Cosmeston Lakes Country Park’s newest resident – an endangered, specially bred, water vole – arrives to take up residence

More than 100 young water voles – one of Wales’s most endangered species  – are being released this week in  Cosmeston Lakes Country Park.

The re-stocking of Cosmeston with young water-voles –  specially bred at a hatchery in Mid Wales –  is being carried out by the Vale of Glamorgan Council in association with Wales’s envionmental organisation Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – . [The scheme was first reported by PDN here:  http://tinyurl.com/y7kkfscp ]

The Vale of Glamorgan and NRW have now published an on line video showing the young voles being released this week from captivity and being given their freedom on the banks of Cosmeston’s main lake.

Water voles have suffered a 95% decline since the 1960s –  largely due to a loss of habitat. To combat this, the Vale of Glamorgan Council has worked with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to develop a specially prepared environment in which they can live safely.

An NRW team is on hand at Cosmeston all this week to help the voles adjust to their  new envoronment . Food  – and the artificial nests in which the animals have been reared –  will be removed and the community of voles will be left to enjoy their new home.

Richard Davies of the NRW says “Water voles were once common in rivers, canals and ponds across Wales, and an important part of our environment. Habitat loss and predation by American mink have reduced their numbers and they’re now endangered. Our work to breed them at our hatchery in mid Wales and our partnership with local authorities, wildlife trusts and land owners to improve habitats and to set up new populations, will boost their chance of survival.”

The only threat the Cosmeston voles now face is the pending decision of the new Vale of Glamorgan Council on whether or not to scrap the previous Vale Labour administration’s  scheme to set up a commercial wake-boarding centre on Cosmeston’s largest lake.

The NRW says it will object to such a scheme.

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A string quartet greets customers at the Penarth Wedding Fayre held at the council-owned Paget Rooms

Penarth Town Council is considering increasing the hire charges for the Paget Rooms, the Kymin and in West House – the council’s headquarters in Stanwell Road.

Tonight Penarth Town Council’s new Venues, Facilities and Events committee is to debate a recomendation from the Town Clerk to increase hire charges – including those for weddings all three venues.

The report says there hasn’t been a “significant increase in hire charges for many years “ and that the running of all three venues is being subsidised by the Penarth Town Council Precept – which this year was hiked to record levels by the council’s Labour-run administration.


It’s proposed that the Mayor’s Parlour at West House is charged out at £20 an hour with a £10 an hour rate “available at officer’s discretion” .

Labour Vale Councillors, Labour Penarth Town councillors –  and Penarth’s Labour MP –  don’t pay anything for  their use of the council premises to hold  “constituency surgeries”.  Labour Party political banners are erected on the front lawn of the taxpayer-owned building . Councillors representing other parties meet constituents elsewhere..


West House  has  been provided free of charge to the Labour Party for use by Labour MP Stephen Doughty for so-called “constituency surgeries” –  and for Vale of Glamorgan Labour councillors.

As the council report makes no mention of this ‘free use for the Labour Party’  concession , council-tax payers can only assume it will continue for another 5 years. No other political party is granted free use of West House . Conservative councillors hold their public surgeries at the Conservative Club next door . Meanwhile other West House charges are being increased:-

  • Charges for weddings/ civil-ceremonies at West House are to cost £175 per 90 minutes (weekdays), £200 for Saturdays and £275 for Sundays
  • From now on the Citizens’ Advice Bureau is to be charged for  its  use of rooms at West House on Thursday mornings.


The vintage limo awaits outside the classic Edwardian portals of the Paget Rooms

  • The hourly hire charges for the Paget Rooms are to rise to £24 an hour (Monday to Thursday) and £30 an hour Friday to Sunday.
  • There is to be a show-week rate for 6-day of exclusive hire of £1750 (commercial) and £1500 non commercial.
  • Filming is to cost a minimum of £600 for 3 hours
  • Penarth Town Council will retain an option to run the bar at events/shows taking 80% of net profit
  • Weddings/civil ceremonies at the Paget Rooms will cost £300 for weekdays and £350 for Saturdays and £500 for Sundays.


A BBC film crew sets up to film Decline and Fall with Eva Longoria at the Kymin, Penarth .

  •   Hire rates will be £11.50 per hour per room for “community use” whereas private and commercial use will cost £13:50 per hour
  • Filming will cost £600 (three hours minimum) with extra charges for use of the front lawn
  • Weddings/civil ceremonies at the Kymin will cost £300 for weekdays and £350 for Saturdays and £500 for Sundays.

The council says all the increases are necessary for the “continued viability of Town Council premises” .



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MV Balmoral (PDN library photo)

The excursion ship Balmoral has limped back home to Penarth tonight with technical trouble after cancelling her programme of sailings from Milford Haven.

Balmoral had been due to sail from Milford Haven today June 21st and tomorrow  June 22nd but announced this morning that the sailings from Milford Haven were having to be cancelled ” due to on-going mechanical issue”

Passengers were notified by email and on Twitter of the cancellations . The White Funnel Line, which operates the ship, proferred “Our fullest apologies for the inconvenience & late notice of these cancellations”.

Balmoral’s course from Milford Haven to Penarth

Balmoral left Milford Haven at just after 11:00 this morning and sailed straight to Penarth progressively slowing down as she reached Cardiff Roads off Penarth in the last of the daylight of the “Longest Day” at  21:30 .

She was to have cruised to Lundy Island tomorrow from Milford

One of her two Grenna diesel engines is said to be out of action and after mooring off Penarth overnight she is due to enter Avonmouth Docks for repairs tomorrow.

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The effect of the controversial wakeboarding scheme on water voles has now been put on the agenda by Natural Resources Wales (Photo James Packer)

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – the Welsh Government organisation charged with protecting the environment of Wales – has joined the growing clamour of opposition against the former Vale of Glamorgan Labour-adminstration’s proposals to set up a commercial wake-boarding centre at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park .

N.R.W  says in a frank no-holds-barred letter for the Vale of Glamorgan Council that it did not receive details of the wakeboarding scheme until May 25th – [ 21 days after the election in which the unpopular and heavily-criticised Labour administration was thrown out of office]  .

11,000 people have signed the on line petition opposing the scheme and scores have added their signatures in the streets of Penarth

The NRW says “We have significant concerns with the proposed development as submitted “ – and goes on to list a series of “requirements” –  making it clear that it will lodge formal objection is the council doesn’t meet its demands .

The tiny Starry Stonewort could stop the wakeboarding scheme

The NRW points out that the proposed wakeboarding circuit is within an SSI [ a Site of Special Scientific Interest]  where the Starry Stonewort [ Nitellopsis obtusa] grows. The NRW says it considers the  proposed development has the potential to damage these plants. 

The NRW also castigates the Vale Council’s inadequate “ecological assessment” and has to remind the council that – as part of a joint project – water voles are to be re-introduced to Cosmeston Lakes this year.

Cuttingly, the NRW points out  – no doubt to the embarrassment of Vale Council planning officers – that their “ecological assessment”  has not taken this into account .

Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully)

Today Vale Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully) says of the NRW’s letter “It appears, on the face of it, pretty damning to me  – and one must really wonder as to how much the outgoing [Labour] administration  – and the council officer who is trying to push this plan through –  really examined the implications before presenting them.”

Cllr Mahoney also takes a swipe at the new Conservative administration in the Vale,  saying  “It doesn’t really reflect that well on the incoming administration either,   – considering that they just allowed the application from themselves to progress anyway” and also notes a statement in the Penarth Times from Conservative Cllr Jonathan Bird “praising the scheme”.

In a rebuke to all concerned, Cllr Mahoney says “Surely these should have been aspects looked at by the Vale before the idea ever got off the ground?”


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One of the cars is winched onto a breakdown truck on Westbourne Road

Penarth police and breakdown truck was called to  the scene of an accident at the junction of Augusta Road and  Westbourne Road yesterday.

Two cars appeared to have collided at the junction-  which is something of an accident blackspot. It’s not known if there are any serious injuries but both vehicles sustained serious front-end damage.

Police at the scene of today’s crash at Augusta Road (Photo Richard Williams)

One of the cars had to be winched onto a breakdown recovery wagon to be removed from the scene.

Local residents say its the latest of a series of accidents at lower Westbourne Road. Further details are awaited.


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Today’s Penarth heatwave – set to peak at 28 degrees

In Penarth today an on-shore easterly breeze (despite what this BBC weather chart says) is keeping it slightly cooler than in baking Cardiff – or London where temperatures are expected to reach 34C.

Today is the summer solstice – the longest day of the year – when Penarth is set to enjoy 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight. The sun  rose at 04:43 and sets at 21:31 .

One way of keeping cool and enjoying the view- flying at 200 feet

The verandah of the Fig Tree restaurant was an ideal venue to watch watch a passing powered glider in air without a breath of wind (Photo SH)

Meanwhile the warm weather of the last few days has led to people taking to the sea  and the sky over Penarth to enjoy the summer weather and to keep cool.

Temperatures are forecast to top-out in Penarth today at a balmy 28 degrees around mid-day. The heatwave is expected to end tomorrow – as the nights start drawing in.



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The existing zebra crossings on Plassey St are just painted on the road surface. The revised ones would be installed on flat-topped speed humps

The Vale of Glamorgan Council is considering the installation of flat-topped speed humps at the two zebra crossings in Plassey St .

The council says that  “Although recent surveys indicate that average speeds are not above the posted speed limit, there are instances where vehicles have been recorded travelling in excess of the 30mph restriction. With relatively high traffic flow there is a perception that Plassey St exhibits excessivwe vehicle speeds and is unsafe to cross”  

The police speed camera van in Plassey St. recorded 5 drivers an hour exceeding the 30 mph limit

The plans will come before Penarth Town Council’s planning committee on Thursday this week.

The cost of installing the original zebra crossings was met by Section 106 cash paid by Crest Nicholson in respect of the Penarth Heights development .


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