A survey has revealed that of all the 77 public benches in Penarth – only one (the broken bench outside Barclays Bank) – is actually located in Penarth Town Centre.
The survey has been carried out by local resident Mr Julian Marsh who says he finds it interesting that “in a lovely town like Penarth with an ageing population, how so many beautiful benches have been placed all around Penarth – and none in the town centre where the majority of the people are for most of the year.”
Mr Marsh has found that there is only 1 proper bench (i.e. a bench which has a proper back to it) in the whole of Penarth Town Centre, and that’s the one outside Barclays Bank which he says is “Very likely the most used bench in Penarth”.
In his exhaustive report Mr Marsh has not only counted all of Penarth’s public benches but photographed many of them – some pristine, but others in a state of delapidation and neglect.
He says the “Barclays” bench – which is the responsibility of the Vale of Glamorgan Council – has had the top rail of its back missing “for at least five years – and been in situ for 15 years” .
Mr Marsh’s ‘bench census’ concedes that the Town Centre does have 2 backless seats – but those don’t count as proper benches and they’re “not the most comfortable”.
Altogether Mr Marsh has counted 28 benches on Penarth promenade , 26 on Penarth Pier and 11 in the Italian Gardens.
He goes on to say “There are a lot of older people in Penarth who would like to be able to sit and wait while their friends or partners go about their shopping. If more were installed I am sure they would make good use of them.”
“If this not possible, with 77 benches along the promenade and the beach, many more within the park areas, the least the residents of Penarth should expect of the one full bench in the town centre – and for it to be in good condition.”
Meanwhile his report points out that many newer benches have been located in much less populated parts of Penarth .
As examples he identifies “the beautiful bench situated at the crossing of Cliff Hill and Marine Parade” – which has twin “second bench across road”.
Mr Marsh says these have been in place almost two years but “I have never once seen anyone using them. There are another 9 benches within one hundred yards”.
He suggests the wide pavement outside the St Fagans Pub as a possible area where benches could be situated in the town center for people to sit and enjoy the town atmosphere.
The issue of the so-called “Public Realm” of Penarth [the publicly-owned spaces] , has already been raised by in a public meeting held in Penarth Pier Pavilion on April 15th this year (See PDN report on http://tinyurl.com/zc2lvho )
At this meeting it was revealed that the Penarth Town Council’s think tank – the “Momentum Group” – was seriously discussing the possible pedestrianisation of the town centre.
The Barclays Bank bench was cited then as an example of part of Penarth’s “tired” public realm and a new design of distinctive public bench to be called a “Penarth Seat “ which would be “unique to the town” was announced – but none of these benches has been installed as yet.