The Heritage Lottery Fund is now being asked to explain its decision to award £126,000 of public money to the struggling not-for-profit private company/”charity” Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd (PACL) – the leaseholders of Penarth Pier Pavilion and Cinema.
The £126,000 grant was announced on April 19th and is earmarked money intended to enable PACL to buy-in “professional advice” over the next 18 months to develop a “long term strategy” – something which, in the case of commercial companies, the Chief Executive and the board directors are normally expected to provide.
The new grant is being comes only three years after a £4,200,000 renovation – also largely paid for by public money derived from the National Lottery – and after a previous grant , believed to be £200,000 – which also came from the Heritage Lottery Fund [in that case from its Coastal Communities Fund].
The National Lottery – criticised as a “tax on the poor and the stupid for the benefit of the middle classes” – continues to be one of the worst gambles anyone can take because the odds are so heavily stacked against players from the outset, with almost half their stakes being deducted from the total amount of winnable prize-money.
- Only 54p out of every £1 staked in the National Lottery is actually returned to lottery-winners in prize money.
- 1p in every £1 staked goes in profit,
- 4p out of every £1 staked goes to meet operating costs,
- 4p out of every £1 staked goes in commission to retailers
- 12p out of every £1 staked goes to the Government in “Lottery Duty”
- 25p out of every £1 staked goes to pay for what are claimed to be “good causes” and “Lottery Projects” . However in 2009 the Daily Telegraph reported that deprived areas with a high proportion of lottery players – like Blaenau Gwent and Bridgend – are ranked much lower on the scale when it comes to getting back lottery-funded investments for their areas.
PACL has said that the £126,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund “will be used exclusively to develop a more sustainable business model for the Pavilion and will enable us to secure external professional advice on all aspects of our operations”.
However now questions are being asked as to why the Heritage Lottery Fund dispensed this additional largesse to Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – a company which, former board director Cllr Ian Courtney said, did not even deliver monthly accounts to its directors .
Penarth resident Andrew Jones – who’s campaigned actively against the closure of the Pavilion Cinema – says he’s concerned about the way in which £126,000 lottery grant application from Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd has “sailed through” as no conditions requiring the cinema to be re-opened were attached to it .
Mr Jones has now written an open letter to Richard Bellamy the Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales saying “ £126,000 is a considerable sum of money to be investing in an organisation which is not demonstrating good management and is not displaying any evidence of responding to local needs by reopening the cinema.” .
Mr Jones says he’s been informed by reliable sources that the reason the Pier Pavilion Cinema suddenly closed was because the Independent Cinema Office (the ICO) [ the organisation which provides films for exhibition at the Pier Pavilion Cinema] pulled the plug on PACL at the end of February because PACL had – allegedly – “not been paying its bills“.
The ICO has confirmed to Mr Jones that they are in discussion with PACL and with the Vale of Glamorgan Council .
Under its governance procedures the Heritage Lottery Fund now has to explain why a further grant of £126,000 of public money has been awarded to Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – apparently without any guarantee being given that the company’s problems are being sorted out, that the existing management will be improved and that the Penarth Pier Pavilion Cinema will be re-opened.
The Heritage Lottery Fund says on its website “As custodians of money raised by National Lottery players and grant-in-aid funding, we will always take your concerns seriously, and we have processes to ensure that they can be investigated.”