Penarth Town Council has been warned by clock makers Smith of Derby that spare parts are becoming unavailable for Penarth’s iconic Town Clock.
The Town Clerk Shan Bowden reminded members of Penarth Town Council last night that the clock had been originally presented to the town by the local Rotary Club with the proviso that the council would be responsible for its maintenance.
The Town Clerk said the clock had recently had a fault [one of several over the years] and when the makers, Smiths of Derby, had taken out the “workings” – still the original ones – they had found that some of the mechanical parts were “coming to the end of their life ” and that spare parts were “difficult to come across”. Although the clock had been fixed on this occasion, Smiths had suggested that the council consider planning to replace the movements on the four faces – at a cost of £2,258.
The Mayor Cllr Rosemary Cook (Labour St Augustines) – [chairing the Leisure and Amenities Committee in place of Cllr Rhiannon Birch] – asked for the views of committee members.
Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) suggested the establishment of a “sinking fund” either by setting aside a lump sum from reserves or making an annual deposit towards it.
Cllr Clive Williams said the clock had been installed in 1987 “on his watch” when he had been Town Mayor. At the time, the idea had been to provide a “focal point for Penarth” and so it had turned out. Cllr Williams said the clock appeared on lots of photographs and cards and had proved to be a handy landmark when giving people directions in the town.
Cllr Williams said there were four small electric motors powering each of the four faces. If one motor failed, it was simply a matter of replacing the faulty motor with a new one. He also thought that if the engineers were coming from Derby, the travelling costs must be significant. He suggested that a local firm be found to undertake the maintenance.
The Town Clerk said Smiths of Derby had installed the clock originally and the annual maintenance had been with them ever since. Cllr Gwyn Roberts agreed it was sensible to have local people do it. Keeping business local was one of the Penarth Town Council’s principles and the council should try to support local businesses.
Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) asked how much the annual maintenance cost amounted to . No precise figure was available but it was thought it might be around £100.
Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) asked about the installers – Smith of Derby – and said “I am assuming they are not actually in Derby are they?” The Town Clerk assured him that indeed they were ; they had been the firm from which the Rotary Club had obtained the clock in the beginning. In than case – Cllr Thomas said – it made far more sense to use a local maintenance firm.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) said – lightheartedly – this was a matter of “time travel” . It was resolved to set up a budget to cover maintenance costs and to obtain quotations from local clock maintenance firms.