Tuesday last week was possibly the heaviest I have experienced since elected to Parliament in 2005. It was the first day of the second reading of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, the legislation that will take Britain out of the EU. I spent 11 hours on the front bench, making a note of all the contributions, preparing to deliver the winding-up the following day.
Mid afternoon, my muted iPhone began vibrating. It continued until well into the evening, alerting me to a string of e-mails from constituents and journalists, notifying me that part of the superstructure of Colwyn Bay pier had collapsed into the sea.
The condition of the pier has been an issue of concern for at least a decade. Its progressive deterioration has dismayed local residents, not least me. Over the past five years or so, the seafront has been improved, and the improvement continues. Yet the pier continues to disfigure the town, like a rotten tooth in the middle of an otherwise attractive smile. It is, quite simply, heartbreaking.
The pier is, of course, the responsibility of Conwy County Borough Council. They took on that responsibility entirely voluntarily, buying it from the Welsh Government with a view to restoring it, an ambition they have now abandoned in favour of demolition. Nobody made them buy it, but now that it is theirs, they have a duty to look after it. It is, after all, a listed building.
Bay of Colwyn Town Council would still like to see the pier restored and want to talk to the County Council about doing so. It is a matter of regret that that offer has been declined. However, it is now clear to all that the present state of affairs cannot continue. The pier simply cannot continue to disfigure the bay and present an increasing source of danger.
We are entitled to seek clarity from the County Council as to precisely what is going to happen to the pier. Furthermore, we need that clarity now. The local elections will be held in May, and Colwyn electors will no doubt weigh candidates’ proposals for the pier when they come to cast their votes.