DOUGHTY STEPS ABOARD THE “BATTER BLATTER” BANDWAGON

Cardiff South and Penarth Labour MP Stephen Doughty in the Commons

Cardiff South and Penarth Labour MP Stephen Doughty on his feet in the Commons

In his first Parliamentary interventions since the General Election, Stephen Doughty, the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth,  has chosen to ask the Culture Secretary about FIFA and Seb Blatter, –   and the Leader of the House about the Minimum Wage.

Stephen Doughty asks a question on FIFA

Stephen Doughty asks a question on FIFA

On FIFA , Doughty told John Whittingdale , (Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport)  “I share the incredulity of many football fans that Sepp Blatter and the senior leadership of FIFA can remain in their positions after these allegations, which have been going on for some time. Does the Secretary of State agree that the Swiss Government need to take a serious look at how they regulate and oversee the activities and finances of international sporting organisations, including not only FIFA but the International Olympic Committee, UEFA and many other bodies located in Swiss territory?”

Culture and Sports Secretary John Whittingdale

Culture and Sports Secretary John Whittingdale

Culture and Sport Secretary Whittingdale replied:-  “I am sure that the Swiss authorities will do that, but they are acting in co-operation with the US Justice Department and have clearly taken the allegations seriously. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the IOC, and it is worth noting that some 15 to 20 years ago similar allegations of corruption swirled around that body. It acted decisively and carried out wholesale reform, cleaning up the whole bidding process for the award of the Olympic games. That is a good precedent for the kind of action that we now want to see FIFA also undertake.”

Stephen Doughty Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth

Stephen Doughty Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth

On the Minimum Wage, Doughty told Chris Grayling (Leader of the House of Commons)  “I was shocked to be told by a Minister towards the end of the previous Parliament that there had been only nine prosecutions for non-payment of the minimum wage during the preceding five years. Given that allegations have been made about a number of companies operating in my constituency”, [see PDN http://tinyurl.com/n9kjf8x and earlier stories ] “when will the Leader of the House find time for a debate on the enforcement of the minimum wage?

Leader of the House Chris Grayling

Leader of the House Chris Grayling

Grayling told Doughty “The hon. Gentleman can apply for such a debate at any time.”

“We condemn unreservedly employers who do not pay the minimum wage. They are breaking the law; it is as simple as that. I hope and expect that the relevant authorities will take action wherever they find such breaches.”

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VALE COUNCIL LEADER WRITES TO CRITICS OF CONTROVERSIAL ‘PENARTH HEAD VIEWING PLATFORM’

The Labour Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Neil Moore (inset) has written to people who have complained about the Penarth Head Viewing Platform.

The Labour Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Neil Moore (inset) has now written to people who have complained about the much-criticised Penarth Head Viewing Platform.

The Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council has now issued a public statement in response to what it calls ” a number of letters and social media comments about the new Penarth Head viewing platform”

The now-notorious  “viewing platform” was built without any public consultation whatsoever. The £75,000 edifice by-passed normal planning procedure . No plans for the heavily criticised structure were ever scrutinised by Vale of Glamorgan Council’s own planning committee, or by Penarth Town Council’s planning committee or even by the Penarth Civic Society . No consultation was carried out with local residents – a legal requirement in planning procedures .

Vale Council Labour Leader Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward)

Vale Council Labour Leader Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward)

Now the Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Cllr Neil Moore – whose private telephone number and email address was made public in a protest pamphlet  –  has  written to “a number of groups to explain the project”.

Cllr Moore says the Vale Council received has grants from Welsh Government “over several years” to provide and promote the Wales Coast Path and in 2012 used part of this money to design the viewing platform. [PDN Note: In fact, the design work was done by council officers.]

Tracing the background to the project, Cllr Moore says that in 2014 the Vale Council “identified new grant aided regeneration funds and decided to press ahead with a number of regeneration projects in Penarth“,  including improvements to Cliff Hill, the Cliff Walk Car Park and the Penarth Head Viewing Platform.

PENARTH HEAD VIEWING PLATFORM “CURRENTLY UNFINISHED

The massive brick rampart now dominates the little park - what was once called "Penarth Head Open Space"

The massive brick ramparts now dominate the little park – which was originally a gift from the Earl of Plymouth to the people of Penarth  and called “Penarth Head Open Space”. It now appears that there is still more work to be carried out.

Somewhat surprisingly Cllr Moore says the final design of the Penarth Head Viewing Platform “is part of a suite of works that are currently unfinished“.  [ PDN Note : Construction spanned more than 17 weeks – 10 weeks longer than originally allocated].

Cllr Moore  says the finished platform : “will include interpretations of coastal features as well as further landscaping.  It is expected that landscaping, including a raised bed around the base of the platform, will soften and reduce the initial impact of the brick wall, a material chosen to reflect the ‘Blue-Grey Lias Limestone’ boundary wall of the park” .

Cardiff artist Maureen O'Kane carried out the mosaic work on the central feature  .

Cardiff artist Maureen O’Kane carried out the mosaic work on the central feature .

Cllr Moore goes on to say “The boundary gates have been refurbished and footpath improvements are also programmed, along with new and additional benches for the area. ”

“The coast path themed seating has been finished with a mosaic pattern by a local artist, Maureen O’Kane.” [PDN Note: Maureen O’Kane dissociated herself from the overall design].

The "viewing platoform" effectively blocks the views from other seats in the park.

The grey walls of the  “viewing platform” effectively block the views from other seats in the park.

Cllr Moore says “The Viewing Platform has been built to be compliant with the Equalities Act 2010 and will allow wheelchair access with clear visibility over the boundary wall”.[PDN Note: This point is disputed by buggy and wheelchair users ]

The Vale Leader has also stressed the potential economic importance of the project for local tourism  – saying “Aware of the potential footfall from walkers of the path, including those walking across the Barrage from Cardiff, the council has been keen to ensure visitor footfall and hence spend in Penarth.”

Visitors can either use the level-access wheelchair route or the steps.

Visitors can either use the level-access wheelchair route or the steps.

Nowhere in his letter does Cllr Moore respond to the central point of the criticism – that there was no consultation with the people of Penarth.

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NEW BUS-LANE FROM MERRIE HARRIER TO BARON’S COURT TO BE “MODELLED”

The proposed new dedicated bus lane would be installed on the existing road between the Merrie Harrier and the Baron's Court junction

The proposed new dedicated bus lane would be installed on the existing road between the Merrie Harrier and the Baron’s Court junction

The installation of a new dedicated bus-only lane is being considered between the Merrie Harrier and the Baron’s Court junctions.

The Vale of Glamorgan’s six-strong ruling ‘cabinet’ is to consider next week the report of a council sub-group which discloses the proposed development.

The proposed bus lane would presumably take up one of the two lanes at Baron's Court

The proposed bus lane would presumably take up one of the two lanes terminating at Baron’s Court

The council sub group – studying traffic plans –  has been told by a council officer that the proposed new dedicated bus lane would be “modelled” before installation to “assess its effectiveness before any works were signed off” .

The notorious Merrie Harrier Bus Lane - another great idea from  SEWTA

The notorious Merrie Harrier Bus Lane

The bus lane would be similar to the highly controversial and heavily-criticised bus lane installed on the specially-widened road leading from Dinas Powys towards the Merrie Harrier which has already been castigated by motorists and which many buses – for which the dedicated lane was installed – frequently avoid using.

Councillors are recorded as having stated that the proposed new Merrie Harrier-to-Baron’s Court dedicated bus-lane  would be “a retrograde step.”

The proposal emerged from minutes of a so-called “task and finish” group on traffic which reported to the Vale Council’s Scrutiny (Economy and Environment) Committee . The report is to be considered by the Vale’s ruling six-strong ‘cabinet’ on Monday next week.

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GRAVE SITUATION IN PENARTH CEMETERY AS BURIAL INCOME PLUMMETS

Penarth Cemetery

Penarth Cemetery

Income at Penarth Cemetery has fallen by  21.62% over the last three years because more people are opting for cremation .

Cemetery income was £50,778 in 2012/13 – but in the last financial year 2014/15 this has plunged to £30,797 and is far outweighed by costs.

Penarth's Victorian cemetery contrasts with Barry's new crematorium

Penarth’s Victorian cemetery contrasts with Barry’s new crematorium. There are no facilities for memorial services at Penarth. Penarth cemetery lodge (left) is rented out for £3,440 a year.

The town council believes the fall is due to competition from the new crematorium at Barry . However  prices quoted by local undertakers are about the same both for cremations in Barry and for burials in Penarth. [PDN Note: Basic local funerals cost about £3,000 including a hearse, a limousine, coffin, robe, name-plate, bearers, minister, doctor’s fees and burial or cremation. The cheapest local “solution” is said to be cremation in Thornhill which is cheaper that a Barry cremation or a burial in Penarth].

When the Council’s Leisure and Amenities Council discussed the matter  Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said he had warned that Penarth Cemetery might be affected when the new Barry Crematorium had opened some three years ago.

A granite cemetery barbican - bears commemorative plaques

A granite cemetery barbican of the type being considered for Penarth

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) said the fall in the number of burials might well reflect “ our desperate shortage of space anyway” and he said he was aware that the council was now looking at a “Columbarium” which would provide a facility for the local interment of cremated remains.

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said the Barry crematorium had “a tremendous effect” on the number of burials in Penarth. He had attended almost a dozen funerals at Barry since the crematorium had opened.

Cllr Williams also pointed out that Penarth doesn’t have an on-site chapel where funeral services can be held whereas the Barry crematorium at Barry does.

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) asked whether a contract with Cardiff [for grave-digging] could be renegotiated to reduce the costs in line with the drop in income. The Town Clerk, Shan Bowden, said Penarth was in the second year of a two-year contract with Cardiff and there would be shortly be an opportunity to renegotiate.

Penarth Town Council has  budgeted £110,914 for the town cemetery costs for 2015/16 but forecasts an income of only £38,543 – meaning net expenditure for the year will be £72,371.

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WINDSOR ROAD ASH PAYS THE ULTIMATE PRICE FOR PUSHING UP THE PAVEMENT

The Ash tree outside the Ex Servicemen's Club is reduced to sawdust. With the enviro0nment ebver a consideration the Vale Council had helpfully left the nearest street light on .

The Ash tree near the Ex Servicemen’s Club is reduced to wood chips and sawdust. Presumably the Vale Council left the nearest street-light on for Health and Safety reasons so that the woodsmen could see what they were doing.

Penarth town centre is missing another tree this morning after the removal of an 18-year-old Ash tree  near the Ex Serviceman’s  Club on Windsor Road. 

Vale Council officials say the tree had caused the pavement to rise by some 24 inches from its original level and its roots had also penetrated underground service pipes.

There were delays to traffic as two separate Vale contractors  worked directly opposite each other on Windsor Road

There were delays to traffic as two separate Vale contractors worked directly opposite each other on Windsor Road

The tree has been reduced to a stump and the remains will be removed in a few days’ time. The Vale Council says the tree will be put on the “replanting list” and a new tree – although not an Ash – will be planted in the same area to replace it .

The re-planting list is said to be drawn up every year to ensure that more trees are planted than are felled.

Fir trees have been planted as Sully Place after the embankment was cleared.

The embankment clearance at Sully Place has revealed the struggling saplings –  planted some time ago –  are dead or dying.

One of the dead or dying saplings planted by the Vale Council in Sully Place

One of the dead or dying saplings planted by the Vale Council in Sully Place (Photo Nina Ward)

Meanwhile in Sully Place (off Plymouth Road)  an embankment clearance has been under way  leaving only a few struggling saplings , which were planted some time ago, still  standing.

PDN reader Nina Ward reports that the Vale Council had originally  removed some dangerous pine trees from the  slopes and the saplings were planted as replacements – but unfortunately the replanting doesn’t seem to have been successful and the embankment clearance has revealed that the saplings are either  dead or dying.

Meanwhile there’s no good news for  residents who would like to see the whole of Plassey Street’s once magnificent twin rows of trees restored.  The street once had more than 70 trees planted at intervals on both sides of the road – most of which have since been felled.

Most of Plassey St is now a tree-free zone

Most of Plassey St is now a tree-free zone

The Vale Council says new rules now apply to the planting of street trees which mean that there has to be sufficient width of pavement between the trunk and the pavement-edge, –  and there has to be enough room between the tree and the front wall of adjacent properties to enable a ” double buggy” to be wheeled between them .

It’s now doubtful whether Plassey Street’s pavements are wide enough to meet the new standards –  meaning that the missing trees will never be replaced .

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YET MORE HOMES NOW PLANNED FOR PENARTH’S “GREEN-WEDGE” SULLY RD. SITE

The proposed development site on former

The proposed “L-shaped” development site on former “Green Wedge” land adjoins St Joseph’s School. Instead of the 54 homes originally proposed it’s now planned to increase the density to 70. Full details will be released next week.

Developers David Wilson Homes have now revised their plans for a large new housing estate adjacent to St. Joseph’s School, Sully Road, Penarth and are increasing the number of new homes proposed from 54 to approximately 68 or 70.

The proposals include a mix of home sizes ranging from five-bedroom detached houses to “affordable” apartments and the site is also to include public open space including “local areas of play” . The proposed density however is now being increased.

Map of site St Josephs

The location of the development site (in red) is on the South Western perimeter of Penarth

The original plan was first considered by Penarth Town Council’s planning committee in May 2014 – but now a further round of consultations will have to be carried out including further consideration by the Town Council. The final decision will be made by the Vale of Glamorgan Council

What some of the new houses would look like

What some of the new houses would look like

The decision is a controversial one because it makes inroads into the so-called “green-wedge” on the south-western perimeter of Penarth. The new homes would be 1.8km from the town centre of Penarth and would be accessed via the narrow  Sully Road . Plan of site

Plan of site with the original 54 home layout. Now new plans are to be released providing for up to 70 homes on the same site.

The site is an L shaped plot of 2.68 hectares which was  previously used for agricultural grazing but has been vacant for two years. Two disused agricultural buildings would be demolished to make way for the new development.

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NEW PEDESTRIAN WATER-FEATURE FORMS AT PENARTH’S MARINE PARADE

The Marine Parade

The Marine Parade “foot-bath” has been located at the dropped kerb on Marine Parade (Photo Jeff Hodgkinson)

A new visitor attraction has now appeared in Penarth which means visitors need no longer trek all the way downhill from the Cliff Walk car park to the Esplanade and the beach for a sea-side paddle.

A subtle – and hitherto unsung – additional feature of the complex new “pavement build-outs”  installed at the junction of Marine Parade with Cliff Road has now come to light – a pair of a fresh-water ‘paddling pools’ at the dropped kerbs.

The Marine Parade

The Marine Parade “foot-bath” contains fresh natural rainwater – warmed in the summer sun (Photo Jeff Hodgkinson)

The pool only appears after a shower, but has been designed in such as way as not to drain away – leaving plenty of time for the water to get warm in the summer sun and serve as what local residents are already calling “a foot-bath”.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s contractors who carried out the work may have intended the new facility to compensate for the much-regretted closure of the Esplanade’s original Victorian swimming pool complex. However  some observers believe it could be a case of the council’s official spirit-level having a faulty bubble in it – quite possibly the same errant bubble which was used in Penarth Town Centre pavement construction .

Penarth's pavements are frequently flooded says FoE

Even Friends of the Earth complained about this flooded pavement in Penarth Town Centre

The new Marine Parade “foot-bath” follows in the long-standing Vale of Glamorgan Council tradition of creating impromptu water-features on new pavement-build-outs – the most notable examples of which were the pavements in Penarth town-centre which were also apparently designed to form natural rain-water lakes.

On a serious note, Penarth resident Jeff Hodkinson says that “the local authority needs to be held to account for mishaps like this as there will be a cost to the remedial work which could be money well spent elsewhere in the town perhaps filling some of the many potholes that are around the area”.

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