Monday, 30 November 2009

Pier Pressure...or lack of it!

Stormy times for Colwyn Bay Pier (Photo Credit)

The revelation on Councillor John Oddy's blog that a certain County/Town Councillor seems to be doing his utmost to prevent any movement forward with the renovation/reopening of Colwyn Bay Pier seems, on the face of it, bizarre.

Councillor Chris Hughes, who represents the Glyn Ward in Colwyn Bay (one of the most deprived in Wales, as a matter of interest) is Chairman of the Friends of Colwyn Bay Pier Group. Given this fact, you'd have thought he would be constantly working to break the current impasse with the Pier, maybe even using his influence at County Council level to negotiate a way of resolving the problems? By way of comparison, see how much work the Friends of Hastings Pier down in the South of England are doing to try and save their pier. Their website is here.

But, in Colwyn Bay...nope, sorry, you're out of luck. No meetings of the Friends Group have been held for three years and when the Secretary/Treasurer, a Mrs Pat Jackson, organised a meeting herself, who turned up to close the meeting down but Councillor Hughes, who said that the meeting was 'unconstitutional'. He also allegedly said that only he had the power to call meetings and, to put the icing on the cake, refused to resign as Chairman of the Group!

This leads me to ask the question....what are his motives? Why is he apparently trying so hard to prevent the Friends of Colwyn Bay Pier Group actually mobilising public support to do something about the current state of the Pier?

Wherever his interests lie, it would appear that they are sadly not with the people of Colwyn Bay...

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Stormy Day In Llandudno

High winds, a high tide and squally showers in Llandudno this morning, so what better activity than a 'bracing' walk down the Pier? At least the cafe at the end was open, so a chance to thaw out and have a steaming cup of what was allegedly coffee was warmly welcomed.

Stormy Day In Llandudno by you.
Llandudno Bay from the Pier (Photo Credit)

Stormy Day In Llandudno by you.
Waves crash against the Pier Tollhouse (Photo Credit)

The Optimist by you.
An optimistic Kiosk owner is open for business (Photo Credit)

Landing Stage by you.
Landing Stage at the end of the Pier (Photo Credit)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

"Sponsor A Slate" at St Tudno's Church

St. Tudno's Church, Great Orme, Llandudno (Photo Credit)

In the sixth century the Celtic monk Tudno (pronounced “Tidno”) left the monastery of Bangor Is Coed and brought the message of Christianity to the people living on the Great Orme and farming the windswept hillside. God has been worshipped at this site ever since St. Tudno’s time and St. Tudno’s Day is celebrated on 5th June. Nothing remains of St. Tudno’s original church but it is likely to have been a small, wooden building with a few dwellings nearby and all surrounded by an enclosure – a typical Welsh llan. The present church was built in stone in the 12th century in the Celtic style of a double square but was enlarged to its present size in the 15th century, after which there was probably little change to the building until a severe storm destroyed part of the roof in 1839. In 1855, the ancient church was re-roofed and restored thanks to the generosity of one benefactor, Mr. William Henry Reece.

Time and the exposed position of the church have taken their toll and St. Tudno's Church once again needs to be re-roofed. It is estimated that 1000 new slates will be required and there is an exciting opportunity for anyone to be a benefactor by sponsoring a slate. Sponsor-a-Slate is being organised by the Friends of St. Tudno's Church and was launched at the Friends' Fair on the 5th September 2009. For £10.00 you can sponsor a slate and have your name, or that of someone whom you would like to remember, engraved on a slate when the roof is repaired.

The names will be engraved on the under sides of the slates, and so protected from the weather, but whenever a future generation repairs the roof the names will be clear to see. All sponsors are invited to enter their names, and any messages, on the application form which will become part of the parish archive and will thus be a more accessible record of contributors.

More information on this very worthy project is available here.

Historical information courtesy Parish of Llandudno

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Clarence Hotel, Llandudno

Clarence Hotel by you.
Clarence Hotel in 2008 (Photo Credit)

The saga of the once proud Clarence Hotel has rumbled on in Llandudno for the last couple of years. It forms a substantial Victorian building, which contains 51 bedrooms and has five and a half storeys, including a basement. The building occupies the whole of Gloddaeth Street’s frontage, between Bodhyfryd Road and Arvon Avenue. The site is within the Llandudno Conservation Area and forms part of an almost continuous frontage of listed buildings along both sides of Gloddaeth Avenue, from Seilo Chapel to Mostyn Street. However, the Hotel itself is not listed.

For many years a successful hotel, it formed part of a hotel chain until 2001. The building was then sold to the present owner, but has not operated as a hotel to any significant extent under its present ownership and ceased operation entirely in about 2007. Its usage since then has attracted a great deal of both controversy and criticism in Llandudno.

The ground floor (formerly the Hotel's Reception/Public areas) was converted into three separate businesses - the Sakura Japanese restaurant (notorious for the raid by the UK Borders Agency which saw them find an illegal immigrant chef living in a chest freezer in the basement!), a bar/cafe called Rumourz (which allegedly operated without Planning Permission) and the Beijing Chinese Restaurant (which also allegedly had an illegal immigrant workforce). Latterly, all three businesses have closed due to various problems and the entire building stands empty. The upper floors of the building cannot be used as the Fire Service has issued a Prohibition order.

In 2005, the owner applied to convert the Hotel into 19 apartments, with an arcade of 3 shops on the Ground Floor. This was refused, as Conwy Council wished it to remain a hotel - it stands within the 'Primary Holiday Accommodation Zone' in Llandudno, which has a presumption against any hotel being granted permission for conversion for another use. In theory, this is a good idea - in practice, it has meant that large 'second tier' hotels like the Clarence are stuck in a cycle of decline. So perhaps a degree of flexibility is required with regard to the Planning issues?

If we face facts, the Clarence hasn't been used as a proper hotel for several years (and when it was open the guest reviews were awful!). The cost of renovating it (given the severe structural problems) almost definitely wouldn't be worth it, compared with the revenue you'd get from running it as a hotel. It has a central location in town but that's about it, no sea views, no car parking and, most importantly, no room to introduce new facilities.

I'm a great believer in being pragmatic about these things - a good conversion job on the Clarence would enhance the appearance of Gloddaeth Street and surely be far preferable to it remaining a derelict hotel for years. If we're brutally honest, one less mediocre hotel in Llandudno would be no great loss for the town...

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