The Executive recently carried out a member survey to ascertain opinions as to the future of Colwyn Bay pier. We asked a simple question should the pier be demolished or retained?. Out of the 70 members surveyed 88% were in favour of demolition. That reinforces the position of the executive in calling for the long running saga of the pier and its future to be resolved and our view that demolition is the only viable option. In the February 2016 edition of the Journal the pier and its future were the subject of an article which explains the view of our Society. A copy of our letter to the Conwy County Borough Council and the subsequent reply received are as follows:
Mr Iwan Davies
Chief Executive of Conwy County Borough Council
Conwy: LL32 8DU
Dear Mr Davies
Concerns regarding the Colwyn Bay Pier
I am sure that you will have the same concerns that the Colwyn Bay Civic Society has, about the ongoing saga of the Colwyn Bay Pier. Your frustrations must, we presume, be the same as those of the people of Colwyn Bay who find it difficult to comprehend the ridiculous impasse that has now arisen between the Conwy County Borough Council, the Welsh Assembly and Mr Stephen Hunt. The frustration felt by everyone is now beyond a joke.
Like many other people we have many questions regarding Mr Hunt’s present involvement with this ridiculous situation and wonder whether you can enlighten us. It would seem that he still claims that he is the rightful owner of this rotting structure.
- Are there any unpaid Council Tax and/or Business Rates on the Pier?
- Is the Pier subject to any Crown Estate duties?
- Without disclosing Mr Hunt’s address: does he have a permanent address in North Wales?
- Do Councillors have a view as to whether it is sensible for anyone without financial backing, towards the end of their working lives, to take on the responsibility for the future of the Pier?
- As a ‘businessman’ what business is Mr Hunt engaged in?
- If he were to become the owner the Pier, is the Council aware of his intentions with regard to its future?
- Has he ever intimated to the Council that if he owned the Pier, he would attempt to sell it?
- Were a private individual to own the Pier, would such an individual be able to attract funds from CADW?
- If Mr Hunt eventually fails in all his court applications to take back his ownership of the Pier, will the Local Authority be in a position to apply for the Court Costs incurred throughout this prolonged legal process?
- Mr Justice Morgan decided to dismiss his application for ownership of the Pier, or any part of it. Is it correct that Mr Hunt still intends to appeal this decision?
With regard to the Bay of Colwyn Town Council’s involvement with this saga:
- When the Town Councillors voted to keep the Pier, how many voted for its retention and how many against?
- Did the Town Councillors have any plans as to how the project was to be financed?
- Was it the Town Councillors’ place to make this decision or was it simply a view they were expressing?
We appreciate the problems being faced by the Conwy County Borough Council, the Councillors and the officials of the Council in this ongoing problem. The Civic Society has long been of the opinion that the time has come, sadly, for the Colwyn Bay Pier and its Pavilion to be demolished. We have been open and honest in this regard and our views can be read in our Journal which is published on line on our website.
There appears to be a frustrating ‘stale-mate’.
- The County Council has voted to demolish the Pier: How much will this cost?
- Has CADW agreed to the demolition of the Pier?
- Is there any truth in the rumour, of which there are many, that a local business man is prepared to demolish the Pier free of charge? It is believed by many that his sale of the ‘rescued’ wrought iron would make it worth his while.
- A proposal to demolish the Pier but retain the columns with lighting and a hologram of the original pavilion was put to the public. How many were in favour and how many against?
- The Welsh Assembly has rejected Conwy County Borough Council’s application to demolish the Pier; will the Council appeal this decision?
- To date, what are the legal costs of fighting Mr Hunt’s ownership claims?
- Why has the Welsh Assembly interfered with a local planning arrangement; what on earth has it got to do with them.
- Are there any Crown Estate revenues due from whoever owns the Pier?
- Why is the Minister for Natural Resources for the Assembly, Carl Sargeant AM, getting himself involved in something which is not a ‘natural resource’?
The Colwyn Victoria Pier Trust is of course canvasing for the restoration of the Pier; an idea which the Civic Society feels is simply a pipe-dream with very little relevance to the future of Colwyn Bay.
The Trust has applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for 75% of the £12million it needs to create a new 21st Century Pier. That leaves £3million still to be found. The members of the Trust claim £850,000 will come from Conwy County Borough Council (ie, the council tax payers of the Borough). That leaves over £2million still to be found.
However the Lottery Fund will only grant the £9million applied for if written support from Conwy County Borough Council is received. But of course the County’s application to demolish has been rejected by the Welsh Assembly. We trust that the Borough Council stick to their, in our view, sensible and informed decision, and makes public its firm intention to demolish the Pier and defy the Welsh Assembly’s ill-advised idea that the Pier should be retained.
Thus it seems that the present state of affairs is a stalemate. Is that correct? We would be interested to hear of any moves that are afoot to break this stalemate to the advantage of the people who live and make their living in Colwyn Bay.
Donald Saunders Graham Roberts
Copies sent to: Councillors Cheryl Carlisle, Brian Cossey, Dave Cowans, Mary Christine Doyle,
Phil Edwards, Keith Eeles, Chris Hughes, Abdul Khan, Donald Milne,
Roger Elwyn Parry, Dave Roberts, John Roberts, Deion Smith,
Bob Squire, Trevor Stott, Adrian Tansley.
Mrs C J Earley (Clerk to the Bay of Colwyn Town Council)
The reply to this letter is provided below in PDF format.