VALE CONSIDERS A 2.5% INCREASE IN COUNCIL TAX

The cost of keeping a roof over your head in Penarth is set to rise. Householders in Penarth may not know by how much Council Tax will increase in 2019/20 until March next year . It could be 2.5% ….or more.

The Conservative-run  Vale of Glamorgan Council – struggling with consistent underfunding from the Welsh Labour Government – is having to resort to guesswork to figure out how it can balance its books next year and the year after that.

The Welsh Labour Government still hasn’t given local councils any idea of how much central government funding they can expect to receive next year.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council offices in Barry

The Vale Council has therefore had to make an educated guess and is assuming that it will need to increase Council Tax by 2.5% a year over the next 3 years  (in line with inflation as measured by the current Consumer Price Index).

Such an increase would provide the council with an extra £1,700,000 a year – but it still means the council will need to reduce its spending by £12,510,000 over the next three years to stay in the black.

All councils in Wales still use the misleading “Band D” rate s the yardstick for Council Tax. In the Vale of Glamorgan the Band D Council Tax rate is actually lower than many other local councils in Wales . It’s set at £1,1862.6% below the Welsh average of
£1,219.

Increasing Council Tax for Band D to the Welsh average would provide the Vale Council with another  £1,900,000 per annum.

The Vale Council is working on the basis of a possible 2.5% increase in Council Tax for next year but says “in order to reduce the funding shortfall a higher percentage increase in council tax could be considered”.

The new rate of Council Tax has to be set by March 11th 2019 but will probably be formally announced in February .

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PENARTH AM ANDREW R T DAVIES BECOMES SHADOW ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY

Former Conservative Leader in the Welsh Assembly, Andrew R T Davies (AM for South Wales Central) now takes on the shadow environment brief in Cardiff Bay

Andrew R T Davies the Conservative Assembly Member for South Wales Central ( which includes Penarth)  has been appointed as his party’s main spokesman on environmental matters in the Assembly.

Mr Davies is taking on the role of shadow cabinet secretary for the environment in the Conservative Group in Cardiff Bay .

He had originally agreed to take the role on temporarily but has now been installed in the position on a permanent basis .

Agriculture is part of the new role for Penarth’s pro-Brexit AM Andrew R T Davies

Andrew R T Davies is a farmer by profession who was brought up on  his family’s holding at St Hilary in the Vale of Glamorgan . His new role will include responsibility for the environment, rural affairs and energy.

Mr Davies says  “I still run the family farm in St Hilary – and have two sons who want to go into the business – so I make no apologies for declaring an interest in farming and agriculture. It is an industry that is very important to me – but sadly farmers in Wales have been let down by the Welsh Government for too long.”

He added “I very much look forward to getting stuck into the new brief, standing up for Welsh farmers and holding Ministers to account.”

 

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A CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH THE MUD-DUMPERS AT CARDIFF GROUNDS

The Penarth fishing boat “Bad Boyz” intercepts the MV Pagadder in the middle of mud-dumping operations this morning off Penarth

During Hinkley Point mud dumping operations off Penarth this morning there was an encounter between the Belgian mud hopper MV Pagadder and a local fishing boat with what appeared to be a TV crew on board .

Independent Assembly Member Neil McEvoy – who has spearheaded the campaign against the mud-dumping – has called for a flotilla of local boats to go out to Cardiff Grounds and attempt to blockade the Belgian mud boats but it’s not clear whether this was one such attempt or was just a filming expedition.

The fishing boat “Bad Boyz IV” wasn’t shy about showing the Belgian mud-dumpers what her nationality is

BanBoyz IV heads for Penarth after her close encounter with the alien mud-dumper

The fishing boat “Bad Boyz” – patriotically festooned with Welsh flags – appeared to manoeuver very close to MV Pagadder whilst the hull of the hopper was opened up to release her cargo of 2,000 tonnes of Hinkley  mud onto the Cardiff Grounds.

Part-funded by the Chinese, the French energy company EDF is employing Belgian ships to shift 320,000 tonnes of offshore mud from the Hinkley Point nuclear complex in Somerset, England  and dump it in Welsh waters.

Whether EDF has the legal right to do this will be established in Cardiff Civil Justice Court on Monday next week.

 

 

 

 

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PENARTH TOWN COUNCIL’S GROUNDS ARE NOW COVERED BY CCTV

The re-developed front garden of Penarth Town Council’s HQ at West House, Stanwell Road features new facilities and floral displays – and the somewhat eerie silhouette of a WW1 “Silent Soldier”

It’s emerged that the  grounds of Penarth Town Council’s headquarters at West House are being constantly monitored by CCTV.

The revelation was made in a discussion about developments in the front garden of West House – which have been undertaken using Section 106 funding [ money paid by local developers as a condition of receiving planning permission].

Former Councillor Ken Lloyd (Conservative Cornerswell) with his consort Georgia Bennett try out the new seating area they have donated for the grounds of  Penarth Town Council’s HQ at West House, Stanwell Road (Penarth Town Council photo)_

Amongst the new features of the West House front garden is a new seating area which has been donated by the immediate past-Mayor of Penarth Cllr Ken Lloyd (Conservative Cornerswell) and his consort Georgia Bennett

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

The leader of the Conservatives on the town council, Cllr Martin Turner,  (Plymouth Ward) praised the development of the front garden of the premises and said “One of the things I think is good is that we have opened up the front of West House . With all the input into the front of West House and garden” Cllr Turner asked “do we have any CCTV covering the area in the event of there being a problem”?

The Town Clerk Emma Boylan confirmed that there was indeed CCTV covering the front garden of West House – an installation of which  most councillors appear to have been unaware.

Cllr Turner then asked whether there would be signage installed to warn anyone in the garden that their activities were being video-recorded . It was confirmed that such notices ( which are not on display at the moment) are to be installed.

It appears however that most local residents are unaware that the front lawn and gardens of West House actually ARE open to the general public.

The Labour controlled Penarth Town Council uses front garden of West House (now designated as a “public space”) – as an area where it can display Labour Party banners

[Despite its name, West House actually faces South and the sunny benches in the garden have been used by councillors to “catch some rays”  . Some have regarded it as a private fiefdom –  and handy place to display Labour Party banners ] 

Cllr Yvonne Murphy (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Yvonne Murphy (Labour St Augustines) asked whether some signage could be installed to say This garden is open to the public” ?

Cllr Murphy was told by a council officer that such signage was “on order” and Victoria Primary schoolchildren had done the artwork for this. The new signage would say that the area is a “community garden”. There would also be signs on the various plots in the garden saying “community plots” .

The Town Clerk also pointed out that the council’s “wi-fi” service was also available in the garden for members of the public could use “during their lunch hour” .

Cllr Murphy said “free wi-fi” was one of the main requests of young people to whom she had spoken to in the current consultation on the future of the town [ See https://tinyurl.com/y7e6htph ] . A consultation with Penarth Youth Action and Stanwell School 6th form pupils had asked for such a facility “especially for their revision sessions”

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Cornerswell) who is Vice Chair of the Public Spaces committee, said he would like to pass on his thanks to those who had done the work on the West House front garden “because I think it looks absolutely fantastic . I’ve seen them a few days and they have been grafting and it’s not just work – they’ve put some love into that”.

Cllr Jon Luxton (Labour Stanwell)

Councillors were told the work on the garden was 75% complete and further planting would take place in the spring  .

The Mayor Cllr Jon Luxton said he would like to propose a vote of thanks to all those involved – which was passed by general assent.

Meanwhile there remains doubt as to whether the Penarth Town Centre CCTV system functions at all.

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AT LAST – PENARTH COUNCIL IS TO DEBATE HINKLEY POINT MUD-DUMPING

Cllr Angela Thomas (Labour Plymouth Ward) has tabled a motion to be debated by Penarth Town Council demanding assurances about possible radioctive substances in the Hinkley Point mud being dumped off Penarth – and regular monitoring of  sea-water quality on Penarth beach

A Penarth councillor – Angela Thomas (Labour Plymouth Ward)  is demanding that the Town Council debates the controversial dumping of mud from the Hinkley Point nuclear complex into the sea off Penarth .

In last night’s meeting of Penarth Town Council’s “Events, Venues and Open Spaces Committee”   Cllr Thomas unexpectedly gave notice that she would be moving a motion at the next full council meeting demanding reassurances about the safety of the mud from Natural Resources Wales and demanding monitoring of sea-water quality at Penarth. [Natural Resources Wales is the Welsh Labour Government’s largely ineffective  environmental “watchdog” body that’s been called a “tame and toothless poodle”.] 

Cllr Angela Thomas (Labour Plymouth Ward)

In taking this action Cllr Thomas is doing something which no other councillors, AMs or (come to that)  politicians of any other party have so far dared to do.

She is taking on the entrenched Welsh Labour Government who authorised the controversial mud dumping programme in the first place and then deliberately stifled debate on the issue in its own Petitions Committee.

Cllr Thomas told  members of Penarth Town Council last night that she would like to “mirror public concern over the dredged mud being disposed of  just outside of Penarth beach.”  

She said I would like to bring a motion to council to ask for re-assurances from the NRW [Natural Resources Wales] that the material is free of radioactive substances and ask if they will be monitoring the water quality on the beach. ”  .

On Twitter Cllr Angela Thomas is also putting pressure on veteran Labour AMs Jane Hutt and Julie Morgan to back her campaign, and is putting to shame many Labour politicians who have ignored the issue

Stephen Doughty Labour AM for Cardiff South and Penarth

Cllr Thomas’s gutsy stance on behalf of her constituents comes in marked contrast to the failure of  Cardiff South and Penarth Labour MP Stephen Doughty to represent the concerns of local people on the issue.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething

Similarly, the wanna-be leader of the Labour Party in Wales, Vaughan Gething (AM for Cardiff South and Penarth)  has also remained silent on the mud dumping controversy – even though he is Minister of Health .

The Conservative run Vale of Glamorgan Council has already protested about the mud dumping but –  until now – the  Labour controlled Penarth Town Council has  steered clear of the issue.

Independent AM for South Wales Central Neil McEvoy brought a rousing finale to the rally and went aboard one of the Belgian mud-vessels in Barry to talk to the crew direct – in  French

Undoubtedly leading the charge on the issue is Neil McEvoy Independent AM for South Wales Central (which includes Penarth). He rallied demonstrators outside the National Assembly on August Bank Holiday and last Sunday even went aboard   the Belgian dredger Sloeber in Barry Docks and talked to the crew during their evening meal in French – until they asked him to leave.

He’s also applying pressure to the Belgian seafarers’ union and wants local boatowners to band together to blockade the mud vessels.

MEANWHILE …..

Last night saw the  MV Pagadder start mud dumping operations. She is  the second of two Belgian motor hoppers contracted to bring 320,000 tonnes of mud from the Hinkley Point nuclear complex in Somerset and dump it in Welsh waters on the Cardiff Grounds Spoil Disposal site – just a mile offshore from Penarth.

In heavy rain and high winds the mud dumping vessel MV Pagadder  – riding low in the water –  passes the Monkstone light en route to Penarth last night.  These pictures were taken through mist and rain from Penarth at 18:00 last night. We apologise for their poor quality

Waves wash over the deck of Pagadder as she turns towards Penarth

Pagadder is so heavily loaded she seems to have very little freeboard as she slows over the Cardiff Grounds disposal site

Pagadder stops directly over the mud dump location

The ship rises out of the water as the cargo of mud begins to falls out of her split bottom and as the sides of her hull separate underwater

With most of her cargo released Pagadder rises further out of the water

Almost the entire cargo of Hinkley Point mud has now been allowed to fall into the sea off Penarth . Pagadder will now be working alongside sister ship MV Sloeber to bring hundreds of thousands of tonnes of Hinkley Point mud to Penarth

Last night Pagadder worked in strong winds and heavy rain to bring her first cargo of Hinkley Point mud to the Cardiff Grounds dredge disposal site off Penarth. Although visibility was poor Pagadder appeared to be working without navigation or deck-lights . [Her partner vessel MV Sloeber is fully illuminated when carrying out her dumping operations.]

It was also noticeable that MV Pagadder was much lower in the water than sister ship MV Sloeber – indicating that she may have been carrying a greater cargo of mud than her identical sister ship. The freeboard  of Pagadder rose considerably when she had released her complete  load of mud into the sea off Penarth.

The bid for an injunction to stop the mud dumping comes up again in court in Cardiff on Monday September 24th 2018

On Monday next week the hearing of an application for a legal injunction to halt the dumping is due to resume in court at the Cardiff Civil Justice Centre.

The hearing was adjourned on Monday this week because the French energy company EDF –  which is building the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station – had not completed its preparations for the case.

 

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PENARTH’S MOREL COURT IS “OUTSTANDING CARE HOME 2018”

The Morel Court care home on Raisdale Road, Penarth – which has received the accolade of “Outstanding Care Home 2018” from the Health and Social Services Inspectorate

The Morel Court residential home on Raisdale Road, Penarth  has received the accolade of  “Outstanding Care Home 2018” from the Health and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.

The Mayor of Penarth Cllr Jon Luxton was guest of honour at a special “high tea” held at Morel Court yesterday to celebrate the achievement.

Residents and guests listening to a warm tribute paid to the staff and volunteers at Morel Court by its manager Suzanne Taplin with organiser June Mansell and the Mayor of Penarth Cllr John Luxton .

Morel Court residents and guests  gathered to hear the home’s manager Suzanne Taplin  pay tribute to her team of staff and volunteers .

She said “I would  like to use this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to all the members of the team . Every participant has made a huge contribution to the success of the home. ” She said it was an honour to be the manager of  “such a professional and highly devoted team”.

Morel Court  is run by the Methodist Homes Association (MHA) which donated a magnolia tree as lasting memento of the home’s achievement.

In pouring rain the Mayor of Penarth Cllr John Luxton gets a helping hand with the spade work from Morel Court manager Suzanne Taplin

A picture for the album: Morel Court volunteer Gordon Shumack wields a brolly to keep the rain off as the Mayor of Penarth Cllr Jon Luxton and Morel Court manager Suzanne Taplin join forces on the  ceremonial planting

Despite the pouring rain the magnolia was ceremonially planted by the Mayor of Penarth Cllr Luxton and home manager Suzanne Taplin with volunteer Gordon Schumack providing a giant brolly to keep the rain off.

The Methodist Homes Association  runs several residential care homes across the country but Morel Court is the only one only one in Wales to have achieved the distinction of being  “Outstanding Care Home”

The special cake which was shared out amongst all the Morel Court residents

After braving the weather at the official planting ceremony residents and guests received a slice of a special celebration cake made to mark the occasion.

There are currently 36 residents at Morel Court who, community coordinator June Mansell says, all regard it as a “home from home” .

 

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TEENAGER ‘WITH WEAPON’ ARRESTED AFTER AFFRAY OUTSIDE ST CYRES SCHOOL

Entrances to St Cyres School, Penarth, are now being patrolled by police and school staff.

A schoolboy  has been arrested on suspicion of “affray and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place” following an incident involving other youths outside St Cyres School on Redlands Road, Penarth

It’s understood that NONE of the pupils involved in the alleged affray are pupils at St Cyres.

The boy who has been arrested is 13-years-old and has been released on bail.

Dr Jonathan Hicks headmaster of St Cyres School

St Cyres headteacher Dr Jonathan Hicks has announced that police officers and St Cyres School Staff are now being stationed at the main school gate “for the foreseeable future”.

Parents first heard about the incident yesterday in a letter sent out by  Dr Hicks who said “Please be assured that we are doing everything we can to prevent a repetition of such behaviour which involved youths who do not attend St Cyres School. We have met with the police and a strong staff and police presence will be at the main school gate for the foreseeable future.”

A South Wales Police spokeswoman said today : “We were called to Redlands Road on September 17, at around 2.50pm with reports of a disturbance. A 13-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of affray and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place. He has been released on police bail. Extra patrols are being carried out in the area to provide reassurance.”

The Vale of Glamorgan Council – which is the local education authority – has said  “This is an extremely unusual incident, which did not involve any St Cyres pupils acting inappropriately, but one we are nonetheless taking extremely seriously as the safety of everyone who attends Vale of Glamorgan schools is of paramount importance. Steps have been taken to ensure such an episode will not be repeated. We have been in close contact with the police, who have agreed to provide extra security at the school gates, where they will be supported with a strong staff presence.”

The Vale Council emphasised that “there is no suggestion those responsible for this incident were part of St Cyres School and we will be looking into the circumstances surrounding it in an attempt to take appropriate action.”

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