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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Blue sky thinking in seaside town
Catryn Jenkins
BBC Wales news website

Barry Island fair's Evolution ride
How does Barry Island need to evolve to revive fortunes?
Okay, so it can't really be described as an exclusive resort, but Barry Island is still attracting visitors.

The smell of hotdogs and chips lets you know exactly when you reach it (plus spotting the fairground's log flume is another clue).

And on a sunny day, the views over the Bristol Channel rival any sea scene.

But since Butlins was demolished and with the fairground still not open, visitor numbers have dropped. So what needs to happen to revive its fortunes?

Susan and Brian Stenner, from Caerphilly, remember visiting the island in its heyday and are saddened to see the place so quiet.

"We used to come on Sunday school trips as children," said Mr Stenner.

Scene from BBC3 comedy Gavin and Stacey, set in Barry Island
Barry is the location for new TV comedy Gavin and Stacey

"We'd come down on the coach for the day."

And even as the couple reached adulthood, the island still was a thriving place to go to.

"I remember bringing our two sons down here and the beach would be packed, we'd be looking and looking for a spot to sit down," said Mrs Stenner.

So what needs to be done to make the place busy again?

"Well people haven't got anywhere to stay since they got rid of Butlins," said Mr Stenner.

"Down Porthcawl and places like that you've got caravans and things but here there is nothing."

And what about the entertainment?

"Well they should reopen the fair, people come down for a picnic on the beach and then go for a look in the fair," said Mrs Stenner.

Len and Mary Wiggins
Some of the buildings are really neglected
Len Wiggins

"And maybe they should get some shows or something for people to see when it is raining," she added.

The seaside town may yet find a younger profile, after featuring as the location for the new BBC Three comedy Gavin and Stacey, co-written by and starring Ruth Jones, herself a native of Porthcawl along the coast.

Mary and Len Wiggins, from another coastal town nearby, Sully, think the place needs a bit of a facelift.

"Some of the buildings are really neglected," said Mr Wiggins.

"I think the Vale of Glamorgan Council should tell the owners enough is enough and get them to do something about it.

"I think it's been made so much better since they got rid of the eyesore of Butlins and the place is very clean."

But what about attracting younger people and families?

Katie O'Dare
Nice as it is I think they should get the fair open and maybe get a few more things here too for the younger people
Katie O'Dare, Cardiff

"Well I think it's a shame the fair ground isn't open," said Mrs Wiggins.

"And I think it will put people off because people need somewhere to go to entertain the children.

"There's been a lot of controversy about it being closed and it's a shame because it did bring people to the area."

So the verdict of the Wiggins' is that although the place is clean, it needs a bit of a tidy up and the fair should reopen.

Katie O'Dare, a nanny from Cardiff also wants to see the fairground rides going again.

"It obviously attracts the families - it's the main attraction here," she said.

John Zeraschi
It's all a bit of a shambles and I think it's driving a portion of business away to places like Porthcawl
John Zeraschi, kiosk owner

"I know the beach is here but you need something else too and as nice as it is I think they should get the fair open and maybe get a few more things here too for the younger people."

So that's the visitors views. What about the people that work there?

John Zeraschi from the Promenade Kiosk is troubled about the lack information about what is happening with the fair and is hoping it will open soon.

"We've got members of the public coming in asking what's happening with the fair and when is it going to open, but I can't tell them because I don't know," he said.

"It's all a bit of a shambles and I think it's driving a portion of business away to places like Porthcawl.

"I just hope it opens soon and everything will be back on track.

"And as long as there are blue skies, I will be a happy man."




SEE ALSO
Are seaside towns dying out?
22 May 07 |  Wales



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