Concern has been expressed in Penarth Town Council’s Leisure and Amenities committee as to whether the traditional seaside Punch & Judy show is still appropriate entertainment for children at the annual Summer Festival.
When councillors were reviewing the plans for this year’s Festival, Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) noted that a Punch and Judy show was booked to be on Penarth Pier .
Cllr Williams noted that Vale of Glamorgan Councillor Ian Johnson (Plaid Cymru) had been interviewed on radio saying that he was against any form of Punch and Judy because it represented “physical abuse” and was attempting to get ban imposed on all such performances at council events.
Cllr Williams said he had found Cllr Johnson’s remarks “farcical”. He said he thought the children could “realise the difference between a wooden puppet and the squeaky voices” and “actual physical abuse ” – which he personally would be very much against.
Cllr Rhiannon Birch (Labour Cornerswell) – in the chair – invited questions on the festival arrangements but then Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) intervened and wanted to comment on what Cllr Williams had said about the Punch and Judy show.
Cllr Roberts said “I understand how farcical it sounds – but at every one of our council meetings we ask a police officer to report on cases of domestic violence and the absolute horror of it.”
Cllr Roberts said “The simple fact is that the male is beating the female at a puppet show. “ He said he did not think children could necessarily differentiate between [the puppet show and reality] .
Cllr Roberts said he did not want to sound like a “spoil sport” but he did have a concern. It was, he said, a matter of “moving on from the days when there used to be a number of terms which people used which they did not think were harmfully racist – but they simply were”.
Cllr Roberts said the council should not dismiss the matter out of hand. He was not suggesting anything be done now [ in respect of this year’s Summer Festival] but “in future perhaps the council should think twice about it”.
The Deputy Town Clerk Keri Hutchings – who organises the Summer Festival – moved to reassure Cllr Roberts, telling him “We don’t have that kind of Punch and Judy show” .
Keri Hutchings recalled that there had been a similar conversation to this about five years ago. He assured members of the committee that the Penarth Summer Festival Punch and Judy Show – as currently produced – featured “lots of interaction between the crocodile and the policeman” – and was not the kind of show which Cllr Roberts had in mind.
The Deputy Town Clerk’s report said that activities in this year’s Carnival Day would be distributed around eight different venues so avoid any overcrowding on the Esplanade itself.
This year there will be new format for Carnival Day July 16th – the Saturday of the Summer Festival and there will be a new route for the Festival parade.One new feature this year is a a “petting Zoo” in Windsor Gardens at which donkey rised will be available.
Two free bus services will serve the event – a shuttle service running every ten minutes form the Town Centre to the Pier and a service from the Cliff Top to the Town Centre via Cliff Top Car Park, Cliff Parade, Raisdale Road, Augusta Road Castle Avenue, Beechwood Drive, Dinas Road, Redlands Road, Hastings Place , Wordsworth Avenue, Grove Terrace , Stanwell Road, Hickman Road , Windsor Road , Stanwell Road, Archer Road, Victoria Rd, Lavernock Road, Augusta Road, Raisdale Road, Cliff Parade and Cliff Top Car Park.
Most of the traditional events like the Downhill Derby are included in the programme and there will be demonstrations by the Police helicopter, RNLI and Penarth Coastguard . Full details will be published shortly.