The Penarth Marina swing bridge rotates through 90 degrees to reach acioss to the opposite side of the waterway. Red lights flash when it's in traqnsit and a complicated series of interlocked automatic gates opens to admit pedestrians

When it was in operation the Penarth Marina swing bridge rotated through 90 degrees to reach across to the opposite side of the waterway. Red lights flashed when it was n traqnsit and a complicated series of interlocked automatic gates opened to admit pedestrians

Residents of Penarth Marina – who live in the private-housing development around the two Marina yacht-basins – are demanding  that operation of the  pedestrian swing-bridge at Town Quay be resumed .

The swing bridge was swung open, switched off and “parked” in June this year so that a “review ”  could be carried out of its operations

The swing bridge - seen as Penarth's equivalent of Tower Bridge or Sydney Harbour Bridge - was lit up when the 150th anniversary of Penarth Docks was celebrated last year

The swing bridge – seen as Penarth’s equivalent of Tower Bridge or Sydney Harbour Bridge – was lit up when the 150th anniversary of Penarth Docks was celebrated last year

The bridge is controlled from the Marina Harbourmaster’s Office –  but pedestrians used to be able to press a button to summon the bridge to swing over,  for allow them to cross to them cross when necessary  The only other pedestrian route across the Marina is via the top of the inner lock gates – otherwise pedestrians have to walk the long way around – almost a mile – via Penarth Portway.

JUNE 2016: The bridge was switched off in June pending what was described as a “review “of its operation. Penarth Quay Marina manager Stuart Jones apologised for the inconvenience but said  “the swing bridge is out of action whist a full review of its operation is undertaken” and said that  the safety of bridge users was “paramount”.

OCTOBER 2016:  Penarth  Marina Residents Association has discovered that the swing bridge was out of action not because it needed repair but because of  “Health and Safety” issues. They said they had been told that it would cost  £120,000 to bring up to current Health and Safety standards.

The current H&S requirements are said to involve “flashing lights” and “audio alarms” which residents said  “may cause issues” with those who live nearby because it would be in action 24-hours-a-day . Such systems were installed when the bridge was built – but apparently were disconnected after people complained about them.

NOVEMBER 2016: The latest development in the saga is that local resident John Constable of the Penarth Portway management company has now written to Emma Reed “head of visible services and transport” at the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

Setting out the background, Mr Constable has told the Vale Council  “There is nothing mechanically wrong with the bridge; its operation as a pedestrian access has ceased as a result of a decision taken by Penarth Quays Marina who have concerns over health and safety issues following a recent incident.”  [ PDN Note: This is the first time anyone has publicly mentioned an “incident” involving the bridge”]

The bridge is now "parked" at the side of Town Quay leaving the waterway free for boat movements

The bridge is now “parked” at the side of Town Quay leaving the waterway free for boat movements – but pedestrians on the opposite side facing a mile-long walk to the buses.

Mr Constable has told the Vale Council; that “Penarth Quays Marina commissioned a Machinery Risk Assessment report which recommended a number of modifications to the bridge structure which would cost in excess of £100,000 to implement.  Penarth Quays Marina would prefer not to make this investment and would like to decommission the bridge.” [ PDN Note: This is the first time anyone has mentioned decommissioning the bridge]  .

The letter notes that the entire marina estate, including the bridge, is actually owned by Vale of Glamorgan Council and is simply leased by Penarth Quays Marina.  However “The precise terms of the lease are commercially sensitive and therefore not in the public domain, but over the years Penarth Quays Marina and its predecessor companies have maintained the bridge – most recently spending some £5,000 earlier this year replacing some of the roller bearings. “

Mr Constable says  “when the original lease was signed, it is understood a substantial sum of money was given to the lessee to cover the cost of maintenance and operation of the bridge. It is accepted that mechanical devices do not last forever, but if Penarth Quays Marina have failed to make adequate financial provision for the bridge’s long-term future, they should bear the consequences of that decision – not Marina residents and visitors.”

It’s acknowledged that  there’s “no formal right of way exists on the bridge” but residents say they now face the prospect of the bridge never being re-commissioned and the loss of a facility which they’ve used for 30 years . Mr Constable says “ It is not in the gift of Penarth Quays Marina to arbitrarily withdraw this facility.”

Stuart Jones, Manager of Penarth Quays Marina

Stuart Jones, Manager of Penarth Quays Marina

Today Stuart Jones, the Manager of Penarth Quays Marina, has said  “The reason that we are seeking the Council’s views on the bridge operation is that the latest safety review of the operation of the bridge has highlighted the need for audible warnings and flashing lights as per the other remotely operated bridges nearby, e.g. Pont-y-Werin and the Barrage.”

Mr Jones says the company doesn’t think these visual and audible signals are  appropriate in a residential setting and beleives they would be “a significant disruption to local residents and our berth holders.  They will obviously need to be noisy and visible at all times.  Residents near the bridge don’t want this but the residents further away may not be as badly affected by the noise and light and therefore a small number are requesting the bridge be returned to operation.”



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  1. whatsoccurin says:

    Cannot see the logic-if flashing lights are needed then this should also apply to all the “gated car parks”-this would be a nightmare for residents. Marina staff keep a close eye on the lock gate but occasionally cyclists still try to cross without dismounting, so this route is probably less safe than the swing bridge.Last week I crossed the barrage and a booth had appeared requesting me to produce my passport!-brexit? Trumps election?-no documentary film for Channel 4-Barrage was Dover Immigration Control for the day!!

  2. Brickie says:

    Commercially sensitive? More like commercially embarrassing.

  3. Martin Coffee says:

    In all fairness to the marina some of us have informed the manager that we do not wish the bridge to be reinstated with alarms. In this case the residents’ association are representing those who shout loudest without giving regard to those who value their peace and quiet.

    Most of the marina berth holders spend nights aboard their vessels and do not want their nights’ sleep disturbed by the constant sounding of alarms. It’s bad enough when boat alarms sound at night or the alarms sound at the Cardiff Bay locks.

    The residents’ association do not represent the berth holders whose opinions they have neglected to obtain.

    Many of us do not want the bridge reinstated if it involves alarms.

    Finally the bridge is not a public right of way, the lock is, so the marina is under no obligation to reinstate the bridge.

    • Roger Taylor says:

      I quite agree with Martin Coffee.

      The Penarth Marina and Haven Residents’ Association have not updated ( their website since March and although they have mentioned the bridge in an emailing, some of us were unaware that they were taking an y particular interest in this matter. Indeed this communication suggests they would not be taking the matter further. I do not want my sleep disturbed by the marina bridge and the association do not represent my views.

      I hope that the association will see sense, withdraw their letter, and properly consult *ALL* affected residents.

      The association appear to have turned themselves into a social club as it’s been a long while since they’ve met other than for some social event or other. Those of us not interested in their social activities are disenfranchised in their affairs.

  4. Ivor Bagman says:

    One would think that
    When a bridge moves
    There should be
    A person in charge
    To monitor the process .
    Hence – no need for alarm !

    • AK says:

      There is a person in charge – in the Harbour Master’s Office.

      If the bridge is operated ‘on demand’, then a voice communication coupled with CCTV should be sufficient. No need for an alarm or flashing light.

      ‘You want me to close the bridge? OK, stand clear of the gates please’

      *press green button – bridge closes

  5. Frank Evans says:

    This is all part of eu law. Same balmy stuff that shuts the brynglass tunnels every night for the next 2 years. Trouble is too many vested interests in the form of remedial maintenance companies lobbying councils to get transport infrastructure to comply

  6. Paul says:

    Clearly a bridge too far for the Vale, as never the twain shall meet…

  7. hp@wt says:

    As a resident who makes frequent use of the swingbridge as part of the reason of taking up residence in the Marina and made a 40k investment of existing property for future owners any proposed ‘sirens and flashing lights’ is simply smoke and mirrors. Wake up residents and local cafes, restaurants etc you are sleeping walking into the loss of a crucial commercial entry point into the Marina.

Comments are closed.