The Switch-On proceedings kick off at 15:00 and continue until 19:00. The lights go on at 17:30

More details have now emerged of the Penarth Christmas Lights Switch-On stage-show and ceremony due to take place in the town centre from 15:00 on Sunday November 18th 2018.

The events company Genero – which is managing the event on behalf of Penarth Town Council –  has now issued an open letter  giving more information than was released at this week’s Penarth Council meeting.

Lucy Owen and Josh Navidi will both appear at the Penarth Christmas Lights Switch-On

Genero say that BBC TV Wales Today Presenter Lucy Owen [whom Genero incorrectly names as “Lucy Owens“]  will be hosting to event up to 17:30. The council has already announced there will be “appearances by Cardiff Blues rugby players, a brass band, and a children’s magician”. There will also be a “live nativity scene” provided by Tabernacle Church.

The open letter giving the latest details on the event from Genero

At 17:30 however, Lucy Owen hands-over to Wales international rugby player Josh Navidi and it is he who will carry-out the actual ceremonial Switch-On .

Pontypridd-born singer James Williams will entertain the crowd until 19:00

At 17:45 Josh Navidi will hand over to James Williams ..performing the best Christmas Crooner Tributes” until 19:00.

Town Centre retailers and traders are being exhorted to “get involved in the event to drive foot-fall into your premises on the afternoon/evening”. Genero suggests they should “brush off your Christmas outfits and put on plenty of special offers”.

Also spelled out are the road closures for Sunday November 18th which will be in force from 08:00 to 22:00 .

Genero say the roads affected will be “Windsor Road  just after the turning down Hickman Road and up Arcot Street so these routes will be open to be used to divert to Plassey Street. We will also be closing Arcot Lane and the bottom half of Glebe Street allowing through access to residents along Ludlow Lane and Ludlow Street”.  


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Front-runner to be First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford is now having to defend comments indicating that he is  “sceptical” about nuclear power

As all three contenders in the Welsh Labour Leadership race voted last month to dump  mud from the Hinkley Point nuclear complex off Penarth – it might have seemed as if nuclear power would not  be an issue in the battle for the Wales Labour leadership …but it is now.

The Geiger counter crackled back into life when the front-runner in the leadership contest –  Mark Drakeford – was debating nuclear power in a hustings in Newport last night and referring to comments made by rival leadership candidate Baroness  Eluned Morgan.

Vaughan Gething (Labour AM for Cardiff South and Penarth)

Baroness Eluned Morgan

For the second time this week it appears Drakeford – in another knuckle-knawing moment – has used an unfortunate choice of words – although perhaps was being more honest about what he really thinks of nuclear power than his rivals Vaughan Gething (Labour AM for Cardiff South and Penarth) and Eluned Morgan.

Drakeford explains that  he was rebutting what he called Eluned Morgan’s “belief that  nuclear power is somehow an advantage to the environment.” and had retorted “Tell that to the people in Chernobyl, tell that to people in Fukushima! [ both locations of major nuclear power station disasters].

Amid groans of disapproval from the debate audience, Drakeford went on to say  “You may not like it, but YOU wouldn’t like it if you were living there either, and being told this was the way that your environment will be safeguarded for the future.”

A graphic impression of the new Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station on Anglesey

This alleged faux-pas is now being eagerly seized upon by his two rivals (Baroness Morgan and Cardiff South and Penarth AM  Vaughan Gething) as showing a lack of commitment to the controversial new Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station project on Anglesey – a second nuclear power station at the Wylfa site which could yield thousands of new jobs .

Gething and Morgan claim that Drakeford is  “sceptical” about nuclear power, and assert that this could damage the prospects of the proposed Wylfa Newydd nuclear project . Hyping up the issue for all it’s worth, Vaughan Gething  said Mr Drakeford’s comments would be “deeply damaging” to Wylfa Newydd .

Currently Mark Drakeford is the Welsh Labour Government’s Finance Minister and is seen as the front-runner in the contest for the Labour leadership in Wales – and if elected would automatically become First Minister. The ballot process began today.

Drakeford retaliated by criticising the “leak” of dialogue from the apparently “private” meeting to the BBC as  “highly biased and partisan” and said  no-one should rely on it to judge his views. Drakeford also pointed out his campaign for the Labour Leadership had been endorsed by none less that the Labour MP for Anglesey Albert Owen.”If that doesn’t tell you that the idea that my views are somehow hostile to Wylfa is not true, then I don’t know what else I can do to persuade you”, he said.

Stirring the pot today was Vaughan Gething supporter Hefin David  – who is Labour AM for Caerphilly. Mr David said “In these difficult times we should think carefully about the words we use. There is a certain recklessness in this comparison that I’m sure wasn’t intended by Mark Drakeford.”

Meanwhile Stephen Doughty the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth announced that he had cast his leadership election vote in favour of Vaughan Gething


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Trelogan House in Bradford Place, Penarth as it is now.

A scheme to re-develop a traditional large vintage semi-detached house in Bradford Place Penarth – within the Penarth Conservation Area –  has been recommended for refusal by the planning committee of Penarth Town Council.

The house involved – Tregolan House – is next door to the classic shipowner’s mansion The Lindens  – and has in recent years been rented out as 4 flats .

The existing front facade of Tregolan House, Bradford Place would be retained – the big change would be at the side and at the rear

Now however a planning application has now been submitted on behalf of Oakleigh House Developments Ltd to redevelop the property, with the number of apartments increased from 4 to 6 – all with two bedrooms.

To create the extra accommodation,it’s proposed to add a large modern glazed 3-storey extension at the rear of the property.  Two of the flats would have balconies.

The massive three- storey glazed extension it’s proposed to build at the rear of Tregolan House in Bradford Place

Tregolan House – as seen from Bradford Place – would have a three-storey modern glazed extension added to the side of it which extends into the rear garden of the property.  The major change would be visible from the existing properties on either side of Tregolan House site.

The developers had already had pre-application discussions with the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning office prior to submitting the application….however the scheme was not well-received by Penarth Town Council’s planning committee.

The Town Clerk, Emma Boylan, reading out the proposal quoted the developers as saying that the front wall (of the front garden) was “in a dangerous condition and at risk of collapse”.    It would be rebuilt to match the existing wall or retained.  It was noted that a tree survey and arboricultural impact assessment would be required.

An aerial photograph in the development document which indicates the development site at Tregolan House

The Town Clerk said Penarth Town Council’s own consultant [Emma Langmaid of Prospero Consultancy – who vets all proposals coming before Penarth Council] – had recommended that the council’s planning committee should object to the scheme. She said the proposed extension had not been “sensitively designed”  .

Ms Langmaid said the side elevation of the extension “creates a large mass with a considerable amount of glazing” and appeared to be “unneighbourly” and would “lead to loss of privacy and overlooking” – factors which the Vale of Glamorgan Council had already pointed out in its response to the pre-application proposal . Ms Langmaid added that the development would also fail to preserve or enhance the character of the Penarth Conservation Area  .

Cllr Rhiannon Birch (Labour Cornerswell) Leader of Penarth Town Council

Cllr Rhiannon Birch (Labour Cornerswell) said the proposed extension “looked like an office block” . She said it was “overdevelopment of the site”. She pointed out that there was already other developments on Bradford Place “some of which are extremely ugly” and they should not be added to .

Cllr Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines)

Cllr Gary Allman  (Conservative St Augustines)  was also against the proposal

Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) said two letters of objection from local residents had been received including from the property next door “The Lindens” .

Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines)

Chairing the meeting, Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines) said the size of the extension at the  rear would mean neighbours “suffering considerable loss of light“. He said the Vale planning officer dealing with the application had already  gone back to the agents to repeat some of the concerns highlighted when the pre-application submission had been made.

Cllr Martin Turner, (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

The officer was expecting to receive “amendments”. If those amendments were sufficiently significant then the matter would be referred back to Penarth Town Council planning committee.

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) asked whether the Penarth Council would now be formally objecting to the development [ and would be informing the Vale of Glamorgan Council accordingly] .

It was confirmed that this was the case.









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Some of the graves in Penarth cemetery are held by families on 99 or 75 year leases

Penarth Town Council is to offer to extend the existing leases (known as “Exclusive Rights for Burial”)  on grave plots in Penarth Cemetery.

From 1903 local residents and families had been able to purchase –  from Penarth Urban District Council  – 99-year leases giving them, or their descendants, exclusive rights for burial in designated grave plots.

Gravedigging at Penarth Cemetery. There are some plots with “nobody in them”

Subsequently Penarth Town Council – the successor of the Urban District Council – released new grave plots on shorter 75-year leases  .

Now it’s being proposed that on those graves where the lease is due to expire shortly, Penarth Town Council will write to the leaseholders  to ask them whether they wish to extend the lease for a further period of 30 years at a cost of £400 per renewal .

If the a lease is not renewed, and the council’s offer of an extension is not taken up,  the grave in question automatically reverts to Penarth Town Council as the burial authority.

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) asked how many people in the next 5 years might be  likely to take up an extended lease.

Victoria Lawrence, the council’s principal venues and facilities officer ,said there were about 20 grave leaseholders to whom the council would be writing shortly .

She pointed out that some of the older (99-year)  leases  had already expired  – and that in some cases it had not proved possible to contact family members or friends to obtain a decision.

It has now been agreed that the council will write to the existing leaseholders at the earliest opportunity . This will enable the council to “stay in contact” with the grave owners. The council will also inform owners that although there might already be 2 or 3 interments already buried within a single grave, there would still be space for 4 to 6 cremated remains above .

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) asked whether there were any graves in the cemetery  “which don’t have any owners or nobody claims them ” . He was told that there weren’t any .

Councillors were told that a couple of  empty graves had been found for which the lease had expired but there was “nobody in there” .

There were also other unused graves which were empty but were still being held for the for the eventual use of the existing leaseholders.



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Mark Drakeford’s frank admissions about his own limitations may give some of his Labour supporters second thoughts in the Labour leadership ballot

The mantle of First Minister of Wales has come within touching distance for Penarth Labour AM Vaughan Gething after his rival for the Wales Labour Party leadership, Mark Drakeford, revealed – in a car-crash tv interview – that he doesn’t really fancy the job all that much.

Left-wing Corbyn-supporting Drakeford is one of many Labour politicians in the Welsh Assembly who have risen without trace, have never really been subjected to much scrutiny until now and clearly possess precious little in the way of media skills.

Mark Drakeford has been around “since the dawn of devolution” – said Vaughan Gething

In an unchallenging BBC Wales interview this week Drakeford let it slip that he was “a hesitant candidate” and that he had “no great personal ambition to be First Minister”.

Digging an even deeper hole for himself, Drakeford sounded like an elderly snowflake as he went on to admit  “ I don’t think I will look forward to doing First Minister’s questions particularly. I don’t particularly like that sort of bear-garden atmosphere or way of doing politics.”

Making matters worse, he then revealed “I don’t look forward to doing media interviews. I think some people are fine with them. Me, I’m always nervous before I do them and so on.”.

…It now turns out he was right to be nervous.

In making that frank –  but somewhat lukewarm – assessment of himself, Drakeford appears to have confirmed he’d be well advised to  duck the interviews, pass up on the pressure  – and maybe forget all about becoming First Minister.

There was desperate attempt to recover lost ground in a further tv interview last night but, in that, Drakeford again looked like what he is – an old man whose future is in the rear-view mirror.

Baroness Eluned Morgan is already ahead of the two other candidates according to some polls

In the latest poll Drakeford averages only 4.0out of 10, compared to 4.4 for Gething and 4.5 for the third candidate, Baroness Eluned Morgan. In terms of selecting the best single candidate, 9% chose Morgan, 8% chose Gething, ..but only 5% plumped for Drakeford.

The New Statesman  says party members “may start to question whether Mark Drakeford as Leader would be an electoral asset for his party.”


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Surprisingly only 46% of local residents who took part in the Penarth Town Council survey said that they visited the Town Centre every day, 44% of them visit once a week.

The preliminary results of a public consultation on the future of Penarth called “Your Future, Your Say” were conveyed last night to members of Penarth Town Council –  and reveals some worrying statistics about the amount of use now being made of the Town Centre by the people of Penarth.

The survey was conducted both on-line and in hard-copy and gave all residents of Penarth, local businesses, community groups and charities an opportunity to set-out their priorities for the future development of the town.

The data gathered is still being analysed  – and a full detailed report is to be issued in due course – but in the meantime the council has released some of the initial findings.

The most worrying data to emerge is the relatively small percentages of local residents who make regular use of the town centre itself – for shopping


People seem to like shopping in Penarth – but only when they’ve managed to find somewhere to park

A surprisingly-low  percentage of only 46% of respondents said they “use the Town Centre on a daily basis”44% of them visiting it “weekly“. 77% said they wanted a “greater range of shops with a focus on local independent businesses”  

78% of respondents were aware of the council’s “Penarth in Bloom” initiative

85% of respondents knew about the “Shop In Penarth” scheme and 93% had attended one or more event organised by Penarth Town Council.


The 1904 Chapel and mortuary at Penarth Cemetery is used just for storing machinery – and it’s forbidden to take photographs inside the listed building

Most people had no idea that Penarth Town Council is responsible for running the cemetery – or what’s called “Bereavement Services” ; only 27% of residents knew that it was and 57% of respondents had never visited Penarth Cemetery.

70% of respondents were in favour of the cemetery’s chapel being “renovated into a flexible space for both community hire and memorial services”. 70% were also in favour of adding more small plots for cremated remains at the cemetery.


The Turner House Gallery in Plymouth Road Penarth – and its original portfolio of Turner paintings – worth millions – is believed to be legally owned by the people of Penarth under the James Pyke Thompson bequest but was handed over to the National Museum of Wales

64% of respondents had heard about Penarth Town Council’s discussions with the National Museum of Wales to manage the Turner House Art Gallery (which was a bequest to the people of Penarth) “in partnership” with the museum.  (The National Museum still holds in its vaults all the valuable original Turner paintings which it acquired when it assumed control of Turner House from Penarth Urban District Council in the 1920s)

54% of respondents had visited Turner House – of which 57% attended exhibitions there “on a monthly basis”

77% of respondents want Turner House to continue to have an “exhibition space” and 71% of respondents want there to be space for local “makers/artists”. 61% wanted Turner House to be available as a meeting place for community groups.


The Paget Rooms in Penarth stages live threate productions, music and live National Theatre productions – relayed by satellite.

91% of respondents have visited the Paget Rooms at least once with 35% going there “regularly” and 56% attending “monthly”.

Commercial “Fayres” like Penarth Wedding Fayre have proved popular at the Paget Rooms

The main attraction at the Paget Rooms is “Fayres” which is why 60% of respondents go there.

The other big draw is “other forms of public events not including National Theatre Live”.  78% of respondents said they would be “more encouraged to visit if there was a wider programme of theatre and music”  and 44% wanted there to be more activities at the Paget Rooms for children and young people.


The Kymin is a house and a large area of woods and open grassland which is owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and rented to Penarth Town Council

92% of respondents had visited the Kymin – and of those 44% go there regularly

57% of respondents visit in order to walk through the grounds and 54% said they had attended for a public event [ The annual Penarth Food Festival is one such public event – although it did not take place this year because of the weather]


The new signage on the frontage of Penarth Town Council’s HQ

A whole page of the report is given over to the Council’s own “West House Community Garden” . It transpires that only 47% of respondents knew the front garden of West House in Stanwell Road is open to the public.

43% thought there should be a “more attractive planting scheme” [There’s a lot of bare earth in the garden at the moment]

There should be no difficulty in finding a vacant seat in Penarth Town Council’s Community Garden”

60% seemed to think more seating was required in the Community Garden . [There are in fact plenty of seats and benches there – which may suggest most respondents had not visited the West House grounds since the recent make-over  – see PDN ]

[ PDN Additional Note added 22:20 November 8 2018: Some commentators have asked how many people responded to the copnsultation.  No figures have been given for the number of respondents who filled  in the council’s questionnaire. However in September councillors were told ” “In terms of actual returned responses we don’t go over 200 I don’t think,  but in terms of the engagement you can build on that it will be a wider reach”]

In these preliminary findings there is no reference made to Penarth’s “Jewel in the Crown”Penarth Pier (which is owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council) –  nor to Penarth Marina – presumably because Penarth Town Council has no control over these areas, nor of the major parks in Penarth.

The Pembroke Terrace children’s playground – the only  playground owned by Penarth Town Council is not referenced in the report

The Labour-controlled Penarth Town Council does however own  a single childrens’ playground at Pembroke Terrace  which is long-overdue for refurbishment to bring it up to the same standard as other Vale of Glamorgan Council-owned playgrounds in the town. This playground is not mentioned in the survey report.




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BBC TV Wales Today presenter Lucy Owen

It’s been confirmed that Lucy Owen – one of the main presenters of the BBC’s nightly television news programme Wales Today – is to compere the ceremonial switching-on of Penarth’s Christmas Lights on Sunday November 18th.

Penarth Town Councillors were informed last night that this time the outdoor stage for the event will be erected “side-on” across Windsor Road –  between Barclays Bank and Lloyds Bank – the first time such a layout has been implemented.

The switch on was at 17:00 last year – this year it will be half an hour later than that – and the stage will be across Windsor Road – and not outside the St Fagans pub as in 2017

Nicholas McDonald, Penarth Town Council’s principal officer for communications and events informed councillors that the event – staged with the involvement of the commercial events company Genero – will begin at 15:00 hours and will continue later than in previous years until 19:00 hours.  The climax – the actual switching-on of the Christmas Lights – will take place at 17: 30.

Mr McDonald said that the youth organisation Penarth Youth Action would be “more involved” this year and would be assisting with the stewarding of the event.

The three Christmas Trees being installed in 2016 – supplanting the former single Christmas Tree which always seemed to lean to one side. The new replacement clock has an illuminated dial.

Once again three individual Christmas Trees will be installed on the Clock Roundabout around the new Town Clock which –  unlike its precedessor –  now lights up at night.

A number of  “free craft workshops” taking place at West House  during weekends following the Christmas Lights switch-on which have been set up with the aid of additional grant funding obtained by the council . These – it is hoped – will “extend the Christmas season” .

It has been confirmed that Father Christmas will be attending the switch on – with Mrs Christmas. The suggestion of a transgendered Christmas personage provoked laughter in the council chamber

Mr McDonald said it had also been confirmed that Father Christmas would be visiting Penarth for the Switch On.

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)  – with perhaps an eye to equal opportunities legislation – asked whether there would be a “Mother Christmas”  as well?   It was confirmed that indeed there will be a “Mother Christmas” present.

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) provoked laughter when he enquired whether there would be a “transgendered” Christmas personage present.

Referring to the booking of Lucy Owen as the host of the occasion, Cllr Turner said it was good to hear that the council had obtained a “good name there switching the lights on”.

[There has been controversy in previous years over the costs of engaging high-profile  presenters for the Penarth Christmas Lights Switch-On – specifically a large fee paid to BBC Wales Today weatherman Derek Brockway in 2013 . Other  comperes  have included BBC Sports presenter Frances Donovan and the broadcaster/comedian Owen Money – who performed the task voluntarily.]

Cllr Mike Cuddy as mayor hosted the Christmas Lights switch on in 2016

Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Auguistines) said there had been concerns last year of “crowding near the stage”  and asked whether the new location of the stage at this year’s event would “mitigate” this problem.  Officer McDonald said there was no ideal location for the stage in the town centre but said the proposed new site between Lloyds Bank and Barclays Bank appeared to be the best one.

Cllr Ben Gray (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Ben Gray (Conservative Plymouth Ward) enquired about certain areas being designated as “quiet areas” or “pushchair areas”  .

Mr McDonald said “The areas were certainly there last year  but perhaps awareness of that was not really got out there” and said that the revised stage positioning would help.

No estimate was given in the meeting of the number of people expected to attend the event. There was no mention either of what happens in the weeks after the formal switch on. In the past the lights have not been turned on until 16:00 –  whereas some traders have pressed for the lights to be on all afternoon to brighten-up the look of the town on  gloomy December days.


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