Daily Post article – Colwyn Bay town centre

Posted on 14th February, 2024

One of the most frequently heard criticisms of politicians at all levels is that they lose touch with the people they represent. This is often unfair: politicians are unlikely to be re-elected unles they are alive to the concerns of their voters. However, it is undoubtedly important for representatives to maintain continuous contact with the people they want to vote for them.

I participated last Friday in a useful exercise in voter relations when I accompanied three senior county councillors on a walkabout in Colwyn Bay town centre. Last November, it was announced that Boots the Chemists had decided to close their store in the town’s Station Road with effect from April this year. This was a body blow for what used to be Colwyn Bay’s principal shopping street. Boots was the last multiple in Station Road, where the majority of shops now stand deserted.

When the announcement was made, I contacted Cllr Charlie McCoubrey, leader of Conwy County Borough Council, and invited him to accompany me on a walk around the town centre to hear traders’ concerns. I also wanted to discuss with him the Welsh government-inspired “active travel plan”, which has come in for considerable criticism, and which would result in, among other things, the narrowing of Penrhyn Road, which was remodelled only a few years ago.

To his considerable credit, he immediately agreed to do so, and last Friday, with two other council cabinet members, he and I visited a number of traders.

Those in Penrhyn Road were absolutely clear: they wanted to maintain it as a wide thoroughfare with car parking on either side. To that extent, the active travel plan should be abandoned, or at least modified.

All those we spoke to made the point that, although Colwyn Bay beach is now one of the best in North Wales and is frequently packed with families during the summer months, very few visitors made their way to their shops. Improved signage on the seafront is therefore called for, as is the improvement of the rather unwelcoming railway underpass – the only access route to the town centre.

Station Road itself is in urgent need of attention. Street markets are no longer held there, so there is no reason to maintain its pedestrianisation. The street should be reopened to traffic, which might attract more incoming traders to occupy the deserted shops. The hydraulic bollards at the top of the street could be retained, so that the street could be closed for special events.

I was also pleased to learn of the council’s proposals for refurbishing the residential accommodation above the ground floor shops, bringing more footfall into the town centre.

In summary, my walkabout with the councillors was an immensely valuable exercise, and I want to thank them publicly for their willingness to engage with the local retailers. Our excursion is unlikely, admittedly, to result in an immediate turnaround in the fortunes of Colwyn Bay, but, as Confucius observed, the longest journey starts with a single step.

Contact David

Write a message to David online; make an appointment to speak with him in-person, virtually or by telephone; and enquire about arranging a visit to Westminster, including tickets to watch PMQs