NEW YEAR – Jim’s Jottings

A New Year which brings New Hopes. There are many, many things within the Society’s “Area of Benefits” that I hope 2017 will bring about and I can become quite excited about what 2017 will, in fact, produce.

First and foremost I am excited about Colwyn Bay having a modern and inspirational new Civic Centre. As I write the site , close to Queens gardens, is well on the way to being cleared. When up and running this impressive new Civic Centre will add a great deal to Colwyn Bay’s regeneration.

My second fervent hope is that a project will be implemented in 2017 to do something with the pier. Demolition alone, I know, will be expensive and the creation of something sensible in it’s place will also be very costly. But anything will be preferable in replacing this present abysmal and dangerous eyesore.

My third hope is that the works now progressing well along the sea front from the pier to the Cayley embankment will be completed on time. It will all add greatly to the appeal of our long and attractive promenade. The suggestion about putting “COLWYN ” in huge letters somewhere on the completed new stretch has been met with many ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ – mostly ‘cons’, but I say – if it is European money that will put it there – then let’s do it.

To end these notes I hope something can be done with the dilapidated restaurant buildings on Rhos Point, and reopen the boarded-up shelter. I also hope to see the completion and occupation at the works where previously Rothstay Hotel stood and Aberhod used to be. Finally, I would like to see the two new , huge assets in town – Porth Eirias and Eirias Park run at a profit and not be such a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds to our pleasant town – HERE’S HOPING!!

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Reflections from our Secretary July 2016

Parking on the ‘Prom’ – was the decision really necessary ?

Ever since the creation of cheap overseas holidays, making them affordable to the ‘man in the street’ and his family, and the cutting in half of the town by the A55, Colwyn Bay has been fighting hard to re-invent itself.

In recent years the many facilities in Eirias Park attracting famous pop stars, Porth Eirias with it’s sailing and Bistro endeavours, and the magnificent new beach, have done so much to help our pleasant town.

But, the ‘Weekly News’ of 22nd June 2016 told us that “Councillors agree to start charging for prom parking” , with the lead member for Highways claiming that “…if parking charges were not introduced savings would have to be made elsewhere.”

My immediate reaction to this news is :- ‘so the motorist is to put extra money into Conwy County Council’s coffers’. It would be interesting to know which of our County Councillors voted for this and which wards they represent.

In my view it is detrimental to Colwyn Bay’s tourist trade and I expect the businesses in Colwyn Bay who have struggled so hard against reduced ’foot fall’ will be angry at this decision. I can see this also as being ‘the thin edge of the wedge’ In time, as the rest of the promenade is improved, so slowly the entire length will have parking charges introduced from Old Colwyn to Rhos-on-Sea.

I am excited by the project to put a new impressive Council Office building close to Queens Gardens – another project bringing life back into Colwyn Bay, – but charging to park on our pleasant promenade is a step in the wrong direction.

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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.

  1. Are there any unpaid Council Tax and/or Business Rates on the Pier?
  2. Is the Pier subject to any Crown Estate duties?
  3. Without disclosing Mr Hunt’s address: does he have a permanent address in North Wales?
  4. 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?
  5. As a ‘businessman’ what business is Mr Hunt engaged in?
  6. If he were to become the owner the Pier, is the Council aware of his intentions with regard to its future?
  7. Has he ever intimated to the Council that if he owned the Pier, he would attempt to sell it?
  8. Were a private individual to own the Pier, would such an individual be able to attract funds from CADW?
  9. 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?
  10. 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:

  1. When the Town Councillors voted to keep the Pier, how many voted for its retention and how many against?
  2. Did the Town Councillors have any plans as to how the project was to be financed?
  3. 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’.

  1. The County Council has voted to demolish the Pier: How much will this cost?
  2. Has CADW agreed to the demolition of the Pier?
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. The Welsh Assembly has rejected Conwy County Borough Council’s application to demolish the Pier; will the Council appeal this decision?
  6. To date, what are the legal costs of fighting Mr Hunt’s ownership claims?
  7. Why has the Welsh Assembly interfered with a local planning arrangement; what on earth has it got to do with them.
  8. Are there any Crown Estate revenues due from whoever owns the Pier?
  9. 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.

Yours faithfully

Donald Saunders                                 Graham Roberts
Chairman                                               President


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.

Response from Councillor Dilwyn Roberts

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Chairman’s Report 2015

It was in 1972 that this Society was established to have a watching brief over the town and seek to protect the towns natural and built heritage. We have continued, as in the past, to be consultees on planning application and appeals in the Colwyn district. Aiming to stimulate public interest and debate in Colwyn Bay and it’s heritage, we have seen the society’s membership numbers increase, I think, to a record number this year.

To achieve this is unusual amongst most Welsh civic societies today , if representative’s reports at a North Wales Civic Society gathering in Conwy at the beginning of the year is to be considered. We were asked to give advice on how we manage this ! As I mentioned last year, I think having a concerned and active executive committee and officers, excellent speakers , good food and a pleasant environment and friendly atmosphere goes a long way to help.

The officers and committee have been busy writing and receiving letters from our MP, County council and local council officers on such subjects as Porth Eirias income and expenditure, need for improvement of railway station and station square, siting of water fountain and items on new sea front development, Rhos on Sea promenade road and , of course, the pier and many others. Officers have attended meetings concerned with these issues to hear and present our views. The fact we have a garden plot on Queens gardens maintained by the council may not be widely known. A new plaque promoting the Society has just been made to replace one vandalised earlier in the year. Our secretary, Jim Lowe, must be picked out for special praise for his efforts in almost all these activities.
When we come to reviewing our regular meetings, all of which are so well attended, I have to first recognise the excellent work done by Jane Boulton. I mentioned how good the speakers have been and for this we must thank Bob Owen and Tom Wyatt.
The subjects on which speakers have entertained us is so wide and varied – “Place names of Wales”, “Concorde”, “The Knowlson Saga “, “Lawrence of Arabia “ and “ The Highland Cow and the Celts” – and many more, so informative and entertaining ! Difficult to pick the best .

Without the food , so well provided by Martin and his friendly and efficient team , I think our evenings would not be successful. And , of course, without the regular filling of the room with so many members we would not have the atmosphere.
I don’t know how many look at our website – an excellent one by any standard – , but I must thank Dave Smith and his son for their efforts in managing it.

I hope I haven’t neglected to mention others who assist the Society to prosper , everyone is appreciated. I will end this report by thanking all our executive committee members for their work and friendly support to me as the Society Chairman this year. Let the Society in 2016 go from strength to strength.

Donald Saunders.

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