The Labour-run Penarth Town Council is – yet again – planning to increase the precept it charges to local residents as part of their Council Tax bills – this time to pay for maintenance and development at The Kymin.
However the Town Council doesn’t actually own The Kymin: it’s the property of the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council – which leases the house and the surrounding land to Penarth Council on a rolling 12 months’ lease.
The cost of major maintenance works at The Kymin should be paid for by the Vale of Glamorgan Council as the landlords – but the Labour-run council keeps pleading poverty and won’t pay up.
The chronology of the issue runs something like this:-
1250 : The present “Kymin” was originally a farmstead called “Worbeys Fote”
1680: There is a “Kimmin Farm” on the site (now known as “The Kymin”). The strange name is a Norse or Celtic reference to the mouth of a stream.
1790: A new farmhouse – called “The Kymin” is now is established . The property comprises a farmhouse grasslabnd and woodland and a freshwater stream.
1841: The Kymin is the home of a retired Irish army captain (38th Regiment) John Minchin and his wife Charlotte. He dies in 1853 .
1875 : The house was rebuilt and becomes the home of James Sidney Batchelor J. P. a timber merchant/commission agent from Newport, Monmouthshire who is one of the 6 Batchelor brothers – three of whom live in Penarth. The freehold belongs to the Earl of Plymouth.
1947: Penarth Urban District Council Council acquires the Kymin estate under a compulsory purchase order for £4,500 with a view to opening it as a “public pleasure ground”. The purchase is funded from the rates charged to the local residents of Penarth . The house itself is let to private tenants.
1952 Penarth UDC leases the ground floor of Kymin House to an aviation firm – Simmonds Aerocessories Ltd. Later the firm takes of the entire house and the private tenants leave the building.
1952 Penarth Presbyterian Church holds a “summer fayre” on the lawn of the Kymin – the first of many events to be held in the grounds by local organisations . Penarth UDC’s Parks Department uses part of the grounds for propagating seeds .
1959 Penarth UDC considers building a brand new public swimming pool at the Kymin to replace the one on the Esplanade/Bridgeman Road – but dwecides against it “for the time being ”
1960 : A number of developers make offers for the land to build flats on the site – along with a lido, an hotel and a “boating lake“. All are refused
1964: The Kymin House is allocated as living accommodation to the Clerk of the Penarth UDC – who is already occupying part of the premises. The deal is that the Clerk must pay out of his own pocket for any conversion work carried out.
1968: ( or around this date) Penarth UDC obtains planning permission to “develop a recreation centre at the Kymin, including new swimming baths“.
1969: Penarth UDC has negotiations with the Earl of Plymouth to obtain release from a restrictive covenant on the site. However the “recreation centre” is never developed.
1974: Penarth UDC is wound up under local government re-organisation. The deeds of the Kymin are handed over to the new South Glamorgan County Council – even though the Penarth Council bought the Kymin outright with a rates precept taxed from the people of Penarth .
1982: Penarth Town Council enters a “rolling lease” with South Glamorgan County Council so that it can carry on using what is morally Penarth Council’s own property. This lease obliges Penarth Town Council to carry out minor maintenance but leaves the larger county council responsible for major works.
1996: South Glamorgan County Council goes out of existence . The freehold of the Kymin is passed to the Vale of Glamorgan Council – which refuses – and continues to refuse – to transfer the deeds of the Kymin back to Penarth – even though the people of Penarth paid £4,500 for the house and grounds in 1947 .
2014: The then Mayor of Penarth, Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell), proposes setting up a floodlit “outdoor gymnasium and an indoor gym” at the Kymin – an idea he said he had been “banging on about” since the election of the Labour administration in Penarth in 2012.
A gymnasium he says, is something which would “benefit the town, benefit the people of Penarth and was something we need”. The idea is not progressed.
The house and grounds today are estimated to be worth £3,000,000.
2017: Penarth Town Council holds a “rolling 12 month lease” on the property at a peppercorn rent but wants to acquire the freehold . However, as an interim measure, Penarth Council is hoping to negotiate a longer term lease of around 99 years which would be enough to justify taking out a Public Works Loan towards the cost of maintaining and developing the building – including upgrading the toilets and kitchens.
Taking out such a loan would mean the Penarth Town Council increasing – yet again – the precept it charges to local residents as part of their Council Tax bills.
Meanwhile the Vale of Glamorgan Council steadfastly refuses to transfer the ownership of the Kymin back to the people of Penarth – from whom it has been – in effect – stolen.