Labour councillors in Penarth have been castigated by Plaid Cymru for “ignoring” the Grade II listed Headlands School building in St Augustine’s Road, Penarth.
One of the Plaid candidates aiming to break Labour’s grip on the two St Augustine’s Ward seats on the Vale of Glamorgan Council – Aled Thomas – has expressed his concerns about the historic school building in the South Wales Echo and is demanding to know “why the Labour-led Vale Council ignored this building for so long?”
He says the building was initially the Penarth Hotel, built in 1868 by the Taff Vale Railway Company later becoming a Nautical Training School and was then converted into a children’s home by the widow of Major JA Gibbs in memory of her husband – killed in action in WW1.
Aled Thomas says “It has been proposed by its owners Action for Children that this site should be adapted to create headquarters for the charity by converting the listed school into prestigious offices. The Labour-led Vale Council has proposed the site for housing development in its Local Development Plan, with up to 67 new houses planned with no consideration for conservation.”
Aled Thomas also notes that Labour Penarth Town councillor Gwyn Roberts “voted against objecting to the felling of many trees which are such an important part of the landscape”. Mr Thomas says Plaid Cymru is ” very concerned about the lack of efforts by the current council to restore and preserve architectural treasures in Penarth” but that the “Conservation Officer for the Vale Council doesn’t seem to be dealing with the issue”.
Plaid Cymru’s St Augustine candidates Aled Thomas and Anne Greagsby say the building and its parkland side should be retained in respect of war hero Major J.A Gibbs.
They say “If Action for Children decides to sell the building, we would approach the National Trust to take on Headlands and safeguard it for the public.”
Plaid Cymru is also pressing for the extensive parkland at the rear of Headlands School to be used for leisure purposes and that the old hotel building itself should be used for “public and business events along the lines of Dyffryn House and Gardens”.
Plaid Cymru’s Headlands campaign may put pressure on Penarth Town Council planning chairman Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour) – who is also a governor of Headlands School.
Cllr Thomas (no relation) is Aled Thomas’s direct rival in the May 8th Elections. Both are in contention for one of the two Vale of Glamorgan seats representing St Augustine’s Ward.
However, Cllr Thomas lives not in St Augustines Ward but in Cornerswell Ward and is attempting to become a “twin-hatted” Labour councillor who would – if elected – represent two different wards of Penarth on two different councils.
If elected he would continue to represent Cornerswell Ward on Penarth Town Council but also wants to secure a salaried seat representing St Augustines on the Vale of Glamorgan Council.