CBCS Newsletter – Secretary’s Thoughts

The Imperial Hotel Building

I was somewhat astonished at some councillors reactions in September to the planning application to redevelop the delapidated Imperial Hotel Building into seventeen one or two bedroom apartments. “ We want more jobs – not more flats” was their cry . They want this property, in such a prominent location, to be a commercial not residential. They questioned the quality of the proposed seventeen apartments and therefore the quality of any future occupants. As a result they felt this application, if passed, would not fit well with their objectives in the overall redevelopment of Colwyn Bay.
I agree quality is an important issue, but with the Imperial building you can have both jobs and flats. High quality retail units at ground floor level, and high quality apartments above. Who else but the present owner/developer is prepared to bring it back to life?. It was on the market for many moons and big names in retailing had every opportunity to assess it’s potential. There were rumours of Tesco or Waitrose showing interest but apparently not prepared to take it on.
The council will face the same problem when the site of the indoor market on Princess Drive is developed. Will it be commercial, residential, or as rumoured a new civic centre. That would mean that a vital part of the town will “fall dead” after working hours – we want “life after dark” in Colwyn Bay.
On this theme the Weekly News of 3rd January 2013 reports that councillors feel the seventeen flats would hamper their plans to regenerate Colwyn Bay. They feel there are already too many bedsits in Colwyn Bay as it is. I agree that certain areas of Colwyn Bay could well do with being turned into roads or streets of small modern family homes. However, it is all very well complaining about how the owners of the Imperial Hotel building would like to bring it back to life. I would like councillors to tell us just how they think the building should be dealt with. Perhaps they are holding back some brilliant alternative ideas. If they are they are wecome to tell us about them by contacting any of the Society’s officials contact details on our web site.

Victoria Pier Colwyn Bay.

Once again Mr Hunt, (previous owner of the pier) is prolonging the agony of any one being able to decide the future of this forlorn structure. On 7th November 2013 edition of the Pioneer reported that Mr Hunt’s claims of ownership through his mother’s interests in the pier had been rejected by a court in Cardiff. The following December we were told that Mr Hunt was to appeal to the High Court in an attempt to have the decision made by Mr Justice Milwyn Jarmin, QC. overturned. For someone who is a former bankrupt , I would like to ask Mr Hunt where the money is coming from to be able to proceed in this manner. For him to keep grasping at straws in this way is futile. Even if he does regain legal ownership, it would be an unhappy conclusion for the future of the pier. I doubt Mr Hunt has the financial means to improve the pier’s dire situation in any way. I wish the pier and all those who attempt to determine it’s future, satisfactory progress in 2013.

I am pleased to append a copy of our Chairman’s Annual Report for the year 2012/3. This is self explanatory but I would like to record thanks to Don Saunders for his work and time so freely given in service to the Society.

COLWYN BAY CIVIC SOCIETY – Chairmans Report 2012

When gathering together the memories of 2012 my personal thoughts are of the sad loss of my dear wife, Eunice, whose love and care had been the dominant factor in my life for so many years .I must also remember those others who have lost family members, John Lee, a former President of the Society amongst them, who passed away in May.

However, the memories of the Civic Society have included much happier occasions. Again , on a personal level, the camaraderie and friendship shared with members of our executive committee, and their support, particularly during the early months of the year has made things easier for me. The strength of this committee and their hard work has lead to another active and successful year for the Society, for which I wish to take this opportunity to thank them. Activities during the year were many and varied. We sent many letters to reflect the Society’s views to many sources. Early in the year we lodged objection to the proposed closure of the Police station in Rhiw Road and also to the development of the old ‘Judge and Jury pub as a ‘Help and Rehabilitation Service Centre’. This was because we considered the choice of situation in a retail commercial road was wrong, not because we were opposed to the cause or idea. Members of the executive committee became involved in the developments and improvements proposed for Rhos-on-Sea at Rhos point and the promenade leading to it from the village, consideration of which is on-going. We have suggested a site for an obelisk or statue of Prince Madoc, which could be situated along this promenade to inform the public of this legendary Welsh figure and bring interest to the area. The Society is represented on the Rhos-on-Sea Environmental Action Group by three members of the committee. The purpose of the group is to organise the raising of funds to facilitate the advance of the improvements.

Bryn Euryn and also the Pwllycrochan Woods Local Nature Reserves both have Society representatives on their committees. The consultation by the Betsy Cadwallader Health Board considering the reorganisation of services in this area has been followed by myself and other committee members. Meetings have been attended and a letter of protest regarding the proposed closing of the Minor Injuries Unit at Colwyn Bay Hospital was sent to the authority. More recently a letter of welcome and suggestions for improvements in Police Services has been sent to the new Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr Winston Roddick We are awaiting a reply.

On the centenary in 2012 of the sinking of the Titanic, on which one of the ship’s officers, Mr Harold Lowe, showed great courage in assisting drowning passengers on to a packed lifeboat, the Society recognized this action by arranging and paying for the lettering on his gravestone at St. Trillo Church to be restored to the original condition.

Many other activities have taken place, but the one which was most commendable by one of the Society’s members was the work of raising funds for Robert Owen House. Mrs Dorothy Lowe had an idea and immediately put it into action by organizing, with other members, a Garden Party. When this proved very successful she started inviting people to dinner at her home , the charge going to the cause’s funds. This was almost weekly from July to December – and the meals were excellent. What an effort it was – and in December a substantial check was presented to our Prof. Bob Owen , after whom the House is named. I must now limit my report on the year’s activities and the many causes your executive committee has been involved in, but I must mention the excellent monthly meetings of the Society. Our speaker secretary, Tom Wyatt with the help of Bob Owen have provided an exceptional programme of speakers – too many good ones to pick just one. Thank you both for your efforts.

I also must thank again all the members of the Executive Committee , our President Graham Roberts, and the mainstay of the committee, Jim Lowe ,who have all served the Society so well. Dave Smith and his son must be thanked for their work in maintaining our excellent website. All members who have been active in work for the society are appreciated and we, the Executive Committee, would always welcome volunteers to offer their services. The staff of the Colwyn Bay Cricket Club, who look after us so well, are last to receive my thanks – but certainly not least ! I believe we have had another successful year and look forward to 2013 with optimism.

Donald Saunders

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CBCS Newsletter – Secretary’s Thoughts

As I write these notes there is some good news, – and some bad news – and overwhelming frustration. One piece of good news is that the Rhos-on-Sea Environment Action Group – made up of some County Councillors and other public-spirited persons, including representatives of the Civic Society – is , hopefully , en route to raising funds to vastly improve Rhos Park , which stretches from Penrhyn Avenue up to Elwy Road. There are plans to renew the children’s playing equipment , to restore the badly neglected tennis court, put new high fencing in place and generally improve the paths and ‘greenway’. The children and teenagers of Rhos deserve a safe , high standard , area in which to take some fresh air and exercise. This application for funds to provide these facilities needs to succeed.

Another nugget of good news – our County Councillors are also hopeful of finding funding to erect a sculpture in Rhos of the legendary Prince Madoc – who , it is believed , sailed from Rhos in the 12th Century to land in Mobile U.S.A. Printed below is a copy of a letter sent by the Society in support of the latter project. If brought to fruition it will add interest and attraction to tourists and residents alike.

Copy of letter to Cllr. David Roberts

Copy of letter to Cllr. David Roberts

The bad news is the fact that the Colwyn Bay Minor Injuries Unit is earmarked for closure and transferred to Llandudno. This is totally unacceptable.

Copy of letter to the Betsi Cadwallader Health Council (word document)

AND – the overwhelming frustration – the Daily Post of August 18th tells us that , yet again, there is delay in deciding “WHO OWNS THE PIER ?” We are told to wait until November or December for a final decision. My view is that if a project goes ’ bust’ , your money is lost – end of story. Can a lawyer explain to me whether this approach is incorrect ? Please use our website contact procedure to comment. Many Thanks.

Jim Lowe, Secretary.

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CBCS support Robert Owen House Appeal

After the formal business of our Annual General Meeting in February, our committee member, Professor Robert Owen, asked for 10 minutes to address those present. He told the meeting of the existence and purpose of the Robert Owen House – a building in the grounds of Broad Green Hospital in Liverpool. It offers accommodation to relatives of patients who are in the hospital undergoing specialist treatment for serious and worrying heart, lung and thoracic conditions.

“ A safe – haven in times of need “ perfectly describes the house which is situated alongside the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital  whose patients come from North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire and as far afield as the Isle of Man. It is funded by public donations only , offers support and comfort  to all patient’s relatives who stay  in time of need, and  has  seventeen bedrooms – all ensuite .It is only when one comes to need and use the facilities on offer that their true value is realized. Everyone hopes that life does not present them with a need to use the Robert Owen House and all it offers, but it is comforting to know of it’s presence. One of our members present at the meeting, Dorothy Lowe,  was so impressed by what she heard that she immediately embarked on a number of fund-raising events , of which a Garden Fete was the most ambitious.Our President , Graham Roberts, kindly agreed to let his home  and gardens in Rhos-on-Sea be the venue for the event which was planned for Saturday 30th June. Features of the Fete were a 24 piece Brass Band, a jewellery stall, a book stall, a large raffle with  really worthwhile prizes along with an excellent high-class afternoon tea. A splendid watercolor of  Caernarvon Castle by local artist Mary Meadows was the prize for a separate raffle and Dorothy Lowe placed up a prize  for auction  of a first class evening meal for six, cooked by herself in her own attractive home.

Everyone involved were really hoping for good weather when the day finally arrived , but, as it turned out, the rain and gusty winds proved to be the biggest enemy – nationally this June has been the wettest one on record ! However, fortunately the rain stayed away between the start at 2.00pm and 3.30pm, allowing well over 100 people to enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea in the very pleasant gardens whilst listening to the  Beulah Brass Band playing in the background to complete the scene. When it was time to draw the winning tickets for the numerous raffle and other prizes , the heavens opened and our President and other officials got a thorough soaking whilst handing out the prizes. Professor Owen – the retired orthopaedic surgeon who initiated the creation of Robert Owen House – who had spent the afternoon ‘circulating’, was brave enough to stand out in the pouring rain to thank all those involved in the Garden Fete for their time, enthusiasm and hard work in organising what proved to be a very successful, enjoyable and worthwhile fund-raising event.

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Our Secretary’s Musings – March 2012

My first task is to report that our 2012 annual general meeting was recently held at the Rhos on Sea Cricket Club. I have pleasure in attaching a copy of our chairmans annual report for the preceding 12 months and to record thanks for his valuable work. 2012 Chairman’s Annual Report

First of all, praise , seldom offered, to various councillors. – I applaud their stance in fighting Conwy County Council’s Local Development Plans. Demands that local councils build thousands of new homes, condemning green spaces  so unnecessarily, need to be fought as strongly as possible. I am pleased to see our councillors are doing just that.

Praise , also, to our Councillors for lodging an appeal to reduce the speed limit on  the stretch of Abergele Road in Old Colwyn which is at present 40 mph ( often ignored by motorists ) and which , to prevent some tragedy happening, should be reduced to 30 mph.

Praise, also, to those who persisted in their request for a Zebra pedestrian crossing to be sited in Penrhyn Avenue close to the shops at the bottom of Church Road, Rhos-on-Sea. It has taken much time and hard work to raise the funds for the crossing which has added much needed safety for the many schoolchildren in the area.

Praise must also go to a local councillor who is encouraging the youngsters in Colwyn Bay to read  by turning her very interesting book shop – Swanlake Bookshop on Hawarden Road – into a Library. With so many ‘high-tech.’attractions these days to those of school – age, reading is well down the list of things to do. I hope her efforts prove to be successful , and her public- spirited offer is taken up by many. Her premises have recently seen the introduction of a magnificent wrought iron Victorian- style verandah, similar to those found elsewhere in town – a most attractive improvement.

We joined forces with Councillors by lodging our objections to closure of the Police Station on Rhiw Road. We felt that to move from there to the Head Quarters on the far side of Eirias Park would leave Colwyn Town centre devoid of a police presence – something that needs to be increased, rather than decreased.

We recently also lodged an objection to plans to introduce Help and Re-habilitation services , to those recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, within a building in Station Road , now occupied by the ‘Judge and Jury’ public house, Whilst we appreciate the need for such services and the help they offer, Station Road – the hub of Colwyn Bay’s retail business –  is not the right location for them. We hope the authorities will turn down the application to develop this property in this manner. It is good to read that , at last , the assorted and very dilapidated properties to be found at the site of what used to be the Colwyn Bay Indoor Market have all been acquired by Conwy County Council. The sooner the whole site is raised to the ground in readiness for development , the better. What is built on this site must be architecturally befitting it’s location and offer attractive retail and office accommodation in this important part of town.

In the New Year the Society’s Executive Committee wrote to all Town and County Councillors suggesting ways in which Rhos-on-Sea could be improved and given a 21st century ‘face-lift ‘.Their reply told us that all our suggestions had already been discussed and that the public was to be asked for it’s opinions on it’s ambitious plans. Plans are now afoot to re-develop Rhos Point – to pedestrianise part of Abbey Road and link the green playing areas on either side and to enlarge Rhos Harbour breakwaters, thus creating a safer and larger harbour with more moorings. We also applaud the suggestion that somewhere along the sea-front , from Rhos Point to Rhos Golf Club, a statue of Prince Madoc, or obelisk, be raised to tell the public of this legendary Welsh figure.

The difficulty, of course, is not so much the forward thinking and inspirational plans , but the raising of funds needed to bring it all to fruition. No longer, it seems, is it the case that projects are funded out of Council Tax , and no longer is it the case that our councillors can find the funds for us. Now , apparently, it is up to the community at large, with the assistance of the County Council, to apply for funds from a large variety of sources.A Community Group has recently been formed – The Rhos-on-Sea Environmental Action Group – and I am pleased to report that two of our Executive Committee are part of the ten strong members of the group – all of whom are keen to apply for funds to make much needed improvements to Rhos-on-Sea.

Incidentally , I was invited to a short tour of Rhos by a gentleman who represents the disabled in the area and those who find themselves confined to a wheelchair or ’mobile scooter’.  He pointed out to me dangers and hazards these people are faced with whilst going about their daily lives in what we regard as a pleasant , attractive and caring village. A carer pushing a wheelchair, or an individual trying to make progress on his own, will always find difficulty in travelling from the Aberhod buildings, past the Cayley Arms to the bottom of Rhos Road. Also, trying to go from the Natwest Bank on the corner of Colwyn Avenue down past the shops, Nino’s Café and round the corner to the Post Office is even more difficult. One has to negotiate verandah pillars, café tables and chairs, newspaper stands, rainwater gullies, flower boxes protruding from safety railings and , of course, again in the summer, many, many pedestrians, pushchairs, children and dogs.

At the junction of Penrhyn Avenue and the Promenade there is too much space allowed to traffic ,making it hazardous for wheelchairs to cross from Forte’s Café to the Post Office. Traffic turning into Penrhyn Avenue from the Promenade often does so at speeds dangerous to those caught half way across. If Rhos-on-Sea , in time, is to have huge amounts of money spent on it’s re-development, then the needs of it’s disabled must be met at the same time.

It is good to read in the local press that Llandudno is to undergo a £5 million station restoration. Any seaside town  relying on tourism and visitors needs a station which is attractive – it is the ‘doorway’ to the town. Colwyn Bay’s ‘doorway’ is dismal, dreary. miserable and unwelcoming. The bridge over the tracks from one platform to the other is a disgrace. The whole station, it’s approach from Princes Drive and Station Road, the taxi ranks and parking facilities all convey an uncaring atmosphere of being run-down and neglected.  This Society will continue to push for the authorities to apply for funding , and to treat the whole station area as an urgent aspect of the town’s modernisation and redevelopment.

Dan’s Den ( a charity which deserves the support of all in our community ) – what good news to read that, after over ten years since the tragic death of Daniel Cleverly , the shoddy public toilets  close to the skate park in Eirias Park are soon to be transformed into a café complex, somewhere for youngsters to go, meet up and enjoy when the weather is bad. All praise to the councillors involved and the officials of the charity , for their determination to do something for our youngsters in remembrance of a tragic loss of a young life.

2012 – the centenary of the sinking of the ‘ unsinkable’ Titanic. One of the ship’s  officers , Mr Harold Lowe, showed great courage during this disaster by taking charge of one of the too few  lifeboats and taking on board from the icy waters drowning passengers onto an already packed lifeboat. Harold survived the ordeal and , after a long naval career in which he reached the rank of commander  he eventually died at the age of 61. He is buried in the church yard of Llandrillo -yn -Rhos Parish church in Rhos-on-Sea. In recognition of the centenary, the Civic Society has arranged for all the lettering on Harold Lowe’s grave-stone to be restored to their original condition. A special church service has been arranged at St. Trillo’s Church at 11.00 am on Sunday April 22nd. The service will be held by Rev. D.T. Morgan who is the chaplain to the Mission to Seafarers.  Harold Lowe lived for a short time at the property ‘Bryn Mostyn’ which is on the corner of Mostyn Road and Conway Road opposite Queens Gardens. It would be good if the authorities recognised the act by placing a plaque on this building for all to see.

The Society is saddened to have to record the death of a former founder member , Mr John Lee. The Society was founded in 1972 when the construction of the A55 Expressway through the heart of Colwyn Bay raised grave concerns. The Town is still trying to re-build itself forty years later. John held the position of President of the Society for many years, was tireless in putting the aims and objects of the Society before the authorities and was held in very high regard by his many friends, colleagues and associates. John  maintained his interest to  the end , at the age of 91 , despite suffering severe visual , hearing and health problems.

Finally, our members enjoy a monthly meeting with a hearty meal and an interesting speaker – why not join us .

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