This article was originally published in the North Wales Weekly News on 15 August 2018.
Cliff Prout MBE was a remarkable man. An ardent conservationist, he was the driving force behind a number of urban renewal projects in and around Colwyn Bay. As leader of the Old Colwyn Environment Federation, he spearheaded a number of restorations, including Wynn Gardens, St John’s Church Gardens and the Tan y Coed Gardens on Beach Road. Cliff died in 2009, but his memory endures in the environmental improvements that are his legacy.
I was privileged to be at the opening ceremony of the Tan y Coed Gardens, after their renewal over ten years ago. They were formerly one of the principal attractions of Colwyn Bay in its heyday as a holiday resort in the early part of the 20th century. The hard work put in by Cliff Prout and many other community-spirited local people was very evident. The network of footpaths had been restored, the flowerbeds had been replanted, and the artist Simon O’Rourke had installed a number of works, including a particularly evocative carving of Maelgwyn Gwynedd.
A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a constituent who told me that she was extremely concerned about the condition of Tan y Coed Gardens. She asked me to visit them. I did so some days later, and was equally concerned. The footpaths had become overgrown; the flowerbeds were barely evident. The stream running through the gardens was choked with weeds. It was a sad and depressing sight.
Last week, I attended the August meeting of the Old Colwyn Residents’ Association, an annual fixture in my diary. The issue of the gardens was raised as a matter of concern by several individuals present.
The following day – last Thursday – I wrote to Conwy County Council relaying that concern and asking for the condition of the gardens to be reviewed. Two days later, I was delighted to hear from the local county councillor that Council officers had visited the gardens and that remedial work had been scheduled for September.
Conwy are to be commended for such prompt attention to a complaint.
And Cliff Prout, I am sure, would be smiling.