VALE COUNCIL FINALLY ADMITS ‘WE GOT IT WRONG ON PENARTH PLAY-AREAS’

The Vale Council had to re-consider controbversial plans to turn the Paget Road play area into shared "all ages " facility

The Vale Council was forced to re-consider its ill-judged and controversial plans to turn the Paget Road play area into shared “all ages ” facility

A “Case Study” on the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council’s clumsy and inept handling of a project to develop an “all-ages” play area in Paget Road, Penarth, has now trained an uncomfortable spotlight on the fundamental flaws in the council’s approach.

In 2013 the Vale of Glamorgan Council had decided – off its own bat – to spend  “Section 106”  [money to be paid by Penarth Heights Developers Crest Nicholson to “mitigate” the effects of the development] on a new “all ages” Skateboard Park and play area in Paget Road  – to replace the existing toddler and children’s play area.

The existiing Paget Road Children's Play Area includes a miniature "kick-about" area and play equipment for toddlers and young children.

The existing Paget Road Children’s Play Area includes a miniature “kick-about” area and play equipment for toddlers and young children.

The Vale Council’s Paget Road Skateboard Park decision was made without any reference to Penarth Town Council and with no reference to local residents.

It was only when word of the scheme leaked out in 2014 that local residents demanded to know what was going on and forced St Augustine’s Vale Councillors Lis Burnett and Gwyn Roberts to hold a public meeting in the Windsor Arms pub to explain the scheme.

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) & Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) confronting St Augsutine's Ward residents on the skateboard project in 2014 . This week he told Penarth Council it was wrong for residents to oppose the scheme and accused them of nimbyism

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) & Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) confronting St Augustine’s Ward residents on the skateboard project in 2014 . In February last year he told Penarth Council it was wrong for residents to oppose the scheme and accused them of nimbyism

The meeting did not go well. The proposed Skateboard Park proved to be highly unpopular with most of the residents attending the meeting .

Despite Vale denials at the time, the Penarth Case Study  now admits  that initial consultations with residents received negative feedback”. It says “The previous experience of residents has been largely at a ‘communication’ or ‘consultation’ level of engagement, as a result some residents have been voiced concerns and negative opinions about not only the re-development itself, but of previous plans to invest the Section 106 funding into one park in particular.”

Eventually the Vale Council, with considerable ill-grace –  and amidst recriminations galore –  climbed down and admitted it would have to re-think its ill-considered scheme . However as recently as last February Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustine’s) was still blaming local residents for having opposed the original plan.   [ See PDN  http://tinyurl.com 0/zuu3dtq  ]

Cllr Peter King (Labour Cornerswell) - who is a member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council's 5-person 'cabinet'. His skateboarding son was used as a "gatekeeper" - says the Vale report.

Cllr Peter King (Labour Cornerswell) – who is a member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s 5-person ‘cabinet’. His skateboarding son was used as a “gatekeeper” – says the Vale report.

The Vale Case Study Report says that then “A meeting was held with the councillors for the area, and Councillor King’s son, a local skater, who acted as a gatekeeper to other skaters in the area. [ Cllr Peter King (Labour Cornerswell) is a member of Vale’s five-strong ruling  ‘cabinet’ and its member for transport]  .

The Case Study report goes on to say :”Through the meeting we were able to garner the opinions of the local skaters and found out that rather than developing skating facilities at Paget Road, it would be preferred if the existing skating facilities at Cogan Leisure Centre could be improved and perhaps a scooter area for younger children installed in Paget Road.”

The existing skateboard park at Penarth Leisure Centre is to be redeveloped in place of the one that would have been built at Paget Road

The existing skateboard park at Penarth Leisure Centre is to be redeveloped in place of the one that would have been built at Paget Road

The next stage in the saga was to propose that the Section 106 Crest Nicholson cash  should be spent redeveloping the existing Skateboard Park at Penarth Leisure Centre,  plus a modified scheme at Paget Road, replacement play facilities at Plassey Square Recreation Ground and new play facilities a Dingle Park (where there are none).

Dingle Park - a tranquil and pleasant place for people who know where it is

Dingle Park – a tranquil and pleasant place for people who know where it is

Robert Donaldson - the doughty campaigner and leader of the "Friends of Dingle Park"

Robert Donaldson – the doughty campaigner and leader of the “Friends of Dingle Park

Up to now, little has been said publicly about the plan to develop Dingle Park – but the Vale Case Study says that “The Park is represented by the ‘Friends of Dingle Park’ interest group, the group is primarily vocal on social media but has taken on the maintenance of the park. … it was decided that one of the primary issues in the park is the parks fencing and shrubbery, and that improving these would go a long way to improving the aesthetic of the Park and encouraging more users.”

The report also reveals that there were consultations about Dingle Park with local running groups who said that there was “the potential for a ‘Trim Trail’ to be installed in the park, this would allow the running groups to continue to use the park for fitness runs and may encourage others to utilise the park for fitness in the future.”

The Case Study appears to indicate that the saga has resulted – at long last –  in some overdue lessons being learned by the Vale Council  – not least the importance of carrying proper consultations with local people  – and with the local Council – Penarth Town Council .

The report frankly admits that  there was a “previous reluctance from service providers [ i.e the Vale Councillors and officers]  to relinquish any degree of power over a project.”

Penarth Town Council's HQ in Stanwell road. The Vale Council now admists it would be better if it had been involved

Penarth Town Council’s HQ in Stanwell Road. The Vale Council report now admits it would be better if it Penarth Town Council had been consulted and involved in the play schemes from the outset

The report also frankly admits  “It might have been possible to improve the engagement by working more with relevant partner organisations, we could have engaged with the Penarth Town and Community Council and this organisation as a gatekeeper to other partner organisations with an interest in the project.”

“To have included these organisations from the start of the project would have resulted in a better degree of power-sharing than has been experienced in the project.”

The Case Study on the Penarth Play Areas has been published by "Participation Cymru" and could be seen as an object lesson to councils everywhere the pitfalls of introducing public schemes

The Case Study on the Penarth Play Areas has been published by “Participation Cymru” and could be seen as an object lesson to councils everywhere the pitfalls of introducing public schemes

The Case Study report was written by Lloyd Fisher and published by Participation Cymru – an organsation that promotes good practice in public bodies and is downloadable from http://tinyurl.com/gskrfrz

However the Vale of Glamorgan Council isn’t quite out-of-the-woods yet on the development of the Penarth play areas. …It’s now emerged that the revised  plans may not have made adequate provision for disabled children.

 

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17 Responses to VALE COUNCIL FINALLY ADMITS ‘WE GOT IT WRONG ON PENARTH PLAY-AREAS’

  1. Jane Foster says:

    Doesn’t the Paget Road park look lovely with that lovely leafy backdrop? Shame on the council for removing them.

  2. Richard says:

    “A meeting was held with the councillors for the area, and Councillor King’s son, a local skater, who acted as a gatekeeper to other skaters in the area”.
    What I find most shocking about this is that a ‘COUNCILLOR’S SON’ has such sway in decisions.
    I would like to know if “Councillor King’s son”, who appears to come on the scene after the skateboarding project had been put forward, had any input into this to begin with. Or did he only find out about something which would be of such interest to him and his fellow skateboarders once the plan was made public? One would have thought his father would have told him about it the moment there was any suggestion? Not least as he has since played such a pivotal role…
    Personally, I think it’s wrong a councillor’s son has such input. Not only might it teach him to adopt a power-crazed local government attitude at a young age, it also seems a tremendous degree of authority for someone with no official status.
    If I become a councillor, can I build a race track as my son and his friends would love such facilities to be developed in Penarth?

  3. James says:

    What the heck is a “Trim Trail”? (They’ll be eating Nimble bread next)
    And what is wrong with the current path for runners? Why put in more concrete?
    I thought the idea of Dingle Park was as a wildlife haven and quiet place for walkers seeking sanctuary from the busy world.
    All credit to Robert Donaldson and his group for transforming this forgotten area into a special place. Now it appears it will be hijacked by those after “amenities”.

  4. Grey local says:

    Yet again I don’t see any note of the Vale Play Development Officer being involved or Play Wales (offices in Cardiff Bay) being consulted. Probably the best qualified people to advise on play provision .

  5. David Moorcraft says:

    Just why is the (Barry-based) Vale Council quite so clueless, heavy-handed and plain wrong in its dealings with Penarth ?
    I could wish that more Penarthians would walk up to the Penarth Head Park and see what desecration has been wrought in their name with the ugly £130k+ disintegrating Observation Platform, from which you can’t observe anything.
    Replace the ugly railings alongside the Dingle Park to permit a more open view from Windsor Road while you’re stuck in traffic, but otherwise Leave It Alone !

  6. I agree with James the Dingle is to be a haven from the hustle and bustle it needs a few more benches, but not a playground or anything of the sort. As for friends of the Dingle what is their purpose and why are they using that title ? I recall 2 or 3 years ago ‘someone’ desecrated the part of the Park? near the bus stop, Someone had pulled out an area of bluebells in in their place stuck a couple of Foxgloves and 2 or 3 other plants. Whoever did it the Council or the Friends of Dingle did in fact break the law , Bluebells are a protected species and have been for a number of years. I but they were removed along with the bulbs so much for protecting fauna and flora !! . I wrote to the local newspapers at the time but no one put up their hand to admit their folly. As for the mention of shrubs etc the area on the road side of the footpath is covered in Brambles , Nettles and a number of weeds, but the reason this is so is because the ground underneath them is full of stone and rubble and is on a slope, the rubble is either from when the path was laid or when the railings were put in years ago. So the ground is poor but Brambles and Nettles love it, I have been around this park quite a few times and I recently noted that the new flower bed near the bus stop was choked with dead grasses and dead flowers , no one has taken time to remove or tidy this up. Also their are a number of trees planted by the Council but have have died. Why haven’t the ‘Friends ‘ replaced these trees? or cleaned up the flower beds? as ‘friends what is their role as I have seen no evidence thus far???? But as I used to be in a Conservation group years ago as Publicity Officer , I am aware of what such a body gets up to but ive seen nothing of the sort at the Dingle…………….signed on behalf of ‘ Proper Pals Of The Dingle’.

  7. bizzilizzi says:

    How is a Council member entitled to “blame ” local residents for opposing the plan?

  8. Matt says:

    This will probably turn into a bit of a rant …

    I have been asking Lis Burnett for the results of the “North Penarth Open Spaces Consultation” re. Plassey Square for months. It’s one thing to hold a consultation, but if you don’t share the feedback, it’s pointless.

    The plans for Plassey Square announced recently only relate to updating the play equipment but the consultation asked about the whole square and mentioned roads, pavements, trees and asked for suggestions on ways to improve the area. I know for a fact that many people, including me, gave a lot of input into suggestions for improvements but we’ve heard nothing. What’s the point in asking residents’ opinions if you don’t tell them the results of the consultation?

    I’ve tried emailing her and even signed-up to Twitter as that seems to be her preferred method of communication but I still haven’t got a proper response. Over the past year I’ve contacted her re. Penarth Heights section 106 money, Crest Nicholson’s duty to repair roads and pavements around Plassey Square relating to the original planning applications, the lack of cleaning around the Square (parts of the square go uncleared for weeks and are frequently covered in litter and broken glass), and the failure to clear leaves from pavements and roads around the Square that should take place in the Autumn.

    Apart from the occasional acknowledgement email, one email forwarded to the cleansing team, and the odd “sorry, your email slipped through the net” reply, I haven’t received an adequate response to any of my questions.

    Quite frankly, I’m staggered that anyone would think it acceptable to ignore the people who they are supposed to be representing. I’ve never come across such levels of arrogance, rudeness and lack of professionalism. I run a small business and I can’t imagine treating my own clients with such contempt.

    • Martha says:

      Matt. I’m grateful people like you exist and hope you don’t mind me saying so. It gives me faith in others wanting to get on as part of a community. I wish you well and hope you get a response.

    • Cymry Llundain says:

      They clearly haven’t learned any lessons from this consultation: the case study says one of the main principles of good consultation is that “People are told the impact of their contribution” but the exact opposite is true – people have asked for the feedback and been ignored, repeatedly. There is nothing on the Vale website about the consultation feedback either.

  9. To give Cllr Lis Burnet t credit where credit is due she did turn up to most of the Penarth Marina Residents’ Association meetings before they turned themselves into a social club when I stopped attending.

  10. Kevin Mahoney says:

    What exactly does acting as a gatekeeper mean in this context?

  11. Its the door keeper Kevin the person who opens and closes the door to let people enter a bit like at Downing Street, I thought people would know that?
    Anyway glad to be of help , isn’t it a bit ‘niggling’ when these terms are used by the ‘clever people’ and we ragamuffins or lowly people get confused , once could almost say our ‘betters!!’ use such language or verbiage to confuse , deceive or hide what they really mean. But as they so much better than us that’s obviously not the case as people in positions of influence are eminently trustworthy as people like the VOG or Penarth Town Council prove over and over again. And when I say VOG and Penarth Town Council I realise that Penarth Council are but a ‘flea’ on the back of the VOG!! its embarrassing but true, I prefer not to dwell on it too much .

    • Gareth says:

      Can’t stop laughing about this post, even walking down the street I’m doing it.
      The piece de resistance – “Penarth Council are but a ‘flea’ on the back of the VOG…its embarrassing but true, I prefer not to dwell on it too much.”
      Please keep posting Andrew Worsley. A scream doesn’t begin to describe it!

  12. robert donaldson says:

    Louise Nash & Robert Donaldson Sen Sits are retiring from picking up litter; dog poo ; feeding the wild life & planting wild flower beds.2017. Any plans/finance for the future of dingle park should include keeping this area maintained/safe/tidy.. The old platform of dingle station still has not been
    cleaned up by net work rail as scheduled in nov 2016. this fly tipping area/litter black spot does not hlelp us to keep the pk & footpaths clear.. The end house next to the pk has had rat problems
    says ownwer colin teale.

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