The “Labour Group of Penarth Town Council” (i.e. the 12 Labour councillors who control the council) are now attempting to defend themselves from the barrage of public criticism they’ve received since cancelling Wednesday’s scheduled debate on the dumping of Hinkley Point mud off Penarth’s sea front.
Penarth Council has been aware of the proposed mud dumping scheme for several months – and done absolutely nothing, and said absolutely nothing about it.
The scheme will dump a total of 320,000 tonnes of mud from the Hinkley Point nuclear complex on the sea bed just over a mile out to sea from Penarth. Whether radioactive or not, it will clearly pollute Penarth’s beach and shoreline – and could potentially affect the health and welfare of the town.
In September the young Deputy Mayor of Penarth Cllr Angela Thomas (Labour Plymouth Ward) had announced that she wanted to table a motion for a full debate at the next council meeting on the mud-dumping, – following concerns raised by several people in her ward.
…The idea of such a debate got an icy reception in the Labour-controlled Penarth Council because it could embarrass the Welsh Labour Government (which had issued the original licence allowing the mud dumping). There’s also a Labour leadership election coming up in the Assembly. It was judged to be not the right time to rock the boat.
On Wednesday October 3rd – the night when the scheduled debate supposed to take place, the motion was mysteriously withdrawn . …And that was that ….there was to be no debate, no discussion on potentially one of the most serious issues ever confronting the town, its sea front and its tourist industry.
Reading a prepared statement Cllr Thomas “called back” the motion – reading out a ludicrous prepared statement saying that this was because the matter is to be debated in the Welsh Assembly on October 10th (a delay during which another 14,000 tons of mud will have been dumped off Penarth)
The following day Thursday October 4th Barry Town Council – having rather larger cojones than Penarth Town Council – DID debate the ‘nuclear mud’ issue and unanimously passed a motion calling on the Welsh Labour Government to conduct further testing of Hinkley Point mud before allowing the dredging to continue.
That left Penarth Town Council – not for the first time – out on a limb, looking weak, indecisive, and afraid of offending politicians like Cardiff South and Penarth Labour AM Vaughan Gething who is busy lining himself up for the Labour leadership in the Assembly.
Yesterday October 5th 2018 the controlling Labour members of Penarth Town Council issued an unprededented face-saving statement which (wrongly) suggests they’ve been against the mud-dumping programme all along. [In fact the council has never discussed it].
The statement says:-
“Penarth Labour recognise the strong public concern and strength of feeling by Penarth residents over the safety of the sediment being dredged and transported from Hinkley Nuclear power station, which is being dumped at Cardiff Grounds, just off Penarth Beach in the Severn Estuary.”
“Echoing the motion put forward by Penarth Labour Party in September that condemned the mud transferral until further tests are carried out, we ask the Welsh Government to halt this work, to allow for full independent assessment by a recognised international body.”
“The full assessment results should clarify and inform a clear statement, then be the subject of an engagement and consultation exercise with local communities and stakeholders. Only after this process should a decision regarding moving of the sediment be made. Therefore we welcome the debate at the Senedd on October 10th and we urge anyone with concems to write to your Assembly Members and encourage them to vote to stop the dredging and seek more information.”
The statement was a last-ditch effort to quell public disquiet about the Labour-controlled Penarth Town Council and head off public protests about its conduct.
Had wiser counsels prevailed, Penarth Town Council could, of course, have debated the issue on Wednesday night and passed a similar motion to that in Barry – but, rather than risk offending the Welsh Labour Government, Labour councillors pulled the plug on the debate.
Now the Labour-run council finds itself rightly accused of failing to heed or to represent the interests of local residents and the town as a whole.
A small demonstration was held outside the Penarth Council HQ at West House Stanwell Road, Penarth this morning – timed to coincide with the Labour Party’s Saturday morning “surgery” at which local residents are invited to discuss their problems with Labour councillors.
The councillors however refused point-blank to discuss the mud-dumping issue with the demonstrators – who weren’t invited in to discuss the problem.