PENARTH COUNCIL CONSIDERS SETTING UP ITS OWN TOWN CHARITY

Penarth Town Council is considering setting up and administering its own “Charitable Organisation” to boost council revenues

A wholly-new ‘Penarth Town Charity’ – to be registered under the Charities Commission – may be set up by the Labour-controlled Penarth Town Council in what would – in essence – be an additional-revenue raising body, working semi-independently of the council itself.

The idea – floated out in a formal internal council report – has been already discussed by councillors in the last full meeting of the council before the August break.

A Shelter charity “chugger” approaching shoppers in Penarth Town Centre – which already hosts 10 charity shops . Now the Town Council itself may join in the fund-raising charity bonanza

The council report says the council’s “Charitable Organisation” would be set up “for the purpose of increasing potential income streams for future projects that members may wish to develop for the benefit of the local community”

The proposal appears to have been kept under wraps until after May 4th’s council elections were out of the way (in which Labour retained control of the Town Council).

Critics say that because the proposed charity appears not to have been mentioned in any election literature as part of the Labour Party’s manifesto for the town, the council cannot claim to have any public mandate to institute the such a scheme.

The Penarth Town Council report on setting up the council’s own charity

An internal council report has recommended that the council’s Policy, Innovations and Development Committee should examine the potential benefits and possible risks inherent in the creation of a charitable body.

The report says the committee would need to decide on what sort of charitable organisation is most appropriate for the council  and “give consideration to future community involvement” .

It’s being envisaged that the new charity would take over the functions of the council’s un-elected and controversial “Interim Momentum Group” [later re-named the “Future Projects Partnership Group”].

The Momentum, Group was responsible for designing and installing the “Penarth Bench” outside Barclay’s Bank – on which there is no backrest and which slopes down to the left

The ‘Momentum Group’  is the shadowy body set up by the council in 2015 which designed and installed the much-criticised “Penarth Bench” outside Barclays Bank.

The Group also initiated the “Penarth in Bloom” project which involved installing wooden planter-boxes on the lawn of West House and on pavements around the town centre and also carried out a spruce up of the Arcot St “Triangle” – the state of which had been raised in full council by former Cllr Anthony Ernest .

The Momentum Group preserves its anonymity during work on the Arcot St Triangle.

There was public criticism of the Momentum Group, and the undemocratic basis on which it had been set up,  because – even though it was a council-appointed body – it was difficult to establish what the group was actually doing:-

  • It was not possible to discover how people had been “selected” to sit on it,
  • Unlike other council committees which – by law –  are open to the press and public, the meetings of the Momentum Group  (apparently held once a month) were closed to the press and public.
  • The group published no minutes of its proceedings.

The council now admits that  “more needs to be done in this area” and says that “updates” are now posted on the PTC – Penarth Town Council – website.

The Momentum/Future Partnerships Group created planters at West House which no one would ever guess had been made from discarded old tables discarded from the Paget Rooms

However it now appears there are other problems in the Momentum Group .  Penarth Town Council’s report says the “numbers of active group members are dwindling and the make-up of the group is now demographically and gender imbalanced” .

Cllr Martin Turner collecting for charity at the Christmas Festival.Soon Penarth councillors could be rattling the tin for Penarth Town Council’s very own charity

The council report also says “projects discussed by the group are not achievable due to budgetary constraints – in turn leading to a  loss of motivation” in some members of the Group.

The council now says the Momentum Group has come up with the idea of replacing itself with a “charitable body – administered by the Town Council” . Penarth Town Council claims that “many local councils are now moving in this direction” as it allows these councils to apply for “funding and commercial sponsorship via their charitable arms that they could not otherwise access”

Amongst the projects that the council envisages a new Momentum/Penarth Town Council Charitable Organisation could undertake could be: –

  • Development of the existing  assets of Penarth Town Council  – i.e the Kymin, West House, the Paget Rooms and the Cemetery [ The allotments are not mentioned]
  • Improvement of public spaces i.e. The Esplanade, “Gateways”, Open Spaces” [These are currently all Vale of Glamorgan Council responsibilities] 
  • Promotion of the town as a heritage and cultural tourist destination
  • “Engagement” with the Vale of Glamorgan Council “Re-shaping Services Agenda”

The proposed new Penarth Headland Link Walkway .

[ PDN Note: The existing Momentum Group/Future Projects Group is plugged into the Penarth Town Council’s equally-secretive  Strategic Review Group – which is comprised of mostly Labour councillors and which does not allow its minutes to read by the public.

The Strategic Review Group – it turns out – held a meeting in December last year with another secretive body –  the unelected, so-called Headland Link Group which runs Penarth Headland Link Ltd  .  The meeting was provided withupdates” on the progress of a feasibility study for the contentious Penarth Headland Link scheme.  The minutes of that meeting and the “updates” have not been made public.] 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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27 Responses to PENARTH COUNCIL CONSIDERS SETTING UP ITS OWN TOWN CHARITY

  1. Anne Greagsby says:

    We elect councillors to make decisions on Penarths future. Cllrs have to declare their interests and are open to scrutiny. Secret groups designed to prevent openness and transparency may be legal but are unethical and open the door to corruption. We are also already paying for staff £537,125 a year to run these facilities out of a total budget of close to a million. This charity was not in any manifesto. This charity idea should be scrapped along with the ‘ future projects group’ and the stategic review group. Let the councillors do what they were elected to do and make all decisions openly. See my Freedom of information request about the secret groups here https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/user/anne_greagsby_3

  2. Chris David says:

    Well I can see the merits of this if its run by pro’s (free of charge) and not like the types that cancel events at the Paget Rooms with 48 hrs notice or run cinema’s. Its also needs to be established that it wont have directors or staff taking big salaries and expenses. Even Mr Doughty cost Oxfam (You) over £70K PA whilst enjoying free labour in the shops.
    I think it would also be a good idea to ask the existing 10 charities / shops (that appear to produce big income) to contribute a significant amount for the privilege of operating at a huge discount in our town. A monthly fee based on gross turnover?
    Witness the level of business rate relief alone.
    4. Charitable rate relief
    Charities and community amateur sports clubs can apply for charitable rate relief of up to 80% if a property is used for charitable purposes.Contact your local council to:
    check if you’re eligible.
    find out if they can top up the discount to 100% (called ‘discretionary relief’) Source UK Government.
    That’s fair isn’t it and would give a huge kick-start.

    • Phil Ander says:

      You appear to regard yourself as a “pro”. Would you do it “free of charge”?

    • Phil Ander says:

      Baffling reply. “Pro” was your choice of word as was the suggestion that a suitable “pro” should provide his/her services free of charge.

      • Chris David says:

        Easy baffled? Using a musing i.e. pro in a preamble in a question makes it a statement. Just like mine. Like I said, ask a (I’ll drop pro as its so confusing for you and replace it with relevant) question and I’ll give an answer.

      • Betty Swallocks says:

        Control freak, don’t bother.

      • Chris David says:

        Power ! Very odd and silly thing to say… Ms…Swallocks heh. What power? Tell us your real name and let’s have a real debate.

      • Betty Swallocks says:

        A debate? Is that the bit where you start using insults and derogatory names, typing in capitals, while changing the subject and using your own personal language to weave little riddles?
        I doubt your “pro” ego could bear a real debate, and you’ll claim any exchange as a victory for you.
        As I said, control freak, q.e.d.

    • Phil Ander says:

      To anyone, bar the fuddled, my question is crystal clear. Never mind, I’ll take the advice of Ms Swallocks.

      • Chris David says:

        Ms what?….. Oh Swallocks 🙂 Like I said happy to answer a question not couched in a petty preamble. You wouldn’t like the answer anyway. Wouldn’t fit with your ignorant prejudices. Here’s two questions for you and Petty “Swallocks”. Does one charity in the UK pay it CE over £700.000 PA + benefits? If it did is that OK?

      • Betty Swallocks says:

        …on a little power trip. All words, no action.

      • Chris David says:

        Err….no Ms Swallocks (that is funny though) You’ve made that little diatribe up to cover your ineptness. Coward- won’t use your real name and afraid to enter into adult dialogue. I’ve kicked the ball to you above and in my reply to Mr Wyatt below. But you have nothing. By the way of a hint- someone with intelligence may guess from my musings the answer to the other coward Mr Anders mischievously worded question.

      • Betty Swallocks says:

        Keep digging that hole…

  3. Max Wallis says:

    Is this not resurrecting the mystery “Penarth Town Trust” of Tracey Alexander and Chris Loyn? https://penarthnews.wordpress.com/penarth-town-trust-proposal-is-floated-out-by-new-deputy-mayor. At the time, May 2016, Tracey Alexander had just become deputy mayor of the Town Council – I asked the TC for documents on it, but they denied the Trust was anything to do with them.
    Now Tracey has finished as Cllr, she registered Penarth Town Trust as a CIO charity, approved 10th July . Is she all ready to take over Council functions (and staff)?

  4. snoggerdog says:

    if a momentum member sat on that bench would he/she/or x,lose their balance,momentum or both and as a backbencher would mr doughty be allowed to sit on it (if he was ever in penarth)

  5. Louiseholistic says:

    The momentum group did not “spruce up” the Arcot St triangle. Penarth gardening club members did.

    • snoggerdog says:

      prince charles “opened” the arcot st triangle,he comes back once a year to check on it.

      • CelticMan says:

        What are you on about?

      • Betty Swallocks says:

        Prince Charles DID open the Arcot Street triangle, and previously, Princess Margaret opened International House. Also, Coco the Clown opened Kibby’s. Penarthians obviously have first-hand experience of all of these events. That’s what he’s on about. Where have you been?

  6. Chris Wyatt says:

    It is a requirement that charities be independent of government control so it seems very unlikely that the Charity Commission would agree to the Town Council setting up its own charity. The risk of political interference would be a major problem. Even where a local authority representative is a trustee of a charirty, it is encumbent on that person to act solely in the interests of the charity and not represent the interests of the local authority, something that has already been referred to on these pages with respect to the local authority nominated trustees on PACL’s board.

  7. Chris David says:

    I’m sure you’re right Mr Wyatt but therein lies one huge problem. The charity sector with its Charity Commission are way out of control. They’ve turned big charity into backdoor corporations there to enrich “club” members. £100k PA is the lower end now for the larger charities as a directors salary with some paying over £700k PA- all + benefits and jolly expenses. I take your point re political interference- we’ve see what can happen here in Penarth and the Vale. Personally though given the free labour and business rate relief our town charities enjoy (hence we the public are subsidising huge salaries for directors) if there was a method whereby PTC could levy a charge on them and use the funds for the benefit of our town that would be good and fair thing.

    • Chris Wyatt says:

      This is a somewhat different topic to the question of whether the Town Council could set up its own charity.

      • Chris David says:

        Entangled My Wyatt entangled. But I get your point. Anyway, I confess I’m just trying to promote an idea that I think in a fair world would be equitable. Alas it will come to nought. The charities are too greedy to volunteer (ironic?) and the legislation from what you say goes against the idea. Pity. However, hasn’t Mr Wallis touched on an angle? “Set up” and “avoid” are two different things!

  8. Max Wallis says:

    Wasn’t PACL set up by the Vale Council to avoid civic responsibility for a public hall. Leased for 125 years at peppercorn rent, with no public accountability because Council nominees as Directors place the interests of the company/charity first and foremost. The Tracey Alexander proposal shows similar plans were being hatched in the Town Council when Phil Rapier was Labour Councillor – have they not been warned off, Phil, by the PACL debacle?

    • Chris Wyatt says:

      Max, I don’t think it would be accurate to claim that PACL was set up by the Vale Council to avoid civic responsibility for a public hall, although I would agree that the Pavilion languished for many years under Council control. The driving force behind the restoration of the Pavilion was Maggie Knight, PACL already having been in existence at the Washington Gallery. Maggie actually provided a very interesting article on her role in the Pavilion project for the Penarth Daily News which is still available via the link below.
      https://penarthnews.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/penarth-pier-pavilion-my-side-of-the-story-by-maggie-knight/

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