Policy for 2014/5

In 2012, we developed and extended our communication channels with residents. We created Twitter and Facebook accounts and launched our web site. We improved the quality of the newsletter. In 2013, residents launched social activities. We have had walks, picnic, played pétanque and had monthly quiz nights. In parallel to these activities, we have been in continuous discussions with Penarth Town Council, Vale of Glamorgan council, and the Welsh Government to influence their decisions on delivering improved amenities for our residents.

Where we have pushed for improved amenities, our stakeholders have delivered so far but never seem able to complete. We have the zig-zag path now but our councillors have promised that it will be lit out of the Arts part of the budget. Phil Beaman at Vale of Glamorgan has cleared our ‘Dock Hill’ woodland path from Plas Pol de Leon up to the allotments and solved the drainage issues for us. But, we are still waiting on our councillors to find the promised money for the steps at the Marina end. Cardiff Council laid a crushed red rock surface from our beach to the back of The Custom House car park but did not complete the last few feet to the Barrage car park.

However, there are always worst exceptions. Plymouth Park was dug up by the Welsh Government and abandoned. The Welsh Government again failed to deliver the park previously agreed by the Welsh Government’s agency, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, then the Welsh Government’s agency, the Welsh Development Agency, then the Welsh Government’s Ministry of Economy, Science and Transport. Negotiations are continuing between the Welsh Government and the Vale of Glamorgan Council. The Vale refused to accept the transfer of the Park and risks to the Council. The Welsh Government are now negotiating the possibility of transferring the Park grounds management to the Vale and possibly including the community (us). We will keep you posted but do not expect anything soon.

In addition to the above, in 2014, we will work on preparing celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the opening of Penarth Docks. In 2013, we added a History page to our website. We are talking to the Vale Council about permanent storyboards in the neighbourhood of the old Ely Tidal Harbour and Docks (now called Penarth Marina and Haven). We have sourced exhibition material and are now probing where to find the loan of a double sized portacabin to house it next summer. We are also identifying a location to site it. We are talking to Penarth Town, Vale, and Cardiff Councils about possible celebration activities. We will also talk to Cardiff Harbour Authority and other stakeholders.

Our other big project this year is Marina in Bloom. If all residents tidy up and brighten the neighbourhood with blooms, our environment will be improved. As the councils are forced to cut back services and we have all hidden indoors out of the rain, in many places our neighbourhood is beginning to look down at heel. Somehow, we all need to encourage our neighbours to become street proud.

2014/5 is our most ambitious year yet. Our plan can only be delivered by each resident, each apartment block, each street working to help us deliver it.

Benefits of a strong Residents’ Association

The heavy rains that resulted in widespread flooding in the Thames Valley at the beginning of 2014 illustrated the difference between those neighbourhoods with strong and weak sense of community. The Environment Agency had warned everybody that floods would come. It quickly became apparent that nobody would be coming to build preventative defences. However, some communities rapidly self-organised and implemented their own defences before the floods started. Other communities did not do so.

It is an accepted fact of life that ‘it is not what you know but who you know’. Those more affluent neighbourhoods in the Thames Valley were already well networked. They could quickly engage with those networks and call upon everybody to pull together and help. If you cast your mind back to those terrible pictures of those residents left behind in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, they were the ones without any resources left and nobody to call. The more affluent were long gone, and others had left with help. Networks paid off.

Whilst we may be unlikely to experience floods, the benefits and rewards from participating in our Residents’ Association are important and may one day be critical.

By participating together in activities within the Residents’ Association, we will develop a sense of community by creating positive interaction with neighbours and the community. Other benefits are the reduction in anti-social behaviour and safer environments for the enjoyment of local people. Additionally, there is increased local pride as people take ownership of the improvements to the area and reduce litter, anti-social behaviour, inconsiderate parking, litter, dog fouling, overgrown and unkempt gardens and pavement verges. But, there are far bigger benefits for those residents who actively participate with their neighbours.

Between 1993 and 2008, the British became over 40% wealthier but this did not bring a similar boom in the feeling of wellbeing. In fact the opposite was achieved. It brought an increase in unhappiness and deteriorating mental health. Scientists looked for the cause of this gap between growing wealth and the phenomenon of plateauing happiness. They found that the cause of this gap was the country’s declining social interaction. In other words, the cause of declining happiness is the lack of engaging with the local community.

The more people are connected to family and the community, the less likely they are to have heart attacks, strokes, cancer and depression. Active community members sleep better and live longer. They are happier.

So how do we make a stronger community? It starts with engagement, residents participating in activities and events. This interaction leads to the next higher level of trust, residents trust each other and the organisation. With trust, people engage in reciprocity, doing for others without any immediate expectation of repayment. The final stage of strength is efficacy, residents believe they can make a difference and influence their environment.

For the more technical, we achieve a stronger community by developing our three types of networks: bonding (‘birds of a feather flock together’), bridging (engaging with others from different backgrounds and circumstances) and linking (engaging with other local organisations and government in order to get resources and bring about change).

We share a geographic location and so we have that in common as a bond. As more residents engage in the different teams, activities and events, our bonding networks will strengthen. Equally, as residents try a new interest group they will meet others from around the neighbourhood and so build and strengthen our bridging networks. As we become a stronger community, we are more able to use our linking networks with government bodies and other stakeholders to get resources and bring about change which in turn will increase every participating resident’s belief that they can make a difference and influence their environment. This is efficacy. Our 150th Anniversary celebrations are an example as they can only be delivered through linking networks.

Penarth Marina Residents’ Association
Last year we focused upon reconnecting and communicating with all residents by relaunching our newsletter and opening Facebook and Twitter pages (PenarthM), and now our web page: https://penarthm.wordpress.com/
as new channels for instant contact with residents. This year we are focusing upon community activities and continuing our bottom-up reorganisation. In order to engage with the neighbourhood community, we are encouraging everybody to get engaged and participate.

In order to spread the workload and ensure engagement with all residents, we are dividing up the Association’s functions and forming teams to manage them. We have an Events Team that successfully launched their first monthly quiz night to a packed room of residents. More events and activities to follow – please check our Calendar of Events page on this website and our Facebook page.  We are about to launch a Physical Amenities Team to oversee our physical environment in the best interests of the residents . There are another two teams under consideration for residents. More information to come on these once we have worked out the details.

Zig-zag path from Penarth Heights
The combined cycle and public footpath between Penarth Heights and the marina has now opened. There is no lighting so the route will not be safe for pedestrians to use after dark and during the shorter days between autumn and summer.

Unloved Path (1)
Pathway to Headland beach down beside the Custom House dilapidated building. The Vale of Glamorgan Council wanted to close this Headland path in the interests of safety from falling cliff. They have been convinced to keep it open on the grounds of safety – so walkers from Penarth can escape an incoming tide.
This Headland path has been used for generations, why not improve it? As we said months ago, if the Council supply the chips, how hard can it be for the residents to rake them into a path? The residents could bring refreshments and celebrate upon completion.

Unloved Path (2)
The disused pathway from Paget Road hill by the allotments down to the middle of the two marina basins needs re-opening. The path is still there behind the padlocked gate but hidden from the road by undergrowth deliberately left uncut. The original marina exit was blocked when the developers built the boat hard standing across the end of the path.
The path is clearly visible through the undergrowth on Google Earth. Aerial photographs of the path are on the wall of The Clive Arms. So, we need a new exit cut on to the road in the marina. This means a slope or steps about twenty feet long. How hard can that be?

Plymouth Park
Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd is undertaking phase 2 of the Plymouth Park gas and leachate installation. Work commenced on site 14th May 2013 and is expected to last approximately 13 weeks. Work will be in a linear pattern along 3 routes at each side of the central compound. The grassed areas outside of the working areas may still be useable by the public, but access will be increasingly restricted as the work progresses and establishment of the restoration is awaited.

The final stages of the works contract will include full restoration of the site and a strategy for this has been prepared by a landscape consultant. Changes to the grassed surface are being implemented alongside the changes to the landscape management currently undertaken by Landcraft.

Submission of the details of the works has been accepted by the Vale of Glamorgan County Council in accordance with the existing planning permission in the form of a Construction and Environmental Management Plan. Whilst not anticipating there will be any major impacts whilst the works are on-going, any potential impacts that might arise have been considered within the plan and mitigation or control measures have been included.

The site compound has been located on the car park to the east of the flare and lagoon enclosure. The western half of the car park will still be open, however in the unlikely event that contractors further restrict the available number of spaces, they will endeavour to ensure that these remain minimal.

Restrictions to the free use of all of the Park are inevitable, but access will need to be controlled to ensure public safety is maintained. Contractors have endeavoured to ensure that public access to the Park can be maintained as far as practicable and safe to do so, your support is essential however to communicate a message that these works are to ensure a longer term environmental benefit to the locality. Any wilful interference with the security fences, plant and equipment, or trespass on to the works themselves is likely to either cause delays, or present unnecessary risks to the public, and contractors hope that the community can be vigilant to assist in preventing this.

Long term, there will be community and environmental benefits from this phase of works via the introduction of wildflower ‘meadows’ and redefined informal play areas and grass paths. The feasibility of removing the pronounced step and plateau at the centre of the east field is also being considered. The long term benefits of the overall plan will be enhancement of amenity and biodiversity of the area and contractors are committed to delivering this as quickly and as safely as they can.


2 thoughts on “Policy

  1. That’s not been any news for a long while now. It seems that the Penarth Marina and Haven Residents’ Association has turned itself into a social club and has closed its eyes to its surroundings.

    • That is not fair on those working so hard. There are lots of negotiations continuing with Penarth Town and Vale of Glamorgan councils as well as the Welsh Government. The next newsletter will be published before our AGM in March. You are urged to attend and volunteer to join one of the teams. Don’t forget, the Association has a dual objective of improving amenities as well as social capital. The strategy for this year was to build social capital, whilst still pressing for better amenities. I look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to one of our teams.

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