I must start my notes by offering congratulations and wishes for much happiness to our President (Author of our Society Journals) Graham Roberts who “tied the knot”with Daphne Swale in late December. May they have a future of many contented years together.
For ‘the Bay’ 2014 held many “ups”and “downs” :-
Eirias Park has been a major “up” during 2014. It is proving to be a huge commercial asset to our town. There are so many attractions/ activities to be found there. They are boosting our income and increasing the reasons for the general public and commercial enterprises throughout the UK to call on Colwyn Bay.
The stadium and football/rugby pitch bring interesting events to the open space , being good enough and big enough to also hold spectacular events. Pop artists like Olly Mur and Sir Tom Jones and next Elton John are artists who appear there. (I hope the weather befits the quality of the star this year.)
Within the park area are also the Leisure centre/Swimming pool complex, tennis courts a skate boarding area, a lake for model boat enthusiasts and a full-size boating lake. The latter is sadly neglected but I understand is earmarked to be fully restored to the standard it enjoyed in days gone by.
Another major”up” in 2014 has been the completion of the promenade and sea front between Porth Eirias and the pier. Our beautiful new sand beach is a great pleasure for locals and visitors alike. Also at Porth Eirias it is good to see the sailing school offering teaching in so many different water crafts and the new ramps for those who bring their own vessels – water-skies,dinghies ,jet-skies etc. I am delighted also to see the creation of a Zebra-crossing between the lower exit of Eirias Park and the entrance to Porth Eirias. I hope the Highways department will recognise the need for another Zebra-crossing – this time between the Tunnel/Bridge and the pier. This summer, with the new paving laid from the railway station , to under the bridge to the entrance to the pier, children will be skateboarding or on bikes or scooters and could, almost out of control, ride on to the promenade road – an accident waiting to happen. If it was thought necessary for a Zebra at Porth Eirias – so too is there need for one at the pier. Also, I hope in 2015 the Tunnel will have it’s sides and ceiling enhanced.
Whilst the road works were being completed between Porth Eirias and the pier, for safety reasons, a 20mph speed limit was applied. Will the Highways Department please consider, for safety reasons, applying a 20mph limit on the entire length of the ‘prom’ from Old Colwyn to St Trillo’s Chapel ? In the summer the areas round all the kiosks, and the stretch of road from the Cayley Pub to Rhos Point is a high-risk area where children, pets and the elderly and infirm are concerned. Along this stretch I would also consider some hefty speed humps to force traffic to slow down. I would suggest there should be no parking between Fortes Cafe and the Rhos Fynach buildings.
I am concerned for those who run the very popular remaining kiosks along our sea front. I understand the kiosks have an uncertain future. I would be most grateful to read in the local press what lies ahead for these popular and essential enterprises, and that those running them can be confident their businesses are not in jeopardy.
One of the major ‘downs’ for 2014 remains, not surprisingly, the Pier. There are still, as I write, three approaches to the pier’s future. One, Mr Hunt still persists in using the High Courts to claim the pier is his. Two, the County councillors have voted to have the structure demolished and ,Three , the optimists, Colwyn Victoria Pier Trust is hoping that by April of this year £millions from the Heritage Lottery Funds will be available. I pray that 2015 will bring a final and trustworthy decision between either ‘Two’ or ‘Three’ of the above.
A large helping of frustration ! –
I am sure there are many citizens in our area who are as frustrated as our MP David Jones over the time it is taking to get the catering facilities in Porth Eirias up and running. In the ‘Weekly News’ of 23rd October we were asked by Sasha Davies, Conwy Council’s Strategic Director for the Economy and Place to have patience – what was planned by chef Bryn Williams and Shel Restaurant Ltd would be well worth waiting for. Our hopes were expected to be raised in the ‘Weekly News’ of 18th December 2014 by the announcement that £100,000 had been awarded to Shel Restaurant Ltd. By the Tourist Investment Support Scheme to provide whatever catering equipment is needed to get the whole idea up and running. April 2015 is the target for opening whatever they have in mind. It’s ‘what they have in mind’ that I am agog to find out. Is it something of a ‘haute cuisine ‘ nature that we can expect ? Or a ‘cheap and cheerful’ cafe to compete with any remaining kiosks along the sea front ?
If I was involved in this project I would need to think long and hard to determine what type of catering would bring in the biggest returns. I would certainly not be happy with that curious central “reception area” bang in the middle of the place. – It is a booking office for the sailing concern. It is a telephone centre. It is an enquiry desk. It is somewhere for ‘staff’ to have a coffee and eat sandwiches – and, frankly, it would be in my way. Would I be selling buckets and spades along with snacks during the day and quality cuisine at night ? By the summer of 2015 I hope that I am impressed by what the £100,000 funding has produced.
I hope also that 2015 will see completion of the huge block of quality apartments being built by Rhos Point. Also , see the demolition of the Rothsay Hotel and erection of more quality flats with pent-houses, and hope the buildings at the old Aberhod Reastaurant site will come to fruition.
Finally, above all, I hope for a summer of wonderful weather so that all that is planned for our pleasant town can have spectacular and rewarding results.
PORTH EIRIAS – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
THE GOOD – It is good to see those who are interested in water-sports using the excellent facilities available at Porth Eirias. The different types of craft available for use is extensive, with lessons in sailing on offer. The use of excellent changing rooms , toilets and quality showers and clothes cabinets, is available in the building. All of these, to me, are good features of Porth Eirias and I wish those running the water-sport business all success in their enterprise.
Another delightful feature of the complex are the two ceramic mosaic plaques ,created by school children, now placed on the walls by the entrance steps. The schools and the children involved must be congratulated on the quality of these works. Funding should be made available to encourage more children and schools to create more of these ceramic plaques to add further colour to these boundary walls.
The roof viewing platform is an excellent facility , giving superb views of the beach and bay.
The children’s outside play area with climbing frames, swings etc is also proving to be a good aspect of Porth Eirias. It is well used and appreciated with it’s soft surface in case of ‘nasty’ falls.
THE UGLY – My personal view and what seems to me to be turning into something ugly are the plants used to fill the beds on the way up to the glass-sided viewing area. The natural grasses and plants chosen are those which survive a windy and salt-sprayed seaside environment. However, I feel they do not do the over-all appearance of Porth Eirias any good whatsoever. Far better , to my mind ,would be to fill the beds with more colourful shrubs and bedding plants ( hardy fuschias and hebes come to mind.)
THE BAD – ( or rather , the disappointing, the worrying and the money wasting) Those responsible for finding an organisation to provide catering at Porth Eirias need to hang their heads in shame. What a shambles ! Delays – not fit for purpose – expenses to provide and install suitable equipment – finding a suitable tenant, and a lack of transparency are all matters that are causing concern amongst the general public. I’ve heard it said that McDonalds, KFC or Little Chef are the sort of tenants needed in that sort of sea-front establishment, or even a locally owned cafe. As for transparency – I’m sure the County’s ratepayers would like to know – is entitled to know- the terms of the lease related to the catering at Porth Eirias.
A heart-felt Request – Will whoever is responsible for the ‘Visitor Centre’ at the entrance to Victoria Pier please take it away ? It is not helping the tourists’ image of Colwyn Bay.
A few more ‘GOODS ‘ to end my notes :- It was good to see the super beach being opened up again for all to enjoy.
It was good to see the new little ‘Train’ taking families from Rhos to Porth Eirias and back again.
It was good to see a 20MPH speed limit applied along the sea-front road from Victoria pier to Porth Eirias. If I had my way, that 20MPH limit would apply from Old Colwyn to Penrhyn Bay- especially through the summer months.
It was only when a house insurance reminder arrived that I realised that another year had passed since I last wrote an annual report for the Society, and I must look back again at another year of activity here, in Colwyn Bay. My initial thoughts were that the Society’s year had been, to me, a very interesting and enjoyable period where I could see an increasing number of members coming to our meetings and, apparently, also finding them interesting.
Our team of speaker-organisers – Tom Wyatt and Bob Owen – have been responsible for providing us with excellent speakers , covering a multitude of fascinating subjects. Who would think that a subject entitled ‘The Hand’ could be as enthralling as it was?- and so many others by such talented speakers. Several local subjects were covered , such as ‘The Townscape Heritage Initiative’ and ‘The New Colwyn Bay Waterfront’ keeping members informed of progress in our town.
The ambience and food provided by the Cricket Club and Martin and staff was an element which must not be underestimated.The standard of meals provided have been consistently good, along with staff friendliness. Outside the regular member’s meetings, the Executive Committee have been busy overlooking the town’s planning matters, being represented on such bodies as the Rhos Environmental Action Group, Pwllycrochan Woods Local Nature Reserve and Bryn Euryn Nature Reserve Committees. Letters have been written expressing the Civic Society’s views to the Council Chief Executive regarding, for instance, Conwy’s Replacement Window policy,and Mr Winston Roddick- Police and Crime Commissioner, also the Madoc International Research Association , amongst others . Your representatives have attended meetings with David Jones MP and Rob Dix ,personally, and at a Conwy Vibrant and Viable Places Consultation, considering the future development of this area, and also Multicultural events in the town. Early in the year, before opening to the public, members were invited to see the new Porth Eirias Watersport centre, escorted by the chief engineer. The environmentally friendly construction of the building was explained to some of us, materials used which would sustain themselves with minimal attention. Also the advanced heating and lighting , the latter mainly provided by it’s own wind power. The plant layout outside was chosen to withstand the marine climate and require minimum attention. Much thought was put into it.
There has been criticism of the building’s appearance, but if time is given to go , examine the detail of construction and enjoy the views from the roof area, and go see the superb changing room/ shower and watersport facilities, a more liberal view may be given. When the Cafe/Bistro inside is developed as planned, (which is slow in coming) we hope it will prove to be a good addition to the excellent new beach now enjoyed by so many people.This Spring should see many young people enjoying all the activities provided. The sports and entertainment activities at Parc Eirias have also proved successful this year and auger well for the future.
The town businesses need support now with rates and parking facilities etc, to make it a more thriving community. We have a beautiful town and this Society must do all it can to help improve all sections of life here.Civic Pride must be be prevalent!
Thank you, everyone, for continuing to give your support to myself and the Society, and special thanks to all those officials who have worked for it so willingly, our Secretary particularly.
We look forward to another successful year in 2014.
Donald Saunders, Chairman.