Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) – who has been Leader of Penarth Town Council for 6 years – ever since the Labour Party took control of the town in 2012 – is stepping down from this role with immediate effect.
Cllr Cuddy was credited with having engineered Labour’s victory in Penarth Town Council in 2012 and for the party retaining its grasp on power in Penarth in last year’s local council elections – a result which has given the Labour Party control of the town until 2022.
Cllr Cuddy has, however, had a somewhat mixed 6 years in control of Penarth Town Council and in April last year, ruefully acknowledged that the council – as he put it – “might not have progressed quite as much as we had hoped”.
His most spectacular set-back came this year when – after months of secret planning and preparation – he failed nail down a deal to acquire the Kymin from the Vale of Glamorgan Council. The business case presented by Cllr Cuddy and his team just wasn’t detailed enough and there had been no public consultation on the issue. During his 6 year tenure as leader, the Penarth Precept – the tax imposed on local residents – was increased by the greatest percentage ever inflicted on the town.
Cllr Cuddy is now handing over the reins of running the council to Cllr Rhiannon Birch – who represents the Cornerswell Ward for Labour on both the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Penarth Town Council.
Cllr Cuddy now steps down to become Deputy Leader of the council. He will remain as Penarth Town Council’s representative on the board of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – the company which holds the 125 year Vale of Glamorgan Council lease on Penarth Pier Pavilion. [After three years on that board, Cllr Cuddy is yet to present a formal report on the activities of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd to Penarth Town Council] .
Cllr Rhiannon Birch – the new Leader of Penarth Town Council – is the daughter of former Vale and Penarth councillor Janice Birch – who retired last year. Cllr Rhiannon Birch’s daughter – Cllr Ellie Evans – won a seat in the Stanwell Ward on Penarth Town Council for Labour in last year’s local elections. Cllr Rhiannon Birch is married to Cllr Mark Wilson who represents the Stanwell Ward for Labour on both the Vale of Glamorgan and Penarth Town Council. None of these family connections were publicly declared in the 2017 local election campaign – nor was there any legal requirement for them to be published.
The influential Birch/Wilson/Evans family group is, however, by no means the only such group on Penarth Town council.
The Conservative group on Penarth Town Council is to be led again in the coming year by Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) who is chairman of the Penarth Branch of the Conservative Association. His wife – former councillor Mrs Dorothy Turner – failed to be elected in the Cornerswell Ward in the 2017 local elections. She is however the chair of the Cardiff South and Penarth Conservative Association. Last year the Turner’s daughter, Mrs Kathryn McCaffer, was nominated by the Conservative Party to fight the “safe” Plymouth Ward seat in place of long-standing Conservative councillor Clive Williams – who was controversially “de-selected” .
The Deputy Leader of the Conservative group is to be Cllr Ben Gray (Conservative Plymouth Ward).