RELUCTANT VALE PUBLISHES CLLRS’ ATTENDANCE RECORDS – BUT NOT BACK TO 2012

The Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan Cllr Stuart Egan , Cllr Gwyn John (Llantwit First Independents) the Labour Leader Cllr Neil Moore and Deputy Leader Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) all voted against allowing the public to see councillors attendance records on the Vale Council website . They lost by just one vote - but the full records have not been published

The Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan Cllr Stuart Egan , Cllr Gwyn John (Llantwit First Independents), the Labour Leader Cllr Neil Moore , and Deputy Leader Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) all voted against allowing the public to see councillors attendance records on the Vale Council website . They lost by just one vote – but despite losing the vote the full records have not been published

The Vale of Glamorgan  Council has, at long last, begun to publish a register of each councillor’s attendance at council meetings and committee meetings – but the figures only go back one month, rather than covering the entire period of the current Labour administration since May 2012.

The council was forced to publish each councillor’s attendance register following a knife-edge vote in a council meeting in December last year. The motion – opposed by Labour – scraped through by just one vote .

An example of a typical attendance record (this one is for Cllr Gwyn Roberts, Labour St Augustines). The resgister only goes back to Decembver last year rather than covering the entire period from the start of the current Labour administration in May 2012

An example of a typical attendance record (this one is for Cllr Gwyn Roberts, Labour St Augustines). The register only goes back to December 14th last year rather than recording  attendance from the start of the current Labour administration in May 2012 – which is what voters really want to know.

Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully) proposed the motion in the teeth of Labour opposition

Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully) proposed the motion in the teeth of Labour opposition

The motion had come from Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully)  and Cllr Christopher Williams (Independent Dinas Powys).

Cllr Mahoney said  his motion would require that “All councillors attendance records at full council and all other committees of which they are members be clearly displayed on their members’ page on the Vale of Glamorgan council website, and updated monthly.”

Cllr Ian Johnson (Plaid Buttrills Ward Barry) i supported Cllr Mahoney's motion

Cllr Ian Johnson (Plaid Buttrills Ward Barry) supported Cllr Mahoney’s motion

The Independent motion was supported  by Plaid Cymru whose leader Cllr Ian Johnson  had a message for councillors seeking re-election in this spring’s forthcoming elections.

Cllr Johnson told members : –  “if you are scared of … having your attendance record scrutinised then perhaps you are in the wrong position, and should consider where you are in May” .

The result of the vote – which was unrecorded and conducted by show of hands – was  22 FOR and  21 AGAINST.

However there was a fatal flaw in the motion . It did not indicate exactly how much information the council would be required to divulge.

It now seems as though the Vale Council is only going to publish the figures as from last month on – and is not going to place on the record the complete records of councillors’ attendance since they were elected to office in 2012 – information which would be useful when voters go to the polls to elect a new council in May .

Posted in Penarth Daily News | 23 Comments

PENARTH CIVIC SOCIETY QUESTION VALE ON THREAT TO PAGET ROAD PAVEMENT-TREE

The tree outside No ( Paget Place is in the centre of the picture (Google earth)

The tree – outside No 9 Paget Place –  is the second along- on the left. (Photo Google Earth)

A large pavement tree outside No. 9 Paget Place is reported to be under threat of  being felled.

The tree forms part of a distinctive “tree tunnel” formed by evenly-spaced pavement trees which form an arch across the roadway and were planted possibly as much as a century ago on both sides of the road.

Members of Penarth Civic Society  [who have negotiated an agreement with the Vale of Glamorgan Council that they will be consulted prior to the removal of any highway trees in Penarth ] are asking to see the council’s  “arboricultural report” which asserts that the tree needs to be felled.

The Civic Society members say  that they  need to “understand the  pre-requisite and pedigree of the report” – and in particular whether this report was commissioned as a “one-off” or is “part of a wider review of trees in Paget Place”.

Members are calling for any tree-felling to be put on hold until there has been a meeting with council officers and, if there is a genuine reason for  the tree to be taken-down they also want an  agreement on its replacement “during the current planting season” .

A protective plywood  box protects the highway tree outside the site of Rebecca Evans's new home in Park Road

A protective plywood casing protects the highway tree outside the site of Rebecca Evans’s new home in Park Road (Photo John Clark)

Meanwhile on Park Road, Penarth contractors building a new house for the world famous singer Rebecca Evans  have gone to extraordinary lengths to protect a Penarth pavement tree outside what will be her new home.

Although it appears they were not under any oblication to do so under the terms of the planning permission – the contractors, Knox and Wells, have given the tree “cotton-wool” treatment by installing a protective plywood box around the trunk to prevent accidental damage to the bark by heavy plant and machinery.

Work on the new house – which went through a protracted planning process – is now well under way, with most of the steel framework now in position.

 

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POLICE HALT PROBE INTO “FAKE” LETTERS-OF-SUPPORT FOR SULLY SCHEME

The Sully Sports and Social Club is operated by a limited company called Barry Plastics Sports and Leisure Ltd

The Sully Sports and Social Club is operated by a limited company called Barry Plastics Sports and Leisure Ltd

A police investigation into allegedly fake letters of support for the major re-development of the Sully Sports and Social Club, appears to have ended – at least for the time being.

South Wales Police – who were called in by the Vale of Glamorgan Council to investigate the matter – have issued a statement saying  “At this stage South Wales Police is not pursuing any lines of inquiry. However, as with all matters, should further information come to light, the force will reconsider this position.

The inquiry began after the Vale of Glamorgan Council had revealed –  in an internal report – concerns that an estimated 20%  of all the letters sent to the council –  supporting a controversial planning application to develop a huge new housing estate on the grounds of Sully Sports and Social Club –  were probably forgeries.

Council investigators from its internal audit team were concerned that there might have been a coordinated attempt to exaggerate the degree of public support for the contentious project.

What the proposed Sully site would have looked like if planning permission had been granted. The 200 houses would have been built on the left

What the proposed Sully site would have looked like if planning permission had been granted. The 200 houses would have been built on the left

The development proposals –  to build 200 homes on the site –  had been submitted by a large and reputable stock-market-quoted public company St Modwen PLC,  which acquired the bulk of the freehold in 2008.

The planning application proposed concentrating the sports facilities in a smaller area than at present – with a replacement clubhouse, three grassed pitches, an all-weather pitch, a new bowling green,  pavilion and a touring caravan site. A total of 200 new homes would be built in an adjacent area .

The first hint that something was wrong came when the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Department was contacted by a member of the public about a “support letter” which bore his name and address –  but which he denied ever having written. It was also established that no one else living at the same address had written the letter. The real author – who evidently forged the signature on the letter –  remains a mystery.

The Vale Council Planning Department called in its internal audit team. Faced with a mound of 782 letters supporting the proposed St Modwen housing development, the team retrieved an initial  batch of  378 of the letters –  and then homed-in on a “randomly-selected” sample of 128 which were analysed in detail. Of that sample the audit team has concluded that 25 of the letters supporting the scheme (amounting to 20% of the sample) “may not be genuine”  .

Councillors were warned in a report that they should be “aware of all the above when applying weight to the support as conveyed in these letters.“

When the planning application came before the Vale of Glamorgan Council planning committee on  Thursday November  3rd 2016 , the chairman of the Vale Planning Committee Cllr Fred Johnson left the chamber after declaring an interest. [Cllr Johnson is a director of  the Barry Plastics Sports and Leisure Company Ltd ] and his place was taken by planning vice-chair Cllr Margaret Wilkinson.

The vice-chair of the Vale planning Committee Cllr Margaret Wilkinson told couoncillors they must not mention the 20% forged letters mentioned in the internal report because they could prejudice a policy inquiry

The vice-chair of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Planning Committee Cllr Margaret Wilkinson told councillors they must not mention the dubious “letters of support”  revealed in an internal council report because they could prejudice a police inquiry

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Cymru Dinas Powys) challenged the legal gagging order imposed by Cllr Wilkinson

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Cymru Dinas Powys) challenged the legal gagging order imposed by Cllr Wilkinson

Cllr Margaret Wilkinson then warned councillors  not to mention the “letters of support” because the matter had been “referred by the council to the police”. She said “No discussion will be permitted in relation to this aspect as this could pro-genst us [sic] in any appeal  or anything like that. We could jeopardise – so we are not discussing anything that the police will come back on us”. [sic]

Her ruling was queried by Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Dinas Powys) who asserted that the matter was not “sub- judice”,  but council officers supported the vice-chair’s ruling and members of the committee then complied with it .

Jo Davies - representing St Modwens had no inhibitions about discussing the forbidden topic of "letters of support"

Jo Davies dissociated the developers – St Modwen PLC – from the potentially not genuine “letters of support”

However, speaking for the proposal was Jo Davies, Senior Director of Planning Consultancy GVA – addressing the planning committee on behalf of the developers, St Modwen PLC. In her comments Ms Davies launched straight into the forbidden subject of the “letters of support”, and made the position of the developers –  St Modwen PLC – clear .

She said Firstly, in relation to the [Vale] officers report regarding the support letters potentially not being genuine, I would like to state that St Modwen does not condone any misrepresentation of public opinion….”

Ms Davies was halted in her tracks by the Vice Chairman  Cllr Wilkinson – who told  her that she should not  mention the letters of support . Ms Davies then went on to ask councillors to consider the application on its “material merits” .

In the event the planning application was refused.

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WHITE-VAN ROGUE-TRADER DISAPPEARS WITH PENSIONER’S CASH

The white van man took the cash up-front and made a flit from Lettons Way Dinas Powys

The white van man took the cash up-front and made a flit from Lettons Way, Dinas Powys

South Wales Police have issued fresh advice to local pensioners to be cautious when dealing with what could be ‘rogue traders’ on their doorsteps.

Officers are  investigating an incident in which a pensioner in Lettons Way , Dinas Powys  was tricked into handing hundreds of pounds in cash to a “tradesman” who , before doing the work required , disappeared with the money .

The incident happened on Wednesday, January 11th. The distressed pensioner told officers a man in a white van had called several times at her home offering to carry out work. She had declined on every occasion but on Wednesday agreed that he could go ahead and “repair her guttering”.

She paid him  £280 in advance . The man then asked for a cup of tea before starting work – but when she returned with his cuppa, she found he had disappeared –  along with his van and her money .

The man is described as short with thinning fair hair and with missing front teeth. At the time of the incident, which occurred at around 13.15, he was wearing a blue anorak. His van was plain white with a ladder attached.

Deputy Local Policing Inspector, Sergeant Abi Biddle, said: “This was a despicable act in which the victim was targeted in her own home. The suspect has persisted in calling at the woman’s address despite having been told on a number of occasions that she did not want work carried out.”

Inspector Biddle says “I want to remind the public to be on their guard and to be extremely cautious about handing over their money. I’d also appeal to people to look out for their neighbours, particularly older residents as they appear to be more vulnerable to these types of offenders. Legitimate traders won’t mind being asked for identification, nor will they mind waiting outside while you check its authenticity. They also won’t pressure customers to hand over cash, particularly before any work has been carried out. Homeowners are well within their rights to ask these people to leave their property, and anyone who feels threatened or pressured should contact police via 101, or 999 if an emergency, to report their concerns.”

Further advice on rogue traders and unwanted doorstep callers can be found at http://commissioner.south-wales.police.uk/en/police-crime-plan/anti-social-behaviour/tackling-nuisance-doorstep-callers-and-uninvited-traders/

Anyone with information about the Lettons Way incident is urged to contact 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously, quoting reference 1700012870.

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EARLY GO-AHEAD URGED FOR CARDIFF/ PENARTH TIDAL LAGOON

The 90 turbines of the Tidal Lagoon would be nearer Penarth than anywhere else

The 90 turbines of the Tidal Lagoon would be nearer Penarth than anywhere else

A UK Government-commissioned independent review of Tidal Power development has backed a start on the proposed small-scale “pathfinder” £1.3bn tidal lagoon in  Swansea Bay – with Penarth/Cardiff next in line.

If Swansea is successful there would be then a prompt start on the far-larger Penarth/Cardiff power tidal  lagoon.[ PDN is using the term  “Penarth/Cardiff” because the southern wall of the lagoon would be built out to sea in line with Penarth Pier.] 

The UK Government commissioned report opn Tidal Lagoons

The UK Government commissioned report opn Tidal Lagoons

The independent  report by Charles Hendry says tidal power will make  “strong contribution” to the UK’s energy supply –  and moving ahead with Swansea will be what he calls a “no-regrets policy” .

If Swansea is satisfactory, a further 5 additional tidal lagoons would be developed at Penarth/Cardiff, Newport, West Cumbria, Colwyn Bay and Bridgwater Bay  – with the plans for Penarth/ Cardiff being the most advanced of the five.

The Penarth/Cardiff  tidal lagoon at Cardiff would deliver “around 5.5 TWh” of electricity [ TWh = Tera Watt Hour , One terawatt hour is equal to a sustained power of approximately 114 megawatts for a period of one year.]

The  report also suggests the scheme would “offer improved flood protection for the area as well as opportunities for sports and nature conservation”.  The report says the developer with submit  plans for the consent to build the Penarth/Cardiff Lagoon  next year – in 2018.

The report anticipates that the Penarth/Cardiff lagoon could create 11,482 new jobs

But there are also snags :-

WILDLIFE :

Seagulls searching for worms in the mud

Seagulls searching for worms in the mud

The report admits that no tidal lagoons have yet been built anywhere in the world and therefore it is “not possible to give an absolutely factual assessment of full life-cycle of environmental consequences” .  It says that the Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study highlighted a consensus that there are “challenging environmental issues to be overcome if tidal power generation of any kind is to be deployed.”

Mr Hendry says that developers of tidal lagoon sites will have to “make good the loss of existing habitat for wildlife in order to comply with the Habitats and Birds Directives”  and says that the Penarth/Tidal Lagoon would “require a very significant amount of such “compensatory habitat’”.

The extensive tidal mudflats off Penarth would be within the lagoon and permanently undwerwater

The extensive tidal mudflats off Penarth would be within the lagoon and permanently underwater

Wildlife Trusts told Mr Hendry that “We have serious concerns that there are plans for a potential three lagoons in the Severn Estuary;”  The report says it is likely that the Penarth/Cardiff lagoon “would result in significant impacts to the site and be difficult to consent in a manner compatible with the Habitats and Birds Directives”

SHIPPING:

The huge natural rise and fall of the tides off Penarth might be reduced by the presence of a number of tidal lagoons

The huge natural rise and fall of the tides off Penarth might be reduced by the presence of a number of tidal lagoons

Because four of the proposed new power-generating tidal lagoons will be in the Severn Estuary, there could be what are described as “cumulative consequences”  and a potential “build-up of ecological impacts” .

Mr Hendry heard evidence that ” tidal lagoons in proximity to each other could produce less electricity as a result of complex negative hydrodynamic interactions.” – and that the “hydrodynamic effects of tidal lagoons could still be felt many tens of miles out to sea.”

Passing ships off Penarth

Passing ships off Penarth. The report says the lagoons could create “complex hydrodynamic interactions”

As far as the Severn Estuary itself is concerned Mr Hendry says ” There is inevitably a point where the retention of such significant volumes of water will have a detrimental impact on the interests of other legitimate users of the estuary, in particular the ports, where their business requires them to be able to make full use of the tides (especially high tides) for shipping movements.”

POWER PRICES :

The Hinkley Point Nuclear power station complex in Somerset - as seen from Penarth.

The Hinkley Point Nuclear power station complex in Somerset – as seen from Penarth. Power from the Penarth/Cardiff Power lagoon would be far more expensive than nuclear power from Hinkley Point

To be viable. the Penarth/Cardiff Lagoon will require an electricity “Strike Price” in its first operating year  in a range of: £105-£120 per Mega Watt hour . [PDN Note: This is far higher than the “strike price” offered for the new  Hinkley Point nuclear power station which is at £92.50 per Mega Watt hour]

The report recommends that the Swansea Lagoon “pathfinder project ” should be “commissioned and be operational for a reasonable period before financial close is reached on the first larger-scale project .” [which would be the Penarth/Cardiff lagoon].

 

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PLAN FOR PENARTH’S HISTORIC COASTGUARD TOWER IS “CALLED IN”

coastguard tower

An earlier plan for extensions to Penarth’s Victorian Coastguard Tower at Tower Hill was rejected by Penarth Council but approved by the Vale of Glamorgan Council – but not built. Now there’s a new application

A planning application seeking approval to build modern extensions to either side (West and East) of Penarth’s historic Victorian coastguard tower on Tower Hill has now been “called in” to be considered by the full Vale of Glamorgan Planning committee

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

The plan was originally scheduled to be dealt-with by a Vale Council planning officer on a “delegated basis”, who would have made the final decision – but the application has now been “called in” by Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward).

Penarth Town Council’s planning committee has yet to discuss the matter and is not due to meet until January 19th – which is the deadline set for the receipt of observations by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

The tower is within the architecturally sensitive Penarth Conservation area.

This is how the new exstensions to the Coastguard Tower would look - facing North (with the sea on the right hand side)

This is how the new extensions to the Coastguard Tower would look – facing North (with the sea on the right hand side)

Originally – in the 1830s – Penarth Coastguards  occupied the Coastguard Cottages – on the cliff to near Northcliff Lodge from which they overlooked the entrance to Cardiff Docks and the Glamorgan Canal entrance .

However in 1864 the coastguards (then part of the Royal Navy)  were re-located to what is now known as Tower Hill (between Plymouth Road and Marine Parade) and needed the eponymous Tower to give them sufficient elevation to scan the coastline and hoist signals.

The Tower and its associated dwellings have been a private home for many years. (Penarth Coastguard is now based on Cliff Walk)

The entry for the Penarth Coastguard Tower in the Vale of Glamorgan's County Treasures List

The entry for the Penarth Coastguard Tower in the Vale of Glamorgan’s County Treasures List

In 2013, when an earlier plan for extensions to the Coastguard Tower had been submitted, the objections of  Penarth Town Council’s Planning Committee were overridden by a Vale of Glamorgan planning officer (not the full planning committee) on a “delegated” basis   – despite the fact that the building is designated as a “County Treasure”.

In 2013 Penarth councillors had expressed concern about the decision and  felt the matter should have been referred to the full Vale Planning Committee.  They sought a meeting with the Vale Council’s planning chief  Marcus Goldsworthy to express their concerns but were then told that the planning approval – issued in 2013 – could not be rescinded.

In the event however, the 2013 proposal did not go ahead and now a revised proposal (as per drawing above)  is under consideration and is now to be determined by the full Vale of Glamorgan Council planning committee.

The full County Treasures list can be seen on http://tinyurl.com/huyx6yg  .

 

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AT LONG LAST WORK STARTS ON DEVELOPMENT OF 2 STANWELL ROAD

After years of delay work has finally begin on converting No.2 Stanwell Road

After years of delay work has finally begin on converting No.2 Stanwell Road

Work has now begun on converting the long-standing eyesore site at 2 Stanwell Road (opposite Penarth Library Entrance) into a development of  7 self-contained residential apartments and one town house with on-site car parking, cycle and bin store facilities.

A succession of planning applications had been made for the site since 2004. It was originally the offices of the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust and the Vale of Glamorgan Community Health Council but has been vacant for years and the subject to numerous  planning applications for conversion into flats.

A police helicopter trains its searchlight onto 2 Stanwell Road reprocessed from original

A police helicopter trains its searchlight onto 2 Stanwell Road

Police have also been called to the building on various occasions following reports of intruders on the premises .

On February 25th 2013 a police helicopter was called into hover over the building to spotlight three burglars who were reported to be attempting to  smash their way in, using scaffolding poles as battering rams.

On September 4 2014 the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee approved   a revised planning application to turn 2 Stanwell Road into 5 luxury apartments and build a new dormer bungalow on an existing car park behind Number 2 and Number 4. The council noted that “the occupiers of the neighbouring property at No. 4 Stanwell Road” [South Wales Police and Crime  commissioner Alun Michael and his family] “ have raised a number of concerns over the proposal, including the adverse impact on their outlook and privacy.”

The controversial new bungalow will be built in a dog-leg plan to fit the site.

The controversial new bungalow was designed in a “dog-leg” plan to fit the site.

In October 2014 the Vale Council approved the new two-storey bungalow for the rear car park (behind No. 2 and No 4 Stanwell Road) despite objections from Penarth Town Council and 6 local residents and dismissed the Police Commissioner’s “loss of privacy” claims.

In January 2015 Penarth Town Council supported (on a delegated basis) a new planning application  for Number 2 Stanwell Road  submitted by Windsor Court Investments Ltd which proposed creating 9 apartments in the development rather than the 5 previously agreed.

In February 2015 the Vale of Glamorgan Council refused the Windsor Court Investments planning application– and, in doing so,  over-rode the recommendation of Penarth Town Council.

In  July  2015  another new planning application was made – this time by S C Design and Build (Silver  Crescent Developments) proposing the creation of  8 self-contained residential apartments with on-site parking. The Vale Council  gave permission for the development of 7 apartments on the site and a four-bedroom “town house”.

In August 10, 2015 the plan to build the new bungalow in the rear car park  was approved by the Vale of Glamorgan Council

Penarth's fire engine was called to 2 Stanwell Road in September 2015

Penarth’s fire engine was called to 2 Stanwell Road in September 2015

On September 28, 2015 Penarth Fire Brigade was called to 2 Stanwell Road as “smoke” appeared to be pouring from the building . The “smoke”  turned out to be clouds of dust being created as the internal ceilings of the building were being stripped out.

No 2 Stanwell Road is gradually being torn apart by thieves - acting with appatrent impunity despite being next door to the police commissioner

No 2 Stanwell Road is gradually being torn apart by thieves – acting with apparent impunity despite being next door to the police commissioner. The right-hand wing of the building was about to disappear

By April 2016 2 Stanwell Road was gradually being torn apart by thieves – acting with apparent impunity despite the South Wales Police Commissioner living next door . Roofing-lead, plumbing fixtures and other valuable material were stolen .

An enforcemnt investigation into alleged "unasuthorised demolition" at 2 Stanwell Road, Penarth is now under way

An enforcement investigation was launched into alleged “unauthorised demolition” at 2 Stanwell Rd .

On May 8th 2016 police were called again to  No 2 Stanwell Road Penarth as a “precautionary response” after reports that an intruder might have  entered the premises. That same month a third of the building was reduced to rubble and an investigation was launched into allegedly “unauthorised demolition”.

The bungalow site at the rear of 2 and 4 Stanwell Road

The bungalow site at the rear of 2 and 4 Stanwell Road

In October 2016 a new planning application for revised accommodation in the rear car park of the building was made – this time proposing the building of a pair of semi-detached 2 storey 2 bedroom dwellings instead of the original scheme for a bungalow. That application has yet to be determined

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