At a time when the Vale of Glamorgan Council Tax is set to rise by an inflation-busting 3.9%, the South Wales Police Precept is set to rise by 4% and the Penarth Town Council precept is to increase by a record 4.51% – yet more council tax-payer’s money is being donated to “charities”.
Penarth Town Council’s policy and finance committee has this week been debating which charities should receive financial support from the money it extracts from council-tax payers.
NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD OF WALES
The first ‘charity’ tin to be metaphorically rattled under councillors’ noses was that of the National Eisteddfod of Wales – which this summer is being held in Abergavenny . The Eisteddfod officials have set a target of £300,000 to be raised from the local area.
The peripatetic event pitches its tented pavilion a different part of Wales every year and costs £3,500,000 per annum to stage. Councillors were told this will be the first time he week-long annual competitive festival of Welsh arts, literature music and culture has been held in Monmouthshire in more than 100 years.
Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) and Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) moved and seconded a donation of £100 – the same amount as given last year and this was voted through.
CROSSROADS CARE IN THE VALE – iPADS
The latest “must-have” gadget for councillors – the Apple iPad or tablet – is now also, it seems, essential equipment for charities . The Crossroads Care in the Vale (EMI) charity had sent a letter to Penarth Town Council asking for money to buy two so-called “Fourth Generation” Apple iPads.
The Crossroads charity supports 31 people in the Vale of Glamorgan who suffer from dementia – and their carers. It told the council that “The use of technology is being used increasingly (sic) with those who have dementia” and that their new day centre manager will shortly be attending a course run by another charity called “Alive” to understand how the use of iPads can enable older people to follow their interests, stay conneceted with the world around then and make what it calls “positive choices”.
The cost of each iPad was quoted as approximately £300 each plus VAT – meaning a total of £720 was being asked for from Penarth Town Council – and ultimately from council-tax payers.
Moving to make the donation Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said he thought this would be “money very, very well spent” . He said the charity did a “tremendous amount of work which is cheaper to do than the Vale [Council] can do it”. Cllr Williams also criticised the lack of respite care for patients and carers following the closure of the Bryn Eithin facility in Dinas Powys.
Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) said he would like to modify the motion to a certain extent. He said “I question the use of iPads – in that they are an expensive form of touch-screen technology. There are far cheaper and just as efficient devices which could be considered. ” Cllr Thomas said if the charity looked elsewhere it would get “better value for their money”.
Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) said she fully supported the application from Crossroads but challenged Cllr Williams’s assertion about less care being available for dementia sufferers . She said “There are dementia services available in the Vale for people and for respite care and more being developed”. She expressed the hope that Penarth would be working towards becoming what she called ” a dementia-friendly town”. On the technical issue raised by Cllr Thomas, Cllr Burnett said the advantage of Apple iPads was that they were “more intuitive” than Android based devices.
Cllr Burnett said that earlier the council had been talking about the Queen’s 90th Birthday and made the observation that “She [the Queen] is very lucky because she could have been one of those people [ Alzheimer sufferers] if the situation had been different” .
Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines) said he would like to see much more information from the charity. He had lost both his parents to dementia and “An Apple iPad would have been of no use to either of them whatsoever” . Supporting Crossroads in principle Cllr Rapier said “I would like to see [more information] before agreeing to a single penny of this. The fact that only two people, at any one time, may benefit from £600 pound’s-worth of technology” was a limitation. Alzheimer’s sufferers , he said, benefit from “group activity but not exclusive activity “. He thought that the cost of Apple technology was “absolutely ludicrous”. Apple was the only name people understood so they wanted to buy top-of-the-range technology. “That is wrong and is no way to spend local authority money”. He called for evidence from the University of Worcester on the effectiveness of such equipment for Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Cllr Clive Williams said the issue was becoming clouded by the technology. He said “I could well be against buying Apple iPads” .Cllr Williams said he wanted to the council to donate to Crossroads not specifically for the technology, but to support “such a worthwhile organisation. How they spend the money is up to them”.
Cllr Rapier disagreed. He said the council had a “duty of care to encourage care providers to spend money wisely.”. Cllr Rapier said it was “not sound budgeting” and that other elderly people would “suffer as a consequence of this largesse” .
Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) drew Cllr Rapier’s attention to a report document summarising the Worcester University research.
Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said that the research summary referred to equipment “such as an iPad” and didn’t say it had to be an Apple iPad.
Cllr Thomas said one of the reasons he thought buying iPads would be “extravagant” was that he is a governor of a primary school which is considering a scheme to rent “touch-screen technology” but which had rejected the iPad because they “are hugely expensive”. Similar devices could be bought for around £100, he said.
The committee agreed to give Crossroads in the Vale £400 and will suggest they take expert advice on their technology acquisition.
URDD NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD
Councillors considered a request for funds from the Urdd ( The Welsh League of Youth) for support its 2016 Eisteddfod to be held in Flint – which it claims to be “the largest youth festival in Europe” in which 400 competitors will participate in singing, dancing, recitation, arts and crafts, technology, science, cookery and literary contests.
The council voted for Cllr Gwyn Roberts’s motion that a donation of £100 be given
PENARTH TOURIST AND VISITOR ASSOCIATION
The Penarth Tourist and Visitor Association (PTVA) had requested £485 towards the first-year cost of hosting a website.
Cllr Lis Burnett wanted more information . She said that the scheme involved a link from the new Penarth Town Council website to the proposed new PTVA website . She said a new Vale of Glamorgan Council Tourism website was being developed . A PTVA website could be a “degree of duplication which would be difficult to manage with the resources they’ve got”. She suggested it would be better for the PTVA to talk about working collaboratively with the Town Council. The application didn’t give much information about what would be developed with the funding available and she wondered “what niche it was expected to fill” .
Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said there was a potential for duplication in terms of what Penarth Council was doing with its website. “The need for a second website doesn’t exactly jump out of the page at us”. He thought it would be better to see if the PTVA content could be incorporated in the Penarth Town Council website.
Cllr Turner’s observation was agreed by the committee and the PTVA’s web content will now be carried on the Penarth Council’s website and no donation will be made.