Penarth Town Council – which this week discussed an 11.60% increase in its expenditure for 2017/18 to £748,235 (entailing another above-inflation hike in its council-tax-precept on every home in the town) has now said what it plans to do with the money.
The council has published a document on-line setting-out what it describes as its “Visions, Aims and Objectives 2017-2022” – not withstanding the fact that council elections are due in May next year which could result in the present Labour administration being thrown out of office.
COUNCIL VENUES (WEST HOUSE/KYMIN/PAGET ROOMS) :
The key issue for Penarth Council is the need to derive more income from its council-owned venues. The council says it plans to work with “energy specialist consultants” to raise income to run the council-owned venues on a “break-even basis (at least)”.
Penarth [Labour] councillors hold a regular surgeries every Saturday at the council HQ at West House, and holds public police liaison meetings are also held there . It also says that the charity Glamorgan Voluntary Services and the charity Citizens Advice Bureau “use West House as a base when actively promoting services in Penarth” .[ PDN Note: The council doesn’t say whether it charges Glamorgan Voluntary Services or the Citizens’ Advice Bureau for the accommodation it provides]
The council also does not mention that it also allows the Cardiff South and Penarth Labour MP Stephen Doughty to hold “surgeries” at West House on Saturdays – but apparently does not charge him for the accommodation. There is also no record of Vale Labour councillors being charged for the use of the premises for their “constituency surgeries” – even though Penarth Council had to buy West House (a building it had originally owned outright) from the Vale Council ( see PDN Footnote “Why Penarth Residents Had To Pay Twice For West House” at bottom of this item )
The council says another of its “Visions Aims and Objectives” is “To promote Headland Link Project Team” .
[ PDN Note: Penarth Town Council has never discussed the Headland Link scheme in any council meeting . This is the first time the council has openly declared its support for the controversial project. No details are given as to who members of the “Project Team” are, or how they came to be appointed, or how the “Project Team” is constituted. The scheme was first mooted in a launch public meeting in Penarth Pier Pavilion in 2015 (see PDN http://tinyurl.com/opohqne ) A follow-on public meeting was supposed to have been held later – but was never convened ] .
The council says it plans to encourage the Project Team’s work and will “Utilise town council venues to enable the Project Team to spread the word about the proposal through consultative means”
KYMIN GREEN FLAG:
The council says another of its goals is to “Obtain Green Flag Status at the Kymin”.
The Green Flag scheme is run by the Labour-dominated Welsh Government quango Keep Wales Tidy . It says “Wherever you see a Green Flag, you know you’re visiting an exceptional place with the highest standards.” The awards are “judged by an army of green space experts who volunteer their time and knowledge.”
Penarth Town Council’s document “Visions, Aims and Objectives” are accessible on-line on http://tinyurl.com/hqty2j9
WHY PENARTH RESIDENTS HAD TO PAY TWICE FOR WEST HOUSE
In the last major round of local government reorganisation in 1974, the assets of the old Penarth Urban District Council – including its headquarters at West House – were all transferred without recompense to the now defunct South Glamorgan County Council
Subsequently those assets were transferred to the Vale of Glamorgan Council – leaving the newly-downgraded Penarth Town Council having to pay rent to occupy West House – – the premises which it had formerly owned outright.
Penarth Town Council tried to regain the ownership of its own headquarters but the Vale of Glamorgan Council wouldn’t play ball – claiming that the “new” Penarth Town Council wasn’t the same authority as the old – and defunct – Penarth Urban District Council.
Penarth Town Council had no option but to raise money (from council-tax payers) to buy-back its own headquarters in a £95,000 deal on a “deferred purchase agreement” . The deal however only applied to West House itself. The Vale Council held-on to the rear car park which it had also acquired free of charge in 1974. When, in 1998, Penarth Town Council offered to buy the car park, the Vale demanded £20,000 for it – which Penarth Town Council paid.
This left the Vale still owning “West House Cottage” – which Penarth Town Council had then partially leased and was supposed to have returned to the Vale.
Both the original purchase of – and the subsequent re-purchase of – West House were paid for by the residents of Penarth via a precept on the council tax or rates
….In effect Penarthians were made to pay-up twice for the same building.
(The above section on West House is a reprint of an earlier PDN article)