Jim’s Jottings – November 2013

The On-going Saga of the Victoria Pier, Colwyn Bay

In June 2011, the question was put to all members of the Colwyn Bay Civic Society, in a secret ballot : ‘Should the Colwyn Bay Pier remain?’ – Yes or No .

Of the 160 membersof the Society, only 86 returned their ballot papers ; 68 voted that it should go, and 18 that it should remain. That was the position two years ago and some people may feel that it was only a superficial view. Never-the-less it confirmed the view held by the President of the Society that, sadly, the time had come to demolish the pier.He feels that the repair bill does not justify it’s restoration and that the pier no longer fulfils the role for which it was originally built.

It is fair to say , however, that some members of the Society were reluctant to let the matter rest and that, as a Civic Society, we should at least entertain the notion that there may be a future for the pier.

Now, over two years since our survey was conducted, so much has happened, but the pros and cons in discussions on the pier still remain. We now have the huge investment in Eirias Park, which offers such a variety of modern sporting and recreational facilities; the new Porth Eirias complex which has still to realise it’s full potential, and the new beach which has, this summer, proved such a big, welcome attraction.All of these positive projects to bring more visitors to Colwyn Bay have, I feel, increased the positive thinking towards the Pier and it’s future, which are in contrast to the excessive negative opinions that were held years ago.

Now, huge sums of money have been awarded to see how and to what extent the Pier can be rescued. I have newspaper reports that tell me the Heritage Lottery Fund has granted almost £600,000 so that a full, detailed, business plan can be submitted to raise the millions of pounds needed to turn the Pier into a 21st Century attraction , while still retaining some of it’s Victorian legacy.- after all it still has a Grade 2 listed building on it.

There are, therefore, a number of ‘outfits’ which are ‘touting’ for the Pier’s restoration, either in a grand ambitious manner or just a modest, easily maintained one. From what I can gather, there are the Heritage Lottery people, the Pier Project Board, the Pier Pressure Group, Shore Thing and the Welsh Tourist Board.and I assume, as well as the many people who, for good reasons, think the pier should now be abolished, there are also many people who, for their own honestly held reasons, feel that the Pier and it’s pavilion should be resurrected. There still remains one big problem; Mr Hunt, the previous owner, claims that he is still the owner and is still using the court system to prove his case.

Never-the-less, in their wisdom, the Bay of Colwyn Town Councillors, by a majority of 10 to 6(a vote which in itself shows some ambivalence on the subject) have disregarded this situation and have agreed to hand over £20,000 to the Borough Council to be spent on investigating whether or not the pier is still repairable or beyond repair. May I be so bold as to suggest that the councillors need only to refer to a Structural Appraisal that was drawn up in April 2010 by Datrys, Consulting Engineers of Caernarvon, of which I hold a copy, and be guided by the conclusions and recommmendations there-in.

Whatever it’s future, it is obviously going to take many moons for something to be done, allowing the Pier and it’s pavilion to look even more unsightly and become ever-more unstable. This confirms the view held by the majority of the members of the Society who voted on the issue two years ago. I just wish some cosmetic work could be done to make it look less dismal, forlorn and neglected, in an attempt to show the residents of Colwyn Bay and our visitors that the Pier is being given some thought. If anything in this piece is incorrect, I should be happy to be corrected and/or to hear any opposing views.

Car Parking and the demise of the High Street

Up and down the country there is growing concern about the death of the ‘high street’. It is claimed that out-of-town shopping centres and individual super-markets on the edge of town, which offer FREE PARKING is the main cause of this worrying trend. It is felt that this battle for business between the big super-markets and the local traders is slowly, but surely, being lost by the local traders. It is sad to see the local butchers, bakers, fish mongers, green-grocers etc., who have served their localities so well for so long one by one ‘ calling it a day’. Even in our town centres there is FREE PARKING offered by Asda and Morrisons. The authorities – the councillors – if they had a mind to , could make an attempt to stop the trend quite easily. They could stop charging in the car parks.

Colwyn Bay and Rhos-on-Sea could be helped by withdrawing all charges now operating within the vicinities of shops. In Rhos-on-Sea the parking area on Colwyn Avenue by the Squash Club should be free. In Colwyn Bay the car parks on Lansdowne Road, Ivy Street, the Railway Station and Princes Drive should all be FREE – to counter the attraction of free super-market parking, if nothing else.Further FREE PARKING is on offer at Lidl and Aldi. Why should the local trades-people not be able to offer FREE PARKING as well ? The authorities tinker with this problem by offering free parking for a few days on the run-up to Christmas. Big Deal ! Why not go the whole hog and scrap parking charges altogether ? – Just a little help to the local trades-people which would show them we appreciate their presence and their merchandise.

In my opinion the authorities have missed a golden opportunity to provide a little more parking space in Colwyn Bay. The site of the demolished covered market on Princes Drive has been fenced off with very substantial fencing. It could easily have been made into a temporary car park until the site is developed- free to motorists, of course! In high places, Eric Pickles (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government ) suggested that parking on single and double yellow lines for up to 10 minutes for a little quick local shopping should be given some serious consideration; Hear Hear. Local authorities please take note.

Whilst on the subject of parking, there is a lay-by close to the station, on Victoria Avenue, beside which is the pedestrian path leading to the promenade. This lay-by boasts double yellow lines, there is also a ‘No Waiting’ sign on the lamp post. Perhaps someone in the Highways Department can explain to me what is the point of creating a lay-by complete with double yellow lines ?

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