Page last updated at 12:04 GMT, Friday, 10 October 2008 13:04 UK

MP paints out town's tainted past

Rhyl shop sign
The sign has been an unwanted feature of the area for many years

An infamous shop sign blamed for blighting a town has been painted over to clean up its deprived image.

It read "Rhyl's biggest receiver of stolen goods" and has been the source of many complaints in the Denbighshire seaside resort.

The sign above the derelict building on the corner of Aquarium Street and Abbey Street had been in place for decades.

But the MP and other local politicians have had enough and banished its negative tones with a coat of paint.

Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane was joined by Rhyl West ward councillors Ian Armstrong and Joan Butterfield outside the shop to carry out their community DIY.

The trio believe the sign's criminal connotations has not helped the ward's label as the most deprived area in Wales and Rhyl's image as a rundown seaside town.

The Rhyl West ward, where the old sign and building stand, topped the 2008 Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation in July with two other local ward areas also featuring in the table's top 10.

Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane paints out the sign in Rhyl
We cannot tolerate this anymore
Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane

But Mr Ruane wants to bring an end to the kind of negative publicity which the sign's wording has brought to the local area over the years.

The MP said there were sufficient local authority powers in terms of housing and other legislation to get on top of the kind of problems, such as the sign, which have blighted the local community for years.

Mr Ruane said: "The name is emblazoned across the front of the building, which sends out completely the wrong message about Rhyl".

"We cannot tolerate this anymore. Enough is enough."

Local resident Michael Roberts welcomed the move: "This building has been empty for 20 years - now we are starting to get something done positive.

"It would be nice to see these buildings pulled down - maybe make some green space for the children," he added.

Chris Ruane MP in front of the newly painted sign
Mr Ruane said the sign should have been painted over ago

Lee Barlow who runs West Rhyl Community Company, described the shop as "an absolute blight on the landscape."

"The condition of that building is something which we have been constantly going on about," he said.

"There has been a lot of money spent on Rhyl but it's had very little impact on the lives of people round here."

In recent years Denbighshire council has come up with a variety of plans and projects aimed at reinventing Rhyl for the 21st Century.

One is the Rhyl City Strategy which plans to bring significant public and private sector investment and developments to the area.

These include the town's harbour regeneration and Ocean Plaza projects which the council hopes will help tackle local unemployment, improve housing and restore the town's landmarks.


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