With the May 4th local government elections just a week and a half away, the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council appears to be at pains to claim that the operation of Penarth’s Pier Pavilion is nothing much to do with the council itself.
The council’s Deputy Leader Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines – but who is standing in Stanwell Ward in May’s elections) has spelled out its stance in an email sent last Friday to Penarth resident Andrew Jones – who is campaigning for the Pier Pavilion Cinema (closed indefinitely on March 6th) – to be re-opened.
Cllr Burnett wrote to Mr Jones telling him that although the Vale Council maintains and operates the Pier, the operation of the Pavilion is entirely the responsibility of the lessees – Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd .
She reminded Mr Jones “I briefed you on the position of the council in that it maintains and operates the Pier but that the Pavilion is leased to Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd (PACL).”
Speaking about the current situation in Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd, she went on to say “I explained again that the operation of the Pavilion is a matter solely for their board [ i.e. Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd] and that it would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment.”
However, it now appears the position is not quite as clear-cut as it seems.
A Vale Council document called the Corporate Asset Management Plan 2015-2018 indicates that the council has, in fact, been working hand-in-glove with Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd all along – and under the three-year plan, it still is.
In the document, the council cites the Penarth Pier Pavilion Project as “an example of the close co-operation between the third sector [ i.e. charities etc] and the Council . It says the scheme “represented one of the first projects to be carried out in accordance with the Council’s Community Asset Transfer Protocol”.
The document goes on to spell-out an evidently very close on-going working relationship between the Labour-run Vale Council and Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – a much closer relationship than many people were aware of – which included the “mentoring“ of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd ; in effect, teaching its board how to run a business.
The Vale Council document says “The Council has provided mentoring to our third sector partner, Penarth Arts & Crafts Ltd (PACL), in the form of project management, legal, estates advice, and revenue support to allow the group to develop its design and business plans”.
Despite that mentoring however, Penarth Arts and Crafts – as reported last week by PDN – is now in receipt of yet another grant (£126,000) from the Heritage Lottery Fund to meet the cost of hiring-in professional consultants to develop its “long term plans“. It would appear the Vale Council’s copious “advice” and “mentoring” and “revenue support” provided under the 2015-2018 Corporate Asset Management Plan, hasn’t been enough to stop PACL running out of cash,
The Asset Management Plan document – which covers the period up to and including 2018 – also says “The commitment to capital funding provided by the [Vale Council] placed PACL in a strong position to seek funding from the Welsh Government, Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and a variety of other funding programmes.”
The Vale document says “The commitment from all parties [ i.e. not just Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd on its own] has driven the project” .