Chairman’s Report 2013

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.

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Society Journal February 2014

Highlights

  1. Mock Tudor
  2. The Rosa Hovey Trust Homes
  3. What’s in a Name (Noddfa)
  4. The Rhos Playhouse
  5. The Rhos-on-Sea Environmental Action Group
  6. The Sea Shore
  7. The Elephant in the room is departing
  8. What’s In A Name (Marbury)
  9. Nothing Changes(Marbury)

Read the society journal (PDF)

Posted in Journals

Jimmy’s Jottings – January 2014

Waterfront improvements – the next phase.

These are due to start early this month and will concentrate on the stretch of promenade from the new Porth Eirias water-sport centre to the (ever crumbling)Victoria pier. The plans were put on show in October 2013 for all to see and comment on. It is planned to create attractive new curved sections, about four in number, terraced, with extra ramps down to the beach for the disabled and a new slipway near the pier. Thousands more tons of sand will be placed between the pier and the start of the Cayley embankment.

Much thought has gone into attempting to improve the appearance of the weary railway bridge by the pier, taking pedestrians from the sea – front to the town centre.If what is planned for this bridge – the planners call it ‘the tunnel’- turns out to be as fresh, lively and interesting as the drawings, then this will really improve the vital link between sea and shops. With new, modern, lighting, an assortment of coloured paving and surfaces, new seating and slightly raised walling the completed project will be appealing in many different ways.

To those from the Civic Society who visited the exhibition of the plans of ‘phase 2’ there were two important omissions.Firstly, no new or replaced kiosks planned and secondly no provision for shelters. The Society appreciates the fact that a variety of refreshments will be available from Porth Eirias by this spring, but a kiosk nearer the pier would provide snacks and drinks of all descriptions along with a multitude of items to be taken on the beach.

Regarding shelters – It is a long way for the elderly and mothers with push chairs and young children from Porth Eirias to the Cayley embankment without a shelter. If the weather changes from sun to rain there would be nowhere to shelter, other than ‘ the tunnel’.

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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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