A second attempt to launch a much-heralded body – grandiosely entitled “The Penarth Town Trust” – has collapsed as the organisation’s lack of any formal status – either as a charity, a trust, a private company or – in fact anything – has come to light.
Behind the venture is the Deputy Mayor of Penarth – Cllr Tracey Alexander (Labour Cornerswell) – who first floated out the idea of setting up what she then described as a “Trust Fund for Penarth ” in a Penarth Civic Society public meeting in Penarth in April this year.
The “Trust Fund” (subsequently named as the Penarth Town Trust) she said – would enable people to raise funding for things like “Penarth Library” . It would look towards “corporate fund raising” . She said “One thing is for sure – that what we pay in council tax is not going to afford what we’re talking about tonight”. Many in the audience seemed unsure as to exactly what she was talking about.
In May however, Deputy Mayor Cllr Alexander resigned as a member of the executive committee of the Penarth Civic Society but then wanted the Civic Society to become a member of her proposed new “Penarth Town Trust” – along with other local organisations and individuals.
However the Penarth Civic Society declined the offer . The Society announced “it would be very unlikely to be sustainable and would simply engage existing initiatives within the town in an additional and unwelcome level of bureaucracy.”
The Penarth Civic Society stated firmly that it had “no plans to participate in the Penarth Town Trust”.
In spelling out just what the Penarth Town Trust was supposed to do, Deputy Mayor Alexander was – again – less than specific . She had told Penarth Civic Society by email ” I have offered ideas that I hoped would change a dying society [meaning Penarth Civic Society ] into one that could influence change and contribute to future regeneration and sustainability of services and projects, here in Penarth. I now aim to realise these ideas, with others, through the new Penarth Town Trust.”
Some thought the Penarth Town Trust might have been an attempt to revive an idea which many hoped had been killed-off when local retailers had overwhelmingly voted-down proposals to set up a “Penarth Business Improvement District” – or “Penarth BiD” . That would have been funded by a proposed surcharge on the rates of commercial premises in the town. The Business Improvement District, it was asserted, would have been able to “attract grant funding from other sources”.
Without having any formal charitable status however, the Penarth Town Trust would not be allowed to collect money from anyone and Deputy Mayor Alexander told PDN today that the s0-called “Trust” does not even have a bank account .
The Trust had publicised that it was “supporting” the RNLI ‘s Appeal to raise funds for a new inshore lifeboat – but this claim has now been clarified . The Trust was to support the RNLI by “cross-promotion” at the – now-cancelled – Big Lunch event and would not have been collecting cash for the RNLI .
The Big Lunch itself was to have been a “free” event. No tickets were sold and the meals were to have been provided to the public at no charge and were apparently to be “donated by sponsors” .
A so-called “Big Lunch” to launch the embryo Penarth Town Trust had originally been touted by Cllr Alexander in the Penarth Pier Pavilion public meeting in April called to discuss various future plans under the umbrella title of The Future of Penarth – but the “Big Lunch” promoted at that meeting was subsequently cancelled.
The deferred “Big Lunch” – was then re-arranged for tomorrow September 3rd in Windsor Gardens but at the eleventh hour this too has now been cancelled – reportedly because the organisation “cannot obtain charitable status in time” .
Town Trusts do already operate in other UK towns and are basically charities run by boards of trustees who take on the responsibility for the upkeep of specific areas of their town for the benefit of the town and its residents as a whole. It had never been clarified who the members of the Penarth Town Trust would be or how such a Trust would be funded . No application for charitable status has yet been made to the Charity Commission
Although Cllr Alexander is Deputy Mayor of Penarth – the Penarth Town Trust has no direct connection with Penarth Town Council.
In an official statement, Deputy Mayor Alexander says tomorrow’s launch-lunch has been postponed owing to what are called “unforeseen delays”. She now anticipates that the launch of the Penarth Town Trust will take place in the Spring of next year.