There was a majority vote in favour of re-commissioning the controversial Penarth Marina Swing Bridge at Town Quay at last night ‘s meeting of the local residents’ association .
The bridge – one of the original features of the Penarth Marina – dates back to the 1980s and revolves on a vertical axis to span the narrow neck of water between the Outer and Inner Harbour of the Marina – or at least it does so when it’s working.
Mr John Constable the manager of the Penarth Portway Management Company told the meeting in 1995 there had been an agreement made between the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the prececessors of Quay Marinas [ Crest Nicholson] to designate the swing bridge as a “dedicated walkway” which conferred legal rights of public access .
He said “I think there is a very good case that Stuart [ Stuart Jones the manager of Penarth Quays Marina] is going to have to re-open that bridge ”
Quay Marinas – Mr Constable said – would be required to respond within 28 days to a letter being sent to them by the Vale of Glamorgan Council. Mr Constable added “This bridge needs to be opened” – and whilst he understood the position of Penarth Quays Marina he said “It’s not their right to take that bridge away from us “
The bridge was taken out of operation by Penarth Marina’s operators Quay Marinas in 2016 following an incident in which a lady cyclist had failed to see the flashing red warning lights on the bridge and had not heard the alarms (which had been reduced in volume because of complaints for local residents ).
The cyclist was not injured, but her bicycle was damaged. Prior to this a child’s bike had been “trapped” by the bridge when it was being pushed across by an adult (again there were no injuries sustained).
Subsequently Quay Marinas was advised by a Health and Safety consultants that it should not be operating the bridge at all without full-volume alarms and additional flashing lights. As a result, the bridge was taken out of commission and “parked”.
Stuart Jones the manager of Penarth Quays Marina drew up a list of “pros and cons” for local residents and marina customers and asked the Vale of Glamorgan Council to review them and make a decision. They were as follows:-
Pros of bridge closure for local residents
- No disruption from audible alarms
- No disruption form audible messages
- A much quieter neighbourhood without the through traffic associated with visitors, runners and cyclists.
- The bridge is no longer a rat run for criminals
- The bridge is no longer an attraction for “tombstoning” and gatherings for groups of youths.
- Visitor car park is no longer filled with office workers and charter fishermen coming to the marina so is available for visitors to the properties.
Cons of bridge closure for local residents:-
- No access across the bridge for those without cars and needing the bus.
- A longer walk to the café for those living in Plas Pamir and Plas St Andresse.
- Some staff at the Offices at Town Quay have to walk around or find alternative car parking arrangements.
Pros of Bridge Closure for Quay Marinas
- No risk of further safety incidents with pedestrians/cyclists at the bridge.
- No further risk of vessels running into the bridge.
- No ongoing maintenance/operational costs.
- No disruption to boat movements for Quay Marina customers and visitors
Cons of Bridge Closure for Quay Marinas
- No parking for customers on Llwyn Passat (charter fishermen)
- Additional car parking spaces given to local office workers.
- Requirement to safely decommission/mothball bridge.
Quay Marinas submitted a Planning Application for upgraded safety systems on the swing bridge to bring it into line with the existing systems on Pont-y-Werin and at the Barrage Locks.
However the company says there were “differing positions” from different departments within the Vale of Glamorgan Council. It says :-
- The Health and Safety department “wanted a safe bridge operation with audible and visible alarms”.
- The Environmental Health department – the company says – declared that “such alarms would be unacceptable to residents who lived adjacent to the bridge.”
- The Planning Department proposed “quiet alarms” and is claimed to have told the company that there would be no need to consider pedestrians and joggers wearing headphones .
Quay Marinas then withdrew the planning application. Stuart Jones claims the planning process had “become a political process rather than just looking at the facts.” Meanwhile the company has continued a dialogue with the Vale of Glamorgan Council in what it describes as “a frustrating situation all round”.
Mr Jones says that “House sales are falling through as there is a risk of too much noise pollution” and says “If we proceed with the alarms we could quite possibly have a notice served on us by the council for noise pollution.”
He says “Quay Marinas are being labelled as the bad guys and as an organisation taking away a service from the public. I have had personal attacks on my integrity whereas at all times we have been trying to find a balanced sensible solution to the problem.”
Last night most people attending the Penarth Marina Residents Association voted for the bridge to be restored to operation . However the key issue is who would be liable in the event of an accident involving the bridge – and that is a matter still to be resolved.