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 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 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 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.”