Alun Cairns the Conservative MP for the Vale of Glamrogan has been refused permission to book one of the Vale Council’s almost permanently-empty beach huts for use as a constituency “surgery”.
The 24 much-trumpeted new beach-huts – specially provided at Barry Island as part of a £3,000,000 regeneration scheme for Barry – have turned out to be a money-losing disaster. The council offered 7,512 vancancies last year but attracted a total of only 233 bookings over the entire 12 months.
At one point Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) – ‘cabinet’ member for regeneration – was reduced to offering lettings free of charge on Twitter.
The Vale Council – finally coming to the conclusion that it can’t rent out the huts itself – is now trying to hive them off to a commercial operator to operate on a concession basis.
Tory MP Alun Cairns – public-spiritedly attempting to alleviate the Vale Council’s plight – attempted to book a hut to use as the venue for one of his “Saturday morning surgeries” where local residents pop-in to discuss their problems with him.
However he says his request to book a £40 a day beach hut was refused by the Vale Council on the grounds that use for such a purpose was deemed to be “commercial”.He says he is “very disappointed” that his offer was “blocked on such weak reasoning”. – not least because the council itself had agreed to allow commercial use of some of the units in an attempt to cover its £9,000 a year overheads .
The decision might now rebound on the Labour Party which currently is given free use – at council tax-payer’s expense – of Penarth Town Council’s headquarters at West House for constituency surgeries held by Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty.
Neither Doughty nor the Labour Party pay anything for their Saturday morning sessions and the costs of heating, lighting and administration are covered by Penarth Town Council .
Meanwhile in Barry an alternative venue has now been arranged for Vale MP Alun Cairns’s Saturday morning surgery on March 5th… It will be held at the local branch McDonalds.