Penarth Town Council has been deciding to which worthy causes it should be giving away council-taxpayers' money

Penarth Town Council has been deciding to which worthy causes it should be giving away council-taxpayers’ money

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.


The National Eisteddfod's peripatetic pavilion peaks above the trees at its last location

This year the National Eisteddfod’s peripatetic pavilion will be pitched in Abergavenny

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.


The new must-have Fourth Generation iPad - uis on the shopping list of Vale Councillors and Alzheimer charities

The new must-have Fourth Generation iPad (left) – is on the shopping list of Vale Councillors and the Alzheimer charity Crossroads in the Vale . The old obsolete iPad is on the right.

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.

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

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)

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell)

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)

Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines)

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”    .

IMG_4315Cllr 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)

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines)

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)

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

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.


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


The Penarth Tourist and Visitor Association (PTVA) had requested £485 towards the first-year cost of hosting a website.

Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines)

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)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

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.

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  1. leytonjones says:

    Quality of discourse in these meetings is something to behold. Glad that these are the people making the decisions on our behalf.

  2. S.VODDEN says:

    re-paying council tax contributions to charity I think we should be allowed to chose our own
    charities.Use the council tax for what it is meant i.e pot holes and keeping footpaths clear of
    vegetation so that people can walk safely.

  3. Christopher David says:

    National Eistedfodd of Wales
    Chief executive Meirion Prys Jones received a gross salary of £74,643 in 2010-2011, plus a non-pensionable bonus of £5,462, adding up to a total remuneration of £80,105. Probably a lot more now
    Meri Huws, the chair, had her salary frozen at £35,408. She is contracted to work two days a week.
    HOW is this charity? – it’s a hobby farm and these people is should be voluntary.
    Crossroads Care
    Chief Executive Officer £27,500 per year. If you must pay for charity workers then Crossroads is reasonable. Demonstrates you don’t need to pay up to the £700,000 PA some charities make us fork out for just one manager.
    As for iPads, they must demonstrate very clearly why they need to spend so much when the £100 jobbies should suffice. Even then staff should have basic laptops! Special equipment should be reserved for people with special needs.
    Frankly I don’t think councils should be making ANY charitable donations to anyone. It’s not what they are there for. I’m surprised it’s legal. Charitable contributions should be the choice of the individual.
    By gum doesn’t Cllr Burnett waffle on around the houses. Beneficiary? Must be a joy when you’re trying to conduct serious business.

    • Sarah says:

      I think it is worth mentioning that charities like Crossroads pick up a lot of social care work and they represent exceptional value for money. Personally, I would far rather fund the 3rd sector than the private sector when it comes to social care. The word ‘charity’ is sometimes misleading, because we still have an image in our heads of Victorian philanthropy – Dr Barnardo taking in children from the streets. In reality, the word not-for-profit is a better fit. The 3rd sector provides a lot of services traditionally delivered by local government and of course these come with massive wages bills etc, so inevitably they must have funding. Eg Crossroads provides a sitting service for people to have a break from their caring responsibilities – people with very difficult circumstances who are often at crisis point. I’m sure that most people would think that this is something worthwhile to fund – surely we haven’t hardened our hearts that much? And of course these workers need to be paid. If £27,500 for the chief exec’s salary is accurate, I think actually that that is a very reasonable price to pay for the responsibility and financial governance that comes with such a position. I’m not sure if I’d be interested in taking on such a big responsibility for that level of reward. Most of the finance for social care charities comes via local authority budgets, not PTC. Town councils will fund very small community projects (like this Ipad initiative). It is a red herring to suggest that they are picking up the tab for the wages of CEOs. I’m very pleased that PTC has decided to fund this project because people with dementia often experience social exclusion, chronic loneliness & associated depression. I think we do have a collective responsibility to people who live in our community. Dementia care is so much bigger than an individual deciding to make a small personal donation in a collection box. I do however accept Christopher’s point about branded technology unless there is a very good reason for it. BTW – the Ipads will be for use with people with dementia, people who have very particular cognitive needs. They won’t be used by staff for their office business. Lis – if you are ever interested in giving serious thought to Penarth becoming a dementia friendly community, please let me know. I’d be very happy to be involved.

  4. Bob Haswell says:

    I don’t think the council should be spending our money in this way. How can the vale council, town council and police justify above inflation increases. It’s ironic on the day that Penarth is voted best place to live in Wales. Little do new residents know that they will be stung year after year after year. In addition to increased charges each year we now have to pay for recycling bags and have lost our street lights. I say vote to reduce the number of councils and councillors

  5. Frank Evans says:

    This labour council is becoming more and more like the bad days of London left wing labour councils of the 80’s. Grants to everyone and sod the folk who actually fund things.

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