A petition bearing over 10,000 signatures protesting about the Vale of Glamorgan’s scheme to set up a wakeboarding facility at Cosmeston Country Park was presented to the council last night by Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Cymru Dinas Powys ).
The petition comprised signatures collected on the streets of Penarth and an on-line petition – all organised by the environmentalist and Plaid Cymru candidate for St Augustine’s Anne Greagsby.
Cllr Franks then tabled a question about “commercial schemes in country parks” which was answered by in the council meeting by Cllr Lis Burnett, (Labour St Augustines) Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan and ‘cabinet’ member for regeneration and education.
Cllr Burnett said ” I am re-assured to see that you actually talk about ‘wakeboarding’ rather than ‘the waterboarding’ (sic)”. “This is not supposed to be torture” Cllr Burnett said reassuringly – to laughter from councillors.
She referred to an earlier answer on the scheme – and emphasised “ No pylons will be erected across the lake [ PDN Note: the lake for wakeboarding is to be the larger of the two at Cosmeston – the one most people see when they first arrive] .
She told Cllr Franks that the proposals “will be consulted on and scrutinised closely as an application for planning consent” [ Some insiders believe this peculiar form of words has been used in this context because there will be no actual planning application made: the Vale Council will simply authorise itself to proceed]
Apparently seeking to minimise the potential impact of the scheme she said that it involved what she described as a “slim A-frame set on land in tall wooded-areas on each of two sides at one end of the Eastern lake ”
Cllr Burnett said “a small area of the lake would be set aside for safe and managed use”
Emphasising the word “quiet” Cllr Burnett said “a quiet electric motor would pull users across the lake on a wire.”
Cllr Burnett added “Other proposals under consideration would allow even more enjoyment of majority of the lake area by residents – and this is seeking less energetic activities such as kayaking – which already happens”
Cllr Burnett said “I am old enough to remember Cosmeston when it was a disused quarry. It might surprise some that I am that old – but I would reassure members that if just a small fraction of the some of the takes of impending carnage and destruction in our much-loved Country Park were actually true then I’d probably signing the wholly inaccurate petition launched and handed in by the recently announced Penarth Plaid Cymru candidate for next year’s local government elections …..But it’s not true and so I won’t be signing “
Cllr Franks was the next to make an admission saying “It may shock you that I too used to play in the old quarry” . He asked – through the chair – whether Cllr Burnett did not regret having “failed to engage with members of the public who are very concerned about these proposals?”
Cllr Franks went on to ask “Why are you so secretive about the future proposals that you are considering? “
Cllr Burnett (who had earlier been accused by Plaid Cymru of reading-out a pre-prepared answer to a “spontaneous ” question asked by Cllr Rhiannon Birch) – retaliated by saying “…And you say I pre-prepare things?”. In the ensuing hubbub the Mayor called for order.
Cllr Burnett said “far from being secretive – even before we went out to tender it went to cabinet, and some of the uses that are being discussed now, were explicitly mentioned. [PDN Note: Wakeboarding wasn’t] . It also went to Scrutiny [the council’s scrutiny committee ] It was fully discussed at Scrutiny . We also put out at least two press releases. I have talked to people ad infinitum”
Cllr Burnett concluded by saying “Sometimes there is a desire to create a shock-horror type sensation. Hopefully, once the plans have been processed and are fully available in the planning process, people will be able to see that far from having a damaging impact on Cosmeston, this actually will help us to offset some of the huge financial pressures that our country parks are facing and actually invest in them for the future”