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.

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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 Journals, Uncategorized

Hopes and Reflections from our Secretary – January 2015

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.

Posted in News & Comments

NEWSLETTER August 2014

THOUGHTS FROM OUR SECRETARY

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.

 

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