Victoria Pier

The following article was originally published in the North Wales Weekly News newspaper on 13 January 2016.
The New Year has arrived,  to the accompaniment of the violent storms that now seem to be a feature of every winter. Driving along the sea front at Colwyn Bay, I half expected to find an empty space where the Victoria Pier had stood when I last looked.  But no; there it was, its rusting columns and crumbling superstructure still defying the worst of the wind and rain.
The saga of the pier has  been running for as long as most people can remember.   It was bought in 2012 for £36,000 by Conwy County Borough Council, which, at the time, was keen on restoring it, and even applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a grant.  Years of litigation with the pier’s former owner, however, seem to have blunted the council’s enthusiasm for the project and now it has decided to demolish it, for which purpose it recently applied for consent from CADW.
Consent, however, was refused, and now the council is working up a second application.  In the meantime, the pier continues to disfigure a sea front that is otherwise greatly improved.
There is still an appetite within the town for a last try at restoring the pier.  The Colwyn Victoria Pier Trust wants to submit a further HLF bid, and has the support of  Bay of Colwyn Town Council.  A bid made last year was refused because, according to the HLF, they had not had “a clear enough indication of strong support from Conwy County Borough Council”.
The current position, therefore, is that the Town Council would like to restore the pier, whilst the County Council wants to knock it down.  The cost of demolition – likely to be well in excess of £1 million – would probably fall on the shoulders of local taxpayers, who are already dreading the next council tax bill.  It’s a bit of a mess.
If a sound business case can be worked up, it would surely be sensible for the two councils to work together in making one last bid for HLF funding.  A joint approach might well be successful, and deliver a restored pier that would be an ornament to the beautiful bay of Colwyn.

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