The Labour Party has finally confirmed reports which have been circulating for months that Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustine’s) – the Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council – is not to seek re-election as a Vale councillor for St Augustine’s Ward.
Lis Burnett was first elected to represent the St. Augustine’s Ward on the Vale of Glamorgan Council in May 2004 but subsequently lost her seat. She was eventually re-elected as a Vale Councillor for St Augustines Ward in 2012 – topping the poll with 887 votes.
In 2012 she had campaigned alongside Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour) who won the other Vale seat for St Augustines – polling 781 votes , but PDN council sources say it’s understood that the close co-operation which had marked their campaign did not endure the duration of the five-year council term.
A former Penarth Mayor, Cllr Roberts is not seeking re-election to the Vale Council in May although colleagues say he is standing again for election in St Augustine’s Ward for Penarth Town Council. The Labour Party has not yet released its list of candidates for Penarth Town Council for May’s elections.
Cllr Burnett had advocated the installation of a controversial skateboard park in the Paget Road children’s play area in St Augustine’s Ward – a scheme which ran into vociferous opposition from local residents and eventually had to be withdrawn.
Cllr Burnett was also associated with the installation – without any public consultation – of heavily-criticised £100,000 Penarth Headland Viewing Point on the summit of Penarth Head . The stark, reinforced concrete and brick edifice had to be temporarily closed to the public for a survey when cracks appeared in the walls.
It was also admitted that recesses for “information plaques” were wrongly aligned towards local homes instead of points of interest across the channel . They still are.
Last-minute planting had to be carried out in an attempt to “soften” the appearance of a building which the public compared to a Wehrmacht gun-emplacement.
In the 2012 Elections Cllr Burnett had promised that the old St Paul’s Church in Arcot St – within the St Augustine’s Ward – would be brought back into use.
The Vale Council carried out a public referendum in the St Augustines Ward in which local residents voted overwhelmingly in favour of Penarth Boxing Club being allowed to resume their use of St Paul’s.
The Vale Council ignored the result of its own referendum . Now the building is likely to be demolished to make way for social housing
Cllr Burnett is now to stand for election to the Vale Council in Penarth’s Stanwell Ward where she will attempt to succeed veteran Vale Cllr Janice Birch who is retiring at the end of the current term, prior to May’s council elections.
Cllr Janice Birch – now aged 82 – has had a remarkably long and successful career in local government both on the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Penarth Town Council and consistently attracted a strong vote and a large and loyal personal following in Stanwell Ward over many years.
She was Mayor of Penarth in 1981/82. In her early years she was known as a powerful advocate for CND and has also campaigned strongly for gender equality and women’s rights.
It’s also been confirmed that Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) – is seeking re-election to his existing Stanwell Ward seat.
During the current council term Cllr Wilson married Cllr Janice Birch’s daughter, Rhiannon Birch who – like Cllr Wilson – is a twin hatted councillor serving on both the Vale of Glamorgan and Penarth Town Council. She represents Cornerswell Ward whereas Cllr Wilson represents Stanwell Ward.
Apart from STANWELL Ward ( as detailed above) the rest of Labour’s Penarth candidates for the Vale Council are:-
CORNERSWELL: Peter King (will be standing with Rhiannon Birch – see above) . He is currently a member of the 5-strong ruling ‘cabinet’ of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and is in charge of Transport. His ward includes Windsor Road, Cogan – part of which which is so polluted with traffic fumes it’s designated as an Air Quality Management Area.
ST AUGUSTINE’S: There was a clean sheet for Labour to fill here following the departure of Cllr Lis Burnett and Cllr Gwyn Roberts. The new candidates are:-
- Neil Thomas: a member Penarth Town Council representing Cornerswell since 2012, He is now hoping to win a salaried seat on the Vale of Glamorgan Council whilst retaining a Penarth Town Council seat. His employment background, he says, “lies in the fields of Social Services and Education” and in 2012 declared he was a member of the British Association of Social Workers.
- Ruba Sivagnanam ( a.k.a. Sivaruby Sivagnanam) is not a serving councillor but has been appointed a director of the Penarth Headland Link Company – the “not-for-profit” firm charged with reviving Labour’s defunct vanity project – the Penarth Head Link. She describes herself as a “Public Policy Professional ” working as a “Senior Case Manager, Labour MP’s Office”. The un-named MP referred to is now known to be Stephen Doughty (Labour Cardiff South and Penarth) .
PLYMOUTH: In this ward there are two salaried seats on the Vale Council at stake but Labour is only putting up one candidate – a single mother of two, Angela Thomas – who is from what she describes as, a “Labour working class background.” Little other biographical information is available.