Two charities, both with substantial bank-balances, have had applications they have made for cash grants from Penarth Town Council turned down.
All Penarth Town Council’s funding is derived from the town “precept” which is charged to local residents as part their annual Council Tax bill. [The Penarth Town Council precept was raised to a record high in this current 2016/17 tax year ].
The accounts of both charities were examined by Penarth Town Council’s policy and finance committee last night.
The Barry-based charity “Vale Plus” – which had been given £200 by Penarth Town Council last year and £300 the year before – showed that charity had no less than £207,650 in cash which was being “carried forward” into the current year. Vale Plus said in its grant application that it had ” recently been examining the possibility of expanding to Penarth” but actually wanted the Penarth grant to go towards buying ” a new minibus”.
The accounts of the other charity, the “Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales Ltd” , showed it had cash totalling £2,876,746 being “carried forward” into the current year. The trust said it was “working with local communities to manage important areas for wildlife” – one of which is the Lavernock Point Nature Reserve which includes old WW2-vintage gun batteries, and wanted to raise £2,000 for a “nature reserve leaflet”.
Discussing the Vale Plus application Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) noted that the charity was considering setting up in Penarth and suggested offering them £300 when it actually did so. Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) seconded this proposal.
Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) agreed – noting that although Vale Plus (Cymru) had submitted its accounts for the whole of Wales – it seemed as though the charity’s reserves had grown by £6,000 and the total amount carried forward into the current financial year was £207,650 . Penarth Council, he said, could look at supporting the charity financially “when they move here”.
On the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales Ltd Cllr Neil Thomas proposed that [rather than a cash grant] as the charity wanted to publicise its activities, the council could offer “support in kind” to the charity by featuring it on its website . He said that would be “a more helpful contribution than a small amount of cash”.
Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said “There is no direct activity in the Penarth area is there?” . It was noted that the nearest activity was in Sully.
Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines) said “Unless it is a very special case we should not be using our funds to contribute towards printing costs . That said, surely we should make it absolutely clear that we are sympathetic to the project” . He also suggested that a consortium of community councils could contribute towards “something more solid on site ” but contributing to the charity’s printing costs, or its reserves, was “not what we’re here for” .
Cllr Mark Wilson said the charity’s accounts, showed that it had “£1,100,000 in cash at the bank and in hand” and, given their reserves – and the fact only a relatively small amount of money was required for printing – the charity could easily afford to fund the printing itself.
Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) noted that the Wildlife Trust was “looking to undertake access improvements on the reserve ” . He said “We all know that the Wales Coast Path runs through Penarth and down to Lavernock and beyond.” Cllr Ernest suggested that any leaflet could carry the Penarth Council’s logo on it “to show that we support that”. He said there were not too many attractions at that end of Penarth but the WW2 Gun Battery at Lavernock reputedly had a connection with Churchill. The site was also associated with the wartime development of rockets.
Cllr Ernest proposed an amendment that the council should give the Widlife Trust £200 on the basis that if the leaflet was produced it would carry the council’s logo on it . His motion was seconded by Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward).
Cllr Roberts however seconded Cllr Thomas’s motion.
Cllr Rapier said the Lavernock site “could be a very important area given the ongoing discussions in another place about housing development in the immediate vicinity.” The site , he said, was important as a nature reserve ” so we must as a local authority demonstrate that we support the spirit of it ”
In the end the amendment [for the council to grant £300 for printing costs] was voted down and Cllr Thomas’s substantive motion was carried – meaning no money for the Trust.
An application from a third organisation – the Penarth Pentanque Club – for £100, was also considered Cllr Thomas said this was a club which participated in international competitions. Cllr Wilson noted that the club only held cash assets of £1,800 . The grant of £100 was approved.