NEW VALE CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL TO “REVIEW” PENARTH PIER PAVILION LEASE

Bill Rees – Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth – in talks with the new Conservative administration in Vale of Glamorgan Council has been instrumental in setting up a  “review” of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd’s  controversial 125 year lease on Penarth Pier Pavilion

In a dramatic  announcement today the new Conservative-led Vale of Glamorgan Council has announced it is to “review” its lease of Penarth Pier Pavilion to the not-for-profit company/charity Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd.

Conservative candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth Bill Rees and the Leader of the Conservative Vale of Glamorgan Council John Thomas after their talks about the future of Penarth Pier Pavilion

The move follows top-level talks between Bill Rees – the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth – who is a highly experienced corporate negotiator – and the leader of the new Conservative administration on the Vale of Glamorgan Council Cllr John Thomas.

BACKGROUND     

[Penarth Arts and Crafts – also known as “PACL” –  was given a 125 year lease on Penarth Pier Pavilion by the Vale of Glamorgan Council as a £4,200,000 restoration programme funded by both the Vale Council and by the National Lottery was carried out.

However in February this year the heavily-criticised company announced that from March 6th it would close the Pavilion to the public for three days out of every seven and would shut down the integral – 3-year-old – Pavilion Cinema indefinitely.

The decision raised a storm of protest and with the force of public opinion against him, PACL’s chairman Professor Tony Hazell had to partially row-back on his announcement and to vaguely promise some sort of possible re-opening of the cinema in “September” – but has not promised anything definite.]

TODAY’S DEVELOPMENTS

Bill Rees Conservative candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth mnay have secured the future of Penarth Pier Pavilion – something which Labour failed to do

Now , following a meeting with the Conservative Parliamentary candidate Cardiff South and Penarth Bill Rees,  the Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council – Cllr John Thomas – has said that his new Conservative administration will “review the lease” of the Penarth Pier Pavilion.

Bill Rees, who is aiming to become Cardiff South and Penarth’s Conservative MP in Thursday’s General Election, met with Cllr Thomas to raise the issue of the Pavilion and to discuss strengthening the local economy in Penarth.

Cllr Thomas, Leader of the new ruling Conservative Group on the Vale Council  has agreed to review the lease granted to PACL, with a view to “ensuring that the leaseholders understand what is expected of them by the Council and by the public.”

Cllr John Thomas Conservative Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cllr Thomas says “Bill Rees underlined the importance of the Pier Pavillion to the community in Penarth at our recent meeting. He is clear that we must maximise the use of facilities such as the Pavillion to boost the local economy and the community and I totally agree.”

Cllr Thomas went on to say that  “To that end, the Vale of Glamorgan Cabinet will review the Council’s lease to Penarth Arts and Crafts limited. This is to clarify the position, ensuring that leaseholders understand what is expected of them by the Council and the public. It also ensures that we are in a better position to take action if legal obligations are not met in future on either side of the lease.”

Bill Rees has said that his intervention in this issue is “not a one-off” and local people can expect to see a “more active MP” if he – rather than Labour candidate Stephen Doughty –  is elected on Thursday. [ Doughty had claimed that he had talked to all parties involved in the Penarth Pier Pavilion issue, but in fact he got nowhere]   

Conservative candidate Bill Rees remarked  – somewhat pointedly –  “I believe that MPs should not only be effective representatives in Westminster, but strong champions for the local community and the local economy. Cardiff South and Penarth needs a strong voice and an active MP.”

Mr Rees said today “Just over the boundary in the Vale of Glamorgan Alun Cairns manages to combine being an MP, a minister and a local champion. He takes the lead in tackling local issues, leading local campaigns and securing local investment. We need an MP who will do his best for the community here as well.”

Cllr Ben Gray (Conservative Plymouth Ward) will sit on the board of Penarth Arts and Crafts as the Vale Council’s representative – it was announced today

Meanwhile at today’s first meeting of the Vale of Glamorgan cabinet, it was announced that Cllr Ben Gray – one of the two  newly elected Conservative Vale of Glamorgan councillors for Plymouth Ward  – has been nominated as the Vale’s new representative on the board of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd.

Cllr Gray’s appointment was formally announced  by chairman and Leader of the Council – Cllr John Thomas who has now taken over the reins of power from the previous Labour administration led by Cllr Neil Moore. Cllr Gray was also elected last month for Plymouth Ward on Penarth Town Council .

At the same time the chairman of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd’ – Professor Tony Hazell appears to be trying to fend off growing public criticism of himself and his board by seeming to assert that neither the Vale of Glamorgan Council or Penarth Town Council have any automatic entitlement to place councillors as  representatives on his board of directors.

Professor Anthony Hazell, chairman of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd

Professor Hazell says it is entirely up to the directors of PACL whether to accept councillors as nominees on the PACL Board – and if they ARE accepted , they are not there as representatives of either council  – and must adhere to strict commercial confidentiality – [a move which, in effect, would prevent councillor nominees from reporting back to their respective councils]

In a letter to Chris Wyatt of Penarth Civic Society today  – refusing to give a seat on the board to a director representing the Society – Professor Hazell says   ” I must point out that no member of the Board is appointed to represent any organisation. This applies also to the two Trustees ‘nominated’ by the two local authorities. The Board has the right to accept or reject any such nomination and guidance from the Charity Commission and from the leading law firm in Wales, advising on charitable governance, makes it clear that any Trustee nominated by a local authority is not a representative of that local authority and must abide by all formal requirements of any Trustee, not least in respect of confidentiality. “

Insiders say that the PACL policy as set out in Professor Hazell’s letter appears to put him in direct conflict with the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Penarth Town Council, and his position may now be becoming untenable.

 

 

 

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25 Responses to NEW VALE CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL TO “REVIEW” PENARTH PIER PAVILION LEASE

  1. A Local Resident says:

    Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd run by “professor” Tony Hazel has been a disaster, if he has been kicked out, then good riddance to him and the rest of Labour PACL team.
    Who the hell did their accounts? Diane Abbott.
    They have run this project like Labour under Tony and Gordon ran the country, sure they built schools but under PFI schemes, so we are now in debt for the next 50 years.

  2. Lez Coleman says:

    Couple of points.

    1. Why is it important that Bill Rees is a Welsh speaker? He is English and lives in England as the ballot paper clearly shows.

    2. How can he and his party justify parachuting someone who lives in England to represent Penarth and it’s residents. He has no idea about local issues and he’s never been seen in penarth before now.

    3. I’d love to know how Alun Cairns has “secured investment” in the Vale?

    This may shock readers, but I have voted Conservative from the age of 18 (I’m now 47) but even I’m going to struggle to do that with this candidate and I’m glad I don’t have to put myself through the displeasure of voting for Alun Cairns as I live in Penarth.

    • True Blue says:

      Lez, as a Conservative, why don’t you join the party? If you’re already not a member and then have some influence over the choice of candidates to fight elections. I am a Conservative voter myself and party member… I think you are in error when you say Bill Rees is English, he views himself very much as being Welsh, a Welsh name, born in Wales, Welsh speaker, who can blame him for wanting to come back to his home country?
      Doughty had no idea about local issues before being parachuted in by Commissioner Michael, every MP needs to learn about their constituency when taking office. When I have heard him speak, I think he comes over as a decent genuine person.

  3. Ian Perry says:

    Here in the Vale of Glamorgan, Alun Cairns is our local champion. He goes to Westminster and votes supports fracking and then heroically campaigns against fracking in the Vale. He voted not to protect Post-Offices for closure, and for the Post Office to be operated along commercial grounds, and then loudly campaigned to save Post Offices in Cowbridge and Barry…

    He voted for the bedroom tax and to target the most vulnerable in society in shifting the governments budget from the poorest to those with more than sufficient wealth – and then campaigned in support of food-banks…

    We are so lucky and grateful to Alun Carins for doing his best to protect us from his decisions at Westminster.

    • Big Davey says:

      Sounds like a top bloke to me. He always seems to deliver what he promises.

    • Peter Church says:

      You could move to the Nederlands with all those lovely cycle ways and vote for Geert Vielders, if you love Alun so much this is just a natural step for you.

      • Big Davey says:

        or Teresa May.

        My you are a drama queen. I hardly think Alun Cairns can be compared to a racist Gert Wilders. I think Alun is actually a man of his word unlike Steve Doughnuty who is on a career drive rather than looking after his constituents.

  4. Ex Labour Voter says:

    At least Bill Rees is trying to do something about the Pier.

    As for Stephen Doughty who was on Radio Wales this morning, speaking about Penarth.
    No he wasn’t don’t be stupid 🙂 He was just exercising his mouth to see what rubbish comes out.

    Stephen is more interested in his friends in Butetown and their swanky new community centre than anything to do with Penarth Pier.

  5. Nick H says:

    Is this the conservative candidate who’s actually from Oxford, as confirmed by the ballot paper?

    • Lord of the Bay says:

      Lived in Oxford at the time the election was called, is not the same as “from Oxford”

      He’s from Pembrokeshire for goodness sake! And anyway, even if he’s not from Penarth, I for one am glad that he’s actually taking an interest, instead of spending all his time in Butetown and Grange town like rent-a-gob Country.

      • nickynoodles says:

        OK. Conservative candidate who does not live anywhere near Cardiff South and Penarth if you think that’s better.

    • Ann Other says:

      He’s an intelligent, alert and experienced person. He is perfectly able to represent the constituency.

      • nickynoodles says:

        Yes, I’m sure local issues in Cardiff South and Penarth are at the forefront of his mind from his home in Oxford.

  6. The suggestion that a bloke from Pembroke parachuted by Conservative central into standing for election in Cardiff South and Penarth has ‘intervened’ to make the administration review the lease is surely tweaking reality a little?

    The incoming administration doesn’t require unelected Bill Reeves to reconconsider it’s relationship with PACL? Any adminstration with even a hint of competence and integrity would be almost immediately departing from the lenient unacceptable line trodden by the previous outgoing shower.

    Those more cynical than myself might even consider the ‘Bill Reeves’ story to be a convenient publicity stunt just days before the election.

  7. Shouldn’t Cllr Thomas have done this regardless of the ‘intervention’ by the Tory candidate? Why did he have to be prodded?

  8. Ralf says:

    Surely Hazell’s position has been untenable for some time.

  9. andrewsketty says:

    The response I am giving here is not from a point of being party political in any way – it just so happens that until now any dealings with my MP and local councilors have been with Labour officials. We now have ( effectively) a Tory run council so time will tell whether they do what their predecessors failed to do with PACL!

    When Lis Burnett was my local councillor when she eventually agreed to meet with me her opening comment to me was ‘she had sympathy with the Trustees of PACL as we have to remember that they are all volunteers’. I was so taken aback but that effectively set the tone of what followed in terms of inaction by the then Vale council.

    As I told Lis Burnett in response the people at the Pavilion behind the desk, showing people to their seats in the cinema (when it was open) were volunteers and yes I had sympathy with them.

    Trustees give their time because they are experts and want to be involved in a management committee for various reasons – prestige, power, giving something back in terms of their skills, knowledge and expertise. They know what they are taking on and understand the rules of the game.

    Any criticism of PACL is warranted no matter how our local councilors and Richard Bellamy at Heritage Lottery Fund wish to defend them

    I didn’t set out to become some kind of local campaigner against PACL. I just set up a petition as a user of the cinema who didn’t want to lose it. At the time I set it up I had no idea what was about to unfold in terms of the disgraceful way PACL has ruined the Pavilion, the complete lack of engagement and accountability with the community and the cover up by those in positions to bring about change.

    whatever the motivations I am glad that VoG council is now looking at the leasehold arrangements with PACL – so they should! And remember that during the time of this debacle the ONLY Vale councillor who has been prepared to take PACL on is Sully councilor Bob Penrose who is now a member of the new cabinet and as his portfolio responsibility now includes culture is unquestionably entitled to have a view

    I will leave you with one thought. Barry has an arts centre – the Memo – with its own cinema. It is a CIC and is part funded by VoG council. So surely Penarth is entitled to the same and not in the hands of the shower that is PACL?

    • I think that you’ll find that I was the one who challenged the Vale council to take PACL to task over it’s lease with a submitted question and further suplimentary question and comments at April’s Full council meeting.

      Having said that I couldn’t care less who gets involved as long as the situation gets resolved with a successful conclusion ( even opportunistic parachuted in from elsewhere Conservative candidates who clearly had no idea of this matter before being alerted by locals and claiming a Kissinger like involvement)

      I reproduce the minutes of that exchange here from the council website ;-

      (xiv) Question from Councillor Kevin Mahoney

      Given the £900,000 already given by the Vale to the lessees of the Penarth Pier. What meetings have been held between the Vale Administration and PACL since the latest crisis and reduction of opening hours of the pier in order to establish what exactly is going on, and what conclusions have been come to in this matter?

      Reply from the Leader

      I would refer the member back to the question raised at the last meeting of this Council where a similar question was asked (page 1544 refers). As at that time, I can confirm that discussions have taken place with the management at PACL to consider the long term financial viability of the organisation, the latest of those discussions having taken place earlier this week.

      Members may be aware that PACL has recently been awarded grant funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, which is to provide essential financial support to the organisation whilst it looks to develop a sustainable business model for the future.

      Supplemental

      Councillor Mahoney asked whether, as the landlords and in discussions with PACL it was not incumbent on the Council to encourage, if not insist, that PACL adopted an immediate policy of openness and transparency. He felt the people of the Vale and the Council themselves wanted to help but that the problems which had occurred needed to be made known.

      The Leader reiterated his earlier reference to discussions with PACL in the past and currently. He was unaware of any commitments or conditions attached to the £126,000. The funding he understood was to be used to access external professional advice on all aspects of the business in order for them to go forward. As a private organisation, in essence, they were fully meeting, as far as the Council was concerned, the conditions of their lease and, as such, the operation and management of the organisation was purely a matter for their Board, which was their controlling body. He added that the £126,000 was from the Lottery system (and not Council money). The Council could not insist they open their books (but hoped they would), but clearly would work with them to the best ability so that they could look to continue as a viable organisation.

  10. Big Davey says:

    This review is long over due. The Vale have in effect a tenant that is insolvent in true terms, that they cannot guarantee to be able to trade for 12 months.

    Therefore the Vale should re-tract the lease and relieve PACL of their responsibilities as part of the negotiation, or play hardball and make the directors personally pay up which is actually a legal position the Vale could take and any losses suffered they could pursue each director individually.

    Hazels assertion that once a director is appointed then they are bound. That is not at all true. A director has a duty of care to its shareholders and its creditors, the Vale being a major creditor. If I were on the vale council I would appoint an observer to the board of PACL not a director and make it clear that PACL have no choice. Observer would be completely free to report back to the Vale without exposing themselves with the personal liabilities associated with being a director.

  11. Johnabutt says:

    The powers of nominees to the board would be set out in the Articles of Association. The opinion of the Chairman should have no bearing on the matter. It should be a matter of regulation, not opinion.

  12. Images of men everywhere.

  13. Frederick says:

    I am surprised anyone – least of all the Vale – continues to tolerate Tony Hazell. In my opinion, he has proven himself to be grossly incompetent, and his continuation as chairman is making a laughing stock of the pier, PACL and Penarth.

    • Big Davey says:

      Agreed,

      He has been grossly incompetent of the management of Pavilion to this state and grossly incompetent with the handling of the aftermath.

      He should go.

Comments are closed.