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Penarth Pier Patrons Association on fate of the Pavilion

PIER Pavilion Community representatives held an online meeting last week with the Vale Council Managing Director Rob Thomas, convened by the  Director of the Lottery board in Wales, Andrew White. 

The meeting was called to hear about progress on reopening the Pavilion and community involvement in running events there.

Spokesperson for the Pavilion community group, Phil Rapier told the Penarth Times: “We are most anxious to get a programme of events for the summer and develop a structure for active democratic participation from our Community to secure the Pavilion’s future.”

The Vale MD, Rob Thomas reported they had acquired the equipment and carried out maintenance and renovation.  They’d opened the Big Fresh cafe, which is a trading arm of the VOG council; profit goes back into the school meals service.  

They see the Pavilion restoration as part of a package of upgrading the Pier’s Kiosks and the Esplanade. 

With the cafe-bar open into the summer evenings, the Pavilion would be open for evening events.

The community group assured Mr Thomas that they are fully supportive of the renovation work and reopening the cafe but there’s little time until May 17, when indoor activities will be permitted.

Mr Thomas said the more volunteers the better, to get community buy-in. 

They are about to appoint a duty manager, who will deal with offers to run events and involving volunteers. 

He’s still thinking how to reach the wider community and be as inclusive as possible.

The community group believe the lack of public engagement and public accountability by PACL (Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd) caused the charity’s long period in limbo and eventual failure

The Pavilion has limitations with one large hall and the cinema hardly usable at present.  

The group conceive its operations being integrated with the Kymin, in providing rehearsal space, meeting rooms and a possible local base for the Vale’s Radio Stations, Penarth Sounds and Bro Radio.   

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Tom Bowring, VoG Head of Policy & Business presented preliminary results from the on-line consultation; 700 out of 1100 responses were from Penarth residents.  

Favourite suggestions were for a coffee shop/bar, produce markets, light music and theatre.  

Young people’s activities had support, but exercise classes like yoga and Tai-chi got fewer mentions.

People who are ready to re-start events such as the popular ‘open mic’ sessions are invited to notify the duty Manager via [email protected] . 

A report will go to next week’s Cabinet meeting (May 12), which should give a green light to re-opening the Pavilion.  

They hadn’t yet thought about a publicised reopening event.

The community group emphasises the importance of a democratically structured volunteer scheme.  

There are many successful community enterprises managed in this way, says their spokesperson Mr Thomas. 

“The Blaenavon Hall is owned by their Town Council but has the distinct advantage of day-to-day running being chiefly in the hands of the Patrons,” he added. 

“Their scheme is regarded as a benchmark community resource that qualifies for both Welsh Arts Council and Sporting Grant Funding in its own right.  

“The Hall includes a Cinema exactly the same size as that at the Pier Pavilion.

“The Blaenavon Cinema regularly screens recent releases to packed audiences.”

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