The Vale Council claims it’s just responsible for running Penarth Pier . The operation of the Pier Pavilion (left) is down to Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – but documents give a different impression

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.

Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council

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.

The Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council is- according to its 2015-2018 Corporate Asset Management Plan –  responsible for  “mentoring” Penarth Arts & Crafts Ltd.

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” .

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Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
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  1. St Augustine says:

    First of all, hats off to both andrewsketty and PDN for their tenacity in bringing all of this to light. There seems to be a concerted effort from those in control to bury the whole fiansco.

    It really saddens me that there is so much duplicitous activity going-on, both from those that should be representing us and those responsible for the pavillion management.

  2. Thank heavens neither I or my clients have ever needed mentoring by those in the Vale on tourism destination marketing or asset management.

    I suggested an outsource of business and marketing strategy to those with the professional DNA gained from best in class academically and marketing consulting to professionally sort out the past mistakes and create an effective short, medium long term accountable and sustainable plan.
    Let the Vale hold the asset, the pier and pavilion on our behalf – this would be a more effective business model with complete transparency to the stakeholders – we the residents in Penarth first and foremost.

    A team approach is only ever as good as the weakest link – person/experience.
    In this unhappy arrangement PACL leadership, Vale input, our money and their mentoring and trusted trustees 50 of them over a few years in and out, have not done a great job in anyone’s terms. In the private sector most all would have been sacked years ago specifically the leadership, saving millions. Please face the hard facts once and for all – what you all believed would work didn’t and won’t as you have the same players at the top making the same mistakes

    PACL, The Vale, The pier ltd have to embrace change and that means people have to be removed from the game. No way around that

  3. Reblogged this on Page1world and commented:
    A total cover up and it MUST be stopped NOW

  4. Geraint Jones says:

    It is completely unacceptable for the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council to shirk responsibility for the crisis affecting the pier. Penarth residents and visitors alike will want to know why PACL has been put in charge of running the pavilion, while the council manages the rest of the pier. Is it not time for PACL to be relieved of its responsibility for running the pavilion, and the council to step in to sort this issue out once and for all? We need accountibility from our elected politicians, and this is a classic example of the urgent need for change on the council.

  5. Philip Rapier says:

    On the 30 April 2012 When the Vale of Glamorgan Council voted to rent Dyffryn Gardens to the National Trust for a £1 a year rent and pay for all the thousands of pounds of ongoing repairs to the Buliding for the next 25 years –

    (Having previously prior to Maggie Knight’s campaign allowed Penarth Pier Pavillion to rot)

    Leader of the then Opposition Councillor Neil Moore said a lot more than “no comment” which is consistently the indifferent attitude of the present Cabinet in relation to Penarth Pier ..

    Why the concern for Dyffryn Gardens and indifference when it comes to Penarth Pier and PACL?

    Note carefully below Councillor Moore’s “expert detailed” concern for the complexity of the Dyffryn Lease and “Grant Liabilities”. Then contrast it with the indifference and uncaring approach of the Vale Council at present towards PACL and the Penarth Pier.

    “Vale of Glamorgan Council Minutes 30 April 2012”
    Councillor Neil Moore comments are recorded as—–

    “Referring to the agenda, Councillor N. Moore, Leader of the Labour Group indicated he was not against the principle of transferring Dyffryn House and Gardens per se’ but he was at a loss as to why the report was submitted in what he considered as the dying embers of the Council. ”

    “He considered there was still a great deal of work to be done to finalise arrangements and yet there were still too many unanswered questions particularly with regard to state aid approval and that Grant Liabilities which he considered had not been inadequately addressed and reiterated previous concerns raised in regard to the 25 year claw back and NT having a break clause at 20 years.”

    ” He indicated that he was not prepared to accept proposals as contained in the report under the current conditions.”

  6. Chris David says:

    So some serious questions to be answered here. VoG mentoring PACL! That should all be in the management minutes of the PACL meeting notes (and accounts) we can’t see. So the VoG are responsible for the failures? It appears so. Is L Burnett ignorant or is she misleading us all? Either way she’s clearly not competent, her answers to Mr Jones is beyond belief. Have any councillors personally benefitted from involvement with PACL? Have the VoG received fees from PACL for their “mentoring” ? Are all affairs / bills owed by PACL to the VoG up to date? What are PACL and the VoG hiding? This is public money and public assets- we demand to see ALL! This can of worms has become a bucket and the worms are trying to avoid the hook. From this we information we can deduce the VoG and L Burnett are clearly culpable? The lottery fund may be guilty of aiding and abetting if they haven’t carried out full due diligence? Lots of questions old and new. Its in the interests of Penarth we blow the cover off all of this before the elections.

  7. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    Community Asset Transfer Protocol, couldn’t the council have used that for Gardenhurst? All the old dears who needed company or a bit of help with meals or the odd bath had enough of their marbles and goodwill to make a success of it me thinks.

  8. Max Wallis says:

    Business help and advice to PACL – implying the Cabinet member for regeneration (Lis Burnett) is responsible; no wonder she wants to claim their failures are nothing to do with her department. What a blow for her flagship “Community Asset Transfer Protocol”!
    The safeguard over handing over Council assets to a private outfit (‘charity’) is via a Vale council nominee on PACL’s board of trustees. That was Ian Courtney – until he sounded an alarm on the management’s £76 000 debt. Then resigned as the Vale Council (perhaps in the person of Burnett) did nothing. He was replaced as Trustee by Gwyn Roberts who then jumped off at the critical time (resigning 6 Feb.). But still moved the Town Council motion declaring confidence in PACL: “for their on-going hard work and commitment in bringing the Pavilion back to life” and offering support through its “temporary difficulties”.
    What an example of Labour’s asset transfer scheme!

    • Ian Courtney says:

      Prompted by Max Wallis’ contribution I think I should point out the following;
      1. I was actually the Penarth Town Council nominated PACL Board member in the period September 2012 up to the point of my resignation in December 2014 on issues of both principle and personality clash. The Vale of Glamorgan Council also has nominee rights. In other words I was not replaced by Gwyn Roberts, since he was the Vale Council’s nominee;
      2. As a nominee of the Council, rather than its representative or delegate, the first legal duty was to serve the interests of the company, PACL. In this role I had access to privileged information. Even though a Councillor I am bound by the convention, as is every other Non-Executive, not to reveal commercially confidential information;
      3. I did not resign over “an alarm at the management’s £76,000 debt.” Indeed I am not familiar with that figure;
      4. At various times it has been proposed by some contributors to this site the activities of officers and employees of PACL might require investigation by the police. During my period of office I can categorically state there were no grounds to substantiate such suggestions. Indeed there are some individuals associated with PACL who have made substantial personal sacrifices and contributions to its operation;
      5. To suggest either Penarth Town Council or the Vale of Glamorgan Council have any degree of responsibility for the circumstances facing PACL is not borne out by any objective interpretation of the facts. The Vale did provide ‘mentoring’ to PACL, e.g. capital project management, which was of considerable assistance. This took place during the time the capital project, with a value in excess of £4 million, was underway. It is timely to remember the capital project was delivered on time and to budget;
      6. In my opinion the Pavilion crisis flows from a series of inadequate management and Board decisions that emerged following the opening of the building. I would not for one moment question the motives of those involved. There were fundamental collective weaknesses of experience, for instance not one Board member or member of staff, myself included, had experience of the commercial operations of an arts centre. The failure was not to recognise these inadequacies and compensate for them. Furthermore this was compounded by an attitude that failed to put customer service at the top of its commercial agenda. An attitude that some might regard as being reflected in the disengaged manner by which PACL has failed to communicate with Andrew Jones in particular and the citizens of Penarth more generally about the events leading to the current crisis.

      • Max Wallis says:

        Thanks for your correction, Ian, and further explanation. You were replaced by Mike Cuddy as Town Council nominee on PACL. It looks as if the company-model for Asset Transfer by the VoG is defective – when nominees cannot openly report to the Councils and the Board is not accountable to the public. You did report a deficit around £70k (perhaps £67k if not £76k) in connection with the cinema operation. That figure sounds excessive, so did it include other activities? Or are you not free to say?

  9. Andrew Jones says:

    Here’s the transcript of the full response from Cllr Lis Burnett which I’m sure will be of interest to PDN readers :-

    Mr Jones,

    Your repeated ‘open letters’ do not appear to acknowledge our two-hour meeting along with another local resident on 10th March. At that meeting my perception was that you did not wish to actively contribute your expertise towards the development of a sustainable future for PACL but that you simply wanted the cinema to reopen. 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). I explained again that the operation of the Pavilion is a matter solely for their board and that it would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment. I also showed you Council’s Community Mapping Toolkit and we discussed how, following three successful pilot projects, I hoped to bring it to Penarth to allow local residents to participate in shaping services and facilities in their community.

    It is inaccurate to say that the Vale of Glamorgan Council has not engaged with local people to listen to their concerns. I have personally spoken to many people as have my colleagues and council officers. However, it would not be appropriate for me to organise or attend a meeting to discuss any strategic or operational issues as that is for the PACL Board alone. That said, we remain in dialogue with PACL and I’m sure you would agree that it is important the Council continues to engage with them.

    I repeat my commitment and support for the Pier Pavilion. As discussed at our meeting, the Pier and Pavilion are arguably the most iconic structures in the town. They are unrecognisable to the Pier and Pavilion of just five years ago. I am proud of the part I played in getting to today but recognition has to be given to the drive and ambition of PACL in renovating the Pavilion. Times are difficult for third sector organisations and the Pavilion needs to move to a mixed revenue stream of grants and traded income alongside the support of volunteers. I am confident that with the support of the people of Penarth it will be able to achieve that.

    I trust that clarifies my position


    Lis Burnett MSc FRSA
    Deputy Leader
    Cabinet Member, Regeneration and Education
    Councillor for St Augustines Ward
    Vale of Glamorgan Council / Cyngor Bro Morgannwg

    • andrewsketty says:

      in the interests of transparency (clearly an alien concept concerning all matters PACL) this was my response to Lis Burnett:-

      Ms Burnett

      Thank your for your response. However I should just point out :-

      1) That our perceptions of the meeting of the 10th March at which Chris Wyatt also attended are somewhat different.
      2) I’m sorry that you appear irritated at repeated Open Letters’. However I am sure you will appreciate that the unusual wall of silence and unwillingness to engage and communicate openly lead local residents like myself to have little alternative option
      3) You may well have personally spoken to people on this matter but on a matter that it is so important to the residents of Penarth one would hope for something a little more appropriate/formal in terms of civic democracy
      4) I think the people of Penarth would entirely welcome the opportunity to put their views and concerns to yourself and others in office and positions to effect change regarding PACL/Pavilion given the serious concerns so many have raised. Unwillingness to do so just results in further suspicion and accusations as I am sure you appreciate as a local councillor
      5) I agree that the Pavilion is an iconic structure and its restoration is universally applauded. However it is very apparent to all that this iconic community facility has been mismanaged. I make no secret of the fact that primarily I – and so many others – want our cinema open again. There is no reason to hide this or to feel it to be in any way shortsighted. The immediate threat was to our cinema which has closed. Of coursae we want the whole Pavilion to succeed but we want our cinema to be central to it. There is no reason why the cinema cannot contribute positively to a bright commercial future. Having it locked up and mothballed is senseless
      6) No-one is doubting the drive and ambition of PACL in renovating the Pavilion. What is being seriously questioned with plenty of damning evidence to support it is their drive, ambitions and ability to now manage it successfully
      7) your last comment ‘…Times are difficult for third sector organisations and the Pavilion needs to move to a mixed revenue stream of grants and traded income alongside the support of volunteers. I am confident that with the support of the people of Penarth it will be able to achieve that.’ That has been the case since day one and PACL has received considerable sums of public money to achieve this. What I – and others – are legitimately questioning is why yet more moeny is being given to the same organisation to do the very same thing again when it’s record thus far is so poor and any concerns that residents have expressed are simply ignored
      8) On the subject of volunteers I come from a background where volunteers are a valued asset. If reports are to be believed about the large drop off in active volunteers at the Pavilion – then I will leave you and others to make their own conclusions!

      I hope this clarifies my position also – it is apprecited to get your response even if I don’t agree with it


  10. Andrew Jones says:

    In a further e mail reply to another local resident which Cllr Lis Burnett copied me into she stated, ‘PACL is a leaseholder in the same way as any other business on the pier and I can’t imagine people would expect the Council to intervene in their operations. That is why I would not be taking any public action. ‘

    I was staggered by this comment. Is she really comparing PACL’s position as leaseholder of the Pavilion to Nicola and her kiosk juice bar?

    I have no desire to be unkind to Lis Burnett or any of our elected local representatives for that matter. However when I first heard of the closure of our cinema I felt strongly enough to raise it with them. I believe this is a legitimate matter of sufficient community concern that we should expect answers and engagement with these people ( including PACL Trustees). Thankfully a considerable number of local people feel equally strongly including the 1700 who signed my online petition and made extremely useful comments about the cinema and Pavilion which you would expect would be taken into account.

    As the story unfolded more evidence of mismanagement by PACL surfaced and at the same time our local representatives became equally silent on this matter as PACL. It is simply not good enough

    Cllr Lis Burnett as well as being Deputy Leader is Cabinet Member for Regeneration and considers herself to be an expert in community regeneration. Surely therefore she understands the importance of the Pavilion and our much loved community cinema – funded by public money and support including her own council. Is she so naive and out of touch to not understand the mood of the public and the reason why we expect engagement and action to be taken urgently.

    Like all LA’s in Wales Lis Burnett will be involved in planning to achieve the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations commitments which recognizes the importance of culture in communities. In Penarth we have waited decades to have a cinema again and we are justifiably and unashamedly proud of the state of the art unique facility on the Pier. We do not want to lose it and all of us know that neither Lis Burnett or other local elected officials for that matter can claim that it is nothing to do with them. Of course it is and we all know so.

    All I hope is that on 4th May we all consider seriously issues like this before placing our cross on the ballot paper. I for one feel seriously let down on this issue

    • Matt says:

      Thanks Andrew, her emails make fascinating but rather gruesome reading. It appears that Lis wants all the credit when things go right but none of the responsibility when they go wrong. She is being demonstrably disingenuous over the whole matter. It’s amazes and disappoints me that there are so many Vote Labour placards on the streets of St Augustines. This ward has taken a battering from Lis and Gwyn, who have treated the area and its residents with contempt.

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      Regarding Nicola’s Juice Bar – Lis B/VoG council certainly found a way to interfere with that and refused to let her sell ice cream despite being, demonstrably, the only business on the pier open about 364 days a year!

      • andrewsketty says:

        OMG Concerned Citizen. how could I have overlooked that which is a point incredibly well made. I recall how the VoG intervened in that free market matter….if I recall it was around the time that PACL were launching theor very short lived ice cream.parlour in tbe Pavilion…forgive me for thinking the plot thickens over dirty dealings involving PACL??

  11. Ken says:

    Notice how the semantic soup is being liberally poured and served to confuse / avoid responsibility, as it now seems that the proverbial is about to hit the fan in a big way…

    Hats off to all those involved in exposing this seemingly shady situation.

  12. Lucy says:

    It’s a shame people did not care when all the day centres for the elderly closed,it’s Penarth pier! shame the money could not be used for the elderly!

    • Andrew Jones says:

      Hi Lucy. It isn’t an either or situation. PACL has received millions of pounds of public money and we are left with a closed down state of the art community cinema that is loved by so many. I organised the online petition to save it that was signed by 1700 people. You should take a look at their comments. Many older people commented how much they will miss the cinema as it was an important lifeline for them and being on their doorstep meant they could attend it. Others with dementia also valued it as it was local, familiar and cosy. A hugely important local community faciulity keeping people out of day centres. Nobody should underestimate the importance of facilities such as this community cinema

    • 92 and a social butterfly says:

      The elderly used to enjoy the cinema especially Wednesday afternoons showings.

      • Lucy says:

        So you say,there are many older people who think not.Penarth has had many changes over the years,some for the better some not,Penarth beach used to be a great day out for all the family. But not so much now,It’s for all the new “Penarth breed” not the old Penarth people.

  13. Chris David says:

    Disney Liz Burnet MSC is labour so- Master of Science or Manpower Services Commission? Here’s the FRCA jobby- its not a qualification, just more granding up by a rank amateur.
    Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) is an award open to anyone who can demonstrate that they support the mission and share the values of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). Applicants and nominees for Fellowship have to outline:
    Why they wish to join the RSA
    Fellows are charged a subscription and are entitled to use the post-nominal letters FRSA.
    So back to business Ms Burnett- are you responsible, even in part for PACL? Are you hiding anything? Have you personally gained through your engagement with PACL? Can you demonstrate the following is true “the Pavilion needs to move to a mixed revenue stream of grants and traded income” ? Why are you blocking the publication of PACL’s management accounts and meeting minutes? Are all affairs agreements between PACL and the VoG up to date?

  14. Peter Church says:

    Lies, more lies and damn lies from the Labour run Vale Council.
    Of course they know what is going on and they play a major part in the operation of the pier.
    With this shambles I predict that the swing against Labour and Burnett in particular will be even worse than the rest of Wales.
    Labour’s chickens are coming home to roost, they have been asleep at the wheel for far too long and the car is about run off the end of the pier.

  15. Lucy says:

    So so true brown envelope all round 🤔

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