PACL BREAKS ITS PROMISE AS PENARTH PIER PAVILION CINEMA REMAINS CLOSED

Blank Screen: The  4 -year-old £1,000,000 publicly-funded Pier Pavilion Digital Cinema is now being described by PACL as an “auditorium/cinema. It is to remain closed except for occasional – and as yet unscheduled – use by outside “pop-up” cinema operators.

Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – the charity/limited company which holds a 125-year lease on the publicly-owned Penarth Pier Pavilion has now broken a promise it made less than 6 months ago that the cinema would “re-open in September”.

The cinema is now NOT to be re-opened and restored to regular operation by Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd (a.k.a. PACL)  – but is being made available to outside “pop-up” cinema operators for use on an occasional ad-hoc basis.

The cinema announcement has been buried in a press statement issued by PACL’s chairman Professor Tony Hazell – which directly contradicts an undertaking he made about the future cinema in May this year in an interview with BBC Wales. In that May interview he said the following :-

Part of the interview which Professor Tony Hazell – chairman of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – gave to BBC Wales on May 13th this year (2017) in which he promised the Pavilion Cinema would “welcome visitors again”  in September “if not before”.  It didn’t re-open in September – and now it appears Professor Hazell is rowing-back on the public undertaking he gave less than 6 months ago

In his new statement however, Professor Hazell says “we have been looking at how we can best make use of the auditorium/cinema going forward in a way that does not present a risk to the charity”.

Some critics says this comment by Professor Hazell appears to imply that the directors of  Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd view their company’s survival as a “charity” as being of a higher priority than the future of the Vale of Glamorgan Council-owned Pier Pavilion and its integral cinema – a building in which more than £4,200,000 of public money (not PACL money) has been invested .

In October the Penarth Pier Pavilion Cinema was re-opened for just two days by “pop-up” operator SnowCat cinema to show Halloween movies – aptly including the horror film”The Fog”. The outlook for the cinema – potentially one of the town’s most attractive public assets –  remains uncertain

Professor Hazell’s statement goes on to say that PACL “has been in talks with a local pop-up cinema, Snowcat Cinema about presenting a series of cinema events”  – but it is not clear from the statement whether such talks are still in progress.

He says  Snowcat Cinema has  2 further screenings  scheduled for November 14th and 28th  and “it is hoped to have special screenings for Christmas”. PACL also states it is “working with other pop-up cinemas as well as inviting film clubs and societies to use the cinema facilities” – a statement which makes it clear that PACL itself is NOT to restore the cinema to regular operation.

It is not known whether the Vale of Glamorgan Council – as the ground landlords – has agreed to the almost brand-new digital cinema at the Pavilion being sub-leased on an ad-hoc basis to outside operators.

Professor Anthony Hazell, chairman of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd

Although PACL came close to financial melt-down in February this year – in his latest statement Professor Hazell notes that the restored Pier Pavilion is about to mark the 4th anniversary of its re-opening and says “We are very proud of what has been achieved during that time” .

He says “After several months of detailed planning and discussions with a wide range of individuals and organisations we are confident that we now have the basis for a viable and sustainable future for the Pavilion”.

 

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14 Responses to PACL BREAKS ITS PROMISE AS PENARTH PIER PAVILION CINEMA REMAINS CLOSED

  1. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    unbelievable! There are so many small successful cinemas all over the country.

  2. andrewsketty says:

    There is little that I can add to what I have said before and my views and actions to date are all captured on the updates on the petition site I started back in February https://www.change.org/p/tony-hazell-keep-penarth-pier-pavilion-cinema-open?source_location=minibar&lang=en-GB
    I have not been actively promoting the petition for many months but clearly like me many residents were waiting for the promised re-opening of the cinema in September – though clearly with much skepticism. Once it became evident that it would not re-open quite understandably people feel very angry and let down. People have continued to sign the petition and today it is in excess of 1900 names. I accept this has had no impact whatsoever on PACL ( who appear to quite enjoy the power of having something we all want but won’t give us!) and very little impact on stakeholders who could have provided much greater steer and leverage towards a better outcome. However there are almost 2000 people in a fairly small town like Penarth who feel strongly enough about wanting this cinema to be open that it will show other operators that it would be worth them taking it on ( if and when PACL throw in the towel or run out of cash). Many people suggest Chapter should take it on. Makes total sense to me and I would advocate this for a whole host of reasons :-
    1) They run a very successful cinema operation and monthly film programme. So the just as well show the films they hire on another screen
    2) And wouldn’t Chapter capitalise on running a quirky state of the art boutique cinema on a Pier – fabulous
    3) They run a highly rated catering and bar operation ( which they have recently extended to an outpost in Cardiff Bay) – blows Hazell’s aspiration of a combined Subway and Spud U Like into the Bristol Channel where it belongs
    4) Experience of gallery/performance space
    5) Oh and not forgetting that because of the campaigns by local people like myself and Nicki Page to highlight the plight of the cinema everyone now knows it is there unlike PACL’s woeful marketing efforts
    Yes they could run the Pier Pavilion in their sleep
    In the last few weeks I have tried one last attempt at writing to the key stakeholders at the VoG and HLF. I have had a holding response from the Leader of the Council to say they are considering it but nothing from Richard Bellamy. We must NOT give up on this. Its a wonderful asset in the town just entirely mismanaged and being run into the ground. Their latest press release confirms this
    Oh and one final thought. Part of that Lottery money has been used to employ a part time Volunteer Co-Ordinator. Did anyone see the job advertised? I certainly did not. I am sure that this is not in accordance with Lottery T & Cs

    • Jan Harding says:

      Move over multiplex – the local cinema is back

      This is a interesting read Andrew on bbc website today, they are asking for help with how to run cinemas, do you feel PACL could help?

  3. Sad Seaside Donkey says:

    Personally I would not trust a word {professor} Tony Hazell says anymore.
    His actions and lack of proper dialogue with the wider community speak volumes.
    Hand this project over to someone who has the time and the inclination to get things moving forward.
    I was in Chapter Art Centre last week and this shows how a community venue should be run.

    • Penarth Electrician says:

      I for one am a bit fed up hearing the name Professor Antony Hazell.
      Can we not just sack the entire PACL board and start off with some non political appointments who know what they are doing?

  4. Chris David says:

    Can anyone tell us where Professor Hazel holds his chair? He looks an awful lot like Alun Michael to me. So- when are the VoG going to open up this charity to scrutiny? Yes I know the rules (that need changing) but pressure can be brought to bear. Where has the VoG and HLF (our) money gone? Lets see not just the statutory accounts but the management accounts and minutes. There is something sinister the public should know about here, it’s called secrecy.

  5. Grey local says:

    On an earlier post this morning Hazel boasted that the cinema was up and running again quoting the showing of the film The Fog as an example. Perhaps he didn’t realise that instead of paying £7.50 at the pier viewers were also able to see it that same week for free on tv. Perhaps a better choice. Next time. If there is one. And no I can’t find anyone who saw a job ad either but then perhaps he is following the PTC who , I am told by a staff person, also seemed to have appointed staff on the same principle.

  6. Chris David says:

    Open letter sent by email to the Managing Director of the VoG today. If you want we results we’ll all have to pile on the pressure.
    Dear Sir,

    Can you just come out and clarify- are you going to investigate PACL and make the investigation public?
    What’s being hidden? Why (despite the bizarre rules) can we not see the management accounts, bank accounts and management meeting minutes? It’s public money.
    We want to know where the money from the VoG and HLF has gone. Where? Let’s account for it.
    You can bring pressure.
    You can even consider calling in the police.
    You should also consider if the VoG in granting money to PACL without a written agreement of full openness and full monitoring of where public money was being spent- and has gone was derelict in its duty! Or possibly that’s your problem and why the VoG appears to be engaging in secrecy?

    So here’s straight question to you- do you know where every penny of PACL’s money has gone? Yes or no for the record.

    Thank you.

    Yours sincerely.

    Christopher David

  7. David Moorcraft says:

    Not only is the whole Pavilion affair now a public scandal, it seems the Vale of Glamorgan Council either cannot, or will not (even under its new Conservative mantle) do anything to resolve this farce, and can’t even explain to us voters and ratepayers WHY there is total inaction.

    The silence is deafening – at least in the old silent films somebody played the piano !!

    And I do think the main hall – much reduced from the old dance hall days – is a complete waste of space with its occasional vague picture displays.

  8. Dai Jones says:

    My reading of the statement from earlier this morning is that PACL has identified that becoming a wedding venue is central to its the pavilion’s viability; where this has been the case before, the venue closes to the public.

    The whole thing is a dead duck; the only real attraction is the cinema – the remainder is just a large hall with little warmth or ambience.

    There is little purpose in keeping it open for the sake of it being open – in around 12 months’ time, we’ll start to read about the failure of the current plans – keeping it open by holding weddings on the weekend, the days that people will wish to visit, is incredulous.

  9. Jan Harding says:

    Have you thought about retirement Mr H?

  10. Frances Smith says:

    Very sad to read – I think many local people are fed up with this lacling in what should be the pride of our town. From hearsay the many volenteers have dwindled as well – I don’t quite understand how so much financing that runs on volunteer power and goodwill can be failing in such a dismal way. The door should be flung open to the community and films constantly running for young people to enjoy – I saw the Thing and Fog I think were being shown – well I for one would not want to see these films. What a sad failure and the cafe was thriving at one time but the sucessful person running it was got rid of and now it is a poor effort for what again should be a prime placing for thriving community. I don’t quite understand how the arts funds so much money which is not fully opened up for community – it could have workshops, events, dances, music, poetry, open mics, ballet, hip hop – there is such a wonderful oppertunity to provide for everyone and not turn into an exclusive wedding venue that I would imagine will be charged heavily for the privalidge. Perhaps sone advice from a Chapter Arts person may not go amiss – they provide excellent facilities and arts facilities there. I think everyone wants to see the Pier thrive for the community so does not make sense what is happening there.

  11. Ben says:

    Hello everybody.

    We were thrilled to welcome over 100 people to the Pavilion cinema for our Hallowe’en screenings. Sorry to hear that the films were not to everyone’s taste – we’re happy to hear suggestions for next year 🙂

    We’re really excited to be be screening films on the pier – both as the proprietors of a pop-up cinema, and as residents of Penarth.

    Our Christmas line-up will be released very soon. We’re really pleased with it, and we hope you’ll find something that takes your fancy. Look out for our advertisement in the Penarth Times Christmas pull-out. We hope to see some of you at a screening soon!

    Ben – Snowcat Cinema

  12. Chris David says:

    All, you may have read my email above to Mr Thomas MD of the VoG.
    Mr Thomas replies that the VoG are NOT responsible for managing PACL (so not monitoring performance or how the money they put in is monitored). He states the £100,000 was (or is being) put in via 20 x £5,000 tranches. Draw your own conclusions as to how the VoG have performed0.
    My reply 23/11/2107.

    Dear Mr Thomas,

    Thank you for your candid reply. It’s revealing to say the least. Let’s start with your statement “this is a matter for PACL” No it’s not. The VoG are custodians of public money. To give away money to any organisation let alone one with a poor history without proper checks, restraints and control is grossly negligent.
    Regardless of the (lacking) regulations surrounding governance of charities / NFP companies the VoG could have, and should have put in proper controls insisting on ongoing full and open disclosure.
    The procedure should have been as follows.
    1) PACL should have produced for the VoG a full statement of affairs for your interrogation. Bank statements, management accounts, statutory accounts and minutes of its meetings. From this you, assisted by professionals could have assessed it track record and viability.
    2) PACL should have furnished you with a full and professionally produced three year business plan
    3) This should have been assessed by professionals in tandem with dedicated councillors. It would have revealed (amongst other important factors) where other funding was coming from outside income generated from trade. The VoG should have worked in tandem with HLF and any other funding partners to assess viability.
    4) IF PACL were worthy of investment the money should have been introduced in tranches as targets and goals were met.
    5) The VoG should have insisted on a monthly management meetings with PACL to assess its performance as it progressed.
    6) There should have been provision to stop funding at any point PACL were not meeting its objectives
    7) Break clauses should have been built into the lease in order to cancel the lease if performance objectives were not being met.

    Given the council have given £100,000 to PACL it is incumbent in the council to oversee PACL management. The way you describe your past procedures and ongoing monitoring of PACL is in my view unprofessional and negligent. I urge you if the money has not already been fully paid, you call PACL to book now and withhold any further money being paid to PACL until you have re-examined the position along the lines of the procedures outlined above.
    You say the council “does not mange PACL” well it should be doing so albeit at arms-length given you’ve handed over huge sums of public money. An indication that underneath the rhetoric you recognise this is the fact the Council is holding meetings with PACL.
    Please- re think and re organise, be responsible.
    Lastly the public whose money you have gifted and whose facilities you’ve utilised should have access to the existing and ongoing state of PACL affairs.
    Thank you.

    Yours sincerely

    C David

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