Despite the distinctly lukewarm reception given by the public to Penarth Town Council’s expensive bespoke-designed “Penarth Bench” – (conceived and manufactured in Penarth) yet more so-called “Penarth Benches” are set to be installed in the town centre .
The prototype Penarth Bench – condemned by some as a council ‘vanity project’ – was installed outside Barclays Bank in Bradenham Place in December last year at a cost of £1,080 .
The cost of the “Penarth Bench” is 170% more than the new maintenance-free recycled resin benches installed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council in Dingle Park at a cost of just £400 apiece. (see picture above) . These sturdy benches look as if they’re made from wood and cast-iron nd are said to be indestructible. They’re made entirely from environmentally-friendly recycled materials and – unlike the concrete of the “Penarth Bench” – no CO2 is emitted in their manufacture.
As soon as it appeared, the new “Penarth Bench” came in for withering criticism from members of the public who pointed out something that didn’t seem to have occurred to the committee that designed it : there was no backrest to it . People attempting to relax in the bench found themselves in danger of overbalancing backwards until they touched the wall of Barclays Bank.
Although the bench had been installed at the location of an earlier – traditional – bench , the old bench had been properly designed to compensate for the South Westerly slope of the pavement – but the Penarth Bench hadn’t . People found themselves sitting at an uncomfortable angle.
The Penarth Bench is a project conceived and executed by the Labour-run Penarth Town Council’s secretive – and unfortunately named – “Momentum Group“, in collaboration with other local organisations and Penarth Youth Action. [Because of the embarrassing connotations of the “Momentum Group” name – which echoes that of Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing support-group – Penarth Town Council has now changed the contentious title to “Future Projects Partnership Group” . Its meetings are not open to the press or public and it publishes no minutes. ]
The Future Projects Partnership Group has now decided to move the derided Barclay’s Bank prototype Penarth Bench to a less-publicly-exposed spot in the grounds of Penarth Town Council’s HQ at West House in Stanwell Road where it will “supplement the existing public seating”.
The Council now says “a revised, larger model of the ‘Penarth Bench’ ” will be installed in place of the prototype bench at the Barclays Bank location. The council says the “revised” model will have a back, “will have wooden coping to soften the concrete edges” and will be “levelled to allow for the slope of the pavement.”
The council says more 2 more Penarth Bench examples of this new “Mark II” design are to be placed in a further two locations within the town centre – although this statement on the council’s website is at variance with a statement by a member of the Future Projects Partnership who has said that 6 more Penarth Benches to be installed in the Town Centre.
Despite the fact that each Penarth Bench is costing local Council-Tax Payers £680 more than sturdy and comfortable alternatives, the Labour-run Penarth Town Council says that it has “discussed the costings involved very carefully” and that it “continues to believe that the ‘Penarth Bench’ represents very good value for money”.
Next month Penarth Town Council will impose on local residents a 4.96% increase in the town’s Council-Tax-Precept for 2017/18 . The rate of UK inflation is currently only 1.8% .