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 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 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”.
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”.