Saturday, 24 October 2009

Civic Pride

Townscape by you.
Wales' Leading Seaside Resort (Photo Credit)

One thing that seems to have disappeared from local towns to a great degree since the creation of the vast behemoth known as Conwy County Borough Council is Civic Pride. It's not a deliberate policy, of course, more a natural result of creating such a vast organisation that has to look after a significant part of North Wales (an area of 1,130 km² and 117,000 people).

What is Civic Pride and why is it important?

Civic Pride can be defined as 'taking a pride in your town' and ensuring it is looking its best. In an area that depends heavily upon Tourism, high standards of presentation in public areas are vital in order to both attract visitors and encourage them to visit again. I'm talking about things like public parks, flower displays, clean, tidy & well maintained streets, public toilets, car parking facilities etc.

Yet, all too often, these are the things that are not done properly locally. Take Llandudno, for instance. Wales' leading seaside resort. The principal town in Conwy County.

Yet, I can't walk down the main street without having to dodge a whole legion of cracked and broken paving stones. The street lighting at night is poor - old floodlights dating back to the 1970s, whilst the original Victorian street lamps stand unused. The flower displays seem to get reduced every year - whole sections of bedding plant displays on the Promenade have been grassed over last year, whilst the once famous LLANDUDNO display in Happy Valley has been filled in with concrete! Railings which were carefully installed back in 2000 as part of the renovation of North Western Gardens have not received a lick of paint since. Street trees are removed and not replaced. Public benches are allowed to get so rotten that a local Estate Agent has to write to the North Wales Weekly News in order to get something done about them. Street nameplates are rusting and unpainted. The only Public Toilets on the Promenade (Happy Valley Road) have been closed for several years...I could go on and on.

Let me say this very clearly....these are false economies to make. With its natural and architectural features, Llandudno has a head start over many seaside resorts. However, we squander this advantage at our peril. People these days are choosier than ever; they will not hesitate to go elsewhere if we do not live up to their standards. The annoying thing about it all is that most of the issues I have mentioned would not cost millions to resolve - they are all things that should just be done on an everyday basis as part of the maintenance of an attractive seaside town.


Councillor John Oddy said...

Good point and I totally agree with you. Pride in our communities is something that affects all of us and should not be taken for granted.

Mike Priestley said...

Thank you for the link to this post. I have had the Environment portfolio now for three years. I would like to comment on some of the issues that fall into my portfolio.

Flowerbeds, We have a great team of gardeners winning many awards from Britain in Bloom and also Wales in Bloom. Last year we won gold and best in show at RHS Tatton for Council flowerbeds, we won the Wigan cup for best flowerbed in Britain, my understansing is that this is the first time a Welsh Authority has won this prestigious award. We are always looking to improve as I am sure you will agree looking at beautiful flowerbeds will take your eye off the empty shops we have at the moment.

I asked my department to achieve green flag status for some of our parks and we have been successful in Wyn Gardens Old Colwyn and Happy Valley. You only receive Green Flag for having the highest standards in a park.

It is an easy hit on savings to disinvest in and grass over, one that I am not prepared to do. Some beds will be grassed over due to constant vandalism and some believe it or not because of Rabbits and goats eating the content of the beds. On Colwyn Bay prom last year thousands of plants were eaten by rabbits.

Toilets, I am not proud of our toilets in Conwy, they have had no investment for many, many years. This year I have secured money to upgrade toilets on The prom Colwyn Bay (dingle), West shore and the paddling pool on Llandudno prom. We have some toilets without electric or wash facilities. In Conwy we have 59 Toilets and I have a budget of about £1000 for each one after paying out staff, toiletries, rates etc, It only takes one toilet to get wrecked due to vandalism which sadly happens too often to throw the budget out. We placed electronic counters on our Toilets and the results were very interesting, one had 14k visitors in a week and another had 8. The budget is not sustainable and a desicion will have to be made regarding this issue.

Benches are being refurbished and this will continue. Walking to Conwy the other day I noticed the poor quality of the benches, I will report these and if you notice a bench which needs refurbishing you can also report it on 01492 575337.

Street lighting and Pavements can be reported to Highways. Cllr Joan Vaughan is the Cabinet Member.

I care about Conwy and will always do my best to serve.

Chameleon said...

My thanks must go to Cllr Priestley for taking the time to write a comprehensive reply.

To touch on just one comment - public toilets. I feel we need to develop a whole new mindset for the provision of public toilets. Take the redevelopment of Colwyn Bay promenade. Instead of building standalone toilet blocks that must be cleaned by council staff, why not attach them to the catering facilities that are going to be rebuilt as part of the scheme and have the leaseholder maintain them as a condition of their lease (in return for a slightly reduced rent, of course).

As regards reporting problems to the moment, there is a multitude of contact pages, forms, email addresses etc on the CCBC website. Just have a look at an earlier blog post where I listed them all:

How about having one webpage, where you could select the nature of your problem, report its location, details etc and it would automatically be sent to the correct department. In the 21st century, all this can be done very simply on the Internet, no need for phone lines to be manned by staff at great expense!

Anonymous said...

It agree, very useful message

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