool out of action for 8 months.

On that occasion some 50 customers, some wearing only swimming costumes,   were brought to safety by Penarth Leisure Centre staff who were praised for their prompt action in evacuating the building  .

Penarth Leisure Centre pool where toddlers are taught to swim was cleaned up after the disastrous fire of 2014 – but the changing rooms were not refurbished

The water in the swimming pool – which had never been changed since the centre was first opened – had to be pumped out with the assistance of the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service .  The pool didn’t re-open until October 15th 2014.

Although there was some re-decoration to fire-affected parts of the building the long overdue work to the changing rooms – including conversion to a Unisex “changing village” had been constantly delayed by the Labour adminstration

 

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MARINA RESIDENTS DEMAND ACTION ON CRIME & ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

The entire Penarth Marina residential area is suffering from anti-social behaviour by drug addicts and people from outside the area

Local residents living in homes in Penarth Marina are demanding action be taken to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in the residential  developments surrounding Plymouth Park, the Marina yacht-basins and overlooking Cardiff Bay .

The protest has been sparked by a spate of burglaries  – believed have been committed by criminals from outside the area which specifically targeted cars and some of the most desirable waterside homes in the Marina development.

Several cars in the Marina have been broken into in the last few days. In once case the thieves were filmed on a CCTV camera:-

In the case seen above,  a car belonging to Mr Terry Chisnall is broken into in the very early hours of the morning  and ransacked by a gang of thieves – some of whom appear to be wearing long robes. The theft occurred on Friday night May 18th/ May 19th.

Residents are also very concerned about rising antisocial behaviour across the Marina residential area by drugtakers and teenagers apparently sniffing “laughing gas “.

Mr John Constable chariman of the Portway Marina Management Company (left) with Cllr Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines) , Both live in the Marina residential developments and are working with residents to tackle a growing problem of anti-social behaviour and crime

Cllr Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines)  last night held discussions with a  number of concerned local residents and with Mr John Constable who also lives locally and is chairman of Penarth Portway Management Ltd – the company that looks after 180 properties at the South Eastern end of in the Marina residential area .

Cllr Allman said that residents were constantly finding scores of small nitrous oxide cylinders or chargers littering the shoreline overlooking Cardiff Bay, within yards of the homes of local residents.  Discarded  balloons, hypodermic needles and other drug-taking paraphernalia were also being found.   

Cllr Allman said the gas sniffing problem extended throughout the Marina . Discarded gas canisters were also being found in the vicinity of the Oystercatcher pub and elsewhere.

Hundreds of used canisters of laughing gas have been found littering the quiet and tranquil area

Mr Constable that on Thursday morning last week he had found large numbers of laughing gas chargers littering the area . These, he says, are being sold in many local clubs and pubs. The contents are  discharged into  balloons and then “snorted”  – giving the drug users a “high”.

The gas is illegal under the Psychotic Substances Act of  2016 but the police – Mr Constable says   – are  “taking a fairly relaxed view” pending the outcome of an appeal in case in which a user claimed the gas  was being sniffed for “medicinal purposes” .

The houses of Plas Taliesin directly overlook Cardiff Bay

Mr Constable stresses that a spate of crime  is also a prime concern of local residents. On Wednesday evening last week (May 16th) residents saw  two men park a black BMW car near Plas Taliesin and then fly a radio-controlled drone – not over Cardiff Bay – but at the first floor level of local houses – from which height they could easily peer inside into upstairs rooms.

The following Sunday (May 27th) one of the houses which had been videoed by the drone was broken into . A knapsack was stolen in which there were the ignition keys of a black Ford Mondeo. That car was  driven away and has yet to be traced . Two other cars in the Marina area were also broken into over the weekend – one of which is the vehicle in the video at the top of this item.

Marking it easy for burglars. The Vale Council switches off the streetlights in the Marina at midnight

Residents say the  Vale of Glamorgan Council’s decision [taken by the former Labour administration]  to switch off street lights in the Marina between midnight and 06:00 is also thought to be a factor in the increase in criminal activity in the area .

Cllr Allman says it’s recognised that eventually the Marina district’s street lamps will be converted to more economical LED lights – but in the meantime the lack of light at night poses an additional risk for residents. He says that if enough local people got together –  in the whole of the Marina – to demand the reinstatement of overnight lighting he would be able to do something about it.

On the increasing anti-social behaviour problem Mr Constable said local people were now taking a “community initiative”   with residents “keeping an eye out for each other”  and in many cases  had their own CCTV cameras and were noting faces and car numbers.

John Constable is chaiman of the Penarth Portway Management Company

However, Mr Constable said, the local community was “looking for more in the way of assistance from the police”It was not good enough, he said, to be asked to dial 101 and have a police community service officer turn up 2 days later ; residents wanted to be able to “dial 999 and have flashing blue lights on the scene” immediately.

As all cars entering and exiting the Marina can only use two roads in or out, one idea suggested by residents is to have Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras constantly monitoring these two routes.

Cllr Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines) is encouraging a pro-active approach to the problem

Cllr Allman is also encouraging the revival of the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme which became defunct many years ago .

He wants to the Penarth Marina Residents Association to bring the whole community together  to “put a plan together” and take the initiative to combat the problems.

Meanwhile other residents are pressing local Labour AM Vaughan Gething and Labour MP Stephen Doughty to take action on their behalf – specifically in regard to the Cardiff Barrage Car Park which has now become a Mecca for drug taking and anti social activity.

The Cardiff Barrage car park is owned by the Labour-run Cardiff Council .

Discarded laughing gas canisters littering Paget Place – on the main route towards the Marina

Disacarded gas canisters  have also been found at other parts of the marina , on nearby roads and on the Barrage – along with needles  and other drug-taking paraphenalia. Police have been informed but – residents say they only advise people to ring 101 – a number which can take ages to get through on. Police officers rarely patrol the marina area itself

 

 

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RAILWAY HOTEL DROPS CONTENTIOUS BID TO STAY OPEN UNTIL 02:30

The Railway Hotel has scrapped a bid to stay open until 02:30 am – despite Penarth Town Council voting in favour of it

The Railway Hotel in Plymouth Road, Penarth has now withdrawn a highly contentious licensing application which would have enabled it to stay open until 02:30 am on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The pub had proposed to  “Extend the terminal hour for the sale of alcohol, regulated entertainment (films, indoor sports and live music) and late night refreshment on Fridays and Saturdays to 02:00 the following day.”  .

The Railway Hotel beer garden

The application would have involved extending opening hours to allow the premises to close at 02:30 am the “morning after” Friday and Saturday nights and also sought permission to  “Extend the provision of films to commence from 07:00 Monday to Sunday (in line with opening)”.

Last month the Labour-run Penarth Town Council ‘s planning committee – without any public consultation –  recommended that the Vale of Glamorgan Council should GRANT the extension to the Railway Hotel.

Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines)

In considering this application, Penarth Council’s  planning committee – under its chairman Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines)  – appeared to have consulted only the  “seamless” multi-tiered Labour political machine.

In the Penarth Town Council planning committee on April 19th Cllr Humphrey told members that he had managed with the help of Alun Michael” [the Labour South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner] to speak to PC Jason Young – the police licensing officer.

PC Young had told Cllr Humphrey that if he were to object to this application, he would “need to come up with valid reasons for refusal” and that – as far as crime associated with the Railway Pub was concerned, PC Young had said that he did not have a “valid reason to actually object”.

Police carrying out investigations at the Railway Pub in Plymouth Road in 2016 following an alleged  incident off the premises.

However Cllr Humphrey had gone on admit that  some local councillors” [ he didn’t say who] “have concerns about extending these hours “. and noted that if the extension to 02:30 were granted to the Railway Hotel, then other pubs in Penarth might well apply for a similar extensions.[In fact the St Fagans already had. The St Fagans application is to be discussed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s full  licensing committee next month].

Penarth Labour councillors seemed to think an extension of hours would be good for the local pubs – and the local Labour Club – and would increase their business. Not one councillor on the Planning Committee raised any concerns about the potential effect that the proposed extension at the Railway Hotel might have on local residents.

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Cornerswell)  said airily “If people complain, it will go through the police and the licence will be changed “.  Allowing the Railway Pub’s licence to be extended – he argued – would “keep the business in Penarth instead it going to Cardiff”.

The Penarth Town Council planning committee then voted in favour of recommending to the Vale of Glamorgan Council that it should allow the Railway Hotel to extend its hours to 02:30 – and also to recommend that the rival St Fagan’s pub should be allowed to extend its hours as well.  

However the public of Penarth clearly did not agree with the Penarth’s Labour councillors or their laissez-faire attitude to opening hours. The Railway licensing application has raised a storm of opposition from local residents and other organisations who objected vociferously to the proposed extension.

Some local residents expressed worries about “noise levels” and “threatening behaviour” . Others have expressed concern about young school pupils openly drinking in the streets of Penarth late at night. The recent vandalism in nearby Rectory Road Lane has also worried local householders.

So powerful was the backlash that the Railway Pub has now withdrawn the application and will retain its existing opening hours – closing its doors at 24:30.

 

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THE WRAPS COME OFF PENARTH’S BRAND-NEW WELSH-BUILT LIFEBOAT

A £50,000 package arrived under wraps at the Penarth lifeboat station yesterday afternoon

Penarth’s new D-Class lifeboat “Spirit of Penarth II” has now been delivered to the lifeboat station on Penarth Esplanade.

The brand new £50,000 boat arrived under wraps on the back of trailer late yesterday afternoon

As the cover is taken off – a first glimpse of the Penarth’s new lifeboat “Spirit of Penarth II” which the entire town has subscribed towards

Flashback to 2016: Penarth Lifeboat’s Operations Manager Jason Dunlop  with Olympic Gold medalist Hannah Mills launching the successful appeal for funds to acquire the new  £50,000 Penarth lifeboat .

The money was raised in a year long series of events held by the RNLI launched in 2016 by Olympic sailing gold medalist Hannah Mills MBE of Dinas Powys and, in the main, was contributed by the people of the Penarth.

The new lifeboat, like all D Class lifeboats –  was built in Wales at the Avon company in Dafen, Llanelli – and fitted-out at the RNLI’s base at Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

The proud name of the new boat is inscribed on a discreet brass plaque mounted on the inside of the transom

The green label tied to the new lifeboat says “Inspected – Ready for Use”. “Spirit of Penarth II” is ready to start saving lives.

The new boat – complete with a brand new Mariner outboard engine – arrived yesterday afternoon and quickly had her protective cover taken off and was made ready for sea trials. She is expected to have a service life of about 10 years.

Her name “Spirit of Penarth II” (which follows that of the original Atlantic 75 lifeboat called “Spirit of Penarth”)  is engraved on  a discreet brass plate on the inside of her transom.

The little “Spirit of Penarth II” had ideal conditions for her first-ever launch and test run. …and if anything had gone wrong her big sister the Atlantic 85 was immediately at hand

The first run in the new boat was carried out by lifeboat crews last night and there will be further working-up exercises in the course of the next few days.

The lifeboat is due to be officially named in a special ceremony on the Esplanade on June 2nd

 

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SYRIAN REFUGEE FAMILIES APPROVED FOR SETTLEMENT IN PENARTH

Syrian women queue to collect food in a refugee camp

The unofficial pro-refugee pressure-group Croeso Penarth has now received approval from the Vale of Glamorgan Council to resettle Syrian refugees in Penarth.

The Vale Council’s ruling cabinet yesterday gave Croeso Penarth  formal approval to settle additional refugees in the town under the UK Home Office Community Sponsorship Scheme.

The Syrian families coming to Penarth are said to be from a refugee camp – but Croeso Penarth is also active in giving assistance to “refugees” in Calais

The Vale Council has already resettled 29 refugees in the area – most of whom comprise large families – and now these will be augmented by a further 2  families. The number of individuals in these Syrian families is not declared but it is said that they are coming from refugee camps.

Cllr John Thomas (Conservative St Athan) Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council

The leader of the Conservative-run  Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cllr John Thomas, again refuted the false and misleading claims made by Croeso Penarth and Labour MP Stephen Doughty that there had been  “unnecessary delays” to the resettlement process.

Mr Thomas said yesterday “I can assure members that there has been no unnecessary delay. It’s very important the local authority get things right before we give consent. We have got to the stage that we’re happy to consent, and I’m very happy to be able to do so.”

Cllr Thomas told members of the cabinet “I’m very pleased we have got to the stage where we are, and confirm there have been no unnecessary delays.“.

A “Curry Night” in St Augustine’s Church Hall was one of the means by which Croeso Penarth has raised funds to resettle Syrian refugees to the town

Last month Croeso Penarth acknowledged the support of what it described as its “political supporters” .

The organisation also complained that it was having to make “retaining payments”  on property in Penarth which it had earmarked for the Syrian families – and that these payments were a drain on the funds it had raised so far.  [Croeso Penarth is not a registered charity but continues to raise funds locally] .

South Wales Police are reported to have been involved making the local resettlement arrangements to ensure that the families are settled in places where there is unlikely to be any negative social reaction.

The council resettled 19 Syrian refugees  in the Vale of Glamorgan  2016/17, and had made arrangements for a further 4 families to be received in 2017/18 (of which 10 individuals have come to the Vale so far). Now a further two families – the size of which is not specified – are due to arrive in June.

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“GLAMPING” SHOULD BE ALLOWED AT COSMESTON – SAYS FORMER PENARTH MAYOR

High-end campers might have been able to choose a safari tent – like this one- for “glamping” at Cosmeston – if the council committee hadn’t rejected the money-spinning idea


The chairman of the Penarth Tourism and Visitor Association (PTVA) Mr Anthony Ernest says camping SHOULD be allowed at Cosmeston Country Park.

Mr Ernest – a former Mayor of Penarth and a former Conservative councillor for the Plymouth Ward –  has welcomed proposals for camping, or “glamping”, [ up-market camping] at Cosmeston which have been developed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

Glamping “pods” like these in America could have been the kind of accommodation offered at Cosmeston…but only if opposition to the scheme can be overcome.

The camping scheme received a set back last week when the Vale Council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee voted against the introduction of such a scheme.

Chairman of the Penarth Tourist and Visitor Association  Anthony Ernest

However Mr Ernest says that although the camping scheme has “received criticism from some quarters” he says the innovative proposals, brought forward by the Vale Council, are a reflection of the wishes of many potential visitors, who would like to stay in this part of Wales, which at present is poorly served for caravans and camping, by a few small sites relatively remote from the town.”

As a former Vale of Glamorgan councillor Mr. Ernest was – until 2012 – responsible for the Country Parks in the Vale. He says many potential  visitors had told him they would have liked to have had the opportunity to stay for a few days in the Penarth area.

Mr Ernest says “Penarth needs the income generated by visitors to the town, and the recent closures of restaurants and shops shows that we are not immune to the wider economy which has seen business rates and rents rise beyond the reach of business owners, who bring so much variety and colour to the Penarth scene. If we were to have camping or caravan facilities here, this would bring in many visitors who can provide a major income stream for local businesses, without impacting in any way on the regular use of the park by local people”

The Penarth Tourist and Visitor Association – Mr Ernest says – recognises that local residents are “understandably  protective of what they feel is “their” park”  – but says that “If  Penarth is not to suffer a continued downturn in its fortunes, it needs to bring in new high-spend visitors who will buy food, drink and gifts locally, and put extra revenue into both businesses and the Council at the same time.”

If the Vale Council decides to pursue the scheme any further [ following the negative vote of the Environment Committee] he’s asking that the PTVA be consulted at an early stage.

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PENARTH COPS TEST NEW DRONE – BUT CAN IT COP BURGLAR’S ‘COPTERS?

South Wales Police have been deploying their latest drone on Penarth Marina. However local residents say thieves are already one step ahead and are using drones to reconnoitre local homes in the marina’s residential area to help them select houses to rob.  (Photo John Clark)

South Wales Police have been testing  out their latest generation of unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – or drones by flying them around the  Penarth Marina/Barrage area.

South Wales Police didn’t bother with any politically-correct EU products but instead plumped for a top-of-the-range USA-designed Typhoon model produced by Yuneec Americas Corporation  in California .

The drone is transported in its own dedicated 4X4 SUV.(Photo John Clark)

The hefty six-rotor machine weighs-in at over 23 lbs. and is transported to locations in a dedicated police 4X4 SUV . The drone carries a live high-definition camera on a remote-controlled gimballed mount and also has an on-board transmitter to beam the live pictures back to the ground from over a mile away.

The machine can stay aloft for up to 25 minutes at a time between battery changes.

The police team at the barrage – all wearing mufti or casual clothing – merged inconspicuously with visitors (Photo John Clark)

However the skies over Cardiff Bay and the Barrage are already getting a might crowded. Local residents say burglars are now using their own drones to peer through the upstairs windows of local homes before deciding which one(s) to break into.

In the last few days there has been a spate of incidents  in the Penarth Marina residential area in which houses have been burgled and cars stolen.

 

 

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