Page last updated at 05:45 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 06:45 UK

New plan to boost seaside towns

Rhyl West ward
Parts of Rhyl West remain the most deprived areas in Wales

One of the most deprived parts of Wales could benefit from millions of pounds of new investments over coming years.

Rhyl and Colwyn Bay have been designated as part of a regeneration area by the Welsh Assembly Government.

The scheme is designed to boost prosperity of the towns and rid them of negative images.

The Rhyl West ward recently topped an index of multiple deprivation while two other local ward areas also feature in table's top 10.

The announcement of the regeneration area was made by deputy regeneration minister Leighton Andrews.

He is visiting Rhyl and Colwyn Bay to discuss the scheme on Friday.

The first thing we need to do is reorganise where people are working, and what Colwyn Bay is about
Businessman, Neil Formstone

"The issues facing both towns are well known and include poor housing, high levels of deprivation, unemployment, skills and areas where the physical environment is of a poor standard," he said.

"The towns also suffer from a poor image and public perception.

"These are real challenges to face and overcome but there are also real opportunities that we can work with.

"Rhyl and Colwyn Bay have two of the principal shopping centres on the coast and remain family tourism destinations."

The scheme is meant to target money more effectively by working with other agencies like the local authority, boosting areas such as tourism and the economy.


Neil Formstone, a businessman and the last chairman of the Colwyn Bay Regeneration Partnership, said he remained immensely proud of his home town, but recognised that more needed to be done to help it.

"We had problems in the late 80s, 90s and early 2000s of people coming in - the 'dole by the sea' scenario that both Colwyn Bay and Rhyl went through," he said.

"The first thing we need to do is reorganise where people are working, and what Colwyn Bay is about.

Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane paints out the sign in Rhyl
A "stolen goods" sign in Rhyl was painted over by MP, Chris Ruane

"Are we really a destination for holidaymakers or is this going to be an office town?

"The town has got to get a bit of pride back in it."

It is hoped that giving the area regeneration status should allow private and public money to be spent on other projects like housing.

In Rhyl, there have been calls to tackle the large number of number of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

'Blighted' streets

"Carrots or sticks should be used to turn them back into quality living accommodation, or diversify them in some way," said Chris Ruane MP for Vale of Clwyd.

Mr Ruane had recently joined councillors to paint over a shop sign which read "Rhyl's biggest receiver of stolen goods".

He said it had been a constant blight on the town and black paint was used to get rid of the sign.

"I welcome this move of designating area for regeneration. Housing is the key issue," he said.

"There are 450 HMOs in Rhyl alone and it only takes one HMO in a street to cause absolute mayhem," he added.

The designation of a North Wales Coastal Strategic Regeneration Area would be for seven years initially and could involve millions of pounds for projects in public and private money.

There may be schemes to boost tourism in Rhyl and Colwyn Bay, improve the environment and raise skill levels.

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