Hundreds of vinyl record enthusiasts were disappointed at the weekend when Penarth Town Council abruptly cancelled a “Record & CD Fair” due to be held at the Paget Rooms on Sunday because of a dispute over alleged “unauthorised signage”.
The organisers of the three-times-a-year event – Rockaway Record Fairs – were informed by email last Friday afternoon that the Town Council had cancelled their booking – even though they’d already paid in advance to hire the Paget Rooms.
Penarth Town Council has also told Rockaway Record Fairs that its bookings for a further 2 record fairs – already scheduled for the Paget Rooms later this year – have been cancelled. A further fair was to have been held on April 23 2017 and a third was to have been held on September 17th 2017.
The cancellations are set to cost Penarth Town Council more that £500 in lost booking fees [if – that is – the council gives Rockaway its money back] – and this comes at a time when Penarth Council is under increasing pressure to boost its lack-lustre income from venue-hiring . That’s because of the massive increase in annual spending that’s been authorised by the Labour-run council – including huge increases in staff costs and office administration. ( See PDN http://tinyurl.com/gmo438a )
[The “Penarth precept” – [the element of council tax which Penarth Council adds to the annual Vale Council Tax Bill] – is already due to rise by 4.97% following a similar percentage rise last year and the council is trying to almost double its income to remain solvent.]
Rockaway Record Fairs’ director – Simon Phillips – said the council had objected to his placing small posters advertising the Record & CD Fair on street-furniture around the Vale of Glamorgan – something which he has been doing for the past 5 years to drum-up business for the well-established 3-times-a year event.
He understands that exception was taken to a small number of handbills which had been displayed in Barry and Cowbridge – which leads him to suspect that it is someone in the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council who is really behind the objection and that it is the Vale Council which is forcing Penarth Town Council to clamp down on his business.
Normally the small posters are put up in the area 10 days ahead of each event. In this case Mr Phillips received an email last Thursday asking him to take his posters down – and threatening him that if he didn’t do so, the council would cancel Sunday’s event.
Mr Phillips was on his way to North Devon at the time and so couldn’t comply with that deadline – but promised that he would “forensically clean” Penarth of Record & CD Fair posters on Sunday.
Penarth Council sent Mr Phillips a reply on Friday – (by which time he was on the road and out of touch) – telling him that his event on Sunday was being cancelled forthwith and that all future dates were also cancelled. Penarth Town Council said in their email that it was “sorry to lose” Rockaway Record Fairs as a customer but – if they did not stick to the terms and conditions – “this is what happens” .
Mr Phillips says the council told him he could only use “authorised” advertising locations in Penarth – but he makes the point that, apart from the glass case outside the Paget Rooms itself, and outside West House there isn’t any “authorised location” in the town.
The Town Council has never discussed the obvious need in the town for places to display posters advertising forthcoming events – and Mr Phillips says it apparently expects event-organisers to hire council venues without using poster-advertising to promote them.
Mr Phillips – who had to stand outside the shut and barred Paget Rooms on Sunday to explain what had happened to traders and customers – is now looking for an alternative venue in Penarth for his popular record fairs.
Meanwhile Penarth Council is looking for someone else to book the otherwise empty Paget Rooms on the dead dates – and has another potential hole in its finances.
UPDATE: Later Penarth Town Council placed a statement on its website saying “The Town Council is aware of a lack of formalised sites in which to display promotional materials, but we cannot condone fly-posting whether by hirers of our buildings or by outside parties.”