VALE URGES PENARTH ARTS & CRAFTS TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETING ON PAVILION

The Vale of Glamorgan Council is now putting pressure on Penarth Arts and Crafts to hold a public meeting on the future of Penarth Pier Pavilion

The Vale of Glamorgan Council is urging Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd  [a.k.a. PACL – the struggling company/charity which runs Penarth Pier Pavilion]  – to organise a public meeting in Penarth about the future of the Pier Pavilion.

It was revealed in last night’s full meeting of the Vale Council that there has been a second top-level meeting between senior council cabinet members and officials and representatives of PACL about the future of the Pier Pavilion.

The revelation came when the Vale Council cabinet member responsible for learning and culture Cllr Bob Penrose (Independent Sully) was answering a question from Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) asked for an update on Penarth Pier Pavilion

Cllr Wilson had said  “Another quarter has passed with no demonstrable progress in relation to the operations of the Penarth Pier Pavilion”. He asked Cllr Penrose if he could  provide an update of developments in the last three months.

Cllr Penrose said that he – along with the Leader of the Vale Council – Cllr John Thomas, its managing director Rob Thomas and the  Vale Council’s  head of finance had already had discussions in August and had had a further meeting with PACL last week at which they discussed the current position at the Pier Pavilion.

Cllr Bob Penrose (Independent Sully) cabinet member for learning and culture, gave more details about the current state of play at Penarth Pier Pavilion

Cllr Penrose said that last week’s meeting PACL representatives had “shared their  current plans and challenges” with the Vale Council delegation.     Cllr Penrose said he was able to offer his ” opinions and advice on how they should face these future challenges”. There will be a similar further meeting scheduled in mid to late January next year.

Cllr Wilson said many members of the public – particularly in Penarth – saw the Pier Pavilion issue as “a big political hot potato” and what they would like would be a public  meeting on this matter  – which the Vale Council could facilitate – so that members of the public could understand what was happening at the Pavilion. Cllr Wilson said it was known that “not everything was working as it should be”. 

Cllr Wilson said there were “Lots of rumours going around” about the future of the Pavilion and he considered that there should be a  “Public Open Forum” held  to reassure people about its future.

Cllr Penrose said he had considered carefully a similar request for a public meeting which Cllr Wilson had made in an earlier meeting – and had discussed this with Penarth Arts and Crafts (PACL) in last week’s meeting.

Cllr Penrose said “It is my view that such a meeting SHOULD be organised – but led by Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd. ” .

Cllr Penrose explained that PACL had leased the Pier Pavilion from the Vale Council commencing in June 2012 for a period of 125 years.  He said “The lease permits the use of the community venue as a provision for an art gallery, public exhibition hall and ancillary use such as the cinema, cafe and  shop” 

He said “The first principal covenant was to commence and carry out  the works to repair and refurbish the Pavilion. This work has been completed and there is nothing for this council to enforce at this time. There are no covenants governing the manner in which the managed – and indeed it would be highly unusual is there was – as the lease deals with the occupation of the property only and not the way that it is managed . “

He said that at the Vale Council Cabinet meeting of the 7th of October 2013 the [then Labour Vale administration] had agreed a grant of  £100,000 towards supporting the operation and managing the Pier Pavilion during the first 20 months  of its operation . The grant was paid in monthly installments  – each of £5,000 – which began on September 1st 2013  to defray the running costs as set out in the business plan and was to be paid up to “a maximum of 20 invoices”.

Professor Anthony Hazell, chairman of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd. The pressure is now on him to facilitate a public meeting on the Pavilion

Cllr Penrose said these monthly payments finished in January 2016  and as a result the Vale Council “is currently not committed to grant any financial support”.  He emphasises however “We understand the importance of the Pier Pavilion  as a visitor attraction and an important facility. It is also important, as it is OUR building . That is why we continue to seek dialogue with PACL”

Cllr Penrose said “The day-to-day running of the Pavilion and links with the community and town of Penarth are primarily a matter for PACL”

On the mooted public meeting or “Open Forum”  Cllr Penrose said Were PACL in a position to organise a public meeting then I would clearly wish to be involved but I think it’s important to understand that this is a matter for PACL “

In a side-swipe at the previous Labour administration in the Vale Council which had given the £100,000 grant to PACL, Cllr Penrose pointed out that the Labour-run Vale cabinet had “not seen fit to organise and hold any public meetings as part of that agreement”.

 

 

 

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REPORT RECOMMENDS PUTTING PENARTH INTO GIANT LABOUR CONSTITUENCY

The Welsh Assembly – the seat of the Welsh Labour Govermment would be officially designated as the “Welsh Parliament” if the report’s recommendations are adopted.

A report by an “independent “ academic panel set up by the Labour-run Welsh Assembly Government has recommended that for Assembly elections, Penarth should be part of a giant new Labour-dominated electoral constituency.

This recommendation runs totally counter to proposals already made by the UK Electoral Commission .

The Electoral Commission wanted take Penarth out of the oversized “Cardiff South and Penarth” Parliamentary constituency and put the town into a new Vale of Glamorgan East parliamentary constituency.

No 19 is the proposed new combined Cardiff South and Penarth and Cardiff Central Assembly constituency which is suggested by the report. Vaughan Gething – the current Labour AM for Cardiff South and Penarth is likely to be one of the 5 AMs who would represent the new enlarged constituency in the Welsh Assembly elected by the Single Transferable Vote system . The proposed arrangements would enshrine a permanent Labour dominance

However the Welsh Labour Government’s new report would not only force Penarth to remain in the Cardiff South and Penarth constituency for Assembly elections – but would merge it with the Labour-dominated Cardiff Central constituency . The scheme would safeguard the future of  Labour AM Vaughan Gething who currently represents Cardiff South and Penarth in the Welsh Assembly

The report has been written by a group which modestly calls itself  “the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform” under Professor Laura McAllister and proposes, amongst other things, that:-

  • The existing Welsh Assembly constituencies should be “paired” together to form a total of 20 new constituencies – each with 4 or maybe even 5 AMs  [ i.e. 100 Assembly Members]
  • In the case of Penarth,  Cardiff Central would be paired with Cardiff South and Penarth  ….with Penarth still inside it. [ This recommendation directly contradicts the UK Electoral Commission’s proposals – see http://tinyurl.com/y7ld3npb ]
  • All Assembly members would be elected by the heavily-criticised Single Transferable Vote system – instead of  “First Past the Post”.
  • Children aged 16 would be allowed to vote [A strategy seen by some as a cynical ploy to increase the Labour vote].
  • A “Gender Quota” would boost the number of female AMs – although its not clear from the report how all categories in the full LBTGQI spectrum would be accommodated.
  • The Welsh Assembly itself would be renamed as “the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru”

Inadvertently, the title of the new report implies the existing Welsh Assembly doesn’t  actually“work for Wales”

The Welsh Labour Government sponsored report is called “A Parliament that Works for Wales” and says that the Welsh Assembly needs an extra 20 to 30 members to cope with its “growing workload”.

It says “While there may be uncertainty about the powers the Assembly has as a consequence of Brexit, it is clear that its workload will certainly not be reduced and is likely to grow.” 

[PDN Note:  In fact AMs do very little work. Few people know who they are and there are extended periods of holidays during which the Assembly is closed down.]

In 1979 a Labour attempt to install a Welsh Assembly in Wales was comprehensively defeated in a public referendum.  In 1997 the New Labour Government tried a second referendum held under modified rules. Under the rules applying in the 1979 Referendum the wafer thin-majority of  6,721 votes achieved in 1997  would have be insufficient to introduce devolution – but in 1997 Labour had changed the rules so that it would win the 1997 Referendum. Labour also refused all calls for a re-count – although it’s believed the ballot papers for the contentious 1997 referendum are still held in storage.

This year, Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre found that the overwhelming majority people in Wales DO NOT think the Assembly has improved education standards in Wales – or anything else in Wales.  65% of the population of Wales think  the Assembly has made “no difference” to their living standards. 20% think they are worse off than before.

Official figures published today show that Wales has  seen the largest rise in unemployment of all UK nations and regions, up 6,000 to 71,000. Wales is the only part of the UK where the unemployment rate has risen year on year..

The leader of the UKIP group in the Welsh Assembly Neil Hamilton

UKIP Wales leader Neil Hamilton  has said the proposals in the report should be  the subject of a public referendum . He said The last thing Wales needs is yet more politicians. The Welsh Assembly currently costs £55,000,000 a year and the increase would mean a budget expansion to over £80,000,000 a year”

Conservative MP for Monmouth David Davies said AMs should work more effectively and that it is not necessary to increase their numbers.

 

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CARL SARGEANT WAS THE SOURCE OF WELSH LABOUR GOVT. BULLYING ALLEGATIONS

Carl Sargeant in one of his last appearances at the Welsh Assembly

It’s now been dramatically revealed – on the floor of the Welsh Assembly – that it was the late Welsh Government Minister Carl Sargeant himself who had first revealed the alleged “bullying” in the office of the First Minister Carwyn Jones  – 3 years ago.

Mr Sargeant committed suicide last month after being sacked by Carwyn Jones over the Labour Party’s unproven, undocumented and potentially trumped-up allegations of “inappropriate conduct” . 

Penarth Conservative AM Andrew RT Davies  interrogates the Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones on the issue of bullying in Jones’s private office

The allegation of bullying in the First Minister’s private office have been raised time and again by the Conservative Leader in the Assembly, Andrew R T Davies (AM for South Wales Central which includes Penarth) – only to have the allegations denied or stone-walled by the First Minister.

Yesterday however it was revealed, for the first time, that it had been the late Carl Sargeant himself who – in 2014 – had said HE was being bullied and that he had asked fellow AM Darren Millar (Conservative Clwyd West) formally to question the First Minister about it.

Darren Millar Conservative AM for Clwyd West shocks AMs in the Welsh Assembly

Darren Millar revealed that he had had a private conversation with Mr Sargeant in October 2014 in which Mr Sargeant had confided he was “unhappy because there was bullying going on within the Welsh Government which was coming from an individual in the First Minister’s office”. The bullying – Carl Sargeant had told Darren Millar  –  was “taking a toll on him personally –  along with others”.

Darren Millar went on to tell Assembly Members that, 2 weeks later, Mr Sargeant had given him a hand-written note containing the “draft questions” which he wanted Mr Millar to ask  Carwyn Jones.  Mr Millar submitted a re-drafted version of the written question to the First Minister – and received back the (now dubious) outright denial.

The National Assembly’s official record shows the First Minister DENIED that any allegations relating to bullying had been made to him in 2014.

The First Minister had said in a terse and carefully-crafted written reply “No allegations have been made” – an outright denial which “surprised and disappointed” Mr Sargeant Mr Millar told AMs.

However last month – in the wake of Carl Sargeant’s tragic suicide – the First Minister’s version of events  wavered somewhat when he blurted-out in an unprepared  verbal exchange on the floor of the Assembly that “Any issues that were brought to my attention at that time were dealt with.” ...That was a rather different answer to the one given in 2014.

The First Minister’s conflicting answers are now at the heart of three inquiries as to whether he “misled”  the Assembly. A former lawyer James Hamilton is holding one of the inquiries – specifically into whether the First Minister broke the ministerial code, and it’s to THIS inquiry that Mr Millar now wishes to give evidence.

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NRW IS “MINDED TO APPROVE” PENARTH-POLLUTING BARRY BIOMASS INCINERATOR

The new Barry Docks Biomass incinerator (photographed yesterday and now nearing completion) – is supposed to burn woodchip – but is designed to burn pretty much anything – including domestic refuse

Vale of Glamorgan councillors will tomorrow ask questions about a statement by Natural Resources Wales – the body which is responsible for licensing  major industrial installations – that it is “minded to issue a permit” for the controversial Biomass incinerator project at Barry Docks 

The huge new Biomass incinerator plant is rapidly nearing completion on Woodham Road in the Barry  Docks area

Nobody knows just what will be in the fumes spewing out of this tall smoke-stack when the incinerator starts operation in Barry Docks  – but the prevailing Westerly winds could carry the gases to Penarth

It’s feared that effluent from the plant – discharged from its high smoke stack –  will be carried by the prevailing Westerly wind towards Penarth.

Natural Resources Wales –  which has the responsibility for approving such projects –  has now all but given the nod to the project by saying it is now “minded” to issue the incinerator plant an operating permit .

Last month Diane McCrea – chairperson of Natural Resources Wales – was unable to say when  the morale of her staff would improve

Natural Resources Wales [a.k.a. NRW]  – is chaired by a qualified nutritionist called Diane McCrea and is the Welsh Labour Government’s largest “QUANGO” [Quasi Autonomous Non Governmental Organisation] and is seen as being very much in the pocket of the Welsh Labour machine.

NRW, which spends £180,000,000 a year  has been criticised for its poor financial management and poor control of contracts. Its CEO Dr Emyr Roberts “retired” in May.

The 1,900 people who work for NRW  are so disillusioned with the poor quality of the organisation and its failing management that – in an internal staff survey – only about 1 in 10 NRW staff expressed any confidence in the decisions of their senior managers. The results of they survey came as such a shock to the NRW managers than they’ve decided to issue a new questionnaire to the  NRW staff in the hope that –  when polled a second time –  the disillusioned scientists will come up with less-devastating responses .

Cllr Vincent Bailey Environment Scrutiny chair

Meanwhile tomorrow (December 13th) in a full meeting of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cllr Vincent Bailey (Conservative Dyfan Ward) is to ask the council’s cabinet how air quality monitoring of the incinerator will be carried out .

He will ask :  “Following Natural Resources Wales’ confirmation that it is ‘minded to issue a permit’ for the Biomass Plant, will the Council provide an update on how air monitoring would be undertaken if operations at the site were to commence?”

Cllr Amelia Collins (Plaid Cymru)

Another member  Cllr Amelia Collins (Plaid Cymru Castleland Ward Barry)  will also ask a question about the Biomass plant:-

She will ask “How does the Vale of Glamorgan Council intend to respond to the most recent consultation from Natural Resources Wales where they say that they are ‘minded’ to grant a permit to the Biomass Ltd site on Barry Docks?”

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CHRISTMAS QUEUES PUT PENARTH’S ONLY POST OFFICE UNDER PRESSURE

“There’s a long, long trail a-winding”... The queues in Glebe St Post Office evoke the words of the WW1 popular song as the queue snakes around the premises as patient Penarthians wait in line. Customers need to verify exactly where the end of the queue is before joining it   (PDN reader photo)

Long queues are building up day after day in Penarth’s only post office – in Glebe Street – partly as  the result of the closure of the  Wood St Post Office in Cornerswell Road.

The queues build up in the Glebe St Post Office from early in the day and continue throughout opening hours . It often takes half an hour or more for customers for customers to reach to reach a counter – even though all the counter positions are staffed.

Wood St Post Office closed at the end of August. The promised replacement has yet to materialise.

Some customers have taken to bringing flasks of coffee with them to sustain them during the interminable wait.  One former post office worker told PDN “Unless you go early to Glebe St – the queues are just horrendous” 

The queueing etiquette in Glebe St – on entering the post office (assuming you can get in) – is to check where the end of the queue is. The queue extends from the counters back to the entrance the Post Office and then curves in a U formation  back up towards the rear of the premises. One customer said that it would be nice if there was somewhere to sit down – but there isn’t.

Since the closure of the Wood St Post Office in August, Glebe St has been the only Post Office in Penarth.

The Spar store at Brockhill Rise used to have a Post Office counter – but that counter closed in January

The former post office desk at the Spar convenience store in Brockhill Way shut down in January this year

That left Penarthians with the option of either queuing in Glebe St or travelling to Sully to the little  Sully Post Office at 106 South Road .

The quaint little Sully Post Office may be an alternative for Penarth customers

However many other people have already sussed-out this alternative,  so queues – and parking problems – may also be encountered at Sully.

The lack of post office facilities in Penarth looked so bad at one time that Penarth Town Council even considered opening a post office in vacant offices at the council HQ at  West House, Stanwell Road.

This was pre-empted by the Post Office doing a deal with the One Stop convenience store in Cornerswell Road, Penarth  – but it’s taken ages to come to an agreement.

Now – at long last –  Post Office counters are to open at the One Stop store  next week – but it won’t be in time to deal with this week’s peak pre-Christmas pressure.

The new Cornerswell Road post office is due to open for the first time at lunchtime on Monday December 18th – by which time the Christmas rush will mostly be over

The new replacement post office for Wood St – is  to be called the “Cornerswell Road Post Office” and  is to officially open for business at 13:00 hours on Monday December 18.

The full range of post office services should be available 12 hours day from 08:00 to 20:00 hours and will also be available on Saturdays and Sundays.

A B Snell and Son – the newsagents in Stanwell Road are agents for a parcel courier service which is faster than Royal Mail

It’s worth remembering however that many local retailers – including WH Smith,  Spar in Glebe St and Tesco sell stamps. Parcels can be dispatched via courier from the well-known Snell’s newsagents in Stanwell Road .

Once the town was well served with multiple post offices like the  sub post office at Queen’s Road and the former Cogan Post Office which are now much missed.

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BALCONY SCHEME PUZZLES PENARTH TOWN COUNCIL PLANNING COMMITTEE

The £500,000 house –  No.7 John Batchelor Way –  faces Cardiff Bay

Penarth Town Council’s planning committee has been cogitating over a proposal  install new windows and glass-fronted balustrade on the frontage of 7 John Batchelor Way, Penarth Marina – one of a pair of  semi-detached homes fronting Cardiff Bay.

The council’s freelance planning consultant – Emma Langmaid of Prospero Planning Ltd –  guided the councillors through the application which she said “fronts directly onto the Marina” .[PDN Note:  In fact the house doesn’t front onto the Marina –  it fronts onto Cardiff Bay. It’s the back of the house,- which is not the subject of a planning application, that overlooks the Marina – 180 degrees in the opposite direction .]

No 7 is the right-hand house of the pair. The proposal involves extending the balcony with a glass-fronted balustrade different to the type that has been installed next door

Ms Langmaid explained that the proposal is a garage conversion, but that the scheme  includes altering the windows at first floor level and also extending the existing first floor balcony.

Ms Langmaid told the committee that other similar applications in the past had been refused  on the basis of “making too many changes” as the property was “quite a key frontage in the marina”. Her concern was that the next-door property had a different type of balcony to that proposed in the application.

The Town Clerk Emma Boylan [who, until the appointment of Ms Langmaid, used to vet planning applications in Penarth] said ” I have refused on the basis of symmetry in the past” – and observed that her recommendation had subsequently been endorsed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council .

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) asked how long ago the houses had been built?

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour, Cornerswell Ward) said he thought they had been built about 25 years ago  . Cllr Turner he did not think there would be any legislation to prevent a change.

Cllr Buckley asked whether the application would be “alright” if the proposed new balcony was the same as the one on the other house of the pair.   Ms Langmaid said that the houses appear as if they were 2 but were “actually 4 with 2 smaller units at the side” and there was now a “mixture” of balconies in the street .

Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) who is deputy chairman of the planning committee said “This is an example of Barratt’s trying to move into a more sophisticated design regime I think. It would be a shame to destroy what symmetry they did manage to provide at the time[PDN Note: In fact the houses were built by Crest Nicholson – not Barratts]  .

Cllr Turner asked whether it was “the aesthetics that we don’t like” .

Penarth Council planning committee chairman Cllr Nigel Humphrey

Planning chairman Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines) noted that the houses were not in the Penarth Conservation Area and people should have the liberty to change their properties “even if it does not agree with our taste”.  He wondered if the committee was coming to view that it should make “no comment” on the proposal.

As the committee wrestled with the application, Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Cornerswell)  said “Personally if that was my house I would like to have that balcony with those opening doors” . He said he would have no objection to the scheme himself –  but would be “swayed” by the experts .

The planning committee eventually came to the conclusion that it would make “no objection” to the proposals. The final decision will be made by the Vale of Glamorgan Council planning office.

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GREENS’ ANTI-BY-PASS VIDEO IS LAMBASTED BY DINAS POWYS PRO-BY-PASS CAMPAIGNERS

Traffic is so heavy in Dinas Powys that an Anti-By-Pass Green party activist confesses – paradoxically  – that she’d rather drive her car the short distance than struggle along the pavements with her children .

A glossy video just released by the Wales Green Party  is aiming to convince the residents of Dinas Powys to change their minds about their 40 year-long fight to build a by-pass built which would divert traffic from the centre of the village.

The ‘anti-By-Pass’ video – presented by Penarth Green Party activist Anthony Slaughter and released on YouTube – highlights the congestion problems affecting Dinas Powys : problems which the pro-by-pass campaign say can only be solved by a building a by-pass.

A packed public meeting in Dinas Powys in November last year gave overwhelming support to the Pro-By-Pass campaign

Yorkshire-born Mr Slaughter (who doesn’t have a driving licence himself)  claims that building a by-pass is “not the answer” and suggests various solutions to the congestion – including adding more carriages to local trains, persuading more local people to commute by bike – and staggering the working hours of  local residents so that they don’t all travel to work at the same time.

However the environmental thrust of the video is more than somewhat undermined by the frank admissions of a former local Green council candidate Hilary May .

Green Party council candidate Hilary May says why she’d rather drive a car than walk in Dinas Powys .

Ms May draws attention to the existing traffic congestion in Dinas Powys and  says “the air quality issues are pretty bad” – particularly in the area around the local primary school – a factor the pro-by-pass campaign say underlines the need for a by-pass .

Even more surprising however is the Green activist’s frank admission that she DOES use her car to travel on short local journeys within the village of Dinas Powys itself – and drives locally “more than she would like to”.

She says “just walking and cycling along that road, particularly with children, is not particularly pleasant”….a comment which local Pro-By-Pass campaigners may well feel makes their case for them.

The full video fronted by Green Party activists Anthony Slaughter can be seen by pressing the arrow button on the screen above.

Rod Harrod chairman of the Dinas Powys By Pass Steering Grup

Rod Harrod, Chair of Dinas Powys By-Pass Steering Committee said today . “The Green issue is something we all need to keep in mind but there’s a line between idealism and reality. “

Mr Harrod said “ We’d all like to turn the clocks back but we have to be realistic. People need homes, schools, food, shops, universities, work, retirement places. They all take up land and space. Of course brown-field sites should be used where possible but that’s not enough. There is not a motorway or by-pass that isn’t built in some part on green field space – many with hedgehog tunnels and the like.”

He added “The site we want delayed at the top of Murch Road has already been reduced from 300 to  houses because dormice and bats were found nesting in parts.”

On travel statistics Mr Harrod said “People talk about moving the population to sustainable transport. Currently 72% of commuters in Dinas Powys travel by car, van or motor cycle. 6% more are passengers. That leaves 22% of which 10% go by train and around 2% each use buses, cycling, walking and other options. (Gov Statistics Office 2011). To change those figures substantially would be a Herculean task. And it couldn’t happen without moving most of the cars off the road to allow the buses to run unhindered, knocking down some houses to achieve park and ride – or running a concrete slab over the stations. “

Mr Harrod asks  “Do the Green supporters expect the elderly, infirm and parents with babies and young children to start walking and cycling in the rain, wind and snow – leaving their cars in the garage? “

 

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