An uncertain outlook for Penarth Pier Pavilion, secret talks - and now doubts about who actually owns it

A foggy outlook for Penarth Pier Pavilion: There are secret talks in progress between the Vale Council and its tenants Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – and now doubts about who actually has the ultimate say in the future of Penarth’s so-called “Jewel in the Crown”

It’s emerged that secret talks are under way about the future of Penarth Pier Pavilion between the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – who hold a 125 year lease on the recently renovated  building .

The revelation was made last night in last night’s council meeting when Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Cymru Dinas Powys) questioned Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) who is Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council;

The Big Lottery Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund may have a bigger say than anyone else in the future of the Pier Pavilion

The Big Lottery Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund may have a bigger say than anyone else in the future of the Pier Pavilion

The issue has arisen because of a cash-crisis at Penarth Arts and Crafts which has forced the “not-for-profit-company / charity ” to close the Pavilion to the public for three days a week and shut its 70-seat digital cinema as from March 6th – indefinitely.

A protest petition has been raised on which more that 1,000 people have protested about the cinema closure. There have also been complaints about the indifferent quality of catering in the Pavilion cafe – its prime source of revenue  – and the lack of art exhibits – or anything at all – in the main auditorium

The Pavilion was renovated at a cost of £4,100,000 in 2013 – all funded by public money – much of it  from the National Lottery

It also came to light last night that there are two “charges” on the Pier Pavilion building –  held respectively by the Big Lottery and the Heritage Lottery Fund – implying that it is they and not the Vale of Glamorgan Council who are actually the de-facto owners of the building and have the ultimate say in the Pavilion’s future  .

Cllr Burnett reads a carefully worded answer to a question from Plaid Cymru Cllr Chris Franks on Penarth Pier

Cllr Burnett reads a carefully-worded answer to a question from Plaid Cymru Cllr Chris Franks on Penarth Pier Pavilion. She appeared to suggest that its leaseholders – Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – were not “resilient” enough

Cllr Burnett told Cllr Franks ” The operation of the Pier Pavilion is subject to a long lease agreement between the council and Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd (PACL) – an independent company, limited by guarantee”.

She said ” Council officers are in contact with representatives of PACL as tenants. However I am unable to publicly disclose the detail of any discussions due to issues of commercial confidentiality associated with the lease.”

Cllr Burnett weent on to say “I am able to confirm that discussions have taken place with the management of PACL to consider the long-term viability of the organisation . To this end I am also able to confirm that the council will be meeting with representatives from PACL, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery in the near future to continue these discussions.”

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Cymru Dinas Powys) puts his question. No Penarth councillors raised the issue.

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Cymru Dinas Powys) puts his question. No local Penarth councillors had raised the issue.

Cllr Chris Franks then weighed in with a supplementary question – making the point that  members of the public will be disconcerted to be excluded from important matters relating to the Pier Pavilion . How will you ensure that the Pavilion continues to play an important role in the life of Penarth and the Vale generally?” he asked.

Cllr Burnett replied  “Resilience of an organisation is not just about money . This council has been working with PACL and also working to renovate pier and the pavilion over a long period  . Cllr Maureen Kelly Owen  (Conservative Plymouth Ward)  and I were on the board [ of PACL] back in about 2005 when   the Pier Pavilion project was first mooted.”

She said “There has also been support from this council in terms of project management in the construction phases of the renovation of the Pier Pavilion . We will continue to work with Penarth Arts and Crafts . We will also continue to be committed to  the future of the Puer Pavilion  but it also needs to be noted that there are two previous charges on the property –  Big Lottery and Heritage Lottery Fund so any discussions regarding the future resilience of the property would have to involve those two organisations – as it is doing.”



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  1. Big Davey says:

    Perhaps the Vale can provide an ongoing subsidy now that they have yet again raised rates by 5 times the inflation rate.

    • Philip Rapier says:

      Not the “End of the Pier Show” but it urgently needs to be completely re-choreographed so it dances to the tune of the People of Penarth who own it and pay for it out of their Council Tax.
      According to Watts Gregory Accountants only a presumably “Commercially- Insensitive” whopping great £60 nil pence-Yes SIXTY POUNDS and not a penny more was spent on Marketing and Publicity in the Accounting Period ending 31 Dec 2015 ( published Sept 16)
      Although some effort was made in the preceding year it clearly has not worked
      Salaries for the same period are £43000 p.a. an increase of a “Commercially -Insensitive” £4500 on 2014
      According to job descriptions and c.v.. of the current Trustees on the Companies House Website not a single one of them has claimed to have previously managed a Municipal Arts Centre .
      This is remarkable and also may be considered “Commercially-Insensitive”

  2. Frank Evans says:

    Oh no Lis Burnett has now got involved….. expect a 100 tonne concrete gun inplacement to ward off any hope of a rescue party.
    Labour in the Vale have a track record of sound finances😅

    • Mark Foster says:

      From the Penarth Times 31 March 2015 “Penarth Pier Pavilion awarded £47,000 Armed Forces grant” by RAF St Athan. The money was administered by the Vale of Glamorgan Council. What did they do with it? Explanation please.

  3. Tim Hughes says:

    I thought a “charge” on a property was undertaken by a non owner who had a pecuriary interest in the property and wished to retain an interest in its future.

  4. Chris David says:

    “However I am unable to publicly disclose the detail of any discussions due to issues of commercial confidentiality associated with the lease.” Ha -absolute rubbish. Ducking diving by very poor standard councillors and failed parties. Publish the accounts, its OUR money- where has the £4 Mil plus gone? and lets see the figures both fiscal and for attendance for the whole shebang. Commercial confidentiality! ? A bad overpriced coffee shop and a small cinema that should be great- but is not. Why? – yeah very R Branson that. Open up councillor scurries.

    • andrewsketty says:

      in fairness the cinema there is fantastic and is the one part run well with a great programme. it is well used and well loved hence 1250 names on my petition. Granted if marketing had been carried out properlt use would be even greater….watch this space on that one

  5. mike says:

    How can they sell a development property in dinas powys for £120,000 when the cheapest house of the 18 proposed will cost £500,000? Surely a criminal investigation needs to be held.

  6. sj11ashby11 says:

    As a couple of ladies who have volunteered on reception once a week in the Pavilion since the day it opened we would just like to say a couple of things. We were volunteering yesterday and would like to pass on the positive comments we received about our new art exhibition which has been described as ‘uplifting’ by many of our visitors. We would also like to say that we feel that the best way to support and keep open this lovely building is to visit often. Why not come to the Twmpath on Saturday evening or just come for a coffee and view the exhibition. There will be a lot of events and exhibitions here over the coming months to enjoy before the cinema reopens after the summer months. Come along then and support this fabulous and unique facility.

    Janet and Suzanne.

    • John64 says:

      Janet and Suzanne, the lack of numbers attending is the effect, not the problem. Lack of advertising of what the cinema is showing, poor quality (and, at times, service) in the café – unfortunately the Pavilion is not welcoming and does not draw visitors back. It needs a new vision by people with some business acumen.

    • andrewsketty says:

      Unfortunately nobody accepts the reason for mothballing our wonderful cinema. people are understandably so upset. whilst clearly the reduction to 4 day opening is a result of financial issues this dorsnt explain the need to close the cinema totally….just reduce the number of screenings accordingly….unless of course there are other issues that us as supporters of the cinema are unaware of

  7. andrewsketty says:

    I posted this update on my petition site yesterday (now over 1250 names in a week)

    As many of you will know the campaign to save the cinema is on the front page of this week’s Penarth Times. We have now passed 1200 names calling for PACL to reopen the cinema – that’s in just 6 days!

    The Pier and Pavilion is owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and then leased to the charity PACL to operate


    When I first read of the closure of the cinema I immediately contacted my local councillors on Vale of Glamorgan Council via e mail to seek their views and to raise my concerns.

    Gwyn Roberts did not respond

    Lis Burnett did reply immediately and pledged to ‘leave no stone unturned to find a sustainable future for the building’ She also said that she would clear her diary to meet with me and anyone else interested in proposals to save the Pavilion. I replied last Friday and suggested dates next week to meet. I had no response neither to that e mail nor the 2 subsequent follow ups this week which is very disappointing.

    With the overwhelming response to this petition alone the future of the Pavilion is clearly a massive issue in the town of Penarth. Of course we are just TWO MONTHS away from local council elections and seats will be won and lost on local issues.

    Now is your time to act and contact your local councillor to get some positive action

  8. Grey local says:

    This project needs a clear marketing strategy developed by someone in charge with proper experience. What we see to have is an emu deftly burying his head in the sand and ignoring the many suggestions by his staff and volunteers to improve facilities in the pier. Perhaps the emu should find a zoo more appropriate to his needs and leave the project open for someone with proper qualifications to ri. The building.

    • Chris David says:

      Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd. Net book value 2015 c £ 3.1 Million. Wages / salaries and SS costs £157,000. Hmm. 23 directors/ managers. Why this mess? I think generally we have it right here especially Mr Rapier and Grey Local. This appears to be a vanity and easy jobs project with no hopers on the coal face. I notice some names on the directors list are successful people. So what’s going wrong and who’s pulling the strings. No more secrets Burnett et al.

  9. Glenys Jamieson says:

    Why can’t Penarth Arts and Crafts liaise with the Chapter Arts Centre in Canton. They have been very successful in the utilisation of their space.

Comments are closed.