The Vale of Glamorgan Council is now putting pressure on Penarth Arts and Crafts to hold a public meeting on the future of Penarth Pier Pavilion

The Vale of Glamorgan Council is urging Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd  [a.k.a. PACL – the struggling company/charity which runs Penarth Pier Pavilion]  – to organise a public meeting in Penarth about the future of the Pier Pavilion.

It was revealed in last night’s full meeting of the Vale Council that there has been a second top-level meeting between senior council cabinet members and officials and representatives of PACL about the future of the Pier Pavilion.

The revelation came when the Vale Council cabinet member responsible for learning and culture Cllr Bob Penrose (Independent Sully) was answering a question from Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) asked for an update on Penarth Pier Pavilion

Cllr Wilson had said  “Another quarter has passed with no demonstrable progress in relation to the operations of the Penarth Pier Pavilion”. He asked Cllr Penrose if he could  provide an update of developments in the last three months.

Cllr Penrose said that he – along with the Leader of the Vale Council – Cllr John Thomas, its managing director Rob Thomas and the  Vale Council’s  head of finance had already had discussions in August and had had a further meeting with PACL last week at which they discussed the current position at the Pier Pavilion.

Cllr Bob Penrose (Independent Sully) cabinet member for learning and culture, gave more details about the current state of play at Penarth Pier Pavilion

Cllr Penrose said that last week’s meeting PACL representatives had “shared their  current plans and challenges” with the Vale Council delegation.     Cllr Penrose said he was able to offer his ” opinions and advice on how they should face these future challenges”. There will be a similar further meeting scheduled in mid to late January next year.

Cllr Wilson said many members of the public – particularly in Penarth – saw the Pier Pavilion issue as “a big political hot potato” and what they would like would be a public  meeting on this matter  – which the Vale Council could facilitate – so that members of the public could understand what was happening at the Pavilion. Cllr Wilson said it was known that “not everything was working as it should be”. 

Cllr Wilson said there were “Lots of rumours going around” about the future of the Pavilion and he considered that there should be a  “Public Open Forum” held  to reassure people about its future.

Cllr Penrose said he had considered carefully a similar request for a public meeting which Cllr Wilson had made in an earlier meeting – and had discussed this with Penarth Arts and Crafts (PACL) in last week’s meeting.

Cllr Penrose said “It is my view that such a meeting SHOULD be organised – but led by Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd. ” .

Cllr Penrose explained that PACL had leased the Pier Pavilion from the Vale Council commencing in June 2012 for a period of 125 years.  He said “The lease permits the use of the community venue as a provision for an art gallery, public exhibition hall and ancillary use such as the cinema, cafe and  shop” 

He said “The first principal covenant was to commence and carry out  the works to repair and refurbish the Pavilion. This work has been completed and there is nothing for this council to enforce at this time. There are no covenants governing the manner in which the managed – and indeed it would be highly unusual is there was – as the lease deals with the occupation of the property only and not the way that it is managed . “

He said that at the Vale Council Cabinet meeting of the 7th of October 2013 the [then Labour Vale administration] had agreed a grant of  £100,000 towards supporting the operation and managing the Pier Pavilion during the first 20 months  of its operation . The grant was paid in monthly installments  – each of £5,000 – which began on September 1st 2013  to defray the running costs as set out in the business plan and was to be paid up to “a maximum of 20 invoices”.

Professor Anthony Hazell, chairman of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd. The pressure is now on him to facilitate a public meeting on the Pavilion

Cllr Penrose said these monthly payments finished in January 2016  and as a result the Vale Council “is currently not committed to grant any financial support”.  He emphasises however “We understand the importance of the Pier Pavilion  as a visitor attraction and an important facility. It is also important, as it is OUR building . That is why we continue to seek dialogue with PACL”

Cllr Penrose said “The day-to-day running of the Pavilion and links with the community and town of Penarth are primarily a matter for PACL”

On the mooted public meeting or “Open Forum”  Cllr Penrose said Were PACL in a position to organise a public meeting then I would clearly wish to be involved but I think it’s important to understand that this is a matter for PACL “

In a side-swipe at the previous Labour administration in the Vale Council which had given the £100,000 grant to PACL, Cllr Penrose pointed out that the Labour-run Vale cabinet had “not seen fit to organise and hold any public meetings as part of that agreement”.




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  1. andrewsketty says:

    In my correspondence with Richard Bellamy at the HLF back in the summer he also accepted that PACL were not engaging with the community. Hazel and Co did nothing about it and will not now either. He’s running the place like a private members club which is fine he he wasn’t totally reliant on public handouts and public support. The situation there is a disgrace. The debacle over the cinema is proof of the extent of the problem yet NOBODY is challenging them. So we have lost our cinema and nobody in authority gives a damn it seems.

    We need to put this in perspective of what happened at the cinema – arguably the most successful part of PACL’s empire so naturally the one thing we all miss. Its success was in no part down to the fact that the monthly films were programmed and supplied by the Independent Cinema Office ( ICO) for a fee!

    The way it works it seems is that the fee paid to the ICO was a proportion of the box office takings. A good deal for PACL then whose overheads are pretty low given the reliance on volunteers.

    So lets say that the agreed fee was 30%. If the cinema took £100 at the box office £30 would go to ICO and £70 would be PACL’s. How can they loose given that the payment is not needed up front?

    Yet the cinema was closed at short notice because the ICO got fed up with PACL not paying its fees and therefore would not supply any more films from March 2018! So – where was the money going that should have been going to the ICO? Paying off debtors like the Inland Revenue possibly. Either way gross mismanagement.

    The cinema was bringing in money not hemorrhaging it for goodness sake?

    So then Hazel and Co concoct an hurried excuse for the closure that people in Penarth don’t go to the cinema during Spring and Summer but would re-open in the autumn. Problem is that nobody bought that ridiculous excuse and so the campaign started to get the cinema reopened ( 2000 of us signed the petition I started) . As the weeks and months went by of course more and more people were coming forward with tales of bad management and unpaid bills and so a pretty bleak picture emerged about operations at the Pavilion

    Fast forward to September. Cinema doesn’t re-open. Well on very good authority I am told that film distributors would not touch PACL with a 20 foot barge poll. That’s their reputation. Then apparently a film distributor was found who would supply films on a film by film basis which would mean the cinema would re-open 1 night a week. Nothing of course came of that!

    So we the residents of Penarth are the losers meanwhile PACL are laughing at us all the way to the bank with more public handouts to support their crumbling feudal kingdom. What an utter disgrace

    • Philip Rapier says:

      Only moral cowardice prevents any of the appointed Trustees or the Vale Council from proposing an amendment to the PACL Articles of Association and electing a compulsory number of Members from the Penarth Public
      Article 10 according to Companies House Website states that
      “any person over the age of sixteen may become a Trustee Director without discrimination of sex, religion, politics or ethnicity”
      .“The day-to-day running of the Pavilion and links with the community and town of Penarth are primarily a matter for PACL”
      This is a ridiculous assertion as there are no links with the Community that is exactly the point.
      We the People of Penarth are being discriminated against in defiance of PACL’s own Articles Of Association by PACL themselves,

  2. andrewsketty says:

    For any PDN readers interested here’s the reply I got from the Leader of Vale Council last month

    Dear Mr. Jones

    I refer to your e-mail of 3 November, acknowledged on the same date and your subsequent e-mail of 13 November to myself and Richard Bellamy.

    In terms of the issues you raise, I can respond as follows, and please accept this as a joint response from myself and Councillor Bob Penrose.

    Can I start by clarifying that I understand fully the concerns regarding the operation of the Pavilion by PACL. It is for this reason that, since forming the new administration I and Councillor Penrose have worked closely with officers to fully understand and review the position with regard to the operation at the Pavilion. With reference to the cinema (an issue covered in your e-mail of 3 November and the subsequent e-mail of 13 November), whilst I fully appreciate your concerns, there is nothing in the lease agreement that requires the provision or operation of a cinema. I appreciate that this will be disappointing, but the reality is that a cinema was something that was provided in the scheme by PACL and not by this Council.

    Whilst I also appreciate that an earlier announcement by Mr. Tony Hazell advised that the cinema would re-open in September, I must point out that this is not an announcement that was made by the Council. In this regard decisions about the future operation of a cinema is a matter for PACL.

    I did meet with representatives of PACL at the Pavilion at the end of August to discuss ongoing issues about the operation of the Pavilion. At this meeting we did discuss the cinema in the context of the wider use and operation of the Pavilion. I am due to meet representatives again during the first part of December to review the position and to gain an understanding of the current issues and how the situation has changed since our earlier meeting. I will again be raising the issue of the cinema and I will also take the opportunity to again raise with representatives, the relationship between PACL and the wider community.

    I say this, as clearly the issue of how PACL engages with the community is a matter that only PACL can resolve, albeit with a degree of input from the Council (in an advisory capacity).

    In terms of the volunteer base, I am aware that PACL has been liaising with Glamorgan Voluntary Services (GVS) and like you, I am aware that a volunteer co-ordinator has been appointed. Again, the issue of how that appointment was progressed is a matter that comes under the direct responsibility of PACL. As regards to the use of HLF money, I note that you have written to Mr. Richard Bellamy and no doubt he will be in a position to advise further. It is clear that if the Pavilion is to operate efficiently, a number of services could be offered, such as a café, arts events, a venue for weddings or other celebrations as well as a cinema.

    As to point 6 in your e-mail of 13 November on the subject of the services that PACL ought to and ought not provide I would comment as follows. You seem to indicate that use of the Pavilion for weddings would compete with other provision (by way of example you refer to Holm House). However, in the same way a café and cinema would clearly compete with other providers in the town and wider region. Quite clearly, there will always be the potential for activity and uses at the Pavilion to compete with other providers.

    I know that a Board Meeting was due to be held on 22 November and as mentioned above, I am meeting with PACL representatives in December. After that meeting I will be considering the Council’s position further and if I have further information by way of update, I will of course correspond further.


    Councillor John Thomas
    Leader of the Council

  3. Chris David says:

    I wrote to Cllr Penrose re PACL and he stated it was the duty of the MD R Thomas to deal with said matters re PACL. I wrote at length on several occasions to the MD of the VoG- R Thomas. The mails were published here. Thomas inferred the matter was closed as far as the VoG were concerned. It appears they undertook no due diligence and didn’t put in conditions or covenants surrounding the lease or the £100,000 grant. He dodged questions including whether they have now put in place procedures for the future. The behaviour of those concerned has been negligent and extremely amateurish. The councillors are out of their depth- they need professional help- but wont admit it. But in order to bring PACL to book and ensure proper procedures are put in for the future YOU the public need to put on pressure. Email Thomas and Penrose. It’s all very well moaning here under nicknames (not everyone of course) but if you want something done you must put your name to paper and act.

  4. Chris David says:

    Accounts now available online at companies house. Company number 03510104. Remember these only show a snapshot. The management accounts which they won’t let us see tell the real story. Loss again, income down. Large management fees. The Pavilion shows on the balance sheet as an asset- in fact it’s on a lease. Makes PACL look as if they are far more healthy than they are.

    • Kent says:

      I’m no accountant but I understand that it depends whether the lease is classed as a Finance Lease. Meaning that the the risks and rewards applicable to the asset are transferred from the lessor to the lessee and therefore it can be classed as an asset on the company’s balance sheet.
      Having said that, it’s time that Hazell is removed from PACL, and lets not forget this is not the first time he’s been involved in mis-management of an entity.

  5. Chris David says:

    Yes I’m sure Gregory Watts have accounted legally. I’m just pointing out it gives a false picture Kent and thank you. Here’s something I’ve spotted as I work through things. This is a para in an email from R Thompson MD VoG.
    At the meeting of the 7th October 2013 (Minute C2043) Cabinet agreed that the revenue funding should be targeted to the first 20 months of operation at the Pavilion and that 20 payments of £5,000 be made to provide overall £100,000 of revenue. As a consequence, funding ceased with the last instalment being paid in January 2016.
    The accounts show one payment of £5,000 in 2016 from the VoG, however they only show £35,000 in 2015 not £60,000? I’ll mail The VoG and ask for an explanation.

  6. David RT Andrews says:

    It’s a shame that amidst all the angst and woe no-one is finding time to comment on the lovely selection of seasonal films currently showing at the cinema.

    • andrewsketty says:

      The angst and woe is well founded I’m afraid for all the reasons stated. Nobody is commenting on the selection of seasonal films currently showing because this is absolutely NOTHING to do with PACL. It’s an entirely commercial hire arrangement of the now closed cinema which Ben from Snowcat keeps reminding me of! I have no issue with him for doing this but it in no way replaced the wonderful monthly programme we used to have and it certainly does NOT let PACL off the hook about the circumstances surrounding the virtually overnight closure of the cinema in February. PACL of course are hoping that comments like yours will let them off the hook as they are banking on the fact that in time people will believe that they are behind the venture you refer to

  7. Ben says:

    In the interest of accuracy, I just wanted to add some critical missing information re: film licensing.

    It’s true that the vast majority of licensing agreements are based on a ticket split (usually at least 35% to the distributor), however they will almost always include a minimum guarantee figure too. This is generally at least £80 (+ VAT, so £96) and that’s per screening. I know that some of the newest releases in high demand can be significantly higher. If the screening is under-attended, it costs the venue money to show the film as they are obliged at least the minimum figure regardless of how many tickets are sold.

    For new releases, the cinema also has to pay to get the physical copy of the film sent to them on loan. I’ve never done this as I mainly screen older films, but believe it’s in the region of £100 to get the hard drive sent over. Then you have to pay to send it back.

    I’ve put on almost 40 screenings in the last 12 months and have never encountered a minimum guarantee under £80 (+VAT) and that includes older films that are regularly screened on TV or are less well known. Some distributors have requested minimum guarantees that were more than I’d make selling every seat in the house.

    So, it’s not quite as simple as keeping 70% of the box office (I wish it was!), and it’s pretty easy to lose out on a quiet night.

    • andrewsketty says:

      Hello Ben
      You are well aware of my views on this from our private correspondence but I am more than happy to continue it here in the interests of public transparency.
      First up, just to reiterate what I have always said to you that I support your efforts that you started some years ago in the Paget Rooms to screen old films. I also support the fact that you are at least breathing some life into an otherwise mothballed state of the art digital cinema here in Penarth – one funded by considerable public money! As I have said your efforts should be accommodated alongside the reopening of the cinema on the same times as before. It should never replace it as is the case now given PACLs promise that the cinema would reopen in the autumn and now hasn’t!
      And in the interests of accuracy I too would like to add some critically missing information:-
      1) When the Pavilion screened new releases which were incorporated into the monthly programme they sold out! In fact one of the last blockbusters screened before closure was LaLa Land. They had to put on extra screenings to cope with demand so fair to say they did more than alright out of this!
      2) Their programming etc was undertaken by the ICO on a client basis and it is they who pulled the plug on the Pavilion. PACL had a successful arrangement with them for many years . I appreciate that for you as a sole trader there are many risks but PACL has the benefit of receiving eye watering amounts of public money to keep them going plus had the benefits of the arrangement with ICO. Add to that it operates other services in the Pavilion to contribute towards income generation
      3) I appreciate that running a cinema is not easy. I have mentioned it before that my home town Brecon retains an independent commercially operated cinema that has been in continuous use for decades. I am sure it probably doesn’t make lots of money but clearly it makes some otherwise it would have closed. I do not believe that if a small town in mind Wales can support a twin screen cinema Penarth ( 3 times the population) cannot support one housed within a multi purpose venue? I appreciate a minimum guarantee of £80 plus Vat is a significant risk to you – less so to the Pavilion where naturally some screenings will attract few people but many will attract LOTS. Its the monthly bottom line figures that are important then!
      4) And then don’t even get me started on PACL’s woeful record on marketing the cinema. In starting my petition in February it became abundantly clear that many people did not even know there was a cinema there. Hardly surprising given the £60 marketing spend in the previous year!
      And that’s just a flavour. I realise that for you your venture is dependent on support from PACL to allow you to hire the mothballed cinema but please don’t feel sorry for them for their complete mismanagement which has led to us being deprived of a fully functioning cinema in our town

      • Ben says:

        I wasn’t feeling sorry for anyone, defending anything that’s happened, or having a go at any side. Just clarifying the situation so that everyone has an accurate picture of how licensing works.

  8. AK says:

    David RT Andrews says: It’s a shame that amidst all the angst and woe no-one is finding time to comment on the lovely selection of seasonal films currently showing at the cinema.

    I have my tickets to see ‘Muppet Christmas Carol’.

    Actually I was surprised to find them still available online when I booked.

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