COLWYN BAY PIER

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
Bodlondeb
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

Posted in News & Comments

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.
Chairman.

Posted in News & Comments

Secretary’s September 2015 Reflections

My notes in January mention three building projects that I hoped would come to fruition this year. One has : – the prestigious apartments near Rhos Point are complete , and very attractive too, with some already sold. The Rothsay Hotel is now demolished and good progress being made in what is to take it’s place. Work on the redevelopment of the Aberhod Restaurant site is painfully slow. I shall have to show patience in waiting to see completion on this prominent location.

I am disappointed with the present state of the tunnel/bridge under the railway by the entrance to the pier. There is new paving from the railway station , down under the bridge to the promenade, which looks good. But the walls and ceiling have been ignored. This , to me, is like putting new carpet down in your living room when the wallpaper is hanging down and the ceiling is flaking. As far as the walls are concerned I would invite all the schools in the area, even Llandrillo College, to paint murals thereon – or let local businesses use the walls to advertise themselves.

Porth Eirias could still be regarded as having monetary problems. However, I was delighted to see that in early July, quietly and without fuss or fanfare , Bryn Williams opened his long-awaited attractive Bistro, complete with interesting menus, a bar, and separate coffee and snacks area.

 

Before I air my problems , there are three queries I would be interested to know the answers :

  1. How much energy is produced for the building by the two wind turbines found on the site
  2. . How many registered key holders are there to the property ?
  3. Now that the catering facilities are up and running, what is the need, or recognised purpose, of the central ‘reception desk’ in the middle of the place ?

To move on to my perceived problems,- we are all ’stakeholders’ in this multi-million pound project, and it is in everyone’s interest that the full financial potential of it will always be an on-going target. The area originally earmarked as two possible retail outlets bringing in two rentals , has presently been turned into one big ‘ glory hole’.

I have been fortunate enough to see the running costs of Porth Eirias for the year April 2014 to April 2015. With running costs totalling £ 125,000 and income of only £ 19,000 it has cost Conwy County Council (us) almost £106,000 to run the complex for a year.

One of the fixed expenses payable annually is rent to the Crown Estate of £10,000. Further to that, the Crown Estate terms say that 10% of Gross Annual Income is also payable. This year Gross Annual Income was almost £20,000 – which meant a further payment to Crown Estates of almost £2,000. When Porth Eirias reaches it’s full potential as a ‘ business venture’ , offering assorted facilities, one could foresee a Gross Income from the four sources within the building ( Watersports rental, Bryn Williams rental,, Learning Zones rental and Retail Units rental ) reaching, say, £50,000, of which £5,000 goes automatically to Crown Estates. With all four areas within the building being occupied by tenants, then the existing staffing costs of £44,000 should almost disappear, as each tenant will be paying for it’s own staff. Also, I would suggest that cleaning costs of over £6,000 (cleaning changing rooms and toilets ) could be shared amongst the four tenants. –   Just my thoughts !

However, it is good to note that the ramp at the Old Colwyn side of the site , for so long remaining incomplete, is almost finished.

The PIER. It’s future remains to be a ‘waiting game ‘. We must wait until October, when Mr Hunt continues his High Court battle, claiming ownership of the pier. Also , we must wait until November when the ‘Save the Pier’ brigade re-apply for millions of pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

From me to you – A fond farewell. The results of the above actions will be noted by another member of the Civic Society whose updates of our website will probably more interesting than mine have been !

Jim Lowe, Hon. Secretary, Colwyn Bay Civic Society.

Posted in News & Comments

Chairman’s Report 2014

The year 2014 has again proved to be an active, interesting and enjoyable one for the Society. The number of members attending each meeting and increase in membership is an indication of this fact.,
Undoubtedly, the pleasant environment and good food at the Cricket Club, in addition to the excellent and interesting speakers have been the strongest contributory factors towards achieving this situation. My thanks go to Martin and staff for their contribution and to Tom Wyatt and Bob Owen for their good work in filling our speaker’s programme so well.
Because of the continual high standard of speakers it is difficult to pick out the highlights. One I found most interesting was by our secretary Jim – “A Two Family Story” of his younger days in the family store business in Wigan and it’s history. Bob Owen, another committee member, educated and entertained us in his illustrated talk “A horse, a horse, my Kingdom for a horse “. So many other interesting talks – “Bodnant Gardens”, “ The piers of Wales “, “Tidal lagoon power “. and the headmaster of Ysgol Gogarth, Llandudno telling us , with illustrations ,of the incredible new developments at the school. We were invited to visit the school and be escorted round. Those who were fortunate to go , found the technology used throughout a real eye-opener It was of the latest and best required to give the greatest assistance to the disabled children attending the school from the whole county. At the end of term Christmas concert given by the children it was an inspiration to see their excitement and their happy faces.
It is not only at the monthly meetings that Society activity occurs – our Executive Committee have been active on member’s behalf and I wish to thank them all for their work and giving me their support
We have representatives on several Colwyn Bay groups and committees They have attended the Colwyn Bay Stakeholders Group- Bay Life regeneration, Pwllycrochan Local Nature Reserve committees, Bryn Euryn Nature Reserve committees, Rhos-on-Sea Environment Group , Colwyn Bay Waterfront and Townscape Heritage initiative meetings, and other Colwyn Bay heritage and environmental meetings. Thanks to those giving their time for the Society in this way.
We have written letters on behalf of the Society to David Jones MP and to the CCBC chief executive regarding Porth Eirias, to the planning authorities regarding the reconstruction of Aberhod, to Rob Dix re kiosks and the promenade development, and attended meetings with him regarding both promenade plans and the problem of the Pier.
A request under the Freedom of Information Act asking for expenditure details during 2014 relating to the intended Bistro in Porth Eirias is still awaiting a reply.
Our secretary Jim must be foremost in my thanks for his hard work – amongst several other activities for the Society he produces a newsletter regularly, distributed to members and placed on our website keeping everyone up to date.
Mentioning the website, I must thank Dave Smith and his son for the time spent in maintaining and improving it so well.
During the year we have had several happy events , including the engagement of our President Graham Roberts to Daphne Swale in May and , when writing this, they are on their honeymoon, having married in December. I wish to congratulate them and wish them a very happy life together.
The New Year starts with a request to attend a meeting to re-inaugurate Conwy Civic Society . Myself and our secretary Jim Lowe have been asked to attend it and proffer advice on developing a successful Society. I am fairly confident that to follow our example would not go amiss!
Thank you , members , for continuing to give me your support and particularly those on the committee for their continual support and friendship during the year.
We look forward to another successful 2015 CBCS year.

Donald Saunders

Chairman

 

Posted in Uncategorized