Vote made to demolish Colwyn Bay pier
- 12 December 2013
- From the section North West Wales
Colwyn Bay pier is to be demolished, councillors have decided bringing a five-year saga over its future to a close.
A report said restoring the Grade II-listed pier would have cost more than £15m.
Conwy council had a £600,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant awarded to investigate the feasibility of restoring the pier.
A group set up to help restore the pier said it will fight the demolition.
The 113-year-old pier has been closed since 2008, and its condition has been deteriorating.
The council signed a deal to purchase the pier in 2012, and was awarded a lottery grant in May to start restoration work.
But it said that it would have to find more cash so that even planning of the restoration work could continue.
On Thursday, councillors voted to begin the process of demolishing the pier which hosted performances from entertainers including Morecambe and Wise, Harry Secombe and musician Elvis Costello.
In an emotive debate in the council chamber the pier was referred to as both an important part of Colwyn Bay's heritage and a "white elephant".
Councillors were told that for the first phase of the project to go ahead, an extra £264,282 must be found, but the total cost of restoration was likely to be more than £15m.
Ronnie Hughes, the council's deputy leader said: "Nobody is saying where the extra money is coming from. Sometimes its better to pull out and not to mislead people"
But councillor Bob Squire said there was "a massive groundswell of public opinion to save the pier, which can't be ignored".
"The pier is part of Colwyn Bay's heritage. If we don't pursue the grant, we'll never know what might have been," he said.
Councillors had six options to consider, including demolishing the pier, carrying on with the restoration, and restoring only the decking but not the pier pavilions.
But they were told that all the options would cost money. Officials said that even doing nothing would leave the council with an annual bill of £53,000 to keep the pier safe, and other emergency works needed carrying out.
Opponents say they will fight the demolition, firstly by opposing the pier losing its listed status.
Gavin Davies, director of Shore Thing which was set up to help restore the pier, said: "We should not give up on the pier. It may be impossible, but we don't know that yet. Local opinion supports restoration, and we need to do something.
"There are no grants for heritage destruction, and it may take years to de-list the pier. I urge you to have faith."
The pier's former owner, Steve Hunt, was sitting in the public gallery during the debate.
A legal battle between him and the council is continuing, with both sides claiming they own it.
Afterwards, Mr Hunt said: "No-one can do anything until the legal case is settled, and that isn't due to be heard until June of next year.
"This could take years to unravel."