Penarth Town Council's disastrous £1,080 "Penarth Bench" is to be removed. ...And now a local carpentry firm has revealed it offered to make new public benches for the council free of charge

Penarth Town Council’s disastrous £1,080 “Penarth Bench” is to be removed. …

In the wake of Labour-run Penarth Town Council’s disastrous foray into the design of public benches for the town centre, it’s now emerged that a local carpentry firm had offered make brand-new benches for the Vale of Glamorgan Council free of charge…but no one responded to the offer.   

The offer had come from Mike Yorke – whose well-known company MY Wood Designs is based in 3 Arcot Lane, Penarth.

Mike Yorke of MY Wood Designs, Arcot St, Penarth told Penarth Town Council he'd make them some public benches free of charge. He never heard back from the council.

Mike Yorke of MY Wood Designs, 3 Arcot Lane, Penarth told the Vale of Glamorgan Council he’d make them some public benches free of charge. He never heard back from the council.

Mr Yorke says he told the Vale of Glamorgan Council he would make new benches for Dingle Park from a highly durable timber called Accoya  which would last for at least 50 years.   However the Vale Council did not  respond to Mr Yorke’s offer – even though his firm is a local company.

Mr Yorke has revived his offer following the introduction last December of the now-notorious  “Penarth Bench” – made out of concrete and wood – which has no backrest to it . The Penarth Bench was  created by Penarth Town Council’s s0-called “Future Projects Partnership” – a Town Council body which does not publish details of its activities or membership.

When that bench was installed in Bradenham Place, outside Barclays Bank in December,  people sitting on it tended to overbalance and end up being supported – not by the seat – but by the bank. The Penarth Bench was also found to be tilting to the left because there was no compensation built-in to allow for the sloping pavement. Critics also  condemned the  “brutalist”  appearance of the concrete end-pieces of the bench which were also  allegedly used as late night urinals.

After just two months in use, the £1,080 “Penarth Bench –  described as a “Labour Party vanity project”  –  is to be consigned to a less high-profile location in the grounds of the council’s HQ at West House in Stanwell Road.

Meanwhile, at a cost of thousands of pounds more in public money,  modified versions of the “Penarth Bench” are being ordered by Penarth Council  [The Council says 2 are on order  – but a member of the Future Projects Partnership has said 6 new “Penarth Benches” are to be installed] .

Mr Yorke had originally appended a comment outlining his free benches offer to the earlier PDN story on the Penarth Bench – but has today made it clear that his offer had been made to the Vale of Glamorgan Council for Dingle Park and not to Penarth Town Council.

He says his offer is still open.


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  1. Chris David says:

    If Accoya comes from a credible and renewable source then why? In any case My Wood should have received a reply. Perhaps we could see a response here from a councillor. Was this another wacky staff cock up? Like the record fair cancellation.

    • Peter Church says:

      Maybe he didn’t write his letter bi-lingually, in such cases the town council are entitled to ignore it.
      But be careful, I sent them a cheque for council tax in English and another written in Welsh, the sods cashed both, they said the Welsh one goes to pay for translations!

  2. Adrian Coleman says:

    Those benches look awful

  3. Lm says:

    Yet again you couldn’t make it up
    We need to get rid of the whole council and start again with some young blood!

  4. AK says:

    How do we start to get rid of the Town Council altogether ?

  5. Tom says:

    Where are the names/organisations involved in this ‘Future Projects Partnership Group’? Why is there no public register of who belongs to this outfit? Surely it’s illegal that the public are not allowed to know who is deciding how their money is spent? Where is the openness, not least when the result is a costly mistake such as the £1,080 ‘Penarth Bench’? And SIX more versions of this monstrosities are on order??? WHO is spending our money like this, with apparently no accountability? And how is it being allowed to continue? This bench is ugly, badly designed, uncomfortable and therefore, I believe, not fit for purpose, yet the waste of money continues. If any of the councillors had tax payers’ interests at heart, they would surely be asking questions, if only for the sake of transparency but it’s very quiet…

    • Anne Greagsby says:

      I have just submitted a FOI request asking just that. Who are these people? Why all the secrecy, why has the town council not discussed this matter in public. They can’t afford flowers on the roundabout but can afford these unsuitable expensive benches!? There are simple guidelines for public benches such as the height, having a backrest etc so that elderly or disabled people can use them but these have been ignored by the bench designer. The one moved to Westhouse should be removed altogether for those reasons. If your town Cllr won’t do the job then you can sack him/ her in May.

      • Jamie says:

        Thank you to Anne Greagsby. I can’t understand how this situation has been allowed to develop. As well as being impractical and uncomfortable, I think this concrete bench verges on dangerous with those horrible sharp edges. At least traditional benches have a curved arm rest – perhaps for the very reason that if, say, an elderly person or child stumbled, they won’t have their eye out on a concrete point. Why the secrecy in a situation where such a ridiculously high cost is involved? And how have six more versions got through the net?

      • Simon says:

        To Anne Greagsby – thank you for making an FOI request – it seems ludicrous to have to do so, doesn’t it, in such a situation. Would you please be able to let people know how you will be publishing your findings? I’m keen to know who is involved and why these unsuitable, expensive benches have been commissioned. Thanks.

  6. Mark says:

    Oh, I can’t imagine anything as nice as timber would be allowed – surely it has to be manmade. We’re not allowed natural and traditional and quality in Penarth. It has to be resin or something else artificial.

  7. Mike says:

    Hi PDN

    my offer of free benches was originally for Dingle Park which I’ve now been informed comes under the Vale of Glamorgan Council not the Town Council.

    My offer of free benches still stands but perhaps I should have made it clear to where and to whom.

    Thanks. Mike

  8. Mike says:

    And can you use a better photo of me…..my hair is a mess in that one 😉

    • snoggerdog says:

      i think you look lovely,mike.

    • Martha says:

      What does your hair look like normally then? It looks fine in this. If you show that much attention to detail, I think the town would be lucky to have your benches as I imagine they would be made to exacting standards!

  9. Anne Greagsby says:

    Thank you Mike. The council should have explained that to you. Its a strange system! VoG highways have control over our pavements and don’t even have to refer plans to the Vale conservation officer! I’d rather have your benches free or not, than a concrete one. We should be proud of our Victorian heritage and preserve what we have. Visitors will only be confused by these weird concrete benches.

  10. Chris David says:

    The feckless Penarth Town Council – elected and staff could easily have sorted this out on your behalf and on behalf on the tax payer! lazy? You have to ask what is the point of them? It’s probably not in their job description to actually be intelligent or helpful. You should be commended for you public spirited offer and I hope you can report back you’ve been successful. I also hope you have a plaque on each bench advertising your generosity- for the good of the business. Ps is the wood you suggest from renewable sources?

  11. Grey local says:

    I understand that some of the PTC staff came from the beleaguered Pier project, thus moving from one failed project to another and that the chair of the momemtum group used to be the chair of Belle Vue Park so perhaps you can find out more info there.

  12. snoggerdog says:

    i think the counsil,should at least be commended for putting a urinal in the west house grounds,maybe they could round holes in the timber seats and ——-no no forget that not such a good idea and im forgeting this council likes “not such a good idea”!

  13. Simon says:

    To me, this situation looks like some (unknown) individuals have gone their own way, without any transparent discussion, to produce a costly eyesore, thinking they’re bringing a bit of hip and ‘brutalist’ to a stuffy Victorian seaside town. They probably think anyone who is ‘moaning’ doesn’t understand their stylish view of life. I imagine credulous councillors have been taken in by much politically correct talk of making the town more youth-friendly and bringing it into the 21st Century etc etc blah blah, blah blah. The result = a costly, cumbersome anomaly which looks to me as though it’s waiting to do someone some damage.
    I find it totally unacceptable that nobody knows who these people are and how they were allowed to put through such an unsuitable ‘amenity’ at such enormous cost to the tax payer without any consultation, not least when it is on such prominent display in such a public arena.

    • Jtr69 says:

      Good point Simon. I am not sure if many people are aware, but Penarth has spawned one of the most famous designers in the world, namely Ross Lovegrove. Why hasn’t anyone asked him to design these..? The current lump is a concrete is not really a piece of furniture design, but an inelegant and unergonomic chunk of architecture. Get a proper furniture designer on the case please.

  14. dmcprojman says:

    Yet another awful example of the total lack of respect and responsibility towards the people of Penarth and Vale of G. My Wood’s offer should have been properly considered and pursued. The Vale should have referred it on to Penarth and at very least the courtesy of a reply. Absolute disgrace and total lack of simple business acumen.

  15. Can I just add my hair was a mess too as I was writing this , glad no one noticed.

  16. Mr Yorkes business is not situated on Arcot Lane as Arcot Lane runs along the rear of Wetherspoons and Dragon Discount and about another 6 businesses with frontage on Windsor Rd and the opposite side of this Lane is a row of garden gates , so there is no place for Mr Yorkes , it seems someone has got the address wrong.

  17. Mgg says:

    For crying out loud at least get your facts correct AG .MGossage is vice-chairman of belle vue.what are you on about m gossage being a council employee ?
    PS if you all read the press you would know who designed the bench , who facilititated the wayfaring signs and who presented at civic public forum 2015 as this communication from momentum group has been freely available.

    • Birkett says:

      Yeah, wasn’t it reported on these very pages who designed the bench a while back? Am I right in thinking Chris Loyn (sp?) Was involved.

      • Jack says:

        Would that be the proponent of “modern” architecture who is also a stalwart of the town’s civic society? (aims: “the preservation and enhancement of all aspects of our heritage”)

  18. Birkett says:


    Thus. Doesn’t seem all that secretive to me.

    I still hate the bench though.

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