MAJOR RE-DEVELOPMENT OF PENARTH TOWN COUNCIL’S HQ

Penarth Town Council's HQ at West House, Stanwell Road. The West House Annexe is on the right

Penarth Town Council’s HQ at West House, Stanwell Road. The West House Annexe is the ugly grey “modern” building on the right.

An extensive programme of development and refurbishment is to be undertaken at Penarth Town Council’s HQ at West House on Stanwell Road – a building which – over the years – local council-tax and rate-payers have already had to buy twice-over .

From this summer, council office staff will occupy the whole of the first floor of  West House to  enable its “expanded staff structure to work more efficiently and deliver increased service provision to Penarth”  .  Existing tenants on the first floor will be decanted into West House Cottage.

The Mayor of Penarth Cllr Mike Cuddy in the foyer of West GHouse where a lift is to be installed to assist visitors to reach the first floor offices

The Mayor of Penarth Cllr Mike Cuddy in the foyer of West House where a lift is now to be  installed to assist visitors who can’t tackle the stairs to reach the first floor offices

So that members of the public with “mobility issues” can access the first floor offices,  a “cabin lift” is to be installed on the ground-floor foyer of West House to convey visitors to the first floor of the building.

Meanwhile the front inner doors of West House are to be mechanised so that they open automatically when approached  – and it will no longer necessary to push the doors open. The council says this will make access easier for visitors in wheelchairs or with prams.

The total cost of internal modifications – including the new lift – will be £32,083 . However council documents state that “overall £100,000 can be realised in earmarked reserves for these works in total “.

West House Cottage is at the rear of West House itself

West House Cottage is at the rear of West House itself and can’t be seen from Stanwell Road

Meanwhile a further £9,270 is to be spent on redecorating and improving  “West House Cottage”  – a two storey structure in the rear car park which can’t be seen from Stanwell Road. This building – leased to Penarth Town Council by the Vale of Glamorgan Council –  has lain empty and unused for almost two years . The funding for the development is to  come from “earmarked reserves”.

Penarth Town Council had been leasing the West House Cottage from the Vale of Glamorgan Council for £1,000 a month under a 10-year deal which started in 2008. In March  2014  however an “early redemption settlement” was to have been negotiated – meaning that Penarth Town Council was owed  £25,000.  It’s yet to be clarified why Penarth Town Council now has any obligation whatever to refurbish West House Cottage .

A further building West House Annexe” – a “modern” grey brick building on the right hand side of West House is to be rented out to what’s described as a “co-working company” on a “pay-per-desk” basis.

By letting out the two subsidiary buildings “West House Cottage” and “West House Annexe” , Penarth Town Council says it will be saving an annual total of £10,328 which it is currently charged in non-domestic rates by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

West House itself was redecorated and refurnished in 2014 in the hope that it would become a successful licensed weddings venue – but it has yet to meet the forecast number of ceremonies.

WHY PENARTH RESIDENTS HAD TO PAY TWICE FOR WEST HOUSE

In the last major round of local government reorganisation in 1974, the assets of the old Penarth Urban District Council – including its headquarters at West House – were all transferred without recompense to the now defunct South Glamorgan County Council and  the  Vale of Glamorgan Council – leaving the newly-downgraded  Penarth Town Council having to pay rent to occupy  West House – which it had formerly owned.

Penarth Town Council tried to regain the ownership of its own headquarters  but the Vale of Glamorgan Council  wouldn’t play ball – claiming that the “new” Penarth Town Council wasn’t the same authority as the old – and defunct – Penarth Urban District Council.

Penarth Town Council had no option but to raise money (from council-tax payers) to buy-back its own headquarters in a £95,000 deal on a “deferred purchase agreement” . The deal however only applied to West House itself.   The Vale Council held-on to the rear car park which it had also acquired free of charge in 1974. When, in 1998, Penarth Town Council offered to buy the car park,  the Vale demanded £20,000 for it – which Penarth Town Council  paid. 

This left the Vale still owning “West House Cottage”which Penarth Town Council had then partially leased and was supposed to have returned to the Vale.

Both the original purchase of  (and the subsequent re-purchase of) – West House were paid for by the residents of Penarth via a precept on the council tax or rates .  In effect Penarthians were made to pay-up twice for the same building.

 

 

About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time.
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7 Responses to MAJOR RE-DEVELOPMENT OF PENARTH TOWN COUNCIL’S HQ

  1. Christopher David says:

    Perhaps some of the councillors here- I think at least 7 watch and post here- could answer the question why Penarth is having to buy its own buildings back? Doesn’t seem right but maybe there is an answer that vindicates the VOG! Come on councillors, do explain.

    • Philip Rapier says:

      The misappropriation of the People’s Civic Property was unfortunately all too common under Local Government Reorganisation in 1974.
      Wales in those days had Colonial style Government when everything was at the whim of the Governor in Government House in Cathays Park. (a.k.a. the Welsh Office)
      There have been 15 Conservative High Commisioners a.k.a Sec of State at the Welsh Office. Only six have come from Wales. We have been left an apalling legacy as a consequence. Excessive salaries , Empire Building and tiers of Local Government designed to give carte blanche for the rape and pillage.assets such as the Turner Gallery.
      Change can, must and will happen soon!

  2. Penileaks says:

    Shafted again by the VoG Council over the years.
    No change there then !

  3. Christopher David says:

    I agree with much you say Mr Rapier. Public sector salaries (and benefits) for “managers” in the councils are out or control and wholly disproportionate to the skill levels required. Empire building indeed by “The Club”. I’d love to know how it can be stopped though.

  4. Cllr. Anthony Ernest - Councillor for Penarth. says:

    The PDN story is absolutely correct except that, to the best of my recollection, South Glamorgan CC was never involved in the 1974 transfer of property However the Vale of Glamorgan did demand payment for West House and later for the car park, both of which rightly belonged to Penarth. I think we have to blame the law at that time for making us pay twice, even though you might possibly think that Penarth has still had a relatively good deal for the land and property, which are a huge asset to our town.

  5. Christopher David says:

    I understand what you say Cllr Ernest, but if my family owned say a house worth for example £300,000 and it was taken from us then sold back to us £100,000 I would still consider myself criminally and morally cheated.

  6. ColinD says:

    with all the staff leaving surely downsizing is the best course of action!!!

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