This April’s Picnic Penarth could be the last. The event could now be subsumed into a town-wide “Food Festival”

Penarth Town Council’s new “venues committee” last night considered the future of the street-food festival “Picnic Penarth” and 4 possible options for its future – which included “retiring” the event.

Councillors were told that the event had been originally launched with a small “test event” in 2015 [ outside Gimber Motors] with funding from the Welsh Labour Government’s so-called “Town Centre Development Fund.

Seating was at a premium in April’s Picnic Penarth. People had to sit on eat at the kerbside

Since then there had been two further – larger-scale “Picnic Penarth” events  – taking up the whole of  Station Approach.

The most recent of these  [ adroitly-timed to take place immediately before the  local council elections] was in April 2017, which was attended by over 10,000 people over 2 days. One in four of those attending Picnic Penarth come from outside the town

The Picnic benches were fine – but there weren’t enough to meet the demand

Picnic Penarth – councillors heard – requires a budget of £20,000 – [allocated by Penarth Town Council using council-tax payer’s money derived from the Town Precept which now stands at a record high] .   The April 2017 event was also sponsored by a “CoverBuilder” – a trading name of a Penarth-based insurance company called Source Insurance Ltd .

The council considered 4 options:-

  1. Keeping the existing model of the event – but obtaining additional internal and external funding
  2. Developing Picnic Penarth into a much larger scale event similar to “Cowbridge Food and Drink” and the Ludlow Food Festival
  3. Ending Penarth Town Council’s involvement in April 2018 and handing it over to an “external group”
  4. “Retiring” the event at the end of the current financial year.

Alice Turner Customer Services Lead Officer at Penarth Town Council

Customer Servicers Lead officer at Penarth Council –  Alice Turner –  told the committee that the event was “highly successful in lots of ways”. It attracted people both from with the town and outside it and was a “real economic boost” to the “microbusinesses that actually come to trade at the event “and also to the wider town economy  .

Ms Turner said Picnic Penarth was an expensive event to put on.  The Penarth Town Council’s funding [£20,000] had had to be topped up by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and by sponsorship – and all that money had now been spent. She noted that the Station Approach location “does not have any of the amenities that we require to have, except that it is an open space with easy access to public transport, is central to the town and is an area which historically had been slightly overlooked or a little neglected but was now starting to have its own identity”.

Cllr Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines)

Cllr Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines) said he had been involved in sponsoring a  successful event in Caerphilly  called “The Big Cheese” which capitalised on Caerphilly Cheese as a brand.

Cllr Laura Rochefort (Labour Cornerswell)

He thought that a “Penarth Food Festival” would attract a lot of people, would  bring in extra sponsorship and  would work well. He  proposed that  Picnic Penarth should be “re-branded”.

Cllr Laura Rochefort (Labour Cornerswell) had misgivings about the current location used for Picnic Penarth – Station Approach.

She said the Picnic was held in a place which “I would not necessarily the place where I would think a picnic should be”. She suggested moving it to a different venue.

“Picnic Penarth” meant a “Picnic on the Pavement” for this familty

Cllr Liz Fahy (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Liz Fahy (Labour St Augustines)  agreed –  although she noted the importance of regeneration. She pointed out that this was an event which attracted “the family market”  but there was “nowhere for [families] to go” .

Cllr Jon Luxton (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr John Luxton (Labour Stanwell) said  in his experience something like this could become commercial quite easily . He asked whether a detailed plan had been developed and suggested this could deliver benefits to the Town Council rather than to an outside contractor – so that the proceeds could be spent for the benefit of the public.

Council officer Alice Turner said this was how the first two events had been organised, and agreed that an event like Picnic Penarth could become commercial but would take “hundreds of hours of [council] staff time” – but was not a core part of what staff were there to do.

Cllr Ben Gray (Labour Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Ben Gray [Conservative Plymouth Ward] said established events in Cardiff had all been  moved from the Cardiff Council events team to a private company. He favoured “Option 3”  – bringing in a commercial group and working in partnership with the .He thought that the aim should be an event which directly boosted the economy of the town  rather than the council coffers as a revenue collector.  Cllr Gray said a commercial company would turn it into a Food Festival – because that was the way of getting more stalls.

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Cornerswell)

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Cornerswell) suggested piggy-backing the Picnic with another event. He said that  Whitchurch had a Food Festival and a Fun Run which was very well attended . The cost of road closures could be offset with two events taking place at the same time.

Council officer Turner was asked whether there had been any discussion about combining  the Picnic with the Gwyrddio Penarth Greening Food Festival [ the independently organised GPG Food Festival was discontinued in 2016 partly because of competition from Picnic Penarth – but is to be revived in September this year. ]  Ms Turner said this had been looked at, but the council’s aim was to spread events across the year. 

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) noted that some councillors had already expressed concerns about the location for Picnic Penarth [in Station Approach] and the lack of green space  – but said that places like “The Depot” in Cardiff had a very context.  The issue was really how  the Picnic Event was to be positioned.  Organisers of The Depot were obvious people to talk to . He advocated a mix between Option 1 and Option 2 which would enable Penarth Town Council to control the branding of the event .

Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) asked whether any support from the Vale Council or the Welsh Government had been discounted.

Officer Turner said the Vale Council had been “incredibly supportive”  and had provided matched funding of the first two events and had given the maximum £5,000 for the 2017 event. Meanwhile discussions were being opened with the Welsh Government. On the location she said there was an option to use some of the green spaces the council had – but she was not in favour of Penarth Cliff Top as a venue. It was “extremely windy” and a grassy area was not ideal for that kind if event in April when it usually rained.

Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines)  said he woudl ike more information on Option 3  and suggested that potential commercial partners should make presebntations to the council on what they would wish to do. Cllr ………….said “our role in this is as a facilitator”  and proposed bringing in “external people” and then plug in all the outlets in the town  .

Cllr John Luxton said what was required was a feasibility study into the options

Cllr Martin Turner, (Cons Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner said Penarth had  now developed a reputation as somewhere to come and eat and he thought it would be very useful to have discussions with restaurants and cafes to see what their view is on arranging some sort of Food Festival at which people would be charged for attending  .  The council would be the facilitator and the umbrella organisation .

A “Task and Finish ” group is now to be set up to examine the options for the future of Picnic Penarth in greater detail and explore the potential involvement of outside companies.






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  1. Annegre says:

    Why can’t they just have the ‘picnic’ at the Kymin as previous food festivals there have been successful. Yet another arms length group…now the ‘task and finish’ group! Obviously these lab cllrs are incapable of making a decision. However they excel at trendy cliches!

  2. Casey says:

    Regardless of what happens in the future, the previous Penarth Picnic events have been fantastic!!!! You only need to look at the number of attendees and the hours they spend there to see that. I have attended each one with my wife and son and have seen a variation of people attending – whether it be young teens, other parents with children right up to our more elderly friends. Food, drink, good atmosphere and a different way to socialise – well done Alice Turner!

  3. Sally says:

    What about the Cliff Tops, The Dingle, Victoria Park
    The Kymin…? It’s not like we are short of green space

    • Lucie says:

      Yes there are lots of green spaces to use,how sad if there is no more Penarth picnic.

  4. 249ers says:

    Moving the picnic to the cliff tops would give grass, toilets, play area and plenty of
    space for stalls and something the Kymin hasn’t got abundant parking and bus access.

  5. AK says:

    How many ‘eateries’ are there now in Penarth? If they want to collectively promote Penarth as a gastronomic destination then surely they have the collective resources and business acumen to create and fund an event.

    The Town Council could do their bit by providing the venue such as the Kymin.

  6. Grey local says:

    Picnics bring thoughts of either the beach or a lovely green area in which to sit and enjoy the day. Neither are provided in the station car park which should be used for cars!!!
    Like many people I know having been squashed in cramped conditions and queuing for ages ending up either sitting on the road or crouched down on the pavement no one I know went this year. For 10000 people to have attended the crowds would have had to spread to the town centre! A bit optimistic number I think.
    We have several suitable venues such as the Kymin, the sea front, the cliff top, playing fields etc which seem unused these days.
    Last year the summer festival resulted in an empty seafront with just the charity venues (because no one told the, the rest had been moved to the cliff top) doing very little business. Some Local publicans have said they would have loved to be involved but weren’t asked. This year we hear that the town council has recruited a firm to hire organisations to take part and that a charge of between £50 and £60 will be made, so I guess no charity stalls then. So … What exactly does the Council staff do these days?? How do they justify their existence?

  7. JK says:

    Well, I’m pleased the the town council is looking to expand this event, always room for improvement and there are many options both regarding location(s), and the type of event. Jumping to conclusions without exploring options, would have rightly been seen as foolish.

  8. robthecoach says:

    Penarth Lawn Tennis Club would be keen to host. Welcome to discuss the possibility with the powers that be. Feel free to contact me or the club.

    • Boris Becker says:

      I’ll serve. Any tips, coach?

      • Penileaks says:

        Yes, you’ll need a job after your bankruptcy this week Boris !

      • robthecoach says:

        Lots Boris. We have a great location. Bored of the sea, a safe enclosed, child friendly club, lots of green space for a proper picnic, indoor area/clubhouse, we could also even spill on to the courts if need be.

    • Anne Greagsby says:

      Great offer. Brilliant location! Hope the town councillors are reading this!

  9. sjleworthy says:

    Anywhere where we’re not obliged to sit in the gutters.

    • Victor Y says:

      Take your own chair, that’s what we always do, fold up camping chairs which even have a drinks holder in the arm rest, cost around a fiver from Asda.

  10. Penileaks says:

    Surely the town centre is the obvious place to hold this.
    I realise that it does not have green, open spaces, but neither does Cardiff Bay, but they manage with plenty of seating and restaurants and bars allowed to extend onto the paved areas.
    Closing Windsor Road from the Arcot Road/Hickman Road junction to the roundabout and Glebe Street at it’s junction with Plassey Street, plus the Ludlow Lane/Albert Road junction,would give plenty of space for local eateries to extend onto the pavement (perhaps a temporary licence fee for that extra space ?), with other space being made available for businesses outside this area to offer their wares – food, alcohol, etc,. Extra seating could be provided by bales of hay as in the Vale Agricultural Show and others, and/or low level scaffolding or event benches, possibly provided by some local companies for some free advertising, just as I used to provide the stage to the music festival in The Kymin. And a stage for some live music could also be erected, perhaps on the Windsor Road side of the roundabout road, facing the main street.
    The bottom end of Glebe Street could be made into a childrens play area, again as the do in the Bay during summer months, with artificial grass or padded tiles laid inside a large fenced area.
    It would take a bit of organising, but I for one would be happy to offer my services where I could help and i’m sure others in Penarth would also do so…….as long as the council help ease the way with permissions, etc,.

    • robthecoach says:

      Penarth Lawn Tennis Club is only 100yds from the town centre. We could provide most of the above with the help of the council

      • Penileaks says:

        That is indeed true, I was just trying to include all those businesses around the Windsor Road/Glebe Street area that could readily trade from outside their own premises, rather than having to relocate to another area to get the benefits of such an occasion.
        Parking is a problem anywhere near the town centre, but locals can easily walk (and there is a big catchment area), and public transport serves the central area well, which it does not do for the cliff top area, together with the issue of winds and rain at the cliff tops, should the weather be inclement for the event.
        For either the town centre or the tennis club option, if a free shuttle bus was organised from the cliff top car park, via the beach and Beach Hill to the town, then much of the parking issue would be taken away.
        All the ideas so far put forward should be discussed and something concrete agreed, but the local and Vale council must offer some help and support in what ever is finally decided upon, whether it’s closing roads, licences or financial. Over to them !

  11. LocalLady says:

    As a local consumer my thoughts are;
    1. Parking – essential
    2. Toilets – essential
    3. Child friendly – play area, face painting, street theatre etc (sorry don’t like bouncy castles)
    4. Weather – June around school half term
    5. Pleasant surroundings – sea view, fresh salty air, grass, flowers, trees
    6. Seating – options of tables & chairs, wooden picnic tables with benches or just blankets on grass
    7. Music – in the busker style no need for stage and not eardrum bursting, you hear it as you pass
    My choice would be Cliff Tops

    • sjleworthy says:

      Parking essential? As a local i’d happily walk wherever. Plassy square, cliff tops, town center. They’re hardly essential driving venues; all within easy reach of each other, especially as Penarth parking is a premium at the best of times.

      I’d certainly agree on all others. My problem with the station area as is it’s too small, crowded and hard lanscaped. Sitting on the pavement isnt my pewrsonal preference.

      • 249ers says:

        I agree with the points you and LocalLady made. As far as parking is concerned, although not essential for local people it is necessary if they are to attract an outside audience and for the less able.
        My preferred venue would be Clifftops

    • robthecoach says:

      Again we could provide most of this. Parking is a premium but we are in the town centre and walking distance for most locals.

  12. ResidentEval says:

    The cliftops is the logical choice, but the council definitely wouldn’t want visitors to see the worst part of Penarth (Cionis Bistro).

  13. Andrew Worsley says:

    Why do we need an ‘organised’ picnic in Penarth ? as already stated Penarth is already ‘awash’ with eateries and takeaways , is food and its consumption the image want of Penarth ? its bizarre food , food and more food , and now food at ‘novelty venues’. It used to be such that people or groups of people could pack a picnic basket and travel to a certain location to enjoy food and fresh air in a place of their own choosing . Of course with takeaways springing up everyday , if people wish to eat outdoors they can purchase a takeaway, the last thing on their mind is arranging a picnic. I am both amused and bemused by the amount of coverage of this event . Its not needed but of course someone wants to sell something and they think a ‘novelty ‘ location and event will allow them to get free publicity and attention . Only in Penarth if its not endless droning on about the Pier and Pavilion and the attempt to run a Cinema obviously by clowns who never thought publicity might be needed for such an idea !! then we have public meeting to decide on the fate of a project that is dead on its feet . Either do a good job and think it all out properly or shut up , we don’t need pathetic whining over some ‘cack handed’ project or projects that somebody thought ,might be a good idea or JUST MAY OR POSSIBLY WORK , NO MARKET RESEARCH NEEDED APPARENTLY!.

    • Victor Y says:

      Q. “… is food and its consumption the image want of Penarth ? (sic)”,
      A. Yes. You seem to be focusing too much on the eating of food and not considering the main reason people like to go out to eat, and that is to socialise with friends and possibly meet new ones along the way. Okay, the picnic might not suit everyone, alas what event ever does, but I’ve been to every Penarth picnic held so far and they’ve been great events. It brings people together and also draws people from outside Penarth so being held in the station car park is great because it encourages those visitors to use the train and leave the car at home (helping to reduce congestion and pollution).

  14. Andrew Worsley says:

    I didn’t say don’t hold a picnic I just said its not worthy of the amount of attention its getting , just sort out a venue , (with grass not concrete) and get on with it. Should we this should we that im beginning to think organisers in Penarth don’t have a clue about what appeals to people. I for one have not forgotten the cack handed Xmas lights switch on with a band no one could see for the crowd , and went beyond the agreed time to turn on the lights so that people left to put children to bed after it seemed the band was going to play all night . That sort of organisation seems par for the course in Penarth and we had the lights fail repeatedly even after the switch on.

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