Penarth is one of the leading towns in Wales and the Town Council has ambitions to improve the quality of life for both residents and visitors.
Under the recently adopted Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015) Wales, the Council has a duty to consider how the services and events it plans, and the assets it runs today, may impact upon and ultimately benefit the future generations of Penarth.
Some of Penarth’s unique assets such as the Kymin House and grounds, the Paget Rooms, West House and the Cemetery require renovation for their upkeep, as well as offering fantastic potential for future development. The Town Council is passionate about improving the services it offers to Penarth.
This will require a step change to the town’s precept, a charge made to the householders of the town. Through consultative events, the Council will set out how an investment in the precept will provide Penarth with the opportunity to thrive from the future projects the Council aims to provide. Ultimately, any increase to the precept will be clearly identified by the strides these projects will make.
By the end of the previous administration and the elections held in May 2017, the scene was set for a strategy and vision of future projects aimed at improving quality of life, boosting the town’s economy, encouraging local businesses to thrive and offering a tourism destination that will be the envy of the South Wales coast.
A number of initiatives have already been developed, with cross-party support.
Looking forward, the Kymin and its recently awarded Green Flag grounds are operated by the Town Council and leased from the Vale of Glamorgan. A long term lease following an asset transfer is sought to allow significant investment in this unique asset for the town.
The Paget Rooms is a Grade II listed venue that requires renovation and offers greater potential.
Plans are afoot to renovate and open up the grounds of West House to provide better opportunities for the community.
Penarth’s cemetery is rapidly approaching capacity and remodelling of facilities will allow extended use while also bringing the currently dilapidated chapel building into operation.
An application to form a charitable arm, the West House Foundation, has been submitted to the Charity Commission for England and Wales. This would allow greater fundraising opportunities for projects to benefit the town and ensure Penarth’s vibrancy.
In addition, a public works loan application is proposed, which would allow long-term, low cost borrowing to support investment.
This is not an exhaustive list as other assets and projects will progress over coming years.
With shrinking budgets being available to Welsh Government and unitary authorities, grass roots governance will have a far more prominent role in local government services in the future. The intention and aim of this is that the services are delivered directly to the people it represents and caters for the town’s needs overall.
Therefore, Council is meeting on 7th February and will consider an increase in council tax precept equivalent to a £4.43 increase per annum, or £0.37p per month, per household for 12 months. This calculation is based upon an average Council Tax Band D Property.
As a progressive town council, the administration is setting its sights on the projects starting in the next financial year, however dates are yet to be confirmed for each individual project. If approval is reached, a series of public consultations will take place over coming months.
Council leader Mike Cuddy said: “The ambition is to try and raise the game, but to take the steps necessary to manage the change successfully.
“Because of our ambitions, we feel that there are opportunities to modernise these buildings and to raise more income, and that’s what we’re trying to launch through our budget.
“We are saying there’s an opportunity to do an awful lot here in Penarth. The whole concept of what we’re trying to do has changed.
“The logic, in terms of applying for a public works loan, is not out of kilter with the ambition that we have and the size of the council.”
Town Clerk Emma Boylan said: “Income generation is vital to reinvest in Penarth’s community assets to ensure a sustainable future.”
Council meets on Wednesday February 7th at 7pm, and is open to the public. Agendas and papers, as well as future updates on an exciting period for Penarth, are available from www.penarthtowncouncil.gov.uk.